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Kindness: God's work or human nature?

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    (Original post by aljolson)
    It is self-evident that altruism has nothing to do with religion, as atheists possess and show altruism. In fact, I have seen plenty of posts, from muslim's
    You have seen plenty of posts from muslim's what?

    who say that they have to give to charity because the Koran says so. also christian's with their love thy neighbour quote.
    Christian's what with his/her 'love thy neighbour' quote?

    So religious people are only altruistic because they get something out of it. That cannot be said of athiest's.
    That cannot be said of atheist's what?
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    Read later.
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    (Original post by mc1000)
    You have seen plenty of posts from muslim's what?



    Christian's what with his/her 'love thy neighbour' quote?



    That cannot be said of atheist's what?
    What?
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    (Original post by Okashira)
    The thing is, if God created us (particularly in His image), then we automatically share qualities of His. It doesn't matter what we believe, or what we do with our lives. Our qualities would still come from Him.
    I'm afraid that's a crock, an 'if' so big it would eclipse a Floridian woman's buttocks.

    For your idea to make any kind of sense we would have to have been 'created in his image', just created by him obviously wouldn't have us sharing qualities with him. Unless you think he is like a Sea Cucumber as well as like a human and a whale. (My money's on the Sea Cucumber for what it's worth) So we'll work with the 'in his image' thing as there is no 'particularly in his image' about it.

    Even supposing for a moment that we shared qualities with God, we can't be sharing all of them, that would make us perfect. (And misogenistic, megalomaniac, mass murderers. But I digress).

    As we are not perfect then it's pretty safe to assume we share at most only some of God's attributes. As some people are clearly not kind, helpful, honest or altruistic we can assume that either those qualities were not shared or that it is our choice whether to exercise them.

    This means that, as an altruistic atheist (but assuming God's existence) I have chosen to be altrusitic for its own sake. As I don't believe in God I have not been pressured in any way to be kind, I do it for altruistic reasons. Regardless of God, the atheist is quite obviously more altruistic than the theist.

    And let's not get hung up with bible memes, the 'created in his image' thing is one of many bible quotes that can be interpreted in many ways, most of them absurdly, but probably deliberately, obscure.

    Take Colossians 1:15 where Christ is “the image of the invisible God.” That would be a neat trick, being the image of invisibility yet still seen by all those followers. It would have looked pretty weird when JC gave out bread and fish (5 loaves or 7 ,and 4000 or 5000 people, depending on which bit of 'the word of God' you are reading), all that lunch just handing itself out.

    From that at least we can see that being an image of something doesn't, in the bible, necessarily mean an exact copy, or even a very close copy, and we don't 'automatically' share qualities.
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    (Original post by aljolson)
    What?
    Apostrophe abuse.

    Atheists is plural of atheist, it does not require an apostrophe.
    Atheist's requires you to say what is possessed by the atheist, for example 'atheist's superior morality and intelligence'.

    Although that example could also be atheists' superior morality and intelligence if the word 'atheists' is intended to apply to all atheists and be both plural and possessive.

    Not a big deal but annoying for some and very likely to be leapt on by opponants in an online debate.
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    (Original post by laprenti)
    You'll find that there is not true selflessness, and evolutionarily, the development of altruism and other related systems are all connected to self preservation and reproduction.

    There's nothing romantic or beautiful about kindness.
    Sadly that's true but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Altruism, while not being pure selflessness, is a quality to be praised. It is exercised voluntarily and even if we get some sort of return on our investment, making the choice to be kind is laudable. There are other ways to get what you want, often easier ways, so making the decision to do it the nice way, with only the guarantee of a warm glow, is worth encouraging.
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    Kindness is a social lubricant to lubracate the relationship between each other
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    (Original post by AspiringGenius)
    Well I don't think opts entirely unreasonable. Take Islam- the third pillar is Zakah, or Charity. Prosperous Muslims are expected to give approximately 2% of their income to those less well off. This is one of the criteria as such of being a good Muslim, and hence pleasing god. There are other examples of this throughout most major world religions.

    Or do you think that altruism is purely biological, with religion just being a way in which humanity incorrectly explains such an intrinsic part of our nature?
    I understand your example but I don't think it explains the 'nature' of altruism or kindness. For example, the UN Millennium Project commits the world governments to give 0.7% of their GDP as foreign aid to developing countries, which has been affirmed by international agreement. This example is practically the same minus the religious aspect; the richer countries are expected to give according to some outside force (Qu'ran, international agreements) but it doesn't the very nature of it.

    Following that I absolutely do think it is biological, I think kindness and altruism existed before religion and I think it has a survival advantage for the species for us to be civil help each other as social animals. Yes, I'd also agree that religion is used to incorrectly explain it, as is the case with a lot of "gaps" in our knowledge.
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    (Original post by GStevens)
    Apostrophe abuse.

    Atheists is plural of atheist, it does not require an apostrophe.
    Atheist's requires you to say what is possessed by the atheist, for example 'atheist's superior morality and intelligence'.

    Although that example could also be atheists' superior morality and intelligence if the word 'atheists' is intended to apply to all atheists and be both plural and possessive.

    Not a big deal but annoying for some and very likely to be leapt on by opponants in an online debate.
    What pedantic crap, when are people going to forget this kind of ****, if this were an English test, I could agree. Taking posting too seriously. If you really believed this bull****, then forget txt talk, lol, pmsl etc. It reminds me of the taxi driver who failed his test purely on the grounds that he inserted apostrophes in the wrong place. Get over it stop doing it, it's annoying and fruitless. d'o'n't c'a'r'e. And did you realise that you spelled opponents wrong.
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    (Original post by aljolson)
    What pedantic crap, when are people going to forget this kind of ****, if this were an English test, I could agree. Taking posting too seriously. If you really believed this bull****, then forget txt talk, lol, pmsl etc. It reminds me of the taxi driver who failed his test purely on the grounds that he inserted apostrophes in the wrong place. Get over it stop doing it, it's annoying and fruitless. d'o'n't c'a'r'e.
    You asked why the question, I gave you an answer, why are you now attacking me? Personally I tend to ignore poor grammar, it seems unfair to enter a battle of wits with people who are obviously unarmed.

    Anyway, to respond to your manic rant...

    You seem to be confused, there is nothing wrong with txt talk and certainly nothing wrong with abbreviations or acronyms. The problem is their misuse.
    Txt talk was developed for use on a limited keyboard with a limited message length. In that context it is the right tool for the job, on a computer with a full keyboard and no character limit it is just lazy. I expect the taxi driver story is an urban myth that only the terminally foolish would believe without further evidence.

    I think it's sad that you feel punctuation is only required for tests, sad for you and sad for the image it reinforces. Still, well done for the correct apostrophe in 'it's', although I suspect it may have been accidental overspray from your liberal use later in the paragraph. Punctuation changes meaning, sometimes it's just minor, sometimes it's important.

    Do you seriously think that grammar and punctuation don't matter and that we should just right howeva we like (that was a question, btw, I just didn't think a '?' was necessary)

    im shure tha wood be ok wiv sum peepel, u ony need to look at ebay to see ow bad fings av becum, wiv peepel just riting fings the way they say em.

    ps your original post didn't suffer from a lack of apostrophes, you obviously felt the need to use them, obviously saw the need for punctuation, you just used them incorrectly. Your little rant against me is just your attempt to save face.
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    (Original post by GStevens)
    You asked why the question, I gave you an answer, why are you now attacking me? Personally I tend to ignore poor grammar, it seems unfair to enter a battle of wits with people who are obviously unarmed.

    Anyway, to respond to your manic rant...

    You seem to be confused, there is nothing wrong with txt talk and certainly nothing wrong with abbreviations or acronyms. The problem is their misuse.
    Txt talk was developed for use on a limited keyboard with a limited message length. In that context it is the right tool for the job, on a computer with a full keyboard and no character limit it is just lazy. I expect the taxi driver story is an urban myth that only the terminally foolish would believe without further evidence.

    I think it's sad that you feel punctuation is only required for tests, sad for you and sad for the image it reinforces. Still, well done for the correct apostrophe in 'it's', although I suspect it may have been accidental overspray from your liberal use later in the paragraph. Punctuation changes meaning, sometimes it's just minor, sometimes it's important.

    Do you seriously think that grammar and punctuation don't matter and that we should just right howeva we like (that was a question, btw, I just didn't think a '?' was necessary)

    im shure tha wood be ok wiv sum peepel, u ony need to look at ebay to see ow bad fings av becum, wiv peepel just riting fings the way they say em.

    ps your original post didn't suffer from a lack of apostrophes, you obviously felt the need to use them, obviously saw the need for punctuation, you just used them incorrectly. Your little rant against me is just your attempt to save face.
    I don't need to save face, punctuation has it's place, and of course it can alter meaning. This was not a direct attack upon you, it's just an unneeded post. I have had it before, as I type so quickly, my brain has got out of phase with fingers. If I had to I could compose, but I do not see the need for it. I studied mostly Maths, I have never lost points for bad grammar. I also acknowledge that you were trying to be helpful, but like I said, I don't really care about using grammar, especially in these situations.
    Just Binged the story of the Taxi driver, his name is laurence Kirk, he lives in Bournemouth. Story in the Daily Mail.
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    (Original post by aljolson)
    I don't need to save face, punctuation has it's place, and of course it can alter meaning. This was not a direct attack upon you, it's just an unneeded post. I have had it before, as I type so quickly, my brain has got out of phase with fingers. If I had to I could compose, but I do not see the need for it. I studied mostly Maths, I have never lost points for bad grammar.
    Do you not communicate with other people then, just Maths students? Don't you see the need for a consistent grammar? Do you really think it's a good idea that we just do our own thing with the written language? As a Maths student I would expect you to understand how important these things are, Maths has a grammar that is critical to arriving at the correct result.

    It is sad that you didn't lose points for bad grammar, that is a failure of the school system.


    Just Binged the story of the Taxi driver, his name is laurence Kirk, he lives in Bournemouth. Story in the Daily Mail.
    OK, irony, I like that.
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    We are created in the image of a kind God so we cannot but become like him in our lives. I believe we are just mirroring what we were created to be.
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    (Original post by laprenti)
    You'll find that there is not true selflessness, and evolutionarily, the development of altruism and other related systems are all connected to self preservation and reproduction.

    There's nothing romantic or beautiful about kindness.
    I disagree, because it depends on the person who is being kind.

    For example, when my husband is kind (which is most of the time!), he is romantic, to me.

    One day he told me that he had helped a lady with a baby in a baby stroller and 2 little kids walk across a busy street. My husband is a gentleman!!! Even though I didn't actually see it, I trust that he did it (because I know him) and it struck me as very romantic! To me, kindness is beautiful!

    Many guys don't care about helping the people around them, and it is beautiful and romantic when men do take the time to help those around them, which is kindness in action.


    Kindness is beautiful, and most definitely can be romantic, depending on the person who is kind and the feelings another person has for that person.
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    (Original post by aljolson)
    What?
    Well, if you say "Christian's", with an apostrophe before the S, you imply that you're referring to something that belongs to a person who is a Christian. But it seems that you missed out the object of your sentence. Doesn't make sense without addressing the object of the sentence...

    /grammarnazi
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    (Original post by episkopos)
    We are created in the image of a kind God so we cannot but become like him in our lives. I believe we are just mirroring what we were created to be.
    You're entitled to your belief, but it is worth nothing and when it is reasoned on a misleadingly factual assertion of something with no demonstrable evidence. When you provide an argument for God creating humans that is more convicing than 'because the Bible says so', or 'we're so intricate, only somebody as masterful as God could have created us' I will take this belief seriously.
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    (Original post by Christianlady)
    I disagree, because it depends on the person who is being kind.

    For example, when my husband is kind (which is most of the time!), he is romantic, to me.

    One day he told me that he had helped a lady with a baby in a baby stroller and 2 little kids walk across a busy street. My husband is a gentleman!!! Even though I didn't actually see it, I trust that he did it (because I know him) and it struck me as very romantic! To me, kindness is beautiful!

    Many guys don't care about helping the people around them, and it is beautiful and romantic when men do take the time to help those around them, which is kindness in action.


    Kindness is beautiful, and most definitely can be romantic, depending on the person who is kind and the feelings another person has for that person.
    I don't think you understood what I meant by 'romantic'. I meant we shouldn't romanticise it into something it's not, I didn't mean it in the sexual sense, although there are connections between that and altruism too, like I said, because of evolution.

    Ask yourself why you think kindness it beautiful. A little study of evolutionary biology will show you why you and most other humans find things like kindness 'beautiful and heartwarming' and things like murder 'disgusting, terrible etc'. If you take the role of a scientist and look at things like kindness from an objective perspective, you'll see that kindness is in fact nothing special, just a mechanism that evolved for selfish concerns, contrary to popular belief.

    So by romantic I didn't mean it in that sense :P I meant making something of it, romanticising it, giving it an aura of something that it's not

    I highly recommend watching the Dr Robert Sapolsky's free online lecture series on behavioural evolution

    (Original post by GStevens)
    Sadly that's true but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Altruism, while not being pure selflessness, is a quality to be praised. It is exercised voluntarily and even if we get some sort of return on our investment, making the choice to be kind is laudable. There are other ways to get what you want, often easier ways, so making the decision to do it the nice way, with only the guarantee of a warm glow, is worth encouraging.
    That depends entirely on your goals. If you want a better society and want people to behave morally, then I'd agree with you. This approach wouldn't work for other objectives. We should also remember that our desire for a better world and moral good is also engineered by evolution, and in reality nothing objectively matters, not even human lives or suffering.
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    (Original post by laprenti)
    That depends entirely on your goals. If you want a better society and want people to behave morally, then I'd agree with you. This approach wouldn't work for other objectives. We should also remember that our desire for a better world and moral good is also engineered by evolution, and in reality nothing objectively matters, not even human lives or suffering.
    How is the objective reality relevent to me? I live subjectively, I do want a better society and for people to behave morally. The fact that our desires are evolved without purpose does not mean that we are limited by that evolution.

    Does it matter to you if you suffer? It certainly matters to me, I would rather you didn't suffer and would work to prevent it if I could. I rather like that about me, and about other people who I know feel that way. It may be an evolved response but should we discount it because of that?

    When Dawkins talked of The Selfish Gene he was not suggesting that we should base our morality on it, read his forward to the second edition where he clears up that misconception.

    ps the Stanford Lectures are brilliant, have only seen a couple of the Bio ones, a whole series from all different subjects.
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    (Original post by GStevens)
    How is the objective reality relevent to me? I live subjectively, I do want a better society and for people to behave morally. The fact that our desires are evolved without purpose does not mean that we are limited by that evolution.

    Does it matter to you if you suffer? It certainly matters to me, I would rather you didn't suffer and would work to prevent it if I could. I rather like that about me, and about other people who I know feel that way. It may be an evolved response but should we discount it because of that?

    When Dawkins talked of The Selfish Gene he was not suggesting that we should base our morality on it, read his forward to the second edition where he clears up that misconception.

    I'm not saying we are. I'm just saying that some people don't want what you want, some people actually want the opposite, and so your point about not discounting altruism and throwing the baby out with the bath water is irrelevant to them, but their view is not less valid than yours. Understanding objective reality is actually very relevant, so we do not, for example, brand criminals as 'bad people' or 'evil', and instead of a subjective emotional response like punishment, we instead focus on treatment and quarantine, no matter how horrific the crime. We need to be aware of objective reality when making decisions

    It happens to matter to me if I suffer or not, but others do not care, and neither of us is right or wrong. You may like it about you but it's really no better a position than that of a psychopath. It's not so much discounting as putting it into perspective. So what if you're good/caring? Doesn't matter

    I completely agree, only if you want a nice society. Depends on your goals, the extreme right wing/eugenicists who clung on to the selfish gene to justify their worldview are no more right or wrong than you (they might be deluded in terms of thinking they're making a better society through genocide, but that's not the point). If you want (but only if you want) a caring, better society, for sure you will not base it on science, in this case biology.
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    (Original post by Christianlady)
    Hello GStevens,

    I wouldn't call it evolved, but rather, "learned" behavior It is true that being kind often receives kindness back. However, in some cases, being kind can also allow people to take advantage of the kind person, without giving any positive reward back to that person. In such a case, a person who has been kind might rethink being kind to another person, if the previous experience brought pain instead of pleasure.

    Well, people who are kind because they believe God wants them to be also do so because "it is a 'right' to help and because it makes them feel good. Many also do so because they receive praise/acknowledgement from others.

    Jesus talks about not letting one's left hand know what the right one is doing, because I guess many people do help others for the recognition, and not just to please God. (Matthew 6:1-4)
    No it is an innate behaviour that is inherited from your parents through your genes, it doesn't have to be learned ans is instinctive. Being "kind" provides selective advantage as sharing food for example would enable more of a species to survive.
    As animals that where kind where more likely to survive this gene became more present within the human population until everyone now shows this behaviour because of its selective advantages.

    The example you gave of people taking advantage is due to people being selfish

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