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8 Year Olds, Free Will, and Baptism


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44 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

You mean after you already killed?  Huh?  If you're asking if someone can change their mind, then of course.  

So, in the end, all of our choices simply come down to a binary decision-making "coin-flip" process, yes, I will do this, or no, I won't (and of course, we have no power over which way the coin actually will fall)?

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I'm not following how you arrived at your concluding statement.  I'd hope with the moral landscape explanation that sam Harris offers for starters.  Our morality is a consequence of our inherent desire for well being.  

"Our morality is a consequence of our inherent desire for well-being" is basically a truism. Moral systems, whether imposed by deity, preexistent in man, or both, exist to guide human behavior towards well-being. The real question at the heart of morality is: what constitutes well-being? That's the most salient objection to Harris on this point. His whole point is that science can give us a morality by determining what behaviors and policies lead to greater well-being, but that just kicks the can down the road. The definition of well-being is a philosophical concern and not a question answerable by empirical science. 

But anyway, in the section you quoted, I wasn't talking about morality but truth. It was a bit of a stream of consciousness, I apologize.

Gregory Boyd puts it better:

Quote

 If free will is an illusion and everything is predetermined, then the ultimate cause of  why a person believes that free will is an illusion and everything is predetermined is that they were predetermined to do so. But it’s hard to see how a belief can be considered “true” or “false” when it is, ultimately, simply a predetermined event.   The snow falling outside my window right now is due to the fact that preexisting conditions determined it to be so. But we wouldn’t say that the snowfall is “true” or “false.”

 

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15 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

"Our morality is a consequence of our inherent desire for well-being" is basically a truism. Moral systems, whether imposed by deity, preexistent in man, or both, exist to guide human behavior towards well-being. The real question at the heart of morality is: what constitutes well-being? That's the most salient objection to Harris on this point. His whole point is that science can give us a morality by determining what behaviors and policies lead to greater well-being, but that just kicks the can down the road. The definition of well-being is a philosophical concern and not a question answerable by empirical science. 

But anyway, in the section you quoted, I wasn't talking about morality but truth. It was a bit of a stream of consciousness, I apologize.

Gregory Boyd puts it better:

 

I would suggest our brains, our consciousness, is simply a natural product.  And seemingly without question our instinct is well being.  That suggests that which promotes well being is a moral good.  This separates our actions from those effects that come outside of consciousness.  We can all clearly see that well being is good and that our actions promoting such is good.  When I said all I'm speaking generally, of course.  Such is the product of our conscious, material, evolved minds.  

Edited by stemelbow
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9 hours ago, stemelbow said:

  And seemingly without question our instinct is well being.  That suggests that which promotes well being is a moral good.

I question that which is "seemingly without question." Our instincts can often be selfish, without regard for others. Is selfishness "well-being"? By conflating "well-being" with instinct, this appears to just be equating moral good with instinct. That's highly problematic. 

9 hours ago, stemelbow said:

This separates our actions from those effects that come outside of consciousness.

I don't think I understand. Can you elaborate?

Edited by OGHoosier
Correcting Freudian slip
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6 hours ago, Calm said:

Of course it is possible to be righteous if not a Saint.  There is nothing in our doctrine that suggests otherwise, imo. Please give examples of righteous behaviour that can’t be performed in similar ways as a Saint.  (I am not saying there aren’t even if I can think of anything that can’t be adapted to live in the Gospel, I just want to see what you are thinking).

Think of the change that it represents, it's a big deal. Join the church and you essentially have an involved social and habitual lifestyle set out in front of you as the standard: daily practices of LDS prayer, scripture study, and working on callings, between three to ten weekly meetings depending on your age and calling, and then temple visits or trips, to begin with. Then there are other major life choices like school, marriage, and mission. And other choices like tithing, which goes directly to the church, so you don't have the opportunity to instead use that money for your own needs, interests, or investments, or to help other charitable purposes.

I used the example of a Shinto believer in Tokyo earlier. It is an old indigenous religion with deep cultural significance and very much connected to the Japanese identity. On the other hand, Brighamite Mormonism is a very involved lifestyle that makes very little room for other regular practices and forbids tea. 

Joining the church represents a major change in course in one's life, and can be a major departure from the practices and customs of one's surrounding community and family. 

I have a personal example of an LDS friend who is unmarried without children who wanted to be a wife and mother her entire life. Her priority is a temple marriage, so she will only date temple-worthy LDS men. I think it's fair to say that her chances of marrying have been substantially decreased because of that. And thus the course of her life is dramatically altered.

Do you understand what I mean?

 

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes, and more than that, I would be deeply respectful of a young boy who might take up the saffron robes for awhile, going about with a begging bowl, and spending his time with the Sangha.  Time well spent.  I can't help smiling broadly and even laughing whenever I think of the Dalai Lama.  I can even hear those deep Tibetan horns blowing if I listen carefully.

Then I'd think you'd readily understand what I am saying. Can an eight-year-old integrate Jewish traditions (or Tibeten Buddhist practices) with LDS membership? Not really. One choice precludes the other. 

(In this case it is a difference in religious course but the lifestyle left behind can be irreligious. My husband was a chess champion when he joined the church, but he quit because the tournaments were held on Sundays.) 

Edited by Meadowchik
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5 hours ago, stemelbow said:

And seemingly without question our instinct is well being. 

Not really. Otherwise much of obesity and drug addictions, our sedentary life styles and a host of other self destructive or damaging behaviours would be much more uncommon.  

Edited by Calm
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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Can an eight-year-old integrate Jewish traditions (or Tibeten Buddhist practices) with LDS membership? Not really. One choice precludes the other. 

But they can often integrate the purpose or goal of those traditions.  A person who chooses swimming for their exercise isn’t going to be able to become a champion rock climber, but the goal of becoming physically fit, healthier, more coordinated, etc. can be achieved through either behaviour.   Iow, if the destination is not becoming a champion rock climber, but rather the healthiest one can be, than one choice does not preclude the other anymore than choosing one form of faith precludes seeking the righteousness other forms are also seeking.  Some faiths may be more efficient or effective, but that is a different issue. 

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

But they can often integrate the purpose or goal of those traditions.  A person who chooses swimming for their exercise isn’t going to be able to become a champion rock climber, but the goal of becoming physically fit, healthier, more coordinated, etc. can be achieved through either behaviour.   Iow, if the destination is not becoming a champion rock climber, but rather the healthiest one can be, than one choice does not preclude the other anymore than choosing one form of faith precludes seeking the righteousness other forms are also seeking.  Some faiths may be more efficient or effective, but that is a different issue. 

That's not necessarily true, major purposes of those traditions can be completely left behind. Major, good life goals can be left behind. Good experiences can be completely missed.

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7 hours ago, stemelbow said:

And seemingly without question our instinct is well being.  

Look at the world, in large degree our instinct is for personal well-being at the expense of others.  That is not my definition of morality.  But given determinism  how could such behavior be considered immoral when we are only the puppets of nature?  Is nature “immoral”?   You can’t blame or judge an individual for anything in a deterministic universe.  It’s all nature’s fault, and nature is amoral.  Our behavior can be no more immoral than a landslide killing a family.  It’s just an act of nature, as are we.  Nothing to judge as good or evil there.  It just is and it couldn’t be any other way.  Just remember that next time someone jumps you and steals your money and leaves you beaten and bloody on the ground - it’s just an act of nature and the perpetrator is no more guilty of immoral behavior than a tornado bruising you with flying debris.

Edited by pogi
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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

That's not necessarily true, major purposes of those traditions can be completely left behind. Major, good life goals can be left behind. Good experiences can be completely missed.

Please give examples instead of vague comments. 

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11 minutes ago, Calm said:

Please give examples instead of vague comments. 

I did give you specific examples here:

:)

https://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/73118-8-year-olds-free-will-and-baptism/?do=findComment&comment=1209989055

7 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Think of the change that it represents, it's a big deal. Join the church and you essentially have an involved social and habitual lifestyle set out in front of you as the standard: daily practices of LDS prayer, scripture study, and working on callings, between three to ten weekly meetings depending on your age and calling, and then temple visits or trips, to begin with. Then there are other major life choices like school, marriage, and mission. And other choices like tithing, which goes directly to the church, so you don't have the opportunity to instead use that money for your own needs, interests, or investments, or to help other charitable purposes.

I used the example of a Shinto believer in Tokyo earlier. It is an old indigenous religion with deep cultural significance and very much connected to the Japanese identity. On the other hand, Brighamite Mormonism is a very involved lifestyle that makes very little room for other regular practices and forbids tea. 

Joining the church represents a major change in course in one's life, and can be a major departure from the practices and customs of one's surrounding community and family. 

I have a personal example of an LDS friend who is unmarried without children who wanted to be a wife and mother her entire life. Her priority is a temple marriage, so she will only date temple-worthy LDS men. I think it's fair to say that her chances of marrying have been substantially decreased because of that. And thus the course of her life is dramatically altered.

Do you understand what I mean?

 

 

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40 minutes ago, pogi said:

Look at the world, in large degree our instinct is for personal well-being at the expense of others.  That is not my definition of morality.  But given determinism  how could such behavior be considered immoral when we are only the puppets of nature?  Is nature “immoral”?   You can’t blame or judge an individual for anything in a deterministic universe.  It’s all nature’s fault, and nature is amoral.  Our behavior can be no more immoral than a landslide killing a family.  It’s just an act of nature, as are we.  Nothing to judge as good or evil there.  It just is and it couldn’t be any other way.  Just remember that next time someone jumps you and steals your money and leaves you beaten and bloody on the ground - it’s just an act of nature and the perpetrator is no more guilty of immoral behavior than a tornado bruising you with flying debris.

Excellent! It’s fascinating how on a discussion board that’s devoted to the religion of the Latter-Day Saints that the most fundamental principle of the restored gospel, the doctrine that through the infinite and eternal sacrifice of Christ all human beings are free and independent to make choices for which they will be held morally accountable, is rejected in favor of the proposition that we are enslaved robots. But perhaps the notion that we’re enslaved robots isn’t as crazy an idea as it seems because the Nephite prophet Jacob testifies that without the atonement of Christ we all would be slaves. So it follows that if one doesn’t believe in the atonement of Christ it’s perfectly reasonable to believe we’re all preprogrammed slaves.

8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.

.9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.

10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.(2 Nephi 9)

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17 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Then I'll answer as I remember thinking about it as a believing member who tried to reconcile the different life paths of people I loved with my understanding of the gospel:

There are things that a person might need to learn that can only learn outside the church, ultimately good lessons. 

 

But wouldn't God know that about the person?

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7 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Then I'd think you'd readily understand what I am saying. Can an eight-year-old integrate Jewish traditions (or Tibeten Buddhist practices) with LDS membership? Not really. One choice precludes the other. 

(In this case it is a difference in religious course but the lifestyle left behind can be irreligious. My husband was a chess champion when he joined the church, but he quit because the tournaments were held on Sundays.) 

There actually are members of the church that have integrated both Jewish traditions and Buddhist (and other religious) practices into their worship.  I'm close friends with one.   Just last week she was at the Krishna temple in Provo with her kids.  She goes there often.  She's very active in the church (she taught religion--Book of Mormon classes--at BYU until just this summer).  She also smudges her home frequently to purify the air (and has other practices of other religions as well).  

Her little boy is the reason that my 7 year old son now tells me 'namaste' before he goes to bed.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I am looking for a specific practice with a stated goal.

What is the purpose of the Shinto religious practices that cannot be adapted with Gospel beliefs?  For example, if veneration of kami is intended to bring harmony in one's life, aren't there ways of achieving similar harmony while being a Saint even if one views nature and spirit very differently?

Marriage in the temple for the purpose of eternal marriage is a particular practice with a specific goal, but a nonmember might do the same in looking for a marriage partner that also held similar beliefs and eternal hopes and desired a partner who would work with them to achieve such, so I don't see how the one choice for righteousness precludes the other righteous purpose since the purposes are similar.

Edited by Calm
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9 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Then I'd think you'd readily understand what I am saying. Can an eight-year-old integrate Jewish traditions (or Tibeten Buddhist practices) with LDS membership? Not really. One choice precludes the other. 

(In this case it is a difference in religious course but the lifestyle left behind can be irreligious. My husband was a chess champion when he joined the church, but he quit because the tournaments were held on Sundays.) 

Each of these religious cultures is different, and there is normally no overlap in interest.  These are not so much choices as they are traditions, and those raised in those traditions do not often raise questions about whether they should follow the accepted path.  An anthropologist can feel comfortable in a wide range of different traditions.  Someone like the late Joseph Campbell even appreciates the diversity as something of a grand symphony (citing Schopenhauer).  Most people, however, simply accept the tradition into which they have been born.  This is true of nearly all of humanity.

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9 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

I question that which is "seemingly without question." Our instincts can often be selfish, without regard for others. Is selfishness "well-being"? By conflating "well-being" with instinct, this appears to just be equating moral good with instinct. That's highly problematic. 

I don't think I understand. Can you elaborate?

And

4 hours ago, Calm said:

Not really. Otherwise much of obesity and drug addictions, our sedentary life styles and a host of other self destructive or damaging behaviours would be much more uncommon.  

And

2 hours ago, pogi said:

Look at the world, in large degree our instinct is for personal well-being at the expense of others.  That is not my definition of morality.  But given determinism  how could such behavior be considered immoral when we are only the puppets of nature?  Is nature “immoral”?   You can’t blame or judge an individual for anything in a deterministic universe.  It’s all nature’s fault, and nature is amoral.  Our behavior can be no more immoral than a landslide killing a family.  It’s just an act of nature, as are we.  Nothing to judge as good or evil there.  It just is and it couldn’t be any other way.  Just remember that next time someone jumps you and steals your money and leaves you beaten and bloody on the ground - it’s just an act of nature and the perpetrator is no more guilty of immoral behavior than a tornado bruising you with flying debris.

Granted.  and I'll clarify first by suggesting I attempted to be too brief with my comment without thinking it through.

The point here is to suggest we need not rely on subjectivity when it comes to arriving at a moral truth.  We can arrive at objectivity through science rather than through an imagined higher power (which has way too many problems anyway, as demonstrated in the world).  THat is to say we can build a moral framework based on findings of science.  We can determine which actions provide humanity with progress.  We can determine which choices, if you will, can best promote it.  I don't mean to suggest we each can make that determination.  I mean to say we can through scientific expert analysis.  My point about each us is simply to suggest we each know it's possible, not that each of us can arrive at the same set of morals on our own.  

Science is relied on, for instance, for our best physical rules of life.  We know which items are good to eat, we know how to maintain health and we let our experts figure that out for us.  Once it's proven we accept them.  That's not to say we know everything, nor we can answer every question but we work towards it.  WE don't have a vaccine for coronavirus, but we proceed with the assumption we can find it.  It simply takes all the work, all the scientific effort to find it.  I think the same type of thing is possible with moral well being.  We can get there through science.  We can determine whether physically manhandling children is a good method of teaching them by measuring the consequences.  If in our attempt to follow biblical precedent we decide beating a child is good because then a child will be humble and malleable we can test that.  And to this point religion is completely wrong, of course.  We all accept that now, not because God says so but because science has shown us.  Beating a child can cause any amount of psychological problems, and well being is not achieved.  

A family member recently through at me the notion that God is moral.  But if we take God's pronouncements seriously, as if his pronouncements can be found in ancient scripture, then we too can determine the usefulness of these pronouncements.  Is it well being to murder whole societies because they disbelieve the right GOd?  for instance.  Is slavery a viable promotion of well being?  I'd suggest the tendency to say God or religion or scripture provides us a useful moral framework is just nonsense.  I think our modern world largely knows that without accepting it, oddly.  And when I say modern I mean for the majority, because certainly you can find some people who prefer the ancient proscription of morality, but most of them through out at least a few.  

With that of course free will is out.  That can't stop us from promoting well being for each other.  Our promotion is simply an effect of the causes that made us aware of such a valid way for truth.  

 

 

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17 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

 

Well you're probably both correct if you define righteous as following the LDS prophet. And you're also of course both correct if righteousness is not possible if someone rejects the opportunity to be baptized in the LDS Church.

However, if you both agree that it's possible to be righteous as a non-member, including as someone who had the opportunity and rejected it, then I think I can show you that my point still stands.

So, what say ye?

I know and have as friends, many people who are good and do righteous things. 
Their baptism into the LDS church would not negate any of it. 
What’s the downside?  You seem to think that there is. 

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

And

And

Granted.  and I'll clarify first by suggesting I attempted to be too brief with my comment without thinking it through.

The point here is to suggest we need not rely on subjectivity when it comes to arriving at a moral truth.  We can arrive at objectivity through science rather than through an imagined higher power (which has way too many problems anyway, as demonstrated in the world).  THat is to say we can build a moral framework based on findings of science.  We can determine which actions provide humanity with progress.  We can determine which choices, if you will, can best promote it.  I don't mean to suggest we each can make that determination.  I mean to say we can through scientific expert analysis.  My point about each us is simply to suggest we each know it's possible, not that each of us can arrive at the same set of morals on our own.  

Science is relied on, for instance, for our best physical rules of life.  We know which items are good to eat, we know how to maintain health and we let our experts figure that out for us.  Once it's proven we accept them.  That's not to say we know everything, nor we can answer every question but we work towards it.  WE don't have a vaccine for coronavirus, but we proceed with the assumption we can find it.  It simply takes all the work, all the scientific effort to find it.  I think the same type of thing is possible with moral well being.  We can get there through science.  We can determine whether physically manhandling children is a good method of teaching them by measuring the consequences.  If in our attempt to follow biblical precedent we decide beating a child is good because then a child will be humble and malleable we can test that.  And to this point religion is completely wrong, of course.  We all accept that now, not because God says so but because science has shown us.  Beating a child can cause any amount of psychological problems, and well being is not achieved.  

A family member recently through at me the notion that God is moral.  But if we take God's pronouncements seriously, as if his pronouncements can be found in ancient scripture, then we too can determine the usefulness of these pronouncements.  Is it well being to murder whole societies because they disbelieve the right GOd?  for instance.  Is slavery a viable promotion of well being?  I'd suggest the tendency to say God or religion or scripture provides us a useful moral framework is just nonsense.  I think our modern world largely knows that without accepting it, oddly.  And when I say modern I mean for the majority, because certainly you can find some people who prefer the ancient proscription of morality, but most of them through out at least a few.  

With that of course free will is out.  That can't stop us from promoting well being for each other.  Our promotion is simply an effect of the causes that made us aware of such a valid way for truth.  

Proscribing an objective morality to humans would be equivalent to proscribing an objective morality to nature in general, as we are simply a speck of nature.  It would be equivalent to judging a tornado as moral or immoral, based on where nature directed it.  

Edited by pogi
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On 8/20/2020 at 1:39 PM, MiserereNobis said:

Maybe I didn't express myself clearly. I don't mean "are 8 year olds asked if they want to be baptized or are they forced?" What I mean is: "can an 8 year old really make an independent decision?"

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is quite simple, actually. We are ALL, broken, sinners and enemies to God. But our Father in Heaven so loved His children that He sent His perfect, only begotten and sinless Son to die a horrible death to Atone for the sins of those would have faith and believe in Him. To be cleansed form our sins, to be reconciled to Him thru faith, we are called to be baptized in His name that we may be brought into His family and recognized as members of His flock. And we promise,  going forward, to strive to be faithful, obedient and to aspire to be like our Savior.

That's how I explained the basics to all my 6 children. They understood that and desired to be baptized. It is a symbolic act of humility and faith that an 8 year old can fully grasp.

What happens later is that sin, or the desire to give in to sin, comes into the equation. Whatever rationalizations are alluded to are just  that; an attempt to justify their desire to walk away. That's a different issue all together. 

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7 hours ago, stemelbow said:

We can determine which actions provide humanity with progress

Wishful thinking imo since what is progress varies depending on the person. This assumes we are at a point where scientists might not reach a majority view that had fundamental issues such as has happened before in some societies.  Since such decisions would then mold the type of society that existed, one might end up with a society making decisions in a ‘progressively’ more restricted way
 

As an extreme example, this could be first used to justify limitations on health care, perhaps it eventually being given out depending on how likely it was the person would contribute to the society in approved ways and then later ending up with a Eugenics program where only those deemed having ‘fit’ genetic code were allowed to reproduced...all decisions made to minimize health care costs for the society and to maximize what are seen as benefits.

Edited by Calm
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13 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

That's not necessarily true, major purposes of those traditions can be completely left behind. Major, good life goals can be left behind. Good experiences can be completely missed.

Please give examples of major purposes left behind. 
 

I am not arguing goals change, just that in many ways the purposes of the goals in terms of righteousness don’t alter that much.  And without specifics I am not seeing your point very well  

Marriage would be a goal in the Restored Gospel with the purpose eternal family, for example. 
 

added:  that was weird, the board sent me to this post as unread

Edited by Calm
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10 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

You cannot arrive at objectivity through science. Science presupposes the existence of objectivity in order to even exist. 

Again, this depends on what progress is! Science is good at figuring out means to an end, but how can experimentation tell us what the end "should" be? It's the "is-ought" problem perpetually rearing its head. Harris claims to have solved it, but in reality his propositions in The Moral Landscape just smuggle in a pre-existing definition of "ought" at the beginning. Science can provide us with a "morality" - really just an instruction book - that leads us to a desired end, but the ultimate question of morality is always not just what to do, but what to want. You'll notice that Jesus' sermons focus less on what we should or shouldn't do and go upstream to the source - what we should and should not want. See Matthew 5 for an example. Science can't tell us what to want, so it's missing the most fundamental part of morality. 

This looks like standard-issue unreflective monolithization and demonization of the amorphous concept of "religion." Boring.

 

What standard of well-being are we talking about here? An early standard which thought that well-being existed on a societal level and therefore viewed religious cohesion and slavery as beneficial to increasing the prosperity and splendor of the empire, or a modern individualistic view of well-being that focuses on the individual? Couldn't science be used to determine a means to both ends? Our modern individualism has not always been the dominant paradigm. It has not always been self-evident. 

That's just it. You cannot derive a morality from science until you've determined the the goal, until you've already determined the "good" that you want. That must exist before science enters the scene and therefore Harris's philosophy just kicks the can down the road. 

Dang dude, you are GOOD!  👍

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