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So how can God have a moral standard? Doesn't he need a "person" behind his moral standards if that's the case? Or is it that moral standards can be "made", since God can make the moral standards without a higher-God behind his standards?

Ah, the Euthyphro dilemma...does God make commandments because they are good, or are they good because they are God's commandments? It's a difficult issue for sure...what my philosophy professors usually offered is that the moral standard is an "eternal characteristic" of God's nature. It was not "made" because it has no beginning and no end just like God himself. For me it's an answer, and it's not an answer.

 

Well, we disagree. I know that it's hard to accept. I believe these actions and reactions in behavior has evolved because it was beneficial. Now, we don't know why we feel these things, or do certain things, and we think they're somehow mystical and unexplained in nature, while they're not. Animals can show altruistic motives too. Dogs that sacrifice themselves to save their owner from harm, is one example. Do they do it from trained behavior? Not from what I've seen with my dogs. I didn't train them to guard me, but they do, and they love to come to me and cuddle up and give me the puppy love look, and flex their ears to become as cute and innocent as possible, just to be with me. If animals can show behaviors that are extremely similar to love, altruism, self-sacrifice, even anger, hate (or despise) etc, then I do believe these things are natural rather than magical.

It's a double edged sword. Altruism doesn't fit within the "survival of the fittest" mechanism, yet here you are using it as an argument against objective morality.

 

Just because animals show selfless instincts doesn't automatically imply that humans somehow obtained their similar characteristics from evolution. And your original point was that we ultimately do everything out of selfishness - admitting that animals sometimes act the opposite doesn't help your case.

 

Right. And so did many other philosophers before and after. But my point is that Rome and the Jews too, were very influenced by the philosophy before them, and it shows in the Gospels. They're a Jewish spin on Hellenistic ethics and metaphysics, which I think it makes it very suspicious of "borrowed" ideas, rather than "God's final message".

Agreed. But like I said, I don't put a whole lot of weight in the theology and philosophy of the Bible. But if these moral principles are truly from God, then it doesn't matter that other philosophers before Christ mused about them. It would be that those philosophers were "borrowing" from God's moral principles that they internally were aware of, and which were only reiterated by Christ.

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...I'm not completely sure you can have a moral standard without a person behind it. I don't know if you have a universal moral code independently existing apart from some kind of moral God.

 

Yes a person behind it or a whole cultural force made of of millions of people over thousands of years. Its a fact that moral codes of many different cultures have many similar injunctions - do not steal - do not kill. This is what has enabled us to live together as a society. Why call in a "moral God"? This is what I don't understand. Hundreds of thousands of years ago when people started living in tribes these basic ideas were developed by people, not God. It is manifested abundently in nature that God is not moral in this sense.

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I like the idea that we can't be good on our own, that we need God's help.

I'm intrigued by this statement. Why do you like this idea, rpMcMurphy?

It just seems obvious to me that people aren't meant to exist on their own. They need to rely on their family, their friends, etc. And I think it's a very genuine, human thing when a person can admit this and seek out his friends. But sometimes even this isn't enough. I think people by and large have an internal, basic need to feel "spiritually assisted" or something of the sort. I believe from personal experience that genuine, honest Christians who believe that God is by their side are the most content, morally healthy people in existence. I'm not talking about the hypocrites or the fanatics or Christians who judge others. I mean the Christians who strive to be like Christ, which is the general objective I think.

 

I think Immanuel Kant touched on this issue too in his ethics, he went even as far as to proclaim that humans cannot be morally good on their own and that they need something called grace. I'm sure he could explain it better than me FrogsToadBigGrin.gif.

Thank you for your response, rpMcMurphy. However...

I think that yes, many religious people do abuse this belief and end up lazy and stagnant in their lives. But still, I think ultimately that people can't rely on themselves for their moral character. It just doesn't play out that way in life. People get their morality from family, friends, leaders, etc.

You just said it yourself, morality is learned through earthly experiences. I know that I prefer to live, and I don't want to lose my loved ones, so I certainly wouldn't want to inflict that pain upon someone else by murdering anyone. I know that I wouldn't want things stolen from me, so I refrain from stealing from others. I know that I don't want people dictating to me how I should live. As long as I am not hurting others, it's none of their business what I do or don't do. Therefore, I will not dictate to others how they should live, but I will put them in their place if they try to infringe on other people's rights, just as I hope others would do for me. Christians call it The Golden Rule, but philosophers came up with that concept long before the Judaic version of religion was ever created.

 

If we learn our morality from family, friends, leaders, etc, yet we (even non-believers such as myself) need a deity's help to be moral, then do you also believe that we need a deity to help us learn math, even though we also learn that from teachers, parents, older siblings, etc.? I greatly appreciate the people in my life who help me learn and grow, and I agree that it's a beautiful thing when we can help each other out, or set aside our pride to accept help from other people when we need it.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, I find it quite irritating when people are too lazy to even try to help themselves and only want handouts without doing any of the work themselves. This can apply to religion, when someone blindly accepts answers that are handed to them by their priest or pastor, and blindly denies facts that naturalists understand through science. But I also see this all the time in the support forums where I answer questions for board admins. They'll ask, "What will happen if I try this?" and sometimes I just want to tell them to try it out on a test board and see for themselves. Since they already have an idea of what to try, then why are they asking the question when it'll take them all of 10 seconds to paste that code in and refresh the page? Even so, I will answer their question along with an explanation of why it would or wouldn't work, then nicely add (hint hint) that they can also test their ideas out on a test board to avoid waiting for an answer in the future, and that they are always welcome to ask questions whenever they need help. This can benefit us both, as it can prompt them to try things out on their own so they can actually learn and feel good about themselves for their accomplishments, while letting them know they are always welcome to ask for help and we will help them, and at the same time it frees us up to answer other questions that aren't as easy for some people to answer.

 

At any rate, back to my point. Even when someone helps me figure something out, I wouldn't be able to understand that which is taught to me if it weren't for my own intellect and doing the mental work required on my end. When I solve a problem, I feel a sense of accomplishment. When I see someone doing something nice for someone else, I feel warm and fuzzy inside because a fellow human being took it upon him/herself to help someone out. But when anyone says that we need a deity's help to accomplish any of these things, that just belittles one's own accomplishments and/or one's own morality, and is akin to calling us worthless. For this reason, I disagree with the opinion that needing a deity's help with anything could be a good thing, and only see that position as being harmful to the self esteem of anyone who holds that opinion, as well as the self esteem of any child whose parents cause their children to believe this. I don't fault you for having this opinion, but hope you will see the potential downfalls of it before teaching this belief to others, especially impressionable children.

 

They need to believe in God to believe in things like right and wrong and goodness and love and beauty.

Most of the people at this site have proven that this is not the case. Most of the people at this site don't believe in "God", yet we see a difference between right and wrong, we can see goodness and be good, we can appreciate beauty, and we can love deeply. In fact, we can love more deeply and more selflessly than many Christians, because we are free to love in our own ways, without doctrines putting restrictions on who we can love or how.

 

I appreciate that you follow your own path, based on your own reason and current understanding, and that you are open minded enough to discuss these things with us. If I sound abrasive in any of my response, it is only because I am passionate about clearing up misconceptions about things that I know just aren't true, such as what non-believers think and feel. But you seem reasonable enough to understand why I hold the positions I do, thus my straight-forward approach in explaining it.

 

One point on the issue of "objective morality." Why is it that some people obviously see it as OK to conquer another nation by force? This has happened all throughout history, and continues to happen today. I personally see that as wrong, and I'm pretty sure most of the people at this site also see this as wrong, yet some people have had no problem with the idea (or even actively participating in the act) of killing "savages" and taking over their land. So, even the worst crime in many people's eyes is seen as OK in others. Why is that, if there is some deity putting "objective morality" into everyone's "hearts"?

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Most of the people at this site have proven that this is not the case. Most of the people at this site don't believe in "God", yet we see a difference between right and wrong, we can see goodness and be good, we can appreciate beauty, and we can love deeply. In fact, we can love more deeply and more selflessly than many Christians, because we are free to love in our own ways, without doctrines putting restrictions on who we can love or how.

The point is that if there is no God, there is no right and wrong or beauty or love. It's just herd instinct, social convention, synapses firing in your brain, chemicals and the like. I don't doubt anyone's moral character or appreciation of beauty and love on these boards - but if you're an atheist, you're living in a dreamworld. Your decision to do right or wrong is about as meaningful as your decision to have a chocolate or vanilla ice cream cone.

 

This is why I can respect people like Nietzsche and Sartre even if I disagreed with them - they understood that their atheism ultimately implies nihilism. They didn't try and fool themselves into thinking their notions of goodness and beauty were of any value - Nietzsche saw that the death of God led to the death of civilization, and Sartre saw an empty sea of nothingness.

 

Of course, you're free to live your life in any way you choose - I personally couldn't be happy if I believed in no God, so kudos to you however you do it.

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Ah, the Euthyphro dilemma...does God make commandments because they are good, or are they good because they are God's commandments? It's a difficult issue for sure...what my philosophy professors usually offered is that the moral standard is an "eternal characteristic" of God's nature. It was not "made" because it has no beginning and no end just like God himself. For me it's an answer, and it's not an answer.

To me that's not an answer, and not an answer. :)

 

I think the real and only solid answer is: God is amoral. Because "moral" is a concept of how humans are supposed to act and interact. Not how God deals with humans, or how he thinks about things. Morality requires a human. Animals, gods, business and government are all amoral entities. Only humans are bound to "moral" code. So I think the correct theological answer is: God creates moral for human to follow.

 

Many mix up the concept of "moral" and the concept of "being good", and it's not really the case all the time. A being that is good, is a being that always wants the best outcome. That means, just in many examples of conflicts in philosophy of ethics, that you have to do actions that are neither good or bad, to get the better outcome.

 

It's a double edged sword. Altruism doesn't fit within the "survival of the fittest" mechanism, yet here you are using it as an argument against objective morality.

I think altruism does fit in the context of survival, but I think we're kind of derailing the thread and it's a topic debated at other places in the forum.

 

Just because animals show selfless instincts doesn't automatically imply that humans somehow obtained their similar characteristics from evolution. And your original point was that we ultimately do everything out of selfishness - admitting that animals sometimes act the opposite doesn't help your case.

It doesn't? I think it does. Humans behave like animals, but we are more complex because of language. We can share ideas, and the whole concept of knowledge and understanding of nature has increased. And we have created the concepts of "right" and "wrong". If animals show selfless instincts, and humans show selfless instincts, that doesn't mean that human instincts are a different kind than the animals, just that we have made it more complex and evolved that concept.

 

Agreed. But like I said, I don't put a whole lot of weight in the theology and philosophy of the Bible. But if these moral principles are truly from God, then it doesn't matter that other philosophers before Christ mused about them. It would be that those philosophers were "borrowing" from God's moral principles that they internally were aware of, and which were only reiterated by Christ.

Maybe Socrates was the first Jesus?

 

Btw, here's a link about the philosophical aspect of biological altruism and the evolution: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

 

And here's a link about the altruistic chimps: http://www.livescience.com/animals/070625_...p_altruism.html

 

Of course you can disagree with them, and decide to agree with some uneducated fisherman 2000 years ago, or you can decide to believe that modern philosophers and scientists know just a tad more about nature than they did back then.

 

And I think the link from animals "kinship" altruism and humans evolved altruism, is again... language. We can communicate to our kids what culture, society, tradition say is "right" and "wrong" and what it means to share and help others.

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Most of the people at this site have proven that this is not the case. Most of the people at this site don't believe in "God", yet we see a difference between right and wrong, we can see goodness and be good, we can appreciate beauty, and we can love deeply. In fact, we can love more deeply and more selflessly than many Christians, because we are free to love in our own ways, without doctrines putting restrictions on who we can love or how.

The point is that if there is no God, there is no right and wrong or beauty or love.

No, I was responding to where you specifically said, "They need to believe in God to believe in things like right and wrong and goodness and love and beauty." According to that statement, I should be unable to know right from wrong or see goodness, love, or beauty, simply because I see no evidence to believe in any deities.

 

It's just herd instinct, social convention, synapses firing in your brain, chemicals and the like.

Yes, nature plus nurture. And a deity is required for this... why?

 

I don't doubt anyone's moral character or appreciation of beauty and love on these boards - but if you're an atheist, you're living in a dreamworld.

So, if I base my understanding of the world on real and tangible things that I can see, smell, feel, hear, and taste, then I am delusional? Please explain this logic.

 

Your decision to do right or wrong is about as meaningful as your decision to have a chocolate or vanilla ice cream cone.

How so? It doesn't hurt anyone if I choose vanilla over chocolate or vice versa, but it does hurt someone if I kill them. Please explain why you believe I am incorrect about this.

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Maybe Socrates was the first Jesus?

Hans, I have often thought that the life of Socrates might have influenced the mythology surrounding Jesus, and we all know that Socrates lived a few hundred years before Jesus is supposed to have lived, so it is certainly possible. After all, Socrates went around enlightening people on how to be good, he was sentenced to death for going against the establishment and corrupting the youth, and he accepted his death sentence without fighting it.

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Maybe Socrates was the first Jesus?

Hans, I have often thought that the life of Socrates might have influenced the mythology surrounding Jesus, and we all know that Socrates lived a few hundred years before Jesus is supposed to have lived, so it is certainly possible. After all, Socrates went around enlightening people on how to be good, he was sentenced to death for going against the establishment and corrupting the youth, and he accepted his death sentence without fighting it.

Good point... some have said that real myths like Jesus need a couple of hundred years to evolve... maybe the story about Socrates is the root of the myth of the sage who sacrificed himself for the greater good? Interesting thought.

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- but if you're an atheist, you're living in a dreamworld.
Earlier in the thread, you specifically stated you were not here to prove anything.
First off, I'm not out to prove anything.
But if you're making sweeping baseless statements such as these, then you most certainly are trying to prove something to us, and so you are a liar and a hypocrite, Mr. I'msomoralandfarmoreperfectthanatheists.
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The point is that if there is no God, there is no right and wrong or beauty or love. It's just herd instinct, social convention, synapses firing in your brain, chemicals and the like. I don't doubt anyone's moral character or appreciation of beauty and love on these boards - but if you're an atheist, you're living in a dreamworld. Your decision to do right or wrong is about as meaningful as your decision to have a chocolate or vanilla ice cream cone.

 

When you say "just" herd instinct, etc.. you have minimized or dismissed the tremendous importance and complexity of all those things you are listing.

 

Your statment shows a narrow conception of God. There are those of us here who believe there is a God but our definition of "God" has nothing to do with human morality.

 

I also think your comment on atheists is very judgmental. How do you know whether someone else's decision to do right or wrong is meaningful to them or not?

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I think the real and only solid answer is: God is amoral. Because "moral" is a concept of how humans are supposed to act and interact. Not how God deals with humans, or how he thinks about things. Morality requires a human. Animals, gods, business and government are all amoral entities. Only humans are bound to "moral" code. So I think the correct theological answer is: God creates moral for human to follow.

I agree, morality requires persons, perhaps even souls. But this would not put God above morality if you assume he is a person as well. I don't accept that God "creates" the moral law...I think the idea that he is eternally bound to it makes more sense.

 

It doesn't? I think it does. Humans behave like animals, but we are more complex because of language. We can share ideas, and the whole concept of knowledge and understanding of nature has increased. And we have created the concepts of "right" and "wrong". If animals show selfless instincts, and humans show selfless instincts, that doesn't mean that human instincts are a different kind than the animals, just that we have made it more complex and evolved that concept.

Again, similarities between humans and animals don't demonstrate that we have created moral standards all on our own. You said it yourself, animals are amoral and humans are moral. I think there's a big difference between mankind's selflessness and animal instinct.

 

Btw, here's a link about the philosophical aspect of biological altruism and the evolution: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

 

And here's a link about the altruistic chimps: http://www.livescience.com/animals/070625_...p_altruism.html

 

Of course you can disagree with them, and decide to agree with some uneducated fisherman 2000 years ago, or you can decide to believe that modern philosophers and scientists know just a tad more about nature than they did back then.

 

And I think the link from animals "kinship" altruism and humans evolved altruism, is again... language. We can communicate to our kids what culture, society, tradition say is "right" and "wrong" and what it means to share and help others

I don't disbelieve in evolution, if that's what you're trying to get at. But the evolution of species does not automatically imply that morality evolved the same way. And even if it did, it has nothing to do with whether there has always been some underlying moral standard in the universe.

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No, I was responding to where you specifically said, "They need to believe in God to believe in things like right and wrong and goodness and love and beauty." According to that statement, I should be unable to know right from wrong or see goodness, love, or beauty, simply because I see no evidence to believe in any deities.

Sorry, that's not what I meant - atheists can be just as good or loving as the next person, but they have no reason to be if they are. Of course, if there is a God and he has given all men the capacity for goodness and love and beauty, then it shouldn't matter what their metaphysical beliefs are. It'd be like your stealing from a theistic world-view without even believing it.

 

It's just herd instinct, social convention, synapses firing in your brain, chemicals and the like.

Yes, nature plus nurture. And a deity is required for this... why?

No deity required, that's my point. If there is no God, all morality and beauty and love become just meaningless chemical reactions in your brain.

 

I don't doubt anyone's moral character or appreciation of beauty and love on these boards - but if you're an atheist, you're living in a dreamworld.

So, if I base my understanding of the world on real and tangible things that I can see, smell, feel, hear, and taste, then I am delusional? Please explain this logic.

I mean that you're living under false pretenses. You live as if your moral choices mean something, but they ultimately don't if there is no God.

 

How so? It doesn't hurt anyone if I choose vanilla over chocolate or vice versa, but it does hurt someone if I kill them. Please explain why you believe I am incorrect about this.

Why does it matter if you hurt someone? There is no right or wrong if there is no God. It might make you "feel bad" or something like that, but you could never really say what's truly right or wrong. You could chop an infant up and make a baby milkshake and ultimately you would have to admit there's no way to ground your belief that something like that would be morally reproachable.

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I also think your comment on atheists is very judgmental. How do you know whether someone else's decision to do right or wrong is meaningful to them or not?

I have no doubt that an atheist's moral decisions are meaningful to him. The point is that if there is no God, they are not objectively meaningful. They just make him "feel" good or bad.

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I have no doubt that an atheist's moral decisions are meaningful to him. The point is that if there is no God, they are not objectively meaningful.
That's because morals are subjective, not objective. If moral absolutes existed, then why can't people always agree on what is moral? Take the doctrine of hell, for instance. Some Christians think God is loving and moral if he sends people to hell. Other Christians believe that it would be immoral for God to send people to hell and that a truly moral and just God would not punish people with hell. In this case, if morals are objective rather than subjective, which view of God is moral and which view is immoral? And please don't say that the Christians who disagree with you are not "real" Christians and so they are the immoral ones because you can't prove that. Also, if morals come from God and we're good because of God, then why do some Christian commit evil anyway? Did God just forget to give them morality or are those not "real" Christians either because obviously "real" Christians are perfect people who never do anything wrong?
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I have no doubt that an atheist's moral decisions are meaningful to him. The point is that if there is no God, they are not objectively meaningful. They just make him "feel" good or bad.

 

"Objective meaning"? There is no such thing. I say prove it. Everything is filtered through your brain and nervous system and is conditioned.

 

I wouldn't think I was in a position to judge how someone else considered their actions.

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I agree, morality requires persons, perhaps even souls. But this would not put God above morality if you assume he is a person as well. I don't accept that God "creates" the moral law...I think the idea that he is eternally bound to it makes more sense.

To me it doesn't. We have to disagree. :)

 

Morality requires more than just a singular, solo playing, being. Imagine a being that is completely alone in a void space. What is and how do you define "morality" for such a lone creature? You really can't, and neither can the creature. You need interaction, connection, etc, with another being to start defining moral. Is a man, alone in the forest, moral? What acts are good and bad, when you are alone?

 

I don't disbelieve in evolution, if that's what you're trying to get at. But the evolution of species does not automatically imply that morality evolved the same way. And even if it did, it has nothing to do with whether there has always been some underlying moral standard in the universe.

I'm not trying to force you on the issue of evolution, but I do think morality has and still is evolving. Racism, slavery, child abuse, stealing copyrighted material (theft from a non-human, i.e. artificial entity in the form of a corporation) and so on, are newly "discovered" ethical issues. Today we're dealing with the moral issues of euthanasia, famine, abortion, cloning and much more, and there is very little from God to guide us in these questions, and we have to work our way through them not only with instinct, but with reason and clear and distinct analysis.

 

I can tell that you're a subscriber to natural law theory. And here's my very abbreviated take on that issue, it's not wrong, but I think a lot of the things we see is "built in" of these things are reasonable ideas based on fundamental mathematical models, and are being explained more and more within game theory. The tit-for-tat rule matches the give-and-you-will-receive for instance. But since my knowledge is merely cursory, I only know there's more explained in game theory than I know or can explain. But my point is, that yes, there is a "natural law", that makes more sense, because it is a game with the best outcome. And intuitively (according to Plato and Aristotle) these abilities, or faculties in our mind, can reason this and find the "moral" law.

 

Just out of curiosity, can you mention one moral law that animals don't have?

And also, can you mention one kind of altruistic act that animals don't do?

Then a morality that is common for all human beings, regardless of religion and culture (a moral law or rule that is absolute, and universal, that all humans should follow)?

And lastly, can you mention one moral law that we would not have from pure reason alone, but God had to plant into human soul?

 

Because I think that's where the path really starts, we're only talking in abstract terms, but lets get into the details and find the particulars to study.

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I'm pretty sure the term "Christian" isn't used anywhere in the Bible. It was a phrase that developed later on.
Actually, yes the term Christian is used in the bible. Acts 11:26,
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
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I have no doubt that an atheist's moral decisions are meaningful to him. The point is that if there is no God, they are not objectively meaningful. They just make him "feel" good or bad.

O'boy, now I have to try to remember that lecture... the objective morality. The problem with the objective morality is that how can you know if something is objective (in the sense of independent and outside of subjective)? All you evaluate in life is based on your own subjective view. You need tools of rational thought to divide those things carefully. So if rationality is the tool to use, then the objective "law" is really based on reason and sensible arguments to why and how, not really the innate "program" that lets us know what is objectively right or wrong.

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How so? It doesn't hurt anyone if I choose vanilla over chocolate or vice versa, but it does hurt someone if I kill them. Please explain why you believe I am incorrect about this.

Why does it matter if you hurt someone? There is no right or wrong if there is no God. It might make you "feel bad" or something like that, but you could never really say what's truly right or wrong. You could chop an infant up and make a baby milkshake and ultimately you would have to admit there's no way to ground your belief that something like that would be morally reproachable.

 

Oh dear.

 

I can't help but feel deeply worried about people who only would not do something like that because God wouldn't like it.

 

On the other hand my reasoning is that I am a human being and to make another human being suffer or to cause them damage in any way is not a reasonable way to act if I feel that I would like my fellow human beings to show respect to me. It's not because I think my good behaviour will improve my standing with my fellow human beings. It is simply that I think I wouldn't like someone to behave that way to me so it makes sense (is consistent and logical) if I don't behave that way towards others.

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Oh dear.

 

I can't help but feel deeply worried about people who only would not do something like that because God wouldn't like it.

That's not why I behave myself. I try to do good because it is good in itself.

 

On the other hand my reasoning is that I am a human being and to make another human being suffer or to cause them damage in any way is not a reasonable way to act if I feel that I would like my fellow human beings to show respect to me. It's not because I think my good behaviour will improve my standing with my fellow human beings. It is simply that I think I wouldn't like someone to behave that way to me so it makes sense (is consistent and logical) if I don't behave that way towards others.

Fine, just don't make the mistake of telling anyone that they believe in something morally "wrong" or that they're treating you unfairly when you have no basis for it.

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Neon Genesis - I stand corrected about the usage of the term Christians in the Bible - but the original point was brought up that since Paul wasn't using the term "Christian" in a particular verse, he must not have been referring to them. At that point though, it was probably not a well known or even invented phrase - the verse you brought up points out that they only started using it in the church at Antioch. Here's another response I had -

 

That's because morals are subjective, not objective. If moral absolutes existed, then why can't people always agree on what is moral? Take the doctrine of hell, for instance. Some Christians think God is loving and moral if he sends people to hell. Other Christians believe that it would be immoral for God to send people to hell and that a truly moral and just God would not punish people with hell. In this case, if morals are objective rather than subjective, which view of God is moral and which view is immoral? And please don't say that the Christians who disagree with you are not "real" Christians and so they are the immoral ones because you can't prove that. Also, if morals come from God and we're good because of God, then why do some Christian commit evil anyway? Did God just forget to give them morality or are those not "real" Christians either because obviously "real" Christians are perfect people who never do anything wrong?

The fact that people disagree about morality does not prove that morality is subjective. People are often mistaken about mathematics and logic, but that doesn't mean math isn't objective. The overwhelming population of the world all believe in the same basic moral principles, however clouded or distorted their views may become after religious fanaticism, greed, etc. all set in. Of course that doesn't prove that morality is objective either.

 

My point is that if there is no God and morality is subjective, right and wrong are meaningless and have no value.

If there is no God, all things are permitted - Fyodor Dostoevsky

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...

My point is that if there is no God and morality is subjective, right and wrong are meaningless and have no value.

If there is no God, all things are permitted - Fyodor Dostoevsky

History has proven: with God all things are permissible too, but it's done the name God.

 

War, persecution, genocide, and much more that we consider immoral in our moral sphere, was understood as permissible in other times and other cultures. Even Christians (and yes, atheists if you so wan) are all guilty of this same thing. We evolve. Our morality is changing and evolving too.

 

What is God's opinion about slavery? What is our modern opinion about slavery? Why does the Bible support it, and not condemn it?

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Morality requires more than just a singular, solo playing, being. Imagine a being that is completely alone in a void space. What is and how do you define "morality" for such a lone creature? You really can't, and neither can the creature. You need interaction, connection, etc, with another being to start defining moral. Is a man, alone in the forest, moral? What acts are good and bad, when you are alone?

I think that's a very valid point - of course, I could say that if the moral law exists from eternity, then again there would never be a "defining" point of morality because it has always been defined.

 

But that might be a boring answer for you - one of my philosophy professors brought up the very same point and said that's why God had to be a trinity, so he could understand inter-personal relationships. I don't know if I buy that, but it's a little more interesting.

 

I'm not trying to force you on the issue of evolution, but I do think morality has and still is evolving. Racism, slavery, child abuse, stealing copyrighted material (theft from a non-human, i.e. artificial entity in the form of a corporation) and so on, are newly "discovered" ethical issues. Today we're dealing with the moral issues of euthanasia, famine, abortion, cloning and much more, and there is very little from God to guide us in these questions, and we have to work our way through them not only with instinct, but with reason and clear and distinct analysis.

This is one point we definitely disagree on - I think problems with humanity have always been the very same. They may manifest themselves in different forms, but I think ultimately people have always struggled with the same issues - hatred, greed, selfishness, fear, ignorance, etc...but in any case, I was under the impression that racism and slavery have been relevant issues for quite a while...

 

I also think some of our culture's current hot topics might not always be about moral issues at the core. For instance, with abortion - everyone believes that it is wrong to murder an innocent human. To me, the real disagreement comes from people trying to discern whether an embryo is a human or not - this is a matter of philosophy more than morality.

 

Just out of curiosity, can you mention one moral law that animals don't have?

And also, can you mention one kind of altruistic act that animals don't do?

Then a morality that is common for all human beings, regardless of religion and culture (a moral law or rule that is absolute, and universal, that all humans should follow)?

And lastly, can you mention one moral law that we would not have from pure reason alone, but God had to plant into human soul?

Hmmm...this sounds like you already have a wham-bam answer for what I'm going to say :).

 

For the first one - animals don't have a moral law, so I'm not sure how to answer it.

 

As far as the second, that's a really broad question. How can I even compare altruistic acts between animals and humans? They're usually in completely different contexts. Also, I believe in a moral law, so an altruistic act for an animal is just instinct, while an "altruistic" act for a human is a moral choice.

 

The third one is a good one - I think one that all persons should follow would be something like "don't murder an innocent person." Obviously not everyone follows this to a tee, and some sickos might not even agree with it, but I think it's a pretty foundational imperative.

 

The last one confuses me also, because I believe all moral law is implanted into the soul by God, but we use our reason to discern it and perceive it.

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What is God's opinion about slavery? What is our modern opinion about slavery? Why does the Bible support it, and not condemn it?

I'm with you man. I think the Bible has some pretty wacko ideas.

 

But just because cultures change their moral beliefs doesn't mean that morality is changing. With the slavery issue, I don't see it as we "decided" that slavery is wrong - I see it as always having been wrong, but it just took some people so damn long to figure out.

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But that might be a boring answer for you - one of my philosophy professors brought up the very same point and said that's why God had to be a trinity, so he could understand inter-personal relationships. I don't know if I buy that, but it's a little more interesting.

That's quite a clever answer. :HaHa:

 

This is one point we definitely disagree on - I think problems with humanity have always been the very same. They may manifest themselves in different forms, but I think ultimately people have always struggled with the same issues - hatred, greed, selfishness, fear, ignorance, etc...but in any case, I was under the impression that racism and slavery have been relevant issues for quite a while...

The Bible doesn't deal with the issue of slavery or racism, at least not to any point of morality. In the old Greek, slavery was part of society and the philosophers who debated morality never really saw an issue with it.

 

Or take the suffragettes and women's liberation. Do we consider it immoral in our society for women to be handled like a lesser person or less valuable? It didn't use to be like that. We have matured as civilization.

 

I also think some of our culture's current hot topics might not always be about moral issues at the core. For instance, with abortion - everyone believes that it is wrong to murder an innocent human. To me, the real disagreement comes from people trying to discern whether an embryo is a human or not - this is a matter of philosophy more than morality.

That is true. But it's still a part of the debate, since the problem is "what is a human" and "when does human rights start". So to who and to what and when, does morality apply? These are tough questions, as my teacher would say, then he'd say, just think about it. :)

 

Hmmm...this sounds like you already have a wham-bam answer for what I'm going to say :).

Not really. I'm just very inquisitive. Because many of these things are hard to get a firm hold on, and like Mill's suggested, a true understanding of one's own view comes when you debate someone who is passionate about the opposite view. It's hard to get a good insight, if you just try to "debate" with someone who plays the devils advocate in class.

 

For the first one - animals don't have a moral law, so I'm not sure how to answer it.

Agree. Moral law apply only to human, since it's a concept only we can understand and discuss. (Hence the requirement of language)

 

As far as the second, that's a really broad question. How can I even compare altruistic acts between animals and humans? They're usually in completely different contexts. Also, I believe in a moral law, so an altruistic act for an animal is just instinct, while an "altruistic" act for a human is a moral choice.

A moral choice? When you make the choice, was it because of "it felt right" or because "you were told that is the right thing regardless of how you feel"?

 

The third one is a good one - I think one that all persons should follow would be something like "don't murder an innocent person." Obviously not everyone follows this to a tee, and some sickos might not even agree with it, but I think it's a pretty foundational imperative.

Agree. There are rules we have figured out, however I don't buy into the all-or-nothing view Kant gave. To lie to save a persons life, I think life has a higher priority than the categorical imperative.

 

The last one confuses me also, because I believe all moral law is implanted into the soul by God, but we use our reason to discern it and perceive it.

Divine law then.

 

But yet, you didn't give any examples of some of the questions.

 

Is killing immoral? Always? Absolutely? Universally?

 

Since you've read philosophy, you know about the trolly dilemma. So how do you solve that one? Is it better to let 10 people die, than actively have one killed to save the 10?

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