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nivek

Moral values without religion

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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.

 

Well said.

 

Moral has evolved in the human mind, and still of what we call moral is a cultural phenomenon, not built in.

 

For instance I consider it being a moral thing to accept and respect other people's belief and religion. Not that I don't argue about it, but I consider religion being of personal choice. Yet in history when countries has had Christianity as state religion, other religions were not accepted. I would say that my built in moral to respect, overrides the Biblical moral to reject.

 

And there are more moral codes in the Bible that does not work with the "built-in" moral. Slavery, killing innocent children, hate your father and mother, create we-and-them dualism, and so on.

 

So if we would follow our built-in moral ... Christianity would NOT be the best religion to follow.

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In my experience, what is considered "moral" is strongly connected to the society in which it is judged.

 

Here's a thought experiment: try to think of something that has been "taboo" (ie immoral) in every society throughout time. So far, I've never been able to find one. There are always social institutions of some kind that will validate the act in question w/in the context of their culuture...

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In my experience, what is considered "moral" is strongly connected to the society in which it is judged. 

 

Here's a thought experiment: try to think of something that has been "taboo" (ie immoral) in every society throughout time.  So far, I've never been able to find one.  There are always social institutions of some kind that will validate the act in question w/in the context of their culuture...

I agree.

 

Consider the moral law to not kill other people.

 

We make exceptions to this moral law, if we are threadened or if we're in war.

And you can see that this goes for all morals, there's not one that doesn't have exceptions, so where's the absolute in that???

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there's not one that doesn't have exceptions, so where's the absolute in that???

 

:thanks:

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:thanks:

Your welcome GIR! :grin:

 

"Oooh! It likes me!"...

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Guest marktaylor

In my experience, what is considered "moral" is strongly connected to the society in which it is judged.

 

 

Quite right. Even the act of cannibalizing the carcass of a fallen enemy was considered to be in "good taste" by recently "chastised" societies.

 

What did Jesus say, eat me?

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In my experience, what is considered "moral" is strongly connected to the society in which it is judged.

Quite right. Even the act of cannibalizing the carcass of a fallen enemy was considered to be in "good taste" by recently "chastised" societies.

 

What did Jesus say, eat me?

And the disciples should have answered "Bite me!" and left...

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Guest Joseph
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:

 

Welcome.

 

Einstein said that his idea of "god" was a non-personal natural law type of entity, in other words, the universal laws. Einstein also absolutely hated the idea that the universe was not knowable (inthat quantum mechanics having the uncertainty principle of heisenburg was one thing he distrusted greatly). Einstein sought without effect toward the end of his life for a means to join relativity with quantum mechanics and also is quoted as having said that "God does not play dice" with the universe. Many take this to mean that Einstein was/had a theistic mindset. Instead what he was trying to say was that the laws that exist within our known universe should be knowable if you but figure them out (that the uncertainty of quantum mechanics should be someday known).

 

Some more help if you want it...

 

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."

 

"I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."

 

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

 

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of

all  that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate

and actions of human beings."

--A. Einstein

(1929 -- Einstein Archive 33-272)

 

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious

convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not

believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have

expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called

religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the

world so far as our science can reveal it."

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In my experience, what is considered "moral" is strongly connected to the society in which it is judged. 

 

Here's a thought experiment: try to think of something that has been "taboo" (ie immoral) in every society throughout time.  So far, I've never been able to find one.  There are always social institutions of some kind that will validate the act in question w/in the context of their culuture...

 

 

The US Supreme Court would agree with you. They have interpreted "pornography" based on "contemporary community standards." In other words, what is pornographic in Cincinnati may or may not be pornographic in LA.

 

Rousseau also argued that morality is formed based on the general will of the people and that the general will varies from community to community.

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

 

I have heard many a person argue just this point. Saddly. My own parents believe that without "christ" a person is without a moral guide.

 

A more difficult question is this: apart from any worldview that includes a divine being, why do we have moral thoughts at all?

 

Social evolution.

 

Are they a fixture of the natural world?

 

It depends entirely on how you are defining a "moral" system. Various levels of such systems exist within the natural order, and no other creature known to mankind has deities but man. Thus these moral / social systems that exist within the natural order exist without the presence of known deities.

 

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)?

 

We assign arbitrary labels to everything. The concepts we use for any given "thing" are all relative to perspective and context. "Up" at any given moment can be a different direction than it was, and given to perception/perspective can be two entirely different directions at the same moment.

 

When we speak in "universal" truths, it is only because we are looking at a given concept or subject or happening from a concurrent viewpoint. Otherwise, the moral labels or the moral values upon a given act can in totality change.

 

Example:

People sit in church and take holy communion through the consumption of the bread and wine.

 

People sit in church a practice symbolic cannibalism through the consumption of bread (representing a body/flesh) and wine (representing the blood).

 

Which of these is empirically the correct moral viewpoint?

 

People say to turn to the Bible to make moral assumptions. The problem is that upon this VERY point the Bible conflicts. Eating blood is an abomination (horrendous sin) in the Tanakh, but is a requirement for salvation in the NT.

 

Therefore no one who bases their world view upon the "Bible" as a given rule of thumb knows that they are doing a great evil or a good if/when they decide to take holy communion (or practice symbolic cannibalism).

 

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

 

Morals are a part of human conceptualization.

 

Social structures which tend to exist upon a framework of empathy for those like your kind are perhaps the advent of evolutionary thought processes and nothing more. You are the "stronger" and "more likely to survive" if you cooperate with those like you (and those like you are much more likely to help you and understand you than those not like you). The complexity of morality is that without a common viewpoint, there is no such thing as a moral. It is immoral to kill a human. To a cannibalistic society the greatest honor you could give to your enemy was to eat him in order so that they would continue on and you would "take on their strengths." Just as they assumed that eating fish would make them better swimmers and such things. Just as Christianity believes that their consumption of their mangod will give them "eternal life."

 

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?

 

Morality / Social structure is purely a selfish act in the end. You (personal identity) are more likely to survive if you are within a strong group structure. You will eat better and have more. Thus you decide to work within this group and follow customs taught to you from youth. This teaches you to have a "pack mind" or a "social mind" and thus your personal identity is "stretched" or perhaps "broadened" to include your pack.

 

We are moral purely because we wish to survive, and the best adapted within a given environment survive. Those that do not adapt to social structure are more likely to not survive and thus social minds develop while a-social minds die out over time (or are dealt with by the social minds to protect the whole, AKA: prison, banishment, death sentence, ect.).

 

I'm not saying you can't be areligious and be moral, I'm asking, if you are areligious, why bother being moral?

 

Look at what happens to those that are not.

 

Sexuality without due respect for disease:

--death/discomfort.

Disregard for others within the group:

--Isolation, prison, banishment, death sentence.

Stealing from others:

--More likely to be stolen from and/or isolation, prison, banishment, et al.

Rape:

--prison, death sentence.

Druge use:

--physical addiction, isolation, prison, banishment, death

 

The various others that I have not listed are along the same lines. For all moral types there are actions which either the social order or the very nature of our physiological makeup that will bring about an end we would not desire. And as such this just goes to breed within rational/reasoning beings further "moral" or "social" order so that we do not suffer "more."

 

Purely hedonistic long-term thinking.

 

Those that violate any given moral action or standard do so due to their inability to think long term effect payout due to short term reward payout. This goes for the drug addict that does not see his/her future or the person who has sexual intercourse and gets a disease. There is of course the irrational man and the man who does not know the outcome and acts out of need (the theif that takes to eat and stay alive). But that would make this post extremely long and so I will not write about all examples just the "general idea."

 

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?

 

Humans are very good as "catching" those that are manipulating the system. They want a level playing field (or as close as they can make it) also the development of empathy has made us respect even the weakest of our society because they may contribute in ways we do not see at first hand. I digress but the end point of this is that IF you are the amoral person and act because of short-term gains someday the social structures in place will catch you and thus you will pay for those short term gains. If you were not able to be found out by the social structure then the rule of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" take place. It may make for a more pleasant lifestyle to take what is not yours, sleep with anyone you want, say anything you want, and/or do what you desire/need but in the end you will be dealt with by your social structure as cheats are not welcomed within an organized group. This will lead to (in long run) your mindset being less likely to survive in a comfortable way and thus lead you to either prison, isolation, death, et al...also making those that think as you do less likely to reproduce within a given social structure and less likely to continue to exist the further down through time the structure develops.

 

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?

 

The answer to such a question is that there is no answer. It is the same as if I asked you, if you were traveling down at what point would you turn around?

 

You have given no social order for which this person "answers" to and thus removed this to an environment that humans have little reference point to as most of mankind answer to some form of social order / moral system.

 

However, those that normally do act as such are either insane, irrational, or they find that their "no accountability and remaining undetected" was for the short term only. IF such a person existed without impunity to actions, they would not develop any social moral system due to not have any controls placed upon their actions. It is the moral equivalent of the invisibility ring. There is also a wonderful StarGate SG-1 episode entitled "Absolute Power" that speaks to this point.

 

Case in point: theocractical rule, totalitarian governmental systems, Almighty "gods," and the rest do as they please without moral viewpoint of anyone because their actions are justifiable from a given perspective.

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Guest Joseph
(snip)

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 was a "great honor" as well as those they would eat would become a part of them and their attributes/abilities were thought to be "taken upon" those that ate that person. AKA: eat fish swim better. Eat your enemy who could fight well, become better warrior. Also example found in the christan idea of communion. Eat a god's body for eternal life.

 

And look at the extreme factions of terrorism, where murder and killing innocent is considered a free ticket to heaven.

 

And look at the honorable soliders of the right wing, where destroying the insurgents and collateral damage is considered a free ticket to heaven.

 

NOTHING but perspective driven tripe, dogma, and/or propoganda.

 

"Tell them something often enough and no matter how horrid they will believe it."

 

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.

 

Generic morals?

Absolute morals?

Objective morals?

 

Generic morals meaning that there are name-brand versions?

 

Absolute morals meaning that in a language system based upon relative conceptualization we can even understand or even begin to draw up an "absolute?"

 

Objective morals? How could such things exist when there is no such person who is truly objective?

 

In the end it collaspes upon itself into NOTHING MORE than relative morality. Perspective driven moral systems based upon local custom and / or traditions and /or theological rules.

 

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.

 

Exactly the reason why there aren't absolute morality nor objective morality, your "petri dish" is tainted by the relative conceptualizations of humans.

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Guest Joseph
In my experience, what is considered "moral" is strongly connected to the society in which it is judged. 

 

Here's a thought experiment: try to think of something that has been "taboo" (ie immoral) in every society throughout time.

 

Incest.

 

So far, I've never been able to find one.  There are always social institutions of some kind that will validate the act in question w/in the context of their culuture...

 

Now, social orders have allowed this in times and some richer families actually practiced this against the social orders of their day, but it is an almost universal rule that incest is taboo. And this is perhaps the only social custom (moral?) that goes throughout the world.

 

There is VERY good DNA reasons that this became a social taboo across the globe and perhaps it was not social custom but physiological custom for which this was generated in almost every society.

 

Again, this is a social taboo in almost every society, I am not saying it was not broken at various times I am saying that those which did this were seen as deviant within their social caste structures when they did it.

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Incest.

 

 

What about in the Garden of Eden? Unless god created another "first family" there had to be some inbreedin' goin' on. :HaHa:

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Some more help if you want it...

 

Thanks again, I added them to my quote book.

 

***

 

And Joseph ... good input... :thanks:

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This question always interest me because I was brought up pretty much with no religion and but my parents certainly taught me how to treat others. I also grew up in a neighborhood that was about half Christian and half Jewish, and I never noticed any difference in the behavior of Christian and Jewish kids. In fact it wasn't until sixth grade when boys started having bar mitzvahs that I began to figure out who was Jewish and who wasn't. I didn't encounter the idea that religion determined morality, or was even connected with it, until my late teens and it was very foreign to me.

 

I once dated a Christian woman, and when I told her I was an atheist she said "but you seem like a good person". I thought that was a bizarre and offensive thing to say.

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Incest.

Now, social orders have allowed this in times and some richer families actually practiced this against the social orders of their day, but it is an almost universal rule that incest is taboo.  And this is perhaps the only social custom (moral?) that goes throughout the world.

 

There is VERY good DNA reasons that this became a social taboo across the globe and perhaps it was not social custom but physiological custom for which this was generated in almost every society.

 

Again, this is a social taboo in almost every society, I am not saying it was not broken at various times I am saying that those which did this were seen as deviant within their social caste structures when they did it.

 

Except how incest is defined varies across societies. Brother-sister and parent-child incest are almost always taboo, but once it gets into first cousins, uncles, and aunts what is taboo in one culture is acceptable in another.

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Example:

People sit in church and take holy communion through the consumption of the bread and wine.

 

People sit in church a practice symbolic cannibalism through the consumption of bread (representing a body/flesh) and wine (representing the blood).

 

Which of these is empirically the correct moral viewpoint?

 

A fundy would probably disagree, but even when IW as a Christian, I would have said it was symbolic. IMHO, the interpretations have nothing to do with morals. Saying either one of those isn't immoral since your perspective is based on your beliefs.

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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?

 

Because the structure of your desires will be out of harmony and disordered. A big part of a happy life consists in positive, cooperative actions with other people. Call it part of our primate hardwiring if you want. I like the way ancient Greek philosophy talked about the value of virtue, not from any divine will theory, but from the kind of life you experience when you seek to live by it.

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Looks like "incest" is the front runner for universal taboo...

 

I guess, "incest" might need some clarification in that case. Is sex between family member incest, or is the production of offspring from such a union incest? How closely related would two people have to be? Mother/father - son/daughter? Uncles/aunts - nephews/neices? Cousins?

 

In many ancient royal families (esp Egypt) it was not uncommon at all for brothers and sisters to marry as a way to consolidate power. I've also heard of (sorry looking for ref on this one) tribes where the male children have sex w/the elder males (no distinction for parentage) as a right of passage into manhood.

 

While I certainly agree that from a medical point of view, reproduction via incest is a bad idea in the long run (just look at the Russian royal family for examples), that evalution only comes from our current knowledge of genetics.

 

Again, it seems to me, that under certain social conditions, even incest can be considered "acceptable" if not "moral" to a society.

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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?

 

I have a hard time killing a bugs or any animals, because I can feel they have right to life too, and I don't have the right to kill them because of my superior power.

 

Yet, I know christians that without a though can kill a bird that by mistake flew into their home. And when we had the same situation, we saved the bird and let it free. In my opinion I care more for life than that Christian.

 

How is that explained?

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Guest Joseph
A fundy would probably disagree, but even when IW as a Christian, I would have said it was symbolic.

 

How many people have been the fuel upon the stake for that very statement. There is little argument if you but read the NT when Jesus spoke. He didn't say "pretend this is me" he said, "this is my body..." "this is my blood."

 

Traditional Christian teachings are that the bread becomes the body and the wine becomes the blood. They ARE practicing cannibalism if these beliefs actually took place in reality. Protestantism (along with other bastardized versions of xianity) remove themselves from this idea at peril due to not agree with the very text they claim is infallible and "God breathed."

 

So, just because various version of xianity exist does not excuse the words of their mangod inthat you must in reality eat his flesh and drink his blood to have salvation, for such is an outright abomination to the Entity (YHVH) spoken of in the Jewish Tanakh.

 

IMHO, the interpretations have nothing to do with morals.

 

Interpretations are what moral systems are built upon. Concurrent viewpoint must be attained before ANY value judgement can be made. If one person see communion as outright cannibalism while another see it as a holy act required for salvation, there is no moral in existence. There is no moral code to pass down. One of these moral systems must act out, take the upper hand, and practice natural selection and suppress the other one. Then there is a "majority viewpoint" and a "minority viewpoint." The majority will then enforce it's superior power and influence society's moral system toward their viewpoint...whether it is "right" or "wrong" does not even apply here...the victor dictates morality or the moral system of a given culture.

 

Cliche, "might makes right" doesn't matter, "might wins, might survives, and might writes the history books." Like the great writer once wrote, "Good? bad? I'm the one with the gun." (great movie by the way)

 

Saying either one of those isn't immoral since your perspective is based on your beliefs.

 

Both of the statements in question are immoral from without the given moral system. Saying to a Chrsitian soceity that they are practicing cannibalism as one of their holy rites would (at one point in our history) draw and quartered or burned alive at the steak. The best that could happen is perhaps to be slowly crushed by stones or the water test (if you drown you weren't demonic, if you float you are a demon).

 

To a non-Christian society based upon the laws of the Jewish Tanakh the Christian is doing one of the gavest of all sins in the consumption of blood (who cares if symbolic or not, you did it and knew what you were doing). Thus this grave sin is a mark against you.

 

Outside these two systems there are various other moral systems, without viewing a given act from within a given system you are left with a philosophical flatland, where no value judgement can be made, it would be the same as trying to compare temperatures without any F or C or K scales.

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Traditional Christian teachings are that the bread becomes the body and the wine becomes the blood.

 

It depends which demonination you belong to. If you belong to a moderate or even a liberal one, chances are good that they see it as symbolism. I know the UCC church sees it as a symbolic interpretation. The vast majority of Christians I have known realize that it's not literally body or blood, therefore it's symbolic. Does that make them evil? No.

 

I don't think viewpoints (in this case) have anything to do with good or evil, unless one is the fundiest of fundies.

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Guest Joseph
It depends which demonination you belong to.

 

Tracing the roots, this "faith" comes from the text of the NT.

 

The NT clearly states that it "is" his body and blood.

 

Figurative / Symbolic ideas are bastardized versions of Christianity to placate the masses who didn't like the idea of holy cannibalization of their mangod. It was thought to be easier to deal with it as long as it was only symbolic cannibalization.

 

Go figure.

 

:fun:

:banghead:

 

If you belong to a moderate or even a liberal one, chances are good that they see it as symbolism.

 

Christianity is like viri. You could defeat one type and there would pop up an entirely different one. The new version simply "interprets" their "infallible" book different from the ways it once was like viri genetically mutate. This might preserve the "church" but it does not preserve their believeability.

 

I know the UCC church sees it as a symbolic interpretation.  The vast majority of Christians I have known realize that it's not literally body or blood, therefore it's symbolic.  Does that make them evil?  No.

 

Let's just say that I do not even care which way they view it.

 

Symbolic cannibalism is as abhorent to me personally as actual.

 

That is from without their moral viewpoint of course therefore I see it this way. My moral value judgement is based upon my relative morality based upon interpretation of the ideas at hand. Their actions are a moral evil from my viewpoint while at the very same moment from their viewpoint their actions are "holy."

 

I don't think viewpoints (in this case) have anything to do with good or evil, unless one is the fundiest of fundies.

 

Since the only thing that exists in the end is relative morality, then to make a value judgement of "good" or "evil" upon a given concept or subjecti or action in totality requires you to take a viewpoint and a moral system from which to make a claim. Otherwise you have a philosophical flatland. Viewpoints / Interpretations are the only way we can assign the labels "good" or "evil" to a given concept. And from no single viewpoint is their an absolute value assigned to any given action.

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"Does morality depend upon religion?"

 

Whose morality, the Judeo-Christian variety? The last two thousand years of history is an indictment of their so-called morality. What more do we need than to live by the Golden Rule, which was also taught by Plato and Confucius.

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Today, 11:17 PM Post #49 

What more do we need than to live by the Golden Rule, which was also taught by Plato and Confucius

 

Agreed.

 

Since the only thing that exists in the end is relative morality, then to make a value judgement of "good" or "evil" upon a given concept or subjecti or action in totality requires you to take a viewpoint and a moral system from which to make a claim.

 

I don't entirely disagree. What I disagree with is your example. Most Christians I know would say it's both, not one or the other, and that neither one makes you bad. It's only the fundies who would say that the later description is bad. For something to be good or evil, the vast majority of people have to see it as such, I think. It is relative to society.

 

For example, we consider murder evil. But let's say by some freak occurence that every single woman of child-bearing age suddenly gets pregnant -- via alien abduction, cellular mutation, solar radiation, whatever. Let's say this happens consistently every year on the same date for the next few centuries. Let's also say that the odds of multiple births are also much higher now. If the human population explodes that much, until we find a way to get people off the planet and colonize Mars, countries are going to try forcing sterilization on women of certain ages. Many Christians would view this as immoral, but if it's necessary to keep the population down so that people have food and water, would most people stop considering it as immoral? I think so. Or at least, they would view it as a necessary evil.

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