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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 9:19 am 
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Ryan A wrote:
First of all, I never meant to imply that upper tier meant "rich". To me, upper tier always mean "smart". I am not saying what is good for the upper 5% of the rich is all that matters. I am saying what the top 5% of intelligent people decide is what everyone should follow. My view on this could change with time but I am just saying right now, in the US, given the education level and corruption of the system. I also think it is more important to push human achievement than keep the average from bottoming out.

Unless you can show me some scientific evidence that shows this would somehow be bad, I will likely be unconvinced.

I would be all for a litmus test.

I am now willing to face the fact that not everyone can handle the same information. I wish it were not the case as it has lead me to some striking contradictions to hat I thought several years ago.

Not to start a personal fight Rucifer, but save for you being a historian who spends his life working on this subject, it is likely I appreciate the Renaissance at least as much as you. I should also add, I do not find the concept of "morality" useful. As far as I am concerned there is only selfishness and what one man can extract from another. That is the basis for all things, even apparent altruism. The golden rule is a consequence of large communities and the importance of reputation and social exchange, nothing more.

There is nothing of merit in the bible beyond an interesting fairy tale that could not be extracted from modern theories of social dynamics. I hope your comment was in jest. The fact that some people were able to ascertain the broad ideas of social interaction long ago merely speaks to how important they are. This does not speak to, as you call it, the importance of the bible today.


If you really meant intelligence over wealth for the upper tier, then it's my bad. But you have to admit when you talk of distribution, that would normally mean wealth.

I think it would be hard to find scientific evidence considering the only way would be to give it a go. I'm not saying that idea wouldn't work, but intelligence doesn't always equal smart decisions. That's what wisdom is for. If you could find me the wisest of all and part them in charge, I'd be fine with that. Intelligence is better for discovering new technologies and advancements such as that, wisdom is better for leadership.

I don't know what has happened to you to make you so cynical towards certain things, but I wish whatever happened didn't happen. A healthy dose of cynicism keeps me from keeping duped by scammers and swindlers and if something is too good to be true, it probably is. I don't think it should cause you to just give up on the bulk of society though...

What you describe makes a man (or woman) sound no better than an animal. Some are of course, but I refuse to believe that. Yes, there is an apparent selfishness within us all, but even arguing it from an evolutionary standpoint, nature (notice I am not calling out god here) saw it fit to bestow upon us the emotions of empathy, compassion, sadness, etc. Why would be have such emotions if the self was all that mattered? If it was simply a matter of reputation as you put it, just to use an incredibly small example, why do people come on this website and try to help newbies with their questions of lifting? We are all anonymous on here and stand nothing to gain. But a larger example, why do we have people who sacrifice their own lives to save another? Reputation could not play a part here- it is simply a reaction from someone when they see another in danger. I refuse to trivialize their actions and simply say it was a matter of them being selfish.

The bible a jest? It's one of the major founders of all western society as we know it. Even if you find it silly you have to acknowledge that at least, and in my opinion that deserves a healthy dose of respect even if we don't truly believe in some of the tales within it. I do think some of the major moral truths that are in the bible such as the ten commandments were realized before it came about (and well, before the Torah as well I should say), but the bible, and religion in general, gave the basis to prevent lawlessness. They were the realization of things innately within us that as you put it, the broad ideas of social interaction, and at the time it made sense to say these ideas of morality were given to us from a higher power. Although I still think that makes sense, I acknowledge it would be just as simple to say we developed them naturally. But the bible spoke to so many throughout history, from the highest emperors of the Roman Empire and Kings thereafter, to the poorest and meekest of all. Clearly some of these truths must be more than simple fairy tales, even if they are surrounded by stories of the fantastic, and even if many believers in it do not walk the walk with it.

No offense, but yesterday I was picking a fight with my reply. I hope this post doesn't appear that way cause I'm not trying to be with this one. One more thing to point out, is that the Constitution was written by the "upper tier" of America at the time, so that proves a little bit of both our points. It's good to put the upper tier in charge, because some of them do look out and try to help those who cannot help themselves. Don't mistake what I said today and before this paragraph- I don't hate the wealthy or smart, and there are those who are pretty freaking great people who do a lot of good. I don't think all poor or bottom tier people represent some sort of Dickensian model were they are all good or moral people because of that. I do believe power corrupts those who are weak-willed, and I think the difference is I think that once you get into that position, who you are as a person is greatly amplified, so those who are in those positions have more of a social responsibility than those who aren't. Call it the luck of the draw, but being genetically or socially "gifted" comes with a price tag. So while its good to put those upper tier in charge, its only good so far as they have know they have a responsibility to look out for the people at the bottom. Those who aren't need to be removed. The founding fathers certainly saw this benefit, as they saw that when only the top tier is catered for, generally violent uprisings happen.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 12:19 pm 
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I agree we should try to elect the wisest among us to lead. Unfortunately, most people tend to elect the most charismatic and witty (and those that promise the most freebies.)

The decline of the influence of Biblical tradition, and the associated decline in morality is certainly one of the most (if not the most) pressing dangers facing the US today.

Rucifer wrote:
I don't see how. I know it sounds extreme but you have to do the same thing to become a citizen of the country. People who are born here get a free ride to just be ignorant?

It's easy to point to things that one must know to be a good voter, but I don't want to get into the voting booth and be met with:

Which of the following best describes government?
A - A force for good.
B - The source of individual liberties.
C - A necessary evil.
D - All of the above.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 12:37 pm 
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frogbyte wrote:
I agree we should try to elect the wisest among us to lead. Unfortunately, most people tend to elect the most charismatic and witty (and those that promise the most freebies.)




There is little difference between wisdom and intelligence. That is a silly distinction. A person can not be wise without intelligence because he would never be able to assimilate all the information from his vast experiences. An intelligent person could easily achieve necessary wisdom just by being placed in the job and experiencing it.

frogbyte wrote:
The decline of the influence of Biblical tradition, and the associated decline in morality is certainly one of the most (if not the most) pressing dangers facing the US today.


I am happy you think that, but I absolutely disagree. In fact, I think just the opposite; the continual appeal to faith and belief rather than science and reason causes people to turn their minds off to large societal problems.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 1:13 pm 
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Rucifer wrote:

If you really meant intelligence over wealth for the upper tier, then it's my bad. But you have to admit when you talk of distribution, that would normally mean wealth.


Yes I was referring to the distribution of people and their abilities, not their wealth although I can definitely see I was confusing. My apologies on that one.


Rucifer wrote:
I think it would be hard to find scientific evidence considering the only way would be to give it a go. I'm not saying that idea wouldn't work, but intelligence doesn't always equal smart decisions. That's what wisdom is for. If you could find me the wisest of all and part them in charge, I'd be fine with that. Intelligence is better for discovering new technologies and advancements such as that, wisdom is better for leadership.


See above response to frogbyte....

Rucifer wrote:
I don't know what has happened to you to make you so cynical towards certain things, but I wish whatever happened didn't happen. A healthy dose of cynicism keeps me from keeping duped by scammers and swindlers and if something is too good to be true, it probably is. I don't think it should cause you to just give up on the bulk of society though...


Well they are still there in society. I am just saying, it is better to live my life without really caring about them, because they will always be around. I can tell you that the more I read the worse it got. I could give you a list of titles if you'd like but I suspect that wouldn't be of interest. I am not giving up per say, just being very realistic about their abilities.

Rucifer wrote:
What you describe makes a man (or woman) sound no better than an animal. Some are of course, but I refuse to believe that. Yes, there is an apparent selfishness within us all, but even arguing it from an evolutionary standpoint, nature (notice I am not calling out god here) saw it fit to bestow upon us the emotions of empathy, compassion, sadness, etc. Why would be have such emotions if the self was all that mattered? If it was simply a matter of reputation as you put it, just to use an incredibly small example, why do people come on this website and try to help newbies with their questions of lifting? We are all anonymous on here and stand nothing to gain. But a larger example, why do we have people who sacrifice their own lives to save another? Reputation could not play a part here- it is simply a reaction from someone when they see another in danger. I refuse to trivialize their actions and simply say it was a matter of them being selfish.


What distinguishes humans from animals is the ability to reason and also very sophisticated language. Most people are unreasonable, so to me, yes, they are very much just animals. We have emotions and empathy because without them we wouldn't survive. Our survival is important to our genes. The self is precisely all that matters, and to most protect the self, we need to consider others, so we have empathy etc.

As to helping Newbies, there is conflation with prestige you may receive in the future. Look at more prominent guys who make a living running online websites and forums on fitness. We could be mimicking their success on a small scale. Some people also help others because it makes them feel good. It makes them feel good because when you help others with other more important things in life, it helps your reputation and people will help you in return. I am just underlining that altruism could arise precisely because we are selfish and there are also "mis-firings" of many evolutionary hardwired mechanisms. e.g. Bugs that fly toward light bulbs do so because they are used to being in a world where the only sources of light are very far away so when you fly keeping your distance toward a distance source constant, you can navigate. When the source is close, you spiral into it and die. Surely you would not infer that evolution hard wired bugs to kamikaze into light bulbs and fires.

Most people don't save the lives of people who they are not related to. In this case, you stand to gain from the benefit of the survival of your children and therefore your genes.

Rucifer wrote:
The bible a jest? It's one of the major founders of all western society as we know it. Even if you find it silly you have to acknowledge that at least, and in my opinion that deserves a healthy dose of respect even if we don't truly believe in some of the tales within it. I do think some of the major moral truths that are in the bible such as the ten commandments were realized before it came about (and well, before the Torah as well I should say), but the bible, and religion in general, gave the basis to prevent lawlessness.

They were the realization of things innately within us that as you put it, the broad ideas of social interaction, and at the time it made sense to say these ideas of morality were given to us from a higher power. Although I still think that makes sense, I acknowledge it would be just as simple to say we developed them naturally. But the bible spoke to so many throughout history, from the highest emperors of the Roman Empire and Kings thereafter, to the poorest and meekest of all. Clearly some of these truths must be more than simple fairy tales, even if they are surrounded by stories of the fantastic, and even if many believers in it do not walk the walk with it.


I acknowledge that the bible is a collection of many works, written by humans, some of which contain ideas that were already in circulation but the Christian movement did put a new spin on some ancient ideas. To believe "lawlessness" is all that existed prior to Christianity, is quite naive.

Rucifer wrote:
No offense, but yesterday I was picking a fight with my reply. I hope this post doesn't appear that way cause I'm not trying to be with this one. One more thing to point out, is that the Constitution was written by the "upper tier" of America at the time, so that proves a little bit of both our points. It's good to put the upper tier in charge, because some of them do look out and try to help those who cannot help themselves. Don't mistake what I said today and before this paragraph- I don't hate the wealthy or smart, and there are those who are pretty freaking great people who do a lot of good. I don't think all poor or bottom tier people represent some sort of Dickensian model were they are all good or moral people because of that. I do believe power corrupts those who are weak-willed, and I think the difference is I think that once you get into that position, who you are as a person is greatly amplified, so those who are in those positions have more of a social responsibility than those who aren't. Call it the luck of the draw, but being genetically or socially "gifted" comes with a price tag. So while its good to put those upper tier in charge, its only good so far as they have know they have a responsibility to look out for the people at the bottom. Those who aren't need to be removed. The founding fathers certainly saw this benefit, as they saw that when only the top tier is catered for, generally violent uprisings happen.


I agree with this for the most part. I am just saying, perhaps the "upper tier" should reexamine the situation occasionally. In some sense they do, as the Justices are very intelligent and they do a good job. In addition, it is at least my opinion that the intelligent people are not who are in office for the most part.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 3:02 pm 
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There's a big difference between wisdom and intelligence, but certainly the majority of current politicians seem to lack in BOTH, so the point is moot.

Ryan A wrote:
I am happy you think that, but I absolutely disagree. In fact, I think just the opposite; the continual appeal to faith and belief rather than science and reason causes people to turn their minds off to large societal problems.

Wow, I find that statement truly shocking. It's the decline of the moral underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian tradition that is at the root of our largest societal problems, ie, the breakdown of the family, drug use, crime.

Ryan A wrote:
Most people don't save the lives of people who they are not related to.

That's equally shocking, and perhaps even more cynical? Given a reasonable opportunity, I'd save your life - if you'd just let me die then you're just mean.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 10:25 pm 
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Well yes, I take it you are both Christian and thus susceptible to inability to reason beyond what people tell you, even if it is a lie. This is exactly why I dislike democracy.

I tend to agree with what people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens say about religion.... it is akin to Terror, Delusion, and Poison, respectively. They make arguments of how you could get by without religion just fine.

Plenty of individuals have functioned without religion. Are those individuals so much better than everyone else that they are the only ones who don't need religion to tell their feeble minds what to do? I would hope not, but maybe that is the case if what you are saying is true. Who is a better human, one who is good because he chooses to be, or one who does so because he fears God's retribution? hmmmmm


The lifesaving is to address Rucifer's question of why people sacrifice themselves to save another. If I thought I could save your life without putting myself at risk, I would. If there was substantial risk to me, I certainly would not.


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 12:15 pm 
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I'm not really religious, no. I've been to church a handful of occasions, usually for some mostly non-religious reasons, such as funerals.

But just because I'm not a practicing Christian doesn't mean I don't have a great deal of respect for it. Truth be told, when I was a teenager I looked down on religious people the way that you do, but within a few years I grew up and learned not to be so bigoted.

Religion in the abstract is neither good nor bad. You have to look at the actual teachings and practice of each religion.

Doing good because of a fear of shame or a fear of God isn't all that different. I have no problem with fear as a motivator in either case - judge them on their actions.


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 12:22 pm 
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I am judging them on their actions and I find their actions usually stupid and once in a while repulsive.

But, at this point, I am taking my friends advice and not talking to anymore, because it really is pointless it seems.


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 1:31 pm 
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I think this entire thread has been pointless. I usually choose never to argue about social issues cause this is usually the result unfortunately. I guess every once once in awhile the bottle gets loose though and it explodes out.


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 2:56 pm 
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To "argue" about such things generally is pointless, if by argue you mean both sides are trying to merely unconditionally persuade. Discussion and questioning can be interesting though. I'd still be curious, for example, to know what's at the source of Ryan's dislike for religion, and how, if at all, that led to his amorality and seeing abortion as such a "clear cut" issue.


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 2:58 pm 
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Well I greatly enjoying arguing/discussing ( I don't see a big difference) but when people disagree on their axioms, it rapidly becomes apparent that you can't get anywhere.


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 12:42 pm 
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It's a common problem in nerd discussions - you spend an hour or two (face-to-face) just coming to an agreement on the use of terminology. Then you can sometimes get down to the more interesting question of why people believe what they do.


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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 4:00 am 
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Ryan A wrote:
Well I greatly enjoying arguing/discussing ( I don't see a big difference) but when people disagree on their axioms, it rapidly becomes apparent that you can't get anywhere.


Yep, that's the conclusion I came to as well. There is little point in talking about that sort of thing with some people. I'd have more success teaching a kindergarten class how to compile a Linux kernel from source code. But hey now that the religion topic has come up, it at least makes a lot more sense.

I always find it quite remarkable how little Christians know about their own bible, don't you?

Let's share favorite bible quotes.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but the end of 2 Kings chapter 2, might be my favorite. Elisha has god get a couple bears to maul 42 kids to death for calling him baldy. Then he calmly buggers off to Samaria.

2:23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
2:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
2:25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.


Isn't that just heart warming? Ah we'll never have good justice like that again. There are so many to choose from too.


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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 9:00 am 
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Maybe they were the children of the corn?


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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 11:50 am 
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Well, I would say that the moral tradition is more important to society than is knowledge of the Bible, but certainly I think most self-described Christians don't know it well. But in my experience most self-described Christians don't really practice religion day-to-day in any capacity.

Studying the Bible is certainly not easy. I did some in a literature class once long ago, and you can spend an hour learning about the contexts and implications and possible translations of each word.


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