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Why Does Morality Come From God Alone?


Kurari
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This was spurred by a debate in the Ex-Christians forum, so I thought I'd take up the topic here.

 

Why can't humans be moral without a god?

 

Definition of Morality by Wikipedia: Morality is a system of principles and judgments based on cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which humans determine whether given actions are right or wrong. These concepts and beliefs are often generalized and codified by a culture or group, and thus serve to regulate the behaviour of its members. Conformity to such codification may also be called morality, and the group may depend on widespread conformity to such codes for its continued existence. ...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality

 

I've gotten mired in the argument of "Explain how it's possible for someone to be moral without God's help." It basically tunrs into a circular trap of trying to find definate conclusive naturalistic proof for why and how morality can exist from a biological point of view. Which doesn't really work very well. Morality just IS. Like the fact humans have personalitys or emotions or hair color. Humans are moral creatures.

 

I've heard a lot of naturalistic reasons for why morality might exist in humans, but I really don't hear any reasons for why only a god can be a source of morality and we're somehow incapable of it ourselves (Like our bodys are incapable of creating vitamin C when just about every other animal on the planet can create it for themselves without outside sources). Somebody explain this to me. Use biblical references if you want.

 

WHY is God the only source of morality? Why is it impossible for humans to be moral on their own?

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This was spurred by a debate in the Ex-Christians forum, so I thought I'd take up the topic here.

 

Why can't humans be moral without a god?

<snip>

WHY is God the only source of morality? Why is it impossible for humans to be moral on their own?

 

 

Kurari - It's NOT my intention to defend the premise that God is the ONLY source of morality.

 

But, I do have a question - is LOVE the only source of morality? If human beings truly grasped what it meant to love unconditionally (not only other humans but creation as well) would the problem of determining what is moral (or not moral) be non-existent? :shrug:

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Morality is defined by sentient beings in the context of their cultures. In ancient cultures, for example, it was considered perfectly moral to sacrifice a virgin woman for one's deity. In our culture, that's not considered moral.

 

In some alien culture, it might be considered perfectly fine to invite your neighbor over for dinner, then kill and eat him. In our culture, it would not be fine.

 

It's generally not considered acceptable to harm people in our culture, although we have made exceptions for things like war and self-defense. In some alien culture, they might consider it perfectly okay to kill someone who looks at you the wrong way. Most of us would think that's terrible, but it would be okay in their culture. And yet, that same alien culture might think it's horribly wrong to keep animals as pets, or eat in public, or walk on the grass, or some other thing that is so common that nobody bats an eye at. They might even be willing to start an intergalactic war over it. And most people on earth would think the aliens were the evil ones.

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Morality has nothing to do with a God. Morality is pre-belief. Take away the God and peoiple still make moral choices. Why do Christians disagree on morals? Because it has nothing to do with the religion.

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a good book i read that's related to this topic is Robert Wright's The Moral Animal, in which he argues that morality evolved as a societal survival mechanism... and that activities which are very akin to "morality" are quite common in the animal kingdom

 

so i agree that morals have nothing to do with religion.

 

in the past, though, religious elites across the world have equated the two so that they could control people's behavior with supernatural threats.

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But, I do have a question - is LOVE the only source of morality?

 

No, the choice to live is the foundation of morality.

 

If human beings truly grasped what it meant to love unconditionally (not only other humans but creation as well) would the problem of determining what is moral (or not moral) be non-existent? :shrug:

 

No, because unconditional love is a fairy tale.

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Morality is a set of values you choice to live by, it's very natural because you see it's natural for human beings to want to survive and to live.

 

So, like Asimov said, if living is the foundation of morality then the values you choose should enhance and further your life.

 

Saying these values come from God is ridiculous because there is no clear way of communicating with God, and God doesn't even exist in the first place. Faith is not a means of acquiring knowledge. Under that pretense you could say that killing people is what God wants you to do and that is moral. Observe the radical Muslims.

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But, I do have a question - is LOVE the only source of morality?

 

No, the choice to live is the foundation of morality.

 

If human beings truly grasped what it meant to love unconditionally (not only other humans but creation as well) would the problem of determining what is moral (or not moral) be non-existent? :shrug:

No, because unconditional love is a fairy tale.

 

Asimov... Asimov....

 

I'd love to respond to your statement "unconditional love is a fairy tale". But I'm afraid we'd get just so far in the conversation and then you would abandon me. :(:shrug:

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=209779

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But, I do have a question - is LOVE the only source of morality?

 

No, the choice to live is the foundation of morality.

 

If human beings truly grasped what it meant to love unconditionally (not only other humans but creation as well) would the problem of determining what is moral (or not moral) be non-existent? :shrug:

No, because unconditional love is a fairy tale.

 

Asimov... Asimov....

 

I'd love to respond to your statement "unconditional love is a fairy tale". But I'm afraid we'd get just so far in the conversation and then you would abandon me. :(:shrug:

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=209779

 

Oops, hold that thought, OM.....hmmm...abandonment? What abandonment? :HaHa:

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If human beings truly grasped what it meant to love unconditionally (not only other humans but creation as well) would the problem of determining what is moral (or not moral) be non-existent? :shrug:

No, because unconditional love is a fairy tale.

 

Asimov... Asimov....

 

I'd love to respond to your statement "unconditional love is a fairy tale". But I'm afraid we'd get just so far in the conversation and then you would abandon me. :(:shrug:

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=209779

 

Oops, hold that thought, OM.....hmmm...abandonment? What abandonment? :HaHa:

 

:grin: Thanks Asimov - I'll go to that thread in a minute.

 

Now about "unconditional love is a fairy tale". ...

 

I do not believe unconditional love is a concrete reality within the human experience. I believe - though - it is something most rational human beings consider to be an ideal.

 

So... although there are human beings who couldn't give a shit about unconditional love, and although there are human beings who rationalize horrid behavior towards others as "love" ... the question still remains... IF human beings could truly grasp and act out unconditional love would the problem of what constitutes "moral" behavior even exist?

 

Does healthy "morality" come out of a human intention to act in loving ways towards other humans and the earth?

 

I am honestly - just asking. Unlike most people on this board - I've not had the idea that God is the holder of morality shoved down my throat - so I've never had to work through all the implications of that dogma. So.... please don't read anything more into my questions, than the simple fact that they are questions. :grin:

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Morality is defined by sentient beings in the context of their cultures. In ancient cultures, for example, it was considered perfectly moral to sacrifice a virgin woman for one's deity. In our culture, that's not considered moral.

 

In some alien culture, it might be considered perfectly fine to invite your neighbor over for dinner, then kill and eat him. In our culture, it would not be fine.

 

It's generally not considered acceptable to harm people in our culture, although we have made exceptions for things like war and self-defense. In some alien culture, they might consider it perfectly okay to kill someone who looks at you the wrong way. Most of us would think that's terrible, but it would be okay in their culture. And yet, that same alien culture might think it's horribly wrong to keep animals as pets, or eat in public, or walk on the grass, or some other thing that is so common that nobody bats an eye at. They might even be willing to start an intergalactic war over it. And most people on earth would think the aliens were the evil ones.

Yes, it is quite relative, isn't it? That is, relative to what a given society feels is important..

 

or walk on the grass

Yes, and Wesley almost lost his life for it too.. :HaHa:

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IF human beings could truly grasp and act out unconditional love would the problem of what constitutes "moral" behavior even exist?

 

Yes, because you said "could" which does not imply that all human beings WOULD act out of unconditional love.

 

I think you need to flesh out what you mean by unconditional love there, OM.

 

 

Does healthy "morality" come out of a human intention to act in loving ways towards other humans and the earth?

 

No.

 

I am honestly - just asking. Unlike most people on this board - I've not had the idea that God is the holder of morality shoved down my throat - so I've never had to work through all the implications of that dogma. So.... please don't read anything more into my questions, than the simple fact that they are questions. :grin:

 

Neither have I.

 

Morality stems from valuing life first and foremost as the standard of ethics and ones own life as the purpose for an ethical system. Everything else flows from there. In order to live, one must uphold these 3 values as ones foundation:

 

1. Reason - The ability to interact with reality in a non-contradictory way.

2. Purpose - Deliberately thought-through goal directedness.

3. Self-Esteem - Knowing that you deserve to live and are an honorable creature.

 

In a sense, I say it would be that if one values ones own life and values life itself, that would be a loving act. But it stems from reason, not from emotion. Emotion might factor in as a passion for life, but is not the motivating factor in morality.

 

 

Morality is defined by sentient beings in the context of their cultures. In ancient cultures, for example, it was considered perfectly moral to sacrifice a virgin woman for one's deity. In our culture, that's not considered moral.

 

In some alien culture, it might be considered perfectly fine to invite your neighbor over for dinner, then kill and eat him. In our culture, it would not be fine.

 

It's generally not considered acceptable to harm people in our culture, although we have made exceptions for things like war and self-defense. In some alien culture, they might consider it perfectly okay to kill someone who looks at you the wrong way. Most of us would think that's terrible, but it would be okay in their culture. And yet, that same alien culture might think it's horribly wrong to keep animals as pets, or eat in public, or walk on the grass, or some other thing that is so common that nobody bats an eye at. They might even be willing to start an intergalactic war over it. And most people on earth would think the aliens were the evil ones.

 

Yes, but we're trying to transcend culture, Amethyst, and their respective ethical systems. Your argument is essentially logically unsound.

 

1. In that culture it might be considered fine to kill and eat your neighbour while in ours it isn't.

2. Why?

3. Because that's what they consider acceptable.

 

Ok...but so what? If they consider it acceptable, that doesn't mean it is. Some people might consider it acceptable to bash babies against rocks and slaughter firstborns but again that doesn't mean that because different cultures have developed different ideas of morality that we have no right to criticize and analyze such beliefs.

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Yes, but we're trying to transcend culture, Amethyst, and their respective ethical systems. Your argument is essentially logically unsound.

 

1. In that culture it might be considered fine to kill and eat your neighbour while in ours it isn't.

2. Why?

3. Because that's what they consider acceptable.

 

Ok...but so what? If they consider it acceptable, that doesn't mean it is. Some people might consider it acceptable to bash babies against rocks and slaughter firstborns but again that doesn't mean that because different cultures have developed different ideas of morality that we have no right to criticize and analyze such beliefs.

 

But you can't transcend culture. You can try, but you're always going to be part of it, at least until you're dead. Things like killing firstborns may be unacceptable to us, but not to them. They could criticize and analyze our beliefs of eating animals. Or even plants. They could criticize the way we treat our elderly by dumping them in nursing homes and ignoring them, which most people on earth think is perfectly fine, or else it wouldn't be common. They could criticize us wearing the color red because in their religion it symbolizes death or some such thing. Morality is based on general consensus as a society. We have decided as a society that harming innocents is wrong. So to us, it is. But to another society, it may not be "wrong". It may just be their way of life. Do you see what I am saying?

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But you can't transcend culture.

 

Of course you can. I, for one, am against the multi-culturalistic ideas of Canada, my culture. I'm also against the socialistic ideas of my culture and the religious ideas of most of my culture, and any other progressivist transcends the culture of their times in other ways.

 

You can try, but you're always going to be part of it, at least until you're dead. Things like killing firstborns may be unacceptable to us, but not to them. They could criticize and analyze our beliefs of eating animals. Or even plants. They could criticize the way we treat our elderly by dumping them in nursing homes and ignoring them, which most people on earth think is perfectly fine, or else it wouldn't be common. They could criticize us wearing the color red because in their religion it symbolizes death or some such thing. Morality is based on general consensus as a society. We have decided as a society that harming innocents is wrong. So to us, it is. But to another society, it may not be "wrong". It may just be their way of life. Do you see what I am saying?

 

Well, for one, you are ignoring the possibility that objective morality exists. For another, you're also ignoring that it all boils down to "why?" Why do this? Why do that? Why is it acceptable?

 

It just being their way of life is not a reason, it's a fallacy.

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Of course you can. I, for one, am against the multi-culturalistic ideas of Canada, my culture. I'm also against the socialistic ideas of my culture and the religious ideas of most of my culture, and any other progressivist transcends the culture of their times in other ways.

 

But you still speak English, right? You still wear clothes, and I'm guessing blue jeans and T-shirts, which are considered normal? You're not going outside on a daily basis dressed in say...women's swimming suits, or a Halloween costume? You still have a job and pay taxes, right? Those things are all part of your culture, whether you like that culture or not.

 

Well, for one, you are ignoring the possibility that objective morality exists. For another, you're also ignoring that it all boils down to "why?" Why do this? Why do that? Why is it acceptable?

 

It just being their way of life is not a reason, it's a fallacy.

We do things in order to fit in, so we're not arrested and thrown into jail, so we can live our lives in relative peace. We do things because they are considered socially acceptable. Humans are social creatures. It's part of our nature. It is the way we are, even if we're introverted or anti-social, we still try to fit in somewhat. That's not a fallacy.

 

Let me use this as an example. Fundies and homophobes consider homosexuality evil. I personally do not. What makes me any more right than them? After all, there are a lot of fundies and homophobes out there. What makes me right?

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But you still speak English, right? You still wear clothes, and I'm guessing blue jeans and T-shirts, which are considered normal? You're not going outside on a daily basis dressed in say...women's swimming suits, or a Halloween costume? You still have a job and pay taxes, right? Those things are all part of your culture, whether you like that culture or not.

 

You sound like chef. Clothes are necessary for survival. I wear different clothes at different times.

 

A Halloween costume is a cultural thing, Amethyst....tsk tsk. I have a job and pay taxes because they are necessary for survival in my society.

They are part of my culture, but I accept them, and I have reasons for accepting them.

 

We do things in order to fit in, so we're not arrested and thrown into jail, so we can live our lives in relative peace. We do things because they are considered socially acceptable. Humans are social creatures. It's part of our nature. It is the way we are, even if we're introverted or anti-social, we still try to fit in somewhat. That's not a fallacy.

 

What's this "we" business? YOU do things like that. I do things because I analyze whether or not they are acceptable to ME, not because they are socially acceptable. It's considered socially unacceptable to smoke, yet people do it.

 

It IS a fallacy to follow a crowd of people and relinquish your individuality because you want to complacently float through life and because "it's the way it's always been".

 

Let me use this as an example. Fundies and homophobes consider homosexuality evil. I personally do not. What makes me any more right than them? After all, there are a lot of fundies and homophobes out there. What makes me right?

 

The fact that they have no valid reason to consider homosexuality evil other than emotional appeals and arbitrary beliefs.

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You sound like chef. Clothes are necessary for survival. I wear different clothes at different times.

 

Yeah, but you dress according to the occassion, right?

 

What's this "we" business? YOU do things like that. I do things because I analyze whether or not they are acceptable to ME, not because they are socially acceptable. It's considered socially unacceptable to smoke, yet people do it.

 

Ah, but they still are able to smoke without being say, thrown into jail or in an insane asylum, right?

 

It IS a fallacy to follow a crowd of people and relinquish your individuality because you want to complacently float through life and because "it's the way it's always been".[/b]

I don't entirely disagree, but here's the thing. You can't go against a culture if the culture doesn't exist. Going against it isn't transcending it. It's fighting it. There's a difference between fighting and transcending.

 

The fact that they have no valid reason to consider homosexuality evil other than emotional appeals and arbitrary beliefs.

What is morality based on, if not emotion and arbitrary beliefs?

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You sound like chef. Clothes are necessary for survival. I wear different clothes at different times.

 

Yeah, but you dress according to the occassion, right?

 

Only if my girlfriend says so, hehe. I wear things that accentuate how hot I am.

 

Ah, but they still are able to smoke without being say, thrown into jail or in an insane asylum, right?

 

So? Some people are able to kill other people without facing those consequences.

 

What is morality based on, if not emotion and arbitrary beliefs?

 

I've said this already, but valuing life is the standard of morality and the purpose of morality is one's own life.

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So? Some people are able to kill other people without facing those consequences.

 

So does that make killing other people right?

 

I've said this already, but valuing life is the standard of morality and the purpose of morality is one's own life.

Because humans have decided to value life. That's a general consensus.

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So does that make killing other people right?

 

No.

 

Because humans have decided to value life. That's a general consensus.

 

No it's not. It's an individual consensus. A value is anything you strive to obtain or keep. Since you need life in order to live, you strive to maintain it. Since you need OTHER things lives in order to live, you strive to obtain and keep that life too.

 

General consensus is irrelevant in this case.

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So does that make killing other people right?

 

No.

 

Why not?

 

No it's not. It's an individual consensus. A value is anything you strive to obtain or keep. Since you need life in order to live, you strive to maintain it. Since you need OTHER things lives in order to live, you strive to obtain and keep that life too.

 

General consensus is irrelevant in this case.

Not necessarily. One can decide to value something, but if those values aren't in line with the rest of society's, there may be consequences. Like if someone values--say, diamonds, and steals them on a regular basis because they don't think it's wrong, chances are good that they're going to find themselves in jail eventually. Do you see what I'm saying?

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Well, for one, you are ignoring the possibility that objective morality exists.

I don't think objective morality exists. If there were no humans or other sentient beings to decide what was right or what was wrong, there wouldn't be any morality. There might be animals with instinct, but no morality. There may be some things that are considered universally moral or immoral by consensus, but that's because of sentient beings coming to an general agreement.

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Why not?

 

Because if you value life, then taking the life of a human being that is not in the defense of your own life is hypocritical.

 

Not necessarily. One can decide to value something, but if those values aren't in line with the rest of society's, there may be consequences. Like if someone values--say, diamonds, and steals them on a regular basis because they don't think it's wrong, chances are good that they're going to find themselves in jail eventually. Do you see what I'm saying?

 

Stealing is always wrong, by definition, Amethyst. Just because someone may think that the world is flat doesn't make it so. What is, is. Stealing is stealing.

 

You're missing out on other values that I've stated in regards to living. Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem are the foundational values one must uphold in order to live.

 

It is irrational to steal diamonds, it lacks self-esteem, and it isn't a goal oriented with surviving in a society.

 

Your whole idea crumbles down once we bring in the foundation of reason as a value. You talk of people arbitrarily valuing things, that is irrational. An ethical system founded on mere arbitrary whims is not a valuable ethical system. Why? Because then we get anarchy, chaos and death.

 

I don't think objective morality exists. If there were no humans or other sentient beings to decide what was right or what was wrong, there wouldn't be any morality. There might be animals with instinct, but no morality. There may be some things that are considered universally moral or immoral by consensus, but that's because of sentient beings coming to an general agreement.

 

So? If there were no humans or other sentient beings there wouldn't be math or logic either, that doesn't mean they aren't objective.

 

You're confusing how some ethical systems came to be and how an objective ethical system came to be (metaethics) with the existence of an objective ethical system.

They may be contingent on the human mind to discover them...much like the abstract of math or logic. But that doesn't mean they don't exist.

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Because if you value life, then taking the life of a human being that is not in the defense of your own life is hypocritical.

 

But Asi...humans are hypocritical beings. Who do hypocritical things.

 

Stealing is always wrong, by definition, Amethyst. Just because someone may think that the world is flat doesn't make it so. What is, is. Stealing is stealing.

 

Then shift the definitions and blur the lines a bit. It doesn't take much to twist a definition, really. Lawyers do it daily.

 

Your whole idea crumbles down once we bring in the foundation of reason as a value. You talk of people arbitrarily valuing things, that is irrational. An ethical system founded on mere arbitrary whims is not a valuable ethical system. Why? Because then we get anarchy, chaos and death.

 

You speak as if humans are rational, reasonable beings. The very existence of this website appears to be proof that they are not.

 

*Eee, my first fight with Asimov since I've returned! Memories... :grin: *

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IF human beings could truly grasp and act out unconditional love would the problem of what constitutes "moral" behavior even exist?

Yes, because you said "could" which does not imply that all human beings WOULD act out of unconditional love.

 

I think you need to flesh out what you mean by unconditional love there, OM.

 

Ask and you shall receive. :grin:

 

http://www.onenessonline.com/

At the risk of sounding like a Christian. ;)

 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets. (Christianity - Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)

 

In the overall effort to transcend culture and Christianity - specifically. ;)

 

  • What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of The Torah and the remainder is but commentary. (Judaism - Shabbath (also Rabbi Hillel))

  • Do unto all men as you would they should unto you, and reject for others what you would reject

    for yourself. (Islam - Mishkat-el-Masabih)

  • Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. (Buddhism - Udanavarga 5.8)

  • Tzu Kung asked: "Is there any one principle upon which one’s whole life may proceed?" Confucius replied: "Is not Reciprocity such a principle?- what you do not yourself desire, do not put before

    others." (Confucianism - Analects 15.23)

  • This is the sum of all true righteousness - Treat others, as thou wouldst thyself be treated. Do nothing to thy neighbor, which hereafter Thou wouldst not have thy neighbor do to thee. (Hinduism

    Mahabharata (Ganguli, Book 13 CXIII))

  • Treat others as thou wouldst be treated thyself. (Sikhism Guru Angad (Macauliffe vol 2, p.29))

  • A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. (Jainism - Sutrakritanga Sutra 1.11.33)

  • Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain; and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss, even as though you were in their place. (Taoism - Tai-Shang Kan-Ying Pien)

  • Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee. (Bahá'í - Bahá'ulláh)

 

I'm sure there is a quote from a humanist or rationalist perspective - I just wouldn't know where to look for them. But, I think the above should pretty well "flesh out" what I mean by unconditional love. :grin:

 

.... so back to my original point .....

 

I do not believe unconditional love is a concrete reality within the human experience. I believe - though - it is something most rational human beings consider to be an ideal.

 

So... although there are human beings who couldn't give a shit about unconditional love, and although there are human beings who rationalize horrid behavior towards others as "love" ... the question still remains... IF human beings could truly grasp and act out unconditional love would the problem of what constitutes "moral" behavior even exist?

 

Does healthy "morality" come out of a human intention to act in loving ways towards other humans and the earth?

 

__________________

 

Stealing is always wrong, by definition, Amethyst. Just because someone may think that the world is flat doesn't make it so. What is, is. Stealing is stealing.

 

Tell this to the people who were trapped in New Oreleans last year - after the hurricane - with no way to feed their families. :shrug::shrug:

 

There was "stealing" going on in that city for food and other needed supplies. And then there was just plain pilfering and robbery.

 

There is a difference between the two acts - had I been trapped in that city and needed food or medical supplies (either for myself or for my neighbor) I wouldn't have hesitated to break into a store and take what I needed.

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