Re: Shorthand, discussion, hurling insults...
- SHORTHAND, DISCUSSION, HURLING INSULTS...
Me: "...those who believe in Darwinism need to show that morality
is a meaningful concept with respect to meaningless beings (which is what
we are if Darwinism is true)."
Truman: "I am not the one claiming morality is pointless, or that
we are just a bunch of chemicals."
You are if you believe that Darwinism accounts for human existence.
If Darwinism is true, we humans are accidental products of the blind
evolution of matter. Accordingly, we can't be anything more than unintended
bundles of molecules in motion (or bags of chemicals) whose presence in the
universe is of no consequence whatsoever. If Darwinism is true, our
existence has no more meaning (or value) than the existence of any other
accidental products of the blind evolution of matter - cockroaches, for
example. Morality - which concerns human behavior - cannot be a meaningful
concept if human beings themselves are meaningless beings. Unless humans
have intrinsic value (which they don't in the Darwinian scheme of things),
morality has no intrinsic value.
My own belief is that both humans and morality have intrinsic
value. You may share that belief, but you'll find no basis for it in the
Darwinian account of human existence. That unavoidable implication of
Darwinism is why Darwinist philosopher of science William Provine aptly
noted that Darwinism means there is "no ultimate meaning in life" and "no
ultimate foundation for ethics." Happily, few people - even die-hard
Darwinists - take Darwinism's moral lessons to heart and act on them. If
they did, we'd see more people like Eric Harris, one of the Columbine High
School gunmen, who carried the moral implications of Darwinism to their
logical and potentially horrific end. On his Web site, he wrote: "You know
what I love? Natural selection. It's the best thing that ever happened on
the earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and ignorant organisms." On the
day that he and Dylan Klebold killed 12 of their fellow students and one
teacher, Harris wore a T-shirt bearing the words "Natural Selection."
Truman: "Just what is 'ultimate meaning'?"
Me: "It is fundamental, or basic, or intrinsic, or essential
meaning. The life of a being whose existence is an accident of nature has
no essential meaning. Since there's no reason (or purpose) for the
existence of an accidental being, the being's life can't have any essential
meaning. The existence or non-existence of such a being has the same
meaning (or significance), namely: none."
Truman: "Oh I see. Whatever is, is what it is? Fine. I can't
argue with that kind of logic. I guess if you tell me that I am morally
obligated to blowing myself up, killing as many infidels as possible for
the glory of Allah, then I have no choice but to obey your command. I hope
that means those infidels had an ultimate meaning to get blown up."
I thought this exchange was worth repeating because it illustrates
so perfectly why my having a conversation with you is essentially
pointless. Everything you've written after "Oh I see" has nothing to do
with the point I was making. Apparently, making a good faith effort to
understand the things I write is not in your play book.
Truman: "What is really stupid about your logic is you can't seem
to grasp that the very fact we are alive gives us meaning."
It gives us no more meaning (or value) than the fact that they're
alive gives cockroaches meaning (or value). If their mere existence gives
living bags of chemicals (which is all that we and cockroaches are if
Darwinism is true) the kind of meaning (or value) that underwrites
morality, then killing a cockroach, or a mosquito, or a fly is immoral, and
those who kill such pests are murderers who should be held morally
Truman: "Your concept of 'essential meaning'....is based on your
religious belief. Its not based on established rules and principles of
The established rules and principles of logic don't establish any
truths. They're simply ways of reasoning. Logic alone can't tell us a thing
about the meaning of life. Neither is there any necessary disconnect
between logic and religion, as you seem to be suggesting.
Truman: "But that is not good enough for you creationists, part of
your morality is determined by the specific intelligent designer that you
derive your morality from, and you are intolerant of others who don't do
Good grief. Apparently you don't want to be taken seriously.
Otherwise I can't account for such accusatory twaddle. How have my
arguments been "intolerant"? I'm perfectly willing to put up with (or
tolerate) arguments contrary to mine. Disagreeing with those arguments is
not intolerance. Silencing the people who make those arguments is
intolerance, and I've made no attempt to silence anyone.
Truman: "Have you ever considered the possibility that things were
brought into being simply for the ultimate purpose to be brought into
That is, of course, a possibility, but it entails that there was a
creative intelligence whose purpose it was to bring things into being. Only
intelligence can act with purpose. (Note: Don't drag bees into this. Bees
act instinctively, not intelligently. They don't intend to build their
hives; they just do.)
Truman: "Do you think you are just a machine with no freewill."
No, but if I believed in Darwinism, I'd have to think that we
humans have no free will. Because it's a theory thoroughly steeped in
determinism, Darwinism provides no basis for free will. Intellectual
historian Richard Tarnas made this point quite eloquently in his brilliant
bestseller "The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That
Have Shaped Our World View":
"The more modern man strove to control nature by understanding its
principles, to free himself from nature's power, to separate himself from
nature's necessity and rise above it, the more completely his science
metaphysically submerged man into nature, and thus into its mechanistic and
impersonal character as well. For if man lived in an impersonal universe,
and if his existence was entirely grounded in and subsumed by that
universe, then man too was essentially impersonal, his private experience
of personhood a psychological fiction. In such a light, man was becoming
little more than a genetic strategy for the continuance of his species, and
as the twentieth century progressed that strategy's success was becoming
yearly more uncertain. Thus it was the irony of modern intellectual
progress that man's genius discovered successive principles of determinism
- Cartesian, Newtonian, Darwinian, Marxist, Freudian, behavorist, genetic,
neurophysiological, sociobiological - that steadily attenuated his belief
in his own rational and volitional freedom, while eliminating his sense of
being anything more than a peripheral and transient accident of evolution."
In the Darwinian scheme of things, our "thoughts" are mere
epiphenomena - secretions of the brain compelled by natural causes. They do
no more than serve biological imperatives, which means that we have no free
will. Of course, if we cannot freely make choices, then it's senseless to
speak of morality and moral accountability. Darwinism drains the concept of
morality of any meaning on two counts:
1) It entails that the lives of human beings (or of any living
things) do not have the intrinsic meaning (or value) needed to underwrite
2) It entails that humans cannot freely make choices.
A person can believe in Darwinism or he can believe that he has
free will, but he cannot coherently believe both things.
Truman: "...step back out of your narrow religious belief and see
that people live meaningful lives despite not having a book tell them how
I've not been arguing that our lives acquire meaning from a book
that tells us how to behave. If you're going to insist on reading things
into what I write rather than reading what I actually write, you're going
to keep coming up with straw men like this. I have no patience for that
kind of intellectual dishonesty. Neither do I have any patience for
childish rebuttals like "That's stupid," or "How stupid."
Truman: "...there is nothing in 'Darwinism' that says...you can't
have been created by a being."
You're kidding, right? Darwinism explicitly denies that any being
created us. It attributes our existence entirely to unintelligent material
causes, principally random mutations and natural selection.
Truman: "I am not the one claiming...that we are just a bunch of
chemicals. You are!"
No, I'm not. That's what we are if Darwinism is true. I don't
believe in Darwinism. If you do, then YOU are the one claiming that we are
just a bunch of chemicals.
Me: "A Darwinist may hate terrorism, but Darwinism gives him no
reasons why he should (indeed, Darwinism can't even explain why a
meaningless bag of chemicals known as a human being should feel hate)."
Truman: "How stupid. Because I can't explain the actions of a
fanatic, I should just let them do what THEY want?"
OK. I give up. Since it's abundantly clear that you can't (or
won't) understand the things I write, I'll leave you to posting soliloquies
in response to my writings. Dialogue is an option only when understanding
is a possibility, and that possibility is clearly slim when you read my
stuff. I may continue to read your stuff, and if I see you arguing against
things that I've actually said instead of against things that you falsely
attribute to me, I may resume the correspondence. For now, I've lost
interest in it.
Jim in Vermont
- SHORTHAND, DISCUSSION, HURLING INSULTS...
Susan: "Life does, indeed, have intrinsic worth and it is immoral
to take it away."
I agree. It's just that Darwinism provides no grounds for thinking
that life - an accidental product of the blind evolution of matter - has
any intrinsic worth. There's nothing about Darwinian evolution that entails
the existence of human beings; we are simply one of its many accidental
products, not one of which exists for a reason. Matter doesn't acquire
intrinsic worth simply because blind material causes assemble it into a
particular form. If Darwinism is true, blind material causes have given us
the same intrinsic worth they've give to a blade of grass, namely: none.
Me: "Witness, for example, the argument that it's moral to take the
life of an unborn child simply because the child is not wanted."
Susan: "who makes that argument? I know of no one who does."
Apparently you've not been following the abortion debate. Abortion
advocates routinely argue that a woman has the right to abort a child she
does not want. That argument entails the belief that aborting an unwanted
child is a moral act. As Lincoln aptly noted in a debate with Judge
Douglas, we "cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do a wrong."
If we say that a woman has the right to abort an unwanted child, we are
saying that killing the unwanted child is a moral act.
Susan: "The argument is that the woman's body belongs to herself
and she gets to decide what to do with it."
It doesn't follow that she also has the right to decide what to do
with the body of the child developing in her womb. If mere "ownership" of
our bodies gives us the sole right to decide what to do with them, then
you'd have no grounds for objecting if a rapist decided to use his body to
Susan: "A little over a million times a year (and declining, thank
goodness) women make the
wrong choice, an immoral choice. But it's not my choice to make. Or yours."
In effect, then, you're arguing that women have the right to do a
wrong. If Darwinism doesn't drain morality of any objective meaning, surely
this argument does.
Susan: "I think there is a 'moral law within' but I don't think it
proves anything either way."
I like what C.S. Lewis had to say on this point in "Mere
Christianity," to wit:
"There is one thing, and only one thing, in the whole universe
which we know more about than we could learn from external observation.
That one thing is Man. We do not merely observe men, we *are* men. In this
case we have, so to speak, inside information; we are in the know. And
because of that, we know that men find themselves under a moral law, which
they did not make, and cannot quite forget even when they try, and which
they know they ought to obey. Notice the following point. Anyone studying
Man from the outside as we study electricity or cabbages, not knowing our
language and consequently not able to get any inside knowledge from us, but
merely observing what we did, would never get the slightest evidence that
we had this moral law. How could he? for his observations would only show
what we did, and the moral law is about what we ought to do. In the same
way, if there were anything above or behind the observed facts in the case
of stones or the weather, we, by studying them from outside, could never
hope to discover it.
"The position of the question, then, is like this. We want to know
whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or
whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is. Since that
power, if it exists, would be not one of the observed facts but a reality
which makes them, no mere observation of the facts can find it. There is
only one case in which we can know whether there is anything more, namely
our own case. And in that one case we find there is. Or put it the other
way round. If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could
not show itself as one of the facts inside the universe - no more than an
architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in
that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would
be inside ourselves as an influence or command trying to get us to behave
in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves. Surely
this ought to arouse our suspicions? In the only case where you can expect
to get an answer, the answer turns out to be Yes; and in the other cases,
where you do not get an answer, you see why you do not. Suppose someone
asked me, when I see a man in a blue uniform going down the street leaving
little paper packets at each house, why I suppose that they contain
letters? I should reply, 'Because whenever he leaves a similar little
packet for me I find it does contain a letter.' And if he then objected,
'But you've never seen all these letters which you think the other people
are getting,' I should say, 'Of course not, and I shouldn't expect to,
because they're not addressed to me. I'm explaining the packets I'm not
allowed to open by the ones I am allowed to open.' It is the same about
this question. The only packet I am allowed to open is Man. When I do,
especially when I open that particular man called Myself, I find that I do
not exist on my own, that I am under a law; that somebody or something
wants me to behave in a certain way. I do not, of course, think that if I
could get inside a stone or a tree I should find exactly the same thing,
just as I do not think all the other people in the street get the same
letters as I do. I should expect, for instance, to find that the stone had
to obey the law of gravity - that whereas the sender of the letters merely
tells me to obey the law of my human nature, He compels the stone to obey
the laws of its stony nature. But I should expect to find that there was,
so to speak, a sender of letters in both cases, a Power behind the facts, a
Director, a Guide."
Susan: "What am I, chopped liver?"
If Darwinism is true, you're no more meaningful than chopped liver.
As a wholly materialistic explanation of life, Darwinism provides no basis
for thinking that one bundle of matter (you) is more meaningful (more
valuable) than another bundle of matter (chopped liver).
Susan: "Each person must decide what is moral in any given
On what basis do they decide? Should their decision be informed by
universal, objective moral truths (or absolutes), or should the decision be
informed by their subjective feelings? If we were talking about weights
rather than morals, would you say that each person must decide for himself
what a thing weighs in any given instance? Or would you say that each
person must use universal, objective standards of measurement to determine
what a thing weighs in any given instance? Just as subjectivity in weights
and measures would cause bridges and buildings to collapse, so does
subjectivity in morals cause the collapse of the moral framework that
sustains civilization. I'm not arguing that individuals should not exercise
moral discernment; I'm arguing that moral discernment must be guided by
moral absolutes or it's not really moral discernment after all.
Susan: "If there are moral absolutes--and there may be, I don't
know what they would be, but they could exist--then YOU (as the moral
actor) must decide what they are."
No, the moral actor must discover what they are, not decide what
they are. If something exists, we don't decide that it exists, we discover
that it exists. This is true whether we're speaking of horses or cabbages
or super novae or moral truths. To a great extent, the process of
discovering universal moral truths is done by our innate moral sense (i.e.,
the inescapable sense of a moral law within us), assisted by our ability to
reason and to learn. Religions don't establish moral truths, but they can
be helpful in learning them.
Susan: "evolution is true in the sense that everything alive shares
a common ancestor."
There's not a person alive who knows that claim to be true. If you
think that you know it to be true, then please identify the common ancestor
of all living things.
Susan: "...speaking informally, I think we can say evolution is
true. After all, why DO they do medical experiments on mice?"
They do medical experiments on mice in hopes of finding cures for
human diseases or ways to prevent those diseases. Those experiments owe
nothing to Darwinism.
Susan: "I have no idea which meaning for "Darwinism" you intend in
the above paragraph."
As I've previously explained, I use Darwinism as a shorthand way to
refer to modern evolutionary theory, also known as neo-Darwinism or the
Modern Synthesis. Occasionally, I use the term to refer to Darwin's
original theory, with the expectation that context will alert perceptive
readers to that useage of the term. Darwinism and atheism both deny (the
former implicitly, the latter explicitly) that God had anything to do with
the origin and development of life.
Jim in Vermont
- --- In OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com, "James G. Goff" <JimGoff@...> wrote:
> SHORTHAND, DISCUSSION, HURLING INSULTS...
> Me: "...those who believe in Darwinism need to show that
> is a meaningful concept with respect to meaningless beings (which iswhat
> we are if Darwinism is true)."that
> Truman: "I am not the one claiming morality is pointless, or
> we are just a bunch of chemicals."existence.
> You are if you believe that Darwinism accounts for human
> If Darwinism is true, we humans are accidental products of the blindunintended
> evolution of matter. Accordingly, we can't be anything more than
> bundles of molecules in motion (or bags of chemicals) whose presencein the
> universe is of no consequence whatsoever.I don't believe we are accidents. I am not the one claiming morality
is pointless, or that we are just a bunch of chemicals. The fact that
morality is a meaningful concept to me, regardless of how I came into
existence, is evidence that morality is not pointless.
Why is that so hard for you to grasp?
> If Darwinism is true, ourmeaningful
> existence has no more meaning (or value) than the existence of any other
> accidental products of the blind evolution of matter - cockroaches, for
> example. Morality - which concerns human behavior - cannot be a
> concept if human beings themselves are meaningless beings. Unless humansthings),
> have intrinsic value (which they don't in the Darwinian scheme of
> morality has no intrinsic value.So you say cockroaches are examples of "accidental products of the
blind evolution of matter"?
You whine that I don't understand ID, and you are right. ID makes no
sense. At least your version of it makes no sense. In one post, you
claim we can't tell what is designed and what is not, and in this
post, you make it very clear a cockroach was not designed.
So why are cockroaches products of evolution and humans are not? Why
are trilobites designed, but cockroaches are not?
Secondly, who or what determines what is moral or not?