John Jubinsky proposed this discussion in a separate thread where I remarked that we should let the giant panda die out (it's at an evolutionary dead end anyway) and concentrate our resources on looking after the species that we can save.
Several of us feel that this warrants a discussion of its own since this is very important issue - and probably the most critical one we all face.
I'm deliberately altruistic in my daily life - but also hold a cold, unfeeling scientific intellect - which is a contradiction to many - as John writes:
As this is John's proposition, may I (with respect to John and in the absence of a decent label) suggest that we refer to this problem as the Jublinsky Paradox?
Our problem has been that, because of the voices of some Atheists, by and large the masses hold Atheism to be synonymous with heartlessness, and in that the masses consider positions founded in heartlessness to be uncredible (and are reinforced in this in that heartless positions have never stood the test of time) they have rejected the many very credible positions of Atheism without due consideration.
The operative dynamic has been that by and large the masses have turned to a consideration of theism which (in at least claiming to be in the name of love) has not precluded itself as a course worthy of investigation for them. Unfortunately, many have resultantly become indoctrinated.
We who claim to believe so much in reason would be served well to exercise it to the understanding that heartless Atheists can be no more good for Atheism than Joseph Stalin was. Because the masses will not reject the motive of love, in order for Atheism to displace theism it must be in the form of Secular Humanism.
So I've been thinking about this since our last discussion, and I have come to some sort of a conclusion. Certainly for some morality doesn't even enter into the picture - I have met or known many MANY people who behave as if morality was something completely foreign to them, like a weakness, and these people seem to believe that the only way to be strong is to be powerful, to have it over others, etc. That there are so many people like this does show that our cooperative natures can be entirely under or undeveloped. But there are also people who are quite the opposite, and then it seems like most people fall somewhere in between. I have met people who seem still way more inclined to be "moral" than I am, to be cooperative with others and to ignore their competitive natures so entirely that I found myself very uncomfortable with them to the point that I looked at them like they were weak, and that they were unable to judge others harshly, they were unable to take a stand against people - they seemed incapable of disliking others, or too keen on gaining the approval of others. My reasoning about this type of people is that (while I have also learned a great deal from them about how deep morality may go) we shouldn't all want to be cooperative with others, we shouldn't want complete acceptance from others at all times and such. This is not what I call morality either. Morality seems to entail a balance between these two drives. It entails being individually strong and competitive with others to a point, but it also entails being able to form strong social bonds and cooperating with others, which itself requires moments of vulnerability and weakness but with the payoff being belonging to a much stronger group (organism) than one could be simply as an individual. This is organicism.
So yes, it follows from our genetic history that we wouldn't be highly adapted to think about belonging to organisms (social groups) on a global scale, which is now required of us. But the basic building blocks of this next step are all there, we just need to become stronger in this area, and we are becoming so rapidly in my opinion. And another point I would make is that not everyone in these Milgram experiments submitted so easily to authoirty - some of them refused to go so far as to (supposedly) harm another person. There are clearly many of us who haven't developed their sense of morality, but then again there are many of us who have a very strong sense of morality, and from which they draw a lot of strength.
Further, even the self-centered, very limited sense of morality which most people seem to have, the one you call a thin veneer, may go much deeper than you seem to think. What I mean by this is that morality is not simply thinking about others in the cooperative sense I mentioned, but a great deal of it requires, and is even predicated on, being individually strong, being strong for one's smallish in-group. A very necessary component of organicism is that the larger organisms must provide a strength which the individual could not hope to possess by himself. So if one joins an organism which weighs one down and suppresses one's power, this does not offer an advantage but is rather a disadvantage. It is not a useful adaptation but it is maladaptive. Since we as living beings seek to be strong, to have power over our environment, to have control over the types of experiences we have in life, these strong basic drives for competition and power are not just essential for morality, but form the backbone as it were of morality. The only thing left to say is that we need to be better at directing this strength organismically in this new global age. But I would very much disagree that morality doesn't exist or barely exists for most people - I would say it manifests itself in all our values, sometimes better than others, but on this understanding, humans are very "good" indeed.
when you start to censor yourself for the sake of others you will find that others will begin to censor you for you.
not a good thing.
"where they burn books they eventually burn people"
...about giant pandas 'being an evolutionary dead end,' and, 'we should concentrate our resources on looking after the species that we can save.'
In my mind, following this logic would result in defining most forms of life evolutionary dead ends. Only those species we find useful for monoculture and their supporting species, along with those super hardy species like cockroaches, rats, scotch broom, ect. would survive. Ecosystem preserves, permaculture, bio-dynamic agriculture are all ways to preserve biodiversity, our genetic library. Currently, unplanned development (analogous to a tumor), and chemical monoculture, is destroying the life-support systems of our planet, but the first to go is what we love most about our planet. The iconic rainforests, teeming oceans, pandas, and apex predators.
I would also like to state that human intelligence has broken out of the of the traditional evolutionary paradigm. We can destroy so easily, save with some difficulty, struggle arduously to recreate what was lost, and draw straws of inspiration to create something not so new. All thoughts are influenced first and foremost by the environment, although we can change our environment indirectly with thoughts, this effect is like a trickle of change compared to the river of influence from the first process.
I will say again, Atheism is not an ideology simply unbelief in god(s).
The theory or belief that God does not exist.
It's funny that this is the definition in the dictionary, it was obviously not written by an atheist. Atheists do not need theories of beliefs to not believe something. It's is the theists who have the burden of proof.