Another Moral Musing
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05-08-2017, 04:15 PM
Another Moral Musing
The moral cornerstone of religiosity is “Do God’s will”.

The moral cornerstone of secularism is “Do no harm”, although I would enlarge that to a positive active obligation: “Make all our lives more worth living”.

The thing about “Doing God’s will” is that it is a proxy. There’s no reason to do god’s will just to do god’s will; the belief is that doing god’s will achieve the secular aim of doing no harm (or making life more worth living). All of us share that same aim; it’s in our genes. The religious just assume that the god is better at determining what will meet that aim than ourselves, their so-called objective morality.

Were there incontrovertible proof that (A) a god is out there, (B) its aims coincide with our common moral aim and [C] it makes its aims and methods unambiguously clear to mankind, then choosing the moral proxy of “Do god’s will” does no harm. But none of (A), (B) or [C] are anything but empty fancy.

And that leaves too much room for the charlatan to pretend it speaks for god, with no means of distinguishing the charlatan from the deluded from the genuine prophet. Hewing to “Doing god’s will” puts a slippery middleman into the moral equation. Worse, it enables total deviation from our common moral aim into actions and behaviors that defeat it. It’s simply more direct to cut out that middleman and achieve our common moral aim without interference: make life more worth living, or at least do no harm.

Any unease about the fact that we codify the ways and means ourselves is answered by the fact that anything that can be pointed to as “god’s will” has only one source: ourselves. True “objectivity” is a chimera. Thus any codification absent pretense of having “come from god” will be far more likely to be genuine in intent, and more effective.
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05-08-2017, 04:31 PM
RE: Another Moral Musing
(05-08-2017 04:15 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  The moral cornerstone of religiosity is “Do God’s will”.

The moral cornerstone of secularism is “Do no harm”, although I would enlarge that to a positive active obligation: “Make all our lives more worth living”.

The thing about “Doing God’s will” is that it is a proxy. There’s no reason to do god’s will just to do god’s will; the belief is that doing god’s will achieve the secular aim of doing no harm (or making life more worth living). All of us share that same aim; it’s in our genes. The religious just assume that the god is better at determining what will meet that aim than ourselves, their so-called objective morality.

Were there incontrovertible proof that (A) a god is out there, (B) its aims coincide with our common moral aim and [C] it makes its aims and methods unambiguously clear to mankind, then choosing the moral proxy of “Do god’s will” does no harm. But none of (A), (B) or [C] are anything but empty fancy.

And that leaves too much room for the charlatan to pretend it speaks for god, with no means of distinguishing the charlatan from the deluded from the genuine prophet. Hewing to “Doing god’s will” puts a slippery middleman into the moral equation. Worse, it enables total deviation from our common moral aim into actions and behaviors that defeat it. It’s simply more direct to cut out that middleman and achieve our common moral aim without interference: make life more worth living, or at least do no harm.

Any unease about the fact that we codify the ways and means ourselves is answered by the fact that anything that can be pointed to as “god’s will” has only one source: ourselves. True “objectivity” is a chimera. Thus any codification absent pretense of having “come from god” will be far more likely to be genuine in intent, and more effective.

> Don't you find it rather odd that God's will is always what the priests say it is? Consider
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05-08-2017, 05:32 PM
RE: Another Moral Musing
Years ago a child asked me if Jesus had sai i could smoke, which is something I was doing at that moment. I said "No, DId Jesus say you couldn't smoke, you best talk to Him about that."
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05-08-2017, 05:50 PM
RE: Another Moral Musing
(05-08-2017 04:15 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  Any unease about the fact that we codify the ways and means ourselves is answered by the fact that anything that can be pointed to as “god’s will” has only one source: ourselves.
Yes, god's will is a proxy for the will of the person who claims to be speaking god's will. Oddly, god always agrees with the person who claims to be speaking for him.
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05-08-2017, 07:03 PM
RE: Another Moral Musing
Yup. Pretty much agree with all of the OP.

One small quibble:

(05-08-2017 04:15 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  ...
the secular aim of doing no harm (or making life more worth living). All of us share that same aim; it’s in our genes.
...

It's not in our genes. Our genes have no problem doing harm. Our genes' goal is to not be harmed.

Why else are small children such violent little cunts?

Instead, it's in our memes... received wisdom through game-playing, transactional analysis and social contracts.

Those with 'divinity ethics' have externalised their ego to make a covenant with their deity but cannot see that the divine voice 'in their heart' is just a 'simulation of self' whose lusts and disgusts are tempered (inhibited) by their perceived and received environment.

Or something like that.

Consider

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05-08-2017, 07:21 PM
RE: Another Moral Musing
(05-08-2017 07:03 PM)DLJ Wrote:  ... Instead, it's in our memes ...

Yes, that's better. Thanks!
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05-08-2017, 08:09 PM
RE: Another Moral Musing
Bees raised on isolation from other bees will make honeycombs and honey. DNA may be a better construct than "soul."

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams
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07-08-2017, 12:22 AM
RE: Another Moral Musing
I made a similar if not identical point in my recent essay on the Moral Argument, written as if addressing a theist. If anyone's curious, here's an excerpt:

Quote:So essentially, there are two moral axioms on offer, expressed here as competing "ought" statements.

1) We ought to do that which maximizes the well-being and minimizes the suffering of sentient beings.

2) We ought to do that which is consistent with God's will and/or nature.

We may alternatively think of them as two proposed definitions for the word "good." When we call something "good," we are describing, by definition, either something that maximizes the well-being and minimizes the suffering of sentient beings or something that is consistent with God's will and/or nature. Deciding between these axiomatic definitions is the topic at hand.

But isn't #1 merely an assumption or a semantic ploy? If it is, then so is #2. If you want to pull this conversation into a realm that's abstract and philosophical enough that the arbitrariness of #1 becomes significant, that's fine, but as soon as you do that, #2 becomes just as arbitrary. Why is it necessarily good to maximize the well-being and minimize the suffering of sentient beings? Well, why is it necessarily good to do that which is consistent with God's will and/or nature? In other words, to the extent that #1 is subjective in an absolute sense, theism doesn't really resolve that subjectivity. Instead, it just exchanges one ultimately subjective axiom for another.

In fact, I suspect a decent argument can be made that even #2, which appears to be on the same level as #1, is itself actually reducible to #1. Why is God's will and/or nature so compelling and binding for you as a believer? Ultimately, it's because you believe in some form of divine reward and/or divine punishment. Otherwise, what objective reason do you have for caring how God wants you to act? Now, let's take that one step further. Why do you feel that it's a good thing to spread the word about Jesus and lead other people to faith in God? Because you want the same thing for them that you want for yourself: to experience divine reward and/or to avoid divine punishment. But what is divine reward if not an increase in well-being? What is divine punishment if not a form of suffering? Whether you've ever realized it or not, the underlying goal of your moral system has always been exactly the same as the goal expressed by many secularists.

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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