Morality

Home Forums Debates Morality

Tagged: 

This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Beronte 3 years, 7 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #1001

    kozz
    Keymaster

    If you want to read the background of this discussion please go to
    this youtube video and read the comments

  • #1004

    Mark Beronte
    Keymaster

    I will start it off here by replying to this last post by bushman

    “Yeah, kind of like that. When the church basically indoctrinated everyone, according to your view THEN it would have been right to burn and torture people for their opposing views if that is what the majority believed? So if you lived in that time, it would have been right to aid them in what they did?
    Blind faith or not, it is still the same problem of moral relativism.”

    Again what choice do we have but moral relativism? It is what humanity has been struggling with from the beginning of time. There is no objective standard. If you know of one, what is it, and describe how and why you believe it is objective, and where has it ever shown itself to us. Human history is full of acts that most of us today would consider not only immoral but horrifically so, and in almost every case we can see our natural empathy being over-ridden by a credulous belief in the dogma of a “higher” power. Whether that power be god, Nazism, Stalinism etc. True morality comes from using our compassion in combination with our free critical use of reason , and not in giving up our critical thought in exchange for the moral certainty of religious or political zealots.

  • #1013

    Anonymous

    If you rule out supernatural beings, then I’m afraid you have no other choice than moral relativism. The only possibility that I could think of is something that Shelly Kagan seems to be on to: that is that there exists a sort of social morality contract. But this still does not obligate anyone to the social/moral contract and neither does it finalize who is right and who is wrong. It does not solve whether or not the serial killer is any more moral than is the pest exterminator. At most, this type of morality is only supported as it would please the majority of people.
    I agree that from the naturalist worldview, there seems to be no room for any type of morality other than that which is relativistic or the social contract. I think then that naturalism fails as an explanation for our seeming objective morality.
    Why do I think objective morality exists? Because, if the Nazis won World War II and dominated the world, I believe it would still have been wrong to aid them in whatever horrors they conducted. It does not seem that right or wrong would change with the majority vote; cultural taboo might but not morals.
    You mentioned the events in history that we would consider immoral; if you believe that morals are relative then you cannot condemn these people as they were simply doing what the majority thought to be right back then. The same would apply then for isolated groups in which the majority have the same view, such as the Nazis or radical Muslims. So then we would not be able to say that slavery was wrong back when everyone agreed with it; but then why was it demolished? It was because people some people argued that people are innately equal and therefore should not be owned by others. So while we would have to say they were right according to their standards, in a way it removes our reason to have abolished slavery if it were right in the first place.
    To summarize, I simply think that objective morality exists. I don’t think that naturalism provides and explanation for objective morality, and so I think it would be worth investigating and possibly considering alternate metaphysical reasons for our seemingly innate objective morals.

    • #1055

      Mark Beronte
      Keymaster

      First of all sorry for the delay in responding. It could not be helped. Now on with the show.

      “At most, this type of morality is only supported as it would please the majority of people.”

      Exactly, and this is why morality tends to improve over time. The majority will always prefer to live in a society where the well being of themselves or their families is reasonably assured, rather than one in which they are constantly in peril.

      ” I think then that naturalism fails as an explanation for our seeming objective morality.”

      So let me get this straight. You look at history and see an ever changing landscape of morality, yet somehow you believe this is evidence of an objective, unchanging morality? If so, what do you think the evidence might be for a relative morality? I trust you can see the problem. There is in fact no indication at all that there is some platonic form of objective morality, and in fact the morality we do see, is perfectly consistent with a naturalistic world view.

      People naturally get along in social groups, just like many other mammals that give birth to live young, and of course this makes sense, because through cooperation, we are much more likely to survive and produce the next generation. Even primitive societies live in tribes, and within these tribes life is almost always peaceful. We have a natural empathy for those we consider part of our group.

      But there is another side to our natural human morality that is not so peaceful, and that is how we can treat anyone we consider outside our own group. Whether it is tribe vs. tribe or Christians vs. Heretics, or Nazis against the world we have shown over and over again just how brutal we can be to “others” or to those we consider to be not like us. And once again this makes sense from a naturalistic world view. We must be prepared to fight those who wish to take our means of survival away from us, or fight to obtain that means in tough times.

      The interesting thing is that experiments have shown that our conception of who is “in group” and who is “out group” is highly versatile, and we can adopt almost any standard to define these catagories, whether it is race, religion, or the color tee shirt someone has on, and in fact many people today, with a shrinking technological world, have come to the conclusion that we are all part of the same group called humanity. This is good for the future peace of the planet, but not many of these people are religious, because it is usually one’s religion that defines a persons in group, and there can be nothing greater.

      ” if you believe that morals are relative then you cannot condemn these people”

      Of course I can, and so can anyone else, and we always have. Think of what you are saying, which is basically “people can do whatever they like to whoever they like, and no one has any basis to challenge them unless they appeal to laws laid down by invisible deities”. What nonsense. You have it exactly backwards. It is those who wish to dominate, injure or kill others who need to provide evidence of it’s morality before acting. If we ourselves would not like having done to us, what we intend to do to others, this is prima facie evidence that it is likely NOT be a moral act. We are causing harm to another human being, and if if our definition of morality has anything at all to do with improving the well being of other humans, then obviously this is an immoral act. No deity needed.

      What you need to do, is explain what definition of morality would justify the killing or torturing of another human being. I think the only way we ever justify it to ourselves, is to imagine we have secret knowledge of some grand imagined objective morality that transcends some other peoples right to life. Just a quick look at history and we can see that nearly every atrocity has been accompanied by blind faith in some higher objective ideal, whether that be god, Nazism, or Stalinism. These are all the same things, and they hijack our natural fear of others, to do things that would normally shock our conscience, if not for our made up justifications. constructed from imagined objective truths. It’s time we stopped pretending we know things that we couldn’t possibly know, and proceed to try and understand these things instead, because only when we understand the problem do we have any hope at all of fixing it.

      As I like to say: Some ask “can we be moral without god?”. I ask “without god, how much moral might we be?”

  • #1270

    Mark Beronte
    Keymaster

    It’s a shame bushman decided to bow out so early.

  • #1422

    Anonymous

    Sorry it’s been so long. I got out of the debating mood for a while once Organic Chemistry started. Now its over.
    I’ll accept though that I did kind of bow out, since I wasn’t diligent enough to reply. But let’s see what I can do now.

    <Exactly, and this is why morality tends to improve over time.>
    If morality changes then, this raises the question of whether or not it was right for slavery to exist back in the time when many slaves would have been viewed as subhuman and rightful slaves.

    You’ve done a good job of explaining group survival of the fittest, but that does not equal morality. There is no reason why the group’s survival should govern what should and shouldn’t be done. Why not the individual’s survival? If I was a murderer sentenced to death, would it be right for me to kill as many guards as possible in prison to try to escape and save myself?

    <We are causing harm to another human being, and if if our definition of morality has anything at all to do with improving the well being of other humans..>

    This is the exact problem. Who says morality has anything to do with other people’s well-being? What’s right and wrong for me naturally should be governed by my own wants and needs for survival. Naturally, I shouldn’t have to make a sacrifice for someone else because of some imposed moral system claiming to be the utmost right way because it causes the greatest well-being of others. If I survive independently out in the wild, then what moral responsibility do I have to any other humans who are supposedly my “group”? Even in a society, I should have no obligation.

    If there is a God that has endowed innate morals then he would not be the one to blame when someone claims to have knowledge of his laws and uses that to justify horrible things. Careful evaluation of situations should always be conducted.
    I don’t contest that without God we could be moral according to our currently perceived morality. People could choose to help others if they wanted to; they don’t need God to do that. But why should I let someone else tell me that I’m wrong not to put my own survival before that of someone else who may be a part of my group, but to be honest probably is not. And if the whole reason why group survival governs moral choices is that people saw group survival as equaling their own survival, then what happens when someone goes loner? That completely changes everything.

    By the way, nice axolotl icon. My brother’s raising some of those.

    • #1423

      Mark Beronte
      Keymaster

      Sorry it’s been so long.

      Well, It’s never to late to debate. Welcome back bushman!

      I got out of the debating mood for a while once Organic Chemistry started. Now its over.

      Organic Chemistry? Why not just say God did it and be done with it? 😉 Seriously though there are some today who seem to equate science with the devils work. Glad to see you are not one of them.

      “If morality changes”

      Are you not sure that it does? Or are you again referring to some platonic ideal objective morality instead of the morality we all see play out every day here on Earth?

      then, this raises the question of whether or not it was right for slavery to exist

      Actually, morality changes exactly because we as humans, can always ask ourselves the question “Is this really how we want to live”, and get an answer that might change over time, depending on various cultural influences, like how aware we are of the suffering being inflicted on other human beings. Slavery was justified for many years based on the Bible and the “great chain of being”, and the suffering it inflicted on others could be ignored only for such “higher” ideals. It took other books like “Uncle Toms Cabin” to get past the religious justifications, and connect with our natural human empathy to end slavery.

      “You’ve done a good job of explaining group survival of the fittest, but that does not equal morality. There is no reason why the group’s survival should govern what should and shouldn’t be done. Why not the individual’s survival? If I was a murderer sentenced to death, would it be right for me to kill as many guards as possible in prison to try to escape and save myself?”

      I am always surprised when this gets raised again and again, even when the answer is so simple and clear. In a social group, how long do you think a single person’s selfish and deadly escapades would be tolerated by the rest of the group? Rest assured, not for very long and it is so much better for himself, his offspring and the group to cooperate among themselves rather than compete. Some gathering, others hunting, others taking care of children, and all sharing together. This is in fact why we evolved as social animals. Being selfish and alone would have been the quickest path to death for any individual, and it wouldn’t take long to weed this out of the population, at least as a defining characteristic.

      “This is the exact problem. Who says morality has anything to do with other people’s well-being?

      Well morality is about good and evil, and if good is not about human well being, I don’t know what you could possibly mean by it. Human suffering? Who wants that for themselves, and so who can justify inflicting it on others?

      what’s right and wrong for me naturally should be governed by my own wants and needs for survival. “

      Well for one thing most people are not psychopaths, and they feel pain when others feel pain, and they feel good when they make others feel good. This is called empathy, and it is part of our natural emotional repertoire. It evolved to make us the social animals we are today. But even without our natural empathy, we could cooperate based on reason alone, by realizing it is in all of our best interests to cooperate. What in the world makes you think that nature would pay individuals to be selfish, when all evidence would indicate that this is not the case?

      It is only blind faith of one kind or another that can justify treating others like meat, mostly because we convince ourselves that we are the ones in the righteous group, and the others are not worthy of our empathy because they belong to a vile or heathen group. Sound familiar? This explains not only the ubiquitious religious atrocoties in history, but those committed by people such as Hitler, and Stalin as well. Blind faith ideologies are the best strategy we have found so far to override our natural empathy for others, and make us comfortable with wiping them from the face of the Earth: Man, Woman and Child. Anything goes when it’s for a “higher” purpose.

      I don’t contest that without God we could be moral according to our currently perceived morality.

      Well I hope not considering that every example we have in the world confirms this fact. But I would go further and say our morality only seems to improve as we remove god from the equation. Just compare homicide rates (which happen to be a good predictor of overall violence in a civilization) around the world, with how religious the society is. You will find that, in general, the less relgious a society is, the lower the homicde rate will be. In fact it even follows right here in the US, with the most religious states having the higher homicide rates.

      Or we can look at history and compare the morality of our very religious ancestors with society today. Medieval Europe was a place where life was cheap. Homicide rates throughout Europe were upwards of 50 per 100,000, compared to now with rates as low as 1.5 per 100,000. And just consider that we now live in densely packed cities and have access to guns, to see just how dramatic a change this is. Much of Europe has left religion behind, and it’s funny what happens when we realize that there is no god to make things better, and that we alone have that responsibility.

      So two main points:

      1. You seem to think there is such a thing as god given objective morality, but what evidence do you have for such a thing, and when has it shown itself in human history? Certainly the Bible cannot be a source for such morality as it can be read to support slavery, rape, genocide, stoning people for being witches or homosexuality etc etc etc.

      2. What about my natural explaination for human morality do you find difficult to accept and why.

      Enough for now.

      Cheers,
      Mark

      PS…. A couple of very good books on this subject. The first is “Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by “Steven Pinker” which just might be the best nonfiction book I have ever read, and “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them” by Joshua Greene.

      Links:
      Violence by country
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

      Relgion by country
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country

  • #1433

    Anonymous

    “Or are you again referring to some platonic ideal objective morality instead of the morality we all see play out every day here on Earth? ”
    _________________________________
    I don’t think that the changes in decision-making within cultures is a change in morality. That’s almost like saying what is legal or illegal is determined by how the majority of the population acts (although that does influence law).

    “Slavery was justified for many years based on the Bible and the “great chain of being”, and the suffering it inflicted on others could be ignored only for such “higher” ideals. It took other books like “Uncle Toms Cabin” to get past the religious justifications, and connect with our natural human empathy to end slavery. ”
    __________________________________
    Slavery was also eventually condemned by people who based their reasoning on the Bible. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was heavily Christian based as well as much of the movement to free the American slaves. I think the only justification people got from the Bible for their slavery was from the story about one of Noah’s sons serving his brothers for the rest of his life.

    “Being selfish and alone would have been the quickest path to death for any individual, and it wouldn’t take long to weed this out of the population, at least as a defining characteristic.”
    ___________________________________
    Once again this is a good explanation of how best to get along in a group of the human species but is not a good way to tell if that group is doing right or not. If I am living with a group of humans that decide to start having sex with other species and I feel something is wrong about it, when I leave the group to follow what I think is right, am I wrong to do that? This brings up an interesting point too. Bestiality is just as justifiable under the reasoning with which homosexuality is justified. The problem is, most non-religious will view homosexuality as morally okay, but bestiality as morally wrong.

    “Well morality is about good and evil, and if good is not about human well being, I don’t know what you could possibly mean by it. Human suffering?”
    ____________________________________
    Morality is definitely about good and evil, but what makes an action’s popularity in the group right? If right and wrong are simply illusions we are ingrained with through natural selection, then outside the purposes of evolution, what we “know” as right and wrong are no longer right and wrong. They are simply tools to help us multiply/reproduce.

    “It is only blind faith of one kind or another that can justify treating others like meat, mostly because we convince ourselves that we are the ones in the righteous group, and the others are not worthy of our empathy because they belong to a vile or heathen group. Sound familiar? This explains not only the ubiquitious religious atrocoties in history, but those committed by people such as Hitler, and Stalin as well. Blind faith ideologies are the best strategy we have found so far to override our natural empathy for others, and make us comfortable with wiping them from the face of the Earth: Man, Woman and Child. Anything goes when it’s for a “higher” purpose.
    ___________________________________
    When you mention people who persecute others because of a difference of group morals (religious fanatics killing “heathens”), I wonder why that is not compatible with your naturalism. If a group feels like it must make another group submit to its own system of survival, then how do you reason that to be wrong under naturalism? Surely the overriding of sympathy is not wrong; I sympathized for the rats that used to get trapped in my dad’s rat traps, but what makes it wrong that I overrode that for my own well-being, knowing that they were carrying leptospirosis and could be a danger to our system of survival? You’re right, “anything goes when it’s for a higher purpose”, kind of like the higher purpose of group survival. How is the “right” that you would be advocating any less demanding than would be the “right” of someone you thought were evil? You might view rape as wrong while another would view it as a means to reproduce like many animals do; what then would make your demand to stop the rape any less of a “higher purpose” than that proclaimed by religious fanatics?

    “You will find that, in general, the less relgious a society is, the lower the homicde rate will be. In fact it even follows right here in the US, with the most religious states having the higher homicide rates. ”
    ___________________________________________
    I have to ask you, within the US at least,, how many of those murderers and thieves were obeying the teachings that you are associating them with? Christianity, the predominant religion in the US overwhelmingly views murder, theft, and rape as wrong. So why blame Christianity for the higher crime rates in the US?
    Although, countries with religion may have more crime, findings in the “Handbook of Crime Correlates” show that people most involved with religion, people to whom their religion is central in life, people who are members of an organized religion, or people with orthodox religious views all tend to be less associated with crime. Read it for yourself, and then reconsider your judgement concerning religion and crime.

    “1. You seem to think there is such a thing as god given objective morality, but what evidence do you have for such a thing, and when has it shown itself in human history? Certainly the Bible cannot be a source for such morality as it can be read to support slavery, rape, genocide, stoning people for being witches or homosexuality etc etc etc.

    2. What about my natural explaination for human morality do you find difficult to accept and why.”
    _______________________________________________
    1. My ability to perceive something as unquestioningly wrong despite it being in accordance with naturalism is just one simple evidence of an inherent moral system. If that perception is just an evolutionary illusion, then outside the purposes of evolution, it has no meaning; even inside the purposes of evolution though I would need to question it.
    2. I don’t feel comfortable swapping a “higher purpose”, as you put it, which is based on principles such as “Do to others as you would have them do to you” for another higher purpose which claims to be the ultimate higher purpose since it somehow has natural selective principles to back it. I’m speaking for Christianity when I say this, but a Christian’s ultimate job is not to shove their beliefs in everyone’s face, it’s not to go conquer nations under the banner of Christ, and it’s not to unaccepting of other people’s beliefs. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” So in other words, if to do one thing in the name of God, you have to have feelings of hate towards someone, then don’t call yourself a Christian. This is why I resent it when people attribute terrible acts done by believers to the teachings of Christ which tell us that loving each other and God is the precursor to all other good.

  • #1447

    Anonymous

    “So what would you call it when slavery is morally acceptable one day, and not morally acceptable the next? Is this not a change in morality?”

    Just because someone decides to call red blue, doesn’t mean that the 700nm wavelength of what was originally red has now changed over to the blue wavelength. Similarly, just because slavery may be culturally acceptable one century and culturally detested the next doesn’t mean that slavery is either right or wrong. You are presuming that a culture’s decisions deem what is ultimately right and wrong to prove your point – a bit circular.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    “Are you saying you are so special that if you had lived then, you would have known better? Please bushman. I’ll need more evidence of your magical objective morality than your assurance that you have an infallible moral compass.”

    You seem to think that objective morality is such a far stretch. People justify their actions in various ways. People try to justify their killing; sometimes the justification is deemed sufficient by others and sometimes it isn’t. But tell me, when is it right to kill without justification?
    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    “Well you’re the Christian, but I can’t say I’m surprised that you haven’t done a very good job of reading your Bible. Doing so is the quickest way to become an atheist…..And there are pages more. But even if no words of encouragement could be found in the bible for slavery, I would say it could still be faulted for having no prohibition against it in the 10 commandments. Really, Graven images made the top 10, but no mention of slavery, rape, child abuse? Even a 10 year old today could make improvements to the 10 commandments, yet you think it’s some kind of perfect moral guide. It’s amazing to me.”

    I see you’ve fallen into the trap of assuming I haven’t read too much of the Bible. Of course, of course, anyone who has taken the time to thoroughly read through the Bible will become an atheist, unless they’re intellectually dishonest – according to atheists, that is. Seems a bit biased of a judgment.
    As I said, the justification Americans used for U.S. slavery was mostly the story about Noah’s sons. It doesn’t seem that the other verses you brought up condone slavery. And about what you said about the 10 commandments, you seem to simply be making a preferential advisement. Slavery, rape, and child abuse are all dealt with in the Torah, even if not specifically in the first 10 laws.
    ___________________________________________________________________

    “the only difference with bestiality is that we couldn’t be sure of consent, but given that we kill them without their consent,”

    I’m not sure what “given that we kill them without their consent” is supposed to imply. But let me tell you that when an orangutan is holding a woman down raping her, there is no doubt that the animal is wanting to have sex. The woman, of course, didn’t, but when you have a consenting person, then there is no doubt that both are consenting. I find it a bit interesting that you would confine bestiality to private places away from the public. I would say that you find it disturbing. Do you also think that homosexuals should display their affection only in the privacy of their homes, not in the town square?
    _______________________________________________________________
    ““The group” IS the final arbiter of what is right and wrong. There is nothing beyond the group, and this is self evident. If there was an isolated group of people who thought it was moral to sacrifice a child to ensure a good harvest, they would do it, and there would be no one to say otherwise. ”

    Your presumption that there is nothing beyond the group is circular reasoning. You’re basically saying that because there is no other existence (God) outside humanity on earth, then our say is what goes. I would agree, that if there were no God, then our moral choices would need to be determined as right or wrong based on society if we were in obligation to them, or simply by ourselves if we had no obligation to society. But your circular proof is a bit disappointing. You also seem to contradict your idea of humanity as whole being the “group” and not individual cultural groups being the “groups” when you say that it would be alright for an isolated society to sacrifice children to secure a good harvest.
    ________________________________________________________________
    “There is nothing like a higher purpose to allow us to depress our empathy and make us capable of incredible cruelty, this would include not only traditional religions (Mostly monotheism with its demand for absolute belief) , but also Nazism, Stalinism and the like.”

    Christianity doesn’t demand that we force people to absolute belief. Followers of Christ were told to teach others, that’s it. Anyone who feels they need to torture someone into belief is by definition not following Christ. Also, you seem to think Stalin made his own religion?? So what is it now? Any atheist who is bad is religious? You don’t get off that easy. Stalin was an atheist with a lot of power and a lot of other atheists who had his same political views. They killed millions of Christians, driven by their belief that there is no God.
    _________________________________________________________________
    “I keep explaining and you keep putting your fingers in your ears and screaming LA LA LA. This has to stop. First of all just because something is natural (group on group violence) does not mean that it is good, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t recognize it as an impediment to human progress and try to improve the situation.”

    So what is this supposed to mean then?: ” If there was an isolated group of people who thought it was moral to sacrifice a child to ensure a good harvest, they would do it, and there would be no one to say otherwise. ” You imply that the child sacrifice would be right in this situation, yet you just previously imply that natural violence by a group for their own survival can be wrong.
    _________________________________________________________________
    “Well, I would have to guess, but I wouldn’t rule out the fact that many Christians believe that they are born inevitable sinners, incapable of ever knowing right from wrong, but having redemption available with only a word to Jesus. Then there is the doctrines of the church that makes the most natural of human activities, like sex, into sins. There is a reason the most religious states have the most out of wedlock births, and the most internet searches for gay porn”

    You didn’t answer the question but rather diverted to problems within religious organizations which are common problems whenever power is involved. You have to look at what the actual religious texts are teaching to be able to condemn the religion. Don’t blame a book because the people who read it misuse it. Redemption upon request is supposedly only given if the sinner has a true desire to repent. Just doing wrong, asking for forgiveness, and repeating the cycle is not how it works. You accused me of not having read the Bible thoroughly, but you seem to be completely unaware of teachings such as in Romans 6 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
    __________________________________________________
    “Well the only problem with this is it doesn’t fit the facts.”

    What I cited from the Handbook of Crime Correlates was a fact.
    __________________________________________________
    “If this was the case countries with very little religion would have a higher crime rate. This is clear consequence of your statement.”

    You think too simply. There are numerous other reasons that crime may be higher in religious countries. One simple yet perhaps unrealistic one is that all the crime could possibly be against the religious people. Therefore the more religion, the more crime (although that is probably not the reason). You also seem to have misunderstood the findings in the Handbook. It said that people who felt religion was central in their life were less likely to commit crimes than those who did not feel that way. Just because you check Catholic on the survey because you’re family is Catholic doesn’t mean that you sincerely feel religion to be central.
    ___________________________________________________
    “Sweden, Denmark, Japan and others have very low crime rates, in fact some of the lowest in the world, but are upwards of 80% atheist. You do understand that this couldn’t possibly be the case if your assertion is true? You can keep saying it, but if you care about facts, you will need to explain the contradictions.”

    Again, what I gave you was not an assertion, it was a fact which was determined through scientific studies, and for you to reduce it to a mere claim is a bit sad. You’re not supposed to deny evidence that contradicts your view; you’re supposed to reconcile your view to the facts. So since nonreligious countries tend to have less “crime” than religious countries, yet sincere religious people are less likely to commit “crimes”, then there is another factor involved. Perhaps the “religious” people are not sincerely religious. There are also moral crimes much worse than illegal crimes which don’t make it on the lists. There are numerous possibilities; making a false dichotomy of this is a bit silly.
    ___________________________________________________
    I would love to stick to those 2 points, but you’ve brought up so many more.
    (1) I first want to say that it is possible for objective morals to exist whether or not we know so. Secondly, for evidence of objective morality, just look at cultures through history. Nearly all societies have viewed things such as murder or theft as wrong. I’ll ask again, since when has unjustified killing ever been accepted? And there is no denying that there are many altruistic behaviors displayed in cultures which have no evolutionary benefit. And my previous point was not based on you trusting me. I was making the point that there is a sense of objective morality in nearly all human beings. So either that is an evolutionary illusion, or perhaps there is some sort of innate objective morality even if we don’t realize it 100% of the time.

    (2) What I found hard to believe about “your” theory was that it is supposedly better than objective morality. Also, your moral relativity would seem to screw things up quite a bit. Imagine a society where weak children are put to death to prevent waste of resources and to increase genetic strength. I wonder what your response would be at being asked to put to death a child for great rewards. I can imagine you would say no, but why? It has been deemed culturally okay as well as evolutionary productive, but why would that be wrong. It seems that people like you proclaim moral relativism but act like objective morals do exist. This is another hypocritical issue which makes it hard to believe in your moral system. That is what I was bringing up when I mentioned swapping the “higher purpose”, as you put it, of objective morality for your moral relativism which also turns out to be practiced subtly for a higher purpose as well.

    • #1448

      Mark Beronte
      Keymaster

      Ok Bushman, this is getting a bit out of hand. You just replied to every section of my post with replies that either miss the point that was being made entirely, or that ignore it, by simply restating your position once again without elaboration. That is not debate, it is regurgitation, and so for the sake of my own interest in continuing this conversation, and for the benefit of any potential readers, I think we will need to narrow down the focus to a single point per post.

      Let’s start with this thing you keep referring to as if it is a fact of life, but for which you have still failed to give even the slightest bit of evidence for. I am referring to objective morality. I want you to tell me where you see evidence for such a thing in all of human history, where it lives, and how exactly do people get access to it’s infinite knowledge of good and evil?

      To show your confusion on this issue just look at your own analogy,

      You say:

      Just because someone decides to call red blue, doesn’t mean that the 700nm wavelength of what was originally red has now changed over to the blue wavelength. Similarly, just because slavery may be culturally acceptable one century and culturally detested the next doesn’t mean that slavery is either right or wrong.

      But of course the problem with this analogy is that there is an objective phenomenon that we can point to and measure, which is 700nm light. Where is the objective phenomenon that tells us that slavery is wrong, or whether beating your children is evil, or whether homosexuality is really an abomination, or whether working on Sunday should be a capital offense, or whether the death penalty is appropriate for those convicted of murder? The list is endless. Do you see the problem? One is a physical thing right in front of you, and the other is nothing more than a value judgement. Do you claim to have answers to all of these questions, by virtue of some secret access to an “objective morality” crystal ball? And if there is no access. what is its value at all?

      Objective means independent of personal feelings or opinion, so if our morality is objective, there must be somewhere we can all look, other than within ourselves, to determine the absolute morality of things like stepping on spiders, or genetically modifying produce. But there is no where we can look but within ourselves for the answers to such questions. We must weigh the pros and cons, and as a group make the best decisions we can. They may be wrong in the long run. We may find out that genetically modified foods are damaging in some way that we overlooked, and our views might change as to whether it is right or wrong. This is exactly how all questions of morality have always been handled, and it has been anything but objective.

      You must either give evidence of the existence of objective morality, or admit that it is just another way you like to pretend to know things you couldn’t possibly know.

    • #1450

      Mark Beronte
      Keymaster

      Where did you go Bushman? I had hoped simplifying and focusing the discussion might have sped things along, but at this rate there won’t be enough time in a single lifetime to finish. It’s a simple question. Where is this objective morality you speak of and can you give a single piece of evidence that it exists at all?

  • #1434

    Mark Beronte
    Keymaster

    “I don’t think that the changes in decision-making within cultures is a change in morality. ”

    So what would you call it when slavery is morally acceptable one day, and not morally acceptable the next? Is this not a change in morality? Where is the objective, unchanging morality you speak of located. You insist it exists, yet you repeatedly ignore my requests to explain why and where it resides.

    Later in your post you attempt to give some evidence of objective morality by citing your “ability to perceive something as unquestioningly wrong”, but I hope you can see the problem? How do you know that what you perceive as wrong, would not be different if you had lived in a different time or place? Of course you can’t possibly know this, and all the evidence available points to this fact that it would be different. In the Roman Empire slavery was a fact of life, and there is not a single bit of writing ever found, that indicates any doubts as to the morality of slavery. Are you saying you are so special that if you had lived then, you would have known better? Please bushman. I’ll need more evidence of your magical objective morality than your assurance that you have an infallible moral compass.

    “I think the only justification people got from the Bible for their slavery was from the story about one of Noah’s sons serving his brothers for the rest of his life.”

    Well you’re the Christian, but I can’t say I’m surprised that you haven’t done a very good job of reading your Bible. Doing so is the quickest way to become an atheist.

    Ephesians 6:5: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

    Leviticus 25:44-46:… You may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. …. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them.

    Exodus 21:20-21: “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

    And there are pages more. But even if no words of encouragement could be found in the bible for slavery, I would say it could still be faulted for having no prohibition against it in the 10 commandments. Really, Graven images made the top 10, but no mention of slavery, rape, child abuse? Even a 10 year old today could make improvements to the 10 commandments, yet you think it’s some kind of perfect moral guide. It’s amazing to me.

    “The problem is, most non-religious will view homosexuality as morally okay, but bestiality as morally wrong.”

    Personally I don’t care what mutually consensual people do with their own genitalia, the only difference with bestiality is that we couldn’t be sure of consent, but given that we kill them without their consent, this is not a big issue to me and I have no problem with some southern farmer having sex with his sheep in the privacy of his own barn, just don’t do it in the town square.

    “but what makes an action’s popularity in the group right?”

    I know I have answered this at least once before so I wish you would attack the points made rather than simply repeating the question. But here it is once again. “The group” IS the final arbiter of what is right and wrong. There is nothing beyond the group, and this is self evident. If there was an isolated group of people who thought it was moral to sacrifice a child to ensure a good harvest, they would do it, and there would be no one to say otherwise.

    Lucky for groups it is almost never in their own self interest to treat others in the same group with disregard, since this would never be conducive to social harmony and survival, and this is why pretty much every group of people that have survived for any length of time have been about as “moral” as any other group when it comes to how they treat members of their own group.

    The problem comes when groups interact, especially when their goals and values conflict. In these case groups are capable of great violence and cruelty to other groups, and this includes Christians. In fact it is very hard to find examples in history that rival the cruelty inflicted on others in the name of Christianity. Whether it is burning alive at the stake or torturing people with the most devious machines created by man for the purpose, or wiping out entire populations for no other reason than they refused to accept Jesus as their loving savior. it’s crazy stuff for such a “peaceful” religion. There is nothing like a higher purpose to allow us to depress our empathy and make us capable of incredible cruelty, this would include not only traditional religions (Mostly monotheism with its demand for absolute belief) , but also Nazism, Stalinism and the like.

    “hen you mention people who persecute others because of a difference of group morals (religious fanatics killing “heathens”), I wonder why that is not compatible with your naturalism. If a group feels like it must make another group submit to its own system of survival, then how do you reason that to be wrong under naturalism?”

    I keep explaining and you keep putting your fingers in your ears and screaming LA LA LA. This has to stop. First of all just because something is natural (group on group violence) does not mean that it is good, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t recognize it as an impediment to human progress and try to improve the situation. This is the case with group violence. Maybe you like opening your newspaper and reading about the latest group on group violence, but most people don’t, and it doesn’t have to be this way if we begin to realize that we are not our religion, or our country, or our race – we are all simply humans. All part of the same group. Religion is a big impediment to such understanding, as it is generally judged by those within it, as the most important aspect of who they are. Surely you can understand this.

    “I have to ask you, within the US at least,, how many of those murderers and thieves were obeying the teachings that you are associating them with? Christianity, the predominant religion in the US overwhelmingly views murder, theft, and rape as wrong. “

    Well, I would have to guess, but I wouldn’t rule out the fact that many Christians believe that they are born inevitable sinners, incapable of ever knowing right from wrong, but having redemption available with only a word to Jesus. Then there is the doctrines of the church that makes the most natural of human activities, like sex, into sins. There is a reason the most religious states have the most out of wedlock births, and the most internet searches for gay porn. The church knows what it’s doing. Make a natural activity into a sin, and then make themselves into the only path for redemption. What a cycle of deception. These things add to the moral confusion of Christians, and is a big reason why Christianity is rapidly becoming synonymous with hypocrisy.

    “[religious people] tend to be less associated with crimes”

    Well the only problem with this is it doesn’t fit the facts. If this was the case countries with very little religion would have a higher crime rate. This is clear consequence of your statement. Yet we see just the opposite. Sweden, Denmark, Japan and others have very low crime rates, in fact some of the lowest in the world, but are upwards of 80% atheist. You do understand that this couldn’t possibly be the case if your assertion is true? You can keep saying it, but if you care about facts, you will need to explain the contradictions.

    As to the 2 main points of my last post, I must leave them on the table because your answer item #1 is unsatisfying. I ask for evidence of objective morality and you tell me to essentially trust you, that you know when something is immoral even when society doesn’t. This is not evidence. As for #2 I’m sorry but I find your response unintelligible. Something about Christianity being about love and swapping higher purposes. I just asked you what you find hard to believe about my theory of our natural morality, yet I see nothing about that theory. Would you mind if we just focused on getting these two questions answered in your next post?

    Cheers.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.