Sayest the Christian:
No you cannot claim that the holocaust is evil. You can merely say that you personally dislike that kind of behavior. The holocaust, in a world without objective moral truth, is taboo; nothing more

Sayest I:
Yes I can. Again, the permission of such behavior has consequences for us all. A world in which such disregard for human life was considered the norm or acceptable would not be a world in which I would choose to live. Such a world would be chaotic and extremely dangerous to us all. Ultimately, my morality is a selfish one; as I for my own selfish reasons do not wish to live in a world where cruelty and hatred are considered acceptable. One never knows when one will be the victim of such cruelty and hatred.

Sayest the Christian:
The world in which you wish to believe in, human beings have no more objective value then an slug has; so you cannot expect people to treat your existence with any more respect then they choose to.

Sayest I:
True I selfishly attach value to the species to which I am a member, so in a sense you are correct...so what? You are correct that I “cannot expect people to treat (my) existence with any more respect then they choose to”. I’m not sure what that statement proves, as it’s true whether there is a god or not. Ultimately I can say this: history provides us with little evidence that religion improves our existence on this tiny rock, orbiting a tiny star, drifting along with the whole of the Milky Way, inside our ever expanding universe. At best, religion has the opiate effect as described to us by Marx; perhaps it allows us to endure with the hope that we are somehow special while existing inside a universe that cares for absolutely nothing. Ironically, if humanity is to find salvation from the likely inevitable death that awaits our species it will not be a god providing it, but rather the very science that most theist now accuse of villainies. I will say this: if I could be convinced that religion is in fact of value to our species; that we are better off with it than without it, then I would stand aside and allow our species to enjoy the bliss of its ignorance. However, I have not been convince of this and in fact have been convinced of very much the opposite and I believe that as is typically the case that bliss does not come with ignorance. With ignorance comes: fear, hatred, superstition and suffering; not bliss. Ultimately, human life has the value we give it, and I value my life and the lives of those that I love and care for and thus it can be said that I am a humanist.

Sayest the Christian:
There are clues that point toward theism. For instance; All healthy minded people experience a capacity for guilt, which is activated when we are given reason to believe that something about our behavior is immoral. Though it is true that one can be deceived about right and wrong, we all have a basic understanding of it. We universally agree and take for granted that there is such a thing as right, wrong, honor and virtue. Thus the mere fact that we have a moral conscience would suggest that there is such a thing as an objective wrong despite a universal disagreement about what that might be. It seems a rather bizzare coincidence that among the other senses we have a sense of guilt which, like the others, coincides with an objective reality, more specifically with that aspect of reality concerning our "free choices". It seems to me that we have a "sixth sense". Its called a moral conscience".

Sayest I:
The existence of a moral conscience can be and has been explained in completely evolutionist terms. Obviously, if we were each sociopaths (i.e. unrestrained in our willingness to inflict harm and death upon our fellow humans) that would undeniably have a tremendous and negative impact upon our survivability as a species. The fact that 90% of us have an innate urge not to inflict harm upon our neighbors can not only be explained in Darwinian terms, but can best be explained in Darwinian terms. Certainly you can admit that a species that co-exists peacefully and works collaboratively has a better chance of survival than a species that indiscriminately preys upon itself. Guilt would be just one of the mechanisms through which this reality is accomplished. But what precisely is guilt? You have claimed that quote: “It seems a rather bizarre coincidence that among the other senses we have a sense of guilt which, like the others, coincides with an objective reality, more specifically with that aspect of reality concerning our "free choices". It seems to me that we have a "sixth sense". Its called a "moral conscience".” End quote. You are correct, as most most humans do in fact feel quilt when they believe that they have harmed another. How is it that we feel this and just how is it that we know just what it is we should feel guilty about? Well in Essence guilt is nothing more than a variety of empathy which as defined by the Merriam-Wester online dictionary is: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”. Guilt is the sorrow we feel when others suffer because of our actions. But as you point out, how is it that our feelings of guilt always seem to correspond with our knowledge of right and wrong? The answer is almost laughably simple. We know when to feel guilty because we know what harms us personally. In other words, I know that I do not like being punched in the face; because of this knowledge I rightfully assume that others have the same attitudes and experiences when being punched in the face. Were I to punch someone in the face I am able to empathize with the victim of said punch (i.e. I can identify with the pain the victim has experienced when it was punched) and for that I feel a certain degree of sorrow. To one degree or the other, I would share in the suffering of the victim regardless as to whether I threw the punch or not (this is empathy); however this sorrow is amplified by the fact that I personally inflicted the pain upon the unfortunate victim. This amplified sense of sorrow is precisely what guilt is, and it can range anywhere from a mild sense of melancholy to a life long sense of anguish. As you can see, there's nothing magical about how it is we know what to feel guilty about. We know when to feel guilt because we have an understanding of just how our actions would effect others because we know how those same actions would effect ourselves. Essentially guilt is empathy plus personal responsibility. Now, a better question than why it is we feel guilt would be: why do we feel empathy? There is still much to be learned about empathy about what it is and why it is. The scientific consensus appears to be that it is an autonomic bio-chemical response and that it is an essential component to social discourse and interaction (most autistics would tell you (if they can) that it is extremely difficult to become socially integrated when you are completely oblivious to the concerns and feelings of others). The physiological nature of empathy can be researched easily by anyone with access to a library or a connection to the Internet. How exactly it resulted from evolution, is and will always remain a mystery; but why it evolved should be obvious to each of us. The most fundamental benefits of empathy are made clear in the following example: you see a fellow human dangling from a cliff; your empathy for the plight of the dangling human leads you to rush over and pull him to safety, and in doing so you have just saved the life of a human who may later go on and propagate sexually (thus increasing the survivability of the species). Furthermore, by having saved a fellow human, you become viewed as a hero and more desirable to members of the opposite sex and thus increase your chances of propagating sexually yourself. Empathy has a direct effect upon a species' survivability and an effect upon an individual's social status which can directly improve his (usually it is the male) chance of passing on his genes. Let's look at another possible event where multiple emotions are at play: you happen upon a fellow human who is being attacked by a bear; because of empathy you have a strong desire to save the man from his gruesome fate; fear on the other hand makes you hesitant to risk the same fate to save another human; on this occasion you flee for safety and while you feel guilt for your inaction you are still very much alive yourself. In this situation, fear trumps empathy and as a result only one human is eliminated from the genetic pool whereas had you rushed in to play the hero likely two genetic agents would have been eliminated.
A willingness to act for the betterment for one’s entire culture or species cannot help but to have improved our chances of surviving, and these facts remain relevant even today. Of course, not all of our “urges” conform to the accepted Christian notion of morality. It’s a known fact that most humans (particularly males of our species) routinely experience lustful urges to engage in carnal acts with the immediate objects of our desires, and these urges give no consideration to the “morality” of their existence or to whether or not the object of our desires is our spouse. Christian theologians have acknowledged early on our “evil” and innate lusts. In fact, look at all of the seven deadly sins (or however many there are now), they each stem from our innate tendency to “sin”; our internal tendency to fall short of what your god demands of us. Any claim that we have a “sixth sense” leading us to do good must be then countered by the notion the we also have (in the eye's of most Christians) a “seventh sense” leading us to do evil.

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Comment by Marshall on October 12, 2009 at 11:57am
Well it wasn't a real time conversation. It took place over the course of a week or two on a catholic Internet forum. I had tome to think out my responses. The last part was broken up (edited) for effect, but it did actual occure.
Comment by Johnny on October 12, 2009 at 11:49am
LOL I seriously doubt that your original argument was this fluid, forward, and organized in this way without too much fluff or circles in argment, but if it did go exactly like this then I must say... you're a genius for organizing on the spot like this! I usually have to circle a few times to make sure I get every point in.
Comment by Are Eia on October 12, 2009 at 12:28am
i liked it , concise and informative;)
Comment by Marshall on October 11, 2009 at 10:31pm
Thank you for your comment. I have to say that I disagree with you, but that's cool.
Comment by William C. Walker on October 11, 2009 at 10:27pm
So many words for so little content

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