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When morality is subjective and there's no absolute, where is the boundary line and how do you decide on what's wrong or right?


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Hey Guys, 

 

Interested to hear your thoughts on subjective morality, how do non believers decide what's right and wrong if you don't believe in an absolute? If morality is subjective how do we punish people for doing wrong? Doesn't that just become a battle of moral opinion? 

 

Hope the question makes sense 

 

Thanks 

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The question is often asked among Christian believers... "without God, how can there be any objective standard of good and evil?".   I believe that this is an emotionally-driven false dichot

These Catholics I worked with swore their religion was real Christianity. Georgia seems to feel her version , whatever it is, is the real Christianity, but not those damn Catholics. The Pent

The Bible showcases a rather questionable "morality" when it comes to women, slavery, genocide and incest. There are lots of rules WE are supposed to follow, though, if we can keep track. The Biblical

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Good morning Georgia.

 

This has been discussed on this site...

I was a believer my entire life until about 4 years ago.

Speaking for myself, my sense of morality remains precisely the same.

It's embodied in "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

 

There's an emotional and subjective component to that, for sure.

More though, to my thinking, it's only when I treat others as I naturally wish to be treated, and others in society do the same, that anyone can reasonably and rationally expect to have peace and any sense of security in life.

 

It isn't rational to expect that society will function in a manner where we can all live in peace and harmony if we fail to treat others as we wish to be treated.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for your response and apologies for submitting a similar question. 

 

It's interesting what you say, are you able to seperate your morality from those biblical principles? Would that concept exist without the concept of God? 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Georgia said:

Thank you for your response and apologies for submitting a similar question. 

 

It's interesting what you say, are you able to seperate your morality from those biblical principles? Would that concept exist without the concept of God? 

 

 

 

I build my expectations in life on an understanding of the reality which can be objectively seen and understood.

 

And a fundamental part of that is understanding that there are no contradictions in this temporal reality. Rather, there are only apparent paradoxes, those which seem to be contradictions to the individual human perception. Things are what they are.

 

I want to live and thrive. I accept that this is a material world and that as human beings, we have needs which cannot be met by living as other animals do... I cannot live by sleeping in a hollow tree, wake to hunt and kill another animal, eating it on the spot, then returning to my hollow tree to sleep and do the same thing tomorrow. 

 

Human beings are the only animal unable to live in our natural environment without the aid of tools, implements, and weapons. And living to anything near our fullest potential requires that we share that burden by trading human-created artifacts with other humans.... "division of labor".

Enabling the specialization of labor and skills and free exchange of the products of that labor with others.

 

Thus, the basis for society and human culture.

As a rational, thinking human, how can I possibly expect to have all that work as such unless we treat each other as we naturally want to be treated ourselves?

 

The right to private property is foundational to a functioning society.

And that right to private property is at the essence of the Ten Commandments, is it not?

Do not envy, do not steal, do not violate your neighbor's marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Georgia said:

Hey Guys, 

 

Interested to hear your thoughts on subjective morality, how do non believers decide what's right and wrong if you don't believe in an absolute? If morality is subjective how do we punish people for doing wrong? Doesn't that just become a battle of moral opinion? 

 

Hope the question makes sense 

 

 

(6) [His disciples] questioned him [and said], "How [shall we] fast? [How shall we pray]? How [shall we give alms]? What [diet] shall [we] observe?" Jesus said, "[Do not tell lies, and] do not do what you [hate, for all things are plain in the sight] of truth. [For nothing] hidden [will not become manifest]."

 

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I can state the above more succinctly perhaps by saying that I despise hypocrisy.

 

I believe that my life here in the temporal realm has value.

I see nothing to give me reason to believe that my life is worth more than your life or the life of anyone else.

 

That being the case, to fail to treat others with respect and honesty is to be a hypocrite.

I look in the mirror and I see a badly flawed creature, with no hope of living long enough to learn to be more than that... a flawed human.

 

I can work at trying to be more than that, better than that, but my flaws run too deep to reasonably expect that I can attain perfection, or come anywhere near perfection within the span of years I may have remaining to me.

 

So others deserve the same consideration, if I want any possibility to eradicate the flaw of hypocrisy in myself. As I live and interact in society, I can rationally expect no less of myself.

 

 

 

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The question is often asked among Christian believers... "without God, how can there be any objective standard of good and evil?".

 

I believe that this is an emotionally-driven false dichotomy.

 

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One could ask...

If I am unable to trust my own judgement to know "good" from "bad", to judge "right" from "wrong", then on what basis shall I trust myself to decide there is, or there is not, a "God"?

 

If reason and understanding (the fact of 'creation') compel me to accept a belief in some god, if I don't trust my own understanding then how shall I judge which 'god' is the one and true God?

Allah, Zeus, Thor? 

Why Jehovah/Yahweh? 

 

If I look into my refrigerator and see fresh broccoli I can think "that is good. I have here in my possession nourishing food to sustain my life ".

If I look 5 days later to see the same broccoli all rotten and wilted because I forgot it was there, then I can objectively say to myself "that is bad... good nourishing food was wasted, and will now benefit no one".

 

I don't need a God to tell me that.

In the same way, how I treat the life of others in this temporal world matters.

Human effort, and resources useful to humans were expended in the cultivation and harvesting of that broccoli. So objectively speaking, it matters.

 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

 

I build my expectations in life on an understanding of the reality which can be objectively seen and understood.

 

And a fundamental part of that is understanding that there are no contradictions in this temporal reality. Rather, there are only apparent paradoxes, those which seem to be contradictions to the individual human perception. Things are what they are.

 

I want to live and thrive. I accept that this is a material world and that as human beings, we have needs which cannot be met by living as other animals do... I cannot live by sleeping in a hollow tree, wake to hunt and kill another animal, eating it on the spot, then returning to my hollow tree to sleep and do the same thing tomorrow. 

 

Human beings are the only animal unable to live in our natural environment without the aid of tools, implements, and weapons. And living to anything near our fullest potential requires that we share that burden by trading human-created artifacts with other humans.... "division of labor".

Enabling the specialization of labor and skills and free exchange of the products of that labor with others.

 

Thus, the basis for society and human culture.

As a rational, thinking human, how can I possibly expect to have all that work as such unless we treat each other as we naturally want to be treated ourselves?

 

The right to private property is foundational to a functioning society.

And that right to private property is at the essence of the Ten Commandments, is it not?

Do not envy, do not steal, do not violate your neighbor's marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

 

I build my expectations in life on an understanding of the reality which can be objectively seen and understood.

 

And a fundamental part of that is understanding that there are no contradictions in this temporal reality. Rather, there are only apparent paradoxes, those which seem to be contradictions to the individual human perception. Things are what they are.

 

I want to live and thrive. I accept that this is a material world and that as human beings, we have needs which cannot be met by living as other animals do... I cannot live by sleeping in a hollow tree, wake to hunt and kill another animal, eating it on the spot, then returning to my hollow tree to sleep and do the same thing tomorrow. 

 

Human beings are the only animal unable to live in our natural environment without the aid of tools, implements, and weapons. And living to anything near our fullest potential requires that we share that burden by trading human-created artifacts with other humans.... "division of labor".

Enabling the specialization of labor and skills and free exchange of the products of that labor with others.

 

Thus, the basis for society and human culture.

As a rational, thinking human, how can I possibly expect to have all that work as such unless we treat each other as we naturally want to be treated ourselves?

 

The right to private property is foundational to a functioning society.

And that right to private property is at the essence of the Ten Commandments, is it not?

Do not envy, do not steal, do not violate your neighbor's marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose we have to define morality, the ten commandments are the law but jesus then comes and further defines whats expected. So we go from not committing adultery to not even thinking/lusting of a woman. Pro social behaviour to help grow civilisation and humankind doesn't necessarily indicate the morality I am speaking of.. Surely this points to like an altruistic theory? You'd help your neighbour because of what you want in return-peace and privacy. 

 

If everyone just built there objective reality which could be seen wouldn't there be even more chaos? Not everyone lives as we do inthe West.. Some countries believe in child marriage, cannabalism and having multiple wives. This is subjectively OK for them but not for us inthe West so where is the boundary line and can u call out others on their subjective stances if there's no absolute truth 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Georgia said:

 

 

It's interesting what you say, are you able to seperate your morality from those biblical principles? Would that concept exist without the concept of God? 

 

 

 

Google the HADZA tribe in Africa.  Wikipedia has a good summary.  Read that and tell us how they came to their morals. They evidently never heard of the Christian god.  

 

It only takes some rational, logical thinking to see that what is is the best interest of "life" for the whole of existance, is best for the individuals within that whole. Therefore, love neighbor as self, (and life) which is basically the golden rule which appeared in human thinking long before Jesus came along.

 

And the thought that a loving God would punish all humans forever in the future for the mistake of a couple eating a fruit he told them not to eat is absurd. 

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Alreadygone, if i remember correctly, you will likely discover after much effort, that Georgia will disappear in the middle of a discussion and not be heard from for long periods of time.

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25 minutes ago, Georgia said:

 

I suppose we have to define morality, the ten commandments are the law but jesus then comes and further defines whats expected. So we go from not committing adultery to not even thinking/lusting of a woman. Pro social behaviour to help grow civilisation and humankind doesn't necessarily indicate the morality I am speaking of.. Surely this points to like an altruistic theory? You'd help your neighbour because of what you want in return-peace and privacy. 

 

If everyone just built there objective reality which could be seen wouldn't there be even more chaos? Not everyone lives as we do inthe West.. Some countries believe in child marriage, cannabalism and having multiple wives. This is subjectively OK for them but not for us inthe West so where is the boundary line and can u call out others on their subjective stances if there's no absolute truth 

 

 

 

"So we go from not committing adultery to not even thinking/lusting of a woman."

 

This is according to the Gospel.

It presupposes the standard of a sovereign God.

Damage is done when those thoughts of "lust" are acted upon.

No damage is caused unless the bearer of that lust acts upon it.

 

The reasoning propounded in the remainder of your post is all subjective, and predicated I think on the common belief that in the absence of God there can be no absolutes.

This belief is almost universal among Christians (in my experience).

 

Belief in the absence of (any) absolutes is a common human trait.

Twenty years or so ago it became popular (in the U.S.) to proclaim "it's all relative!" as a lazy way to resolve the many apparent paradoxes in life.

 

I would posit that there are in fact absolutes, and they are what they are whether there is a God or there is not.

Again, (as only one simple example) food is good. Lack of food is bad.

And from that one basic fundamental aspect of human existence, I can understand much about life, and about human reality and the reality of the ways human beings behave and treat others.

This is true without regard to the existence of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Weezer said:

Alreadygone, if i remember correctly, you will likely discover after much effort, that Georgia will disappear in the middle of a discussion and not be heard from for long periods of time.

 

Understood.

This topic is always of interest to me however, and it's at the core of my departure from Christianity.

 

 

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Hey 😊

 

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;
Romans 2:14‭-‬15

 

We have the moral law written on our hearts but sin causes us to stray from it. The law of moses and teachings of jesus affirm what is already in our hearts. 

 

Interviewing Hadza hunter-gatherers to rank the people they live with on a number of traits, such as who has a good heart, shares the most, and works the hardest, the team found that Hadza agreed on how important generosity and hard work was to moral character, but disagreed on who most exemplified these traits. “They disagreed on who among them had the most moral character,” says Kristopher Smith, a Penn postdoctoral fellow and lead paper author.

 

Is this not just pro social behaviour? Not necessarily love your neighbour as you love yourself

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3 minutes ago, Weezer said:

Alreadygone, if i remember correctly, you will likely discover after much effort, that Georgia will disappear in the middle of a discussion and not be heard from for long periods of time.

 

Oh that's not fair Weezer. Last year I told you I was overwhelmed with work due to COVID and then had all sorts of personal stuff going on.. 

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6 minutes ago, Georgia said:

...

Is this not just pro social behaviour? Not necessarily love your neighbour as you love yourself

 

Is there a difference?

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8 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

 

"So we go from not committing adultery to not even thinking/lusting of a woman."

This is according to the Gospel.

It presupposes the standard of a sovereign God.

Damage is done when those thoughts of "lust" are acted upon.

No damage is caused unless the bearer of that lust acts upon it.

 

 

Umm maybe ask your partner if that's totally true.. When married, its OK to lust about another person because you havnt acted on it? 

 

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14 hours ago, Georgia said:

 

Umm maybe ask your partner if that's totally true.. When married, its OK to lust about another person because you havnt acted on it? 

 

 

You assume that my partner, or your own, does not do the same?

That would be contrary to what is stated in the Gospel, would it not?

 

If you have lustful thoughts but do not act on them, that would mean doing anything other than dismissing such thoughts as they occur.

 

With the acceptance that you too are married, and you would not act on those thoughts in any way that would damage not only your neighbor, but your wife/husband as well.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

 

You assume that my partner, or your own, does not do the same?

That would be contrary to what is stated in the Gospel, would it not?

 

If you have lustful thoughts but do not act on them, that would mean doing anything other than dismissing such thoughts as they occur.

 

With the acceptance that you are too are married, and you would not act on those thoughts in any way that would damage not only your neighbor, but your wife/husband as well.

 

 

 

Oh of course if you don't entertain those thoughts. I misread, thought u were saying it's ok to have these thoughts as no damage has been caused. This is an obvious point unless you have both entered into an open relationship, and even in those circumstances you often find hurt and jealousy.

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Struggling to keep track of the comments, is there an app for this site? 

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excuse me please..

I will be absent for a while.

Probably I shall return in a short while.

 

Be well.

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18 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

 

Is there a difference?

 

From Wikipedia on Pro social behaviour - 

 

These actions may be motivated by empathy and by concern about the welfare and rights of others,[5] as well as for egoistic or practical concerns, such as one's social status or reputation, hope for direct or indirect reciprocity, or adherence to one's perceived system of fairness.[1]

 

Loving your neighbour as yourself is not maybe based on empathy and doesnt have anything to do with social status or reciprocity.  It's through love we do this 

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4 minutes ago, alreadyGone said:

excuse me please..

I will be absent for a while.

Probably I shall return in a short while.

 

Be well.

 

👍🏽👍🏽

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The Bible showcases a rather questionable "morality" when it comes to women, slavery, genocide and incest. There are lots of rules WE are supposed to follow, though, if we can keep track. The Biblical rules from "God" and the behaviors of his "chosen people" reflect the ancient monarchical societies of the authors as well as the previous societies from which much is derived. The only good and practical rule is the Golden Rule, and even that didn't originate with the Bible.

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