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Moral values without religion

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Moral values without religion

Intellectual Conservative

by Peter Schwartz

 

"Does morality depend upon religion? Most people believe it does,

which is a major reason behind the appeal of the religious right.

People believe that without faith in a supernatural authority, we can

have no moral values -- no moral absolutes, no black-and-white

distinctions, no firm demarcation between good and evil -- in life or

in politics. This is the assumption underlying Justice Antonin

Scalia's recent assertion that 'government derives its authority from

God,' since only religious faith can supposedly provide moral

constraints on human action. And what draws people to this bizarre

premise -- the premise that there is no rational basis for refraining

from murder, rape or anarchism? The left's persistent assault on moral

values." (05/27/05)

 

http://www.intellectualconservative.com/article4364.html

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Morality does not depend on religion. It does, however, depend on critical thinking, something which religion doesn't usually encourage.

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Here's a really nice gem from that same site.

 

They're some clever little evil bastards...

The last paragraph explains the intent behind this

entire article.

 

 

The Space Alien’s View of the Separation of Church and State

by Selwyn Duke

07 January 2005

 

On no issue is our dislocation from reality more acute than on the separation of church and state.

 

When Logos came to our solar system from a galaxy far, far away to study the decline of American Civilization, he found our tendency to make life or death political decisions based on emotion to be profoundly fascinating. He analyzed many aspects of our society, but on no issue was our dislocation from reality more acute than on the separation of church and state.

 

Now, I think Logos’ observations are instructive because it’s usually very hard to think outside the box when you’re living inside the box. We live inside the box, making the transcending of the boundaries and suppositions of a debate -- which is often a prerequisite for cutting to the heart of the matter and revealing the truth -- rare indeed. So let’s see if we can benefit from the insights of an outsider looking in, one Logos, who resides outside the box of our time and place and its attendant assumptions, and inside the box of logic, where no obfuscating emotion dare tread.

 

An impartial observer of this sort would first be struck by the obsession we have with purging every remnant of religious expression from our public sphere. Why, with the frenetic sense of urgency with which we pursue this course of action, you would think the task was one of isolating some new virus that threatened to wipe out mankind. Of course, Logos would find no constitutional basis for such a complete rending of our religious traditions, but those of us who have read the Constitution already know it doesn’t exist. Anyway, one way or another the law eventually takes the shape of the morality of its creators. Moreover, analysis of the law has been done ad infinitum by we terrestrials and doesn’t titillate the intellect like analysis of its moral justifications, so let’s boil this issue down to its bare essence.

 

Logos first may ask a very simple question: if these ideas really have been handed down by God, the Creator of the Universe, don’t you have an obligation to infuse your every institution, including the public ones, with them? Have you not then been enjoined to inculcate children with them, in as well as out of school?

 

Of course, I don’t have to tell you what the response will be. An army of naysayers will utter something to the effect of: “Well, you may think God is these ideas’ progenitor, but not everyone agrees with you. Many people believe they are simply man-made.”

 

Ah, yes, such an obvious answer, and the final word. End of discussion.

 

Except, you see, there’s one minor detail that it overlooks. For Logos will respond, “If they are man-made just like the secular ideas, why do you distinguish between the former and latter? Why do you insist that these man-made ideas that we call “secular” are grist for the public mill, but these man-made ideas that we call “religious” cannot be. If they’re all man-made, wherein lies the difference?

 

This is how you put the secularists in a box, for they will be trapped. For, in either case, there is no justification for excluding religious ideas from the public square. It transforms the debate from “Do they deserve equal status with secular ideas or lesser?” to “Do they deserve equal status with secular ideas or greater?” If these ideas are simply man-made, then the distinction between them and secular ones is a false one, ergo they enjoy equivalency. If, however, these ideas originated in the Infinite Mind, then they must take precedence in all things over mere products of limited minds.

 

One frailty of limited human minds, however, is that they often cling to old, mistaken ideas long past the time when they should have been disabused of them. So, alas, the debate wouldn’t end there. The next tactic might be to claim that these “man-made ‘religious’ ideas” are offensive to many who don’t hold them.

 

But Logos, steeped in reason, has the answer to that too. Quite simply, offense cannot be given it can only be taken; what is offensive is very subjective. And I’m sure that liberals can understand this. After all, they’re the first ones to use the argument that what constitutes offensiveness is completely subjective when, for instance, defending pornography against those who would censor it. Be that as it may, however, the fact is that traditionalists find many secular ideas that are foisted upon them and theirs to be deeply offensive. For instance, multiculturalist, feminist, radical-environmentalist ideas, and notions about the rectitude of homosexuality, are often the stuff of indoctrination in public schools. Now, some of you may agree with some of these ideas, but that’s irrelevant. Logos’ point is that they are as deeply offensive to some people as religious fervor is to the most ornery atheist.

 

So, religious ideas cannot be stricken based upon their origin or a garden-variety offensiveness argument, but the opposition still has one card to play. “Isn’t there something about religious ideas that makes them integral to who you are?,” they will query, sometimes with feigned reverence. “And, does this not distinguish them from secular ideas? Are we not talking about the domain of deep-seated beliefs that reside in the core of our being and, as such, when they offend, do they not offend more deeply?” Of course, Logos is going to insist that this “something” that supposedly distinguishes religious ideas be defined, and not merely accepted on faith by the people who scoff at the acceptance of God’s existence on faith.

 

No such definition will be forthcoming, I can assure you. This is because this is another one of those suppositions -- left-wing dogma, if you will. In reality, while that space in the core of one’s being should be occupied by God, when He is not there, something else will most surely be. And make no mistake, that something else can be anything under the sun and often burns with the fires of a thousand zealous passions.

 

Just think about an old-line Marxist and his formulaic devotion to his own communist creed. Such a person would so often find a reality that contradicts his ideology staring him right in the face and simply dismiss it with the mantra, “That is not what ‘The Party’ says.”

 

Although, you need not reach beyond today’s political fashions to find such blind faith in secular ideologies. You only have to look at eco-terrorists who burn homes or SUVs, feminists who see the shadowy hand of a patriarchy around every corner and cast everything as a battle of the sexes, white or black supremacists, to whom race is the greatest value, or homosexual activists who wear their sexual proclivities on their shirtsleeves. You need not wonder why these folks will protest on the streets with twisted faces and snarling voices. You need not wonder why they are so doctrinaire, why it’s so difficult to appeal to them with reason: it’s because they have made their ideology their raison d’etre, and woe betide the hapless soul who should question their orthodoxy.

 

No one is proposing the establishment of a national religion, but why elevate that prospect alone to cultural boogeyman status? It would be no more unpalatable than the establishment of a national ideology, a la the former Soviet Union. An imposed set of values is an imposed set of values, no matter what guise it masquerades under, and when rammed down the collective throat a part of the body politic will always find it a bitter pill.

 

It’s time to stop trying to put God in a box; instead, we must put the misbegotten separation of church and state argument where it belongs: a pine box. If we do not, that is most assuredly where our civilization will end up.

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It doesn't take a Bible to ask yourself "What are the concequences of this action?"

 

Merlin

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Fweethawt- I don't like christians any better than anybody else here, but that article made some interesting points. Exactly why should religious ideology be treaded differently from non-religious ideology?

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Fweethawt-  I don't like christians any better than anybody else here, but that article made some interesting points.  Exactly why should religious ideology be treaded differently from non-religious ideology?

 

Because it isn't nearly as dynamic or objective as non-religious ideologies.

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Depends on the ideology. Morals are not religiously exclusive; my Christian roommate considers me more Christian than most of the people he knows because I actually do what many of them only talk lip service about. Even his parents, the ex-pastor and wife, didn't go out on a limb as I did and take their own son in when he lost his job, was about to be evicted, and had nowhere to go. Barely knew him; now we're living fairly well, he's got a good job, and his life is going up instead of down. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I respect his decisions - unless they affect me adversely somehow - and I challenge him to think. Yet I'm athiest. What does that say about those morals?

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"One frailty of limited human minds, however, is that they often cling to old, mistaken ideas long past the time when they should have been disabused of them."

 

The irony of this statement is staggering... :eek:

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Honestly, you don't need a religon for morals. I was raised fairly secularly (despite my mom still considering herself Catholic), and I still know the difference between right and wrong, and where the grey areas are.

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Hee. Gir! "I'm gonna sing the Doom Song now!"

 

 

I want his plushie.

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Hee.  Gir!  "I'm gonna sing the Doom Song now!"

I want his plushie.

 

Doom, Doom, Doom, Doom ...

 

Do the tallest have morals? I don't think so...

 

Anywho

 

I agree with one of the posters higher up in the list, that you can have high morals without religion. I consider myself more moral now, than before as xian. It's somehow easier to understand why you should do it, and when you know why, you will do it not because you get punished, but because you really want to. It's from the heart now, honest acts instead of eye serving to gob.

 

Besides (my favorite subjet), look at Sweden (oh, no! He's talking about sweden again), high number of agnostics/atheists and lower crime rate than here. What's up with that unless moral can be guided outside religion!!!

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I am an atheist but I have good morals by Christian standards by not drinking, doing drugs, stealing, or various other things. I have a sense of right and wrong but I don't consider doing drugs or drinking a bad thing but I won't do them cause it is hazardous. You can have good morals without religon which encourages doing bad things and then repenting so it's like you never did it which is stupid.

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I have a sense of right and wrong but I don't consider doing drugs or drinking a bad thing but I won't do them cause it is hazardous.

 

The problem with something like drugs is that once you're addicted, you lose your sense of rationality and do things that you wouldn't otherwise do, like stealing, abusing someone or yourself, etc. Drugs may not be wrong in and of themselves, but they do lead to things that cause others harm. So for that reason, I'd consider that wrong.

 

I tend to lean toward the Pagan side though, as in do as ye will but harm none. To me, it's a good, simple philosophy. Granted, it's open for interpretation, but it works.

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Guest Joseph
Moral values without religion

Intellectual Conservative

by Peter Schwartz

 

"Does morality depend upon religion?

(snip)

http://www.intellectualconservative.com/article4364.html

 

"I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures,

or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves.

An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond

my comprehension,...; such notions are for the fears or absurd

egoism of feeble souls."

                  -- Albert Einstein

 

  "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy,

education and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary.

Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear

of punishment and hope of reward after death."

            --Albert Einstein

 

      "I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His

children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can

be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse

Him."

                      --A. Einstein

                        (Letter to Edgar Meyer, Jan. 2, 1915)

 

The man was more than a scientific marvel in my mind.

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The man was more than a scientific marvel in my mind.

Thank you, thank you, thank you... it was up in another topic that Einstein supported the idea of God, so these quotes are perfect. Thanks again.

:thanks:

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Guest smoothmoniker

Can a person act morally without any religious motivations? Of course. To argue otherwise would be silly.

 

A more difficult question is this: apart from any worldview that includes a divine being, why do we have moral thoughts at all? Are they a fixture of the natural world? Can someone concieve of a reason why there is a universal human perception that acts have a value aspect to them (I'm not saying that there is universal moral agreement about any such acts, just that it is a universal human experience that some acts have moral features)? Why are morals part of this universe? That's a much more difficult one to answer.

 

Or, to walk it one step past that, let's say that we can get to the idea of moral value without any interference from a divine being. That still leaves us with the question, why be moral? I'm not saying you can't be areligious and be moral, I'm asking, if you are areligious, why bother being moral? Wouldn't it in fact be a much better situation for everyone else to be moral (selfless, compassionate, honest, etc) but for you to be entirely amoral within that world?

 

Assume no negative social consquences. Assume no accountability for your actions. Assume that you could act invisibly and remain undetected. Why should you choose not to kill your neighbor and steal his things?

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Assume no negative social consquences. Assume no accountability for your actions. Assume that you could act invisibly and remain undetected. Why should you choose not to kill your neighbor and steal his things?

 

Out of pure selfish reasons, you know the consequences, and perhaps depending on how well you've been nurtured by your parents, you don't want to hurt other people based on the golden rule (in whichever form you might have it).

 

If you have siblings and you get raised to give and not take, not hurt your brother, even when you're angry, you will have developed a stronger mindset of "not hurting others", this is the reason why people that grow up in abusive homes tend to have easier to fall into abusing their own kids (not saying everyone does it).

 

It's also depending on how well developed your frontal lobe is, where the executive area of the brain is, where the decision for right or wrong is made. If you have that area injured or underdeveloped, you will have a harder time stopping yourself from hurting other people.

 

Moral is also different in different parts of the world. Pygmies and cannibals (when they still existed) had no concern of other peoples (strangers) well being. To kill someone was food on the table or a duty according to the religion. And look at the extreme factions of terrorism, where murder and killing innocent is considered a free ticket to heaven.

 

So basically, when we discuss generic, absolute and objective morals, we're doing it from out western world ideology which has already been influenced by the western religion and media. We are already prepped and programmed to think a certain way. So the sample in the Petri dish is already tainted and can't be used as a proof.

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Fweethawt-  I don't like christians any better than anybody else here, but that article made some interesting points.  Exactly why should religious ideology be treaded differently from non-religious ideology?

 

Sorry for not seeing this sooner, Unchained.

 

I guess that my best answer would be in the form of a question.

 

What non-religious ideology commands those who adhere to it, to kill those who don't?

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Can a person act morally without any religious motivations? Of course. To argue otherwise would be silly.

 

A more difficult question is this: apart from any worldview that includes a divine being, why do we have moral thoughts at all? Are they a fixture of the natural world? Can someone concieve of a reason why there is a universal human perception that acts have a value aspect to them (I'm not saying that there is universal moral agreement about any such acts, just that it is a universal human experience that some acts have moral features)?

I'll go with " fixture of the natural world" for 500 Alex.

 

If we give other people reason to be angry with us will they cooperate with us? Is having a bad reputation a good thing? Helping eachother to survive is considered beneficial. Always has been with most of us. It is natural for most of us. We want security. Most of us are rewarded or punnished chemically in the brain ( conscience) depending on our thoughts and actions. Feelings and Reasoning based on instincts/physical needs are what I'm talking about.

 

Why are morals part of this universe? That's a much more difficult one to answer.

Say what? Is this a leading question of some kind?

 

Or, to walk it one step past that, let's say that we can get to the idea of moral value without any interference from a divine being. That still leaves us with the question, why be moral? I'm not saying you can't be areligious to be moral, I'm asking, if you are areligious, why bother being moral?

We all have the same basic needs and therefore most of us will choose to be moral for greater security.

 

Wouldn't it in fact be a much better situation for everyone else to be moral (selfless, compassionate, honest, etc) but for you to be entirely amoral within that world? Assume no negative social consquences. Assume no accountability for your actions. Assume that you could act invisibly and remain undetected. Why should you choose not to kill your neighbor and steal his things?

Dude there is a lot you are not taking into consideration here. We are social animals for starters and we feel the need for family and friends. These feelings are instinctual. Remember that most of us feel satisfaction or guilt according to our thoughts and actions. Also keep in mind that cultures make code of conduct in keeping with increasing security, (even though some of the rules can be stupid as hell because of ignorance or superstition), moral codes are invented with the intent of mutual benefit.

 

What are you implying here? That a god magically instilled in us the abilty to feel guilt? Would it be to much to ask that you provide proof of a god first? There are natural reasons why most of us feel guilt. As the little red head girl in The Kids in the Hall says "Its a fact!" hehe.

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A more difficult question is this: apart from any worldview that includes a divine being, why do we have moral thoughts at all? Are they a fixture of the natural world? Can someone concieve of a reason why there is a universal human perception that acts have a value aspect to them (I'm not saying that there is universal moral agreement about any such acts, just that it is a universal human experience that some acts have moral features)? Why are morals part of this universe? That's a much more difficult one to answer.

 

Or, to walk it one step past that, let's say that we can get to the idea of moral value without any interference from a divine being. That still leaves us with the question, why be moral? I'm not saying you can't be areligious and be moral, I'm asking, if you are areligious, why bother being moral? Wouldn't it in fact be a much better situation for everyone else to be moral (selfless, compassionate, honest, etc) but for you to be entirely amoral within that world?

 

Assume no negative social consquences. Assume no accountability for your actions. Assume that you could act invisibly and remain undetected. Why should you choose not to kill your neighbor and steal his things?

 

For a smart guy?/gal? these are awful silly questions. First, establish for us a universal morality.

 

Others here have answered the question of "why be moral" so I won't address that.

 

Finally, it makes sense that some morality is built in through evolutionary means. Just as we have a fight or flight tendency built in we also have instinctual emotions related to love and fear et al that are necessary for survival. The human species would not have survived as long as it has if it had developed without social instincts.

 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

 

As I said, for a smart person, this is a BS question.

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I think he was just longwinded in saying " God made us with a conscience"

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I think he was just longwinded in saying " God made us with a conscience"

 

 

Yeah, I know. That's why I was getting a little huffy. That stuff confounded me when I was 12 but now...

 

...I had expected more from a person who started off under the premise that his beliefs were formed through the filter of the scientific method.

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Yea. I was hoping for a decent debate in the one on one arena. Bummer.

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Yea. I was hoping for a decent debate in the one on one arena. Bummer.

 

 

Same old BS repackaged in prettier smart sounding words.

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Well maybe if he sticks around he will decide to expand his knowlege base a little.

 

Speaking of which thanks for the book!

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