On becoming atheist - the tug of war

by Nickolas 207 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Nickolas

    [searches Amazon frantically for "Exclusion Dynamic for Dummies" and "Deceiving those who have evolved the means to detect such deceptions and thereby minimise the effects of it"]

    I'm merely extrapolating from what I have read so far in Dawkins' treatise, SBC.

    Or are you saying that the altruistic ones... are the ones willing to leave, send off, even kill... the weaker... for the benefit of the remaining group? Is THAT the definition of altruism? ... I am just trying to understand...

    Yes and no, Shelby. Remember that we are discussing this in the context of billions of years of evolution, but that is a big hump to get over. I might be able to provide a small inkling of understanding, or what I understand to be understanding. I am not expert and I could be quite wrong but I will hope I am directionally right. Consider first familial selection. A mother will tend to be very altruistic toward her babies, to the point in some species (like humans) where she will actually sacrifice herself for them. In nature, not all mothers are altruistic in this way but for the sake of this discussion we can ignore them. But in nature altruistic mothers are oftentimes faced with a Sophie's Choice of sorts. I had a hound dog when I was a boy. She was a bluetick cross and a reasonably good hunter. When she had her one and only litter there were 7 pups, which was larger than average. As with many large litters there was a runt in this one who did not compete as well as his littermates for access to their mother's teats and who after only a few days had grown noticeably weaker. Still, the mother seemed to be trying her best to keep it alive. But that meant that her limited supply of milk was being wasted on a pup that just might not make it. Sometime between points of me checking up on the litter she ate the runt. Whether or not it had died before she had done so, I do not know. But her behaviour, no doubt genetic else we are ascribing sapient thinking to a dog, could be construed as altruistic, not toward the pup she devoured but toward the sixth most robust littermate who might have perished along with the runt had she not done so.

    I think, to elevate the discussion to the modern human species - and by modern I mean over the past several thousand years, since genetic selection takes a very long time - one could conceivably equate the coda of the OT as a written example of societal selection favouring altruistic individuals. The altruism, however, was codified within the tribe to the detriment of individuals who were outside the tribe. It was not ok to take the wife, or the life, of a fellow Israelite but it was perfectly ok, even encouraged to visit such selfish behaviour upon those who were not of the tribe. Such selfishness extended even to killing wholesale the innocent livestock and children of those others. But within the tribe of Israel there were laws that encouraged the killing of children whose behaviour was perceived as negative, of women who willfully went against the wishes of men, and of men who likewise behaved in such a way that the society judged to be objectionable - in the case of homosexuals, whether the Israelites were aware of it or not, they were attempting to eradicate individuals from their society, almost all of whom were more likely bisexual and therefore capable of passing on their genes to subsequent generations, and thereby eradicate homosexuality. The altruism in all these examples is not toward the individual, but toward the society itself or, more specifically, toward what the society has established as "good" and worth preserving.

    If so, is it Mr. Hawkins'

    Dawkins, my dear. Hawkins Dawkins. Murrah Murrow. Oopps. Wrong thread.

  • ziddina

    I agree with Scully; everyone is born atheist...

    As to this comment:

    "...they have a chance at never having to die at all (which would be a really, really good thing..."

    There's been at least one other thread on that subject, and it's something I've thought about, too...

    What if you DID live forever??? For - EVER...!?!?!!

    You'd have to watch a lot of human - and other forms of life - go extinct. Even if you had buddies, family, friends who were living forever along with you, the odds are good that OTHER life forms WOULDN'T have such an advantage.

    [I'm taking this from a non-theist viewpoint; no magical "guy-in-the-sky" to make sure that lions and tigers and whales and elephants and aardvarks and so on, all continued to exist as species forever...]

    First of all, the earth will gradually turn into an inhospitable, barren planet. The core will cool, slow down, stop, and the atmosphere will vanish - blown away by the solar wind.

    In order to survive THAT, you and your buddies would have had to build an ENORMOUS space-station, JUST to keep you and them alive for the tens and hundreds of light-years that it's going to take just to reach another solar system...

    THEN you'll have to SEARCH that solar system - or multiple solar systems - for that "Goldilocks" planet... THEN you'll have to CONQUER the wildlife on that planet - without being eaten yourself... And THAT'S assuming that you can even EAT the foods grown on that other "Goldilocks" planet - which may have a chemical makeup that is sufficiently different from Earth's chemical/mineral makeup to cause MALNUTRITION in you and your buddies...

    IF by some unimaginable chain of extremely unlikely coincidences you've been able to bring ANY animals from Earth along, a whole NEW spate of problems arise... Will your animals unleash deadly plagues that the local fauna - AND flora - are unable to resist? For that matter, will YOU? On the other hand, will the local fauna/flora infect YOU AND your animals with new diseases that will kill or maim or render infertile all the Earth life-forms that have somehow survived that long journey?

    And that's just the second billion years...

    One would reach the point that the endlessly increasing mass of one's existence would become a blur - one would have SUCH a burden of "memories" that the human mind would overload. The word "bored" would take on a whole new meaning, as one would conceivably have reached the point that one has seen more than enough super-novas to - well, to last a lifetime... And still the experiences would keep coming... And coming.... And coming.... And coming...

    Eventually, you'd reach the point that you would have seen endless universes born - age - die - be born again - and on, and on, and on, and on...

    As to your family, friends, buddies - well, human interactions are dysfunctional at best - think of a grudge that ends up lasting ten thousand - a million - years... Would THAT be fun???

    Nooo, I don't think that living "forever" would be fun...


  • Nickolas

    Pffft, zid. You're forgetting about magic.

    This is just so rich and juicy it demands repeating:

    The word "bored" would take on a whole new meaning, as one would conceivably have reached the point that one has seen more than enough super-novas to - well, to last a lifetime... And still the experiences would keep coming... And coming.... And coming.... And coming...

  • ziddina


    Funny that you picked that one, Nickolas...

    This is the one that makes my brain hurt...

    "Eventually, you'd reach the point that you would have seen endless universes born - age - die - be born again - and on, and on, and on, and on..."
  • Nickolas

    Very good links, bohm, I've just now had an opportunity to visit them (got lots to do that doesn't involve sitting on my ass in front of this computer screen). In particular the first one.

  • bohm

    think about poor god, the sod has allready endured a full eternity with only himself as company!

  • Nickolas

    My brain had already been wounded by the immediately previous observation. Your brain is obviously tougher than mine.

    Which may explain, bohm, why He is so cranky.

  • designs

    The Herschell's, the brother and sister astronomical team in the 1700's who invented the first 40' telescope spent every night of their adult lives star gazing and mapping the cosmos except for when weather prohibited good viewing.

  • ziddina

    @ Nickolas...

    giant rofl

  • Nickolas

    That's really interesting, designs. How'd you get there?

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