David S
hyponitrite
Shepperton, GB
Post #: 53
Following on from my last encounter with the Baptists, it now occurs to me that, in humanist terms, my first loyalty is towards my own species.

It was clear that their take on the issue is that their first loyalty is to God/Jesus. Likewise for the Muslims and Allah and Mohammad (praise be his name, of course). That enables those people to kill humans indiscriminately in pursuit of favour with Allah and for their divine rewards.

Species treachery has to be the lowest of the low, particularly when the betrayal is on account of invisible, non-existent entities.

Is this too extreme?
Jason
SweynTUV
London, GB
Post #: 9
Fully agree with you that the scariest things about the religiously motivated is their notion that the agenda of the supreme being transcends all other agendas, including possibly our agenda to carry on living. When you define "good" as equating to anything the supreme being wants, then "good" can encompass genocide, rape, murder, slavery etc. As William Lane Craig and his kind ask, who are we to judge? He's the creator after all. As more people comes to understand that all apparently abstract things must be instantiated in matter and/or energy (and I don't see why that need diminish their meaning or value) then the safer I will feel.

As for the idea of Humanism being about loyalty to species, that's an interesting one. I know where you are coming from and would certainly value a single human life more highly than just about anything I can imagine, but I suspect that is not just about blind loyalty to my own species. The whole concept of species is, after all, a bit woolly and unreal in evolutionary terms. I suspect that it is the various capacities and potentials that a human being has, combined with our individual uniqueness, that I actually value. That we have similar DNA isn't that big a deal for me.
Jason
SweynTUV
London, GB
Post #: 10
Back again with a quick thought experiment.

At some time in the future we create a race of intelligent machines. Each appears to exhibit a distinct and unique personality. They have the capacity for genuine creativity, some doing original science and others creating intricate works of literature, art and music. They appear to form friendships, grieve when a friend malfunctions and contemplate their own eventual demise. The machines live and work alongside humans, are economically successful and replicate themselves in ever greater numbers.

Some humans start to feel marginalised and an anti-machine movement arises determined to eradicate the machines and all of their works. The movement is cultish and violent, with everyone in uniform carrying the one book that they are allowed to read. They are completely humourless, have no truck with art, music, literature or any machine more intelligent than an assault rifle. A technophobic Khmer Rouge. The machines defend themselves and a war begins.

Who should Humanists stand with? The machines or those with near identical DNA to our own?
David S
hyponitrite
Shepperton, GB
Post #: 54
Tricky topic. Do we give way gracefully to the next stage in evolution and fade into extinction, like the previous hominids? Or go out fighting?

It's the stuff for sci-fi movies!
David S
hyponitrite
Shepperton, GB
Post #: 55
Another (typically coarse) thought. It is supposed that there was a degree of gene sharing between homo sapiens and neanderthals.

Could be a bit painful doing the same with a machine, however well educated it may be.
Georgi L.
Guffaw
London, GB
Post #: 1,392

As for the idea of Humanism being about loyalty to species, that's an interesting one. I know where you are coming from and would certainly value a single human life more highly than just about anything I can imagine, but I suspect that is not just about blind loyalty to my own species. The whole concept of species is, after all, a bit woolly and unreal in evolutionary terms. I suspect that it is the various capacities and potentials that a human being has, combined with our individual uniqueness, that I actually value. That we have similar DNA isn't that big a deal for me.

This is part of the reason I don't identify as a humanist despite of course being totally onside with what the intention and aim of the humanist movement is about. The name is unquestionably species-centric (even though the 'code' is actually the opposite and includes kindness to animals!). I question why violent crimes on (other sentient) animals aren't subject to the same punishment as crimes against humans - and unfortunately the humanist label seems to work against that notion.

I also have a problem with the whole 'good without god' mantra. What is this 'god' thing? It's a figment of deluded peoples' brainwashing. Why should we define our behaviour/ethics by a definition of something we don't believe in?

And then there's the issue of what a humanist actually means? Most people who call themselves humanist don't seem to have a clear idea of what it means either. Is there a list somewhere of what you must do to be a humanist? Do we really need a list like religious people do, of what we 'should' or shouldn't do? Isn't it obvious what is 'good'?

Don't get me wrong, I am totally on side of what humanism is about, and am thankful that it exists because had the term and movement not been coined, I doubt atheism would be where it is now. But to me it seems like a step in the evolution of where the term atheism isn't even needed anymore, because like abolitionist, the term would no longer be relevant because hardly anyone would want to claim to be the opposite. But adopting the term humanist seems to make it into a club, and whilst that's ok itself as well, aren't you kind of being counterproductive by suggesting that it isn't the default and that we do need a code rather than just living by rationalism and empathy? On the other hand, I think I think the term serves a pragmatic purpose in helping people who have been religious, to aclimatise to living without religion but still having the safety of being able to tell people that they live by a code. The term is cuddlier than atheist and therefore people feel more comfortable 'coming out' under its umbrella perhaps. So there is a value/need for it, but not for all atheists. And certainly I question those humanists who shy away from 'admitting' they're atheists. The term humanism, if you feel you need/want it, still can't exist without you being an atheist, surely.

But getting back to the other part of David's original question, about religious people serving their imaginary tyrant even if that means willfully burying their sense of right and wrong under the excuse of "But I was told to do it", that's a replica of Milgram's experiment...and we know what the results of that were.
Martyn
Maradam
Guildford, GB
Post #: 566
Humanity Version 2.0 (i.e. the robots that we will invent) will come with: -

> Rational Thought (as standard)
> Atheism (default setting)
> Tolerance to other points of view
> Asexuality
> Helpful and polite nature
> Respect for their creators (as standard)

:)

Shortly thereafter comes...

Humanity Version 2.1 (i.e. the robots that the robots invent) will come with: -

> Super strength
> Super intelligence
> Intolerance to inefficiency (uh oh - we're hardly 'efficient')
> Survival instinct (uh oh)

:(
David S
hyponitrite
Shepperton, GB
Post #: 58
2.1 cont'd.

Creators! What creators? Show me one!

(They're all dead by then - Book of Termination)
Jason
SweynTUV
London, GB
Post #: 11

This is part of the reason I don't identify as a humanist despite of course being totally onside with what the intention and aim of the humanist movement is about. The name is unquestionably species-centric (even though the 'code' is actually the opposite and includes kindness to animals!). I question why violent crimes on (other sentient) animals aren't subject to the same punishment as crimes against humans - and unfortunately the humanist label seems to work against that notion.

I also have a problem with the whole 'good without god' mantra. What is this 'god' thing? It's a figment of deluded peoples' brainwashing. Why should we define our behaviour/ethics by a definition of something we don't believe in?
I am happy with the term humanism as the closest single-word label for the way I see things, but for me it is more about "humaneness" that some blind allegiance to a certain combination of base-pairs. When David asked if "we" should go down fighting, that suggests to me that he automatically identified with the side with similar DNA. Personally, if my choice is between Nazi/Taliban/Khmer-Rouge humans and "humane" machines then "we", for me at least, is me and the machines.

Harking back to the origins of the term, I see humanism as being about the primacy of human concerns. Yes, the term was coined as a reaction to religion, first just scholastic education and then wholesale rejection of religion, but for all that, I don't feel it to be a negative term. It has implications of being concerned for the wellbeing of other humans, in contrast to the rather bald assertion of simply being an "atheist", so for me it adds something.

When it comes to animals, I completely agree with the humanist emphasis on taking proper account of their capacity for suffering, which on the whole, we hugely underestimate with dreadful consequences. That said, and I am talking about the typical case here, I could not rate a human and an animal as being equally valuable. If there was a hell it should have a special place for the moron that kills a scientist to liberate a lab rat. The memories, hopes, plans and ideas that we carry in our heads is completely unique. A human has the potential, though they may never realise it, to bring into being something that have never existed before in the history of the universe, whether it be a symphony, a space-telescope, a recipe or a bed-time story. When they die that is all gone forever and you have curtailed their ability to pass that on. A rat on the other hand, will just do the same ratty stuff that rats have always done, i.e. eat, crap and make more rats.

That's the typical case but things get blurred at the edges. There are animals that seem to have richer mental lives than some impaired humans, though not easy to prove conclusively of course. I am quite sympathetic to the idea of erring on the side of caution and ascribing some kind of legal personhood to those kinds of animals. I also find myself factoring in rarity to the value equation. If I were a gamekeeper confronting a poacher with his sights on one of the last families of mountain gorillas, would I take him out before he could shoot? It's a tough one.
Jason
SweynTUV
London, GB
Post #: 13
Another (typically coarse) thought. It is supposed that there was a degree of gene sharing between homo sapiens and neanderthals.

Could be a bit painful doing the same with a machine, however well educated it may be.

Well according to this bit of weirdness we might be about to find out soon enough :)
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