"Moral authority" in a world without god

crazymonkie
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"Moral authority" in a world without god

Hey everyone. I've read some other threads where people have tried to help people here with troubling issues.

My problem is this, and it was my fault for getting pulled in:

I got dragged into one of those vortices of philosophical debate, that of 'moral authority.' Basically, I stated that my position is that morality is, for the most part, arbitrary and changes over time. To which another poster said "Then you believe X, Y, and Z nasty things are okay because you have no authority to say it's not wrong." This is, not surprisingly, coming from a theist.

Anyway, I need some help here. My moral philosophy is really crude, but I feel like it should be able to stand on its own with a bit of help from folks here.

Here's the link, and it's been frustrating me for days: http://forum09.faithfreedom.org/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=1803&start=200

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


Kevin R Brown
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Well, first, I think it's

Well, first, I think it's important to highlight this part of the good theist's argument (which, frankly, we see all of the time):

Quote:
because you have no authority to say it's not wrong

A few things to note:

1) Implicit in this statement is the assumption that a theist does have 'the authority' that tells them what is right and wrong (this authority being their deity). Needless to say, that's a rather large assumption.

2) Even if we grant the theist their assumption, the argument remains bewildering. What they are saying is that they need only one premise - what their deity commands - in order to deduce the value of any particular action (i.e. : God says homosexuality is wrong therefore homosexuality is wrong).

Rational arguments always contain 2 or more premises (i.e. I am not sexually attracted to men and having a homosexual lifestyle requires that I be attracted to men therefore having a homosexual lifestyle is not right for me). Having one's moral framework be whatever an authority figure tells you makes one's moral framework vastly more arbitrary.

3) How does the theist know what their deity thinks is right and wrong? If they're a Christian, are they a Biblical literalist? Do they believe that it is befitting to enslave people, rape women, stone heathens, etc? The Bible says that all of that is morally right. If they don't agree, then clearly they must be getting their sense of morality from elsewhere and then simply tossing their deity the credit.

 

Morals are a relative thing. Only naive and sheltered people insist on absolution.

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"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


BobSpence
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 As Kevin says, even if you

 As Kevin says, even if you granted the Theist that there was a God, there is absolutely no way one could gain absolute knowledge of 'right' and 'wrong', or anything else, from such an entity, since there is no way to know its ultimate motives when issuing commandments. It would have infinite capacity to absolutely convince us of its moral authority and 'goodness', whatever it ultimately intended for us.

Rather than a source of moral authority in a genuine sense, it could only be treated us 'moral' on the principle of 'might makes right'.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Nordmann
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Quote:Then you believe X, Y,

Quote:

Then you believe X, Y, and Z nasty things are okay because you have no authority to say it's not wrong

 

I assume the speaker meant "... because you have reference to no authority which says it's not wrong".

 

And he is right that you have reference to none, but then neither has he if by authority he means a god. God is a human construct.

 

Morality is a constant in terms of humanity's ability to comprehend its need but fluid in terms of humanity's application of it and in its understanding of morality's importance, its precise implications for social control and therefore its authority. The biggest source of authority is consensus, since that most easily facilitates translation into codified rules of behaviour. Consensus can be expressed as a religious ideal but tends to make more sense when it is expressed in terms of its benefit to society. The religionist is ironically therefore the one who lacks authority compared to the humanist since he mistakenly attributes authority to the wrong source and loses a sense of responsibility in the process.

 

Simply said, religionists are great at pointing out how everyone else is wrong. Humanists are best at building social codes from analysing what is right. Religionists have stopped thinking at a critical point in the process, thereby automatically losing any right to gainsay what has been deduced by more intelligent reasoning.

 

But then, what's new?

 

I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy


EXC
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Morality is a BS concept. A

Morality is a BS concept. A scam to get more from people than one gives to them.

All relationships that are not antagonist or parasitic are based on some form of contract where all parties agree to both give and receive something of nearly equal value in return. So ones decision not to murder or steal from someone is based on their agreement not to do the same in return. That is why killing in self defence is OK, the person that threatens you has broken a contract.

Morality basically tells people they should be a doormat. They should permit others to take advantage of them. The people that preach morality basically are saying give and expect nothing in return except an imaginary benefit in an afterlife.

By using heaven and hell to control human behavior, theists demonstrate that there is no 'right or wrong' behavior. All animal and human behavior is based on an exception of reward/punishment, even imaginary ones in an imaginary after-life.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


Hambydammit
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 Christian Morality (with

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
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crazymonkie
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*Takes shirt off, waves over

*Takes shirt off, waves over head*

 

Thanks everyone! I've got a long, long way to go before I get really good at explaining my position on morality and ethics. This all helps, a lot.

 

It just really pissed me off that I keep getting dragged into these things where I have to explain what I'm talking about- like every single freaking atheist out there has some kind of mandate from theists to have a deep and complex moral/ethical system, whereas all theists have to do is say, "Look, book/holy man/intuition/pure reason says it's so." I mean, what the hell?!? Where's the fairness, I ask you?

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


spike.barnett
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crazymonkie wrote:Where's

crazymonkie wrote:

Where's the fairness, I ask you?

There is no fairness, nor has there ever been any. Shit floats around, Gotta land on somebody...

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.

The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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NoMoreBull
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 WOW you guys are thick

 

WOW you guys are thick – what do the actions between “human and human” have to do with the actions between “human and Divinity”. Furthermore who gives a shit about what you think about morality. Morality is always dictated by society so its members can receive maximum pleasure with the minimum damage to others. Study law and history and stop talking about things you can’t possible prove and start talking about things that you can research and prove.

 


crazymonkie
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Someone here didn't read the

Someone here didn't read the links provided by Hamby.

 

It wasn't me, because I read through all of 'em except the one on wordpress, which I couldn't access.

Also: If you'd actually *read the first fucking link I provided*, you'd realize that it was NEVER an issue about human/Divine relations, but about the nature (if there was one- didn't even think to talk about it, and now I'm done with that conversation) of good and evil. And how, according to Equestrian, I am a moral relativist and that's ALL I am.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.


BobSpence
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NoMoreBull wrote: WOW you

NoMoreBull wrote:

 

WOW you guys are thick – what do the actions between “human and human” have to do with the actions between “human and Divinity”. Furthermore who gives a shit about what you think about morality. Morality is always dictated by society so its members can receive maximum pleasure with the minimum damage to others. Study law and history and stop talking about things you can’t possible prove and start talking about things that you can research and prove.

 

And just what is wrong with such a morality, which at least can be justified, against one based on completely un-researchable or provable things like God or Gods, which we have no way of knowing actually exist or even mean us well or not??

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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I didn't get to read all

I didn't get to read all replies to the original, so forgive me if I beat a dead horse somewhere.

I'm a Christian that most people think of as strange and/or unusual.  That includes fellow Christians and atheists.  I'll say this: it's great when someone has better moral convictions than a Christian.  I won't say that it's hard, but I feel it's important for the world to challenge Christians to live up to the standard that they bestow on the rest of the world.  I'm no legalist by any means, but I keep to the things that I think are right and stay away from what I think is wrong.  I think that unless I have a source that is acceptable to cite (i.e. current written law), it's not worth smashing someone in the face.

My authority and law comes from the Bible.  God doesn't send his voice to me or become an image in my dreams and give me a list of "do"s and "don't"s.  By living according to the laws of the Bible, I've been able to stay in line with local laws as well.

Anyway, I don't see anything offensive about your philosophy.  Clearly I believe it's wrong (as you believe mine is wrong), but there's no flaw in your logic.  You can either expand your definition (which, there's no harm in more knowledge, and it's actually beneficial), or you can politely tell them to leave you alone.  Your philosophy is good enough to stand on.  Nobody has the right to test its durability without your permission.


crazymonkie
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I've actually pretty much

I've actually pretty much let Equestrian (the other half of the discussion) have the last word. At least from my end. He and butterbattle (from here) are possibly going to have it out, but I'm through with him. He's arguing a point I don't hold, and made clear from the first reply that I didn't.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.