In Defense of Cecil the Lion's Killer - Page 3 - VeggieBoards
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#61 Old 08-13-2015, 03:29 PM
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Stephen Hawking doesn't have all the answers, he just thinks he does. I'd be very surprised if anyone alive even fully understands 1% of how the universe works.


Stephen Hawking is just one of many who study the universe, and his answers aren't based on what he thinks and feels but on facts and logic. With all due respect, I trust the educated theories of an expert over the baseless intuition of those who have no education or experience of a subject. We're making exciting advancements in our understanding of the universe every day. Quantum physics is interesting, thought-provoking, and rather poetic in its own right. If you want to discount the field of study most likely to answer the biggest questions of existence, that's obviously your call-- but you're missing out. I find it surprising that you can shrug off decades of scientists' hard work while clinging steadfastly to an unfounded concept of an evil God that you simply feel in your heart must be true. Then again, I have never been a fan of believing things on faith alone.
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#62 Old 08-13-2015, 04:14 PM
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Stephen Hawking explains it best, I think.

"The problem of what happens at the beginning of time is a bit like the question of what happened at the edge of the world, when people thought the world was flat. Is the world a flat plate with the sea pouring over the edge? I have tested this experimentally. I have been round the world, and I have not fallen off. As we all know, the problem of what happens at the edge of the world was solved when people realized that the world was not a flat plate, but a curved surface. Time however, seemed to be different. It appeared to be separate from space, and to be like a model railway track. If it had a beginning, there would have to be someone to set the trains going. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity unified time and space as spacetime, but time was still different from space and was like a corridor, which either had a beginning and end, or went on forever. However, when one combines General Relativity with Quantum Theory, Jim Hartle and I realized that time can behave like another direction in space under extreme conditions. This means one can get rid of the problem of time having a beginning, in a similar way in which we got rid of the edge of the world. Suppose the beginning of the universe was like the South Pole of the earth, with degrees of latitude playing the role of time. The universe would start as a point at the South Pole. As one moves north, the circles of constant latitude, representing the size of the universe, would expand. To ask what happened before the beginning of the universe would become a meaningless question, because there is nothing south of the South Pole."
That doesn't explain much of anything. That's just a hypothetical.

Throughout history, "science" has provided many times the 'ultimate' answer to the so-called universe, and every time, time and better instruments have proven science to have been completely wrong about it. I don't see why it should be any different today.

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#63 Old 08-13-2015, 07:11 PM
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Elephants (particularly young elephants) are prey for lions, tigers, and other predators. Populations are controlled naturally through predation or starvation or a combination of the two.

Fine, in Africa it's true. But where I live, elephants don't have any natural predators.
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#64 Old 08-13-2015, 10:16 PM
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That doesn't explain much of anything. That's just a hypothetical.
I think it explains quite elegantly why the question "what happened before the beginning of the universe?" is problematic. It's also not strictly hypothetical. Unlike the truly hypothetical statement that the universe may have been created by a malevolent entity, the theories Hawking describes are rooted firmly in logic, math, and observable reality, and are being tested constantly (including some recent exciting developments just this year which I could post if anyone's interested.) I think that too often people mistake complicated abstract scientific concepts for wild conjecture-- possibly because quantum physics is inherently difficult for most people to understand and seems as tangible as fairies and unicorns to us-- but it isn't. When Hawking (or any reputable scientist) discusses a topic such as time and the "beginning", he only considers what is not only possible but plausible given what we know of the workings of the universe. It is not the same as telling stories off the top of one's head.

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Throughout history, "science" has provided many times the 'ultimate' answer to the so-called universe, and every time, time and better instruments have proven science to have been completely wrong about it. I don't see why it should be any different today.
Science is simply a means of gathering and organising knowledge. It isn't dogma, religion, conjecture, fantasy, or mythology. Scientists have never provided an "ultimate answer." That runs contrary to the aim and purpose of scientific study, which is to build an increasingly detailed and accurate model of the universe. Claiming to have an "ultimate answer" is tantamount to saying "I don't need to study anymore because I already know," and only the religious would make a claim like that. Scientists say only, "Here is what we can know based on what we can observe and test, and here is what we can reasonably infer and predict about those areas we cannot yet observe and test." It is infinitely adaptable, and no one scientist develops his or her ideas in a vacuum. Everyone builds off the decades-- centuries!-- of work that came before.

It is always surprising to me when someone tries to discount an entire discipline by saying "They don't know everything! They could be wrong!" It's like those breatharians who believe that humans can exist solely on sunshine and air, and who are willing to ignore the fact that everything we know about the human body suggests otherwise simply because they distrust medical professionals or have trouble grasping biological concepts. It *feels* right to them, so they cling to the idea that it is theoretically possible that they could be the one exception to the "humans require food and water" rule-- and it is theoretically possible, just as anything is theoretically possible. I could invent a scenario off the top of my head that could be possible, but that doesn't grant my theory any credibility. We don't predict the future or form intelligent opinions of the world based on what could be but on what is likely to be, and the purpose of science is to determine what is and what is likely in various fields of study. There is nothing objectionable about that. If, in fact, the universe was created by a malevolent entity, or humans can survive on sunshine and air, then our studies will eventually bear that out, but at the moment there is no evidence to even vaguely point in that direction, so if you're a Satanist or a breatharian you will just have to accept that you're running on faith alone.


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Fine, in Africa it's true. But where I live, elephants don't have any natural predators.
I forget where you are-- Sri Lanka, is it? Isn't the elephant population in Sri Lanka in grave danger due to deforestation and poaching?
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#65 Old 08-14-2015, 11:55 AM
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Thanks for bringing this up Emily. I recently was discussing the whole Cecil the lion phenomenon with some omnis. I said that the hunting of deer/ foxes/ badgers/ moose etc is no different from the hunting of Cecil the lion. I also said that the killing of "Cecil the pig" (an arbitrary title) was no different to the killing of Cecil the lion. Although they kind of agreed that the other hunting acts were similar, they really could not see the whole "farm animal"-Cecil the lion comparison. They placed the farmed cows/ pigs/ sheep/ chickens/ turkeys into a different box psychologically to Cecil the lion. The reason for this seemed to be because they expected the "farm animals" to be killed as this was "their place", yet Cecil the lion was "not supposed" to be killed and so it was wrong. They even felt that because I compared "Cecil the pig" to Cecil the lion that I was somehow not caring about Cecil the lion, presumably because I had brought the worth of his life "down" to that of a "lowly" pig.

I do not think that these omnis were deliberately being unkind per se, but they were so psychologically conditioned to make profound distinctions between the worth of lions/"pets" and the worth of cows/pigs/sheep/chickens. This speciesism I think can be very hard to break through, if indeed it is possible at all (in some cases). Some people are just so sure that "farm animals" are inferior to say lions or humans that the likelihood of them making any progress seems minimal.
That's a very good insight that I totally agree with, there is such a huge disconnect between most people and where their food really comes from that I think it borders on mental disorder. Witness the blank/confused looks I get from some people when I mention it or the blatant hostility I get from my brother because I don't share that disconnect, and the subject of where that pork rib he is gnawing on came from happens to intrude on his gluttony of dead animal flesh. (Seriously, He is acting as if he is on a mission to balance out my veganism by consuming enormous amounts of animal flesh and entirely avoiding plant based foods.) I think part of the cause of this disconnect is the modern life-style/society and the supermarket, where the flesh is already chopped up into neat little portions in neat little packages and the average person never has to see the actual animal it came from or get their owns hands bloody.

As for Cecil the lion: Lions do not have a choice, they have not evolved to eat plants. But, humans have evolved as omnivores and they do have a choice, and killing for pleasure or profit is just straight out wrong, immoral and even, (in my opinion), psychotically insane. Just thinking of someone doing that makes me feel physically sick.
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#66 Old 08-14-2015, 12:22 PM
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I think it explains quite elegantly why the question "what happened before the beginning of the universe?" is problematic. It's also not strictly hypothetical. Unlike the truly hypothetical statement that the universe may have been created by a malevolent entity, the theories Hawking describes are rooted firmly in logic, math, and observable reality, and are being tested constantly (including some recent exciting developments just this year which I could post if anyone's interested.) I think that too often people mistake complicated abstract scientific concepts for wild conjecture-- possibly because quantum physics is inherently difficult for most people to understand and seems as tangible as fairies and unicorns to us-- but it isn't. When Hawking (or any reputable scientist) discusses a topic such as time and the "beginning", he only considers what is not only possible but plausible given what we know of the workings of the universe. It is not the same as telling stories off the top of one's head.



Science is simply a means of gathering and organising knowledge. It isn't dogma, religion, conjecture, fantasy, or mythology. Scientists have never provided an "ultimate answer." That runs contrary to the aim and purpose of scientific study, which is to build an increasingly detailed and accurate model of the universe. Claiming to have an "ultimate answer" is tantamount to saying "I don't need to study anymore because I already know," and only the religious would make a claim like that. Scientists say only, "Here is what we can know based on what we can observe and test, and here is what we can reasonably infer and predict about those areas we cannot yet observe and test." It is infinitely adaptable, and no one scientist develops his or her ideas in a vacuum. Everyone builds off the decades-- centuries!-- of work that came before.

It is always surprising to me when someone tries to discount an entire discipline by saying "They don't know everything! They could be wrong!" It's like those breatharians who believe that humans can exist solely on sunshine and air, and who are willing to ignore the fact that everything we know about the human body suggests otherwise simply because they distrust medical professionals or have trouble grasping biological concepts. It *feels* right to them, so they cling to the idea that it is theoretically possible that they could be the one exception to the "humans require food and water" rule-- and it is theoretically possible, just as anything is theoretically possible. I could invent a scenario off the top of my head that could be possible, but that doesn't grant my theory any credibility. We don't predict the future or form intelligent opinions of the world based on what could be but on what is likely to be, and the purpose of science is to determine what is and what is likely in various fields of study. There is nothing objectionable about that. If, in fact, the universe was created by a malevolent entity, or humans can survive on sunshine and air, then our studies will eventually bear that out, but at the moment there is no evidence to even vaguely point in that direction, so if you're a Satanist or a breatharian you will just have to accept that you're running on faith alone.
The big-bang model, like models before it, such as the terracentric model, the heliocentric model, and the single-galaxy model, seeks to place a finite quantity on the mass of the universe, is fundamentally based on lack of evidence, and is no more believable than the theology of Creationism. Like the theories before it, I expect it too will be proven wrong in future. I see Hawking as the proverbial, scientific high priest, performing mathematic sacraments in his tabernacle of empirical data. But lack of evidence does not equal evidence. It is not scientific. It is not logical. For all we know- and we don't know- the universe is infinite, perhaps expanding in some areas, while contracting in others, like a cat squishing a pillow? I cannot understand why both religion and science feel compelled to set a start-point, or an end-point, to existence. What is the good of constructing such models, based on a gross shortage of data, when the odds of it being correct are almost infinitely long? I think Hawking and his cronies spend up a whole lot of grant money, in the name of making a living for themselves. Maybe I just lack the faith needed to follow the big-bang religion?

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#67 Old 08-14-2015, 02:09 PM
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Also think about this. Let's say No Whey Jose is right and the universe came about as random chaotic events and no intelligent entities created it.

Wouldn't humans be then just complex reaction mechanisms like animals are? How can you discount humanistic magical seeming ideas like Gods existing but at the same time believe in the humanistic magical idea of free will?

So there seems to me two logical scenarios. Either No Whey Jose is right about the godless universe which would mean humans are complex reaction mechanisms like animals are, and thus sport hunters would have no more choice in killing lions than lions have in killing zebras. Or there are magical humanistic things like Gods, Demons, free will, etc, and the natural world would be evil.
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#68 Old 08-14-2015, 02:10 PM
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The big-bang model, like models before it, such as the terracentric model, the heliocentric model, and the single-galaxy model, seeks to place a finite quantity on the mass of the universe, is fundamentally based on lack of evidence, and is no more believable than the theology of Creationism. Like the theories before it, I expect it too will be proven wrong in future. I see Hawking as the proverbial, scientific high priest, performing mathematic sacraments in his tabernacle of empirical data. But lack of evidence does not equal evidence. It is not scientific. It is not logical. For all we know- and we don't know- the universe is infinite, perhaps expanding in some areas, while contracting in others, like a cat squishing a pillow? I cannot understand why both religion and science feel compelled to set a start-point, or an end-point, to existence. What is the good of constructing such models, based on a gross shortage of data, when the odds of it being correct are almost infinitely long? I think Hawking and his cronies spend up a whole lot of grant money, in the name of making a living for themselves. Maybe I just lack the faith needed to follow the big-bang religion?
Haha, ok. I like you a lot, Cap, but you have some funny ideas about science.
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#69 Old 08-14-2015, 03:15 PM
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How do you know an intelligent entity with malicious intent didn't create this world?
That's the view Gnostic sects have traditionally held. They believed that God was a distinct entity from the Creator (whom they called the Demiurge). Gnostic sects also tended to promote vegetarian (and often vegan!) diets.

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If there were no carnivorous animals, then the herbivores would breed out of control, eat all the plants, and wind up dying of disease and starvation.
A couple people have expressed a similar idea. It ignores a couple confounding factors.

For one, the perfect sine wave representing predator-prey interactions we see in textbooks is at best an idealized depiction so students 'get the gist'. Real graphs of predator vs prey populations tend to be very messy. What happens to female deer during times of starvation? THEY STOP OVULATING! I never see this discussed. A number of factors are involved in population fluctuations. We focus on predation for the same reason we flock to action movies. It's exciting! A documentary about the real day-to-day lives of critters would be dull as dirt. Most individuals of prey species go their whole life without meeting a predator. 'Nature red in tooth and claw' is as much a self-serving fantasy as happy bunny fantasies.

-----------------

The screwworm isn't a moral agent, so it is meaningless to talk about the morality of it's actions.
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#70 Old 08-14-2015, 05:10 PM
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Haha, ok. I like you a lot, Cap, but you have some funny ideas about science.
Stephen Hawking says that free will is an illusion and that people are "biological machines" who are "as determined as the orbits of planets". You can read what he said about it here http://amiquote.tumblr.com/post/2318...ople-have-free

So if you agree with Stephen Hawking how can hold sport hunters accountable? They have no more choice in killing the lion as the lion has in killing the Zebra.

It seems to me No Whey Jose that you and some others in this discussion are being contradictory. You hold the sport hunters accountable because you say what they did had an intent. Yet, when I point out the evils of the natural world you cite Stephen Hawking and a cold, godless universe in order not to hold it accountable. The two views are totally opposite. Either you take the Stephen Hawking ultra-scientific view and accept that the sport hunters are no more culpable than any other animal, or you take a religious humanistic view and say these things are evil. You can't be one or the other whenever it suits your whim.
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#71 Old 08-14-2015, 05:15 PM
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The screwworm isn't a moral agent, so it is meaningless to talk about the morality of it's actions.
Yes but if an intelligence designed screwworm flies and a system that incorporates them knowingly then they and that system would be a product of evil.

Thanks for the info about Gnostism and you bring up an interesting point about predators and prey.

This is why I like this forum, I think vegetarians are a smart bunch in general and anytime someone writes something here it's always interesting.
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#72 Old 08-14-2015, 07:27 PM
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I come back to veggieboards after moving and this is what I find?...... Ok carry on
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#73 Old 08-15-2015, 06:00 AM
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Stephen Hawking says that free will is an illusion and that people are "biological machines" who are "as determined as the orbits of planets". You can read what he said about it here http://amiquote.tumblr.com/post/2318...ople-have-free

So if you agree with Stephen Hawking how can hold sport hunters accountable? They have no more choice in killing the lion as the lion has in killing the Zebra.
As I recall, I posted an interesting and eloquent quote from Hawking about a specific topic which was distinct from any discussion of free will. It's strange to extrapolate from this that I see him as some sort of infallible expert on every subject.

That said, the quote you shared is consistent with what we understand about the human mind. Everything about you, everything you consider unique about your personality, is determined to some degree by the chemical and electrical makeup of your brain, which is affected by your genetics and your environment-- although the relative importance of each, and the extent to which they inhibit what we call "free will" is debatable. Research clearly indicates that the unconscious mind has more of an affect on decision-making than most people realise, but whether this negates the concept of "free will" depends on your definition of the term. If, to you, the only acceptable definition is a decision made in a vacuum, separate from one's genetics or environment, then yes, I would say that free will doesn't exist. Personally, I define free will as a decision made without overt coercion from an external party, and I also recognise a person's physical and psychological limitations and the effect of various external factors on culpability. There is no question that decision-making happens; the question is about the extent of the unconscious mind on what we generally think of as conscious choice. Do you understand? There is an article on Wiki called "the neuroscience of free will" which lists the findings of recent studies and various interpretations of those findings, along with the philosophical implications, objections, and criticisms of those interpretations. It's very interesting and I suggest you give it a read if you're genuinely interested in this subject.

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It seems to me No Whey Jose that you and some others in this discussion are being contradictory. You hold the sport hunters accountable because you say what they did had an intent. Yet, when I point out the evils of the natural world you cite Stephen Hawking and a cold, godless universe in order not to hold it accountable.
How is this in any way contradictory? I've already explained that ethics is a made-made concept and that only humans can be held morally accountable. If you agree with Hawking that even humans should not be held morally accountable because their decisions were predetermined by genetics and other factors beyond their control, then you still wouldn't hold inanimate objects, abstract concepts, or bacteria morally accountable. You wouldn't hold anyone or anything morally accountable because the very concept of moral accountability would be unacceptable to you. That isn't my personal view, but it's a reasonable and logically consistent view to take.

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The two views are totally opposite. Either you take the Stephen Hawking ultra-scientific view and accept that the sport hunters are no more culpable than any other animal, or you take a religious humanistic view and say these things are evil.
How does that follow? You're creating a false dichotomy.
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#74 Old 08-21-2015, 03:09 PM
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Yes but if an intelligence designed screwworm flies and a system that incorporates them knowingly then they and that system would be a product of evil.
But, no one here is talking about systems designed by intelligent entities. I'm certainly not. This discussion was started to talk about the furor over the killing of Cecil the lion. I'm not sure how the big, metaphysical question plays into it. I see nothing to indicate that people upset about Cecil have the metaphysical commitments you are questioning. Some folks do, some folks don't. Those who do probably have a more nuanced view of good-n-evil than the straw men you're attempting to argue with.

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#75 Old 08-21-2015, 05:49 PM
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(in case anyone still wants to discuss the Original Post)

BSV, thank you so much for the video! Your point of view is well thought out and your arguments are presented in a very compelling fashion. My best friend is an omni who occasionally hunts, and I have gone spearfishing with him. Just to be clear, I did not engage in any killing, processing, or eating (of course) of the fish, but I would have been a hypocrite to share hundreds of meals with a man where he in essence paid someone to kill his food for him and then refuse to watch him kill his own food.

Omnis exist, and the animals that they kill or have killed for them do not inhabit a hierarchy of intrinsic value determined by how cute or majestic or domesticated they are.

BSV, another point that you could have made was the money that hunters (yes, even trophy hunters) bring to the local economy in situations like this. $50,000 dollars from a rich American is untold wealth to people living in relative poverty, and often the meat from the animals killed is also given to the local population (after the "valuable" trophy head and skin is taken, of course). I don't mean to imply that meat and lots of money justifies killing an animal, but as you said it highlights the hypocrisy of an omni who sees no good whatsoever in these types of actions and yet only places a value of 99 cents on the life of a chicken so long as it ends up in a "value meal."

I truly appreciate the time and effort that you put into your videos. Unlike so many other vegetarians and vegans who have YouTube channels, I don't think that you are "preaching to the choir." I think that your videos may actually be changing hearts and minds.
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