Vēritās wrote: ↑
Mon Nov 20, 2023 2:16 pm
Res Ipsa wrote: ↑
Wed Aug 02, 2023 4:09 pm
No disrespect intended to you, Gunnar, but lots of disrespect toward Weinberg. He's a brilliant physicist who deservedly won the Nobel Prize in physics. But, in my opinion, that statement is one of the most idiotic things uttered by a high profile atheist. Rwandan genocide is the easiest example -- where an ethnic conflict led neighbors slaughtered neighbors, including children, with machetes.
What causes good people to evil is fear that an outgroup represents an existential crisis. And Weinberg's quip reinforces the in group-outgroup dynamic that is what causes good people to do evil.
Not sure your example does much to refute Weinberg because it assumes the people who did the slaughtering were genuinely "good" people to begin with.
This illustrates one of many problems with Weinberg's quip: it invites an infinite game of No True Scotsman. Neither you nor Weinberg can show whether the people involved in the Rwanda massacre were "good people" or "evil people." But Rwanda is one of many examples of political movements that had the same result. And all it takes is one "good person" doing evil to disprove the quip.
Weinberg's assumption that there is some state of nature in which we can classify people into "good" and "evil" is sheer nonsense. Ironically, the categories "good" and "evil" are religious in nature, so I'm not sure why Weinberg is even borrowing them. The fact is, the actions we take are affected by millions of contingent events, most of which we aren't conscious of. Attributing people's actions to some fundamental personality attribute is a cognitive bias known as "fundamental attribution error." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundament ... tion_error
Veritas wrote:Weinberg didn't say only religious people do evil, he is saying religion makes a genuinely good person do evil.
i understand what he said. I'm saying it's not only BS, it's harmful BS.
Veritas wrote:Of course other things can make a person become irrational and kill someone; something like watching your child and family being brutally murdered in front of you might drive a person to kill that person's family as well.
Congratulations. You've proved Weinberg wrong. That's another problem with Weinberg's quip: it claims to be categorically true -- no exceptions. But there are plenty of counterexamples.
Also, I don't understand why you have introduced "rationality" into the discussion. Weinberg spoke only of good and evil. Adding "irrational/irrational to the mix seems to me to overcomplicate the issue.
Veritas wrote:]But there is no doubt that religion is a very powerful force that can drive otherwise good people to act irrationally and do evil because the examples are abundant. And after all, it makes sense because once God is on your side, there are no consequences to be feared. And moral roadblocks or doubts you may have are easily wiped away with the religious precept that God's ways are mysterious and you'll better understand them in the hereafter.
Given that neither you nor Weinberg has supported the claim that people can be divided into "good" and "evil" separate from what they do, any argument based on that notion is a waste of time.
In addition, the brush you paint with is simultaneously over broad and not broad enough. What makes sense to is absolutely not an accurate guide to how other people think. Maybe you accurately described the way you thought when you were a faithful Mormon. My experience in interacting with lots of religious folks over the years doesn't match with you cartoonish description of how people really think. They struggle with how to be a good person, just like I do. None of them have exhibited the type of simplistic, robotic reasoning that you describe. So, some may think the way you describe, but some is not all.
On the other hand, extreme movements of non-religious types include some people who think in ways similar to those you describe. No God, but the same types of rationalization for doing evil.
There is one thing that all extreme movements that persuade people to do evil have in common: tribe-based dehumanization of the other. The tribes can be based on any number of things: race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, politics, religion, and others I'm sure I haven't listed. To get humans to commit evil against other humans requires only the portrayal of members of an out group to be lesser humans, including not humans at all.
So, too broad and too narrow.
Not only that, but the foundation of Weinberg's statement is itself a perfect example of this destructive tribalism: the very notion that there are "good" and "evil" people. The quip is a ridiculous mess.
Veritas wrote:The religious texts are full of examples promoting this notion where God's commandments put people in a moral quagmire. If God tells you to kill someone because it will benefit everyone, then you're supposed to do it (Nephi). Even if God tells you to murder your own son, you're supposed to do it (Abraham). If God tells the Jews to slaughter women and children (Amalekites) then you're supposed to do it. When God is randomly murdering scores of children in the Bible over the stupidest crap, like for making fun of a hairless prophet, I have a hard time listening to religious people talk about the sanctity of life when they're religiously driven to force 10 year old children to give birth after they're been raped. Probably by another religious man who.
By singling out "religion" as the only tribe that can cause "good" people (still undefined) to do evil, Weinberg is perpetuating exactly the kind of harmful tribalism he should be calling out. It's the kind of simplistic, thoughtless statement that atheists say to make themselves feel morally superior to the religious. making Weinberg guilty of the thing he should be condemning.