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"can You Live A Moral Life If You Don't Believe In God?"


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http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtl...al/15108711.htm

 

Cornering the market on understanding God foolhardy

Topic of the week:

 

"Can you live a moral life if you don't believe in God?"

 

We begin the conversation with the thoughts of Jack Brandmahl of Myrtle Beach, a former atheist turned staunch fundamentalist Christian.

 

BRANDMAHL: What is a moral life? Seems to me that we first need to understand what we mean by the word moral. I concede that atheists can hold to certain moral principles. One can outwardly claim that hate, racism and genocide are wrong, but if there is no ultimate standard of morality - God - how can these things actually be wrong? How can there be a moral law without a moral lawgiver? Moral law extends from the cosmic "Moral Lawgiver." In his book, "Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions," Kenneth Samples states "Atheism has no foundation upon which to ground man's conscious awareness of moral obligation. Without God objective moral values have no metaphysical anchor and thus cannot be accounted for."

 

BAILEY: Can't an atheist be more moral than a born again Christian if he or she is more Christlike? Two of the most Christlike people I know aren't Christian. One is a Baha'i and I'm not sure the other has a religious affiliation at all.

 

BRANDMAHL: Using the Ten Commandments as a moral guide, there is no one on Earth who doesn't break at least one every day. This makes us all equal sinners by our acts of commission and omission. The Christian who sins and is repentant will be forgiven. The atheist will not ask for forgiveness. An atheist may live his life helping those in need, being friendly and respectful, and withholding judgment and harsh words against others. A so-called Christian may seldom help others, criticize others, appear morose, be a gossiper, and attend church every Sunday. What we cannot know is what is in a person's heart.

 

BAILEY: There are different beliefs about God within the same religion. Who gets to decide just what God's will or standard of morality is? Catholic leaders believe unnatural birth control is an affront to God's will while more than 90 percent of Christian couples use birth control. Other church leaders don't preach against birth control as an immoral act. Considering there are so many disparate rules and regulations concerning morality - some churches believe playing cards is sinful, others not so much - doesn't that mean religious people are simply doing the same thing they claim atheists are doing, living by man-made moral codes but just labeling them God's laws?

 

BRANDMAHL: Christians, regardless of their difference of opinion concerning certain dogma, know that there are basic fundamentals in the Christian faith - the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture; the deity of Christ (implying as well His humanity and virgin birth); the sufficiency of Christ's death to pay the penalty owed by fallen individuals to an infinitely holy God; the literal resurrection of Christ from the dead; the literal return of Christ in the Second Advent. When a person denies one or more of these fundamentals they should not fool themselves into believing they are Christian.

 

And you asked who gets to decide. Are you listening? I thought I made it clear that Jesus decides and His position on the issues you raise are expressed quite clearly in the Bible. Let's start with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

 

This verse makes it perfectly clear that a Christian is one who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and furthermore no one will enter heaven unless they believe in Him. Jesus made it quite clear that the Old Testament is the Word of God. If one wants to contradict or disagree with Jesus Christ then they might just as well toss the Bible out and begin reading comics books or whatever else might be of interest to them.

 

BAILEY: Since it is vital to your definition of morality, how do you know the Bible is the "Word of God"? Because the Bible says so? (As a quick reminder, many Christians once used the Bible to preach against other "unspeakable" things, such as free black people in the U.S., blacks and whites marrying and women in the pulpit).

 

BRANDMAHL: From early childhood I have sought to understand the meaning of life. I studied philosophy, sociology, religion and majored in psychology. When I did a serious study of the biblical scriptures, late in life, they made more sense to me than all the philosophies and religions of the world.

 

BAILEY: So you are aware that it is a circular argument to believe, as many do, that the Bible or Koran or Torah or name the holy book, is "the word of God?" That ultimately it is an an act of faith? You believe the Bible is the word of God because the Bible says it is the word of God?

 

BRANDMAHL: The Bible contains 66 books, written by approximately 40 different writers over 1600 years, on three different continents, in three different languages, on thousands of subjects, with one central theme - God's redemption of mankind from sin won for the whole world by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Other evidence for the reliability of the Bible is in the vast number of fulfilled prophecies; secular and Christian writers confirming the events mentioned in the Bible; the Dead Sea Scrolls showing that many of the Old Testament books had been copied, without error, for more than a thousand years; archaeological finds attesting to the accuracy of cities and peoples mentioned in the Bible that scientists thought never existed; and scientific facts mentioned in the Bible that have been recently confirmed. So, Mr. Bailey, why do you even own a Bible? Makes no sense to buy a book that tells a person what they need to do and know for them to have eternal salvation and then say I really don't believe this stuff. Since you don't take the Bible literally, can we assume that you deny the deity of Jesus Christ? The Bible makes it clear that a person who doesn't accept Jesus as God is not a Christian.

 

BAILEY: Let's make something clear. I'm not questioning God. I'm questioning you. Proving that the Bible is the word of God is akin to proving the existence of God. It's about faith. Biblical scholarship is under debate, as it has been since the first century. As for me, my faith isn't up for debate, isn't built upon consensus or someone else's understanding of God. I don't really care if you believe I'm a "true" Christian, atheist or what have you. Your opinion about my salvation or view of morality isn't relevant.

 

I believe a literal reading of the Bible is not wise, considering the ever-changing language and how that makes exact translations impossible or at least extremely difficult, as well as the advances we've made in our understanding of the world. The context and environment was much different then. Biblical writers thought people were demon possessed when we recognize that as mental illness today. They thought the sun revolved around the Earth, and they described God in much the same way we would describe terrorists today. Killing first-born sons to force compliance is an act we want to ascribe to a compassionate God? And maybe we should stone to death non-virgin, unmarried women and homosexuals and disobedient children. It isn't enough to say Jesus came and changed all of that - unless you believe there actually was a time in which "God" viewed such things as being morally acceptable. Fundamentalists always, incredibly, seem to find a way to read the Bible to ignore those kinds of teachings while holding up certain "truths."

 

Are you God? I wonder if you believe anyone short of God can attain the kind of absolute certainty you seem to claim.

 

I happen to think God is bigger than one book and that any attempt to corner the market on understanding God or an absolute morality is foolhardy.

 

So tell me, since your understanding of God is so certain, complete and absolute, should I just start worshiping you?

 

 

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

(Brandmahl will answer that question next Monday as the conversation continues.)

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Using the Ten Commandments as a moral guide, there is no one on Earth who doesn't break at least one every day. This makes us all equal sinners by our acts of commission and omission.

 

This right here invalidates his whole argument for me. "Sin" and "immorality" are NOT the same thing. Morals are a set of rules of conduct a society has set up to maintain the status-quo. While sin was the word used in one such society at one time, it is not the same thing.

 

IMOHO,

:thanks:

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Using the Ten Commandments as a moral guide, there is no one on Earth who doesn't break at least one every day. This makes us all equal sinners by our acts of commission and omission.

 

This right here invalidates his whole argument for me. "Sin" and "immorality" are NOT the same thing. Morals are a set of rules of conduct a society has set up to maintain the status-quo. While sin was the word used in one such society at one time, it is not the same thing.

 

IMOHO,

:thanks:

What bugged me about that response the most, was that he didnt even answer the question at all.

 

BAILEY: Can't an atheist be more moral than a born again Christian if he or she is more Christlike? Two of the most Christlike people I know aren't Christian. One is a Baha'i and I'm not sure the other has a religious affiliation at all.

 

BRANDMAHL: Using the Ten Commandments as a moral guide, there is no one on Earth who doesn't break at least one every day. This makes us all equal sinners by our acts of commission and omission. The Christian who sins and is repentant will be forgiven. The atheist will not ask for forgiveness. An atheist may live his life helping those in need, being friendly and respectful, and withholding judgment and harsh words against others. A so-called Christian may seldom help others, criticize others, appear morose, be a gossiper, and attend church every Sunday. What we cannot know is what is in a person's heart.

Bailey asked if an atheist can be MORE MORAL than a born again if that atheist is Christlike. His reponse was that everyone breaks the 10 commandments. Typical tap dancing.

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The closest he could come to answering the question was to acknowledge that atheists can hold "moral principles". But he never answers whether an atheist can live a moral life, instead he starts preaching a sermon. If he tried to answer, I think his true answer would have been obvious, but he can't stand to say "yes". Nor can he say no, for then he knows he would be lying. The only thing left to him is to jabber.

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Moral code, moral people and ethics existed before Jesus and before Moses. Even according to the Bible. If there's an ounce of truth in the story of Abraham, then he was considered righteous before God. And that was before the Moses' Laws. Or Noah, what about him? Or Enoch, that was so frigging righteous that God took him away? (Supposedly he didn't die)

 

So why does one need moral laws if moral actions predates the moral law?

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So why does one need moral laws if moral actions predates the moral law?

 

 

So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

 

 

Even though morality is undeniably written in the heart of man, the Law was given to man so that he would know what sin is and be without excuse before a holy God.

 

When the unbelieving man dies, he thinks he can legitamately claim, "How was I supposed to know what I did was sin?" With the testimony of ingrained morality and the Law, he will be condemned on the basis of two witnesses.

 

 

chaz

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So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

 

 

 

To quote the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy This argument is a load of dingo's kidneys.

 

Morality predating Judaism is just proof that when people got together to form societies they realized that the society wouldn't last long if people went around killing and stealing at will, so they made laws against it.

 

At first if you broke the laws you would be banished or killed. The idea of prisons came along when there was no longer anywhere to banish them, which forced the judicial system to develop and become more complicated.

 

All the laws about honoring god and such were ultimately the same thing, but instead were based on superstition. People back then believed that the gods (Yahweh was no exception) would visit punishment on them for failing to honor them properly. In their mind, not honoring god was the same as murder or stealing because they feared that gods retribution might take out the whole culture, or at least people directly around the offender.

 

I personally don't believe in such superstition, when you can provide proof that early cultures formed morality out of more than their own ideas and a system of trial and error, then you might have something

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So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

And it leads to two questions.

 

1. What do you make out of the exceptions? Like psychopaths, sociopaths or non empathic people?

 

2. Did God create moral, or is morality his nature?

- If he created it, he is not moral

- If he is moral, he never created it, but it is intrisic nature of God, hence even outside the control of God.

 

Besides, morality can be explained with evolution. Especially if you look at game theory and the development of memes.

 

 

Even though morality is undeniably written in the heart of man, the Law was given to man so that he would know what sin is and be without excuse before a holy God.

"Sin", is not the same as "moral".

 

Moral is the commonly known concept of right and wrong.

 

Sin is an act against a religious tenet. And not necessarily even considered moral or immoral in outside the religious system. Consider the sin to eat pork or work on Sabbath. Is that a moral written in everyones heart?

 

Again: sin is not the same thing as morality.

 

Morality is generally intrisic in humans as you said (and recently have been discovered in some animals - did God plant morality and ethics in animals hearts too?), but sin is not. The concept of "sin" is learned through culture and religion.

 

When the unbelieving man dies, he thinks he can legitamately claim, "How was I supposed to know what I did was sin?" With the testimony of ingrained morality and the Law, he will be condemned on the basis of two witnesses.

Sin includes for instance lying, while moral is about knowing when and where it is right or wrong to lie.

 

Consider you have a safe room, or panic room in your house.

 

Lets say your family is threatend by some criminals, and your family is hiding.

 

The criminals get you and start torturing you to get their location.

 

Would you tell them, or would you lie and say that you don't know?

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What I want to know is why doesn't the 'salvation' experience that all christian's say they have... work or make them 'unique'. *wink wink*

 

I love this......quotes from...John Loftus

 

"I am told that the God of Christianity is the only correct one. Hence unique. I am informed that belief in that God will result in life-changing events. But what I see is humans. Humans that, regardless of belief or non-belief in any particular god, acting in a similar fashion. Nothing unique about it at all.

 

Even Christ indicated there should be difference in belief. He noted that non-believers can love those that love them. Luke 6:32 What is the credit or surprise in that? You want to see something different? What to see something “Christian”? Love your enemies. Now THAT is something that would make Christianity stand out, right? Luke 6:35.

 

Unfortunately, just like any other religion, race or creed, we find some humans that are able to love their enemies, and some that are not. Some claim to be Christians, some are red-heads. There is no divine spark, no noticeable difference in Christians that makes other religions stand aside and say, “Nope. We don’t love our enemies. Only Christians do that. Nope. We lie. Only Christians don’t lie.”

 

 

That's always been pretty good 'proof' to me ...to doubt the existence of god.

 

 

Chaz...

With the testimony of ingrained morality and the Law, he will be condemned on the basis of two witnesses.

 

Not quite true......please include every single christian individual who is ready on the mark to pass judgement............... on each other and non christian's.

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Using the Ten Commandments as a moral guide, there is no one on Earth who doesn't break at least one every day. This makes us all equal sinners by our acts of commission and omission.

 

This right here invalidates his whole argument for me. "Sin" and "immorality" are NOT the same thing. Morals are a set of rules of conduct a society has set up to maintain the status-quo. While sin was the word used in one such society at one time, it is not the same thing.

 

IMOHO,

:thanks:

 

That's not the only mistake. He's also referencing the wrong ten commandments:

 

Exodus 34

 

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

 

2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.

 

3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.

 

4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

 

5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

 

6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

 

7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

 

8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

 

9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O LORD, let my LORD, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

 

10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

 

11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

 

12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

 

13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

 

14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

 

15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

 

16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

 

17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

 

18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

 

19 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.

 

20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

 

21 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

 

22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.

 

23 Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel.

 

24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

 

25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

 

26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

 

27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

 

28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

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Bailey asked if an atheist can be MORE MORAL than a born again if that atheist is Christlike. His reponse was that everyone breaks the 10 commandments. Typical tap dancing.

 

lol... To be Christ-like is really no accomplishment when one looks at the facts in the Bible. He can be seen bearing false witness ("And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it." John 14:13-14) stealing (Luke 19: 29-36 -- Jesus the Horsethief) disrespecting his parents (Woman, what have I to do with thee?" John 2:4) and admitting he wanted other to do the same ("I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Matthew 10:35-36) These are but a sampiling. Who would want to be like this scumbag? Not I. Sounds like your typical televangelist with the booze and hookers carefully omitted.

 

 

 

So why does one need moral laws if moral actions predates the moral law?

 

 

So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

 

 

Even though morality is undeniably written in the heart of man, the Law was given to man so that he would know what sin is and be without excuse before a holy God.

 

When the unbelieving man dies, he thinks he can legitamately claim, "How was I supposed to know what I did was sin?" With the testimony of ingrained morality and the Law, he will be condemned on the basis of two witnesses.

 

 

chaz

 

lol... I know the sins of the Bible better than you, most likely. I just lack belief in your imaginary friend. I use my own morality to get through life. If I was to follow what was considered moral in your Holy Book of Atrocities, Immorality and Bad Advice I'd be in jail or dead. No thanks! I know better!

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There are two translations that use the word 'on' instead of 'in' when reading John 3:16:

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.

J.N.Darby Translation 1890 Info

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

American Standard Version 1901 Info

 

Why is this guy so sure it means the same thing? To me, the meaning is different. I don't have to believe he is the 'literal' son of god to believe that what he is saying is pointing a way to god. The latter is to believe on him.

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So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

 

Morality predating Judaism is just proof that when people got together to form societies they realized that the society wouldn't last long if people went around killing and stealing at will, so they made laws against it.

 

Thank you for your response.

 

 

You have proved my point exactly. Man’s inherent moral nature is the grounds for laws to be established in societies. If it were perfectly okay to kill your neighbor so that you could survive on his food and steal his wife, why establish a law against murder and robbery?

 

All governmental laws are established upon moral principles. And where do these morals originate? From the heart of each and every man born under the sun.

 

Since man has built-in moral laws, it is necessary to enforce these laws so that anarchy doesn’t reign supreme.

 

 

chaz

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So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

And it leads to two questions.

 

1. What do you make out of the exceptions? Like psychopaths, sociopaths or non empathic people?

Just because certain individuals have personality disorders doesn’t make them unaccountable on the basis of disregarded inherent morality.

 

 

 

 

Did God create moral, or is morality his nature?

Both.

 

 

 

 

If he created it, he is not moral

Why not? This is a presumptuous statement. How do you explain your logic in light of Leviticus 11:45, “Be holy, because I am holy?”

 

 

 

 

If he is moral, he never created it, but it is intrisic nature of God, hence even outside the control of God.

Again, your statements are extremely presumptuous. Nothing is outside the control of a Creator. If God has the power to create human beings, He most certainly has the power to build into them His good and moral nature.

 

 

 

 

Besides, morality can be explained with evolution.

No it cannot, not in 300 billion years. There is absolutely no reconciliation between survival of the fittest and man’s inherent moral principles.

 

 

 

 

Sin is an act against a religious tenet.

No, it is not. Sin is a grievance one commits against a holy God, regardless of religion

 

 

 

 

Consider the sin to eat pork or work on Sabbath. Is that a moral written in everyones heart?

No, this was a command given only to the Jews, not to every person—this is why it is not a moral principle.

 

 

 

 

Again: sin is not the same thing as morality.

Sin is anything that goes against man’s inherent moral nature or against God’s standard of holiness, and man will be held accountable for these sins. The bible mentions this same rule: “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). This verse is speaking about man’s built-in morality.

 

 

 

 

Would you tell them, or would you lie and say that you don't know?

Which is more important, my family or fearing a tactic of trickery to protect my family? There are situations in which God expects us to use our wisdom.

 

 

 

chaz

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So that man has no excuse before God. The fact that morality predates the Law is proof positive of its intrinsic nature within man.

 

Morality predating Judaism is just proof that when people got together to form societies they realized that the society wouldn't last long if people went around killing and stealing at will, so they made laws against it.

 

Thank you for your response.

 

 

You have proved my point exactly. Man’s inherent moral nature is the grounds for laws to be established in societies. If it were perfectly okay to kill your neighbor so that you could survive on his food and steal his wife, why establish a law against murder and robbery?

 

All governmental laws are established upon moral principles. And where do these morals originate? From the heart of each and every man born under the sun.

 

Since man has built-in moral laws, it is necessary to enforce these laws so that anarchy doesn’t reign supreme.

 

 

chaz

 

Buit-in moral laws? lol... That's pretty funny! What we really have are emotions and large brains which enable us to figure out right from wrong. It doesn't always work (especially when you have books with a high degree of authority with the masses saying that stoning, child abuse, sexism, murder, genocide and slavery are all ok) but it works enough of the time to have kept society from descending into chaos. Both were given to us, by the way, by evolution, not some imaginary friend.

 

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/euthyphro_dilemma.htm

 

What is Atheism?

 

by Douglas E. Krueger

 

How Can Atheists Have Morals?

 

p.26 - 30

 

1. The Euthyphro Dilemma is effective against the view that god is the source of morality.

 

The Euthyphro dilemma, named after some insightful points taken from Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, shows the failing of the divine command theory of ethics, which is the view that god is the source of morality. In the dialogue, the character Socrates, speaking for Plato, meets the character Euthyphro, who is on his way to court to prosecute his own father for the murder of a field laborer. For the Greeks, loyalty to one's relatives was a matter of great importance, so Socrates asks Euthyphro whether he is certain this act will not be offensive to the gods; i.e., whether it is immoral. Euthyphro assures Socrates that he is an expert in matters pertaining to the wishes of the gods, and in the course of the discussion Euthyphro attempts to defend the divine theory of ethics. According to this view, we know what is good only because god tells what is good. However, as Plato asked 2,000 years ago, does god command what is good because god recognizes what is good, or is it good because god commands it? That is the dilemma, and each of the options turns out to be undesirable to the theist.

 

a. One horn of the dilemma is that what is good is defined by the fact that it's god's will.

 

On the one hand, if something god commands is to be defined as good on the grounds that it is god's will, then the divine command theorist must admit that anything can be considered good as long as god commands it. It would make no sense to ask whether god's commands are good. God could command someone to bash infants to death, to commit genocide, to stone people to death (and other atrocities such as we find in the bible), and such things would by definition be good acts, since god commanded them.

 

Would a Christian want to commit to such as system of ethics where anything goes? The philosopher Bertrand Russell notes:

 

If the only basis of morality is God's decrees, it follows that they might just as well have been the opposite of what they are; no reason except caprice could have prevented the omission of all the "nots" from the Decalogue.

 

In other words, the ten commandments (the Decalogue) could have been just the opposite of what they are and they would, on this view, still be good because they would still be the will of god and that is the definition of good. Theists who take this horn of the Euthyphro dilemma must admit that they really don't have a standard of ethics. What they have is a standard of obedience -- they will do whatever god commands. Slavery, however, is not ethics.

 

It would also make no sense to say that god is good if god is the standard of goodness. After all, if god is good, in the sense that god is identical with standard of goodness, then to say "God is good" is merely to say "God is god," which is an uninformative statement. A devil worshiper could say the same thing about the being he or she worships -- "Satan is what he is." The subject and the predicate are the same object, so the sentence is uninformative. The relationship between goodness and god loses its meaning if god is the standard of goodness, so "god is good" would say nothing.

 

Further, if one would like to know whether a given being is god, there would be no set of standards with which one could compare that being in order to identify it as god. For example, if one wants to know how to recognize a generous person, one could have a list of actions which one might expect a generous person to perform. The list could include such things as giving a certain percentage of one's income to the poor, handing out money when approached by beggars, volunteering at a local food bank, and other such activities. Similarly, the list could exclude activities such as obsessively hoarding money, refusing to share any part of an inheritance with one's siblings, and so on. The list of criteria is compiled using the concept of generosity. If the person measures up to the standard, then we can declare that person generous. In the case of god, however, there can be no such moral standard for theists who insist who insist that god is the standard. There can be no list of criteria to identify whether a being is the good god. If god can can perform or command any act because he sets the standard, what kinds of acts could possibly be put on an identification list? One could never say, "An evil being might command this, but god never would." No action could be required or ruled out with regard to god since that being could always decide to perform or command the opposite of any given criterion. After all, god sets the standard, doesn't he? Without an independent standard of moral or immoral acts against which to measure god, god could never be identified by his moral standing. Thus, morally speaking, there would be no way to distinguish being a slave to an evil demon as opposed to being a slave to god. In both cases the one doing the commanding could command anything whatsoever and carrying out that command would be, by definition, a good act. No act would be considered immoral in and of itself, or good in and of itself, apart from the issue of whether it has been commanded or forbidden. Anything from rape to murder would be considered good if it were commanded by the being who serves as the standard.

 

No act could be taboo for the being giving commands because that being who defines goodness would not have any independent standard of morality by which it could be limited to a certain set of acts. The being could not be bound by any moral code.

 

The only immoral act, on this view, is disobedience. The follower would be committed to a system of blind obedience to a being who cannot be meaningfully called good. Clearly, this option is undesirable for the theist.

 

b. The other horn of dilemma is that god recognizes what is good and then wills what is good.

 

On the other hand, if the theist chooses the other horn of the dilemma, that god commands that which god recognizes as good, then the theist is admitting that there is a standard of goodness independent of god, and is, in fact, admitting that god is not the source of morality. In other words, if the view is that god in some way "sees" what is good and then tells us what to do on the basis of that, then god is not the source of morality, since the act god commands was observed to be good by god, not made good by god. God becomes, at best, merely an intermediary or a reporter about ethics, but he is not the source. This option, too, is undesirable for the theist, since it admits that god is not the source of ethics, and if god is not the source of ethics then there is nothing in principle which could show that the atheist cannot have an ethical system also.

 

Thus, the theist must choose between admitting that he or she has no standard of ethics but merely a principle of slavery, or admitting that god is not the source of morality. Neither option allows for the possibility that god is the source of a system of ethics. The Euthyphro dilemma has been conclusive in showing that the divine command theory of ethics cannot work, and no theist has ever been able to overcome this strong objection to the view that god is the source of ethics.

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Just because certain individuals have personality disorders doesn’t make them unaccountable on the basis of disregarded inherent morality.

And now you contradicted yourself.

 

If all humans have the moral code or the understanding of "sin" written in their hearts, there wouldn't be any exceptions.

 

If there are exceptions, not all humans have this "law" in their hearts.

 

So God forgot and keep on forgetting to "write" it in some people.

 

 

Why not? This is a presumptuous statement. How do you explain your logic in light of Leviticus 11:45, “Be holy, because I am holy?”

Sorry, but you are the presumptuous one. You maintain a belief in an unseen deity because of your belief in a book written by people you have never met. You assume they describe the God you want to believe in.

 

With the most of your post, read Atheistars response to get a better understanding of the conundrum of God vs. moral.

 

No it cannot, not in 300 billion years. There is absolutely no reconciliation between survival of the fittest and man’s inherent moral principles.

Well, then you're misinformed.

 

Question: do animals kill each other all the time?

 

 

And for the rest of your response, I beg you to use your intellect instead of spewing out standard answers like these. If God exists, then he gave you a mind to use, then use it.

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Just because certain individuals have personality disorders doesn’t make them unaccountable on the basis of disregarded inherent morality.

And now you contradicted yourself.

 

If all humans have the moral code or the understanding of "sin" written in their hearts, there wouldn't be any exceptions.

Thank you for your response.

 

Where did I contradict myself? I never claimed there were exceptions. I stated that just because certain people have disorders doesn’t make them unaccountable for their actions, hence the ignoring of their built-in morality. There is no contradiction here.

 

 

 

 

If there are exceptions, not all humans have this "law" in their hearts.

There are no exceptions; all of mankind has inherent morality. How do you know that all of mankind doesn't have a built-in moral law?

 

 

 

 

So God forgot and keep on forgetting to "write" it in some people.

Again, you are presuming upon God. Re-read your statement, it makes absolutely no sense…..If the Lord created mankind using two people having prewritten genetic codes, then every person born after them would have the same genetic make-up. Each after their own kind, it’s a natural law.

 

 

 

 

Sorry, but you are the presumptuous one. You maintain a belief in an unseen deity because of your belief in a book written by people you have never met. You assume they describe the God you want to believe in.

What does this have anything to do with my statement? Can you answer my question? You declared that if God created morality within humans then He Himself couldn’t be a moral being. How do you explain your logic in light of Leviticus 11:45, “Be holy, because I am holy?” Holiness is the quintessence of morality.

 

 

 

 

Well, then you're misinformed.

 

Question: do animals kill each other all the time?

Yes, and this is a perfect example of the lack of morality within the animal kingdom. If you claim I’m misinformed about evolution producing morality, please explain how morality could have evolved in a survival of the fittest atmosphere. If you claim I’m misinformed, then you must be informed, right?

 

 

 

chaz

 

Buit-in moral laws? lol... That's pretty funny! What we really have are emotions and large brains which enable us to figure out right from wrong.

Yes, this statement is pretty funny, as you yourself have just made the case and the definition for morality.

 

I would like to ask you, where did our sense of right from wrong (morality) originate? Why doesn’t the animal kingdom share in this trait?

 

 

chaz

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Your argument is pointless because it is totally unfalsifiable, which makes it unprovable. Besides, you can't tell me you haven't done something supposedly wrong that you didn't know or feel was wrong at the time. The bible describes things as sin that many people can't understand the wrongness of. You are going on the baseless assertion that everyone 'feels' wrong for every one of the myriad 'sins' that can't seem to be helped daily.

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Chaz, you're an complete idiot, you didn't read what I wrote.

 

Look, here's WebMD's definition of a sociopath:

not learning from experience

no sense of responsibility

inability to form meaningful relationships

inability to control impulses

lack of moral sense

chronically antisocial behavior

no change in behavior after punishment

emotional immaturity

lack of guilt

self-centeredness

Especially look at the 5th row: Lack of moral sense.

 

Either the whole medical community is completely fucked up and don't know what they're talking about. Or there are people that DO NOT have the ability to distinguish between Right and Wrong. They can learn to repeat dogma as phrases, but they do not have the emotional feeling of something being right or something being wrong.

 

Argue that first before we even go to the next level of arguments, or even debate your book of fables.

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Chaz, you're an complete idiot, you didn't read what I wrote.

Yes, I did read what you wrote, and I stated the case that there are no excuses for those who choose to ignore their inherent moral laws. Every man has morality written on his heart.

 

 

 

Now, how about answering my question. This will be the third time I've asked you.

Sorry, but you are the presumptuous one. You maintain a belief in an unseen deity because of your belief in a book written by people you have never met. You assume they describe the God you want to believe in.

What does this have anything to do with my statement? Can you answer my question? You declared that if God created morality within humans then He Himself couldn’t be a moral being. How do you explain your logic in light of Leviticus 11:45, “Be holy, because I am holy?” Holiness is the quintessence of morality.

 

Please explain your statement in light of Leviticus 11:45.

 

 

chaz

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All governmental laws are established upon moral principles. And where do these morals originate? From the heart of each and every man born under the sun.

 

Since man has built-in moral laws, it is necessary to enforce these laws so that anarchy doesn’t reign supreme.

 

Morals derive from social necessities, not some "internal compass". If this were true, the value systems of cultures throughout time wouldn't vary to such a huge degree. If there were truly and "absolute morality" of somekind, than there would be an action or idea that has been considered taboo in every culture, in every time, throughout history. No such taboo exists, believe me, I've looked. If you've got one I haven't seen, I'd love to hear it...

 

 

IMOHO,

:thanks:

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Now, how about answering my question. This will be the third time I've asked you.

Sorry, but you are the presumptuous one. You maintain a belief in an unseen deity because of your belief in a book written by people you have never met. You assume they describe the God you want to believe in.

What does this have anything to do with my statement? Can you answer my question? You declared that if God created morality within humans then He Himself couldn’t be a moral being. How do you explain your logic in light of Leviticus 11:45, “Be holy, because I am holy?” Holiness is the quintessence of morality.

 

Please explain your statement in light of Leviticus 11:45.

in the light of Isa 45:7, I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things, I'd say Lev 11:45 declare peace and evil to be Holy traits.

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I would like to ask you, where did our sense of right from wrong (morality) originate? Why doesn’t the animal kingdom share in this trait?

 

Why are you so blind to think there's no morality in nature? Wow, it's like I'm talking to a man in the Dark Ages before science discovered such things! Is such ignorance painful? It should be. Haven't you ever had an animal as a pet? Haven't you heard the stories of animals saving their owners? Have you ever experienced the love of a dog, cat or bird? We are animals, too. We have emotions because they were passed along through our ancestral lines ever since they first evolved. Personally, it looks to me that emotions came fully online (as comparable with us) with the advent of birds and mammals, but can be seen before this in lower life forms. It is because of these emotions -- which are just chemicals, by the way, we feel their symptoms -- that we have morality, at all. Of course, we -- and lower animals, just less so -- also use their brains to decide what is wrong or wright.

 

The following is some reading I'd like you to do before we talk, again. Otherwise I'm debating an unarmed man and that's just not fair to you.

 

http://www.cns.nyu.edu/home/ledoux/the_emo...description.htm

 

"What happens in our brains to make us feel fear, love, hate, anger, joy? Do we control our emotions, or do they control us? Do animals have emotions? How can traumatic experiences in early childhood influence adult behavior, even though we have no conscious memory of them? In The Emotional Brain, Joseph LeDoux investigates the origins of human emotions and explains that many exist as part of complex neural systems that evolved to enable us to survive.

 

Unlike conscious feelings, emotions originate in the brain at a much deeper level, says LeDoux, a leading authority in the field of neural science and one of the principal researchers profiled in Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence. In this provocative book, LeDoux explores the underlying brain mechanisms responsible for our emotions, mechanisms that are only now being revealed.

 

The Emotional Brain presents some fascinating findings about our familiar yet little understood emotions. For example, our brains can detect danger before we even experience the feeling of being afraid. The brain also begins to initiate physical responses (heart palpitations, sweaty palms, muscle tension) before we become aware of an associated feeling of fear. Conscious feelings, says LeDoux, are somewhat irrelevant to the way The Emotional Brain works. He points out that emotional responses are hard-wired into the brain's circuitry, but the things that make us emotional are learned through experience. And this may be the key to understanding, even changing, our emotional make up. Many common psychiatric problems­such as phobias or posttraumatic stress disorder­involve malfunctions in the way emotional systems learn and remember. Understanding how these mechanisms normally work will have important consequences for how we view ourselves and how we treat emotional disorders.

 

Far-reaching in its implications for our understanding of human nature, The Emotional Brain is a surprising and thought-provoking account of the latest research on emotions in neuroscience."

 

 

http://www.biopsychiatry.com/emoevo.html

 

"Understanding emotional disorders requires understanding the evolutionary origins and functions of normal emotions. They are special states, shaped by natural selection to adjust various aspects of the organism in ways that have tended to give a selective advantage in the face of the adaptive challenges characteristic of a particular kind of situation. They are designed to maximize reproductive success, not happiness. Negative emotions such as anxiety and low mood are not disorders, but, like the capacity for pain, evolved defences. Excessive anxiety or low mood is abnormal, but we will not have confidence about what is excessive until we understand their functions better than we do. Emotional disorders arise often from social emotions because of the conflicts inherent in social life, and because of the strategic advantages of demonstrating commitments to follow through on threats and promises. An evolutionary understanding of individuals in terms of their relationship strategies and the social emotions offers great promise for psychotherapists."

 

http://www.oxytocin.org/oxy/emotion.html

 

"Gentle handling of mammals (rats, mice) and lizards (Iguana), but not of frogs (Rana) and fish (Carassius), elevated the set-point for body temperature (i.e., produced an emotional fever) achieved only behaviorally in lizards. Heart rate, another detector of emotion in mammals, was also accelerated by gentle handling, from ca. 70 beats/min to ca. 110 beats/min in lizards. This tachycardia faded in about 10 min. The same handling did not significantly modify the frogs' heart rates. The absence of emotional tachycardia in frogs and its presence in lizards (as well as in mammals), together with the emotional fever exhibited by mammals and reptiles, but not by frogs or fish, would suggest that emotion emerged in the evolutionary lineage between amphibians and reptiles. Such a conclusion would imply that reptiles possess consciousness with its characteristic affective dimension, pleasure. The role of sensory pleasure in decision making was therefore verified in iguanas placed in a motivational conflict. To be able to reach a bait (lettuce), the iguanas had to leave a warm refuge, provided with standard food, and venture into a cold environment. The results showed that lettuce was not necessary to the iguanas and that they traded off the palatability of the bait against the disadvantage of the cold. Thus, the behavior of the iguanas was likely to be produced, as it is in humans, through the maximization of sensory pleasure. Altogether, these results may indicate that the first elements of mental experience emerged between amphibians and reptiles."

 

http://www.awionline.org/pubs/Quarterly/05_54_2/542p67.htm

 

"Are some birds shy? Can a dolphin recognize himself in a mirror? Do elephants mourn their dead? Will a bat perform random acts of kindness? One hundred years ago, if a well-educated man of Western culture answered “yes” to any of these questions, he would have likely been locked away in an insane asylum. Even 50 years ago, it was rare to find any scientific studies that examined the emotional lives or the intelligence of animals. Such a huge omission is no accident.

 

Despite Charles Darwin’s boldness and brilliance in the mid-1800s, animals have largely been viewed in European and American societies as automata, creatures of instinct, from simple protozoa to our closest relatives the chimpanzees. In the 20th century, renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall broke new ground by recognizing that the chimps of Gombe were individuals with rich emotional lives. She and her colleagues started to look at animals in a new way—in their natural environments. Their pursuits gave rise to a new field of science known as ethology.

 

Other scientists have followed Goodall’s example in dozens of fields, and in the last few decades, they have unearthed an amazing assortment of information about the inner lives of animals. So much research on this topic exists today that it is virtually impossible to refute that animals, in varying degrees, are sentient, use and make tools, teach their young, imitate, possess language, have long-term memory and experience emotions."

 

http://www.open2.net/humanmind/article_faces.htm

 

"Research addressing the brain regions involved in human emotion has expanded rapidly in recent years. This is, in part, due to the widening availability of new brain imaging technology, but also to a newfound interest in the idea that certain individual emotions may be served by separate brain systems. This latter theoretical position is at the heart of the idea that selected sets of so-called "basic" emotions with strong evolutionary histories constitute the foundations of human emotion. Although this concept has its origins in the work of Charles Darwin, it only really took off following the work of psychologists such as Silvan Tomkins, Paul Ekman, and Carol Izard in the 1960s and 70s. Prior to this, emotion research was dominated by the idea that all emotions were coded as values on a limited number of dimensions or scales coding more general emotional constructs, such as valence (how positive or negative an emotion is) and arousal (whether the emotion is associated with low arousal or high arousal). Similarly, early neurological accounts of emotion processing took a similar all-encompassing approach in which all emotions were processed by a circuit of interconnected brain structures known as the limbic system."

 

in the light of Isa 45:7, I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things, I'd say Lev 11:45 declare peace and evil to be Holy traits.

 

I agree:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/god_is_evil.htm

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and lower animals, just less so -- also use their brains to decide what is wrong or wright.

Thank you for your response.

 

 

Please give examples of animals exhibiting common sense decisions to choose right from wrong. And please don't include those animals that have been trained to obey.

 

The two examples you cited, animals saving their owners and the love of an animal, are not examples of morality within the animal kingdom.

 

 

chaz

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