Autism: Should I care?

Fashionistas pose for photographs in front of a homeless man outside Moynihan Station following a showing of the Rag & Bone Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion WeekIn this rather long post, I hope to show you how my title ties together several experiences I had this week.  I ran across the above photo this morning and it triggered me to group these experiences to share with you.  The photo is from Die Spiegel’s collection of photos looking back at 2012.  This photo superbly illustrates the collision of rich-and-poor/sick-and-healthy in America with the obvious subtext being “We don’t care.”  But should we care?

I know next to nothing about “Autism”, mostly because, of the many maladies of life, this is one that does not affect me as strongly as others.  So because of this, I naturally don’t care as much as I otherwise would.  Nonetheless, I recently read three articles about autism and had a conversation with my dentist and my son that made me care a little more this week.  First, let’s start with the three articles:

(1) Antidepressants in water supply may increase risk of autism

This article examines known autism-related gene expressions in fathead minnows brains who were exposed to unmetoblized psychoactive pharmaceuticals in rivers.

Source Article: Thomas MA, Klaper RD (2012) Psychoactive Pharmaceuticals Induce Fish Gene Expression Profiles Associated with Human Idiopathic Autism. PLoS ONE 7(6): e32917.

(2) Autistic mice respond to bacteroides probiotic

Though I’ve know gut-bacteria are important, I never realized that they may influence depression, MS and autism. A recent study feeds mice a common gut bacteria and their behaviors felt to be autism-surrogate-measures improved.

Sources: I first saw it in this New Scientist article, then saw a FANTASTIC TED-x 6-minute talk by the researcher, Elaine Hsiao.  The I found a group of her research articles here.

(3) Autism: lack of caring vs. hyper-caring

Apparently in the new updated DSM-5, “Aspies” (people with Asperger’s syndrome) will lose their own category and will be classified under the “Autism-spectrum” category (see here and here).  I’m not sure of the consequences but there are sure to be many untoward ones as this is the bible of Psychiatry and used for disability funding and social labeling.  And social labeling has huge effects.

Autistic folks are often typified as lacking empathy and not caring about other people like neurotypicals do. But I read an article describing Autism as an “Intense World Syndrome” with hyper-perception, hyper-attention and hyper-memory which is debilitating. (see Markram et al). The author tells us that people with autism can be overwhelmed by empathic feelings and tend to pull back to avoid pain and fear. Learning skills to limit input and to interact with such an intense world is one of the huge challenges for autism-spectrum people.

Now, my dentist experience:

Cracked_ToothI said, autism-spectrum folks don’t touch my life too much, but occasionally they do, and I care for a moment – as happened this week.

Wednesday one of my wisdom teeth cracked in half. Ouch!  But do you care?  Well, maybe, if you have had a cracked tooth.  But is it me you care about or the way it makes you feel about yourself?

Anyway, back to me.  That tooth and I have a long history. I first chipped it in Pakistan in the 70’s when I chomped down on a little pebble in some rice – boy did that hurt.  With no language skills at that time, and no friends or acquaintences in Pakistan, I finally found a Pakistani army dentist to fix it for me. Twenty years later part of the filling he did fell out. So a Seattle dentist replaced the filling with a gold in-lay.  During this second repair, the dentist remarked, “whoever did the first repair of this tooth was a hack!” I told him the story and he laughed. But I was grateful to that Pakistani dentist for taking away my pain and making a repair that lasted 20 years.

Well after this week’s cracking, that gold in-lay was slicing up my tongue until it was repaired by my third dentist. So I was thankful again to another dentist.

While waiting in that dentist’s chair for my tooth-cement to dry, I was reading some tweets on my phone and saw the bacteria-and-autism post. My dentist asked me what I was reading and when I told her.  She was surprised saying, “My daughter has severe autism. May I look at that article?”  She was excited and said she is going to look more into the issue.  So autism touched my life this week.

Finally, my conversation with my son:

On one of our car trips this week I was explaining the bacteria study to my son. We discussed drug metabolism, water supplies, gut bacteria and more.  He found it interesting but through in a caveat  “Dad,” he said in a serious tone, “at school they tell us about all the horrible environmental stuff happening and about the injustices in many countries around the world. But is it wrong that I don’t really care?”

Wow, I was so very proud that my son felt comfortable enough to ask me that question. We talked a long time about the issue and afterwards he told me felt much better about his supposed heartlessness. I won’t bore you with the details — more important was that we had a conversation about empathy, morality, motivations and information overload.


So, I just flooded you with lots of information today.  Should you care?

My childhood world was much simpler than my son’s.  I was raised with no computers, and only one newspaper and only three TV channels.  My son is flooded daily with may fold more input — and thus many more issues which he is apparently suppose to care about.  Withdrawal from this hyper-information world is an adaptive, helpful mechanism.  I can’t pretend to understand my son’s world and what it means to his growing mind — I never had that experience.   And am hoping the most important thing my son remembers about our conversation is that I don’t condemn his feelings and I understand.  I trust you now see the connection between all the information above — and if nothing more, walk away with that.


Filed under Science

43 responses to “Autism: Should I care?

  1. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I appreciate your honesty. Interestingly, at least to me, it reminds me of someone with Asperger syndrome saying something out loud that might not be received well.

    I like to think that I care about various issues, but that is not always the case. So, I make a distinction: there are things that I care about, but am not passionate about. Of course I care about people with autism, and when I am empathizing with them I feel that I care more, but I am not out there promoting awareness of autism.

  2. Excellent post..

    Yes, I would agree heartily with Mike. There are things I care about, but am not passionate about.

    I do remember something about the water issue and autism. Autism is a touchy subject for many as it also conjures up the vaccine issue.

    A twenty year tooth repair? Hack maybe, but it fulfilled its purpose..

    I prefer to keep passionate about the big issues that would solve many problems at once. it is easy to get mired in the minutia..(oops…was that poetic? )

  3. TWF

    I’ve been thinking along these lines for quite some time, though not specifically regarding autism. In an evolutionary sense, our caring helped our families and tribes survive. And as you point out in your discussion, today we are bombarded with far more information than we were evolutionarily prepared to handle. We’ve got to truncate the data and prune our attentions and our efforts so much today that it becomes difficult to figure out what is “right” to care about.

    The best I’ve come up with is this general rule: You should care about those around you; those in your direct circle of influence, and the level of care should be proportional to the level of influence. Anything more than that is a gift you give to the world. But because social networks work the way they do, if every one just took the small step to care about those in their direct circle of influence, it is possible that the entire world would mostly be taken care of.

    It’s not a perfect solution, but, given our limited resources, it may be the most practical.

    So I weakly care about autism in general, but I don’t CARE about it because no one in my immediate circle has that condition. I’m OK with that.

    (P.S. I’m happy, and not surprised, that your son felt comfortable enough to have that discussion with you. That says a lot about your parenting. Good work!)

  4. rautakyy

    Someone threw at me, that I must be an autist, because I did not accept her “evidence” for the existance of the soul. She presented a link to a study, that showed autists are more often atheists than the neurotypical people. Here in the comment section of this exellent blog post:

    The modern society offers us much information (and disinformation) through the media, but are we actually faced with more information today than before? The previous generations were also faced with terrible amounts of information. Not through the media as today, but by simply experiencing the world around every individual. Regardless of the type of information awailable to us, we all the time dissregard most of it, to concentrate our attention to concrete, necessary and entertaining bits of it (in a varying proportion). When we walk through a forest we see, smell and hear much more, than even our short term memory will record.

  5. @ rautakyy,
    (1) You are wrong about information.
    (2) Are you autistic?
    (3) That post you linked to has long rambling comments — I will not search for the study. In the meanwhile Tom Rees here examines another study like it perhaps? If you have a question about the study, ask Tom.

  6. @ Mike,
    You may have misread my ‘honesty’ except that I do imply that my caring changes day by day, issue by issue.

    @ Myrthryn,
    Thanx, yeah passion, caring are both hard to feel all the time.

    @ TWF,
    I agree.

  7. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    @ Sabio,

    I just meant that many like to put up a front when presented with a cause, and act like they care so much.

  8. CRL

    Of course, since no one in my immediate family has wisdom teeth, but 2/3 of us do have autism (as does ~1/2 my extended family, on my father’s side), my cares are somewhat reversed.

    I think most people find it difficult to care emotionally about big world issues—9/11, cancer, etc., unless they are close to someone personally affected. (For something such as the Syrian civil war, where almost no one in the US knows anyone affected, cares approach zero.) But for someone like me, with no relatives on the east coast, 9/11 had zero personal effect. Do I feel an emotional impact from these things? No. 9/11 was the day I learned the difference between the words “then” and “than” and then got sent home because of terrorists. And while I have lost relatives to cancer, I was much too young to understand the concept of death at the time.

    But, as echoed from my comments on empathy vs. sympathy, not feeling an emotional impact is not the same as not the same as not caring. I don’t feel an emotional impact from cancer, sure, but my intellectual knowledge of how horrible cancer is was certainly enough to motivate me while I was working in a cancer research lab (with a research question that, to me, was not scientifically interesting). My respect for Betty Ann Ong, and resulting resolve to act with equal courage if in a similar situation, is not diminished because I do not emotionally “care” about 9/11, nor is it increased because her brother is my family’s pharmacist.

    So I don’t care whether or not someone emotionally cares about autism. I care whether or not they treat that “weird” kid in the corner of the room like a human being. In my experience, someone who cares very much about autism, in the sense that they think that it is a terrible thing for which they must find a cause and a cure ASAP, are some of the least likely to treat that weird kid like a human being. And since I once was that weird kid in the corner of the room, I certainly care about that. And I think everyone else should too, else they will hurt other people.

  9. CRL

    Edits to my last paragraph:

    When talking about the “weird kid in the corner”, I made the common mistake of “forgetting” that autistic children grow up. Not one I should ever be making, given my family circumstances, even if my social skills are good enough that few people would guess anything about me.

    It’s not just the kids that you should make an effort to treat as humans, it’s also that geophysicist who hates giving talks and can’t quite follow conversation in a large group or that calculus teacher who has a monotone and insists that all desks be lined up perfectly. (Both of those people are real, though the possible autism of the latter is only speculation.) Paying attention to what they are saying, not their poor delivery, and engaging them in conversation tends to make both of your days better—they know that someone thinks of them like a human being and you know something more about the Hayward fault.

    Also, the subject-verb agreement in the second sentence has problems, but that is less important.

  10. @ CRL,
    Yes, you are one of my Aspie readers and I was hoping you add to the conversation.

    Wow, 2/3 of your family has hypodontia. Apparently 25-35% of people of Europe ancestry are missing some wisdom teeth and it is often familial. When I search OMIM (are you familiar with it?) for autism and hypodontia, all I got was this:
    But I am sure it is not a fit for your family.

    I work with a physician who can’t really feel other people’s feelings (I think he is on the autistic spectrum and after 3-years working together, he agrees — yep, I took a chance and told him.) Over the years, I have also gave him hints on how to be nicer. He is very clever and embraced the task of being liked more. Everyone says he has changed a lot over the last years. He can’t feel with folks but he can understand that they are suffering and sometimes act appropriately.

    Your stories were fantastic. I think the advice on how to treat the “weird kid” were fantastic and is good as a general rule. My daughter today was watching YouTube videos by TommyEdisonXP a man blind from birth who tells you how Optical-typicals misunderstand blind folks. Check out his channel if you haven’t seen it.

  11. rautakyy

    @Sabio Lantz
    1) That is a blank statement.
    2) No, I am not autistic, but I have an autistic close by relative for whom I care, and as it happens, I do not think it actually makes any of the claims made by an autistic person any less true, like the person who made the guess, that I am autistic seemed to think.
    3) Well, it took me less than a minute to search for those links from the comment section I linked, but I did that more because of the “rambling comments” where it was suggested, that I am autistic. Just because autism was used as it was some sort of insidious insult, that was obviously meant to hurt and disvalidate my arguments for the nonexistance of a soul.

    However, since you were interrested here are the links:

  12. @ raut:
    (1) “Blank statement” — I don’t know the phrase. But a “blank statement” sounds like an appropriate response to a vacuous comment.

    (2 & 3) Your comments inevitably rant about atheism and theism. This post didn’t talk about that and I won’t indulge you. If you want to discuss those article, as I already told you, look at Tom Rees’ review and ask him.

  13. Ian

    Fascinating and important topics, all.

    Digestive bacteria have a fascinating connection with all kinds of disease. One which, as far as I can tell, is not well understood yet. The one I’m most familiar with is MS (which I have – I also lack upper 3rd molars, btw). There are current trials using parasitic worms, which are showing positive signs in reducing relapse rates. MS is an autoimmune disease at root, so it makes sense to me that symbiotic bacteria could drastically effect it.

    On caring, you could do nothing but care about every problem. Best to pick a problem to care about, I think. There are plenty of important problems in all our families to care about, I wouldn’t expect anyone to care about everything. The downside being that we probably end up with disproportionate amounts of care for first world problems and not enough care for the other 75% of humanity. I have a hard time really caring beyond my immediate circle.

    I agree with TWF, good job on having created the relationship with your son to allow that conversation to happen.

  14. @ Ian,

    Hmmm, I didn’t know you had MS – that sucks, sorry. I hope yours is the “progressive relapsing” version. Thanx for sharing, mate.

    Do you think your MS diagnosis had anything to do with your starting to question a benign god? I forget if I have ever read your deconversion story.

    Interestingly my wife has a large number of women friends with MS but we don’t know any male friends with it.

    My daughter was diagnosed with ITP this summer, also an autoimmune disease and it looks like it may be chronic. In fact we are now about to try a drug trial similar to ones used on MS — rituximab.

    Concerning “caring” I agree with you and you agree with TWF. And it looks like Mike agrees too. In the end, I think we all take this position. Yet, there we all often to pretend to care more than we do so that we give the signal of being a caring person — an important signal to give often.

  15. rautakyy

    @ Sabio Lantz
    1) Perhaps so, But if I am wrong, I would appriciate it, if you explained how am I wrong. I would rather know the truth, and be embarresed once to be corrected, than to make myself an ass over and over again, because I am not aware of the flaw in my thinking.

    2) & 3) It may be true in your experience that I tend to rant about atheism, or theism, but only if that is the subject of the coversation. I would argue, I did no such thing in any of my comments to this one of your posts. As you know it is not the main subject even in my own blog. However, I am sorry, that I sent out such a message, wich was by no means my intention.

    I tried to cut it short as you have often adviced me (and I am gratefull of your shared wisdom), but as a result of my limited communication skills – obviously – got myself totally misunderstood. My point was, that there is a third option to caring and ignoring, wich is to attack people for their assumed weaknesses, or simply for being different.

    My other point was, that in any circumstances we are under a tremendous pressure of information, and it is natural to us to pick and choose what we do acknowledge. Modern media is changing the nature of information awailable, but not necessarily the amount. To me most western people have direct access to a wide variety of the problems in the world today, but are quite adept at ignoring them most often completely subconsciously as if through some defence mechanism to stop their mind from overburdening itself, even if they are not autistic. Your son earned my appriciation for being an intelligent person who is aware of this ethical dilemma.

  16. Ian

    @sabio – it isn’t too bad, mine isn’t relapsing, no. And the timing was wrong for it to have been a factor theologically. My deconversion was partly seeded by discovering that Christian stories about healing were all made up, but that search was motivated by an unrelated family crisis. Sorry to hear about your daughter.

    I agree, I think it is important to give caring signals. In the UK we’ve had problems with charity fund-raisers ‘chugging’, where they approach you in a mall or on the street and ask if they can tell you about some thing you should care about. Then after laying on the need heavily, they ask if you’ll give only $10 per month to their cause. For a while this worked, until folks found that these folks are actually working for companies hired to fundraise for the charities, and a large majority of your money went to the company, not to the charity. Tripping people’s reluctance to be seen as uncaring, can be very profitable!

  17. CRL

    Oh, I just meant that our wisdom teeth have been removed, as is common practice. Randomly select three people over the age of 16 and chance says you will not find wisdom teeth. And that makes 3/3, not 2/3.

  18. chaz

    I worked with kids on the autism spectrum for a number of years…some of them were from orphanages in the ukraine…that always made me suspicious of claims that depressants in the water or vaccinations cause autism. Obviously some of it is genetic-it clearly ran in families…were the mice in the study non-verbal autistic mice? lol ,jk,…should we care though, an interesting question…you never really stated why you care, or what reasoning is behind your caring, I would be interested in hearing that.

  19. Whoa.. convergence. I was at a conference recently and the present stated two things:
    1. We live in a world gone busy.
    2. We live in a world gone autistic.

    It seems like #1 is a given and widely agreed upon. I took issue with the autistic statement.

    She stated that most people shut off, don’t care about global issues but resort to tribalism or extreme selfishness. I asked, well what about like psychopathic or something other than autistic. She stated, “No. Psychopaths know how to manipulate others to get what they want. Certain autistic people aren’t even aware that there are others around.”

    I think I agree with her. The question is, should I care? I face that question often and try to mobilize people. Not always successful.

    Interesting TED video!

  20. The TED Talk reminded me of a recent RadioLab podcast on Inheritance. It revolved around the question of how much we and the environment can affect our genes or are we bound to a super-long history of our genetic code. Sort of ties into our evolution conversation too about mutation and LeMarck and such.

  21. CRL

    A world gone autistic? I’m not so sure.

    Granted, autism is a pretty broad category. But, looking at the elements of the world which she used support her conclusion (as taken from your comment)? I don’t see much evidence of a world of people trying to reach out, not really knowing how, and getting rebuffed. I don’t see a world filled with people who, when presented with information with varying magnitudes of importance, fail to use a sort of mental log scale to keep it in perspective, when a non-log scale makes the bars of the graph shoot off the page and cover up everything else.

    Much the opposite, really. I don’t put much faith in anyone who proclaims the decay of society. Either each generation is worse than the last, or “decay” is just change—not that we shouldn’t fight against change for the worse.

    But if society is decaying as people become more tribalistic , I think lack of care about global issues is almost the opposite problem. I think the mouseover text from this xkcd comic, “our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit,” describes the situation pretty well. Anything much greater in magnitude than anything we have experienced—whether it is the mass of the sun or a massacre across the globe—is not understood well enough to be acted upon, unless it strikes so close to home that it resizes everything else. Granted, autistic brain-scaling isn’t much better in this regard—I probably don’t care about starving children in impoverished-area-of-the-day any more than you do. But it might be a step in the right direction, at least as applied to world events. (If everyone were to develop autistic brain-scaling with regard to noises as well, motorcyclists might start fixing their mufflers, which I would also appreciate.)

    Of course, I haven’t formally studied any psychology, so this comes from personal experience, anecdotal evidence, and half-remembered web pages.

  22. Ian

    I also find the ‘world gone X’ stuff risible. In what mythic past did people care more? In what mythic past was there more social justice? We can’t compare the reality now with moral exhortations from the past. We have to look at the actual moral situation.

    Communality historically is associated with threat. The US might have been more communal agaist the red threat, but it didn’t really give any more of a damn about world poverty, international injustice, or inequality.

    We can do better, but we have come a long way.

  23. Another new word for me from Ian – thanx!
    risible –> laughable
    Latin rīsus = laughter
    Latin rīdeō = “laugh”
    to help others remember, here are some related words:
    ridiculus, ridicule, deride, derisive

    I agree with Ian and CRL.

  24. Ian

    Risible – how people used to say LOL.

  25. God forbid anyone make a claim with any certainty. Here’s a claim: we are living in a fractured society where people can’t or don’t know how to compromise. We see this in studies by The Pew Research Foundation, The Barna Group, books like “Death by Suburb” and “Bowling Alone.” We see it in the civil and political discourse of the last election cycle. It’s not a mythic past we’re comparing it to, it’s a study that where we see two decades of factual data of civic involvement declining and compromise becoming less and less. So the natural question is, “why is that?” And here are two such claims as to why. World Gone Busy. World Gone Autistic. Works for me. How do we reverse it? Not to some mythic past but to deal with the present reality that we’re facing?

  26. Ah, wait… shop talk. Let’s unpack these “the world gone…” statements.

    I attended the Chautauqua Institution’s Week 6 this past summer and the theme was Digital Identity. It explored how technology is reshaping our culture, society, and even remapping how our brains work. Now this assumes that “the world” would be societies where this technology is available. The world of the US and other first world countries. Namely, my world. I covered this topic on my podcasts where I have linked to the reviews of these talks. I have read the above studies as well as Dr Sharon Park’s work on the subject (namely her book Common Fire and her site: the new commons). I think these books help us gain a wider sociological perspective as well as private psychological perspectives at what maybe happening in our society at the dawn of new technology. Food for thought.

    And I do agree: We can do better, but we have come a long way. Let’s make a dent in the universe shall we? I think this blog, and others like it which take a convergent view, are helpful in this enterprise.

  27. Ian

    I agree Luke, it is always easier to nitpick on words rather than deal with substance.

    My frustration with “world gone to pot” statements is the directionality invites a conservative response. If the world is going to pot, then to avoid the pot, it is clear we need to stop the world going.

    [I realise you didn’t argue for this, I’m just saying why I react negatively to them]

    Whereas I think this is a harmful model.

    The world was worse, morally, when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s than it is now. Sure more people turned out to the local pub on a Friday night, and church on a Sunday, but they were there with other people just like them. It was also culturally acceptable to call black people “Wogs”, and brag about how you weren’t going to let any of them “Pooftahs” stand behind you in case they tried to bugger you. If that community spirit has been broken, that is a good thing, by me.

    So yeah, let’s pull the moral arc towards community, but let’s also acknowledge that some things needed to be broken, some compromises we should not make. We want to build a different future, not just fix it up.

    [But, as usual, I suspect we’re not actually disagreeing, just agreeing with different words].

  28. Oh yeah, I agree. I like that phrase “agreeing with different words.” We are. Thanks for your response.

  29. rautakyy

    @Ian & Luke. You are so right. We should find better solutions for the future together with those who fear the change. And we should first recognize the actual dangers.

  30. @ chaz,
    Oh, when I care about something it is either because I have natural empathy with it or can think about it enough that I sense a feeling of injustice or danger or something like that which gets me to care. But that is all common sense, so perhaps you are asking something different.

    @ Ian, Luke and CRL,

    I agree with Ian that the phrase “the world has gone …” is a common tool of rhetoric among preachers, doomsayers, fear-mongers, demagogues and such. Anytime we hear it, we should expect distortions to follow.

    Such jargon works to persuade many people — that is why people keep using it and running to conference, churches and political rallies where speakers use it. Such statements make the world more simple and easier to feel you understand and reinforce the us-vs.-them mentality which gives us all a rush of pleasure.

    Working for common solutions is great, and part of that often involves seeing through our rhetoric to find the substantial commonality.

  31. chaz

    Well, you don’t believe in a “self” so I’m wondering how you care about “others”…..also, appealing to common sense is bs in my opinion. There are many different “common senses” that exist among people.

  32. @ chaz,
    You don’t understand my view of “self” it seems. But I don’t have the patience to describe it. I am happy to engage in real conversation but you must extend a friendly hand.

  33. Soe

    I think in my experience, there are times when i feel i do not have the capacity to spend time ‘caring’ about certain issues. And I am told that a lot of buddhists suffer from the guilt from thinking they are not caring enough, or compassionate enough because they cannot do that all the time. However someone pointed out that it is also not wise or compassionate if we bite of more than we can chew. I do think that if some sort of ill will arises toward responding to issues, one may need to examine why that happens.

    There are a few tools that i have been introduced to, the most common being ‘metta bhavana’ or invoking loving-kindness. Sometimes this is hard to do, if i am not able to do it genuinely. There are three others that support this practice, the next common one being compassion, very popular in the Chinese and Tibetan traditions. Empathetic joy and equanimity being the other two. These ‘four immeasurables’ as they are called seem to support and balance each other. The success of such practice leads to weighing the wellbeing of others as one’s own.

  34. Extend a friendly hand via blog comments? Well…I will if you will. Your understanding of self is that their is not one….just synaptic points in our brains that light up to give the illusion of one self, while in reality “we” are different parts of the brain clamoring for attention. I am fascinated/frustrated by people who hold this materialist view but then want to speak of dignity, caring, human rights, etc. How does that work? Surely you see that if you adopt this view of the self then those values you want don’t logically follow?

  35. @ Soe,
    Good insights there. These 4 immeasurables can also be balances with no need to balance, no need to change, no need to improve — just taste. “Watching” is so important.

  36. @ Chaz,
    Can you see your own rhetoric:

    Surely you see that …

    Why should I think at all like you? You just tell us how you see. And it does not sound like a vista worth having.

    One, with only a little imagination, could imagine a similar view of self as mine filled with all sort of supernatural agents behind the many selves — it doesn’t need to be materialistic (non-spooky) and yet it would work the same.

    Yes, yes, I get your black-and-white world, I use to be there. Without Yahweh there can be not real caring, human rights and such. We need a judge.

    I just think it is horseshit and have very little time to engage you and your rhetoric.

  37. chaz

    Thanks for the friendly hand and the real conversation….who said anything about yahweh? I’m just wondering how you come to hold the values you do with the premises you have. You are right in that it does take imagination- an imagination you seem to disparage in religious people and yet hold onto yourself….enjoy the cognitive dissonance.

  38. Chaz – yeah, I suspected from the beginning that our ‘conversation’ would be a waste of time for both of us. As they say in Japanese: 縁がなさそう.

  39. chaz

    fair enough…

  40. rautakyy

    @chaz. I do not get it. How could the fact, that our “self” is the obvious product of our material brain, somehow be detrimental to the ideals of dignity, caring, human rights etc. ? After all, those ideals are the products of our material brains. Naturally they follow from that position.

  41. I agree, rautakyy, we see maternal love and paternal sacrifice in animals but some religious folks imagine that human emotions and behaviors could not have evolved as they did for animals. Books and books have been written showing the silliness of such anthropocentric thinking. To then think that imagining a world of spooks, magic and eternal life is the only way to inspire any worthy behavior, is beyond ridiculous to me. These people just need to be sent back to a library — I won’t take up comment thread space on them. I can only feel that they have no real intent to understand — that is not why they are writing. I don’t know about you, but I have much better things to do with my time.

  42. chaz

    Hi Rautakky,
    Careful with the terms there, last time I used a term like “obviously” Sabio jumped all over me for using rhetoric. If you start with the assumption that all is material, well then yes I guess it would be obvious that the self(ves) are products of the material mind. You know what they say about assumptions though….me personally, I just don’t get how the values of human life and dignity flow out of ionic and covalent bonds holding material together. Isn’t that what it means to be a materialist? The belief that we are just material- groups of atoms and tissue that work together in a system?
    I am genuinely interested in how you get from A to B.

    Sabio- You are quite rude with those who disagree with you…tell whichever “self” of yours that is responding to quiet down and put away the samurai sword.

  43. @chaz: Be careful, remember whose blog you are visiting. Don’t tell me what to do. Your rhetoric is beginning to make me reach for the “spam” button. I am careful to keep the atmosphere of my coffee shop as I like it. There are lots of other atheists sites you can visit in your campaign to proclaim to nonbelievers that the world makes no sense to you without spooks.

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