Thursday, August 30, 2007

Zachary Moore Infiltrates the Creation Museum

Brilliant! Dr. Zachary Moore has a 10 minute video tour of the Creation Museum. Check it out, yo!

12 comments:

Jonathan said...

Howdy, just thought I'd ask you a question...

In your title for you blog, you say that the concept of an afterlife is "inhumane" and "immoral".

My question is, what do you mean by "immoral" and "inhumane", and what is your reference point by which you establish "morality"?

When you say "immoral", don't you really mean just "what is incovenient to you or the rest of humanity"?

And please don't misunderstand me to be saying that you need to believe in God in order to be "good", as we understand "goodness". I'm not talking about whether atheists or religious people "behave" better. My question is about how you objectively establish ethics. Do you subscribe to "what goes around comes around" ethics?

Aaron Kinney said...

Hi Jonathan,

Yes, I do believe that the belief in an afterlife in all its various forms is inhumane and immoral.

If you check out my archives you will find lots of posts Ive made that explain this in detail. Heres a couple links to get you started:

Whats Your Motive?
Spend Spend Spend!
I Cut Her Arms Off
Worshipping Death
The Evil of Reincarnation
Morality Cannot be Based on Gods Rules
James Joyce and the Horrible Absurdity of Eternity
Offspring Murder Club: Chris Benoit

I explain much about how I establish ethics and stuff in those posts. Check 'em out, and browse my archives to find even more.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have. Welcome to my blog :)

Aaron Kinney said...

Oh Jonathan, one more thing I forgot to mention. In response to this:

My question is about how you objectively establish ethics.

I am also curious as to how you objectively establish ethics? Im assuming you are a theist, yes?

Jonathan said...

Ok I think I found the crux of the issue. You said,

"I would be violating my own self-interest, and therefore would be acting immorally."

Ok, I understand that you believe in the "golden rule" (and yes i know it is not exclusively a religious term).

But I think it is misleading to use terms like "immoral", when in fact all you mean by an "immoral action" is just something that would be inconvenient or harmful to yourself.

You should come out and admit that, by the term "immoral" you only mean: that which is a violation of your opinion on how human existence ought to be.

By not coming out and saying your "morality" is just your own opinion, you give readers the impression that there is such a thing as an absolute morality that exists regardless of what they think about it, and that the "afterlifers" are in violation of that objective morality.

But the reality is that they are just in violation of your own opinion.

Am I being clear?

Aaron Kinney said...

Jonathan,

Ok I think I found the crux of the issue. You said,

"I would be violating my own self-interest, and therefore would be acting immorally."

Ok, I understand that you believe in the "golden rule" (and yes i know it is not exclusively a religious term).

But I think it is misleading to use terms like "immoral", when in fact all you mean by an "immoral action" is just something that would be inconvenient or harmful to yourself.


Immoral, to me, means a violation of the principle of self-ownership. Why do you think thats a bad definition? And whats your definition of "immoral"? Is it as trite as "that which pisses God off"?

You should come out and admit that, by the term "immoral" you only mean: that which is a violation of your opinion on how human existence ought to be.

Um, what I will admit (and what I just did admit) is that I believe that immoral actions are ones where the sovereignty of the individual is violated. Is your perception of "immoral" somehow NOT based on what is "a violation of your opinion on how human existence ought to be"?

By not coming out and saying your "morality" is just your own opinion, you give readers the impression that there is such a thing as an absolute morality that exists regardless of what they think about it, and that the "afterlifers" are in violation of that objective morality.

And I suppose you will openly disagree with me and say that people do NOT own themselves?

But the reality is that they are just in violation of your own opinion.

Its not quite that they are in violation of my opinion... Its more like this: my opinion is that they are in violation of a universal principle.

Jonathan said...

Immoral, to me, means a violation of the principle of self-ownership. Why do you think thats a bad definition?

I'm not saying it's a bad definition "per se". But it's your own creative definition. All I'm saying is that you talk about "morality" as if it's something more than just your own opinion.

Your "definition" is just a definition YOU came up with.

Its not quite that they are in violation of my opinion... Its more like this: my opinion is that they are in violation of a universal principle.

And this "universal principle" is real because you say it is?

You should just admit that, to you, something is "immoral" because it incoveniences or harms you or others.

You subsrcibe to "what goes around comes around" morality, which in reality makes morality just a social convention, something we invented.

And so, in that case, "afterlifers" aren't "immoral". They are just inconvenient to the propogation of the human race.

Appreciating the dialogue,

-jonathan

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: Jonathan,

I'm not saying it's a bad definition "per se". But it's your own creative definition. All I'm saying is that you talk about "morality" as if it's something more than just your own opinion.

All definitions that people use are based on their perception and belief regarding the issue, so if my definition is only my opinion, then isnt this true for everyone? And if this is true for everyones definition, how could mine be less valid just because of this fact?

Anyway, I think youre missing the point here. The reason that my definition is so kickass isnt because I believe it, but because I can support it. I can point to things in natural reality that others can analyze and verify on their own; they need not merely trust my word. But, on the other hand, if your moral code is dictated to you from a God, or found in a book that is alleged to be Gods word, then how can you verify the claim? How can you point to something outside of a mere assertion - something that can be independently verified by anyone?

My moral definition has a real framework that supports it. Theistic morality, on the other hand, is just a bunch of empty assertions.

Your "definition" is just a definition YOU came up with.

Nah, someone else did (but I sure wish I was the one who thought it up first!). But I independently examined it and found to accept it, and thus incorporate it into my own worldview.

And this "universal principle" is real because you say it is?

No. Its independently verifiable.

You should just admit that, to you, something is "immoral" because it incoveniences or harms you or others.

I would be happy to admit that if it were true. Youre on the right track here, but youre not quite there yet. An action is not immoral because it "incoveniences or harms you or others," thats an argument from effect. No, Im saying that immoral actions are immoral by their nature, regardless of their results.

Ill try to break this down as simply as I can. There are only two ways for a person to act: through voluntary consent or through force. One of these violates the universality of self-ownership, one does not. Accordingly, one is moral and one is not. Can you guess which one?

You subsrcibe to "what goes around comes around" morality, which in reality makes morality just a social convention, something we invented.

I certainly do not subscribe to "what goes around comes around," in any sense. Its obvious that there are many unfortunate instances where someone does something bad and never has a comeuppance.

And so, in that case, "afterlifers" aren't "immoral". They are just inconvenient to the propogation of the human race.

Eh, it seems you didnt read any of the links I gave.

The reason that the afterlife is immoral is because it trumps the importance of THIS life by definition. It causes people to shortchange this life in hopes of improving the next. Also, it promises eternal life, which would remove the inherent loss associated with coercive acts. Think of it like this: "Im going to heaven when I die so what do I care if I do something unfortunate in this life?"

Appreciating the dialogue,

-jonathan


So am I. You got good questions and you seem like a nice guy. But this time can you try to answer more of my questions more specifically plese? ;-)

And just to be clear, are you an atheist or a Christian or what?

Jonathan said...

Ok, I see that I have put the cart before the horse. I realize that I need to address one of your "first principles".

You said in your article:

If someone says, "It is bad that I exist, and I should not exist," they are making a big mistake, for in their mere act of concluding such a thing, they are presupposing the value of their own existence. This is because one cannot make such a conclusion without existing in the first place, and if one were to not exist, it would be impossible for them to conclude that it is good that they don't exist! Human morality cannot be used to conclude that humans should not exist, for without humans, there would be no human morality to use to reach that conclusion.

I think herein lies the rub that needs clarification.

So let me try and sum up what you're saying here...

When someone says, "I shouldn't exist" or "I shouldn't value my existence", they are in fact presupposing the value of their existence, and thus contradicting themselves (so as you claim).

And the way they are presupposing the value of their existence, is, by not realizing that, without existence, they would not have been able to make that assertion, thus giving self-existence "value".

So you are saying that, in essence, they are cutting off the branch of the tree they are sitting on... They are saying their life isn't valuable, but ignoring the "value" of the necessity of their existence to come that conclusion (however wrong it may be).

Tell me if I'm wrong so far in summary....

But if I am right, let me address the assumption that is underneath this:

Existence is indeed necessary to come to the conclusion of whether or not one's existence is valuable or not.

**But the "value" of self-existence helping me come to a conclusion of my own value, does not give objective value to self-existence itself.**

All you can claim is that "self-existence" is helpful in coming to any conclusion about anything at all.

You are equating:

the "helpfulness" or "value" of existence in coming to any conclusion

with

the "value" of existence itself.

And this is your grave pre-suppositional error. The two types of "valuableness" you speak of are two different things. They are apples and oranges per se.



And in regards to what I personally believe, if it is ok with you, I would rather not say right now. ANd the reason is because I have found, that in the past, saying where I stand often creates many red herrings, and would deviate us away from the point at hand (which you seem to have conceded to discuss): How atheists can firmly establish objective morals.

-jonathan

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: Jonathan,

Ok, I see that I have put the cart before the horse. I realize that I need to address one of your "first principles".

You said in your article:


If someone says, "It is bad that I exist, and I should not exist," they are making a big mistake, for in their mere act of concluding such a thing, they are presupposing the value of their own existence. This is because one cannot make such a conclusion without existing in the first place, and if one were to not exist, it would be impossible for them to conclude that it is good that they don't exist! Human morality cannot be used to conclude that humans should not exist, for without humans, there would be no human morality to use to reach that conclusion.

I think herein lies the rub that needs clarification.

So let me try and sum up what you're saying here...

When someone says, "I shouldn't exist" or "I shouldn't value my existence", they are in fact presupposing the value of their existence, and thus contradicting themselves (so as you claim).

And the way they are presupposing the value of their existence, is, by not realizing that, without existence, they would not have been able to make that assertion, thus giving self-existence "value".

So you are saying that, in essence, they are cutting off the branch of the tree they are sitting on... They are saying their life isn't valuable, but ignoring the "value" of the necessity of their existence to come that conclusion (however wrong it may be).

Tell me if I'm wrong so far in summary....


So far it seems that you got it right. I would simply add one little point: that it as a consequence of the above, it is not possible to state that your life is not of value a priori.

But if I am right, let me address the assumption that is underneath this:

Existence is indeed necessary to come to the conclusion of whether or not one's existence is valuable or not.

**But the "value" of self-existence helping me come to a conclusion of my own value, does not give objective value to self-existence itself.**


Au contraire! It sure does, because only in existence is a judgement of existence even possible.

All you can claim is that "self-existence" is helpful in coming to any conclusion about anything at all.

No, I claim that to use consciousness to judge it as worthless is to assume its very worth.

You are equating:

the "helpfulness" or "value" of existence in coming to any conclusion

with

the "value" of existence itself.


I can see why you view it this way, but its not that simple. I am not equivocating, but what I am doing is pointing out that 1) to judge something assumes the value of the ability to make judgements, 2) judgements are only possible with conscious entities, 3) therefore to make a judgement about your existence is to assume that being conscious to make judgements in the first place is valuable. Its a logical consequence of existence.

And this is your grave pre-suppositional error. The two types of "valuableness" you speak of are two different things. They are apples and oranges per se.

Well now that I think Ive helped clarify it a bit more, Im curious to know what you think of it now.

And in regards to what I personally believe, if it is ok with you, I would rather not say right now. ANd the reason is because I have found, that in the past, saying where I stand often creates many red herrings, and would deviate us away from the point at hand (which you seem to have conceded to discuss): How atheists can firmly establish objective morals.

Jonathan, I think you are a cool guy. You seem to be genuintely intelligent and interested in a productive dialogue with me, and I too am enjoying our discussion. But honestly I think it is not fair for you to hide your position, and I dont think that it is a red herring at all for you to reveal your worldview considering the topic at hand. If we are going to talk about foundations of morality, and if you believe that my ideology is incorrect, then shouldnt you be proposing alternatives that you think DO work?

It actually puts me at a disadvantage, because here I am with a blog that is very clear in what it is advocating. My position is laid bare on the table for you to attack and analyze. I am currently on the defensive because so far Im the only one of us that has revealed my cards so to speak. For you not to offe me the same consideration is not fair, and is not conductive to our discussion. I cannot possibly attack in turn and have a proper "back and forth" with you if I have no target to attack. Isnt it only reasonable that, if we are going to joust over my worldview, that I have your worldview available to compare and contrast against?

For all I know, you could be an atheist/moral relativist, or you could be a Christian, or any other number of things.

Obviously, I cant force you to reveal your position. But if our respect for eachother is really mutual (and I do respect you), and if I am revealing all the cards in my hand, it is only fair that you do the same.

Jonathan said...

Ok, here's the rub:

1) to judge something assumes the value of the ability to make judgements,

I guess it all boils down to what you mean by "value".

To judge something does indeed assume the ability of the mind to properly ascertain "reason". We assume the validity of our judgements, because we trust that we can reason, and further because we trust that reason and logic is dependable (the latter accepted a priori... really, too, logic itself cannot be "proven" reliable either or absolute, because the only thing we have to investigate logic is logic itself... and surely one cannot be on trial and be the judge at the same).

But if you mean that "to judge something assumes the 'goodness' of the ability to make judgements", then I would argue that you are just stating your opinion, and that it is nothing more than that.

I think you are using the word "value" in two different senses, and applying a different "sense" of the word depending on the statement you are using.

Making judgements only assumes the trustworthiness of the brain to ascertain logic and reason.

It does not at all assume the "goodness" of the brain in ascertaining logic (at least not with any rational, logical support for it, only a priori).

In regards to my beliefs, would it be enough to say that, I believe that there is intelligence behind our existence and that we don't exist by a fluke...?

Jonathan said...

I said, "It does not at all assume the "goodness" of the brain in ascertaining logic"

Let me clarify:

We cannot assume, with any logical reason, that is, that the brain's ability to do this, is "good" or "bad", because "good or bad" is just social convention.

Aaron Kinney said...

Jonathan,

Ok, here's the rub:

1) to judge something assumes the value of the ability to make judgements,

I guess it all boils down to what you mean by "value".


Yes, and isnt the value of something implied when you successfully use it?

To judge something does indeed assume the ability of the mind to properly ascertain "reason". We assume the validity of our judgements, because we trust that we can reason, and further because we trust that reason and logic is dependable (the latter accepted a priori... really, too, logic itself cannot be "proven" reliable either or absolute, because the only thing we have to investigate logic is logic itself... and surely one cannot be on trial and be the judge at the same).

That is an argument from effect. But Im talking about an argument of principle. In principle, you cannot condemn the ability to condemn. You can either make no judgement on consciousness (an agnostic of sorts), or you can admit its worth by the simple fact that if you can use your consciousness to achieve a goal you have consciously set for yourself (in this case the goal is to judge the value of consciousness), then the value of consciousness was proven in achieving that goal.

But if you mean that "to judge something assumes the 'goodness' of the ability to make judgements", then I would argue that you are just stating your opinion, and that it is nothing more than that.

Just because someone has an opinion, doesnt mean that its incorrect. Youve pointed out that this is my opinion. And in my last paragraph, I explained the logic behind my "opinion." So if you want to claim that my opinion is "...nothing more than that," please back it up and respond directly to my previous paragraph.

I think you are using the word "value" in two different senses, and applying a different "sense" of the word depending on the statement you are using.

Care to elaborate, or will this remain an unsupported assertion? I believe that my use of the word value has been consistent.

Making judgements only assumes the trustworthiness of the brain to ascertain logic and reason.

But if, on the other hand, you do not believe that your judgement is sound, then how can you even justify that very judgement? The reason that the denial of judgements value shoots itself in the foot is because of the principle - the reliance on ones judgements assumes the value of the act of judging. You cannot make any judgements unless you concede that your ability to judge is valuable a priori. That is the principle.

It does not at all assume the "goodness" of the brain in ascertaining logic (at least not with any rational, logical support for it, only a priori).
I said, "It does not at all assume the "goodness" of the brain in ascertaining logic"

Let me clarify:

We cannot assume, with any logical reason, that is, that the brain's ability to do this, is "good" or "bad", because "good or bad" is just social convention.


Good or bad is not just social convention. Good and bad have nothing to do with social convention. They have to do with logical and physical fact.

In regards to my beliefs, would it be enough to say that, I believe that there is intelligence behind our existence and that we don't exist by a fluke...?

I suppose that will do for now. But one more question about your beliefs: Do you believe that morality is defined by this "intelligence"?