“Bright” lights. Dim minds.

Recently Dawkins tweeted some things about rape and comparison that had a lot of people in a huff. Basically, people get hurt feelings and in our society of tolerance that is the one thing that won’t be tolerated. I don’t want to defend Dawkins statements here but I do take issue with his response to all of those emo’s. One of Dawkins main tenants in his post, and what is he is after here, is that he wants to teach us all how to think. Notice though, he also wants to teach us all how to feel. Or rather, he wants us all to take our emotion suppressant pills so that we can have a pleasant conversation. I understand that logic and reason are important, but it sounds more like Dawkins wants  people to be Vulcan’s. People have feelings, and they are going to bring those feelings to any conversation that has to do with hard subjects, especially rape.

Furthermore, Dawkins has to admit that even he is passionate about championing logic and reason as the highest court of appeals. But where does this passion come from? Where do his denouncements of the emotional masses come from? Could it be that passion in this area is some sort of…emotion? In addition, Orwellian states never see the hypocrisy of their own position. They can not see it in fact, because they are too busy looking into everyone else’s lives and minds and knowing how they think. Dawkins proves my point in this post when he tells us all how to think and then warns us of the thought police. Yes, I will keep my eye out for them. (wink).

At the heart of all my issues with Dawkins comes when he starts making moral claims. They might sound good, and they might even be right every now and then but we all know about broken clocks. A good friend recently reminded me that Dawkins doesn’t actually believe in right or wrong. Or more appropriately stated, Dawkins doesn’t believe in good or evil (as stated in his book, The Selfish Gene.) For him, rape should just be an effective way to pass along DNA. After all, mallards do it all the time. This is the problem for the new atheist because they can’t be both moral relativists and have a standard of morality to appeal to. Logic and reason very well may be the ultimate authority on all matters of morality, but according to who?

Dawkins, in his post uses the example of a woman who is pregnant and that she still has the right to abort the baby even if the baby is fully conscious and writing poetry in the womb. Why? Why is a choice of higher moral value than life? Who decided that? Who said? And on what moral authority do they stand?  And doesn’t that go against Dawkins naturalist view of the world? Thankfully we have a “bright” to help us with his magical flashlight that can see things clearly. He never tells us where he got the magical flashlight of moral supremacy, but don’t question it. Just go back to thinking logically.

The arrogance and hypocrisy is swirling around like a bunch of leaves and trash caught in the corner of a shopping plaza parking lot. He hopes if he swirls fast enough you won’t have time to clean it up.

 

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4 thoughts on ““Bright” lights. Dim minds.

  1. “…Logic and reason very well may be the ultimate authority on all matters of morality, but according to who?..”

    According to whoever is making a moral claim, assuming that is, they want their claim to have a rational basis.

    Anyone claiming a moral rule is objectively true or valid must apply that rule consistently throughout all areas of human affairs. That is what a ‘rule’ means. It means universally applicable.

    Therefore it really doesn’t matter if a moral rule is derived from emotion or god or reason – what matters is that we apply that moral rule universally and consistently. If the person claiming that moral rule is unable or unwilling to do that then their moral rule is a pile of BS.

    Example: murder is immoral …. but not when I do it.

    When you look at moral rules throughout history (and those who imposed them) you find there were never any moral rules at all. Instead there were just various groups (churches, governments etc) imposing a violent monopoly on the right to behave immorally….. all under the pretence of imposing moral rules. Most people miss the distinction because imposing moral rules means 100% of the population are not allowed to behave immorally, whereas imposing a violent monopoly on immoral behaviour means 99% of the population are not allowed to behave immorally.

    Dawkins is quite right to insist that rational debates are not diverted by pleas to emotion. Rational debates do not deny or dismiss emotion, they just acknowledge emotion for what it is: emotion.

    Claiming ‘feelings’ and claiming ‘objective truths’ are two different things. Neither are right or wrong without a context. They are either appropriate or inappropriate depending on whether you are having a heart to heart conversation or debating a subject philosophically. As a scientist/ philosopher (a rubbish one as it happens) Dawkins is right to insist on sticking to reason and evidence. For a philosopher/ scientist to rely on his feelings is like a pilot relying on his feelings to judge whether the plane has enough fuel to reach its next destination… or it’s like a mathematician relying on his feelings to answer the multiplication question 98,344 X 95,879

    “..People have feelings, and they are going to bring those feelings to any conversation that has to do with hard subjects, especially rape…. ”

    That’s fine, but if they debate based on feelings they are not being scientific or philosophical (rational).

    Example: Women are statistically less likely to be assaulted in public than men. Yet most women ‘feel’ more at risk of assault than men. To point out that these feelings are misguided is not the same as saying those feelings are not real.

    In fact only by dealing with the subject rationally and empirically we can come to the understanding of what those feelings actually are…. and what feelings are in general. So a rational approach is the very opposite of denying feelings, it means to be curious about feelings and respectful of their power and influence over our thoughts and behaviour (for better AND for worse).

  2. “Anyone claiming a moral rule is objectively true or valid must apply that rule consistently throughout all areas of human affairs. That is what a ‘rule’ means. It means universally applicable.”

    Says who? Just because you claim something as true and even hold to it consistently doesn’t mean that it is true. I could claim that 2+2=5 and never change my answer for as long as I live and it could still be wrong. It was once held, “universally” as a rule that the earth was the center of the universe. But just because it was believed to be so (by many), did not make it so.

    My issue with Dawkins is not that he is using logic and reason, I don’t think he’s using enough of it.

    1. “..Says who?..”

      Says the person making the claim. If I claim theft is immoral and then I commit theft but claim my actions are moral then my original claim is meaningless just load of moral hypocrisy.

      Name me one institution throughout history (or in the present) which defined moral rules, enforced moral rules but did not blatantly violate those same moral rules itself.

      If you claim 2+2=5 and are consistent about this then we really have no problem. Sure it’s annoying and most people would probably choose not to do business with you, but as long as you are consistent at least we all know where we stand. The problem is if you define 2+2=5 for yourself while insisting (ie enforcing) 2+2=4 for everybody else.

      We’ve spent centuries arguing about which moral rules are objectively ‘true’ and which moral rules are objectively ‘false’. A better approach is simply to insist (as any rational person should) that any individual or institution claiming some moral rule must apply that rule universally to everybody including themselves (which is what a ‘rule’ is supposed to mean).

      This immediately separates the wheat from the chaff. The value of mathematics is not in how we define the value of numbers. The value of numbers is arbitrary. What makes mathematics useful is that we all AGREE on the value of numbers and remain consistent about those values. The idea that an individual or institution should be able to define and enforce the value of ‘7’ for everybody else, while defining and enforcing a different value for themselves is absurd……. and yet that is precisely how morality has always worked throughout history.

      “…A good friend recently reminded me that Dawkins doesn’t actually believe in right or wrong. Or more appropriately stated, Dawkins doesn’t believe in good or evil (as stated in his book, The Selfish Gene.) For him, rape should just be an effective way to pass along DNA. ..”

      I am not sure of Dawkins’ stance on this, but certainly from our genes’ perspective morality does not exist. Morality does not exist anymore than ‘7’ exists. Morality is a human construct. But that does not mean it can’t be based on logic and reason. In fact by viewing morality as ‘real’ (like a mountain or the sun) we end up abandoning logic and reason and instead relying on various moral authorities (church, state etc) who always end up defining and enforcing morality *inconsistently* for their own benefit (if YOU steal, murder, torture, coerce or assault that’s immoral….. but when WE behave that way it is virtuous).

      Once we acknowledge that morality is just an agreement (much like numbers are) then we realise that the value can only come from consistency.

      All moral, scientific, technological, mathematical progress is based on the concept of universalising concepts. Those concepts that can be universalised are deemed ‘valid’ and those which can’t be universalised are deemed ‘invalid’.

      Why should morality not be treated this way too?

      FWIW Dawkins does not apply morality consistently. He is just as religious as any fanatical Muslim or Christian, only the priests he worships go by the name ‘politicians’ and they wear different costumes and have slightly different rituals. But they are essentially the same in that, like the church throughout of history, they define and enforce moral rules for the general population, while blatantly violating those same moral rules and claiming their behaviour is still virtuous. In other words they enforce a monopoly on the moral/ legal right to coerce, steal, assault, torture kidnap etc. They enforce 2+2=4 for everyone else, while enforcing 2+2=5 for themselves.

      Demanding moral consistency (ie being intolerant of moral hypocrisy) would solve 99% of moral issues. Once a civilised (ie morally consistent) society has been achieved we could then set to work tackling the remaining 1% of head scratching moral dilemmas 🙂

  3. “Morality does not exist anymore than ‘7’ exists.” Then if you had 7 children it would be no big deal to murder them, because they wouldn’t really exist? Please.

    This is where we part ways. You can’t demand that we have moral consistency while claiming there is no such thing as morality in the first place. This is my greater point about how new atheism wants to have moral authority while also claiming relativism. At least the old atheist had the decency to remain relativists. You want to have your cake and eat it too, or is there such a thing as cake now?

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