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Morality without Religion.

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 08:55 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
I am saying that ethics are a subjective sociological phenomenon.

So are customs. So are traditions. So are social mores. What distinguishes these "sociological phenomena" from ethics?
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 09:03 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Diest TKO wrote:
I know many people who wouldn't be able to deny Hitchens's reasoning, but for them to get to that point they would have to be willing to hear him.

I dunno -- is there a non-offensive way to ask someone: "Have you considered that you may be wasting your life on a Bronze Age myth?" I don't see it.

You're probably right, but at the same time, it would be foolish to say that since all statements challenging someone's religious beliefs will offend a person that different levels of offense are trivial.

Certainly you see the difference between someone asking:

"Have you considered that you may be wasting your life on a Bronze Age myth?"

vice:

"You're stupid for worshiping a Bronze Age myth."

I mean, since they are going to be offended no matter what I say, it shouldn't matter how I say it right?

I guess that's my problem with Hitchens. I think he's brilliant, but his message is often lost in its delivery. It's a hard line to walk. I also acknowledge that part of what makes him potent at the same time is that he skillfully inspires discomfort.

In terms of style/attitude/assertiveness, if there was a happy medium between Dawkins and Hitchens, that would be the best IMO.

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0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:08 am
@Diest TKO,
Quote:
This is akin to saying that a person's ice cream preference has some sort of ethical merit.


That's a good one, Boss. I got a good chuckle out of that.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:13 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

So are customs. So are traditions. So are social mores. What distinguishes these "sociological phenomena" from ethics?


Nothing.
Ceili
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:24 am
Thanks for your replies. I realize I really wasn't asking a question or anything... but I had heard an interview with Hitchens just before his book tour and my trip to Ireland.
The interview kept rattling around my head as I toured my ancestral home. The entire time I was there, I saw the hold religion once had and still has on this country. Corrupt sermons preaching hatred led to unending violence, war, murder, famine.. The list was endless.
Now the country is having a secular resurgence, less people going to church, but it's becoming more civil, more tolerant, friendly, law abiding...
The more i thought about it, the more I realized Hitchens nailed it.
Human beings know the difference between right and wrong. We always have, but religious ethics gave us reasons to go against our gut instincts, making it justifiable to break sacred human laws. In the name of god and what not. It was ok to go to war, to rape and pillage, to deny someone rights, to enslave, to punish a man for wanting a better life - thou shalt not covet thy neighbours goods.
It was ok to beat children black and blue for not obeying rules, or turn a blind eye on abuse. etc etc etc etc etc...
We all know this is wrong, we don't need god or man to tell us this wrong. But religions have persuaded us, when used for the greater good, Sin can come in handy.
I don't see the 1st Commandment as anything more than a power play. It's not ethics. It's a rule, followed by some, ignored by most.
There is not one fundamental human ethical law, that has anything to do with god. Any rule that does, is purely semantic.
What gives any religion the moral authority to say they are a moral authority? Without them, I think we'd do fine.

ebrown p
 
  0  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:43 am
@Ceili,
What the heck are "sacred human laws"? You are setting up a religious system which is based on nothing.

There is no more reason behind your morals then for any other religion.

"Sacred human laws";i f that isn't some appeal to some absolute truth that you have accepted blindly without proof, I don't know what is.

Atheists apparently are just as religious as anyone else.



joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:53 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Quote:

So are customs. So are traditions. So are social mores. What distinguishes these "sociological phenomena" from ethics?


Nothing.


Well then, that makes things much simpler. You claim that no one can make ethical claims outside of the culture's ethical system. Or, in other words, you state: "It is nonsense to judge an ethical system from outside of the social context that it exists in." But if ethics are no different from traditions or customs, then it's also nonsense to judge an ethical system from within the social context that it exists in. Traditions and customs, after all, are neither right nor wrong -- they just are. If a tradition or custom is judged to be "wrong," it's judged on an ethical standard, and since ethics (according to you) are the same thing as traditions and customs, there's really no basis for saying that anything is either right or wrong.

That's all fine. As I've said elsewhere, either ethics are objective or else they don't exist at all. You've obviously taken the latter position. It's curious, though, that you never actually come out and say that. It certainly would make things easier if you did.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:58 am
sacred human law - if you kill me, I'll die
Pain sucks - therefore torture is bad
I'm not starting a religion, just stating you don't need a book filled with fancy writing to tell me whats right and wrong, do you?
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 11:54 am
@Ceili,
Ceili-

1) You will die. This is a scientific fact of no moral import. The universe is fine with this.

2) Giving birth causes pain. Not surprisingly, many religions have strong moral rules around the process of giving birth.

Your religion (which evidently involves a pain free immortality) is pretty far out there.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 12:21 pm
@ebrown p,
I think you're being rather harsh on Ceili, ebp.

Quote:
You will die. This is a scientific fact of no moral import. The universe is fine with this.


True. But knowledge of this fact does not give you (or, in my belief system, anyone else) the right to cause anyone's death. Whether this choice to kill or not to kill is a moral construct, is, of course, debateable.

Quote:
Giving birth causes pain. Not surprisingly, many religions have strong moral rules around the process of giving birth.


But how does this fact relate to Ceili's point about the wrongness of deliberately causing pain in another person? Stubbing one's toe also causes pain. Surprisingly, I know of no religions having strong moral rules regarding activities that might cause one to stub one's toe. That was a nonsensical thing to say. Tabus regarding chilbirth have nothing to do with pain.

I don't find anything about Ceili's opinion "pretty far out there." I might disagree that there is any such thing as a universally acceptable objective moral position (or I might not) but there's nothing bizarre or unusual about any of the statements in Ceili's post.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 12:54 pm
@Merry Andrew,
I am arguing against the idea that there are any moral absolutes (i.e. moral values that exist outside of a social context-- be that Atheist or any other religion).

I am particularly bemused by Atheists who, although proud of the fact they don't hold to any idea of deity, still cling to the idea that there particular moral beliefs spring from some universal truth.

It is perfectly fine for Celli to hold whatever moral views she chooses based on her worldview. I am just challenging the idea that what she is doing is any different (i.e. neither better nor worse) then what any other religion does.

Athiests can be quite religous.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 01:28 pm
@ebrown p,
Quote:
I am arguing against the idea that there are any moral absolutes


All right, except that that was neither the tone nor the substance of what you said in the post I was referring to.

That you are "particularly bemused" by aheists who "cling to the idea that there [sic] particular moral beliefs spring from some universal truth" is your prerogative. Your bemusement, however, does not alter the validity of Ceili's position which, I submit, is every whit as valid as your rejection of the existence of any universals. (You will please note that I have nowhere expressed a statement about what my own beliefs in this matter are.)








ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 01:38 pm
@Merry Andrew,
In spite of her vehement protests, last week I took my daughter last week to get a necessary medical procedure which caused her a good deal of pain.

Under my system of morality, this was the right thing to do.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 01:55 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Under my system of morality, this was the right thing to do.

Under your system of morality, you can do whatever the hell you want. That's because you don't have a system of morality.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 02:41 pm
@joefromchicago,
No no no... you are not listening. I have a system of morality same as you.

It is based on my personal beliefs and the social context I grew up in. In the same way that your system of morality is based on your personal beliefs and the social context you grew up in. (Probably our moral values are quite similar seeing as we grew up in the same society).

I am only saying that there is no absolute moral truth.

You can have morality without absolute moral truth (isn't this what the title of this thread implies?)
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 03:14 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

No no no... you are not listening.

Well, I'm listening to you. I just don't think you are.

ebrown p wrote:
I have a system of morality same as you.

You most certainly do not. I don't believe that morality is something akin to a tradition or a custom. You do. I'm not sure why you call that custom a "system of morality," since it doesn't bear any likeness to a true moral system. Frankly, it's just confusing.

ebrown p wrote:
It is based on my personal beliefs and the social context I grew up in. In the same way that your system of morality is based on your personal beliefs and the social context you grew up in. (Probably our moral values are quite similar seeing as we grew up in the same society).

No, your "system of morality" is little more than an ingrained custom. Consequently, you have no moral obligations. At best, you have habits that are hard to break.

ebrown p wrote:
I am only saying that there is no absolute moral truth.

You can have morality without absolute moral truth (isn't this what the title of this thread implies?)

No, that isn't what the thread implies, and no, you can't have morality without it being objective morality.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 03:26 pm
@joefromchicago,
First, you are wrong about my system of morality (and I should know, it is my system of morality). I have a strong sense of moral obligation. It is kind of annoying for people to think that just because I don't believe in a Supreme Moral Truth, that I can't be a moral person. This is very clearly not true.

I assume you believe (as I do) that we didn't come from a creator and humans weren't made with any specific purpose. We evolved out of natural processes. As part of this process of evolution, we developed as social creatures. And as part of being social creatures we learned social skills; among these are language and moral values.

It is also true that among different groups of human beings, human traits like language and moral values developed in drastically different ways. All humans have a language, the languages are different. And, all humans have a moral code, but the moral codes are quite different). You can no sooner say that one societies moral code is superior to another's as you can say that one language is superior to another.

Where does this objective morality you insist exists come from?

Certainly this morality doesn't exist outside of human society. Animals act in ways that you would find immoral all the time (from child neglect, to rape, to vicious wars to murder of sexual partners).

I submit that morality doesn't exist outside of human societies. And therefore there is no objective way to judge between the morality of one society and another.

You are insisting that there is this "objective morality". But as the Universe doesn't care if humans live or die or suffer or prosper... where would this "objective morality" come from?

ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 03:32 pm
@joefromchicago,
Joe, rereading your argument-- I am not clear on your distinction between "absolute moral truth" (my term) and "objective morality".

Is there a conceptual distinction here that I am missing?
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:04 pm
My thread implies, just as Hitchens asks, that it is possible to have so ethics and morals without religion. If fact, if you break it right down, religion/religious leader do not have the moral authority to preach they are moral authority. What do they do differently that would compel me to follow their version, than what I know in my own true heart to be right and wrong?


As for my religion, its fairly standard main stream. I'm lapsed because I couldn't rectify the inconsistences. Sue me.
Diest TKO
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:13 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
I am particularly bemused by Atheists who, although proud of the fact they don't hold to any idea of deity, still cling to the idea that there particular moral beliefs spring from some universal truth.

How about you substitute "universal truth" with something else. I don't think many Atheists believe in some universal truth. I'd wager that if such language is used, it is merely an facsimile for the idea that healthy human interaction and socially agreeable morals/ethics are intuitive.

What I mean is, it doesn't take a universal truth to see the logic of an idea such as treating others as you wish to be treated. It's quite intuitive.

ebrown p wrote:

Atheists can be quite religious.

This is a popular meme, but it uses an non-mutually agreeable definition of what being "religious" is. The capacity for an individual to discuss and debate things about religion, does not make them religious. The idea that the Atheist must be religious to have a place in the discussion is incorrect.

"Atheism is a religion, like bald is a hair color."
~unknown

T
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