Hell as a Tool for Secualar Morality

TGBaker
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Hell as a Tool for Secualar Morality

I developed this ditty from a Facebook spat with a friend of mine who is a Christian Philosopher, Dr. James F. Sennett. I had never really thought about this area before. But I think it produces another problem with the omni-attributes of a proposed god.

 

Does God love something because it is good? Or is it good because God loves it? If God does or loves something because it is good, then the good looks to something that is more sovereign than God to which he must conform to be good. If God were to oppose these standards called good then God would not be god since he lacks omni-benevolence. So God's omniscience is limited by the good. If on the other hand what is good is simply what God loves and commands ( the Divine Command Theory), then the good is simply whatever is the whim of God (such as killing all the babies in the Canaanite genocide). If there are no standards apart from God other than what he wants or commands then apart from him there is no good.

The former idea that there is a good apart from god means that humanity should follow that standard and obey God only if he is compliant to that standard. The latter view which state that the good is simply God's whim is obeyed only because of the threat of punishment or damnation. This dilemma is called the Euthyphro dilemma and has been left to us by Socrates.

Sam Harris has offered us a beginning means whereby to ground well-being in empirical science. I would like to call his tool Hell. Harris asks us to imagine a world with as much suffering, as intense suffering as possible, with as many people suffering and all of that for as long as can be imagined. Let's call this "Hell." It sounds like the Christian tradition and might be a good thing to rescue from them. Harri present the empirically based obvious. we would all agree that any movement from that designated measurement is a movement toward well-being, less suffering and more contentment. Obviously there are comparisons and considerations along the way to the antithesis of our Hell but our path will by that of human improvement. Our goal will be that of a paradise or heaven where well-being like physical health will be maximized.

With the removal of god from the mix the Euthypho dilemma becomes manageable. The idea of a transcendent good which God (much less any other being) is removed. An empirically based "landscape" of evidence and information for reasoning humanity to a better course is opened up as a field of promise. The fear of compliance of a tyrant that threatens eternal suffering is dethroned and replaced with a view toward paradise.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

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Wonderist
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Interesting. I like the way

Interesting. I like the way you paraphrased Harris. Haven't read his book, but I've seen him talk about it and in interviews.

I tend to think that a lot of people (atheists) get all riled up because he doesn't appear to solve the ought/is problem in a way that would satisfy philosophers.

But, I don't think that is really his point. I think he is making a much much simpler point, and your example makes it more clear.

Going back to The End of Faith, Harris is not making a sophisticated theological argument (and people complain about this, but are missing the point), he's just saying that faith itself is dangerous and needs to be challenged and diminished.

Here, in The Moral Landscape, he's not making an is/ought argument (and people complain about this, but are missing the point), he's just saying that our natural, observable, neurological experiences can be studied by science, and that there is an 'obviously negative' state which could be considerd 'not well-being', and that morality consists of working out systems of human interaction that get us as far above that hellish state as possible. Since we can study the brain, and since we know what general direction we all would prefer to move on the landscape, then therefore science will be the best tool for studying morality and guiding us towards more moral peaks in the landscape.

Again, I haven't read it, but that's what I gather from those who have, and from the talks I've seen of him on this.

Connecting the idea of Hell to his extreme-suffering scenario, I think is a genius point.

You can continue the analogy and show that, while there will obviously not be any single universal 'Heaven', nor will it ever be 'perfect', but we can consider that different societies are on a mountain climb up to a heavenly region, where as many as possible can have peak experiences of well-being and very few will suffer torturous existence (and hopefully, I would imagine, have a dignified method of 'exiting the game' if their suffering was too great).

Different 'heavenly regions' will exist on the landscape, serving the different needs/traditions of different societies, so there's no need to enforce universal conformity to some 'Absolute Morality'.

This would be a great metaphor to use to explain secular morality in a language that might be more relatable to some theists.

If this is really your own idea/extension, wow, congratulations, I love it. I think John Loftus will appreciate it, too.

Enjoying your recent posts!

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TGBaker
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natural wrote:Interesting. I

natural wrote:

Interesting. I like the way you paraphrased Harris. Haven't read his book, but I've seen him talk about it and in interviews.

I tend to think that a lot of people (atheists) get all riled up because he doesn't appear to solve the ought/is problem in a way that would satisfy philosophers.

But, I don't think that is really his point. I think he is making a much much simpler point, and your example makes it more clear.

Going back to The End of Faith, Harris is not making a sophisticated theological argument (and people complain about this, but are missing the point), he's just saying that faith itself is dangerous and needs to be challenged and diminished.

Here, in The Moral Landscape, he's not making an is/ought argument (and people complain about this, but are missing the point), he's just saying that our natural, observable, neurological experiences can be studied by science, and that there is an 'obviously negative' state which could be considerd 'not well-being', and that morality consists of working out systems of human interaction that get us as far above that hellish state as possible. Since we can study the brain, and since we know what general direction we all would prefer to move on the landscape, then therefore science will be the best tool for studying morality and guiding us towards more moral peaks in the landscape.

Again, I haven't read it, but that's what I gather from those who have, and from the talks I've seen of him on this.

Connecting the idea of Hell to his extreme-suffering scenario, I think is a genius point.

You can continue the analogy and show that, while there will obviously not be any single universal 'Heaven', nor will it ever be 'perfect', but we can consider that different societies are on a mountain climb up to a heavenly region, where as many as possible can have peak experiences of well-being and very few will suffer torturous existence (and hopefully, I would imagine, have a dignified method of 'exiting the game' if their suffering was too great).

Different 'heavenly regions' will exist on the landscape, serving the different needs/traditions of different societies, so there's no need to enforce universal conformity to some 'Absolute Morality'.

This would be a great metaphor to use to explain secular morality in a language that might be more relatable to some theists.

If this is really your own idea/extension, wow, congratulations, I love it. I think John Loftus will appreciate it, too.

Enjoying your recent posts!

hanks for the appreciation. He has put most of my articles out. I gave him this one today. I would like to see it out there for the reasons you picked up on. Thanks for a positive review. We need to educate the public better about these things. Particularily how far back are presuppositions are about morality. Socrates is still relevant today. Perhaps these are archetypes in our stories that get pushed to a religious level.  But we all want paradise and fear Hell.  To show in what sense they are real ought to give a lot of inspiration for writing.   Come visit over at Debunking Christianity if you have the time.  It does not have as wide of a topic "landscape" as we have here but it has a very specific mission.


 

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

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TGBaker wrote:hanks for the

TGBaker wrote:

hanks for the appreciation. He has put most of my articles out. I gave him this one today. I would like to see it out there for the reasons you picked up on. Thanks for a positive review. We need to educate the public better about these things. Particularily how far back are presuppositions are about morality. Socrates is still relevant today. Perhaps these are archetypes in our stories that get pushed to a religious level.  But we all want paradise and fear Hell.  To show in what sense they are real ought to give a lot of inspiration for writing.   Come visit over at Debunking Christianity if you have the time.  It does not have as wide of a topic "landscape" as we have here but it has a very specific mission.

 

What's the URL of that site? Debunking Christianity?

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TGBaker
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Ktulu wrote:TGBaker

Ktulu wrote:

TGBaker wrote:

hanks for the appreciation. He has put most of my articles out. I gave him this one today. I would like to see it out there for the reasons you picked up on. Thanks for a positive review. We need to educate the public better about these things. Particularily how far back are presuppositions are about morality. Socrates is still relevant today. Perhaps these are archetypes in our stories that get pushed to a religious level.  But we all want paradise and fear Hell.  To show in what sense they are real ought to give a lot of inspiration for writing.   Come visit over at Debunking Christianity if you have the time.  It does not have as wide of a topic "landscape" as we have here but it has a very specific mission.

 

What's the URL of that site? Debunking Christianity?

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

http://atheisticgod.blogspot.com/ Books on atheism