Here is an interesting video (that Ray Comfort linked to in order to get a pot shot at atheists).
It is summarized as "A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic: His moral right to kill them. " Sounds worthy of interest, right? Few things wrong with the description, though.
1. There is only one victim that we know of.
2. The person involved is hardly brilliant, even if they try to come off as such. 3. There is no real "debate", since the college professor is expected to be the one to make the case against the "moral right" in question, with the serial killer assuming that he has that right by default if the professor fails to make that case. 4. It fails to mention that it is the masturbatory fantasy of someone with hangups about biological determinism.
It's too bad that the first minute isn't the entire video, because then it would be pretty damn good quality, and not so filled with questionable (though still pretty good) acting ability and similarly questionable pretenses.
The exchange goes as follows (sort of paraphrased):
Killer: "LOLWUT? Biology determines behavior? Well then why can't I just kill you?"
Professor: [snivel] "It's illegal"
Killer: "I won't get caught"
Professor: "It's wrong"
Killer: [dramatic stare] "But that's morality. DNA determines behavior. DNA doesn't have morality. Therefore, there is no such thing as morality and I can kill you. QED."
Professor: "Your DNA is abnormal"
Killer: "But that's statistics. That doesn't tell us right from wrong"
Professor: "Society says it's wrong"
Killer: "Society is just another word for statistical average"
Professor: "Our species won't survive if we allow killing"
Killer: "No, you won't survive. I will. Me and my DNA"
Professor: "You're a sick man"
Killer: [taser] "I'm a genetically determined man with a biological predisposition towards aggression. Killing is in my genes...If all that I am is genetically determined, why should I not kill you?"
[whine, whine, whine, blah, blah, blah, whine, blah, whine, blah, end, music plays].
Okay, key issues here.
First off, the first, second, and fourth argument given by the professor are, as far as I can tell, deeply rooted in the fifth argument (that our species would die out if we allowed killing...of the in group). It is an argument for why we, collectively, have prohibitions against killing. Yet, the "brilliant serial killer" just ducks under this altogether by worrying only about the individual level. He does that first by dismissing the illegality of murder with the assumption that he will not get caught. Even if he could be reasonably certain of that, he still has to make certain sacrifices (whether it is resources to dispose of the body, effort to conceal it and make sure that his death isn't associated with you, risk of guilt that most people would feel, and the fact that relationships with other people on your own part could fuck you up incredibly), to the extent that being a murderer hardly seems worth the time.
His second rebuttal is terrible. And not just because our behavior is not solely determined by DNA. We are affected by a wide variety of environmental factors as well as pure genetics, whether it is in the form of chemical intake, specific non-chemical stimuli, or subjective psychological experiences (emotions, stress, usually associated with another environmental factor), which all shape our development, our minds, and consequently our behavior. But, that aside, the idea that just because genes do not have "morality" does not mean that we cannot. Morality exists on the human level of interactions. You might as well be saying that humans are not conscious because cells don't have consciousness. That a brick house doesn't have electricity because bricks aren't electric. That the sun can't be hot because individual hydrogen atoms don't have termperatures. Saying that something doesn't exist at a micro level, and therefore there is no such at a macro level, is just a sloppy assumption.
I guess I agree that statistics don't necessarily tell you right from wrong. I don't agree that "society is just another word for statistical average" though. It is an interesting statement, and I guess it just means to state, in light of the previous statement, that "society" is just another word for "normality". That's true to an extent. But it is also slightly more than that, in that society is a "statistical average" that can be changed, but only within certain confines, and needs to remain in some form in order for humans who currently belong to said society to function optimally (i.e. survive). So, there are "abnormal" behaviors not condoned by an individual society because it falls beyond the scope of the "normal" range of behaviors contained by said society. And then there are behaviors that are actively harmful to the continued existence of a society, and its members, and is considered "abnormal" behavior in nearly every context and every society. In this sense, the statistics are hinting at the difference between right and wrong. The societies that go under and the behaviors contributing to it that subsequently stop existing in other societies in order to allow them to remain functional: probably a good indicator that the behavior in question is "wrong".
As for his last rant, about being genetically predisposed towards aggression: your predispositions towards certain behaviors do not make them acceptable behaviors. Sure, we can still pity you for having that aggression to begin with and having to deal with it, but having aggression is an entirely different animal than actually acting upon it. All that you are is not genetically determined (even if a good chunk of it is), but even if you were solely destined towards certain behavior by factors beyond your control, you would not know it. We can know the influences, but not how people will actually act due to those influences, and as such, even if you effectively lack free will, you are seemingly able to decide your course of actions as if you do. Of course, this is an argument for why one shouldn't kill, as much as dealing with the fact that lack of free will on a large scale (being predestined by biology) doesn't matter if you don't necessarily know what that destiny is on the scale that we actually live in. Sociopathy and aggression can drive people to kill, but, as far as we can tell, it doesn't force them to, especially in a manner in which they have to accept it as an inevitability.
Freed From Religion
19 hours ago