Monday, May 23, 2011

Ethics from Empathy


["Haven't murdered anybody since breakfast?"- quote from "Inherit the Wind"; ridiculing the idea that evolution would corrupt morals]

One question frequently asked of atheists is: Since you don't believe in God, doesn't that mean you can kill people?

This is indeed not an idle question. No one disputes the fact that the greatest mass murders in history have been performed by avowed atheists, from the killing fields of Cambodia to the man made famine in the Ukraine. I would argue that the Holocaust as well was engineered by atheists. And then there have been a number of small scale, but still quite horrific, atheistic murderers such as Jeff Dahmer and Jim Jones. Sadly, as I write these words, about 200,000 innocent men, women and children are being tortured to death in atheist operated prison camps in North Korea. Just that atrocity alone makes the toughest Spanish Inquisitor or the most hardened Islamic jihadi sound like a big softy by comparison.

[By the way, atheists earnestly insist: no one has been killed "in the name of atheism". True enough. Atheism doesn't ask anyone to do anything. However atheism removes all barriers which would prevent murder; from that point, raw human nature takes over. This is similar to arguing that blowing up a dam would not be murder. The dam breaking does no harm. It's all that water behind the dam which is killing thousands of people and the bomber had nothing to do with that! Of course, such a ridiculous argument would not hold water in any courtroom.]

Clearly, atheists do have some explaining to do, and what they often explain is the following: Naturally, I love myself. Likewise, I naturally love creatures similar to myself. Therefore, I love other people. I feel a natural empathy for all humans. Even though, true, I do not believe in God, I do not believe that God commanded us not to harm others, I do not believe that I will suffer any adverse consequences from harming others provided that I can evade law enforcement (which is not an issue of course if the government itself is ordering the murders), nevertheless, I would not hurt an innocent person because I would empathize with the victim.

The basic problem with this argument is that it seems to provide little if any real deterrent to violence. 

An atheist can easily calculate that in certain cases the gains from murder are so great that it's worth it to ignore feelings of natural brotherly love. He may also decide that for some reason the victim deserves to be hurt, and therefore he need feel no empathy. The victim somehow brought it upon himself.

An additional problem is that empathy, like all emotions, may vary widely from one person to the next. Many people seem to see anyone outside their particular nationality, race, religion, tribe, family, etc as being "not like me" and therefore having little if any value. Since the dawn of time, tribes attacked and killed each other constantly. In the present day United States, the government confers entirely different rights and privileges upon people who have a piece of paper proving "citizenship" - meaning somehow they are "one of us".

Bottom line: Humans, like all meat eating mammals, are naturally pretty nasty and without God everything is permitted.

62 comments:

Abe said...

Yawn ...
And since you've reminded me that I, being the good atheist that I am, possess no moral compass, I'm going to dispatch to his eternal perdition the first chareidi ( I hope its a Satmar) I run across (or run over). But don't blame it on me, it wasn't my fault. God just wasn't there to implant the same moral clarity that permits the murder of homosexuals and countenances slavery.
Its all his fault.
Now .... let me get back to my favorite porno site (shaytelfetish.com) and heroin fix.

jewish philosopher said...

Let's put it like this: Name one primarily atheistic society in history which has #1 not experience any mass killings in the past few decades and #2 is reproducing on a replacement level.

This is because atheists are either selfish pleasure seekers and/or murderers.

Arguing atheists possess some level of altruism is like arguing that Islam is the "religion of peace".

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

Like, sure it is.

jewish philosopher said...

Here's a little gem from Mao Zedong:

This man Hitler was even more ferocious. The more ferocious the better, don't you think? The more people you kill, the more revolutionary you are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution#1966

Spoken like a real atheist.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Did_Mao_Zedong_have_a_religion

ksil said...

here is an idea: rehash the same tired, refuted arguements OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER again on your blog.

that way you can keep it fresh and active

LOL

Abe said...

Hey bonehead, try to assimilate a bit of logic and reason into your weak and insignificant mind.
Atheists committing horrific historic crimes is no inference or proof that your idiot god exists. It only demonstrates that some atheists are monsters but says nothing about god. Its obvious that Torah-inspired casuistry has frayed your brain synapses to the extent that you're incapable of exporting any rational thought.
May I suggest some nice porno sites (GodLovesGays.com) and marijuana essence as therapies to your obsessions.

Anonymous said...

You'd think with all the sex atheists have that there would be more babies.

natschuster said...

Empathy means that I feel someone else's pain. That's nice. But that means that they should feel my pain. And why shouldn't I force people to feel my pain? I'm just holding them to the same standards I hold. If I'm miserable, why not make everyone miserable?

And why is empathy, which is an emotion, better than other emotions like anger cruelty or hate as a basis for morality?

jewish philosopher said...

"same tired, refuted arguements OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER"

But you're just too awesome to ever bother refuting them, right?

"Atheists committing horrific historic crimes is no inference or proof that your idiot god exists."

Who said it did? Stop drinking and blogging.

"You'd think with all the sex atheists have that there would be more babies"

Well, masturbation and homosexuality don't produce too many kids.

NC said...

With God everything is permitted, too, including murder. Its a matter of interpretation of who's doing the killing and who's being killed. Its all relative, just like atheists. You use human faculties to interpret the "text" according to your biases.

All morality is relative.

You're no better.

natschuster said...

Abe:

I keep on hearing atheists malking moral arguements like "the Torah can't be true because it has immoral stuff." So why can't theists make similar arguements?

jewish philosopher said...

"With God everything is permitted, too, including murder."

Nope. In Orthodox Judaism, only what the Talmud permits is permitted, and that doesn't include much killing, as I've explained.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/02/massacre-of-midianites.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

ksil said...

"Its a matter of interpretation of who's doing the killing"

"In Orthodox Judaism, only what the Talmud permits is permitted"

thanks for proving his point

NC said...

And the Talmud is different than the Torah rules for killing. Why? Because of human reasoning, which is subjective. Why did we stop killing heretics, prostitutes and Sabbath violators? Because morality shifts. Which means its subjective.

edwin rutsch said...

Jacob

May I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion.
The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews,  videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion.
http://CultureOfEmpathy.com

Also, we invite you to post a link to your article about empathy to our Empathy Center Facebook page.

I posted a link to your article in our
Empathy and Compassion Magazine
The latest news about empathy and compassion from around the world
http://bit.ly/dSXjfF

Warmly,
Edwin

Abe said...

"natschuster said...
Abe:

I keep on hearing atheists malking moral arguements like "the Torah can't be true because it has immoral stuff." So why can't theists make similar arguements?"

What similar argument is that ?

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...

"Atheists committing horrific historic crimes is no inference or proof that your idiot god exists."

Who said it did? Stop drinking and blogging.

Well, I'm gratified that you've conceded that god's nihility is independent of some atheist's crimes. Now if you'd allow your mind to escape its fundamentalist shackles, you just might see that god's existence is as plausible as the earth having been destroyed on 5/21/2011. .... Oh, wait --- you were wrong, its Oct. 21. Oh well, we'll just have to wait until that date for god to be again debunked ...
Yawn ...
I wanted to add more but you'll have excuse me... I need to get back to shaytelfetish.com. You know how addicted to porn we atheists are .... ( I just love those blond kosher non-Indian human hair shaytels. ... I'm salivating just thinking about it... Ohhhhhh.)

jewish philosopher said...

Ksil, you really sound like you're about 13. At least try to make sense.

NC, my point is that atheism removes any restraints on human behavior, allowing our natural instincts to have free reign with catastrophic results. Instead of children of God, we become naked apes. And the concept of strong, universal, natural brotherly love is clearly nonsense. Whether you choose to believe in the divine origin of the Torah or not, it works.

Abe, on which date did apes turn into people, lol.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
"Abe, on which date did apes turn into people, lol."

Well, sometimes evolution doesn't always distribute a salutary development. Sometimes it runs in reverse and that would be the date that you converted to a lamentable Jewish cult called chareidism.

jewish philosopher said...

When are you moving to North Korea Abe, where you can associate solely with highly evolved people such as yourself?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry. Chareidim are on the way to allowing murder. Look at New Square. An attempted murder and the Rabbis are silent.

This must be one of those talmudic instances where god permits murder.

jewish philosopher said...

I am not claiming that there are no Orthodox killers. On the contrary, I've found one in the US and also there's Yigal Amir in Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yigal_Amir

There probably are another one or two someplace.

Mostly, they are left wing modern Orthodox, but I'm not going to make a point of that.

However imagine if somewhere in the US there would be a city the size of Houston, TX which has experienced about five murders in the PAST CENTURY (not the past week), which has never had a forcible rape, where assault is a rarity and perhaps a few dozen people total are in treatment for drugs and alcohol. That would be pretty impressive wouldn't it? Well it exists now: the Orthodox Jewish community.

ksil said...

"on which date did apes turn into people"

another fine example that jacob stein does not even have a basic 5th grade education about the very thing that he continues to argue against!

keep it up! you are making all frum jews look great!!!

HAHAHAHAHAH

jewish philosopher said...

ksil, maybe YOU are the missing link between man and ape. Could you enclose a few photos?

jewish philosopher said...

Just to reemphasize, this post and the last post are not discussing the truth of Orthodox Judaism. I have proven that repeatedly elsewhere.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/torahs-amazing-honesty.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/11/extraordinary-history-of-jews.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/04/samaritans-and-torah-from-sinai.html

This post is demonstrating that Orthodox Judaism will make you a nicer person. The last post proved that it will make you a happier person.

Abe said...

No doubt that if you deliberately lobotomize the perspicacity of an entire community, they'll be as happy as as discomfited chasidim drooling for that chulent pot after shabbos davening. Part of their brains have been intelectualy pauperized and blissful ignorance has implanted itself where logic and reason would normaly abide. The parisitic effects of fundamentalist indoctrination are as evident in the chareidi population as in the deplorable, robotic programming of the North Korean personality cult of Kim Jong-Il and his father late Kim Il-Sung.

jewish philosopher said...

And again, the appeal to ridicule, a logical fallacy.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-ridicule.html

However Abe, if you think a lobotomy might help you, I would definitely give it a try.

Anonymous said...

"Any violence which does not spring from a spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook."

[Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 171]

Abe said...

"jewish philosopher said...
And again, the appeal to ridicule, a logical fallacy."

It wasn't an articulation of ridicule, just an honest explaination of how formerly intelligent individuals succumb to mind-numbing indoctrination of senseless rubbish.
Join me in a raised a cup of kosher tap water and lets drink a l'chaim to that.

Joseph said...

9 million in the Crusades. 100 Million in the colonization and conquest of the Americas. 3 million in the Bangladesh atrocities. 4 million in French wars of religion. 11.5 million in the 30 years war. 2 million in sudan. All of these had strong religious motivation. Nazi atrocities were NOT arguably based on atheism- that's an apologist theology taught by radical Catholics.
But don't let the facts deter you from disseminating your own agenda under the guise of truth.

jewish philosopher said...

" just an honest explaination of how formerly intelligent individuals succumb to mind-numbing indoctrination of senseless rubbish"

Such as evolution.

Joseph, you seem to basically counting every murder ever in history, multiplying by 10 and then proving that atheists, who have existed only for 150 years, are really OK by comparison.

natschuster said...

Anonymous:

Throughout "Mein Kampf" and his second book Hitler uses "The Creator" and "Nature" interchangibly. This indicates that he was a patheist. He worshipped nature.




Joseph:

The Crusades where as much about money and power as religion. And colonization was about money and land. And most of the deaths due to colonization where unintentionally the result of disease.

Now, a disproportionate number of mass murderers have been atheists, and vise-versa. And every time atheists run a country, they wind up commiting mass murder. There have been thousands of theistic kings, princes, etc. Most of them never killed anybody. So the numbers are against the atheists.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
" just an honest explaination of how formerly intelligent individuals succumb to mind-numbing indoctrination of senseless rubbish"

Such as evolution.
*************************

Well, why should your disbelief in evolution permit your credulity in god. Afterall, one set of falsity doesn't justify another.
Also, it is quite plausible that fundamentalist abnegation of scientific evidence for evolution, is the product of an abnormal, diseased mindset. It doesn't take much for belief in god to animate an abberant mental state to promote the murder of homosexuals or render tap water unksoher.

Bertrand Russell was never more correct when he wrote:

"'Religion is based . . . mainly upon fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand . . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.'"

jewish philosopher said...

I'm afraid that I must differ with Mr Russell. Orthodox Judaism is based on a sober assessment of well known historical and scientific facts, as I have explained.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Atheism is on contrary based primarily on an irrational desire for selfish pleasure seeking, as I have explained here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html

ksil said...

"atheists, who have existed only for 150 years, are really OK by comparison."

well said

jewish philosopher said...

But compare this: 9/11 3,000 Islamic terrorist deaths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks#Casualties

Khmer Rouge over a million atheist perpetrated deaths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Rouge#Number_of_deaths

Spanish Inquisition - about 3,000 killings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition#Death_tolls

Stalinist Great Purge - about 700,000 killings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge#Number_of_people_executed

Again, even the toughest, most hardened theists seem to be nice guys compared to atheists.

natschuster said...

Abe:

Are you sure that religion reduces fear? Religion includes the very real possibility of divine retribution after death. Religion increases fear. (Which happens to be a good thing.) Why would anyone want to believe that G-d punish him for stealing or fornicating? Unless. of course, it was true.

ksil said...

"Religion increases fear. (Which happens to be a good thing.)"

no its not

jewish philosopher said...

I imagine that the only people with no fear are complete imbeciles.

But "ksil" means "complete imbecile" , right? Lol!

natschuster said...

Ksil:

Fear of Heaven keeps many people e.g. me, from stealing, commiting adultery, speaking loshon hora, etc. etc. etc. sp it is a good thing.

NC said...

The same psychological and environmental factors that make people falsely believe in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, make you falsely believe in Judaism. The fact that you fail to see that about yourself is really quite remarkable and says something about the power of belief to delude oneself.

My only belief is not to believe in hevel, in nonsense. While much of Judaism's ethics and philosophy (as well as other religions') is not nonsense, many of its tenets of faith are hevel. None of your mental gymnastics can get somebody to believe in such garbage as hell or a vindictive punishing god who controls everything and administers justice in the afterlife.

jewish philosopher said...

The same psychological and environmental factors that make people falsely believe in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, make you falsely believe in atheism. The fact that you fail to see that about yourself is really quite remarkable and says something about the power of belief to delude oneself. 

None of your mental gymnastics can get somebody to believe in such garbage as evolution or the documentary hypothesis.

NC said...

JP, to many people the killing commanded by god is immoral. For many people animal sacrifice is immoral.

I think that your confuse this argument because a theist and atheist can't agree even on the definition of morality. What is morality?

According you our non-theistic concept of morality and ethics (fluid, subjective set of standards for behavior designed to protect people and help them get along), then of course it can be derived rationally and from empathy. We, for example, derived that slavery and pedophilia is immmoral. God couldn't do that.

But you have some concept of an "objective" (which really isn't objective as I have shown) set of rules imposed on all of humanity which is unchangeable-- well such a morality doesn't really exist, and if it did, by definition it could come only from some entity outside of humanity, like a diety.

So your argument is based on unproven or false premises:

1. True morality is immutable and unchangeable [demonstrably false]
2. Only god can make unchangeable rules [perhaps]
3. Therefore true morality can come only from god. [follows only if both 1 and 2 are true]

jewish philosopher said...

No, I'm arguing that without a belief in a supreme being, in a benevolent divine law and in reward and punishment after death, mankind is reduced to simple savagery and anarchy, as history has demonstrated. Our natural instincts as meat eating mammals take full control, however we are far more dangerous than other animals thanks to our huge brains.

I've gone into this here as well.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/god-save-king-why-we-need-both.html

natschuster said...

NC:

Why is helping people get along any better than not getting along, or social darwinsm? What if a person is not interested in getting along, only getting ahead? What is wrong with that?

And people who lack empathy should be exempt from yuour morality?

And, if morality is based on empathy, can't I demand that people share my pain?

Why is slavery immoral? What if it is good for society and helps people get along?

NC said...

JP,

Your argument is entirely hypothetical and based on the assumption that such an immutable and objective benevolent law exists and is different than man made laws. What if I reject the truth of that assertion? I claim that divine law is no different than man made law, and in fact derived from it.

NC:

You only "know" those things because of God? Are you that dumb?

I don't decide. Society defines and decides what is "good", nobody else. For better or for worse. God can't do anything about it. Yes, and sometimes you get an abberation, like the Nazis. That the Nazis were an abberation shows that man is generally not like that. But, yes, man is far from perfect, and I accept it.

jewish philosopher said...

"What if I reject the truth of that assertion?"

Then you, like other atheists, will behave just like the animal you imagine you are, other than for some controls imposed by law enforcement or some residue of religious morality, as I've explained here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/12/always-let-your-conscience-be-your.html

natschuster said...

NC:

Zwnophobia is far from an abberation. And war is normal. And slavery was accepted by most cultures throughout history.

And if a person descides he isn't interested in societies rules, why does that make him immoral? And what defines society? The gangbanger who consideres his gang his society is behaving morally when he robs old ladies, if that is what his society syas to do.

NC said...

"And if a person descides he isn't interested in societies rules, why does that make him immoral? And what defines society? The gangbanger who consideres his gang his society is behaving morally when he robs old ladies, if that is what his society syas to do."

You haven't shown that religion changes that.

natschuster said...

Actually, lots of people have goen though jailhouse conversions. Religion did change their anti-social behavior.


http://www.libertymagazine.org/index.php?id=1209

Alex said...

You wrote: "without God everything is permitted."

A very intelligent Orthodox rabbi does not like to use this argument:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/39522399/Yitzchak-Blau-4-Ivan-Karamazov-Revisited-the-Moral-Argument-for-Religious-Belief

You should do a post on this.

jewish philosopher said...

Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The Brothers Karamazov Chapter VI wrote "Ivan Fyodorovitch added in parenthesis that the whole natural law lies in that faith, and that if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism. That's not all. He ended by asserting that for every individual, like ourselves, who does not believe in God or immortality, the moral law of nature must immediately be changed into the exact contrary of the former religious law, and that egoism, even to crime, must become not only lawful but even recognized as the inevitable, the most rational, even honorable outcome of his position."

He wrote that in 1880 and I think European history from from the beginning of the First World War in 1914 until the end of Stalinism in 1954 has borne that out. Since then, an exhausted, weaker, poorer Europe has stop reproducing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging_of_Europe

and is being replaced by Muslims

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Europe#Projections

Alex said...

Was this last comment of yours a critique of the link I provided, or was it an ignoral of it?

jewish philosopher said...

I am trying to say that if Yitzchak Blau disagrees with Dostoyevsky, I'm going with Dostoyevsky.

Alex said...

How can you expose yourself like that? You admit that you didn't even read it !

Oh, if Rabbi Blau (please use his title) disagrees with you, then I'm going with Rabbi Blau.

His bio:

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is the Rosh Kollel at Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah. He also currently teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum and for the WebYeshiva and he writes for Yeshivat Har Etzion's Virtual Beit Medrash. In addition, he is a member of the editorial board of Tradition.

Rabbi Blau grew up in Washington Heights and studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and at Yeshiva University. He has a degree in English literature and a Masters in Medieval Jewish history. He also received semicha from YU's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

jewish philosopher said...

I kind of skimmed over it.

And I'm not a big fan of modern orthodoxy, just by the way, as I explain here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/modern-orthodoxy-is-it-ok.html

Alex said...

You might as well say, "I don't agree with an idea, not because of the idea itself, but because the person who wrote it belongs to a certain group."

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think I agree with the essay and all the credentials you cite add nothing to his credibility as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

A lot of humans - maybe not the majority, but certainly an appreciable minority - will at least briefly contemplate murdering another human being at some point in their lives. A vanishingly small percentage of that demographic actually act on these contemplations. Do you know what stops them?

It sure as hell ain't religion, buddy, because what with the Crusades, the various jihads, the Spanish Inquisition, the witch-burnings and the current Israeli (yeah buddy, that's Jews doing that) ethnic cleansing operations in Palestine, religion has a fucking awful track record in stopping murder.

What actually stops human-on-human violence is... you guessed it, raw human nature. Humans actually have very strong subconscious inhibitions against hurting and killing one another. Why do you think there's so much mental conditioning in military training? It's to overcome that precise mental block.

I'm an atheist, and while I have on occasion considered lashing out at people who I'm upset with, I've never actually done it. It certainly wasn't fear of God or the gods that stopped me - it was human nature.

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding human nature, let's do a little thought experiment. Let's say tomorrow all law enforcement in the United States would be abolished. All police stations and courts close, all prison guards quit and go home. What do you think the United States would look like in a year?

As I point out elsewhere, without both fear of God and law enforcement, we're in big trouble.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/10/god-save-king-why-we-need-both.html

Anonymous said...

So what you're implying is that if all law enforcement in the United States shut down tomorrow, the United States would descend into bloody, violent anarchy.

And the overwhelmingly vast majority of the United States believes in God.

Are you quite sure you want to make this argument?

jewish philosopher said...

I doubt that more than 20% of Americans are weekly churchgoers and those aren't the people I would mainly be worried about.

Most Americans are, however, human so what about that human nature thing? Why exactly are we wasting money paying a million law enforcement personel and incarcerating two million people?

jewish philosopher said...

And we still have about 16,000 killings a year.