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Thoughts on the moral debate


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Reading yet another argument between atheists and Christians about whether morality is subjective or objective and the Christian fell back on the old "if you only had subjective morals then you would rape and kill as you please.  You could not say anything is wrong, because everything would be an opinion.  Hitler wasn't wrong, he just had different subjective morals".

The thing that I keep thinking, but never seeing raised is that there are different types of moral codes.  There are personal moral codes, that is what we subjectively think is right and wrong, and there is societies moral code, that is what the majority or at least the powers that be have deemed to be right and wrong.

 

Roman society said gladiator combat was fine and this was supported by the majority of the population.  They packed giant arenas on a regular basis to watch the events.  At the time it was considered fine because it increased the cities morale, it could be used as public execution for deterrents sake, and the gladiators were either making the choice to fight or valueless slaves.  Its quite possible to justify such an event, and yet there were bound to be people who were appalled at the activity.  Their personal moral code said it was wrong, most likely due to empathy with the slain.  At some point the public opinion shifted.  More personal moral codes said it was wrong, to the point where the social moral code had to shift to match.  Not only did it become illegal, but it was from then on viewed as barbaric and horrific.

 

So why don't I rape and kill if my morals are subjective?  It seems to be because I recognize that societies moral code differs from that, and regardless of what I personally want, the powers that be would punish me for going against their code.  I can personally think their code is wrong, but unless I can convince a majority of the population that my view is correct then my opinion doesn't matter.

 

The modern subjective societal moral code seems to be based (as Sam Harris puts forth) on maximizing human wellbeing.  The issue is that any attempt to quantify an activity on such a scale when there are so many variables at play, sometimes leads us to the wrong answers eg women shouldn't vote, corporal punishment is a good idea, dueling is a good way to settle disagreements etc.  Once more data becomes available as to the problems such activities cause, then it stops being an activity that maximizes wellbeing.

Of course the change of societies moral code doesn't mean everyone has to follow.  When slavery was outlawed there were many thousands of people who argued against the ban, with justification ranging from biblical to economic, it isn't just a black and white issue.  All of those opponents of the ban had a personal moral code that said slavery was okay, which directly conflicted with societies code. 

So often when slavery comes up the Christian will say "It wasn't slavery, it was indentured servitude!"  I found it quite amusing to see the UN list indentured servitude in the list of types of slavery in the world.  It is illegal and considered immoral throughout the western world.  So sure, you can claim certain passages in the bible are servitude, but that's still a crime by modern standards.  Are our moral codes superior to gods?  Isn't his objective morals meant to be unchanging?

 

The biblical code is just the societal code from their day and is their attempt to subjectively decide what actions would maximize wellbeing in those ancient times.  Beating children, having slaves, having your wife as property, genocide against your enemies and cutting the end of your ol' fella, were all activities that could be justified and were considered the best idea with the knowledge available to them.  The problem comes when you take those subjective and out of date ideas, then stamp a "god says this is right" on it.  Suddenly you have unchanging rules and this conflict between modern understanding with ancient moral codes.  It should be telling that the 10 commandments don't include rape, assault, slavery or American Idol as things that should be considered wrong by society.  If we humans can write a set of commandments that are better for living by than God did, that says a lot about the value of that moral code.

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6 hours ago, Wertbag said:

Reading yet another argument between atheists and Christians about whether morality is subjective or objective and the Christian fell back on the old "if you only had subjective morals then you would rape and kill as you please.  You could not say anything is wrong, because everything would be an opinion.  Hitler wasn't wrong, he just had different subjective morals".

...

 

Is not the concept of a moral code inherently subjective?

 

Many humans DO "rape and kill", and do many other ugly things, as they please.

Until another human decides to bring enough force to bear to put a stop to it.

What does that prove?

 

Is it possible that Christian believers are afraid to face the vacuum of moral philosophy alone, depending upon only their rational judgement, and so they just want a God to sort it all out for them?

 

 

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As I began to fall away from the faith that was part of what pushed me over the edge..

 

As I began of course at that point to question what I had never allowed myself to question, I saw that among other believers their moral code was about as modular and conditional as most non-believers.

 

They assiduously wrap it all in a thin tissue of  presumed righteousness, of their own making.

And eventually it all leads back to that big circle:

 

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

Why God? Because the Bible. Why the Bible? Because God.

...

 

 

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I saw a Christian online asked "If God gives objective morals, what are they?  How do you know your choices are matching his objective standard?" the Christian replied "The holy spirit guides me, so I listen to the voice inside, the god given moral compass and know that I'm following god".

So the objective moral standard is his personal instinct, but he believes his instincts are better than the majority of the world because god.  So no one can know the moral code, you just rely on magic to give you the right answer.  How do so many Christians get it wrong (see the brutal history of the church)?  Well obviously they didn't have the real holy spirit, only True Christians have that.

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Bingo Wertbag! 

The fudge-factor makes them feel like they've got it all exactly right and can evangelize the Word of God™. But then another group has quite different views, such as heretics should and must be destroyed by the True Believers or the Actual Real Word of God™ will be corrupted and there is no worse thing. Yet another group sees that conflict and moves to America so they aren't tortured for their version of the True Faith. Within those circles are the personal, familial, local, traditional values, and then the particular cult's values that are driving behaviors. 

 

Topping it all off, believers forget that "the law is powerless to stop sin". A moral code can be used to judge, but unless someone chooses to follow it, it is just a collection of ideas. And the concept of Jesus forgiving everything gives them the get-out-of-jail-free card that brings an everlasting flip-flop of "do what I want in the moment" then "ask for forgiveness until the next time I do it again" which may be mere minutes later. They claim that the holy spirit enables them to follow it perfectly, but their sinful flesh fights them and that unbelievers don't have that ability to do good, not that it makes any difference because all they do is tainted with sin. That's how they move away from the do-good-to-others concept into the be-saved concept. The latter has been used to justify all kinds of evil by the church instead of focusing on doing good to other humans. 

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One of my biggest problems with christian ideology is the misappropriation of forgiveness as though it is the rug under which every act can be swept, be they immoral, unethical, or acts of personal/social abuse.  The believer need only seek the forgiveness of heaven for absolution with little to no concern for the one who's been done wrong.  This obviates the drive to become a better person through personal introspection, correction, and growth, while simultaneously fueling the cycle of guilt=>repentance=>guilt=>repentance.  Those wronged are left to bear the weight, scars, fall-out, or anger, often for years, while the believer, absolution in hand, goes merrily along their way, in happy unconcern.  

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59 minutes ago, Fuego said:

.. And the concept of Jesus forgiving everything gives them the get-out-of-jail-free card that brings an everlasting flip-flop of "do what I want in the moment" then "ask for forgiveness until the next time I do it again" which may be mere minutes later. ....

 

 

43 minutes ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

..., while the believer, absolution in hand, goes merrily along their way, in happy unconcern.  

 

As my imaginary friend is my witness, I have seen this.

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4 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

One of my biggest problems with christian ideology is the misappropriation of forgiveness as though it is the rug under which every act can be swept, be they immoral, unethical, or acts of personal/social abuse.  The believer need only seek the forgiveness of heaven for absolution with little to no concern for the one who's been done wrong.  This obviates the drive to become a better person through personal introspection, correction, and growth, while simultaneously fueling the cycle of guilt=>repentance=>guilt=>repentance.  Those wronged are left to bear the weight, scars, fall-out, or anger, often for years, while the believer, absolution in hand, goes merrily along their way, in happy unconcern.  

 

This!

 

It's nonsense against some of the more sophisticated eastern mythologies. 

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On 1/9/2021 at 8:37 PM, Wertbag said:

If we humans can write a set of commandments that are better for living by than God did, that says a lot about the value of that moral code.

 

You nailed the hell out of it with the entire OP! 

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12 hours ago, Fuego said:

the concept of Jesus forgiving everything gives them the get-out-of-jail-free card

In the theology of the New Testament, the love of God is unconditional and freely given, but forgiveness is conditional upon repentance, as explained in the Baptism of Christ in the first chapter of Mark.

 

Repentance means being sorry for what you have done wrong, understanding how and why it was wrong, and being sorry for the harm it caused.   Such genuine remorse is the condition for restorative justice, which then enables true forgiveness and reconciliation.  No one can really forgive a criminal who believes their evil deed was in fact a good thing to do.

 

The idea that you can be forgiven while exulting in unrepentant evil is itself evil and absurd.  But that is what this concept that unconditional divine forgiveness is available by simply mouthing a dogmatic formula 'I believe in Jesus' amounts to.

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