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Old 01-11-2010, 12:27 PM    (permalink
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Be a man; pick a side.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:32 PM    (permalink
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The question is too broad in scope IMO.
So does that mean you believe that we can't judge man as a species, but only as a series of individuals? I don't think the question is too broad, the nature of man is an interesting topic.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:33 PM    (permalink
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But is there always a side to take on a question?

anyways

I'm gonna actually pick a side and say that man is inherently bad, but I'd need some time explaining my point, which I don't have.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:00 PM    (permalink
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In response to Ward's question, I say no, man is not inherently good. When left to our own devices (and that is what is most important when dealing with this question, in my opinion) we are lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, surviving bastards. Placed outside common social structures, which have evolved to dictate what some call "good" behavior due to a sort of symbiotic relationship with others in that society, humans are not good. They are just like everything else...they want to live. The only reason we can be thought of as "good" and the reason we dont all screw each other on a regular basis is because there is safety in numbers. We realize we have a better chance of surviving in groups and societies then if we were all random and alone.

That said, if we were all random and alone, I have to believe that humans are not inherently good.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:19 PM    (permalink
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Is man inherently good?
That depends on the definition of "good". But in reallity the answer is no. People just like other animals do everything for one of 3 reasons. 1. food, 2. Survival, 3. sex.
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oh please. as if canadians even know what beer is.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:28 PM    (permalink
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Is man inherently good?
I say yes, and I have this conversation all the time with my friends. Ill just start by using an example of a video shown in one of my classes. They recorded this child and a man in your normal every day room, the child was just old enough to move around, and have a small understanding of how things worked. The man would go around to a drawer and pretend to have trouble opening it. The child, with no real knowledge of who this man was would walk over, and help the man open the draw. Same thing with a stove, and everything else in the room. The child just helped, without being told, and without knowing this person.

Now granted thats just one example, but it hit home with me, and I honestly believe that over all people are fully capable of living a good life, even with all the crazy **** some have done.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:29 PM    (permalink
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When you ask if man is inherently good or bad it begs the question what is good and what is bad? Is good and bad absolute, or is it relative? If good is relative then good is simply conforming to the societally agreed upon norm, which some do and some obviously don't. Personally, I believe in moral relativism so I can't say that man is either inherently good or bad, because good and bad are not constant.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:35 PM    (permalink
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When you ask if man is inherently good or bad it begs the question what is good and what is bad? Is good and bad absolute, or is it relative? If good is relative then good is simply conforming to the societally agreed upon norm, which some do and some obviously don't. Personally, I believe in moral relativism so I can't say that man is either inherently good or bad, because good and bad are not constant.
This.

How do you know what is real? I mean the mind can make you see or feel anything. There was an experiment that had a man look at an apple. And they looked at his brain while looking at the apple. Then they asked him to close his eyes and imagine the apple and lo and behold the same areas of the brain lit up. So really, we don't know what is real all existence could be our brain messing with us. Do my hands really exist? Kinda a mind **** to think about.
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oh please. as if canadians even know what beer is.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:16 PM    (permalink
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Is man inherently good?
I learn toward yes.

Man has is inherently good, but we also have the capability to turn away from 'goodness'. Anything man does contrary to good is not 'evil', but a perversion of the good or what is true. Man knows what is good but at times turn away from or twist what is good into something contrary to good or truth. For example, Lying is perverting or twisting the truth by the use of human intellect,or drinking alcohol is not inherently 'bad', but a person constantly abusing it is the perversion of its intent.

So yes, man possesses the inherent capability to be 'good'.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:17 PM    (permalink
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This.

How do you know what is real? I mean the mind can make you see or feel anything. There was an experiment that had a man look at an apple. And they looked at his brain while looking at the apple. Then they asked him to close his eyes and imagine the apple and lo and behold the same areas of the brain lit up. So really, we don't know what is real all existence could be our brain messing with us. Do my hands really exist? Kinda a mind **** to think about.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:17 PM    (permalink
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Is man inherently good?
I learn toward yes.

Man has is inherently good, but we also have the capability to turn away from 'goodness'. Anything man does contrary to good is not 'evil', but a perversion of the good or what is true. Man knows what is good but at times turn away from or twist what is good into something contrary to good or truth. For example, Lying is perverting or twisting the truth by the use of human intellect,or drinking alcohol is not inherently 'bad', but a person constantly abusing it is the perversion of its intent.

Man possesses the inherent capability to be 'good', but unlike any other species he also possesses the ability to contentiously distort what is good.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:18 PM    (permalink
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Alright, let's try this out.

A question like "Is man inherently good?" rides on a bunch of assumptions. Because of the vagaries of language and intent, I think the safest thing to rest on for a discussion is the most basic possible meaning of the question when it is asked, and the most basic intention of it. We can do it by breaking it apart, and then trying a bit of holism by just looking at it on its face.

So what is meant by "good"? Well there's the issue of relativism as posed by senormysterioso, but going off of broad intent I think we mean "helping people out n **** and not doing really bad ****." This makes the question broad and glosses over more controversial good/bad questions: almost all of us think it's good to help someone in need or it's good not to murder and rape, but it's debatable if it's good to tell a lie in certain situations or if it's not good to do your taxes or pray to god X. We can get nitpicky, but to arrive at an answer to a broad question we need broad parameters.

Now, good is not merely the negation of bad as I showed, meaning "it's good not to murder = it's bad to murder." In fact, I used two senses: the first sense was something that's cool/nice to do, but I also used the sense of negation of bad. The first sense was permissible stuff that has some sort of positive effect, like helping someone. No one's gonna get pissed if you don't help people out, but in order to be looked upon kindly it's the kind of stuff you'll do. Basically, you don't have to be a model citizen, but don't be a douche. The second sense is not doing stuff that is prohibited. Interestingly, looking at the broad question, there's not much agreed upon between humans that is obligatory when it's not a negation of a bad thing. The only thing I can think of is saving someone from bodily harm if it doesn't cause you bodily harm: saving a drowning child in a pool is obligatory because the only harm to you is that you get wet (example more or less stolen from Singer). But most people don't think it's obligatory to pray to Allah except Muslims. Like the negation of something that is prohibited is obligatory, the negation of something that is obligatory is prohibited: Don't not save the child drowning in the pool (it's a logical double negative, don't freak, b/c it equals the positive).

Why do I bring this up? Because the question could be asking three different things. "Is man inherently good" could mean he inherently does nice, permissible stuff that it's not wrong for him to do. "Is man inherently good" could mean he doesn't do bad stuff, like not murder. "Is man inherently good" could mean he does the obligatory good stuff, like save a drowning child.

I still need to look at "inherent," but on the face, I'm gonna argue that he is not inherently good in doing the nice permissible stuff. Douchebaggery is pretty prevalent. Also, going back to the relativist objection, whether that stuff is good at all is fairly sticky.

There are two different things that "inherently" mean - either on a random basis what comes natural or what we'll do in desperation that shows our "true natures." Jvig43's example illustrates the first point. Humans are conditioned to do certain things randomly. However, there's another dimension - are these things cultural or biological? Do we do these random acts of kindness or goodness out of what our environment influences us, or is there an innate part of us which picks things? Getting back to the question, I think the question should set aside the cultural implication, so "inherently" doesn't mean what culture/the "system" makes us do but rather what is a common psychological, biological, or spiritual basis, which then would form culture itself.

Seeing these two dichotomies, I think that we can set aside random acts of kindness, because looking at the question on its face, the "gusto" of the question is what we do when we are desparate, not what is random. Also, having picked biology over culture, inherently then here best means "what is innate for us to do in the worst kind of ordeals." Morality is pretty simple when we do random acts of kindness. That kind of stuff is 1) culturally implanted and 2) not at the heart of the matter. Like I said earlier, pursuing this from the bigger picture of the question and not just breaking down its constituent parts, the question is about what man does when the chips are down.

I already said that even without looking at "inherently," if doing good means doing the nice stuff, then man is not good. I think I've shown that even more once I've looked at "inherently." The other two are more important. I think, in fact, we are inherently good to do things that are obligatory like save a drowning child if it causes us no harm - it is instinctual. The real heart of the matter, though, lies in the negation of the bad - do we murder and rape and **** when the chips are down?

I say yes. In this sense, man is inherently bad. BUT, it's important to realize that depending on the situation, man can be pitied and even viewed as good for doing something bad. Maybe the intentions were good behind a murder if the person thought it would protect their family or their way of life. People caught up in gang violence do horrible ****, but the alternative of not doing them can be worse for the people. Or, maybe a person was conditioned by a neglectful home or environment, which made the person more prone to commit a heinous crime. So the answer here is not as clear as it seems.

In conclusion, I'll say that man is not inherently good, but it's by no means clear, and I can see the other side. In fact, I agree with the other side if we mean obligatory good stuff.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:22 PM    (permalink
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If you're like me, you judge man as a species consisting of individuals w/ free will, thus man's "goodness" will always range across a broad spectrum. If free will doesn't exist, I think you can make an argument for either inherent "goodness" or inherent "evil". Does free will exist? Try and avoid religion as much as possible, but if you must, just keep it civilized and non-judgmental.

Personally I believe that if there is a god, free will does not exist and we all live out pre-determined lives. A truly omnipotent being would know in advance all of our actions, which means that free will is an illusion. I've never heard a good argument for a Christian who also believes in free will.

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Old 01-11-2010, 04:39 PM    (permalink
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If you're like me, you judge man as a species consisting of individuals w/ free will, thus man's "goodness" will always range across a broad spectrum. If free will doesn't exist, I think you can make an argument for either inherent "goodness" or inherent "evil". Does free will exist? Try and avoid religion as much as possible, but if you must, just keep it civilized and non-judgmental.

Personally I believe that if there is a god, free will does not exist and we all live out pre-determined lives. A truly omnipotent being would know in advance all of our actions, which means that free will is an illusion. I've never heard a good argument for a Christian who also believes in free will.
While I am on the Theiest/Diest/Athiest fence I don't believe that free will exists when you look deeply enough and broadly enough at the same time. I mean everything is a reactioin to something else. From birth you are beset a genetic makeup that has all sorts of Nucleic Acids, proteins and other organic compounds waiting to be bombarded with electical impuses which then dictate how those organic compounds react making your decisions for you. So your life is predetermined based on your genes and the impulses that make up your experience.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:41 PM    (permalink
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While I am on the Theiest/Diest/Athiest fence I don't believe that free will exists when you look deeply enough and broadly enough at the same time. I mean everything is a reactioin to something else. From birth you are beset a genetic makeup that has all sorts of Nucleic Acids, proteins and other organic compounds waiting to be bombarded with electical impuses which then dictate how those organic compounds react making your decisions for you. So your life is predetermined based on your genes and the impulses that make up your experience.
I do have an athiest friend who believes something similar to this. Basically, if Newtonian physics is true then everything is just a reaction to something else. Meaning your life is already preset (and possibly predictable). I didn't mention it in my post because I can't represent it well enough myself.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:52 PM    (permalink
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Personally I believe that if there is a god, free will does not exist and we all live out pre-determined lives. A truly omnipotent being would know in advance all of our actions, which means that free will is an illusion. I've never heard a good argument for a Christian who also believes in free will.


This is a tough one for Theology, probably why there have been heresies (remember heresy does not imply something 'evil', but the choice contrary to official dogma) over it. I'll try and explain it the best I can from my elementary understanding of Christian dogma. A theologian would probably rip this apart but:

"Unless man is really free, he cannot be justly held responsible for his actions, any more than for the date of his birth or the color of his eyes"

If you presuppose that there are an "elect" group people that God has predetermined for salvation you imply that each man does not possess the ability for salvation. In other words you're doubting the grace and providence of God. That is, your doubting the unmerited favor that God has given man, an opportunity toward salvation.



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I do have an athiest friend who believes something similar to this. Basically, if Newtonian physics is true then everything is just a reaction to something else. Meaning your life is already preset (and possibly predictable). I didn't mention it in my post because I can't represent it well enough myself.
How can an atheist rest their argument on anything thought up by Newton? The guy was a devout Arian Christian, who spent a large portion of his life examining scripture along with science.

Same goes for Gaileo, Copernicus, Bacon, Leibniz,Kepler and most other who laid the foundations for modern science. Modern science as we know it owes its roots to many Christians.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:05 PM    (permalink
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This is a tough one for Theology, probably why there have been heresies (remember heresy does not imply something 'evil', but the choice contrary to official dogma) over it. I'll try and explain it the best I can from my elementary understanding of Christian dogma. A theologian would probably rip this apart but:

"Unless man is really free, he cannot be justly held responsible for his actions, any more than for the date of his birth or the color of his eyes"

If you presuppose that there are an "elect" group people that God has predetermined for salvation you imply that each man does not possess the ability for salvation. In other words you're doubting the grace and providence of God. That is, your doubting the unmerited favor that God has given man, an opportunity toward salvation.

How can an atheist rest their argument on anything thought up by Newton? The guy was a devout Arian Christian, who spent a large portion of his life examining scripture along with science..
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I didn't mention it in my post because I can't represent it well enough myself.
Also, I'm not understanding how you draw a connection between predetermined salvation and man not being able to be saved at all, and then doubting the concept of god's grace? Grace is the only path to salvation for most Calvinist denominations of Christianity, with works being the alternative for other denominations.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:16 PM    (permalink
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Personally I believe that if there is a god, free will does not exist and we all live out pre-determined lives. A truly omnipotent being would know in advance all of our actions, which means that free will is an illusion. I've never heard a good argument for a Christian who also believes in free will.
Again, I could debate that as well, but it would require me to get way to religious, so I'll just say there is a means to debate it, but you have to subscribe to the religious viewpoints I'd be bringing up.

In not trying to go overboard with the religion, you could say, God made man in his image and is therefore innately good, yet tempted by sin (absence of God) and therefore are imperfect and susceptible to "bad"/evil/sin.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:18 PM    (permalink
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Again, I could debate that as well, but it would require me to get way to religious, so I'll just say there is a means to debate it, but you have to subscribe to the religious viewpoints I'd be bringing up.
Does it have anything to do with the viewpoints espoused in your sig? WWBD?
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:24 PM    (permalink
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Also, I'm not understanding how you draw a connection between predetermined salvation and man not being able to be saved at all, and then doubting the concept of god's grace? Grace is the only path to salvation for most Calvinist denominations of Christianity, with works being the alternative for other denominations.
I know you said that and I wasn't trying to attack you for saying that. I was only trying to show that an atheist basing their argument on Newtons methods for explaining God is contradictory. That was all I was trying to get at.

As for the second part... Like I said in my post, I"m no theologian... but there is a reason why predestination is regarded as heresy by Christian tradition. This is not an easy question to answer as Christianity is a very complex religion. Much interpretation has been done upon it since Augustine of Hippo and the pelagians heresy.

My understanding of it is this...Grace is an unmerited favor given in order for man to choose the truth, and by saying that someone is predetermined to not reach salvation, you are doubting the ability of a person to willingly turn toward that grace which God has offered to everyone. Therefore, each person has the conscientious ability decision to accept it or not.
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How can an atheist rest their argument on anything thought up by Newton? The guy was a devout Arian Christian, who spent a large portion of his life examining scripture along with science.

Same goes for Gaileo, Copernicus, Bacon, Leibniz,Kepler and most other who laid the foundations for modern science. Modern science as we know it owes its roots to many Christians.
Prolly because back then athiests were burnt at the stake.
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Isaiah 55:9
Just because you can not understand how free will could exist with in the scope of how a all powerful deity has pre-planned a special purpose for your life doesn't mean that said deity can not make it happen.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:29 PM    (permalink
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Prolly because back then athiests were burnt at the stake.
Back then atheists as we know it today didn't exist. That came after the enlightenment.

Not to mention if you read the works but these guys you can see in their writing that they were genuine Christians. Galileo calls Theology "the queen of all sciences" in his letter to the Grand Duchess.

By reading that Newton was an Arian Christian ( which was a heresy btw) one can infer that his intentions with religion was genuine, he spend the better part of a decade studying scripture instead of "science".

Science and Theology do not disagree with each other, Scientists and theologians do.

* Sorry I keep editing these, I keep needing to add more.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:32 PM    (permalink
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I"m no theologian...
I want to get in on that statement also. I know more scripture than the average person, but there is a great deal of church / religious history I know little of.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:36 PM    (permalink
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Isaiah 55:9
Just because you can not understand how free will could exist with in the scope of how a all powerful deity has pre-planned a special purpose for your life doesn't mean that said deity can not make it happen.
Isaiah was a book written by men, not (a) god. I still don't understand a universe with an all knowing and powerful god leaves room for free will.
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