Religion is a Force for Good in the World

It’s just a question of whom has the more convincing arguments I guess, the debate will probaby never be resolved in a ‘black and white’ way, just like all other debates!

Before religion, people were animists… The ‘reasoning and the moral persuasion’ of Socrates is a joke; his arguments are laughable (e.g., in the Republic). Then again, that’s only his exoteric teaching, meant to persuade small minds.

Humanism (which must be Hitchens’ religion) holds that (human) reason can apprehend ‘the’ idea of the good in (human) nature and (human) history. Reason alone can only provide a utilitarian argument for herd morality. Because this makes morality completely selfish, Humanists usually appeal to the ‘heart’, i.e., to an ‘innate sense’ of right and wrong. But even if such an innate sense exists in most people (and then Humanists will say that the rest are insane or sick), that has just been programmed in by evolution and can also be programmed out; it points in no way to ‘universal moral standards’. If there is no faith in an Idea of the Good in the Platonic sense, morality can only be based on calculated self-interest or irrational nature: “I’m moral because it’s advantageous to me to be moral” or “because I just happen to have a natural tendency to be moral”.

Because they are telling their adherents to sacrifice their lives to irrationality…to lies, which deflects them from the pursuit of Truth, i.e. science, justice, love and beauty.
Science is held to be subject to supernatural exceptions or overhaul, such as Evolution.
True morality, the Golden Rule, is smothered with irrelevant and even violent religious doctrine, dogma and ritual–making justice a confusing pursuit at best.
Love isn’t an irrational emotion, it’s a commitment, supported by the emotions. Emotion driven love leads to such damaging beliefs as love at first sight, soul mates, Kismet etc.
It even leads the subjective appreciation of beauty astray, teaching people to accept or reject what is beautiful according to the church’s dogmatic sensibilities. Faith not guided by reason isn’t beautiful, it’s grotesque.

Yes. All religions I’m aware of claim their authority from the reveled, word put in God’s mouth by some prophet or shaman. If God wanted to reveal Himself and His moral code to us, why doesn’t He do it everywhere all at once, and demonstrate that He is indeed God. The Truth is, God wouldn’t do that because it would disrupt our free will, which is the whole purpose for our evolution here in this natural, rational universe.

What point are you making?

Maybe so. In that case, one ought not to disqualify a legitimate possibility because it is unpleasant.

I also don’t understand what point is being made with this post.

Also, even if an innate sense of morality was programmed in by evlution and can thus be programmed out; so what? We are talking about human beings as they are right now, morality in regards to US, not what we could be or have been. Hitchens is on the spot.

What’s at issue here is determining what the inherent nature of every human is. If Protagoras is right and “man is the measure of all things,” then the question of what a human is born with is very important. It looks as though Hitchens believes that we are born with an inherent capacity to distinguish right from wrong, a capacity that comes from the heart. This view would align pretty well with that of Pelagius, who believed that every person is born good and innocent, not inherently flawed or tarnished with original sin. And if every human is born with heart, that means each of us has within us love for each other, zeal for life, caring, and deep emotions. Thus, if you see any humans who cannot feel or express their inherent nature, then that means they have lost it. The question then becomes, how does that happen? I think that any thoughtful humanist would look at society and the cultural norms for child-rearing, education, and economic practices. If these practices result in distressed and sociopathic behaviors on the part of individuals and groups, then there lies the problem. Then if moral standards are not universally upheld by the cooperation and consent of all members of a society, then we have a very serious problem because a society without fair and uniform justice cannot hold together coherently and beneficially for those members. And that is exactly what we’re seeing and experiencing now.

What about those who aren’t like that right now—are they sick or insane? No, they’re just different. There is no reason to be moral other than selfish calculation or natural tendency. There is thus nothing wrong with being immoral; this, too, may follow from selfish calculation or natural tendency.

And first, whether there is such a thing at all. I mean, one inherent nature for all humans.

  1. All humans are born with ‘heart’.
  2. Some humans do not have ‘heart’.
  3. Some humans have lost ‘heart’.

A valid argument; but is it sound? I.e., are its premises true?

But then, what if humans are naturally altruistic, moral, and cooperative? That is far more likely to be the case than a genetic proclivity to selfishness. I know that certain political and economic leaders have worked very hard to force the self-interest meme into all political and economic activity, but humans are a funny lot and societies just don’t work that way. In fact, many people are now scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong with all that enlightened self-interest stuff and the self-regulated free market. Even John Forbes Nash has changed his view on self-interest and game theory based on the results that just don’t match the theory.

And even if they are, that proves nothing regarding the ‘goodness’ of ‘heart’ and the ‘badness’ of losing it.

Not every arguement has to be whittled down to a syllogism. Also, you cut out the way that humans live in a society with cultural memes and norms. It’s important to look at the whole picture the way I described it, to view what happens when humans live in a society which turns them into very unhappy distressed individuals and sociopaths with no sense of a common humanity or morality. Children are not born this way, they are made this way.

Note that I said “selfish calculation or natural tendency”, not “a natural tendency for selfish calculation”.

Well, what if humans are naturally altruistic, moral, and cooperative?

It does have to be able to—to one syllogism or multiple (implicit) syllogisms—if it is to be logical

Well, you don’t have to see things in terms of good and bad if you don’t want to. Losing one’s inherent goodness and heart might indeed be viewed as a bad thing by some, though, while retaining one’s humanity might be seen as good. However, from the god’s eye view of the entire universe, these things might have no real value one way or another; and even without humans, we all presume that life will go on in some manner or another… unless there’s a way that human consciousness is necessary to compose the reality of the world. I expect that would be the solipsistic view.

If you cut down the richness and the context of an entire argument in order to form a syllogism, just for the sake of logic, you have then missed the point of the argument. Also, if the argument is logically coherent, that coherency will manifest in the language, the logical sequencing, and the substance. That is why I think that your lopping and chopping of arguments has another intention entirely. You just don’t want to deal with it as is. Something about it presses your buttons and your default reaction is to strip down the argument, dismiss it, and somehow divert attention away from it and back onto your own flawed views which the argument obviously countered very effectively.

Well, of course everybody has slightly varying degrees of a moral compass, and some are observably radical in their differences. As Christopher Hitchens correctly points out (in another debate, sorry I can’t source) - we have words for these people - sociopaths and psychopaths. If you want to know where the line is go and ask about at a mental asylum, because I don’t personally know.

However, as a person who likes to think they have many underlying principles in adherence with Nietzsche (as you seem to) I can understand the phrase ‘There is nothing wrong with being immoral’ but I cannot empathise with it, and Nietzsche wouldn’t have either. As a humanist, it’s just not the way I want to conduct my life.

It is all in the hypothalamus. There are two groups of nuclei------one group for self survival and the other for species survival. That doesn’t help does it. Selfish seems to win out. I think the neocortex has caused us some trouble. But at least we know we are in deep shit.

Ah, the amateur psychologist speaks up…

An invalid argument is invalid regardless of its ‘richness’ and context. Yours is valid, so you have nothing to complain about there. However, its soundness (the truth of its premises) is not proved by its context (and ‘richness’ could never do that, anyway).

What I do is, I shave off the fluff (‘richness’) of your arguments so as to see their actual meat (if any)—their substance.

Interesting, tell me more? Don’t know incredible amounts on genes.

But you’re operating from a pov that is mutually incompatible with the idea that humans are not innately selfish. If humans are inherently good, loving, cooperative, and caring, then losing their inherent humanity could be construed as a sickness or insanity. My inclination is to blame corrupt social norms and values resulting in inhuman childrearing and educational practices which in turn result in very distressed and sociopathic humans who might well forget their in herent nature and buy the lie that people are naturally selfish.