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    United Kingdom
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    evolution, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, medieval literature, philosophy, classical music
  • College Major/Degree
    BA in Medieval English
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Cognitive Linguistics
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Polednice's Achievements


Quark (2/13)



  1. Polednice


    Well the "should" is the important part - the fact that it is, is trivial, as that's the reason I started the thread. If your ancestors hadn't procreated, you wouldn't be around to complain, so the hindsight argument isn't doing much for me. Because, as I stated clearly in the OP, there would not be enough children up for adoption if everyone went in for it, and it would be stupid to think that children needing caring homes should go to anyone other than adults who want them. The kind of awareness that's required is a culture change, not a bit of education. It would also be necessary to poll people who had both an adopted and unadopted child, otherwise it would be guesswork. The response to this is the same as my second comment.
  2. Polednice


    Indeed, but my point is that the perpetuation of one's genes should not be anything special that we aspire to. The choices here are adoption or a biological child, both of which include rearing. The proposed selfishness comes from ignoring the suffering of children in need, and the state of the planet. The fact that raising children is difficult doesn't negate this. I don't necessarily deny that, but I think this is something to be looked into. His feelings might not have been the same had he been there since the adopted child's birth, and a greater awareness of evolution and biology might curb people's natural affinity to prefer their own children. And how exactly would that latter argument hold on a planet of 7 billion people where population growth is not required?
  3. Polednice


    Given that the world has an issue with its population size, and also that we understand that the biological purpose of having a child is to perpetuate our genetic information, is it more ethical to adopt a child than to have one's own? I'd perhaps even go so far as to say it's selfish to have one's own when so many children are without parents. I don't think there is any paternal or maternal yearning that cannot be fulfilled by an adopted child, as any parent of one will tell you, so although it seems fundamentally natural and proper, I consider it an indulgence with our current knowledge for people to have their own kids. Perhaps there will be issues with the age of children up for adoption, as I could totally understand parents wanting a baby, and there may not be so many (I have no idea), but I think all the other arguments - about wanting to see what a child with your genes would look/be like, and a mother's desire to have a baby inside her - are outweighed by the alternative. I suppose if everyone did this, there wouldn't be enough children up for adoption to meet the demand, but I think people ought to be aware enough of the issues at hand for the supply to always be met.
  4. I didn't say that those concepts are the only ones that matter because I also don't think they exist. I also said that, even given a supernatural being, there would still not be transcendental "meaning".
  5. Definitions are important, and I think an atheist adoption of "meaning" is self-deceptive. I don't think our lives have meaning because life is insignificant and trivial in the context of the entire universe. There will come a point when our entire species is extinct, and no action or achievement ever committed will matter. That is surely the definition of meaninglessness. My point, however, is that this doesn't preclude an enjoyable and fulfilling life, it just won't ever have any significance beyond our tiny humanity.
  6. As Boethius would tell you, the existence of an all-knowing deity doesn't mean that we don't have free will. As he described it, god would be like a spectator at a chariot race - seeing all, knowing all, but not deliberately influencing every action. And, of course, today's religions are all founded on us having free will. Thus the question still stands: even if we can know a god exists, why listen to his demands except out of fear?
  7. These were all vague synonyms, but I accept that you're not advancing a particular definition. Well, the sense of "meaning" that is often used denotes that a life has intrinsic value - that, somehow, there is an absolute goodness to something, that things aren't merely relative, that there is a transcendent essence and intentioned reason behind our existence. Even with a god, that idea is bogus, but I don't think atheists ought to be trying to adopt it by saying that we can create "meaning" ourselves. We can find life enjoyable, we can value things and we can help each other, but I don't think that's "meaning" or "purpose" as it's typically conceived.
  8. I won't respond to the rest of your post because I don't know how much of it was parody and how much of it was you, and I'd rather engage only with your actual thoughts than with fictitious caricatures. With regards to the above, I've said that the idea of meaning is incoherent, so in order for me to state whether or not I think what you're describing is invalid, you'll have to tell me what you mean by "meaning". And I say in the most loving possible way that the correct turn of phrase is "a dog eat dog world".
  9. Right, but they're not true, so...
  10. I don't quite follow what you meant here. I recognise a biological component to superstition, in that we seem hard-wired to develop irrational beliefs, but I also recognise that with advanced cultures, that they can both be damaging, and we are capable of leaving them behind with rationality, hence the impatience.
  11. Are you suggesting that there is an authoritative religious answer to the question of same-sex marriage? There isn't. There's a Catholic answer, a Baptist answer, an Episcopalian answer, an Anglican answer, a Mormon answer, a Unitarian answer, etc. etc. As I stated earlier, the fact that some religious institutions would want to conduct same-sex marriage means that you cannot say the religious position is against same-sex marriage. I agree with you that civil unions provide an interesting solution, provided that they do match marriage rights identically. However, I focused on churches because you are saying that there is a religious position on this, but, as I've said multiple times now, that's not the case - there are many religious positions, all of them different. Thus, if a Christian gay couple would like their wedding to be blessed in a religious ceremony, by what logic do you suggest they are prohibited?
  12. That comment was indeed flippant and over-the-top, and I would never dream of trying to eradicate religion by authoritarian means - everyone certainly should have the right to believe as they wish when not causing harm. However, I am one of those atheists who cannot stand any firm belief in ideas without evidence, as I think even a moderate, harmless believer gives credence to garnering morality from absurdly vicious scriptures. Because of that, I think religion must 'die' for us to maximally flourish in terms of well-being, it being replaced by rational moral philosophy, but I would only ever seek for it to disappear by educating people. And I don't think that people should be able to think what they like without criticism, either - they shouldn't be treated as morons, but any ideas ought to be open to scrutiny.
  13. What is ill health, physical or mental, but the deviation from a common anatomical blueprint? If 70% of the population had schizophrenic hallucinations, we wouldn't consider them well because we have diagnostic tools that would lead us to believe there is a mass outbreak of schizophrenia. The issue here is to delineate between mental illness, which is rooted in a physical malfunction of the brain, and cultural norms which manifest to outsiders as 'insane', but which, in fact, arise without any biological dysfunction.
  14. I don't think I've been at all authoritarian in my suggestions in this thread. You came with a question about meaning, and I suggested a resolution by rejecting the assumption that meaning is a coherent concept. Now you push back and say that you can find value in your definition of god - well why the initial question if that's so successful for you? You still perhaps want help, but you clearly don't want it from me, so I'll leave it at this.
  15. It's certainly hypocritical for the religious to condemn the revelations of others when they already endorse fantastical thinking, however I think as inconsistent as its results would be, it's reasonable to measure sanity in terms of normalcy. In the U.S., while there are some crackpot religious sects, it is generally unheard of for people to witness the divine in person, so someone claiming such an experience may have something wrong with them. Yet, in some African societies, demons are tangible entities and witches are routinely murdered. Such acts would be considered 'insane' in the U.S., but they cannot be considered 'insane' in their home environment because they are an established cultural norm. The superstition needs to be fought against, of course, but it's not a sign of mental illness.
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