On Atheist morals...?

Cernunnos
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On Atheist morals...?

There is much misconstruction over the matter of how an atheist acquires a moral code.

Rather than repeat the spiel that is generally offered, I would like to propose a couple of scenarios with my personal discernment on each.

I would be interested in how others would conclude the following circumstances too.

 

While living life as an atheist God makes himself known and offers the following choice:

Aware that a profane albeit ethical life has been led God offers either oblivion for you or Him

Given this situation I would always decide to keep my own existence and allow God to perish into nothingness. Is this dissipated decision completely without regard for others?

Note both choices have an immaterial effect. Either my life does not really change (from what it was prior to God getting in the way) or I cease to be. However as I am happy and enjoy being I would prefer to keep breathing, is this selfish?

Obviously my life is nonessential and I am stealing the gift of bliss from the devout. However were I to be removed from this world I must consider the thoughts of those who I know and mutually care for and love. Otherwise these minds will be left confused and bewildered by my abrupt and untimely disappearance. It is in part a moral responsibility to these people that would coerce me to linger on.

 

Moreover what would I be taking away from mankind by dismissing God?

If it is simply the promise of an eternal afterlife this does not worry me, I would concur with Gods wonderful creation and revere its deep and complex beauty but would have to mock Him for making it just a bit too accommodating as a worship pit. The cosmos is good enough. Also I would hold fears for those who have the promised lands in their wake. Indeed an infinite continuation seems impending....remember relativity: eternal bliss is equivalent to eternal damnation.

If it includes everybody having to get along without God, well I have evidence enough that many already do and have done.

And can the world now live without sin?

 

In fact I would consider this ultimatum by God the playing of His trump card, not only does He set humanity free but also allows of himself the absolute sacrifice....his omnipotence must get tiredsome.

 

 

The second scenario is far simpler,

 

The same as the first however now the choice is between your life or those of everybody you have ever spoken to. In this case it is easy to discern that you gotta go!

 

Hence in my view human life is more important than that of Gods existence (even ones own life). This is the grounding of my moral code...I wonder if any religious person can be so humble.

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


ParanoidAgnostic
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Quote:While living life

Quote:

While living life as an atheist God makes himself known and offers the following choice:

Aware that a profane albeit ethical life has been led God offers either oblivion for you or Him

That's easy. If someone has a gun and insists that I choose he eaither shoot me or himself I have exactly zero moral problems choosing for him to blow his own brains out.

He created the dilemma. Before he got involved we coud have both lived happily ever after.

As for the rest of humanity, they are better off without a god that would pull this sort of stunt. Plus If I chose oblivion it woudl probably be all for nothing as the next atheist would probably choose to keep living anyway, thus destroying god.

Quote:

The same as the first however now the choice is between your life or those of everybody you have ever spoken to. In this case it is easy to discern that you gotta go!

Hence in my view human life is more important than that of Gods existence (even ones own life). This is the grounding of my moral code...I wonder if any religious person can be so humble.

I think your two scenarios differ in one vital way. In the first it is god offering his own destruction in the other it is god offering te distruction of other lives. In the first, the potential victim (god) is entirely responsible for the situation but in the second the victims are completely not-responsible for the situation.

To really compare human life to god you'd need the first situation to have a third party offering the choice, who is somehow able to destroy god, or in the second have all of the potential victims actually be the ones forcing you to choose.

 Also, you are comparing one god to many humans. Does the thought process work for just one human? how many human lives do you think are needed to add up to one god? 

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


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For me it would really

For me it would really depend on if this god does anything or has the power and knowledge to stop "badness."

If the god is useless or evil then I would pick myself over it. If the god is useless then I would pick myself over it for the fact I can add something to this world, but it would seem this being cannot for some reason. If this god is evil then existence would most likely be better off without.

Put in the situation where it would be better to end my own existence however I cannot really say what I would pick without being there for real. Kind of like I don't really know how I would react to war or Orwellian government.


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Quote: While living life as

Quote:
While living life as an atheist God makes himself known and offers the following choice:

Aware that a profane albeit ethical life has been led God offers either oblivion for you or Him

You see, there are a few problems here...

1. Am I the first being offered such a choice?

If yes, it means that God had a reason for picking precisely me as the first. I would have to inquire about that reason, just because in making such a decision, I should also know where he wants to get...

If no, I would inquire how many were there before me. After a high-enough number, I would really start thinking that something is rotten in Denmark.

This line of logic is based on the following presumptions:

- God is essential for the balance of the world

- God is omnibenevolent

If the first one is right, then God's disappearance means the disappearance of the whole world. Unfortunately, that is regarded as a bad thing, which means that God cannot be omnibenevolent at the same time.

If the second one is right, then God cannot actually make me disappear into oblivion, since that would be a bad thing, and that would contradict precisely his omnibenevolence.

I stick to Paranoid's conclusion, though... who would want a God who is likely to pull such a stunt? I would have absolutely no problem in choosing himto go away, since if he is essential to survival, I would cease to exist anyway.

Quote:
The same as the first however now the choice is between your life or those of everybody you have ever spoken to. In this case it is easy to discern that you gotta go!

I would refuse to choose. God, in such a case, is nothing more than a sadistical dictator. I would simply attempt to lock myself, my words and my thoughts. I will not win anything, but he will lose as well. Such a God is not worthy of our worship.

Inquisition - "The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on..."
http://rigoromortis.blogspot.com/


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This is a joke, right?

This is a joke, right? You've created an ethical dilemma so contrived as to hardly be worth considering.

If a being appeared in the midst of your atheist life and said "I am god. One of the two of us goes to oblivion, you choose" you would not believe that it was indeed god. 

 

 


wavefreak
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This is a joke, right?

[MOD EDIT - DOUBLE POST REMOVED]

 


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Certainly I would choose

Certainly I would choose God, especially if it was the God of the BuyBull - the universe is much better off without that monster. Even better if belief in God could be eliminated.

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First off yes it is

First off yes it is contrived, not only by invoking an involved God but also as it sets bounds for a God no man knows.

The point was not to reflect on the goals/purpose of this God but on how an atheist views his world. Rather that they are content without a God and feel what a God offers is sketchy and frivolous.

 

Further I would like to point out that this offer of oblivion is comparable to God giving us the choice to believe or not (without  evidence to boot). This stunt although more abstract is just as peculiar.

 

The second scenario is merely to point out that atheists find it acceptable to sacrifice their own life (given the right circumstances + remember an atheist is sure there is nothing more afterwards). I should have stated failing to choose results in say a great flood....thx for pointing that out.

Also a person creates their outlook from the world around them not from their own being. Killing off everybody you have spoken to will have such a profound effect that many would not want to live on afterwards. God is not the reason to wish well on others.

I did not compare directly one God to many humans only abstractly

[you vs god : you vs many (known) humans]

 but if you want....

one or move humans > you > one or more humans > God 

 

The original post was not meant to be plausible. I used it I hope to allow others to consider reasons for morals that exist outside the realm of God. There is certainly an element of tongue and cheek and puposeful misleading too Eye-wink

 One thing I would like some opinions on...

Are statements concerning morals able to encompass all atheists and hold true i.e

 All atheists think killing in the name of God is wrong.

 All atheists think that 2 random peoples lives are worth more than 1 random scientologists. 


 Do statements such as this exist for all theists too?

are atheists just less diverse or more rational Eye-wink

 

 

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


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Cernunnos wrote:

Cernunnos wrote:

One thing I would like some opinions on...

Are statements concerning morals able to encompass all atheists and hold true i.e

It would be difficult to make broad statements on morality that hold true to all atheists in the same way that it would be difficult to find such statments that hold true to every member of any group, and atheists can only sort of be considered a group in the first place (do you consider all non-Europeans to be one group of people)?

Cernunnos wrote:

All atheists think killing in the name of God is wrong.

This is probably true, as the one defining factor of an atheist is lacking a belief in god. Therefore, killing in the name of god is killing for no reason at all, which I believe most people object to, atheist or not.

Cernunnos wrote:

All atheists think that 2 random peoples lives are worth more than 1 random scientologists.

I imagine that most people (again, atheist or not), would generally consider 2 RANDOM people's lives as "worth" more than one person's, regardless of religious beliefs. (scientologists may be crazy, but that doesn't mean that they necessarily are "worth" less).


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Yeah, that's a pretty

Yeah, that's a pretty crappy hypothetical situation. First of all, you completely overlook any implications of a god existing aside from the afterlife.

What if this god tells you that all morals actually DO come from him? Even the so-called "secular" ones? What if he tells you that he takes care of orphans? Or sick old people? Or those suffering from schizophrenia (you know how they are always "talking to god"...)? 

What if you getting rid of god means you get rid of all those other things.  Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in such a god, but to ignore the possibility of such a god existing in this hypothetical are, to me, rather smallminded.

Instead, I will present this example instead:

You are sitting on your computer, reading this topic, and some guy poofs into existance in front of you. He explains to you that he is Paynal, the messenger of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the Sun. He tells you that the big H-word wishes to make a deal with you. Hu-Poch has been watching the world for a while, and has been moved by the plight of its people, but, being in a weakened condition, he has been as of yet unable to do anything about it. It is only now that he has been able to save up the energy to send his messenger to you. Why you? Well, as chance would have it, you just happened to be the closest person to the "underworld" at the time.

Paynal, quivering with excitement, informs you that if you restore Hu-Poch to power,  Hu-Poch promises to bring humanity into a new era. He will put an end to HIV, cancer, and almost all forms of serious and/or debilitating disease.  On the downside, he is the god of war, so he will want there to be some fighting. On the plus side, he has pledged to back the nation of your choice, and Paynal says that you can always choose the Swiss and be done with it.

Throughout the conversation, you notice that Paynal is looking rather nervously at you. When you ask him about it, he sighs lightly, and tells you the catch: in order for Hu-Poch to be restored to power, human sacrifice is required. To restore him to power, you will need to travel to Mexico City (aka Tenochtitlan, Hu-Poch's city of patronage), climb to the top of the Aztec pyramid, and cut out your own heart.

Do you do it or not?

Some Alternate verions (for some variance):

Alternate A: Instead of cutting your own heart out, you must cut out the heart of the person in this world about whom you care the most.

Alternate B: You need a group of people to sacrifice themselves alongside you at the pyramid. Say, 150 people in all. You still need to cut out your own heart too, but not until the first 149 people have done it.

Alternate C: The Aztec mythology of an afterlife was wrong, and there is no afterlife.

 

Please provide answers (and reasoning if applicable) to the dilemma and all alternate stories.

See? That was much cooler. 


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There's a lot of good work

There's a lot of good work happening in cognitive psychology right now that addresses most of your questions, Cerrunous.

In brief, the answer appears to be that religious and non-religious people all derive basically the same moral system everywhere throughout history (with some exceptions naturally).The problems of how much people's lives are worth and decisions involving sacrifice are run by sets of discrete cognitive modules that sometimes come into conflict or aren't rational in mathematical terms because of the way humans evolved. This is, incidentally, exactly what evolutionary theory would predict--since all humans have brains and societies that work the same way, we'd all come up with similar ways of running society.

The only difference is that religious people justify their morals with an appeal to religion/divinity while non-religious people don't. I'd argue that another difference is that religions can provide a justification for things that are rationally wonky (throwing your kids into a fire to appeas Moloch, refusing all medical service, being celebate) while a more rational approach to morality doesn't have any excuse for these kinds of behaviors.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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I agree with you

I agree with you Fish

 

Yes I consider all non-Europeans a group perhaps a set is a better word. 

Perhaps you wish me to write:

All theists believe in God(s) , not all theists believe that killing in the name of God is wrong , all atheists believe killing in the name of God is wrong, no theists are atheists. (no theist is not a theist?)

 I find the more important divide in morals between different theistic groups yet atheists are challenged on their believed lack of morals.

             all humans are born some become theists

 

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


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Textom wrote: There's a

Textom wrote:

There's a lot of good work happening in cognitive psychology right now that addresses most of your questions, Cerrunous.

In brief, the answer appears to be that religious and non-religious people all derive basically the same moral system everywhere throughout history (with some exceptions naturally).The problems of how much people's lives are worth and decisions involving sacrifice are run by sets of discrete cognitive modules that sometimes come into conflict or aren't rational in mathematical terms because of the way humans evolved. This is, incidentally, exactly what evolutionary theory would predict--since all humans have brains and societies that work the same way, we'd all come up with similar ways of running society.

The only difference is that religious people justify their morals with an appeal to religion/divinity while non-religious people don't. I'd argue that another difference is that religions can provide a justification for things that are rationally wonky (throwing your kids into a fire to appeas Moloch, refusing all medical service, being celebate) while a more rational approach to morality doesn't have any excuse for these kinds of behaviors.

 

What you are saying is that cognitive psychology has determined we all move toward the same morality because of the similar structures in our brain.  Then you imply that religion allows wonky justifications of bizarre behavior and conversely atheism doesn't. But if we all are compelled to a similar morality because of our brain structures, it is those same brain structures that allow wonkyness. Unless atheists have different brain structures, you can't claim that atheists are not wonky unless you can show that people are wonky if and only if they are religious.


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wavefreak wrote:   What

wavefreak wrote:
 

What you are saying is that cognitive psychology has determined we all move toward the same morality because of the similar structures in our brain. Then you imply that religion allows wonky justifications of bizarre behavior and conversely atheism doesn't. But if we all are compelled to a similar morality because of our brain structures, it is those same brain structures that allow wonkyness. Unless atheists have different brain structures, you can't claim that atheists are not wonky unless you can show that people are wonky if and only if they are religious.

I believe you answer it yourself in your post.  A religion can provide a justification for wonky behavior (God told me to do it), whereas without religion, you'd just be crazy. 


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Fish wrote:wavefreak

Fish wrote:
wavefreak wrote:
 

What you are saying is that cognitive psychology has determined we all move toward the same morality because of the similar structures in our brain. Then you imply that religion allows wonky justifications of bizarre behavior and conversely atheism doesn't. But if we all are compelled to a similar morality because of our brain structures, it is those same brain structures that allow wonkyness. Unless atheists have different brain structures, you can't claim that atheists are not wonky unless you can show that people are wonky if and only if they are religious.

I believe you answer it yourself in your post.  A religion can provide a justification for wonky behavior (God told me to do it), whereas without religion, you'd just be crazy. 

It seems to me that you are all busting your arms patting yourselves on the back for agreeing with each other.

 If you were a real atheist, you would understand that a moral code is meaningless. Meaning that morals themselves are meaningless.

 Right and wrong are ephemeral. I find my justification (if i felt I needed it) from what the act itself brings and that is cool and pleasing self fulfillment.  

If I feel like killing someone... I dont need a God to tell me to do that, I just do it because it suits me...

You call theism irrational, I have never seen more irrationality grouped in one place then at this atheist website.

 That you all have your view as to what atheism really means is admirable, there is no real reason that they should all be the same or even be coherent.

But reading you struggle with terms like right and wrong, or good or bad is really ridiculous. And yes you do struggle, because on one hand you want to lambaste Christianity and notions about God using words like good and bad and evil and the sort, when you have never ever provided (and can't provide) a satisfactory definition  about what is good or evil.

It is a crackup. If I had a thesis, it would be that Atheism ultimately ends in irrationality, incoherence and its result is insanity.

Insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Insanity is not accepting reality.

The reality is that no matter how hard you try. For the rest of your life even, Atheism is in fact unlivable. Try to go one day without a moral code, without a legitemate understanding of right and wrong, try for a day, a different understanding of right and wrong.

Let wrong be right and right be wrong. Try it.

If you are an Atheist then you would understand that right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder, you may prefer the notions of right and wrong we have because it provides a stable framework for the life you currently live.

 But that is just buying into the Christian ethic (because the Western ethic is built on the Judeo-Christian ethic) it is inescapable, no matter how much people try to rewrite history...

You live on a foundation your faith could never create. And because you are neither brave nor very smart, you dare not try another and have been unsuccessful in trying to create a whole different ethic.

I dont have disdain for you. Just pity. No matter hwo you try to rearrange the furniture, it is still someone elses...

By the way. I am an evangelical Christian, I just thought I'd throw that out there. 


wavefreak
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Fish wrote: wavefreak

Fish wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

What you are saying is that cognitive psychology has determined we all move toward the same morality because of the similar structures in our brain. Then you imply that religion allows wonky justifications of bizarre behavior and conversely atheism doesn't. But if we all are compelled to a similar morality because of our brain structures, it is those same brain structures that allow wonkyness. Unless atheists have different brain structures, you can't claim that atheists are not wonky unless you can show that people are wonky if and only if they are religious.

I believe you answer it yourself in your post. A religion can provide a justification for wonky behavior (God told me to do it), whereas without religion, you'd just be crazy.

 

Not really. Eugenics as some rational basis. If you use a calculus that is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people then it makes no sense to put resources into helping mentally disabled people. A person with an IQ of 65 consumes a disproportianate amount of society's time and energy compared to what they return to society. Cold hard logic says to leave them to their own devices and put the time and money to something that has a greater benefit to society as a whole. This isn't craziness. It is logic. And it's not so far fetched. I believe that in certain American Native cultures when a old person decided they were a burden on their tribe they wandered off to die ( would like confirmation of this, though). Only in our "enlightened" culture do we insist on caring for the weaker members of society. The grounds on which we decide to care for these people is no firmer than that which says Jesus saves. It is done as a way of appeasing some vague inner feelings of angst or guilt. In a harsher environment, the weak and infirm would be dropped overboard so the ship doesn't sink.

 

Note: I am not advocating abandoning the disadvantaged. 


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Lhill wrote: It seems to

Lhill wrote:

It seems to me that you are all busting your arms patting yourselves on the back for agreeing with each other.

If you were a real atheist, you would understand that a moral code is meaningless. Meaning that morals themselves are meaningless.

Right and wrong are ephemeral. I find my justification (if i felt I needed it) from what the act itself brings and that is cool and pleasing self fulfillment.

If I feel like killing someone... I dont need a God to tell me to do that, I just do it because it suits me...

You call theism irrational, I have never seen more irrationality grouped in one place then at this atheist website.

That you all have your view as to what atheism really means is admirable, there is no real reason that they should all be the same or even be coherent.

But reading you struggle with terms like right and wrong, or good or bad is really ridiculous. And yes you do struggle, because on one hand you want to lambaste Christianity and notions about God using words like good and bad and evil and the sort, when you have never ever provided (and can't provide) a satisfactory definition about what is good or evil.

It is a crackup. If I had a thesis, it would be that Atheism ultimately ends in irrationality, incoherence and its result is insanity.

Insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Insanity is not accepting reality.

The reality is that no matter how hard you try. For the rest of your life even, Atheism is in fact unlivable. Try to go one day without a moral code, without a legitemate understanding of right and wrong, try for a day, a different understanding of right and wrong.

Let wrong be right and right be wrong. Try it.

If you are an Atheist then you would understand that right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder, you may prefer the notions of right and wrong we have because it provides a stable framework for the life you currently live.

But that is just buying into the Christian ethic (because the Western ethic is built on the Judeo-Christian ethic) it is inescapable, no matter how much people try to rewrite history...

You live on a foundation your faith could never create. And because you are neither brave nor very smart, you dare not try another and have been unsuccessful in trying to create a whole different ethic.

I dont have disdain for you. Just pity. No matter hwo you try to rearrange the furniture, it is still someone elses...

By the way. I am an evangelical Christian, I just thought I'd throw that out there.

 

I have a very strong feeling that you won't last long here. 


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Quote:

Quote:
But that is just buying into the Christian ethic (because the Western ethic is built on the Judeo-Christian ethic)

 

You're right, i guess that's why it's illigal to not be christian.

I guess that's why we still have slaves.

I guess that's why we don't have churches and stuff for jesus.

I guess that's why we are still in the dark ages.

I guess that's why EVERYONE listens to the pope.

Quote:
You live on a foundation your faith could never create.
 

Faith? So you admit you have faith I don't have an ancient Obolesk in my yard? 

Quote:
I dont have disdain for you. Just pity.

WARK! 

Quote:
No matter hwo you try to rearrange the furniture, it is still someone elses...

Quit talkin' into the mirror, We are over here. 

Quote:
By the way. I am an evangelical Christian, I just thought I'd throw that out there.

Spend more time learning, and les time evangelicalling. 

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wavefreak wrote: What you

wavefreak wrote:

What you are saying is that cognitive psychology has determined we all move toward the same morality because of the similar structures in our brain. Then you imply that religion allows wonky justifications of bizarre behavior and conversely atheism doesn't. But if we all are compelled to a similar morality because of our brain structures, it is those same brain structures that allow wonkyness.  

Yes. As Nietzche stated, man only needs to feel a need for something to be true for it to be true. The same aparatus that we use to determine truth can be used to lead us astray. Good points.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


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Lhill wrote:

Lhill wrote:

It seems to me that you are all busting your arms patting yourselves on the back for agreeing with each other.

Sounds like you're jealous.

Quote:

If you were a real atheist,

Wavefreak is a theist.

Quote:

Right and wrong are ephemeral. I find my justification (if i felt I needed it) from what the act itself brings and that is cool and pleasing self fulfillment.

You ignore the possiblity that self fulfillment requires a concern for others.

Quote:

If I feel like killing someone... I dont need a God to tell me to do that, I just do it because it suits me..

So, you need a god to tell you not to kill?

Do you realize that this is not a moral system at all? It's mere prudence... obey or be tortured. Obey and be rewarded.

Mature morality is intrinsic, not punishment based. Punishment based rules, at most, are a developmental step towards inculcating intrinsic morality, and as psychology shows us, it's a very ineffective one.

Secular morality is based on empathy and human need, which includes a need to affiliate with others. It is a mature morality, in that it guides us rather than goads us, it leads us rather than compel us. It is based on the ability to be fair, consistent, and to see humans as an end in of themselves, a value onto themselves.

 

Quote:

But reading you struggle with terms like right and wrong, or good or bad is really ridiculous. And yes you do struggle, because on one hand you want to lambaste Christianity and notions about God using words like good and bad and evil and the sort, when you have never ever provided (and can't provide) a satisfactory definition about what is good or evil.

Actually, you have it backwards. Theists must steal their morality from secular systems. Theism cannot offer a moral system, in fact, theism undermines morality.

The bible does nothing and can do nothing towards inculcating moral behavior on its own. Christians must steal from secular moral systems, and then merely graft their 'god threats' on top of a purely secular moral system which already includes the concept of punishment.

The bible actually undermines the concept of morality. It holds that

1) All 'sins' are equivalent.

2) All positive moral behavior is immaterial, because works cannot save a person

3) There is an infinite reward for blind obedience (heaven) which undermines any intrinsic motivations for behavior

4) There is an infinite punishment for disobedience, which is a mockery of justice, seeing as a) an omnipotent creator and sustainer must be perfectly, ultimately responsible for all actions (See my entry on the incoherence of god and the problem of evil) and b) no finite act by a finite being can logically incur 'infinite punishment', seeing as 'punishment' itself is necessarily finite in nature (i.e. punishment is defined as the addition of an aversive stimuli, or removal of a pleasant stimuli, that alters future behavior).

5) Finally, the bible claims that all people are damned from birth simply by being born, meaning that man is thoroughly invalidated as a moral agent. This is a mockery of justice and reason itself.

"Take a look at what you dare to call a moral code: Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good, which is defined as what is impossible for him to practice. It demands that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start with a standard of evil, which is himself. The name of this monstrous absurdity is "original sin".

(However) if man is evil by birth then he has no will, no power to change it. If he has not will, then he can be neither good nor evil. to hold man’s nature as his sin, is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence can possibly exist is a mockery of reason.

To destroy nature, morality, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched.

- John Galt, addressing the world by radio, in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"

Christians implicitly concede that the bible offers no moral blueprint through their behaviors, Christians actually live according to secular morality which holds that:

1) Man obviously has a value onto himself.

Otherwise, why treat people in the Kantian fashion as an 'end in of themselves' and not simply a means to an end?

2) Man IS a moral agent.

Otherwise, why even anticipate that others, particularly non-Christians, will act morally?

3) All 'sins' are obviously not equivalent

Otherwise, why respond to different 'sins' with different levels of punishment?

4) Infinite torture is morally wrong

Why else do Western nations hold that there are some punishments that are 'cruel and unusual'?

5) It is a mockery of justice to hold a man morally culpable when he has no intent to do wrong.

Otherwise, why even hold to the concept of responsibility? Why even hold to "innocence by reason of insanity"?

The Bible is about Obedience, Not Morality.

The bible is about obedience, not morality. In fact, the bible holds that is incapable of being moral. The bible holds that a person must 1) concede that humanity is worthless, 2) believe that an intelligent, loving god is the most cruel force imaginable, and 3) hold that the best thing a person can do is grovel in obedience before this cruel tyrant, or face hellfire. This is not the inculcation of morality, this is coercion.

One is forced to obey, or be destroyed.

This is not a moral system. It undermines morality itself. It is merely obedience.

Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Reasoning

If we look at Kohlberg's stages of moral reasoning, we see that a system built upon punishments and rewards is pre conventional morality, and not a mature moral system at all:

Stages 1 and 2 in the preconventional level involve an "egocentric point of view" and a "concrete individualistic perspective" in which the person makes choices based on the fear of punishment and the desire for rewards.

Stage 1 Punishment/Obedience - Consequentialism. This stage is characterized by avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power as values in themselves. Simple Hedonism. Morality is seen as based on self interest; the goodness or badness of action is determined by their physical consequences, regardless of any human meaning attached to these consequences.

Stage 2 - Instrumental Relativist Orientation - defined by a focus on instrumental satisfaction of one's own needs, as the determiner of "right". Reciprocity may be present, but it is of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind.

Conventional Stage (Late childhood, early adolescence)
In Stages 3 and 4 of the conventional level, persons make choices from a "member-of-society" perspective, considering the good of others, the maintenance of positive relations, and the rules of society. This level generally involves a move towards gaining approval or avoiding disaproval as the basis of morality; law and social rules are seen as valuable in their own right.

Stage 3 - Interpersonal Concordance (Good boy/girl orientation) - this stage is driven by a desire to please or help others with hope of winning their approval.

Stage 4 - Law and Order orientation - Focuses on the maintenance of social order and the importance of authority and strict rules. This is not the blind, unquestioning belief in power of stage one, however.

Postconventional level (This may develop in late adolescence, more likely in our mid 20s and beyond. It may never develop for most of us.)
Persons in the final stages of the postconventional level, Stages 5 and 6, reason from a "prior-to-society" perspective in which abstract ideals take precedence over particular societal laws.

Stage 5 - Social Contract/Legalistic Orientation - This stage involves a recognition of the relative nature of personal values, and the importance of having procedures for reaching a consensus and changing unfair rules. The individual at this stage can separate the legal world from individual differences of opinion.

Stage 6 - Universal Ethical Principle Orientation - This stage involves defining what is "right" in one's own conscience in a way that is consistent with one's own abstract ethical principles that are based on inclusiveness and responsibility to others; there is a clear emphasis on universality, consistency, logic and rationality. The highest stage of moral development in Kohlberg's original theory. Some state that stage 6 is only hypothetical. On the other hand, philosophers like Ken Wilber point to a 7th stage - the centaur - where universal concern for humanity is combined with a concern for all nature - identification is broadened to the universe itself, care is held for all nature in a manner such that one cares for the universe around him just as another cares for his own body.

Christian 'morality' (if we leave aside the other problems for a moment) is at best a preconventional morality.. it's external, it's based on obedience... on fear, on punishment and rewards. Such a "morality' is not a 'morality at all, it is mere prudence. It's driven by a hedonistic need to avoid torture and seek out pleasure.

Actual morality is both external and internal. It's part of your character, of who you are. It's a set of values - literally things that you value other than just yourself..... It's an inter-subjective standard - the morals of their community, which in turn are founded on human empathy.

In order for a man to be moral, to reach levels 3, 4, and beyond, he must disregard the claims of theism, and move towards intrinsic rewards for moral actions. As the philosopher Spinoza stated: "A moral act is never an act done solely for an external reward, it's done because the act, itself, is rewarding". So again, Christianity can only undermine morality through it's infantile use of external threats.

Here's a nice quote from Alan Dershowitz to support this view:

"There is a wonderful Hasidic story about a rabbi who was asked whether it is ever proper to act as if God did not exist. He responded, “Yes, when you are asked to give to charity, you should give as if there were no God to help the object of the charity.” I think the same is true of morality and character: in deciding what course of action is moral, you should act as if there were no God. You should also act as if there were no threat of earthly punishment or reward. You should be a person of good character because it is right to be such a person."

So even if we take the Christian at his word, his argument that these biblical actions are 'moral' because they are the rules of an unquestionable tyrant, still falls to pieces, because prudence is not a true morality.

And the Christian himself secretly agrees, because he himself rejects this paradigm as a moral system in his own daily life... Just look at his actions: he recognizes that some immoral actions are worse than others, he places moral actions on a hierarchy. He expects others around him to be reliable moral agents... he doesn't consider his fellow man incapable and loathsome, but someone to be relied upon. He lives his morals as something internal to him, something to be done because they act itself is a value... he helps others not because he will receive a reward, but because the helping behavior itself IS the reward.

The Christian expects, in other words, that both he himself, and others around him, will operate under a conventional morality, a secular morality, a true morality.

Christians must steal their moral rules from secular morality. They have no choice, as the bible does not offer a moral system, it only offers a series of contradictory commands and a supposed threat of punishment in the "afterlife" for not following them - a punishment that is given equally to all violaters - whatever the sin.

In reality, Christians realize that some actions are more moral than others. They realize that moral actions exist in a hierarchy, and that rape is far worse than stealing a pencil. Yet the bible holds that all 'sins' are equal, as all deserve the same punishment.

Christians also realize that humans can be moral agents... they expect moral behavior from others, and they view their own children as something to value. Yet the bible holds that man is worthless, that he cannot be a moral agent, and that his sole salvation comes from grace.

The fact that a Christian can't go five minutes without contradicting his bible and stealing from secular morality says it all.

Find me a theist who finds any of these actions moral:

In Genesis 3:16 god punishes all women, innocent or not, with painful childbirth and subjugation to men.

In Genesis 7:4 god has a bad day at the office, thus decides to drown innocent babies, and animals both wild and domestic.

In Exodus 4:11 god boasts about making people handicapped.

In Exodus 4:23 god resorts to hostage taking and terrorism in order to get his own way. He does this via threatening a baby. Soon, he is slaughtering little babies all across Egypt.

In Exodus 9:19-20 god slaughters Egyptian cattle. Sometimes, cow tipping just isn't enough.

In Exodus 9:29-30 god kills off innocent babies, and whatever cows he missed earlier.

In Exodus 20:17 god tells us not to free another's slaves. Abolitionists beware!!

In Exodus 32:27-28 god tells the sons to slaughter their neighbors: 3,000 men are slain.

In Leviticus 19:20-22 god demands that raping a slave woman is punishable by scourging the victim. The rapist is to be forgiven.

In Leviticus 25:44-46 god tells his followers to make slaves of their neighbors.

In Leviticus 27:3-7 god helpfully provides a pricing guide. According to this guide, as a male between the ages of 18 and 60 years (the most expensive category), I am worth approximately US$25. How much are you worth to god?

In Numbers 14:18 god's idea of justice is explained: little children are to be punished for their great-great grandparents transgressions.

In Numbers 31:1-54 god tells his followers to commit genocide, "sparing" only the virgin girls, who are to be raped. Even god gets some "unspared" virgins.

In Numbers 33:4 god kills of another batch of Egyptian babies. Abortion is a sin because...?

In Deuteronomy 2:33-36 god demands genocide again. No mention of virgin girls this time, unless these children are raped to death...

In Deuteronomy 7:2 god demands more genocide from his followers.

In Deuteronomy 13:12-16 god demands new and improved genocide, now including cattle. Oh, wait, we've had that before. Damn cows.

In Deuteronomy 32:21-26 god glories in being a psychotic terrorist. Don't miss the atrocities of Deuteronomy 28, either!

In Joshua 6:18-19 the omnipotent creator is short of cash, again.

In Joshua 8:22-26 god demands more genocide, plus some more slavery as detailed in Joshua 9:21-27, but this time, in Joshua 10:10-11, we get slaughter and a chase scene!! Go, god!!
In Joshua 10:28-32 god demands still more genocide.

In Joshua 11:6-17 god still demands more genocide. There are more exceptions to "Thou shalt not kill" than there are to a rich man's tax code.

In Judges 1:2-7. god's takes a break from genocide, has his followers kill "only" 10,000 people, but at least they get to torture and mutilate somebody by cutting off both thumbs and big toes!

In Judges 1:12-13 Caleb offers his daughter as prize to anyone who conquers the City of Debir. The girl's cousin wins the contest, thus the prize.

In Judges 1:17-19 god gets back to good, ol' regular genocide. Killing innocent people is serious work!!

In Judges 2:14 god has a temper-tantrum and sells Israel into slavery.

In Judges 3:28-29 & 4:15-16 god reverts to, you guessed it, genocide.

In Judges 5:30 god hands out a damsel or two to each of his rapist soldiers. Booty Call!!

In Judges 10:17 god gets angry at Israel, again, and sells them into slavery, again.

In Judges 12:6 god slays 42,000 innocent people because someone with a speech impediment mispronounces the word "shibboleth". I'll bet you thought the word "lisp" was cruel jest.

In Judges 15:4-8 a "righteous" Samson captures 300 foxes, ties their tails together, and sets them on fire. Abusing animals is almost as righteous as killing babies, apparently.

In Judges 19:22-30, after taking in a traveling Levite, the host offers his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine to a mob of perverts (who want to have sex with his guest). The mob refuses the daughter, but accepts the concubine and they "abuse her all night." The next morning she crawls back to the doorstep and dies. The Levite mounts her dead body on an ass and takes her home. Then he chops her body up into twelve pieces and sends them to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

In Judges 21:7-23 in order to find wives for the Benjamites, who were unwilling to use their own daughters, the other tribes attacked and killed all occupants of a city except for the young virgins. These virgins were then given to the Benjamites as "wives".

In 1 Samuel 2:10 if god doesn't like you he will send a thunderstorm to break your body into little pieces. In 1 Samuel 2:31-34, if god really doesn't like you, he will cut off your arm, consume your eyes, grieve your heart, and slay your sons & grandfathers. In 1 Samuel 5:6, 9, and 12 we learn that if god really, really doesn't like you, he will give you hemorrhoids in your "secret parts".

In 1 Samuel 5:11 god wipes out another city.

In 1 Samuel 15:2-3 god demands more genocide, this time as punishment for some no doubt petty transgression committed hundreds of years previously by the forefathers of these innocent people.

In 1 Samuel 15:7-34 god goads Saul into torturing & slaying his prisoner, a King.

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus strongly approves of the law & the prophets. He hasn't the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament.

In Matthew 8:21 Jesus shows no compassion for the bereaved, saying to a man who had just lost his father: "Let the dead bury the dead."

In Matthew 8:32 Jesus abuses animals by sending some devils into a herd of pigs, causing the pigs to run off a cliff & drown in the sea below. The acorn does not fall far from the tree. Was there a local shortage of Egyptian cows? Moo!

In Matthew 10:15 Jesus becomes a terrorist, and threatens genocide against cities.

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tries to scare people by telling them that his dad can beat up their dad.

In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus threatens more cities.

In Matthew 12:47-49 "Mister Family Values" himself (Jesus) is disrespectful to his mother and rude to his brothers.

In Matthew 13:41-42 Jesus threatens to send his angels against any who offend him, and send them straight to hell. Love, peace, tolerance, and forgiveness are beneath him, apparently.

In Matthew 15:4-7 Jesus commits hypocrisy by demanding all others to honor their parents. "Sorry about being rude back in Matthew 12, Mom."

In Matthew 18:8-9 Jesus advocates self-mutilation, but for others, not him. He's perfect, thank you.

In Matthew 18:25 Jesus advocates slavery.

In Matthew 25:29 Jesus proposes a system of economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

In Mark 5:12-13 Jesus spooks 2,000 pigs, causing them to jump of a cliff and drown in the sea. Is this evidence of more animal abuse, or is the story from Matthew 8:32 getting better with each telling?

In Mark 6:11 Jesus resorts to threatening cities again. Die, innocent babies, Die!!

In Mark 7:9-13 Jesus criticizes people for not killing their children, as they should have, according to Old Testament law. The same law Jesus broke when he was disrespectful to his Mother in Matthew 12:47-49.

In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus will reward men who abandon their wives and children.

In Mark 11:13-14 Jesus kills a fig tree for not bearing fruit, even though it was out of season. Apparently, "Mister Perfect" wasn't much of an agronomist, or ethicist.

In Luke 8:20-21 Jesus is disrespectful to his mother and rude to his brothers, again. Or still?

In Luke 8:27-37 Jesus heals a naked man who was possessed by many devils by sending the devils into a herd of pigs, causing them to run off a cliff and drown in the sea. This messy, cruel, and expensive (for the owners of the pigs) treatment did not favorably impress the local residents, and Jesus was asked to leave. This story does get better with each telling!!

In Luke 10:10-15 Jesus terrorizes entire cities, claiming they will be violently destroyed and the inhabitants "thrust down to hell" for not "receiving" his disciples. No doubt these people preferred their pigs.

In Luke 12:46-47 Jesus likens god to a sadistic, diabolical slave-owner, who will beat you "with many stripes".

In Luke 14:26 Jesus decides that it is not enough for men to abandon their families; they must actively hate them, too. Where is the love??

In Luke 16:17 Jesus declares that all the vicious, irrational laws of the Old Testament are binding forever.

In Luke 17:27 Jesus talks about Noah, neatly demonstrating his own ignorance of science, history, and justice.

In John 2:4 Jesus is, again, rude to his mother. She seems so nice, too.

In John 5:14 Jesus announces that god handicaps people as just punishment for their sins.

In John 7:8-10 Jesus lies to his family about attending a feast.

In Acts 5:1-10 Peter, with god's help, kills a man who sold his possessions, but did not fork over all of the earnings. Why is the omnipotent creator always short of cash?

In Acts 13:48 we learn that only pre-ordained people would be allowed in heaven. So much for freewill...

In each case, the average 'Christian' would hold that each of these claims is immoral. And they can do this because their morality comes from extra-biblical sources.

 

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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You know, Lhill, if you

You know, Lhill, if you really were an evangelical Christian and not just a drive by troll then you would realise that your morality is entirely determined by what your God deems as just. This includes genocide, rape, murder, robbery, human sacrifice, slavery, the chastisement of women and public execution to name but a few.

So in terms of morality is it actually beneficial to have an absolute standard when that absolute is so utterly reprehensible as to be morally - at least from any developed society's viewpoint - bankrupt?

Just a thought.

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.


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wavefreak wrote: Not

wavefreak wrote:

Not really. Eugenics as some rational basis. If you use a calculus that is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people then it makes no sense to put resources into helping mentally disabled people. A person with an IQ of 65 consumes a disproportianate amount of society's time and energy compared to what they return to society. Cold hard logic says to leave them to their own devices and put the time and money to something that has a greater benefit to society as a whole. This isn't craziness. It is logic. And it's not so far fetched. I believe that in certain American Native cultures when a old person decided they were a burden on their tribe they wandered off to die ( would like confirmation of this, though). Only in our "enlightened" culture do we insist on caring for the weaker members of society. The grounds on which we decide to care for these people is no firmer than that which says Jesus saves. It is done as a way of appeasing some vague inner feelings of angst or guilt. In a harsher environment, the weak and infirm would be dropped overboard so the ship doesn't sink.

 

Note: I am not advocating abandoning the disadvantaged.

 

I quoted my own post so nobody has to go find it.

 

I'm wondering how we come to the conclusion that abandoning the mentally challenged is immoral when logic says that the greater good would be served by diverting the resources for their care into persuits more likely to return a benefit.  Is morality partly irrational? 


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wavefreak wrote: Not

wavefreak wrote:

Not really. Eugenics as some rational basis. If you use a calculus that is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people then it makes no sense to put resources into helping mentally disabled people. A person with an IQ of 65 consumes a disproportianate amount of society's time and energy compared to what they return to society. Cold hard logic says to leave them to their own devices and put the time and money to something that has a greater benefit to society as a whole. This isn't craziness. It is logic. And it's not so far fetched. I believe that in certain American Native cultures when a old person decided they were a burden on their tribe they wandered off to die ( would like confirmation of this, though). Only in our "enlightened" culture do we insist on caring for the weaker members of society. The grounds on which we decide to care for these people is no firmer than that which says Jesus saves. It is done as a way of appeasing some vague inner feelings of angst or guilt. In a harsher environment, the weak and infirm would be dropped overboard so the ship doesn't sink.

 

Note: I am not advocating abandoning the disadvantaged.

How many people who actively practiced Eugenics weren't considered crazy? (not people who simply argued or philosophized about it)

The example you give regarding self-sacrifice is not Eugenics. Eugenics involves sacrificing other people for the "greater good." It is in this assumption of authority to actively sacrifice another person's life that the idea falls apart. Lots of crazy ideas have "some rational basis" in the same way that most faulty arguments have some rational claims.

It is easy to find firm ground in defense of the weak. It can be argued that one major function of society is to allow weaker members to survive, simply because life has value. You don't need angst or guilt. As far as how "enlightened" a culture has to be to protect the weak, I believe Hammurabi's Code reads something like "..to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak..[something about ruling over people and protecting mankind]"


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Quote: I'm wondering how we

Quote:
I'm wondering how we come to the conclusion that abandoning the mentally challenged is immoral when logic says that the greater good would be served by diverting the resources for their care into persuits more likely to return a benefit.  Is morality partly irrational?

 

I suggest that morals are derived from what is considered right and wrong by a society. Some societies have been very irrational through a lack of understanding or belief for instance ritualized cannibalism/poisonous medicines. So it is very clear that some morals can be irrational.

However to claim that morality is irrational is to not understand what it is. Morality is the accepted moral standards, these do and have changed to what is currently considered rational.

 

On abandoning the mentally challenged you may consider it moral as you see a greater good from leaving them to their own devices, but your society disagrees. Perhaps it is something you should campaign for. 

 

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


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Cernunnos wrote: On

Cernunnos wrote:

On abandoning the mentally challenged you may consider it moral as you see a greater good from leaving them to their own devices, but your society disagrees. Perhaps it is something you should campaign for.

 

 

This is not something I am advocating. I am using it as an example of applying logic and rational thinking to morality.

 

So what brings a society to consensus on what is moral? Considering that much of what happens in a culture is irrational (politics, religion, economic decisions) then how can we say that ANY moral code was arrived at rationally?


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I realise you weren't

I realise you weren't advocating it...but be aware that some might. The reason it is immoral is that the majority think it is.

I would say a society reaches a consensus on what is moral by being a society. The society interacts.

A moral code is in essence a way of behaving. A society demands a certain way of behaving on its members. If a current way of behaving is considered wrong by enough of the members it will be considered wrong by the society. The society itself will consider this rational, a different society may disagree. There are many cases of this be they political or religious....the adoption of laws of warfare or the catholic church adapting its doctrine. This is sensible and rational. Note that I consider the morals of a society to exist separately from individuals who may have a different moral code within the same society.

Bare in mind that this is highly simplified and not always the case, especially with larger groups as they are governed by a minority. The law of the land may not reflect the general consensus of morals quickly if at all. (Many other factors can come into play).

 It is also important to note that we as humans have a degree of inbuilt concepts of right and wrong, or readily accept the idea of something being able to be right or wrong. We are adapted to live in groups. + we reflect on experiences to weigh future considerations. 

 Morals are not hard physical laws some may be axioms others superficial dogma....it is good to eat vs you must not eat meat on fridays . 

 Whether you consider a moral code rational or not is entirely up to you, but consider parts that don't work or stop working can get filtered out. A moral code promotes stability for a species that needs stability to exist in groups...this at least is rational whether or not you consider the actual morals sensible.

Consider a single isolated conscience whatever they think is right or wrong is their moral code. Should this person be able to force this moral code on everybody else? ...or perhaps God did it....

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


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Your explanation leads to

Your explanation leads to morality as more an emergent phenomenon than a deliberate one.


It also implies that what society thinks is right is moral. So, going back to my contrived example, if I could convince enough people that helping the disabled was detrimental to society as a whole, abandoning them would become rmoral? 

For clarity, I'm not suggesting atheism leads to this. I think that religion is subject to the same problems of justifying its moral code. 


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 Many instances of

 Many instances of morality may be deliberate in their initial conception but they must be able to move with the times. Womans rights for example is quite different from society to society.

 

Quote:
It also implies that what society thinks is right is moral.

Yes, but merely for that society. Do not get ahead of yourself morals are not the same for everybody. Moral for a society means, this is right judged by the average person. Morals for an individual of a society are their own personal convictions. These do not stretch beyond the borders of the individual or the society.

 

You could create a group (society) where they believe that not helping the disabled was moral but only within that group. I think it is highly likely that such a group has already existed.

Religion can control morals like this, a group is created that believes in something all powerful. All powerful says do this....the group thinks it is moral to do so.

A moral code needs to be flexible, traditional religion has far more problems with this than atheism. 

 I do not think there is one correct morality and what is virtuous now will likely change and should be able to.
 

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


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Wavefreak, are you familiar

Wavefreak, are you familiar with Hauser's Trolley?

If not, just google it, you'll find it easily. The basic idea is there is a trolley gone runaway, and somebody's going to die. You're in charge of the switch that decides between two tracks. You can't brake. You can only choose one of two tracks, thereby deciding who lives and who dies.

Hauser found amazing cross-cultural consistency, quite apart from the religious norms of a culture, leading him to the conclusion that there is an evolutionary "constant" inherent in humans.

As we know, there are quite a few instincts that misfire. For instance, stage fright is a leftover fight or flight reaction. Even though we know we're not going to die, we face a hundred unknown faces, and our bodies react to the potential threat to our lives.

To explain logical inconsistencies in the base line morality that seems to exist in all humans, we need look no farther than evolution. Early humans didn't have to think about assisted suicide or killing deformed babies, because individual survival was still paramount, and the unfit died on their own. Once we got past survival and created a complex culture, we still kept many of our instincts, as there was no particular reason for them to breed out of us. So, you have some very illogical moral decisions that are pretty much universally applauded. For instance, parents who decide not to abort severely retarded babies are applauded for their sacrifice, instead of derided for their selfishness. Killing a baby is instinctually a very, very bad thing to do, even though it is possibly a very logical thing to do.

 

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

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I looked up Hauser's

I looked up Hauser's Trolley. My first reaction is it seems too simplistic. Without knowing more about how he set up his experiments I would not be able to say much about his conclusion. For instance, his thought experiments allow people to think about their response. In real life, how much time would you have to evaluate such a circumstance? You would have to react on an intuitive level. Unless his experiments cut away the thinking and got down to the actual reactions, I would be suspicious about the conclusions.

 

I'm not sure what it says about me that I would push the fat man off the bridge. Surprised


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Well, morals are what

Well, morals are what happen when people have time to think.

We react instinctively, sometimes, and then go back and rethink our actions to see if they were moral or not.

So, it makes sense that people would think it out.

 

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

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I believe most people take

I believe most people take morality for granted - and fail to realize that morality is nothing more than an idea made up by the collective. Morality is simply our personal judgments of what is right - and what is wrong - nothing more or less. Religious Morality is simply Morality that is tainted (or otherwise influenced) by religion. Whether or not the religiously influenced version of morality is superior to another is nothing more than the judgment of the person judging it.

The mistake people make is by taking morality as a granted method by which everyone, supposedly, lives their life. If you believe such, you have failed to recognize there are alternative methods by which to live life. I live by a code of Honor. Honor differs from morality in the sense that judgments in Honor are based on the context - as opposed to merely a list of absolutist rules.

Personally, I have rejected morality as an inferior methodology by which to live my life. I do fully recognize that honor is merely my personal judgment on how to handle scenarios and evaluate my life position - however, I find this methodology feasible and much more in tune with handling life, as opposed to morality.

Morality is irrelevant to me. Your personal judgments are your own. ALL morality is subjective. There is no such thing as "objective morality".


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Virtually everyone would

Virtually everyone would agree murder, rape, slavery etc are immoral - the problem with religious morality is it defines things as immoral that having nothing to do with doing harm to others.

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wavefreak wrote: I looked

wavefreak wrote:

I looked up Hauser's Trolley. My first reaction is it seems too simplistic. Without knowing more about how he set up his experiments I would not be able to say much about his conclusion. For instance, his thought experiments allow people to think about their response. In real life, how much time would you have to evaluate such a circumstance? You would have to react on an intuitive level. Unless his experiments cut away the thinking and got down to the actual reactions, I would be suspicious about the conclusions.

Other researchers have followed up Hauser's experiments with brain scans using the same and similar questions.  (I can get you references next week if you need them--out of the office today.)  The brain scans support the original findings--the realtime neurological responses for the different situations are different (and predictable) regardless of culture, class, gender, and other factors.

All the evidence points toward a neurologically hardwired human moral foundation.  It's also what evolutionary theory would predict for social primates.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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NarcolepticSun wrote: I

NarcolepticSun wrote:
I believe most people take morality for granted - and fail to realize that morality is nothing more than an idea made up by the collective. Morality is simply our personal judgments of what is right - and what is wrong - nothing more or less. Religious Morality is simply Morality that is tainted (or otherwise influenced) by religion. Whether or not the religiously influenced version of morality is superior to another is nothing more than the judgment of the person judging it.

The mistake people make is by taking morality as a granted method by which everyone, supposedly, lives their life. If you believe such, you have failed to recognize there are alternative methods by which to live life. I live by a code of Honor. Honor differs from morality in the sense that judgments in Honor are based on the context - as opposed to merely a list of absolutist rules.

Personally, I have rejected morality as an inferior methodology by which to live my life. I do fully recognize that honor is merely my personal judgment on how to handle scenarios and evaluate my life position - however, I find this methodology feasible and much more in tune with handling life, as opposed to morality.

Morality is irrelevant to me. Your personal judgments are your own. ALL morality is subjective. There is no such thing as "objective morality".

 

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Please go on to educate any dissenters with our(yours and mine) opinion and include an examination of the word/ideal 'ethics' in a comparative analysis form.

After you do that, your argument becomes a show-stopping, theist-silencing verbal shotgun. Try it on your friends and ask them if they would rather be moral instead of ethical.

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Lhill wrote: I believe you

Lhill wrote:

I believe you answer it yourself in your post.  A religion can provide a justification for wonky behavior (God told me to do it), whereas without religion, you'd just be crazy. 

It seems to me that you are all busting your arms patting yourselves on the back for agreeing with each other.

 If you were a real atheist, you would understand that a moral code is meaningless. Meaning that morals themselves are meaningless.

 Right and wrong are ephemeral. I find my justification (if i felt I needed it) from what the act itself brings and that is cool and pleasing self fulfillment.  

If I feel like killing someone... I dont need a God to tell me to do that, I just do it because it suits me...

You call theism irrational, I have never seen more irrationality grouped in one place then at this atheist website.

 That you all have your view as to what atheism really means is admirable, there is no real reason that they should all be the same or even be coherent.

But reading you struggle with terms like right and wrong, or good or bad is really ridiculous. And yes you do struggle, because on one hand you want to lambaste Christianity and notions about God using words like good and bad and evil and the sort, when you have never ever provided (and can't provide) a satisfactory definition  about what is good or evil.

It is a crackup. If I had a thesis, it would be that Atheism ultimately ends in irrationality, incoherence and its result is insanity.

Insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Insanity is not accepting reality.

The reality is that no matter how hard you try. For the rest of your life even, Atheism is in fact unlivable. Try to go one day without a moral code, without a legitemate understanding of right and wrong, try for a day, a different understanding of right and wrong.

Let wrong be right and right be wrong. Try it.

If you are an Atheist then you would understand that right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder, you may prefer the notions of right and wrong we have because it provides a stable framework for the life you currently live.

 But that is just buying into the Christian ethic (because the Western ethic is built on the Judeo-Christian ethic) it is inescapable, no matter how much people try to rewrite history...

You live on a foundation your faith could never create. And because you are neither brave nor very smart, you dare not try another and have been unsuccessful in trying to create a whole different ethic.

I dont have disdain for you. Just pity. No matter hwo you try to rearrange the furniture, it is still someone elses...

By the way. I am an evangelical Christian, I just thought I'd throw that out there. 

Lhill, I've already told you once about this. This post is filled with ad hominem attacks. You seem unable to actually read what others are saying. You don't deal with any of the points made but simply assert that others are simply wrong. I'm giving you an official warning. Any more of this and you're out. Understand?

Read JS Mill's On Liberty. This book has shaped most modern Western ethics, in replacement of those archaic religious ones. Also, you should probably read the bible. You know if someone doesn't respect the Sabbath they should be stoned to death.


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Textom wrote: wavefreak

Textom wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

I looked up Hauser's Trolley. My first reaction is it seems too simplistic. Without knowing more about how he set up his experiments I would not be able to say much about his conclusion. For instance, his thought experiments allow people to think about their response. In real life, how much time would you have to evaluate such a circumstance? You would have to react on an intuitive level. Unless his experiments cut away the thinking and got down to the actual reactions, I would be suspicious about the conclusions.

Other researchers have followed up Hauser's experiments with brain scans using the same and similar questions. (I can get you references next week if you need them--out of the office today.) The brain scans support the original findings--the realtime neurological responses for the different situations are different (and predictable) regardless of culture, class, gender, and other factors.

All the evidence points toward a neurologically hardwired human moral foundation. It's also what evolutionary theory would predict for social primates.

Evolutionary theory doesn't predict anything specific about what will evolve. It only predicts that what is best suited for survival will tend to supplant what is less suited. For example, chimpanzees have been observed brutally supressing rivals, even to the point of killing them. I would also point out that even if structures in the brain support moral thinking, this does not mean that any particular morality is required. It is simply a region in the brain that processes moral questions. Current morality such as not beating your wife did not evolve. There are cultures today that expect a man to demonstrate maintain his superiority in any way he sees fit. Evolution take thoudans or millions of years. Current moral codes did not evolve. We thought them up.


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wavefreak wrote: I would

wavefreak wrote:
I would also point out that even if structures in the brain support moral thinking, this does not mean that any particular morality is required. It is simply a region in the brain that processes moral questions.

But what the experiments showed was that across cultures that part of the brain was structured in the same way. It produced the same answers to the moral dilemma. That is what is being claimed here, that as part of our evolution as social animals certain morals have been 'hard-wired' into our brains.

Quote:
Current moral codes did not evolve. We thought them up.

I agree, but what this really relates to is the underlying motivation of the moral codes. How do we judge good from bad on a basic level. This is what comes from evolution. We have built more complicated moral codes on top of this but that would be impossible without this basic hard-wired morality.

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


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ParanoidAgnostic

ParanoidAgnostic wrote:

But what the experiments showed was that across cultures that part of the brain was structured in the same way. It produced the same answers to the moral dilemma. That is what is being claimed here, that as part of our evolution as social animals certain morals have been 'hard-wired' into our brains.

I can accept that the same part of the brain is structured the same way across cultures. But this doesn't establish a universal moral code. The fact that armies forcibly recruit children as soldiers says that their sense of right and wrong is vastly different than mine. So is the part of my brain that lights up when I decide to rescue such a child because it is morally "good" the same part of the brain that lights up in the soldier that recruits the child because he has decided it is "good" to win his war? Cannibals thinking it's OK to eat your enemies but not your friends have the OK or not OK part of their brain light up depending on the circumstance. But we would have the not OK part fire off whether eating friends or enemies was in question.

 

I suppose I should back off a bit, seeing as I'm not an expert in the field. I'm probably trying to hard to say things about something I have no background in. That's a godd way to ehd up with foot in mouth disease. It is interesting, though. 

 


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wavefreak wrote: Cannibals

wavefreak wrote:

Cannibals thinking it's OK to eat your enemies but not your friends have the OK or not OK part of their brain light up depending on the circumstance. But we would have the not OK part fire off whether eating friends or enemies was in question.

I too am not an expert on this but I would suggest that we have deveoped a broader empathy. We evolved these morals in tribes. It was important to be moral within the tribe but those oustide of the tribe would be seen as something less than those people within the tribe.

It helps the tribe for you to not eat fellow tribe members but there's no need to apply that same morality to your treament of outsiders. Outsiders were considered less than human within their world view.

As our society has developed, the tribe has become larger. Our empathy grew to include a larger group. The nation, then the race or religion and now we are developing (some faster than others) a totally inclusive empathy. As we grow to understand that all people are real people our 'tribe' is becoming worldwide. Many are even extending membersip of their tribe to non-humans eg. animal rights.

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


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darth_josh

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Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Please go on to educate any dissenters with our(yours and mine) opinion and include an examination of the word/ideal 'ethics' in a comparative analysis form.

After you do that, your argument becomes a show-stopping, theist-silencing verbal shotgun. Try it on your friends and ask them if they would rather be moral instead of ethical.

I simply do not understand people's need to pretend morality has any emperical backing. It is entirely dependent on human judgment. If mankind, for whatever reason, naturally or unnaturally became more volatile and barbaric - no amount of reciting obscure idealistic rules will keep such a society from committing what we, today, would view as atrocities.

On the contrary to what most theists will hold about their "god-given morality" - relying on ancient texts (which are extremely likely to have primitive dictates) to influence their judgment only impairs their ability to come to clear moral conclusions.

Take many a fundamentalist's view against homosexuality, for example. For whatever reason (or non-reason), bronze-age men decided this was "wrong". This was nothing more than the judgment of these men. The fundamentalist will pretend that these men spoke for their god - and, because of the asinine authority of this imaginary being, must taint their own judgment to align with these primitive men.

Evolved societies have developed passed this and accepted homosexuality as it is - just another part of nature. Some fundamentalists can feel the obviousness of homosexuality's irrelevancy concerning morality - and thus must delude themselves further - some to the point of obstructing moral generalities such as "do not harm another" - for the purpose of committing hate crimes against homosexuals - in an effort to enrich the delusion.

I say, fuck morality - not just religious morality - but ALL morality. The methodology, in its entirety, is outdated and something that much of humanity either has or is prepared to evolve beyond.


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todangst wrote: 2) All

todangst wrote:
2) All positive moral behavior is immaterial, because works cannot save a person


All good stuff, although, the bible presents us with a stark contradiction on this matter: first it tells us that the only way to heaven is through begging Jesus for forgiveness, implying that behaviour is irrelevant; then it tells us that that god is just, therefore murders, rapists, thieves, fornicators, liars etc will be 'dealt with' by god, i.e. sent to hell… “No liar will inherit the kingdom of god” etc.

The Christian tell us both! So what happens when a murder or rapist repents in prison and accepts Jesus? Which aspect overrides the other? The belief or the behaviour.

If they believed the former then they wouldn’t care about behaviour, they would only care about Jesus-belief, but clearly they do think behaviour is important, because secular based morality is largely innate so they cannot escape it. If they believed the latter, they wouldn’t care so much about Jesus, they would be like the Jews who tell us that human behaviour is what is important.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Well I'm a semi-expert on

Well I'm a semi-expert on this question (I've had to research it for related work on men's organizations) and I can say that there's a large and growing body of research out there that indicates certain 'moral' behaviors are hardwired in all normal humans. 

For example, Joshua Greene (recently at Princeton, not sure if he's still there) is the guy working with brain-scanning people confronted with the Hauser questions and similar questions.  Princeton, like many major universities, has a diverse population of cultures from which to select test subjects.  Everybody's brain acts the same way when confronted with these questions.  The vast majority of people choose the same option as the one that 'feels' right, even though the responses are internally inconsistent and illogical.

Or, for another example, check out Dave Grossman's analysis of the research by psychologists in the U.S. Military on the "no shooting" problem.  Military psychologists tackled the problem of why, historically, most infantrymen didn't shoot their weapons at the enemy.  They figured out that people have a very strong hardwired inhibition against killing other people with small arms or hand weapons, and they figured out what it would take to train out these inhibitions--which is why they've now moved the shooting rate in the U.S. military from less than 25% in WWII to nearly 98% in Iraq.  Related work in why people don't seem to mind killing other people with bombs or machineguns and statistical analyses of amazingly consistent things like how far away from your victim you have to be before the inhibitions attenuate also points to the built-in psychological inhibitions--again, for all humans and in all cultures.

This is just the tip of the iceberg--the notes I happen to have on my desk today.  The scientific evidence all points toward the brain's reward-punishment system being wired into the parts that make moral decisions. Primate studies and studies on other social mammals--measuring hormone levels, monitoring brain activity and so forth--all back up the human data.

When I say this is what evolution would predict, I mean that culture is too unreliable and changable to be the sole determiner of morality.  If people were going to survive this long, some of it needed to be hardwired.

Those of you who are saying that morality is completely determined by culture (or religion) appear to be arguing from personal opinion.  Where's the evidence to back up your claims? 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Textom wrote: Well I'm a

Textom wrote:

Well I'm a semi-expert on this question (I've had to research it for related work on men's organizations) and I can say that there's a large and growing body of research out there that indicates certain 'moral' behaviors are hardwired in all normal humans.

For example, Joshua Greene (recently at Princeton, not sure if he's still there) is the guy working with brain-scanning people confronted with the Hauser questions and similar questions. Princeton, like many major universities, has a diverse population of cultures from which to select test subjects. Everybody's brain acts the same way when confronted with these questions. The vast majority of people choose the same option as the one that 'feels' right, even though the responses are internally inconsistent and illogical.

Or, for another example, check out Dave Grossman's analysis of the research by psychologists in the U.S. Military on the "no shooting" problem. Military psychologists tackled the problem of why, historically, most infantrymen didn't shoot their weapons at the enemy. They figured out that people have a very strong hardwired inhibition against killing other people with small arms or hand weapons, and they figured out what it would take to train out these inhibitions--which is why they've now moved the shooting rate in the U.S. military from less than 25% in WWII to nearly 98% in Iraq. Related work in why people don't seem to mind killing other people with bombs or machineguns and statistical analyses of amazingly consistent things like how far away from your victim you have to be before the inhibitions attenuate also points to the built-in psychological inhibitions--again, for all humans and in all cultures.

This is just the tip of the iceberg--the notes I happen to have on my desk today. The scientific evidence all points toward the brain's reward-punishment system being wired into the parts that make moral decisions. Primate studies and studies on other social mammals--measuring hormone levels, monitoring brain activity and so forth--all back up the human data.

When I say this is what evolution would predict, I mean that culture is too unreliable and changable to be the sole determiner of morality. If people were going to survive this long, some of it needed to be hardwired.

Those of you who are saying that morality is completely determined by culture (or religion) appear to be arguing from personal opinion. Where's the evidence to back up your claims?

From my judgement, anything that has evolved to a status of being "hardwired" is longer a "moral dictate". A "moral dictate," to me, implies the ability to choose more than one "solution". If I have evolved to be hardwired to not kill others, then the whole notion that my judgement will choose to kill someone is impaired - thus making the judgement irrelevant - as the decision to not kill would be automatic.

In conclusion: "thou shalt not kill" is simply a redundant declaration of naturally hardwired psychological axioms - where as "though shalt not covet" is a moral dictate based on the perceptive judgment of some bonze-age chieftan.


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Textom wrote: Those of you

Textom wrote:
Those of you who are saying that morality is completely determined by culture (or religion) appear to be arguing from personal opinion.  Where's the evidence to back up your claims? 

Exactly. We can say culture can explain why we have differences in our morality, since cultures are different and influence us, but the root of morality is clearly innate/hardwired, which probably explains why we universally think murder/rape etc are wrong.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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NarcolepticSun wrote: From

NarcolepticSun wrote:

From my judgement, anything that has evolved to a status of being "hardwired" is longer a "moral dictate". A "moral dictate," to me, implies the ability to choose more than one "solution". If I have evolved to be hardwired to not kill others, then the whole notion that my judgement will choose to kill someone is impaired - thus making the judgement irrelevant - as the decision to not kill would be automatic.

Right idea, but not exactly how it works.  Evolved behavior in primates is not determinstic. 

Being completely unable to kill somebody under any circumstances because of brain structures would be an evolutionary disadvantage.  It's more like there are default settings that everybody gets to start with.  Individuals and cultures can exert pressure to change those default settings.

For example, if you're born left-handed (which is actually partly environmental, but it'll do as an example) then you will, by default, always reach for things with your left hand.  But if there's a nun standing over you with a ruler smacking you every time you pick up a pencil with your left hand, then you *will* learn to write right handed, as many people can probably testify.

Yet the fact that the nun has to put effort into overcoming the hardwired tendency means that there is something there to exert energy against.  So, yes, soldiers who are normally hardwired by default never to shoot at people in their gunsights can be retrained to always shoot at people in their gunsights.  But the exception doesn't prove the rule--the training had to overcome the default setting.

So the way this manifests in culture is that humans generally develop the same rules--don't kill other members of your group, don't steal property or cheat on your spouse, take care of your children--that grow out of the default hardwiring of social primate cooperation.  Some cultures will always drift toward anomalous exceptions, like sacrificing your children to Moloch or whatever.  But those exceptions don't invalidate the rule. 

Neither cultural morality nor biological morality dominates all the time--the two interact.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Or to clarify an example

Or to clarify an example even more accurately,

Based on Grossman's work, in any given group of men about 25% will have lowered inhibitions against killing other men (partly environmental, but surprisingly consistent across all wars where records were kept).  These are the "shooters" in a WWII infantry platoon, with the other men carrying ammunition and playing other supporting roles. 

Evolutionary psychology would say that this is a good distribution of evolved behaviors--you have some guys who can kill readily to handle conflicts with enemy groups, while most guys won't kill each other which tends to diminish internal conflicts that can disrupt the group too much and endanger its survival in competition with rival groups.  It's all about balancing conflict and cooperation.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert