RE: compassion (was: Re: [humanism-174] Aha!)

From: Marni T.
Sent on: Monday, August 6, 2007 11:37 PM
Ah yes, compassion... I knew I'd miss something important in my quickie
Atheist "bible". 
Here's some possible evidence of compassion from WAY back.

http://en.wikiped...­

Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of
ken
Sent: Monday, August 06,[masked]:35 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: compassion (was: Re: [humanism-174] Aha!)


Todd, Mark, and others,

Buddhism typically starts out at what seems to be the heart of moral
matters: compassion.  Beginners attending first classes and/or reading
introductory books on Buddhism are told about compassion, that this
entails relieving suffering, compassion's effect on karma, and that we
should have compassion for all sentient beings.  Though it's one of
those things which would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove, it
seems obvious that compassion for others is the origin of the more
formalized moral codes espoused by Moses, Christ, Hammurabi and others.
 I.e., isn't compassion for others the founding principle of all moral
codes and what, in a more declarative fashion, they are all trying to
counsel?

Even as a very young dude in confirmation classes I saw the deficiency
in a rules-based morality.  For instance, since there wasn't any
commandment against it, I could stick a wad of gum in Pamela Kowalski's
hair and still be a good Christian.  Nor was there any commandment
against sprinkling cayenne pepper in Beater McButtsky's jockstrap.  So
was that cool too?  Rules, it seemed, were slippery and easy to get
around.  Christianity would allow all kinds of mischief and so being a
Christian and being simply a good person weren't necessarily the same
thing.  The less rules-based principle of compassion, while it left it
to the individual to assess particular acts, or perhaps because of this,
includes better and more of what happens in life.

At the same time, it seemed a bit odd in intro Buddhism books and
classes that so much emphasis was put on compassion; it was as the
writers and speakers somehow believed people never heard of or
experienced it before.  Sure, it was worth mentioning, but who could
possibly not already understand and fully feel compassion, especially
those who bothered to pick up a book or attend a lecture on Buddhism?
Okay, maybe the intent of the extended discourses on compassion was to
chase off the devout hedonists who'd heard from somewhere some tabloid
headline about Tantric Buddhism and thought there'd be an excellent orgy
at the end of the class.  If not, why were they making us suffer through
all this talk about compassion?

There are of course people in the world who seem not to fathom
compassion at all-- e.g., most murderers, rapists, and
neo-conservatives, but even some college professors, Boy Scout Masters,
and musicians.  So perhaps it's a worthy endeavor to try to wake up
people to it, to try to help them join the community of human beings and
by whatever means which might be effective, including Christianity,
Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, or philosophy.  However, this isn't to say,
nor should we delude ourselves into believing, that compassion for
others was unknown prior to religion or philosophy.  Several months ago
an anthropologist on NPR told of a prehistoric human's leg bone that
showed a severe break which had mended.  The anthropologist concluded
from this that someone had to have helped the person during the long
time it took for the leg to heal.  I tried to find reference to this on
the web, couldn't, but did find
<http://dmla.clan....;­
,
an anthropologist's report of a dog with a broken leg that was nursed
back to health, the evidence dating back 6000 years ago.  In talking
with another anthropologist, I learned that there are quite a few known
instances indicative of compassion for others in prehistory.

The point is that compassion didn't begin with Christianity or any other
monotheistic religion, at least there's no evidence for this, no myths
describing this, no reference to it in ancient texts, no artifacts to
support the supposition.  Personally, I see no reason for not believing
that humans weren't caring creatures from the very beginning and so no
reason to believe that organized religion is a requirement for a
more/ethical society.


On 08/04/[masked]:26 PM somebody named Marni Tiborsky wrote:
> Hi Todd,
> 
>  
> 
> In answer to your question about what gives Atheists morals, if it isn't
> written in some book written by humans for humans, I believe, and I am
> not speaking for the group here, that my morals were taught to me by my
> parents, who are very wise indeed. Does this mean that they received
> their morals from a higher power, and just passed that knowledge onto
> me? I think not. I believe that as human beings, because of our
> intrinsic value, and our brains, which can think beyond what others tell
> us to think, we can reason that there is right and wrong. We decide for
> ourselves based on facts and the "doing unto others" rule, and we make
> our own decisions on whether to do the right thing or the wrong thing.
> Some people don't care about morals, and that is their prerogative. They
> have chosen to think of right and wrong differently. I have never, for
> one second, believed that some "one" is pulling my strings. To do so
> would be giving up my mind. I do not like to be led like a sheep, and I
> don't think other people should be led either. Since I believe in the
> science, not the fiction, of how the Earth was formed, and the universe,
> etc. etc., there cannot be a "lord", so therefore, there is no higher
> power with any hold on me or my life decisions. Why should people rely
> on books that are written basically to enslave and put fear in them? Why
> should they rely on these books at all? Of course, I would agree that
> the "ten commandments" per se are very good guidelines, but they were
> part of a story, and I don't need a story to live by. Please don't get
> me wrong, my favorite books are fiction - I enjoy Stephen King and Dean
> Koontz primarily, but I certainly wouldn't live my life based on any
> moral code they would put in their stories. That would be ridiculous.
> I'm sure there might be people out there who think Stephen King is a
> "god". More power to them. Why is it that people assume that because you
> have no religion and you don't cling to the bible, or whatever other
> book is out there, that you can't be a moral, upstanding citizen? I
> don't believe in the devil either, so there goes the "devil worshipping"
> theory right out the window as well.
> 
>  
> 
> I definitely agree with your point that humans have the ability to
> either save or destroy. However, I don't believe that humans are any
> more valuable on this planet, simply by being, than a butterfly. Without
> the help of the butterfly and the bee, we wouldn't survive. Intrinsic
> value or not, if a small creature like the aforementioned, can create
> what we need to survive, doesn't that mean it has a moral code as well?
> I mean, a bee can certainly sting you. Does that mean the bee is evil?
> Or is it just stinging you because you caused it to defend itself
> against attack? Do bees and butterflies have moral codes? Does any other
> animal on this planet have a moral code besides humans? I think they do.
> I think that by definition, any living creature on this Earth can be
> "moral". According to the very definition of moral, it is so varied and
> based on so many circumstances, that one could argue for any given
> situation that an animal is presented with, that it makes moral
> decisions based on its environment and the other animals involved. Also,
> as far as humans go, one person's morality may be another person's sin.
> Interesting thought. So, if that's the case, and one goes by one book to
> shape all of his/her moral behavior, there might be a very good
> possibility that I could call that individual amoral, simply because I
> don't believe in that person's code of conduct, and I don't believe in
> the book from which he/she received morality.
> 
>  
> 
> Ok, I guess I've talked enough. Please know that I respect the fact that
> you have shared with us your belief system.
> 
> Thanks for reading.
> 
> Marni
> 
>  
> 
> --------------------­--------------------­--------------------­------------
> 
> *From:* [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] *On
> Behalf Of *Todd Maher
> *Sent:* Saturday, August 04,[masked]:39 PM
> *To:* [address removed]
> *Subject:* RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
>  
> 
> Hey, Mark,
> 
> I'm glad you were able to look through the Mises website. I work at a
> bank, and much like yourself, I am more driven by comfort than money. I
> like money, but the things I can buy with it is outweighed by the time I
> would have to invest.
> 
> Point of interest on whether you are a good capitalist or not... I agree
> that if you are lending out your equipment to work sound for a gig,
> there should be something taken off of the top for equipment
> depreciation, risk of damage, and general wear and tear to recover the
> purchase price of the equipment. However, as long as the business can
> maintain itself and those working in the business are happy, there is
> nothing wrong with that. However, in order to continue operating the
> business, money has to be made to support the lives of those working.
> 
> And on to Religion...
> 
> I would have to say that humans have more intrinsic value than a
> butterfly, simply for the fact that we have the ability to help or harm
> the world exponentially more than any other animal. Humans developed
> nuclear weapons, nerve gas, biochemical warfare, etc. A butterfly cannot
> do such massively destructive things. Humans have also created
> hospitals, charities, orphanages and political action committees, which
> are positive things that a butterfly would be unable to manifest. That
> on its face would indicate that the fact that we have complex brains and
> the bodies to be directed by them, would make us more intrinsically
> valuable. I would hire a human to do the sound for my wedding, not a
> butterfly.
> 
> I think that your philosophy is fine if it works for you. Mine works
> well for me. I try to be fearful of judgment of the Lord, but I often
> make mistakes. I guess  you can say that He is my conscience. In the
> case of atheism, what code do atheists use of what is right or wrong?
> The Bible, the Koran, the Talmud or whatever religion you choose have
> been the guiding morals of individuals in their respective regions.
> Where is the root of right and wrong for atheists? I'm assuming atheism
> has been around for a long time, but I don't know their source of morals.
> 
>  
> 
> Todd
> 
>     -----Original Message-----
>     From: Marni Tiborsky
>     Sent: Aug 4,[masked]:32 AM
>     To: [address removed]
>     Subject: RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
> 
>     Todd,
> 
>     I checked out the Mises site. fascinating and very informative. A
>     lot of it is over my head at this point- but I intend to investigate
>     further. A good deal of philosophy involved here- it may take awhile
>     for me to fully digest it. I was wondering, are you a businessman? I
>     had my own live sound business for several years- I actually was
>     quite good at what I did, and had some great sound technicians
>     working with me. Overall, I would say the business was a success-
>     however, I can't say I was a good businessman; for one thing, I've
>     never been that much of a monetarily-driven person- I've always been
>     more comfort-driven than anything else. Secondly, I was WAY too fair
>     with my helpers- I would usually pay them the full cut for any
>     "gig", whereas any other "boss" in the same situation would take a
>     cut off the top if he or she owned the equipment used, etc. Then I
>     met Marni, and wanted to spend more time with her- so I began
>     farming out my contracts. Soon after, Marni & I were engaged- and I
>     desired to return to a "regular" job, so I wouldn't have to work
>     every single weekend. By the time we were married in June of '04, my
>     sound business had lapsed into oblivion. So I guess I'm not the
>     world's greatest capitalist, ay?
> 
>     Back to the matter of religion (or lack thereof),
> 
>     I don't feel as if I was "put here" at all. I see myself as an
>     organism inhabiting planet Earth, an organism with a complex brain.
>     I feel that I have no more intrinsic value to the Universe than say,
>     a butterfly. And I'm fine with that! Also, since I don't believe in
>     souls & the afterlife, or heaven or hell for that matter, I have no
>     fear of "judgment"- I'm fine with all that also. I'm not sure
>     whether this is a classic atheist's view of oneself or not, but
>     these are my "beliefs" in a nutshell.
> 
>      
> 
>     Mark  
> 
>      
> 
>      
> 
>
--------------------­--------------------­--------------------­------------
> 
>     *From:* [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] *On
>     Behalf Of *Todd Maher
>     *Sent:* Friday, August 03,[masked]:36 AM
>     *To:* [address removed]
>     *Subject:* RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
>      
> 
>     The Corporatism in america has no place in the free markets.
>     Government law protects Corporations from feeling any real pain.
>     This is government protectionism that allows for this to occur. I
>     would recommend a great thinker from the Austrian school of
>     Economics, Ludwig Von Mises, to explain further. Going to his
>     website www.mises.org <http://www.mises....;­, we will be able to
>     listen to other free market capitalists like myself show how
>     government interference, corporate welfare (government sponsored),
>     supposed "free-trade" agreements are undermining the Constitution
>     and Bill of Rights. Also, it'd be worthwhile to look at the role the
>     United Nations and their treaties expel certain constitutional
>     freedoms we have. I will debate this point, because it'll hopefully
>     make me a sharper individual.
> 
>     Government Religions and most organized religions are the victim of
>     any large organizetion- power corruption, or the power attracting
>     the corruptible. Should we trust man, a sinner, to uphold God's law
>     and issue judgment upon us? I think not. That is His job and His job
>     alone. However, if anyone does anything to endanger my life, liberty
>     or property, to the gallows with them.
> 
> 
>         -----Original Message-----
>         From: Marni Tiborsky
>         Sent: Aug 3,[masked]:51 AM
>         To: [address removed]
>         Subject: RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
> 
> 
>         Todd,
> 
>         I must say that I agree with your politics! I think we all know,
>         deep down, that a fundamental change is needed. The "system" is
>         in shambles. Freedom, as the Founding Fathers had intended, has
>         been slowly slipping away for 20+ years now.
> 
>         I don't think that the government is the sole bad guy though- is
>         the "free" market really free? Corporate entities are now
>         basically writing OUR laws. It's capitalism run amok. Our
>         despotic administration, most of congress, and most of their
>         political cronies LOVE this. they make lots & lots of money,
>         while the common man continues to get screwed in more and more
>         ways. Some people who are more well-to-do might love
>         corporate-controlled­ government too- especially the ones who
>         have vested interests in corporations like Exxon Mobil,
>         Halliburton, Dyncorp, big pharmacuticals, Wal-Mart, etc.....
> 
>         I feel that your statement "religion doesn't cause wars,
>         government uses religion to create wars" is true in SOME cases-
>         however, I believe that religion, especially organized religion,
>         and worse yet, religion AS government, has caused countless wars
>         and will continue to do so, barring some sort of major "human
>         enlightenment".
> 
>         Sorry, can't finish this email tonight- very tired!
> 
>         MARK T.
> 
>          
> 
>          
> 
>          
> 
>
--------------------­--------------------­--------------------­------------
> 
>         *From:* [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]]
>         *On Behalf Of *Todd Maher
>         *Sent:* Thursday, August 02,[masked]:29 AM
>         *To:* [address removed]
>         *Subject:* RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
>          
> 
>         I would not call another's views blasphemous, for I am not He
>         who judges (or at least I'm not supposed to be). The universal
>         truth that I've been moving toward are that we are put here as a
>         test to see how badly we can mess up. I have probably messed up
>         more than most, but I am optimistic that I will be prepared for
>         death when my time comes.
> 
>         Do you think about why we think what we do? For example, the
>         whole political propaganda paradigm (right vs. left) and why
>         they are so eager to get us to pick sides? Why we are driven to
>         consume that which we don't need, those things which enslave us
>         to earn the right to own them? I am a free-market, freedom
>         loving individual who believes that government and individuals
>         have been in a struggle from the beginning of time, tugging and
>         pulling (individuals wanting freedom, government pulling us into
>         despotism through rhetoric and propaganda.) Religion doesn't
>         cause wars, government uses religion to create wars, because it
>         burns at the very souls of man. (They sure know how to press our
>         buttons.) Well, I'll respond to any questions or comments I get
>         soon.
> 
>         Todd
> 
> 
> 
>             -----Original Message-----
>             From: Marni Tiborsky
>             Sent: Aug 2,[masked]:19 AM
>             To: [address removed]
>             Subject: RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
> 
> 
> 
>             Todd,
> 
>             If you click on the "messages" tab on our group meetup site,
>             you can see ALL the dialogue that's gone on from day one.
>             It's a good way to see what some of our more active members
>             are like. The majority of us are indeed Atheists &
>             Agnostics- some of the dialogue would probably be considered
>             blasphemy by the very religious. However, for a Freethinker,
>             is there such a thing as blasphemy? I think not!
> 
>             We're not looking to convert anyone. and we certainly aren't
>             looking for anyone to try and convert us. We're all
>             searching for answers to the universal questions, are we not?
> 
>             We look forward to your input.
> 
>              
> 
>             Mark
> 
>              
> 
>
--------------------­--------------------­--------------------­------------
> 
>             *From:* [address removed]
>             [mailto:[address removed]] *On Behalf Of *Todd Maher
>             *Sent:* Wednesday, August 01,[masked]:55 PM
>             *To:* [address removed]
>             *Subject:* RE: [humanism-174] Aha!
> 
>              
> 
>             That's cool. Us Libertarians believe that people should
>             worship how they please. I think it's the point of free
>             thinking. Also, we believe that if a group wants to be
>             exclusive, they should be able to keep their group the way
>             they wish.
> 
>             Regarding your Brahman question, my wife is sleeping right
>             now. We're expecting late December/ early January. I am only
>             as familiar with Buddhism as she has taught me.
> 
>             When I discuss freethinking ideas, mine are usually along my
>             religious dialogue or my political views, which some call
>             radical, others call extreme. Me, I call them founding
>             father material. Ok, now that I am done being full of
>             myself, we can move on to topic. Sorry for not adding to the
>             conversation, but it was nice to see some of the back and
>             forth amongst the group.
> 
> 
>              
> 
>              
> 
>              
> 
>             Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
> 
>             Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
> 
>            [masked]
> 
>            [masked]
> 
>              
> 
>             "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and
brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him,
for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
> 
>              
> 
>              
> 
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>         Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
> 
>         Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
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>        [masked]
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>        [masked]
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>          
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>         "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and
brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him,
for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
> 
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>     Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
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>     Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
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>    [masked]
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>    [masked]
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>      
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>     "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave,
and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then
it costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
> 
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> Chair, Lake County Libertarian Party
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> Asst. Organizer, Cleveland Ron Paul 2008 Meetup
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>[masked]
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>[masked]
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>  
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> "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and
hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it
costs nothing to be a patriot."   -Mark Twain, 1904
> 
>  
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