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Good and Evil

John Smith
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There is a current thread here in MD that addresses the issue in question, but I decided to start a new thread, so that we can attack the problem on a bit higher, metaphysical level.
In our thought processes and discussions, we normally tend to focus on the question of what defines Good and Evil, and how to fight the latter. The terms "good" and "evil" are so highly coupled with the terms "God" and "Devil", both morphologically and semantically, that it is accepted as an axiom that not only do they exist, but also that the entire idea of morality and the recipe for Heaven is to do good and avoid evil.
On the close introspection, there are serious deficiencies in that foundation.
Firstly, how can you trust your judgement on what constitutues good and evil, if you know that it is highly relative both in time in space? That is, what was perfectly good and moral in one country 100 years was ago is considered bad, immoral, and illegal in the other country today. Your peception of morality is clearly the product of your location in the time-space, and the somewhat trivial electrical activity in your brain.
Secondly, the non-intellectual (i.e. spiritual) approach doesn't offer much help, either. Objectively and factually, the scripture portrays God as somewhat impulsive and psychopathic being, balancing between the acts of mercy and compassion to outright rage and mass murder. By all measurements, God and Evil are the same thing, performing the miracles of good and evil, to the fascination of the God's biographers. Thus the contradiction: should a human being try to act as good as God, but only when it is really good?
Finally, and perhaps more importantly for the purposes of this discussion, the foundation stops short of resolving the dillema on the microscopic level. That is, if the righteous person shall not kill, shall he not kill to save the world? It is as though the foundation makes sense and is verifiable on the larger scale, but contradicts itself on the smaller scale. Sort of like the Newton classical mechanics, -- you can very precicely explan and predict the motion of the planets, but it fails to explain the relativistic effects.
Well, I hope that you are still with me, 'cause I am about to make my point. Good and Evil do not exist in the sense of the meaning that we apply to these phenomenas. They are just the existantial interpretation of the concept of motion that human mind is trying to rationalize. That is to say, there is no such thing as good and evil, only action and reaction. We perceive some actions as good, and some actions as evil, and that's the only thing that qualifies the existance of good and evil.
If you accept this alternative foundation, the rest follows up logically. Labeling Saddam as "evil" is equivalent to calling the photons "evil" because they knock the electrons off from the orbit as a result of the photoelectric effect. Similarly, abolishing slavery is a good as the 365-day period of time it takes for the Earth to complete its revolution around the Sun. I mean, can you see that it might have been considered very evil if the Earth took only half that time?
While this theory raises a few interesting questions that I don't have the answers yet, I thought you guys might me interested in discussing it.
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
Good and Evil do not exist in the sense of the meaning that we apply to these phenomenas. They are just the existantial interpretation of the concept of motion that human mind is trying to rationalize.

Historically, the positing of a lack of absolute morality has been the bastion of the self-indulgent as they attempt to rationalize their excesses. Marie Antoinette might be expected to say something similar.
Interestingly, it seems that poor people have no problem with "Right" and "Wrong", or "Good" and "Evil". As far as I've seen, only the rich seem to use this argument, typically in an effort to justify their asocial behavior. No matter, the social position, though, these people cannot be trusted, as they neither have nor want a moral compass.
There is indeed a true Good, and hopefully humanity is moving towards it. This is the concept of "enlightenment", and is why behaviors once accepted are no longer allowable in civilized society.
Because according to your philosophy, neither cannibalism nor pedophilia is wrong, since both were accepted in various cultures in the "space-time continuum". You are of course welcome to this opinion.
Just stay away from my family. You'll note an absence of smileys.
Joe
frank davis
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
[QB]...
Your peception of morality is clearly the product of your location in the time-space, and the somewhat trivial electrical activity in your brain.
...
[QB]

Instead of being too abstract, why not define Good and Evil in terms of practical human considerations? "Good" is anything that promotes the advancement of living a human life, and "Evil" is the opposite. Humans, like all animals, have distinct characteristics and specific needs. Therefore this moral standard would not be entirely relativistic.
Mapraputa Is
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Historically, the positing of a lack of absolute morality has been the bastion of the self-indulgent as they attempt to rationalize their excesses. Marie Antoinette might be expected to say something similar.
You forgot to look at the opposite part of spectrum. What about those who knew/know for sure what is right and what is wrong: religious fundamentalism (Taliban comes to mind), fascism and communism?
Interestingly, it seems that poor people have no problem with "Right" and "Wrong", or "Good" and "Evil".
Does that mean that their vision of what is "Right" and "Wrong" is similar to your, or you have some objective criteria?
No matter, the social position, though, these people cannot be trusted, as they neither have nor want a moral compass.
This is quite an overstatement. But anyway, what is this moral compass? The last question: can people whose idea of "Rihgt" and "Wrong" is different from your be trusted?
[ September 13, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
This is quite an overstatement. But anyway, what is this moral compass? The last question: can people whose idea of "Rihgt" and "Wrong" is different from your be trusted?

If you don't know what a moral compass is, then we have too little common life experience for me to explain it. It's really pretty simple, but like many simple things, hard to put into words.
As to "Right" and "Wrong", there's always some room for ethical disagreement, but on the basics - things on the level of cannibalism and pedophilia - no, I cannot trust someone who disagrees with me.
Can I be any clearer than that? If you do not agree with me on Right and Wrong at the basic fundamental level then I do not trust you.
Anyway, I am not going to get into a debate about my philosophy, because you have not presented your own. I've already been willing to share my opinion on a wide variety of topics. But rather than share your own views, you attack mine. Attacking someone else is so much easier intellectually - it really doesn't require any ability to be a critic.
So now the challenge. Rather than playing devil's advocate, or philosophical critic, which you are so very good at, and which requires so little intellectual rigor, how about instead putting YOUR beliefs out on the line? I challenge you to present as complete a world view and personal philosophy as I have done. Until then, I will answer no more of your attacks on mine.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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And Map, when I say "attack", I don't mean it in a personal or even necessarily a negative sense. I simply mean that your arguments are always ones where you try to tear down my opinions, rather than present your own.
This puts me at a decided disadvantage, and is also intellectually and at times emotionally tiring. I'd prefer that you take the time, as I have done, to present your views. If not, then I will assume that you have no intention of doing so, and instead only to question mine. That being the case, it makes no sense for me to continue to put myself up as a target.
Nothing personal, just trying to keep things equitable. I don't really want to spend the rest of my time here on MD defending myself against your dissent. At least Eugen presented a contrary opinion. (And no, citing things like the Taliban that might detract from my opinion is NOT the same as presenting your own.)
Joe
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"a complete world view and personal philosophy"...
<scratching my head>
This is the first time when I have to think about it. Thank you for asking. It will probably take me an hour or two to muse over and write something down, now I'll only say that regarding this topic subject, Good and Evil, I agree with what Eugene said, except perhaps for small details...
John Smith
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JP: This puts me at a decided disadvantage, and is also intellectually and at times emotionally tiring. I'd prefer that you take the time, as I have done, to present your views.
That's a fair request. Step forward, Map. The worst that could happen is that you'll get another label. The best that could happen is that you will know who you are.
HS: Instead of being too abstract, why not define Good and Evil in terms of practical human considerations?
Don't you see it, Herb? You can't objectively define Good and Evil in terms of practical human considerations, because Good and Evil are human considerations! This is like trying to explain the time dilation in terms of the Newton laws. Instead, what I attempted to do was to consider the considerations, and I shared the the outcome of it.
JP: Because according to your philosophy, neither cannibalism nor pedophilia is wrong, since both were accepted in various cultures in the "space-time continuum". Just stay away from my family. You'll note an absence of smileys.
I don't judge you, Joe, and I understand your rage. But let me tell you something funny, -- right now I feel like Copernicus arguing my case to the Roman inquisition. And if nothing else, this thread reveals one thing, once again, -- the pursuit of knowledge is often considered as evil as the evil itself.
[ September 13, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
Anonymous
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i am drunk as hell. Good is good and Evil is evil. if it aint good it is bad. All good people think they are good and u are all hypocrites if u think u are all good. and i dont know what the hell i am talking about. point is everyone is going to die one day. whats good and whats EVIL?? human beings define good and bad and are bound to them. a person say 'THAT IS GOOD' and the same Person says ' that is bad' who are u to define good or bad? no one has that right to define what is good or bad. no one is good or no one is bad. its ones own personal belief. system/law runs on the belief what human beings define. do i care? no i dont. its a moral issue of every person. you are bound to your own beliefs and every person once in a life time sure reads or believes a religous text. and defines himself whats right or whats wrong for him. Every humna being has his own boundaries. human beings define their own good and bad and try to stick to it but ultimately fail to do so. thats a sad thing.
Mapraputa Is
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Where does one start with his complete world view? Ah, mine isn't complete so it probably doesn't matter where to start.
I do not believe in God, never did, for the reasons probably too obvious to require explanations. When I grown up and when freedom happened I tried to figure out what it is that attracts people to religion, but I still do not know. I attended a few churches in Russia and in the US, and the result was always the same - I wanted to run away. I call this feeling "spiritual claustrophobia". It seems people go to churches for ready answers, and I like questions better. I used to think about myself as an atheist, but after some discussions with Tom decided to change definition to "agnostic".
So I do not believe in God, neither do I believe in Devil -- both are projections of our own soul. Do I believe in "good" and "evil"? Yes, with all the million shades between them.
Joe has issues with people who do not believe in absolute morality. There is some misunderstanding, I believe. I do not believe in absolute morality, does that mean I do not have "a moral compass"? I think I do, if to define "a moral compass" as an inner feeling of what's right and what's wrong. Where did I get this feeling -- I am afraid the same place Joe did -- everywhere! "I think God speaks to us through others - this entire life is about meeting the people God has put in our path. And those people come from all walks of life, and the most unlikely places." I would only add to this that what Joe calls "God" speaks not only through people, how about dogs? Or cats. One of the most important influences in my early life was our cat. Definitely she added something to my understanding of what it is to be a female. And what about rivers? Don't you think they have a soul?
Well, call me pantheist.
Do I want a moral compass? The one outside of me? No. This would mean to delegate responsibility for my moral decisions to somebody else, I do not want to do that.
I noticed that as I am getting older I rely less and less on "moral" system of coordinates. Perhaps because I see it so clearly that there are hundreds of them, if not millions - ultimately everybody have their own, and everybody have their own truth. So what is left after "moral" strait-jacket doesn't do its magic trick as well as before? Empathy and understanding, hope and patience, in short "generously of spirit". There is an interesting thought, I do not know whose, that to see people how they are is actually anti-human. You need to see everybody how God created them, which is to say what they could become, if not these damn small life problems that spoil us. That's why I was so mad about you calling Iraqi women "whiners", you weren't being generous according to my moral compass.
I agree that "that democratic government, while imperfect, is the best form of government we have", but I do not know what is the best form of government for nations that aren't ready for democratic government. And there too many of them, I an afraid. It's a difficult question, I need to learn more.
I do not believe that the Constitution of the United States is the most important document in human history, sorry! I do not think there is such thing as "the most important document in human history ", every nation has its own. Or a couple of them.
[ September 13, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
I don't judge you, Joe, and I understand your rage. But let me tell you something funny, -- right now I feel like Copernicus arguing my case to the Roman inquisition. And if nothing else, this thread reveals one thing, once again, -- the pursuit of knowledge is often considered as evil as the evil itself.

You misunderstand, Eugene! I have no rage toward you. But if you think pedophilia and cannibalism are acceptable, then I absolutely don't want you anywhere near my family.
So. Are pedophilia and cannibalism not wrong to you?
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Do I want a moral compass? The one outside of me? No.

But yet you are more than willing to judge me! If you truly believed what you say, then you wouldn't even question my judgement, because you should allow me to go by my own internal moral compass.
See, that's the problem with this sort of "each person has their own guide" mentality. If you truly believe it, then you have NO RIGHT TO CRITICIZE ANYONE. And yet you do, Map. Constantly. So evidently, this business about not wanting an outside moral compass only applies to those of us who criticize you. However, you feel free to apply YOUR moral values to us.
This is a very clear case of double standards.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
I do not believe in God, never did, for the reasons probably too obvious to require explanations. When I grown up and when freedom happened I tried to figure out what it is that attracts people to religion, but I still do not know.

Oooh. Here's an interesting bit. What do "God" and "religion" have to do with one another? I think I've made it very clear that I believe in God, yet I am not a religious person, Map.
When I was young, I confused the two as well, and it kept me away from a spiritual understanding for many, many years. It wasn't until I was able to separate the two that I was able to embrace one.
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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But yet you are more than willing to judge me! If you truly believed what you say, then you wouldn't even question my judgement, because you should allow me to go by my own internal moral compass.
Joe, I must admit it's hard for me to understand your logic. You definitely have one, it's just so different from mine that I often have trouble with understanding you. Absolutely no offense intended, it probably tells more about my capacity for understanding...
I am "more than willing to judge you" -- according to my inner compass, yes. You are free to judge me too.
See, that's the problem with this sort of "each person has their own guide" mentality. If you truly believe it, then you have NO RIGHT TO CRITICIZE ANYONE.
Why so? I do not make you to change your opinion, I do not have this power, and even if I had I wouldn't use it (I hope). To challenge your opinion is another matter, I don't see any problem here, I'll tell you more, it's the best thing we can do to each other -- to question and challenge and criticize our opinions. It's like free exchange of ideas, you do not have to buy mine if you do not like them. I have my own "compass", you have yours, it doesn't mean we cannot compare them and figure whose is wrong! (Maybe both )
[ September 14, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
You need to see everybody how God created them, which is to say what they could become, if not these damn small life problems that spoil us. That's why I was so mad about you calling Iraqi women "whiners", you weren't being generous according to my moral compass.

And what is your justification for being so "non-generous" to America, Americans in general and our government officials in particular? Why not see how God created them?
See how much easier it is to poke holes in someone's statements than it is to make your own?
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Oooh. Here's an interesting bit. What do "God" and "religion" have to do with one another?
Typically people come to learn about "God" through religion. But I agree, it's isn't necessarily.
I think I've made it very clear that I believe in God, yet I am not a religious person, Map.
I did not get your message then, sorry. So what is God for you then?
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
I am "more than willing to judge you" -- according to my inner compass, yes. You are free to judge me too.

But you can't judge me! According to you, there is no absolute right and wrong. All there is is whatever we each think is right and wrong. And thus, your judgment of me has no merit.
It's a neat intellectual exercise for you, but it has no meaning for me, because I am the sole arbiter of what right and wrong mean for me. I do not need to justify my actions to you or anyone. WHATEVER I DO IS AUTOMATICALLY RIGHT, AS LONG AS I BELIEVE IT IS!
And thus by extension, America can do whatever it collectively pleases, and the heck with what the UN or any other country thinks. As long as WE think it's right, as long as it fits OUR internal moral compass, then it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.
Not having to listen to anybody else is really excellent, especially when you're the toughest kid on the block.
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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And what is your justification for being so "non-generous" to America, Americans in general and our government officials in particular? Why not see how God created them?
See how much easier it is to poke holes in someone's statements than it is to make your own?


No, I do not. I did not notice any holes, Joe, sorry.
"Being so "non-generous" to America" -- why do you think I am non-generous??? Because I quoted a diary of a woman who had to live through bombings? But you yourself said that killing innoncent to prevent killing of many more innocent is neither moral not immoral, it's horrific. I absolutely agree with you.
"our government officials in particular" -- what this is about?
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
To challenge your opinion is another matter, I don't see any problem here, I'll tell you more, it's the best thing we can do to each other -- to question and challenge and criticize our opinions.

Nope. It's a pointless exercise, because whatever I believe is right, is right for me. Since there is no moral absolute, I can feel free to do whatever I feel justified in doing. Your opinion, while nice, is basically unnecssary, and it's really not in my best interest to even ask you. In fact, it's okay for me to do anything I want without your consent or agreement as long as I believe it's right.
Yeah, I LIKE this logic!
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
I did not get your message then, sorry. So what is God for you then?

God is the Creator. Maker of Heaven and Earth, of all things seen and unseen. Basically, God created all of this, and He has a plan for us, and He loves us, each and every one. God isn't about vengeace, or retribution, but simply about us being the best we can be during our time here.
I won't go any farther than that on this subject. God is a very personal matter and I don't know you well enough to go any further. But I am pretty sure about this: my God doesn't much care what building I pray to Him in, or what words I use, as long as I continue to do so.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
"our government officials in particular" -- what this is about?

Map, come on! You CONSTANTLY question American activities and motives. Yet, by your definition you shouldn't, because as long as we believe we are right, then we are right. As long as our "internal moral compass" says we're doing the right thing, then who are you to judge?
Joe
[ September 14, 2003: Message edited by: Joe Pluta ]
Mapraputa Is
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But you can't judge me! According to you, there is no absolute right and wrong. All there is is whatever we each think is right and wrong. And thus, your judgment of me has no merit.
Hm... I am not sure what "has no merit" exactly means, but of course I cannot make you change your opinion and you cannot make me change mine. What we can do, though, is to discuss our opinions as openly and honestly as we can, and perhaps learn something from each other! I thought this is what democracy is about! "absolute right and wrong" -- I lived in the country that knew the absolute thruth, thanks!
Mapraputa Is
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In fact, it's okay for me to do anything I want without your consent or agreement as long as I believe it's right.
Of course it's okay.
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
What we can do, though, is to discuss our opinions as openly and honestly as we can, and perhaps learn something from each other!

Why do I need your input? I have my own internal moral compass, just like you do.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Of course it's okay.

Excellent. Then quit complaining about what America does.
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Map, come on! You CONSTANTLY question American activities and motives.
Joe, I hope to become a part of this country some day and perhaps even to call myself "an American" (maybe). It’s not that I constantly question American activities and motives because I hate America -- I do not. I want to understand, because now lots of thing that seem so natural to Americans look plain weird to me! And then you all start to hate me for my questions!
Yet, by your definition you shouldn't, because as long as we believe we are right, then we are right. As long as our "internal moral compass" says we're doing the right thing, then who are you to judge?
It's my "internal moral compass" against your "internal moral compass". What is the problem once again???
Mapraputa Is
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Excellent. Then quit complaining about what America does.
Are you mad?
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
"absolute right and wrong" -- I lived in the country that knew the absolute thruth, thanks!

To equate ethics with tyranny requires an awfully broad brush. I am simply saying that there are things that are Right and things that are not. You say there is no such thing, that it is up to each individual to determine what is right and what is wrong.
By this argument, as long as your government was following ITS internal moral compass, then it was justified. And Hitler as well, I guess, since he obviously believed his own genocidal madness.
So, was Hitler justified? Or should he have been held to some external measure of right and wrong?
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Are you mad?

Heck, no! You're going to quit complaining about America! I'm thrilled!
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
It's my "internal moral compass" against your "internal moral compass". What is the problem once again???

No, Map. There is no "against". You can't compare your compass to mine. Since I'm not allowed to impose my beliefs of right and wrong on you, neither are you able to impose yours on me, which is what comparing your compass to mine does.
Your compass means nothing, except to you. As long as I feel justified in what I do, then I can do it, and your opinion doesn't mean anything.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
I want to understand, because now lots of thing that seem so natural to Americans look plain weird to me!

What's weird? Our internal compass as Americans told us it was okay to depose Hussein and end his regime using military force. Thus, it was justified.
Simple!
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Why do I need your input? I have my own internal moral compass, just like you do.
Because we both aren't perfect. Because we both want to better ourselves. Because we both want to work hard to improve our internal moral compasses whenever there is an opportunity. Joe, I feel that this "relativistic" concept bothers you. I strongly suspect that after we clear all misunderstanding, there will be little disagreement left. So maybe you could explain what is your position here? What is the source of your "absolutes"? Where do they come from?
Mapraputa Is
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Heck, no! You're going to quit complaining about America! I'm thrilled!
Joe, if it bothers you so much, I'll promise to quit complaining about America!
[ September 14, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Because we both want to work hard to improve our internal moral compasses whenever there is an opportunity.

Oh, that SOUNDS nice, Map, but I have never once seen you take an opposing opinion into consideration. Only your opinion counts. And even if many other people disagree with you, you shut it out by claiming "internal moral compass". That's a particularly self-serving attitude.
Anyway, done for now. I'll be back later, I'm sure.
Joe
John Smith
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So. Are pedophilia and cannibalism not wrong to you?
In accordance with my theory outlined above, I believe that pedophilia and cannibalism are evil physically (in terms of the location of my frame of reference -- USA, planet Earth, Milky Way, 21st Century), but they are neither evil nor good metaphysically (the distinctions between the child and the adult, and between the human flesh or the animal flesh, are a matter of the question "Why").
Does it mean that I see no problem in becoming a priest, move to Boston, and fuck the little kids? -- No, it doesn't. What it does mean is that I will ask a tough question: "If God had no problem killing every firstborn child in Egypt, perhaps He was a necrophiliac?" And if so, how can you judge God if God is the Judge?
[ September 14, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Joe, if it bothers you so much, I'll promise to quit complaining about America!

Actually, Map, that is exactly what bothers me (and I think a few others here as well) - your constant, never-ending America-bashing. It's far beyond questioning, it's judgmental and incessant. And your stance is even more untenable now that you've laid out your "morals are in the eye of the beholder" position.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
(the distinctions between the child and the adult, and between the human flesh or the animal flesh, are a matter of the question "Why").

Stay away from my family. Really, I mean that.
Joe
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Actually, Map, that is exactly what bothers me (and I think a few others here as well) - your constant, never-ending America-bashing.
Joe!!! Could you give some quotes???
Joe Pluta
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
I will ask a tough question: "If God had no problem killing every newborn child in Egypt, perhaps He was a necrophiliac?" And if so, how can you judge God if God is the Judge?

I will ask a tough question, too. Is there anyone on this list that doesn't think this ranks among the most twisted, disgusting sentiments you've ever read?
Joe
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Genya! We need to calm down this man. Apparently two cynics are too much for him.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Good and Evil