Atheism and morality
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28-05-2015, 11:46 AM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 04:05 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I've noticed that many atheists believe in an absolute morality. That is, that some things are "really right" and others are "really wrong" regardless of any particular human's opinion. I'm curious to hear from members here about this. Obviously, morality is a very simple problem for theists.....God decides what is moral for them, but I want to hear from atheists who feel that there is a rightness and wrongness (good and evil) property of our actions. I believe that we all just make up our own set of morals, and that nothing in the universe except humans, really cares if you save the world, or destroy an entire nation of people. It's not that I don't want to be moral, quite the contrary, I try to use the golden rule and I try to be completely honest all the time. I just don't want to delude myself into believing that some things are "really right" or "really wrong" when the logical part of my mind tells me this is impossible.

Thoughts?

Hmm... I've noticed that many theists have never taken the time to become acquainted with many atheists.

Personally, I don't think that there is any such thing as "absolute morality" ... or "absolute" anything, for that matter.

Human beings are governed by social and cultural constraints. The only way to change those is to live in conflict with them and effect change from within.

Oh sure, one could invade and attack and attempt to eradicate an offending culture which propegates such constraints but that may in fact strengthen righteous conviction of ...

Oh, never mind. Drinking Beverage

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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28-05-2015, 03:26 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(28-05-2015 08:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  You say: “Its not about fear or dread. It is simply about assessing the situation and understanding the path of most likely success.” Yet, pretty much every example you use revolves around fear and dread, such as the one above.
Certainly I think you focus too much on sensationalist emotional terms. It's as if you are trying to write a piece for a newspaper.
There are generally many paths towards a goal. A shrewd and calculated navigator is aware of the risks and obstacles inherent in each path and chooses the path with either the most interesting journey or with they highest reward or the least risk.
If you keep your eyes on the prize you don't get side tracked worrying about whether you are being brave, or whether others might perceive you as being fearful.
(28-05-2015 08:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  To go back to my examples, there’s a delight in helping this stranger, which is not particularly there when refusing to give the recruit some of my food.
Sure I realise that some people take a personal delight about helping others. It gives them warm fuzzies. Without the warm fuzzies they probably wouldn't be bothered to help others (IMO).

(28-05-2015 08:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  That the dark side of the Sith, is more attractive to you than the light side. That the side you find more appealing is one who refuses the irresponsible fool food, than the side who helps a stranger.
I'm just saying that it makes sense to have your eyes open and make conscious decisions rather than out of conditioning. The Sith in someways are portrayed as amoral and it shows in the literature that they are more awake, that they have to consider so much more than those operating out of honour or obligation.
Unfortunately the books show the Sith as being the dark side, wanting war and slavery. But I guess when writing to the masses there is a need to make the story simple, to have a clear side for people to cheer for and a clear side for people to boo at. If the Sith weren't portrayed in such a negative light then the audience would be confused regarding how to feel about the Jedi seeking to eradicate the Sith from the galaxy.
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28-05-2015, 03:51 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
There is plenty of media in that universe that shows the major flaws of Jedi and doesn't disregard the Sith as simply evil but shows the flaw in the formulate direction of following order in both groups. Even the Sith tend to follow their order and traditional pattern of 1 leader with a cause that has a follower and not really expanding the idea into more but those two.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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28-05-2015, 05:49 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(28-05-2015 03:51 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  There is plenty of media in that universe that shows the major flaws of Jedi and doesn't disregard the Sith as simply evil but shows the flaw in the formulate direction of following order in both groups. Even the Sith tend to follow their order and traditional pattern of 1 leader with a cause that has a follower and not really expanding the idea into more but those two.
Yeah, I haven't read all the books. I've read the Lost Tribe, Dawn of the Jedi and almost finished Revan.
The Lost Tribe stuff was a great insight to Sith. Each person strives to achieve the top position. They are patient and aware they they can't rush in. They are constantly aware that others would throw them to the lions if it betters their own position. They form alliances but are constantly weary, even marriages are untrusted.
I think it is a great insight regarding being consciously aware of the position and motives of others, not being overly comfortable in the "morality" of others and thinking they will do "right" by you. Assessing your alliances, your common goals and your conflicts of interest. In someways it is much the same as Game of thrones. People appear subservient/obedient until they are ready to provide a credible challenge.

In Revan, one of the Sith is coming to appreciate the Jedi mentality but he is just recently being introduced to it. But it does show the two extremes. The honor and code approach and the selfish gain approach.
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29-05-2015, 06:25 AM
RE: Atheism and morality
Another post on morality, and another tuck and run. Drinking Beverage

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29-05-2015, 07:46 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2015 10:57 AM by kim.)
RE: Atheism and morality
(28-05-2015 08:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(27-05-2015 12:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  ----
If you watch very young children they learn this lesson early on.
Put a two year old in with another two year old. They snatch things from each other, they push and shove, they hit.
They learn pretty early on that if they snatch something then the other kid either cries getting the attention of an adult who then tells the snatcher off or the other kids punches the snatcher and the snatcher cries.
It's just a reality of life.

You say: “Its not about fear or dread. It is simply about assessing the situation and understanding the path of most likely success.” Yet, pretty much every example you use revolves around fear and dread, such as the one above.

The child here avoids snatching another child’s toy, out of fear of getting in trouble by an adult, or the other kid inflicting violence upon him. And in conjunction with the monkey example, over time this avoidance can become habitual, conditioned by those earlier repercussions, that he continues to avoid stanching another person’s toy, even when those repercussions are no longer present. It’s like a dog who fears his owners wrath so he avoids jumping on the couch, and avoids doing so when he’s not around, or even with a new owner.

Fear and dread potentially leading to habitual behaviors is all true of course. When I first started driving, and needed to shift lanes, I never used to turn to the side to check my blind spots. After the first accident that resulted, the fear and dread of this repeating itself, lead me to always look at my blindspot, sometimes multiple times, as sort of nervous tick, or paranoia that I might have missed something. This is a practice has become sort of instinctual, habitual now, and traces of that initial fear and dread remain, often experienced as an acute anxiety.

But the problem present in all your examples, is that fear, dread, anxiety, are not the only means in which habits form. And I’ll have to appeal to terms you seem consistently uncomfortable with using, and that is love and empathy. We use the term love even in colloquially sense, to describe things we enjoy, like eating chocolate cake, going to beach. Doing things we love, or out of love, often expresses our delight in things we do, rather than as an outgrowth of our anxieties and fears. And in some sense, often when we love someone, or feel empathy towards that someone appears as a sort of extension of ourselves, our mirror neuro ---
---__
--_--

Ok so... since someone has the need to resort to backhanded remarks ... Dodgy

The above example of toddlers snatching things from each others is completely misunderstood when one observes with PRECONCEPTIONS.
A toddler is placed with another toddler. Neither has any preconceptions of the other. one snatches a toy from the other to see what will happen. If the other child cries, this may not be desirable. The child then gives the child back the toy and the crying stops. The other child may also hit the other child or simply go elsewhere and ignore the toy snatcher.

This is simply the way children establish autonomous relationships. Such establishment comes about through continual testing of evolved, subtle altruistic tendencies.

Someone seems to think it's about fear & dread. Why is it that an atheist like myself has a more positive view of our species' evolution?

See... I can use my backhand as well.

Please try not to confuse this discussion of objective/subject with altruism when you can't handle the subtleties of any of these words and their respective meanings. Drinking Beverage

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29-05-2015, 01:12 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(29-05-2015 07:46 AM)kim Wrote:  Ok so... since someone has the need to resort to backhanded remarks ... Dodgy

No, it wasn't a backhanded remark. It's a part of a long conversation me and Stevil have been having for awhile over multiple threads. To make a long story short, Stevil doesn't like to use terms like empathy, or love, particularly in our conversations, because he believes they have religious connotations, or too fuzzy feeling.

Quote:A toddler is placed with another toddler. Neither has any preconceptions of the other. one snatches a toy from the other to see what will happen. If the other child cries, this may not be desirable. The child then gives the child back the toy and the crying stops. The other child may also hit the other child or simply go elsewhere and ignore the toy snatcher.

This doesn't seem to be the case, at least not in the common interactions of children snatching each other's toys. It's a product of memetic desire. The child desires the toy, the other child desires and possess. It's not a product of some desire to see cause and effect. Children don't typically give the toy back to the other child when they other child starts crying. When I have to intervene amongst my nephews and nieces, the snatching child cries when the toy is taken away from them. They want what the other child has.

Quote:Someone seems to think it's about fear & dread. Why is it that an atheist like myself has a more positive view of our species' evolution?

This is sort of what happens when you enter a conversation, several post too late.

The example is one Stevil brought up, to further illustrate an experiment with monkeys, being deterred from climbing a ladder to obtain a banana, by others monkey who would beat him up if he tried to. The monkey is deterred by fear and dread here, and Stevil chose to illustrate this further with his example of children and toy snatching.

Quote:Please try not to confuse this discussion of objective/subject with altruism when you can't handle the subtleties of any of these words and their respective meanings. Drinking Beverage

There's a bit of irony here, but hey that's fine.
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29-05-2015, 01:37 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
Yes, I apologize.
I shouldn't have commented in the middle of someone else's conversation. Especially when I'm having technical issues reading most of it and am having trouble responding the way I'd like.

My dickishness seems beyond my control today. Dodgy

However, tiny children who've never encountered each other previously have nothing memetic to go on with each other. They resort to creating their own relationship. At least, that has been my experience.

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29-05-2015, 01:42 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(29-05-2015 01:12 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(29-05-2015 07:46 AM)kim Wrote:  Ok so... since someone has the need to resort to backhanded remarks ... Dodgy
To make a long story short, Stevil doesn't like to use terms like empathy, or love, particularly in our conversations, because he believes they have religious connotations, or too fuzzy feeling.
Well, that's not correct.
As I have expressed. I haven't a clue what a Christian means when they talk about love. How a person can love "Jesus" without knowing Jesus, without having a relationship with Jesus is beyond my ability to comprehend. It's certainly outside my own definition of love.
At no point could I hold hands with a group of strangers singing Kumbaya around the camp fire and imagine that this is an expression of communal love.

If I am to converse clearly with Tomasia I need to use words which are much clearer and commonly understood between us.

Regarding empathy, my only reserve in these conversations about morality is that my own empathy does not dictate what is right or wrong. My emotions are not magically linked into some moral truths of the universe. Dare I say it, my own empathetic response differs from the next person. We all are different, there is no objective empathetic response and there is no objective moral truth.
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29-05-2015, 01:58 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(29-05-2015 01:42 PM)Stevil Wrote:  If I am to converse clearly with Tomasia I need to use words which are much clearer and commonly understood between us.

That seems like a pretty flimsy reason to limit yourself, out of fear that I'm going to misunderstand you.

Quote:Regarding empathy, my only reserve in these conversations about morality is that my own empathy does not dictate what is right or wrong

You don't believe in right or wrong, so nothing dictates what is right or wrong.


Quote:My emotions are not magically linked into some moral truths of the universe. Dare I say it, my own empathetic response differs from the next person. We all are different, there is no objective empathetic response and there is no objective moral truth.

Your emotions may not be linked to any moral truths of the universe, or objective responses. But they are linked to your behaviors and responses, even if these behaviors and response may not be universal. You and I both know that when you say that you don't want harm to be inflicted on your wife, it's not because she'll retaliate and avoid putting out, but because you love her, and you don't want to see her hurt, or suffering. Is that so hard to confess?
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