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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Does Atheism Contribute To Alzheimers & Bad Health?

John 10:10 ~ "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly

A recent recent study has shown that having a greater purpose in life can stave off alzheimers disease. So says Dr. Patricia Boyle of Rush University Medical Ctr. in Chicago, IL March issue of the journal 'Archives of General Psychiatry'. On Chicago's WVON AM 1690's, The Santita Jackon show, Dr. Boyle reported that people with purpose live longer and healthier lives. According to ABC News the panel of Doctors and Scientists delivered the following:

"The tendency to derive meaning from life's experiences and to possess a sense of intentionality and goal directedness are associated with a substantially reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and a less rapid rate of cognitive decline in older age,"
Researchers in Chicago measured purpose of life of 951 older people who did not have dementia over an average of four years. People who scored in the top 10 per cent on the purpose of life measure were found to be approximately 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimers disease than those in the bottom 10 per cent.

Greater purpose in life was associated with a 52 percent reduced risk of Alzheimers, and those with a high score on the purpose-in-life measurement were 2.4 times more likely to remain disease-free than low-scorers. There was a 30% reduction in the risk of heart attack, among them with purpose and a 1.5% increased likelihood of remaining heart attack free as compared to those who scored low on the purpose of life scores. The panel defined purpose as follows:
a "psychological tendency to derive meaning from life's experiences and to possess a sense of intentionality and goal directedness that guides behavior"
Similarly, those who developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were older and reported lower purpose in life scores than those who were not impaired. They also had a higher number of depressive symptoms. They found that people who agreed with statements such as, "I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future" and "I have a sense of direction and purpose in life" were less likely to develop the disease than those who did not agree.
The Alzheimers Society responded to the information by stating:
'This study builds on previous research that suggests the way we live our lives can affect our risk of developing dementia. Scientists believe dementia is the result of a combination of lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors.

'However, more research is needed to determine exactly how this equation is balanced and whether a measure of purpose of life definitely has a role to play. One in three people over the age of 65 will die with dementia. Ahead of the election, we need commitments from all political parties for a prioritisation of dementia research funding so we can move forward in our understanding of this devastating condition.'  ~ Andrew Ketteringham Director of External Affairs, Alzheimer's Society
This is a great issue on a worldwide basis. For example the Telegraph.CO.UK reports that there are approximately 700,000 persons with dementia in Britain and two thirds of them have alzheimers.
 
The Futility & Hopelessness Of Atheism

Atheist Bertrand Russell stated at least one fact correctly in his lifetime:

“Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” (1)

Bertrand got this one right. Without God the question of life's purpose is simply wasted words. One can assign a purpose to their own life or feel inclined to do certain things but  that does not address the question of what we are here to do and why. For some a self-assigned purpose is OK and satisfactory. The problem is that self-assigned purposes are only temporary and lead back to the original question of the overarching premise of purpose and being. The facts are that those with purpose are in a better condition, mentally and physically than those without any purpose or reason in general. Since God and his purpose isn't merely confined to this life,  those who believe in God should be in a position to fare better off in general.

Former U S President James Madison said this:

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise"

It would seem that based on the evidence, the only bondage that shackles the mind and makes it unfit is the bondage of unbelief!

It is amazing is that leading atheists have spent much time and money to promote the baseline assertion that life only has what meaning that one gives it and no matter what that is, life is only temporary and ultimately meaningless outside of the context of our mortality. The results of atheistic assertions and dogmas cannot be removed from this conversation. Plainly speaking if there is no purpose, then there cannot be an ultimate righting of any wrong or accounting for anything good or bad. For the atheist there is no reconciliation of actions or rewards for good deeds or penalties for atrocities. In atheism all actions receive the same reward...NOTHING. Thus revealing why atheism in its purest form leads to depression...no purpose, no hope and no expectation...NOTHING!

Atheist debater Dr. Will Provine in a debate concluded his call to atheism by saying, "You live, you die and you rot in the grave. That's it. That's all there is to life."

So what does one do when it is realized that their is nothing that happens in the future? Only focus on the here and now, no matter what that here and now contains, simply be thankful for it, live and die: 

 Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one." ~ Richard Dawkins

Christians can be thankful because we know that God lives and that there is a future no matter what we go through. to whom are these men thankful and for what if there is no future, hope or expectation?

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." 
~ Mark Twain
Then there are other failed atheist scientists who's premises are thoroughly discounted:

"When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life."
Dr. Sigmund Freud

Dr. Freud thought that removing oneself from religion (which is filled with teaching on understanding one's purpose, especially within the Christian context) that man would be somehow better off. Obviously current studies have proven him wrong in his most basic assertions and nothing is quite further from the truth. Christianity reveals the purpose of individuals and all of humanity. Within Christianity God reveals that every person has a significance and a place and there is no event in which God does not operate to the benefit of his people.

To Be Totally Honest

Even atheists themselves know that having a purpose in life is better than the alternative. They readily recognize Christians as being happy due to the purpose they have found. As much as they claim that Christinas and the religious live in a delusion, the fact is that many of them live in denial and make excuses for  what they witness and minimize the joy found within Christianity and try to reason it away as if it doesn't matter:

"The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality." 
~ George Bernard Shaw

In spite of all his ignorance, at least Mr. Shaw admitted that the Christian is happier than the sceptic which is telling. Of course not all atheist will agree, but they cannot disagree with the thought prevalent throughout atheism that there is no compelling purpose to life and existence than what they assign to it. The naturalistic premise of evolution removes purpose from humanity, replacing it with blind chance, natural selection and the ultimate illusion of freewill and life.

The Christian Worldview Filled With Purpose & A Much Better Place To Live & Thrive!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~"To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"

Unlike those that hold to the mindless and blind chance of our being in the universe, the bible from it's first pages reveal that man is full of purpose and that the life and design of mankind is done at the hand of God himself. Jesus at the arc pinnacle of all human history came filled with purpose and not mere blind chance. Jesus came with purpose and intention. His purpose was to do the will of God and destroy the works of the devil

1 John 3:8 ~"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

John 4:34 ~"Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."

Jesus had a purpose (meat and to destroy the works of the devil). God has a purpose (will to save mankind from their sins). Within the Christian worldview everything and everyone has a purpose and a reason even if that reason and purpose is not so easily found and revealed. The Christian isn't required to know the reason and purpose of everything, but is encouraged to "trust" in the one who has designed all purposes for the benefit and blessing of the people. God has created purpose.

Jesus encounter with Paul was for a purpose. That purpose was to make Paul something that wasn't previously as he recounts:

Acts 26:16 ~ "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;"

Further Paul understood that his purpose was to allow God to be so abundant in his life that the church would be further shaped and formed by God in him:

Ephes. 3:10-15 ~ "10-To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11-According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12-In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13-Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14-For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15-Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,"

God has purpose for his people and that purpose fulfills the lives and the hearts of all individuals and the purpose of each is vitally important.

Conclusion:

The Christian worldview is filled with purpose, the meaning of life and the intention of God towards his people. Knowing that everything in life is meaningful and means something not only encourages the mind but is also beneficial for overall health of an individual. This is not merely psyching one's self out. This is knowing that there is a reason to life and living. The Christian worldview addresses the current condition of life and the future condition of living. God in his word does not allow life to end in a hopeless state and condition of nothingness, whereby all sin and evil are rewarded the same. Under the Christian worldview there is a reckoning of all things good and bad and evil along with unbelief is given it's reward.

In atheism, Hitler and Mother Teresa receive the same reward...NOTHING! The worst atrocities that have ever occurred among humanity go without any reconciliation or justice. The greatest gifts given to humanity are without reward. This is a depressing thought and one that the mind would like to forget, I'm sure...but that's atheism at it's finest.

For an atheist self directed purpose is an attempt to make meaning and purpose out of life. That's OK and efforts of all are good and essential to society. The computer we have, created and promoted by at least one atheist (Bill Gates) is a good and significant contribution to society. So the value of contributions are not in question. The results of what atheism contributes to overall well being of each individual is in question however. EVERY life has a much greater purpose and value than what is attributed to it by atheism. In fact the ultimate value is far beyond what we know and realize here on earth. I believe it's true connection to that ultimate purpose that is beneficial to our health both mentally and physically.  

So is atheism responsible for alzheimers and bad health? NO! But forgetting and rejecting God isn't good for one's overall being mentally, physically or spiritually! We have TRUE purpose in Christ, and are better all around because of it!

Blessed!

References:
1- Bertrand Russell, quoted in Rick Warren's, The Purpose-Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), p. 17.

40 comments:

  1. Atheist champions such as Hitchens and Dawkins are filled with affirmation that life is without any ultimates in effort to raylly the troops to stand against the "dangers of religion" Neither of them can be taken seriously as their assertions don't hold water.

    Listen to their debates, they are sick and empty. When one says, "I value all relationships because this is all we have" they are either lying or have totally deceived themselves.

    All relationship should be valued because all people have a high value even if some live well beneath their value. The only reason that their is a value is because of GOd, not because of anything that they are without God.

    Sam Harris even trys to address this other dimension claiming that one can be "spiritual" and yet be an athesit. Dawkins claim to be a "spiritual atheist"...total confusion! They live in darkness and take their followers into their confusion and into the grip of hell right along with them.

    True freethought is being free of the influence of men, NOT the influence of God.

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  2. I think you're both right and wrong about this one, Mr. Burnett...

    I agree with you that having a purpose can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. Religious communities can provide stability and support on top of this, giving individual theists plenty of reasons to stick around and be involved in what's going on. Atheism, on the other hand, provides very little, other than the notion that purpose needs to come from somewhere else.

    Where I disagree with you, Mr. Burnett, is with the following:

    In atheism all actions receive the same reward...NOTHING. Thus revealing why atheism in its purest form leads to depression...no purpose, no hope and no expectation...NOTHING!

    Atheism, unlike Christianity, is not a belief system. This is a mistake (whether intentional or unwitting) made repeatedly by critics of atheism, no matter how many times it is explained to them. Atheism does not and can not provide support, and for the most part, it never intended to do so. It is simply an affirmation that theism is faulty.

    The statement "Television is bad!" isn't criticized because it fails provide people with a source of entertainment. "Politicians are dishonest!" isn't criticized when, if followed to its logical conclusion, it would destroy our democratic way of life.

    With one notable exception, atheism does not attempt to support anyone, and we shouldn't criticize it for this. Pay close attention to atheists, and you will find that most are ALSO humanists, parents, republicans or democrats, etc. Just as individual Christians have other labels, so do atheists.

    These other labels provide lots of purpose.

    And this is where you get it wrong. Atheism doesn't have to provide purpose, because it was never meant to do so. Purpose is provided by the individuals themselves.

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  3. Whateverman,

    You said:"Atheism, unlike Christianity, is not a belief system."

    No, that's what atheism is presented as, but it is a long way from it's presentation. Atheism comes with a fully contained and expressed system on

    origins,
    life and living
    cognitive and philosophical assertions
    faith statements and presuppositions
    death and post death experiences (or lack therefof)

    So atheism is a BELIEF system. It is a nontheistic belief system but a belief system just the same without question. The affirmation of atheism is naturalism aka metaphysical naturalism.

    You said:"Atheism does not and can not provide support, and for the most part, it never intended to do so."

    This is what I say in the article. there is no support within atheism or within teh tenets of atheism. Yes I describe it like a religion because people belive it and defend it religiously. Science is the guide book only the cannon of atheism is not closed. it changes according to the new writing of science. So no there is no type of support that atheism provides it only strips away whatever supports that are outside of the metaphysical naturalistic system. It's like using HALF of what we've been given to live with and within and claiming that it's a complete and closed system...naturalism only describes one aspect of our reality.

    You said:"It is simply an affirmation that theism is faulty."

    Incorrect...atheism goes much further. It makes beginning of life statements, "all beings exist as a process of natural selection, environmental pressure and random processes" end of life statements..."you die and that's it!"...It makes value statements, "all morality are human conventions are based on natural principles"...It makes statements on origins..."All that there is is the universe, all that there ever was was the universe"

    So I think I've represented the world view of atheism quite well and accurately.

    I also desribe the problem associated with self-directed purpose in the article. To be specific I said this:

    For an atheist self directed purpose is an attempt to make meaning and purpose out of life. That's OK and efforts of all are good and essential to society. The computer we have, created and promoted by at least one atheist (Bill Gates) is a good and significant contribution to society. So the value of contributions are not in question. The results of what atheism contributes to overall well being of each individual is in question however"

    The prioblem is that self-directed purpose is only temporary and valid in this continuum, whereas the purpose of the believer is eternal and beyond this continuum and in teh grand scope and scheme of things are more encompassing.

    Now, if your're a pantheistic atheist, like many describe themselves to be that's a completely different issue.

    In short, I don't think I got anything wrong here...at least as you contend that I did...

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  4. As a former Christian and now atheist, I can tell you first hand how I thought God gave my life purpose. I was His creation, and my purpose was to glorify Him.

    However, after losing my faith, I found much more deeper, fulfilling meaning and purpose to life. I don't want to bore everyone with all the details, but trust me when I say that my life is filled with much more meaning now. My religious-based purpose to life seems childish and shallow in comparison.

    Anyway, I got a good laugh out of trying to link atheism to alzheimers. Keep up the good work.

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  5. District Supt. Harvey Burnett,

    You're free to believe whatever you want about atheism, but atheism and science are two diffident things all-together. Many Christians accept the big bang theory, evolution, etc... Atheism does not prescribe any beliefs about the origin of the universe, philosophy, etc.. Although I admit you would be hard pressed to find an atheist that rejects the scientific explanation for our existence.

    However, I very much take offense to this statement:

    It makes value statements, "all morality are human conventions are based on natural principles"

    The idea that morality is based on natural principals is abhorrent, and I would never believe such a thing. Morality based on natural principals would lead to wide-spread chaos. Killing would be OK, we could let the poor starve, and we could take whatever we wanted. After all, all these things happen all the time in nature. Humans are all selfish and greedy, that doesn't make it right to always act out on those impulses.

    It's disgusting that you would even suggest I subscribe to such a viewpoint.

    Hey, I have an idea. Stop telling other people what they believe.

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  6. Debunkey,

    You said:...I was His creation, and my purpose was to glorify Him.

    Debunkey, I think you may have misinterpreted your purpose in a greater sense. The 'glorify him" part was not to sit in a room or church raising your hands and in prayer all day. the "glorify him" was to serve the needs of humanity, community and people around you. The "glorify him" was to love those who didn't love themselves and to care for those who didn't care for anything other than them!

    This makes me question the later part of your statement"However, after losing my faith, I found much more deeper, fulfilling meaning and purpose to life."

    What greater things can be done in life than to give your life for someone else OTHER than your self? This is CHristianity and how Christianity is revealed...it is giving of self to somethign and someone other than self...So if you've found greater purpose it WASN'T because Christianity didn't offer it...it was because you didn't understand and or realize teh call of Christianity in these areas...once again...the fauklt wasn't with God or his word teh fault was with what and how you were taught (at least initially) and what you inclined yourself to understand...There is no failure in God only in people, but he hasn't held even that against us in Christ!

    You concluded:"Anyway, I got a good laugh out of trying to link atheism to alzheimers. Keep up the good work"

    I'm glad to enlighten your day with laughter...that's another one of those things that God says that does us good...Proverbs 17:22~A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

    But when all tenets of atheism are considered and what it does, it's really not too funny.

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  7. debunkey,

    You said,"You're free to believe whatever you want about atheism, but atheism and science are two diffident things all-together."

    Thank you! That's exactly what I've been trying to communicate for quite some time. Teh only problem is that atheism has tried to smuggle it's tenets into modern sciene and scientific theory. I've discussed that thoroughly on this blog and laid out my care in at least 5 posts that I am aware of. Atheism lends philosophical metaphysical naturalism to science as IF it were science. Eugenie Scott (atheist) knows this and has expressed tha there is a difference between the findings of science and the philosophy of science. This didn't used to be so, but too many of the most vocal scientists are atheists and they assert and impose their will on too many scientific and religious conversations.

    You said:"Many Christians accept the big bang theory, evolution, etc... Atheism does not prescribe any beliefs about the origin of the universe, philosophy, etc"

    Who said..."all that there is and all that there will ever be is the universe." It wasn't a Christian for sure...

    You said:The idea that morality is based on natural principals is abhorrent, and I would never believe such a thing. Morality based on natural principals would lead to wide-spread chaos. Killing would be OK, we could let the poor starve, and we could take whatever we wanted. After all, all these things happen all the time in nature. Humans are all selfish and greedy, that doesn't make it right to always act out on those impulses.

    I don't see the problem of your complaint...If morals come from human convention, which in your opinion is ony the result of natural and random process, then morals can be said to have come naturally...If the only thing necesary for morals is "group think" then still morals have come from natural processes...Your choices are limited to describe where they come from...

    Yiou said:"It's disgusting that you would even suggest I subscribe to such a viewpoint. Hey, I have an idea. Stop telling other people what they believe."

    I have a better idea...why not REPENT and get saved instead of trying sanitize atheism and what it actually means and presents. Don't try to change the package of atheism to make it more appealing as if it doesn't led to the confusion taht I outline... I know what it (atheism) is...I've studied the modern atheistic arguments for almost 3 years consistnetly and I don't misrepresent what you think and or believe.

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  8. Now, that's too funny...an atheist telling me to stop telling people what they believe when all of atheism is set out to tell people why they shouldn't believe what they believe...Now THAT'S funny!

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  9. District Supt. Harvey Burnett, I wish you the best of luck in your journey. Please take care and I thank you for sharing your faith and ideas with me.

    Have a great day,
    - DM

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know what it (atheism) is...I've studied the modern atheistic arguments for almost 3 years consistnetly and I don't misrepresent what you think and or believe.

    Atheist: "You're misrepresenting what I believe. Please stop."
    Harvey Burnett: "No I'm not. I know what you believe. I don't misrepresent it."
    Atheist: "Wait, what? But you just did. I don't believe what you just said I did..."
    Harvey Burnett: "No I don't. I never do."
    Atheist: "..."
    Harvey Burnett: "..."
    Atheist: "..."
    Harvey Burnett: "..."
    Atheist: "WHAAAT?!"

    Okay, okayokayokayokay... lets take this assersion seriously. You know what atheists believe. Well, I am an atheist. So here's a test. Lets see how many you get right.

    1) Do I think my morals are derived from an objective or subjective source?
    2) Do I accept philosophical materialism, and think that this universe is all that exists?
    3) Am I nihilistic: do I think there is no hope or purpose in the universe?
    4) Do I believe there will be an nothing after death?
    5) What do I think caused the Big Bang?

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  11. Mr. Burnett, I don't want spam this thread by responding to each and every thing you said. As you've already tried to respond to most of points Debunkey and I have made, the conversation is getting unwieldy. For these reasons, I'm going to cut to the chase and ask a question aimed at your general opinion - if you want me to address several things, please let me know:

    You wrote the following: Incorrect...atheism goes much further. It makes beginning of life statements, "all beings exist as a process of natural selection, environmental pressure and random processes" end of life statements..."you die and that's it!"...It makes value statements, "all morality are human conventions are based on natural principles"...It makes statements on origins..."All that there is is the universe, all that there ever was was the universe"

    Can you show me where you're quoting these things from, as well as why they're attributed to Atheism and not other facets of the atheists they were quoted from (re. such as Humanism, Materialism or Skepticism)?

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  12. James,

    I'm not into playing games...there are all brands of atheism some pantheistic that believe taht they are a part of a cosmos in engery and conscious reality...similar to a Budhist or it's big brother Hinduism...

    Short of the long you don't believe in God and or gods outside of one's self and generally don't hold to a universe and reality both metaphysical and metaspiritual created by God...you know what I'm saying and you know my assertions hold true to form..e

    Anyway, whatever sens of purpose you have in a universe that simply exists for no possible explaination and or reason that does not communicate to you in any way is only wishful thinking...James may the force be with you!

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  13. Whateverman,

    You asked:Can you show me where you're quoting these things from, as well as why they're attributed to Atheism and not other facets of the atheists they were quoted from (re. such as Humanism, Materialism or Skepticism)?


    Darwin DID NOT ascribe to God as creator. Please don't even try to say he was a theist when he wrote origin...You may claim naturalist or agnostic but that's a cop out. Claim him.

    Dr. Will Provine as referenced in the article...ATHEIST by admission and confession.

    Richard Dawkins the "spiritual atheist".

    Operative words here...ATHEIST. Pretty clear list of persons who disavow any supernatural being especially one that is necessary.

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  14. Back to the article....

    This is a very simple argument...Any sense of "purpose" that an atheist has to be self-contrived or invented. There is no "higher calling" for any atheist as there is nothing "higher" to point to within the atheistic worldview...

    What these try vehemently to do is remove the attachment of their worldview from ther philosophical assertion and presuppositions...the fact is BELIEFS and philosophical suppositions mean something and they have consequences....

    Atheist try to tell Christians this all the time pointing to what they consider to be the negatives considerations of religion such as Jihad, ritualistic killings, sacrifice and all kinds of other things...but yet they don't stand behind what athesism if carried out leads individuals to...N O T H I N G!

    That's what atheism leads individuals to...there is noi ultimate and what is ascribed as an ultimate is in the here and now, in this temporal reality...Christianity is a MUCH better proposition all the way around, not because it is delusional...but because it is a worldview for which men are already positioned...man is a "living soul" not simply a result of materialistic processes...Christianity addresses ALL aspects of man and not just the physical aspect.

    GOd is interested in all aspects of man and not just the physical aspect...therefore purpose that comes from God is MUCH more satisfying and is eternally lasting.

    Look I stand for what Christianity represents, and that's power and LIFE...stand for what atheism represents...don't be atheist with a twist...if you're going to serve self and flesh, have the nerve to go all the way!

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  15. I'm not into playing games
    Fair enough.

    Short of the long you don't believe in God and or gods outside of one's self

    I don't believe one's self is a god, either. You're really not very good at this whole "not misrepresenting other peoples beliefs" thing.

    Anyway, whatever sens of purpose you have in a universe that simply exists for no possible explaination and or reason that does not communicate to you in any way is only wishful thinking...
    The universe has a "possible explaination." If it didn't, if it was inexplicable, science wouldn't exist.

    Any sense of "purpose" that an atheist has to be self-contrived or invented.
    Nothing wrong with that. From my perspective, your sense of purpose is equally self-contrived and invented.

    I think you're conflating atheism with nihilism. They are not the same thing. In fact, humanism is quite the opposite of nihilism, and is also a godless philosophy.

    don't be atheist with a twist...if you're going to serve self and flesh, have the nerve to go all the way!
    I do go all the way when it comes to "serving self and flesh." Part of the "serving self" is acknowledging and satisfying my emotions. And one of the most powerful emotions is empathy for others.

    Empathy is my moral guideline, and the reason I don't have to be focused on a superbeing to be a moral human being.

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  16. James,

    You said:Empathy is my moral guideline, and the reason I don't have to be focused on a superbeing to be a moral human being.

    1- Where does that standard come from?

    2-Who holds that standard and who dispenses it as a standard?

    3- How is it judged?

    4-Under what circumstance is it determined to be authentic?

    Hypo ~ Man kills an entire family in thir sleep. A week later he's caught and taken to jail. At the trial he cries relentlessly and is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    Under your standard of empathy, how does the jury decide the sentence?

    BTW: This is NOT a game it's a revelation.

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  17. 1- Where does that standard come from?
    Human biology. It a part of every non-sociopathic human.

    2-Who holds that standard and who dispenses it as a standard?
    Every non-sociopathic human. Humanity as a whole, effectively.

    3- How is it judged?
    By society. By humanity.

    4-Under what circumstance is it determined to be authentic?
    To the best of humanities ability.

    Hypo ~ Man kills an entire family in thir sleep. A week later he's caught and taken to jail. At the trial he cries relentlessly and is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    Under your standard of empathy, how does the jury decide the sentence?


    It would elict two responces: pity for the presumably mentally-ill criminal, and anger for the harm he inflicted on others: the family, and the friends and relatives of the family. Given that the harm he inflicted was several orders of magnitudes higher than whatever pity he may elicit, he would be punished.

    Ultimately, empathy is not well equipped to deal with people who don't follow it. That is why we, as humans, have other emotions, such as anger and the wish for justice/vengeance.

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  18. James,

    You responded to 1:Human biology. It a part of every non-sociopathic human.

    Where is that genetically...about where the meme is located or what? That's a fantasy and there is no proof that morality is a product of genetics in the least. In fact under the rubric of natural selection there is no reason that we should be moral at all and that morality certainly isn't contained within our biology. In addition, there is no metaphysical necessity for such...Is there a such a thing as a moral rock or tree? They are morally neutral, natural objects and material aren't they?

    Is it maybe just human biological things that have morality in you book??? I don't know but I do know what you're saying doesn't jive...In fact give the police one week of in your town...You'll see all that self built morality ooze to the surface, I guarantee it.

    You responded to # 2:Every non-sociopathic human. Humanity as a whole, effectively.

    So the "Non-sociopathic" community is the standard of morality. This means that morality is relative to how the community feels or accepts morality to be. Then who decides to exclude the "sociopaths" from the process? The real problem is that since the community isn't eternal then what your are describing couldn't be eternal. It is only temporary in nature.It only lasts as long as the community lasts.

    This is my premise from the beginning. Values, morals, what have you established by the community as you affirm are only temporary and not eternal. They begin and end with humanity. Christian values are eternal beginning and ending with God who is eternal. Big difference!

    You responded to 3 based on 2By society. By humanity.

    So humanity whatever that means judges morality and values??? How does that figure when you're claiming that there is a vast difference even between atheists and humanists etc...you mean to tell me that there is some amalgamation or agreement of morality between all facets of atheism? Then outside of that, you and I are people of the community and we disagree on certain moral issues I'm sure, so who decides who's right? The one with the bigger gun or what?

    The more you lay this out the more problematic it becomes...This doesn't really get to the point...what can the community say in unison with so many different voices? The community as some establisher and maintainer of morals is a weak argument and a bad place to start. I fail to see any strength of argument or support for your position so far.

    You said to my #4:To the best of humanities ability.

    With such a diversity of human empathy you could readily say anyone without your standard of empathy is "sociopathic". Now this is what the atheist do with those who don't agree with them in premise...notice that all others have a mental defect of some sort...like god Dawkins calling Christians deluded...that's a ridiculous notion and only goes back to what I asked originally...who manages and dispenses this whole moral value called empathy???

    James, your answers my friend are inadequate and this is a circular argument as you can see because by nature it must be...the community has no such thing as empathy, individuals may, but not all brands of empathy match yours or mine and therefore the community becomes a sad repository of this value or standard and "they", whoever they are, offer us (you and me) no value when it comes to deciding what to do. When "they" are wrong what do we do cower to their standards??? That is relativism and might makes right certainly not objective morality of any sort.

    see 2

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  19. 2

    James,

    You responded to the hypo:It would elict two responces: pity for the presumably mentally-ill criminal, and anger for the harm he inflicted on others: the family, and the friends and relatives of the family. Given that the harm he inflicted was several orders of magnitudes higher than whatever pity he may elicit, he would be punished.

    The problem is that I campaign for the mentally ill saying that they should not be held accountable for their actions...so why would a punishment be imposed...I mean Peter Sanger (Atheist) denies that a mother can be held accountable for killing her newborn because of postpartum (mental disorder) so why should we hold an obviously mental ill person accountable?

    Then there's the other side of the issue...I hold that since the person isn't functional or cognitively aware of himself based on the mercilessness of his actions that he should be immediately put to death...BTW: This is also the position of Peter Sanger (Atheist) with his rational functionalism thesis that he touts and tries to cover up...

    So which is it? and why is empathy for the criminal exalted over empathy for the dead family? Shouldn't empathy for the dead family exceed empathy for the criminal no matter what???? What does the community hold as being is right about that? and if they all disagree with either you or I are they all sociopathic???

    You said:Ultimately, empathy is not well equipped to deal with people who don't follow it.

    I tend to believe that empathy as a moral value standard is froth with issues and is only a relativistic attempt to establish some form of moral standard, only I have demonstrated that that standard is not uniform in any sense, temporary in nature, devoid of discernment and woefully inadequate and only leads to greater problems and certainly lacks any semblance justice which is not merely and emotion as you claim.

    Thanks.

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  20. That's a fantasy and there is no proof that morality is a product of genetics in the least.

    I never said there was. Empathy is an emotion, and is a product of biology, which is a far broader field that genetics.

    In addition, there is no metaphysical necessity for such...Is there a such a thing as a moral rock or tree? They are morally neutral, natural objects and material aren't they?
    Rocks and tress are not alive and sentient, respectively. Thus, empathy is not applicable to them except in a very subtle "companion cube" sense (for instance, a human may grow emotionally attached to an inanimate object, such as a car or a potted plant).

    Then who decides to exclude the "sociopaths" from the process?
    Sociopathic individuals lack the emotion of empathy by definition. Given the premise of empathy as a standard of morality, sociopathic individuals cannot be included. In addition, sociopathic individuals are a statistical outliar.

    It is only temporary in nature.It only lasts as long as the community lasts.
    Morality is not applicable to a lifeless universe. This is true.

    So humanity whatever that means judges morality and values??? How does that figure when you're claiming that there is a vast difference even between atheists and humanists etc...you mean to tell me that there is some amalgamation or agreement of morality between all facets of atheism?
    And all other religons, in fact all societies in the world agree on some basic facts. For example: "Murder is wrong, and should be punished." A society which instead embrassed murder would quickly kill itself, because humanity does not have a high enough birth rate to support such a survival strategem.

    I fail to see any strength of argument or support for your position so far.

    Right back at you.

    With such a diversity of human empathy you could readily say anyone without your standard of empathy is "sociopathic"

    I could, but society itself has a more stable and objective definition of "sociopathic," which I would prefer to use.

    James, your answers my friend are inadequate
    As are yours.

    When "they" are wrong what do we do cower to their standards??? That is relativism and might makes right certainly not objective morality of any sort.

    I only stated that my morals were derived from an objective source: human emotions. All personal morals in and of themselves are relativistic, including yours. You may claim the bible as objective, but your morals are based on your personal interpretation of it. If they were not, how do you explain christians with different ethical values to yours?

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  21. Here is a good article on the "Evolution of Morality."

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/d74701167h424u0k/?p=de0426fae91b46668d3cdf097249f0e2&pi=3

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  22. Great points James, Debunkey and Whateverman! Too many theist could be easily diagnosed as cognitively disabled.:-) Prognosis: There belief system renders their cognitive process of comprehension dysfunctional or inactive.

    It is less challenging for theist to believe than it is to for the masses to think.

    Black folks are the most devoted theist because of one simple fact: it's so easy to be told what to believe, do and think.

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  23. James,

    You said concerning my assertion of genetic morality: I never said there was. Empathy is an emotion, and is a product of biology, which is a far broader field that genetics.

    What you are describing and have described are views promoted by Martin Hoffman who set forth views that morality was biologically based. In his view however moral agency would also require also of abstract moral principles, such as the principles of caring and justice. He thought that of these abstract principles as being derived from cognitive sources that are independent from our empathic abilities. in short moral agency would require empathy in order for moral principles to have a motivational basis in an person's psychology. This is what you restrict moral actions to "non-sociopaths" because as you state they can't empathize by definition. This is straight out of the following book: [Blair, R., D. Mitchell, and D. Blair. 2005. The Psychopath. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.]

    The only problem is that 1- there is little by way of empirical evidence to support either yours or Hoffman's claims and 2- what evidence that does exist goes against the claim and assertions that empathy is necessary for morality. 3- Then for the extremist that holds these sort of views (as I believe that you are) there is ample evidence stating that there are individuals who have deficits in rational capacity but who are yet moral.

    So in short I don't buy into your extremist view which is one that's not generally accepted under most examination of views on morality.This is why I claim your view to be weak and it is.

    So that argument should be put to bed.

    You conclude with probably your best argument against what I set forth about your concept of community morality. You said:All personal morals in and of themselves are relativistic, including yours. You may claim the bible as objective, but your morals are based on your personal interpretation of it.

    Not quite. I would say that if it were solely left up to my interpretation, that i would leave some room to "party" when it comes to moral values. I mean if I could interpret something that I believes gives me pleasure as being right I would take the opportunity. The fact is that God's word requires us to follow it, not reinterpret it or make out of it what it is not. Many do this, because of sin in them and the desire to serve self...not because God isn't or wasn't clear.

    Then you said:"If they were not, how do you explain christians with different ethical values to yours?"

    Much like I've explained what I've explained so far. I believe that the vast difference in moral values among Christians is a myth however. I don't see that vast amount of difference. I see a difference in the practice of Christianity (orthopraxy) but not as great of a difference in what Christians value and hold dear...such as love, sacrifice, commitment, worshipping and serving God above self etc...So this statement may sound like it has weight, but take it apart and it's only myth.

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  24. Ausfahrt,

    Repeating a LAME, and RIDICULOUS argument a second time and a thrid time, after it's been more than adequately shown to be a bunch of garbage, doesn't make it any better when it's said again!

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  25. BTW,

    Here's a MUCH better article on morality than the one referenced by anonymous earlier:

    http://www.christianity.co.nz/moralit1.htm

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  26. I love how god of the gaps argument have devolved so much that apologetics have to resort to asking where morality came from.

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  27. What you are describing and have described are views promoted by Martin Hoffman who set forth views that morality was biologically based.

    I am unfamiliar with Mr Hoffmans work, however I am not surprised that others have offered the same or similar rationalisations for morality as I. "There is nothing new in the world" indeed, or as I like to think of it: convergent evolution.

    The only problem is that 1- there is little by way of empirical evidence to support either yours or Hoffman's claims,
    Morality is a primarily philosophical construct: empirical evidence for philosophy is generally somewhat hard to come by.

    2- what evidence that does exist goes against the claim and assertions that empathy is necessary for morality.
    Would you care to substantiate this assersion? In my personal experience, the most moral individuals are either highly empathic (or sympathetic: there is some overlap between the two), or have some form of personal incentive to act morally.

    I consider the former to be a more emphatic measure of morality, given that the latter is merely selfishness harnessed towards the good of others.

    3- Then for the extremist that holds these sort of views (as I believe that you are) there is ample evidence stating that there are individuals who have deficits in rational capacity but who are yet moral.

    I am somewhat offended by the use of the term "extremist," given the specific others that the term is generally applied to. Most of my personal views are fairly moderate.

    Morality is a complex phenomena, and is derived from many sources. Habit, peer pressure, favor-trading, fear of the consequences and "feeling good about yourself" are just a few examples of ways a person, without being capable of rationalising their behavior, might act morally. And as already stated, rationality is not my measure of morality. Empathy is. A person can be instinctively empathic without being at all rational, and many are.

    So in short I don't buy into your extremist view which is one that's not generally accepted under most examination of views on morality.This is why I claim your view to be weak and it is.

    So that argument should be put to bed.


    Your opinion is noted.

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  28. The fact is that God's word requires us to follow it, not reinterpret it or make out of it what it is not.

    I am going to assume that you believe that the laws against eating shellfish are "Dietary Laws", and not "Moral Laws"? And the laws about stoning unruly teenagers are "Civil Laws"?

    You derive your morality from an objective source. We can all agree that the bible says what it says. Likewise, I derive my morality from an understanding of others. We can all agree that empathy exists, and is a similar emotion in all humans with it, so it is likewise an objective source.

    Personal opinions that result from these sources, however, are highly relativistic. I highly doubt that you would approve of the morality of 5th, 10th, or 15th century christianty: how they treated women and people of other races and faiths. I highly doubt that you approve of churches that allow homosexuals to be priests, or support Planned Parenthood.

    Please don't defend your position on these subjects, I accept that it has equal-to or greater-than value under your belief system. I am not attacking it. I am merely pointing out that these people, which the exact same objective source as you, came to completely different conclusions. Thus, there is no way to an entirely objective system of morality. Everyone has their own opinions. The best we can do is try to establish a system that appeals to all.

    I see a difference in the practice of Christianity (orthopraxy) but not as great of a difference in what Christians value and hold dear...such as love, sacrifice, commitment, worshipping and serving God above self etc.

    It is not only Christians who value and hold dear the first three: "love, sacrifice and commitment," are common to most people and societies, including atheists. Thus, pointing out that they are common to christians is somewhat redundant.

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  29. James,

    You did good and made the conversation much more pleasant than I had originally thought it would be. I appreciate that. One day soon I'll do another post on variations of morality because this is an interesting topic.

    Now, you also correctly point out that values such as love, sacrifice, etc are consistent throughout most all societies. There are a couple of things to say about that...1- this is an indicator that there are a set of principles that are universal in nature rather than changing with societal acceptance or norms and 2-this also indicates that these values have somehow been communicated to humanity. Why, because there is no identifiable mechanism by which these things called values exist.

    The fact is that the existence of these type of moral values do not support many premises contained within naturalism. Self preservation and natural selection, even survival of the fittest, negate against many of the values that humans generally hold dear and worthy of praise.

    Now, you haven't done this but things like this remind me of how amazing that it is that many critics criticize the sacrifice of Jesus, while simultaneously holding the principle of self-sacrifice in high esteem. To me this shows their bias against any supernatural assertion and that's to a fault.

    Nevertheless, thanks for giving me an opportunity to ramble.

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  30. "Self preservation and natural selection, even survival of the fittest, negate against many of the values that humans generally hold dear and worthy of praise. "

    I think your understanding of evolution is a little off...

    Oh well, I hope you're having as good of a day as I am. :)

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  31. You did good and made the conversation much more pleasant than I had originally thought it would be. I appreciate that.

    To you also. You gave me cause to think about my rationalisations for morality.

    1- this is an indicator that there are a set of principles that are universal in nature rather than changing with societal acceptance or norms

    I agree with you here: this is something I was trying to get across, that empathy and certain types of morality are "built-in" to human biology, they're not just overlayed on top of us.

    Self preservation and natural selection, even survival of the fittest, negate against many of the values that humans generally hold dear and worthy of praise.

    Maybe so when you think about it from the viewpoint of an individual, but not, I think, when you approach it from the viewpoint of a population. Empathy and altruism in sapient creatures promote co-operation and teamwork, which are brilliant for the population as a whole. The population survives better than less moral populations, and out-competes them. That's my reasoning, anyway.

    Nevertheless, thanks for giving me an opportunity to ramble.

    Haha! Likewise!

    Have a good day, Harvey. :-)

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  32. Pastor, wanted you to know may wife gave birth to a baby girl this wednesay.

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  33. I also have a lot to say on this thread but have to go back to the hospital.

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  34. CONGRATULATIONS Paul!

    That is beautiful! I knew something had your time as I was sure you had something to contribute. We'll be here when you get time.

    Praise GOD from whom all blessings flow!

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  35. "I don't want to bore everyone with all the details, but trust me when I say that my life is filled with much more meaning now."

    I don't necessarily doubt your expressed feelings, but all due respect, this isn't proof of anything.

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  36. "I don't necessarily doubt your expressed feelings, but all due respect, this isn't proof of anything."

    Well, feel free to believe atheists are lonely, nihilistic souls without a sense of a greater purpose to life then. :)

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  37. Thanks Pastor!!! God is good!!!

    Its funny after all I have read, we are still up in the air about morality and the meaning of life. Though something maybe sensible that doesnt make it right. If our basis has no basis, it is still suppositions and opinions regardless of how intelligent it may come across.

    What is the basis of morality must be answered, the question on what is the meaning of life cannot be left up to what I think it is. If these questions are unanswered by your belief, then both you and your belief are irresponsible at best. Man actually becomes a god as it is based on our thinking, whether you admit that or not, it is so. As clueless as man is regarding his origin, we become the ulimate being.

    I can give an opinion about the meaning of life but does that give us the ultimate goal of life? One may deem something to be more meaningful than another. like, is it more important to care for animals or humans? Is being a musician more meaningful than both? if not who has made that rule and why? I dont have to adhere to what you think is more meaningful if I dont want to, irregardless of what the culture around me says.

    Living in "America", hippies had a total different understanding of morality to what the culture at large thought, where they wrong? They thought their rebellion was right, as sick as it was.


    Unbelief has no answer at all. So "if" there is an ultimate purpose how will I know using the worlds system of unbelief.

    The KKK, have a purpose and to them it is "VERY" meaningful. They intend on keeping the white race pure by any means necessary if they could.
    Does this mean that their life is "meaningful"?
    One cannot say that one thing is more meaninful than an other unless you have a standard for it being so. Again if our view offers no standard then it is irresponsible and also has a great chance of leading many astray.

    Just getting started.

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  38. Often those that do not believe or understand the benefits of religion often say that they wish there was no religion at all and that the world is better off without it.

    Well that sentiment is not a good one, at least so say the scientists who have studied the issue for quite some time.

    Recently I referenced THIS STUDY that had been done regarding psychological, physical and overall health and well being. Yes it is old, but even more recent investigations have proven the same or come to similar conclusions. It seems that belief in God is beneficial to a persons overall health as I state in the article.

    Why? Is it because of God or because of belief? That's what I'd like to see next, but it can't be disputed that religion and faith is good for society. Here are some additional facts:

    "There are sound medical reasons to take these beliefs seriously. An analysis of 42 studies involving 125,286 patients, published in the June 2000 issue of Health Psychology, found that those with some sort of religious involvement live longer -- though no one knows whether longevity is due to their faith or their community ties." ~ Medicine.Net ~ "Taking Your Spiritual Pulse" 10/2000

    Did you read that? 42 studies involving over 125,000 people...Religion and faith are valuable to society and human existence. Why not believe science now empiricists?

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  39. And here's one more for the roadone more for the road:

    Our research group is not the only one to report such findings. In our systematic review of research conducted between 1872 and 2010, we identified 444 studies that quantitatively examined relationships between religious involvement and depression. Of those objective scientific studies, 272 (61%) found that those who were more religious experienced less depression, recovered faster from depression, or experienced a reduction in depression severity in response to a religious or spiritual intervention. In contrast, only 6% reported greater depression in those who were more religious. Of the 178 best-designed and most rigorous studies, 119 (67%) found inverse relationships between religious involvement and depression.

    Religion provides hope and meaning in the most difficult of life circumstances.
    ~ Harold G. Koenig, MD, MHSc., completed his undergraduate education at Stanford University, his medical school training at the University of California at San Francisco, and his geriatric medicine, psychiatry, and biostatistics training at Duke University Medical Center. He is board certified in general psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and geriatric medicine, and is on the faculty at Duke as Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Associate Professor of Medicine, and is on the faculty at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor. He is also a registered nurse. Dr. Koenig is Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center, and is considered by biomedical scientists as one of the world's top experts on religion and health.

    Now isn't that special?

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