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Are humans special?


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#106    ranrod

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:20 AM

View PostRlyeh, on 10 January 2013 - 05:56 AM, said:

Where does the Bible say we're the only living thing created in his image, besides what is his image?
Not to speak for hillbilly, but I imagine he means the only things on Earth.  Interesting to think others look like us elsewhere in the universe though.  Could this be a Star Trek universe where everyone looks human-ish?

His "image" has always been historically associate with appearance, but in our modern age that notion seems ridiculous.  However, since we're delving in the un-provable, so what if we're supposed to look like him/her/it?  Maybe it's the form he/she/it had a billion years ago when he/she/it developed in his/her/it's own world/universe/realm of existence.  Since we're talking about magic, why couldn't evolution have been skewed to match the appearance?



#107    Paranoid Android

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:45 AM

View Postranrod, on 10 January 2013 - 07:20 AM, said:

His "image" has always been historically associate with appearance, but in our modern age that notion seems ridiculous.  
Theologically it's incompatible with a God who is not male or female but instead a spirit being.  Perhaps consider the "image" as a mark of ownership.  When the Pharisees asked Jesus whether they should pay taxes Jesus tells them to show him a coin and then asks whose "image" is on it.  It was Caesar's image, denoting ownership.  If we are in the image of God perhaps it is a statement that God "owns" humans in a way that other animals are not.

Alternatively, consider a statue erected in towns depicting the king or emperor denoting authority and kingship.  If we are made in God's image in the same way as a statue is in a king's image, then this image is intended to convey mankind's authority to rule over the land.  This is backed up by the Bible when it says "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule....." (Genesis 1:26).  

I'm leaning towards the second view, but the first has its merits also.    There are other ways to look at it also, but these are the two most theologically consistent suggestions I have found.  Just a thought :)

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#108    ranrod

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:06 AM

View PostParanoid Android, on 10 January 2013 - 07:45 AM, said:

Theologically it's incompatible with a God who is not male or female but instead a spirit being.  Perhaps consider the "image" as a mark of ownership.  When the Pharisees asked Jesus whether they should pay taxes Jesus tells them to show him a coin and then asks whose "image" is on it.  It was Caesar's image, denoting ownership.  If we are in the image of God perhaps it is a statement that God "owns" humans in a way that other animals are not.

Alternatively, consider a statue erected in towns depicting the king or emperor denoting authority and kingship.  If we are made in God's image in the same way as a statue is in a king's image, then this image is intended to convey mankind's authority to rule over the land.  This is backed up by the Bible when it says "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule....." (Genesis 1:26).  

I'm leaning towards the second view, but the first has its merits also.    There are other ways to look at it also, but these are the two most theologically consistent suggestions I have found.  Just a thought :)

~ Regards, PA

I'm saying that's a fairly modern notion.  There are bible verses that talk about his eyes and hair.  The context of "created man in his image; male and female he created them" (paraphrasing) seems more likeness to me.  The modern urge to find alternate ways to interpret it is because of our more evolved view of the universe.


#109    Paranoid Android

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:13 AM

View Postranrod, on 10 January 2013 - 08:06 AM, said:

I'm saying that's a fairly modern notion.  There are bible verses that talk about his eyes and hair.  The context of "created man in his image; male and female he created them" (paraphrasing) seems more likeness to me.  The modern urge to find alternate ways to interpret it is because of our more evolved view of the universe.
The Hebrews always had a notion of God as a spirit-entity, not human and certainly not male or female (though he is presented with male characteristics).  It is theologically impossible that we are created in God's image in a physical sense of two arms and legs, a head, a brain, sexual reproductive organs, etc.  So I would argue that the original writers had a different thought in mind.  And since I seem to be in a discussion with you on Genesis 1 in another thread, I discussed there the reasons for Genesis 1 being written and would submit the idea that the author intended it to present a theological issue.  As the text is written to convey that Yahweh is supreme and different to the gods of other nations, so too is the comment about humans conveying that we are different to other animals.  And to take us back to the thread topic, that we are "special" and have been granted authority over the world in which we live.  

That's my take on it based on my reading of scripture :tu:

~ Regards, PA

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My blog is now taking a new direction.  Dedicated to my father who was a great inspiration in my life, I wish to honour his memory (RIP, dad) by sharing with the world what he had always kept to himself.  More details, http://www.unexplain...showentry=27811

#110    GreenmansGod

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:46 PM

View PostParanoid Android, on 10 January 2013 - 08:13 AM, said:

  And to take us back to the thread topic, that we are "special" and have been granted authority over the world in which we live.  


~ Regards, PA

You might think that right up until you are face to face with a lion or the eye wall of a hurricane.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#111    Mr Walker

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:14 PM

View Postredhen, on 10 January 2013 - 02:26 AM, said:

As far as we know. This is the Unsolved Mysteries website after all. Ok, I'll grant you that we are the only living species unique in this respect. But not special, as in from another galaxy.



Latest of a string of findings; http://www.livescien...ells-found.html

The abstract with experiment diagrams http://www.nature.co...ll/nn.3287.html
(poor monkeys, why do they have to keep doing these lab experiments just to prove the commonsensical)



There's your prejudice again, and your limited sense of the word altruism.



Agreed.

p.s. looking at other coverage of the same report I see some interesting editing. Some are shortened summaries or highlights but others seem to have a slant. For example this Catholic site printed it almost verbatim but left out these lines near the bottom; "Platt speculates that this region may operate similarly in humans and may encode vicarious experiences when others are happy or sad."

The brain cell activity is gettng closer to acceptable evidence But unfortunately it doesnt really explain the causation of the behaviour, or the monkeys thought processes, it just shows that one part of  the brain fires when an animal gives away food, which does not fire when an animal receives food.  We know from modern brain imaging that every thought and every word, as well as every action, causes, or is the consequence of, individualised and identifiable brain activity, so yes giving away food would have a singular brain pattern associated with it, but that doesn't go to, WHY the animal gives away the food.

I agree "my" definitionof altruism limits what can be sen as altruism, but there you are  Some modern definitions of altruism include apparent altruistic behaviours. This is, in part, a deliberate and conscious reworking of the traditional definition and understanding of the nature of altruism sometimes motivated by a desire to include animal behaviour  in the same category as human behaviours.

Many dictionaries and online definitions, however, still maintain that altruism must include a conscious awareness of, and selfless motivation for, an act. I think these definitions below expalin our differnce of opinion




What is altruism?


Altruism- the principle or practice of unselfish concern; devotion to the welfare of others.
http://www.chacha.co...at-is-altruism?




What is altruism?


The word altruism (noun) means: unselfish concern for the welfare of others without ulterior motive.
http://www.kgbanswer...ltruism/4601658




what is altruism?


Altruism - the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others.
http://www.chacha.co...hat-is-altruism




What is altruism


Altruism:1.Unselfish concern for welfare of others/selflessness. 2.Zoology:Instinctive behavior detrimental to indiv. but contributes 2 species survival.
http://ask.reference...ruism?&o=100100



al·tru·ism  (Posted ImagelPosted ImagetrPosted Image-Posted ImagezPosted ImagePosted Imagem)
n.
1. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
2. Zoology Instinctive behavior that is detrimental to the individual but favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes, as by benefiting its relatives.

http://www.thefreedi...ry.com/altruism  


Indeed the last definition includes animal behaviour BUT has nothing to do with human type awareness and sapience. It clearly defines animal altruisitic acts as INSTINCTIVE behaviour. As i have been saying all along, this is not human type altruism and does not indicate human level thought patterns, self awareness or sapience.



If you read the wiki pedia article on altruism you clearly see the nature of human altruism. However some behavioural scientists and others argue that, in humans, altruism is an innate instinctive evolved act .

That is clealry untrue when you look at the nature of human cognitive thought, language, self awareness etc.

Self aware sapience creates a unique and inevitable  discontinuity from evolved behavioural responses. It allows our mind, via belief phiosophy knolwedge of consequence and time, ethics moralities imagination /extrapolation etc to CREATE our own choices of response to any situation.
It removes the biological, genetic and environmental imperatives from us as determinants of our behaviour, by our awreness of them, and our abilty to chose alternative behaviours via thought. And so, while perhaps made capable by evolved biology, altruism,  human love, and hate,  are  chosen behaviours, thoughts and responses, which can all be modified by cognitive and deliberate will.   I do not have to hate the man who kills my brother. I can chose to love him.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#112    GreenmansGod

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:24 PM

I couldn't resist.

Attached File  19995_155680804580176_1795394633_n.jpg   84.88K   14 downloads

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#113    Mr Walker

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:34 PM

View Posteight bits, on 10 January 2013 - 06:43 AM, said:

Mr Walker



Full marks for explaining what isn't in dispute, that the dog has found the right place.

Accepting your explanation, then the dog also knows that the person is dead. So, we are left with what is in dispute: why the dog stations himself or herself. Apparently, you aspire to do this explaining without attributing mental states to the dog, mental states which are fairly comparable with those we know about because we experience them in times of grief or remembrance.

To be perfectly candid, I don't even see any point to the attempt, much less agree that dogs lack mental states, some of them comparable with my own.
A "mental state" can mean many things All mammals probably have similar evolved mental abilities, and thus states, up to a certain point, and certain primates even more specific and common abilities and states.

But where language enables; conceptual/ symbolic thought, and greatly incresed sophistication and specialisation of thought, including awreness of time, the difference betwen death and life, and the permanence of death; as well as the nature of cause and effect, the ability to extrapolate etc, then humans begin to separate from all other animlas on earth.

   What is "sadness" or "grief" or "suffering" Humans make up these words to describe how THEY feel. And how they feel inevitably includes intellectual emotional responses  based on knowledge and understandings. We know this because we can use intellect to moderate our feelings/emotional responses, eliminate them, or alter them at will. We can even effectively moderate our perception of pain by self aware will.
How are these states/abilities similar and different in humans and other animals? Good questions, but an animal lacking human cognitive awareness cannot have truly similar mental states to one which does, because our "mental state" includes a lot of that cognitive awareness as feedback within it, as well as socially conditioned/ learned responses .

Ie children learn how to love, hate, grieve, feel empathy, etc from others through language,  as well as behaviour. They learn how they are expected to feel,  mentally and physically, and how they are expected  to behave. These expectations, because of our shared linguistic abilities,  can be quite specific, detailed and powerful. They also become very "cultural specific" in many instances.

I suspect, in part, this explains why human children up to about four years of age are very similar to some advanced non human animals in their; mental states, cognitive awareness, and responses.

No i dont know that an animal can know someone is dead. I am not sure that an animal can understand the nature of death or its basic differnce from life.

  This understanding, at an intellectual level, requires quite advanced thought/cognitive awareness. This would explain why some animals care for and hold their young until they begin to decompose. They do NOT recognise the difference between life and death.

We had an orangutan at the adelaide zoo just give birth to a still born baby with the umbilcal cord choking it. She held the baby and  would not part with it for some time, until the keepers had to remove it in time to be able to do an autopsy on it.

Did she know it was dead; did she even have a concept for something like death? I dont know, and i doubt anyone knows, but without human level thought, based on human level linguistics, it is probably impossible. What would she eventually have done withe baby when it began to smell and deteriorate.? The zoo keepers explained that, unlike a human, she will not suffer any long term trauma over this event. They know this because this is about the fifth baby she has lost and none have survived until birth

  You can bet she is not thinking, "Am i a bad mother, why is god punishing me, should i even try to have another baby I cant stand the thought of another child dieing." She is not even thinking, "What is wrong with me, what can i do to have a healthy child?" And so, no, her mental state is not the same as a human mothers.

Edited by Mr Walker, 10 January 2013 - 11:56 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#114    GreenmansGod

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:04 AM

I think the question is what is going on in my cat's head when she insist I go to bed and rest when I am danger of falling? I didn't train her to do that, she just does it. Why does the dog who loves her walk and cut it short to get me home before I know I am having an episode with my MS?   There is some kind of thought going on in their heads. It might not be words, but they are making a decision for my benefit.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#115    Mr Walker

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:09 AM

View PostDarkwind, on 10 January 2013 - 03:46 PM, said:

You might think that right up until you are face to face with a lion or the eye wall of a hurricane.

Since humans invented a fire hardened spear, do you think more humans have been killed by lions, or lions by humans?

How has the relative population of humans and lions changed over time?

Cyclones are more problematic but our intelligence means if we are killed by one it is our choice. For example i willl never be killed by one because i will never visit, or live in, an area at risk.

  I could have been killed by a bushfire but that also was my choice based on self aware decisons i had made. After all our fence posts had been burned in a similar fire in the 1970s which my wife and i watched and photographed, as it burned through the same area as the 2005 bushfire. At that time i was  living and teaching 250 kilometers away form the area.

  So I did a risk evaluation. We had 30 years of wonderful life in the home before it was burned to the ground. I think i made the right decision  But I could have chosen to live in an area safe from bushfires also.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#116    Paranoid Android

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 01:58 AM

View PostDarkwind, on 10 January 2013 - 03:46 PM, said:

You might think that right up until you are face to face with a lion or the eye wall of a hurricane.
If I wanted to go face-to-face with a lion I'd watch them perform for us at a circus.  But I see what you are trying to say.  The ability for the planet to kill us does not mean that we are not specially chosen by God.  Just putting it out there :tu:

~ Regards, PA

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#117    redhen

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:20 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 10 January 2013 - 11:14 PM, said:

I agree "my" definitionof altruism limits what can be sen as altruism, but there you are  Some modern definitions of altruism include apparent altruistic behaviours. This is, in part, a deliberate and conscious reworking of the traditional definition and understanding of the nature of altruism sometimes motivated by a desire to include animal behaviour  in the same category as human behaviours.


A deliberate conspiracy? Anyways, when I hear altruistic, I associate that with act. I can have all the benevolent and charitable thoughts I want, but if I don't act on them, they're just fleeting thoughts.

There's lots of talk these days about mirror neurons. I posted this RSA video before, but Jeremy Rifkin explains mirror neurons and their implications in a very engaging and easy to understand style.



Another engaging but more technical explanation by the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at a TED talk.




Humans are unique in some respects, but we don't have a monopoly on empathy or altruistic acts.


#118    Mr Walker

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:01 AM

View Postredhen, on 11 January 2013 - 03:20 AM, said:

A deliberate conspiracy? Anyways, when I hear altruistic, I associate that with act. I can have all the benevolent and charitable thoughts I want, but if I don't act on them, they're just fleeting thoughts.

There's lots of talk these days about mirror neurons. I posted this RSA video before, but Jeremy Rifkin explains mirror neurons and their implications in a very engaging and easy to understand style.



Another engaging but more technical explanation by the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at a TED talk.




Humans are unique in some respects, but we don't have a monopoly on empathy or altruistic acts.

I'll just have to disagree, but allow that animals display behaviour which humans call altruistic,  based on the secondary definition of altruism as a behaviour in animals, but  at the same time recognise is not chosen but instinctive.

IMO, as you point out, one must chose a behaviour with altruistic motives for it to BE an act of altruism.  We certainly apply this criteria to humans (see the primary definitions of altruism) and its seems disengenuous, illogical, and erroneous to apply  a different criteria to animal behaviour.

This is the reverse to having altruistic thoughts but not acting on them. Only humans have the ability to have altruistic thoughts but certainly they also have the capacity not to act on any thought they have; from rape to murder, to charity.

Ps not a deliberate conspiracy, but the alteration of a word from common and traditional english usage to a specific disciplinary meaning. Ie the idea of altruistic acts in animals based on instinctive behaviour.   Here true altruistic acts in humans are used as a model, andd when an animal acts in a certain/similar way it is called an altruistic act  even thought it is merely a bilogical imperative. I argue an act cannot be altruistic unless it is motivated by conscious altruistic conceptualisation and choice. Nor can love or hate.  Animals do not love or hate as humans do, either.

The love I have for my dog is made up of many intellectual components which he can never include in his attitude towards me. He cannot love me in the way that I love him. It is a physical impossibility.

Ps.

Brilliant first video, even though my computer is really getting too old to run those. I could have written it myself,  it expresses my opinions so clearly, AND it makes my point perfectly. Humans develop the cognitive ability to feel empathy at about 8 years of age ( i would say it can happen earlier because it did for meperhaps because i was reading by age 2 .) BUT  the most self aware non- human animals cognitive development only reaches that  of about a 4 year old human.

I would say this makes it impossible for non human animals to achieve human level empathy and hence altruism.

Ps the mirror neuron effect is also important in language. It allows us to share words and connected images as well as abstract thoughts, concepts and symbols

A human mind does not distinguish, for example, between an image of paris hilton and the actual paris hilton, once an image and a name are attached to a single neuron in a human mind; and thus i can say the words "paris hilton" and any other person who already has the name/image stored in their brain, can conjure up an image of paris hilton which is identical, whether they saw her in the flesh or in a picure. This is true for any word /image be it physical or symbolic.

Edited by Mr Walker, 11 January 2013 - 05:21 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#119    redhen

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:02 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 11 January 2013 - 05:01 AM, said:

I'll just have to disagree, but allow that animals display behaviour which humans call altruistic,  based on the secondary definition of altruism as a behaviour in animals, but  at the same time recognise is not chosen but instinctive.

Ok, I will grant that humans can and do sometimes act altruistically only after much contemplation, something we don't see in non-human animals.

Quote

Brilliant first video ... it expresses my opinions so clearly, AND it makes my point perfectly. Humans develop the cognitive ability to feel empathy at about 8 years of age  BUT  the most self aware non- human animals cognitive development only reaches that  of about a 4 year old human.

Yeah, not bad for an economist. I think both videos note that humans are both cognitively unique but only differ from other animals (especially other primates) by degrees not by kind. We share many similarities and I'm glad that you said earlier that other species could also evolve to our level given the opportunity and time. I think you and I are not so far apart in this debate.


#120    The Unseen

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:26 AM

View PostRlyeh, on 27 December 2012 - 07:09 PM, said:

Is the human animal, God's greatest creation?
Easy answer,No.





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