Basis for Atheist Morality
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13-02-2014, 11:07 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
Quote:I find it interesting how the majority of the responses are still focused on trying to turn the question around or trying to bash on religion.

The original post assumes that the theist has no concern over the basis of his morality. The "turning of the question" is completely fair, as the question itself warrants it.

Atheism does not have a "basis" of morality. That is, the basis of morality is not contained in the denial of belief in a God. It is based on other things, including but not limited to the recognition that some behaviors are personally and socially harmful while others are personally and socially beneficial. Balancing those beliefs to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people is one part of our morality.

It is not in my personal interest to enrich myself by stealing from others, because as social animals, humans tend to ostracize those who harm others. Since I do not want to be ostracized, I refrain from doing things that would lead to such ostracism, even if those things might benefit me in the short run. I do not steal.

The original post, by posing the question to atheists, assumes that atheism lacks a basis for morality and implies that theists do not lack such a basis. But I challenge that notion. I want to know what the theist basis for morality is. It's not "God," in the way religions define God, for two reasons: When and where religions promote "moral" teachings, those teachings are rather easily recognized as moral by all of society, proving that religion itself is not the basis for the moral teaching. Second, when religions teach something that is clearly immoral, such as executing people for picking up sticks on a Friday night, we recognize those teachings as immoral, proving not only that morality is not based on religion, but that religion is an active force for immorality.

I invite you to read Euthyphro, if you have not done so already. The question there is posed, does God command things because they are good? Or are they good because God commands them? If he commands things because they are good, then their goodness is independent of Him. If they are good because he commands them, then "goodness" is not objective at all. It is subjective -- and subject to the will of God. That is the very opposite of objective morality.

The fact that we recognize the immorality of so many religious doctrines is proof that morality is independent of religion, not at all dependent on it.
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13-02-2014, 11:18 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 09:31 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  The idea of objective morality is checkmated, not you (necessarily). If you are saying objective morality is contextual, then it's not objective. And if it were so easy to understand that slavery was wrong, then why did it persist for thousands of years by ignorant masses? If your deity gave us the power to (easily) comprehend that slavery was wrong, then why did it not occur to the majority of the idiots right up until pre-Civil War America?

I know, I know, humans have the capacity to be evil and stupid and that's not your deity's fault. He just set things in motion and what happens from there is all on us. Your special pleading grows tiresome. It's remarkable, you change threads and questions, but your special pleading remains constant.

I disagree that contextual morality cannot be objective. The context only makes morality more complicated. In my mind, objective morality means that in any situation there is a morally right answer and one (or multiple) morally wrong answers (or less right answers, if you prefer).

Think of it like adding one more variable to a math equation. The presence of the extra variable doesn't make the answer any less objective, it just means it takes one more step to get there.

So, if you know the answer, why did you ask the question?

I think you also missed a couple of other factors in there. If you were a normal person in the southern U.S. during slavery time, you might have known that slavery was wrong, but not had the influence to be able to do anything about it. You might have known it was wrong, but valued your own social position too much to refuse to own slaves and risk being an outcast. They might have convinced themselves that those in power knew better than they did. Or, as you alluded to, they may have justified owning slaves because they valued money and power over morality.

As for your 'special pleading' comments, you seem to just be saying that my 'opinion' or my 'beliefs' remain constant, with which I agree. I can assure you that people of this forum referring to my 'opinions' and 'beliefs' as a 'special pleading' are even more tiresome to me. Especially, because I spent so much time defending my positions with logical arguments. When is the last time you went to a theist or deist website and defended your beliefs against virtually everyone on that site at the same time?

Btw, atheism requires just as much of a "special pleading" as deism, and people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
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13-02-2014, 11:31 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 11:18 AM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  
(13-02-2014 09:31 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  The idea of objective morality is checkmated, not you (necessarily). If you are saying objective morality is contextual, then it's not objective. And if it were so easy to understand that slavery was wrong, then why did it persist for thousands of years by ignorant masses? If your deity gave us the power to (easily) comprehend that slavery was wrong, then why did it not occur to the majority of the idiots right up until pre-Civil War America?

I know, I know, humans have the capacity to be evil and stupid and that's not your deity's fault. He just set things in motion and what happens from there is all on us. Your special pleading grows tiresome. It's remarkable, you change threads and questions, but your special pleading remains constant.

I disagree that contextual morality cannot be objective. The context only makes morality more complicated. In my mind, objective morality means that in any situation there is a morally right answer and one (or multiple) morally wrong answers (or less right answers, if you prefer).

Think of it like adding one more variable to a math equation. The presence of the extra variable doesn't make the answer any less objective, it just means it takes one more step to get there.

So, if you know the answer, why did you ask the question?

I think you also missed a couple of other factors in there. If you were a normal person in the southern U.S. during slavery time, you might have known that slavery was wrong, but not had the influence to be able to do anything about it. You might have known it was wrong, but valued your own social position too much to refuse to own slaves and risk being an outcast. They might have convinced themselves that those in power knew better than they did. Or, as you alluded to, they may have justified owning slaves because they valued money and power over morality.

As for your 'special pleading' comments, you seem to just be saying that my 'opinion' or my 'beliefs' remain constant, with which I agree. I can assure you that people of this forum referring to my 'opinions' and 'beliefs' as a 'special pleading' are even more tiresome to me. Especially, because I spent so much time defending my positions with logical arguments. When is the last time you went to a theist or deist website and defended your beliefs against virtually everyone on that site at the same time?

Btw, atheism requires just as much of a "special pleading" as deism, and people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Then look for your answers elsewhere. You make no sense, do not use logical arguments, and do not understand that humans and the world around you are subjective and not black and white. The math analogies are absurd, 10 times 10 is always 100, but a given situation in a given culture will not always have the same moral decision. I get it, morals come from your god and there is no evidence to sway that from the start so why continue the attempt to rationalize reality with woo-woo?

“Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up, must come down, down, down. Amen! If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.”
— Dan Barker —
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13-02-2014, 11:33 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 10:31 AM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  1. Yes, there would just be no humans to be moral or immoral. Think of it like math or geometry. Even if there were no true right angle triangles in existence, the pythagorean theorem would still be sound.

If there are no sentient beings, there is no morality.

Morality requires moral agents.

Your geometry example fails, because triangles exist, even if there are no sentient beings to observe them. Morality does not exist if there are no moral agents.


Quote:2. Morals are the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong (pulled it off dictionary.com)

And when this is put into action, it concerns the well being of sentient beings.

Quote:3. Well, if you don't have a brain then you aren't alive. I believe in the afterlife, so yes, I do believe that morality will still apply in an afterlife (however, the contextual influences may be different depending on the form of that afterlife). If you are talking about someone who is brain-dead in a hospital it seems like an irrelevant question, as that person really isn't capable of doing moral or immoral activities.

You are the only deist I have ever met that believes in an afterlife.

Quote:4. The brain is a tool. It allows us to figure out what is moral or not, and it allows us to control our body in such a way as to do moral actions or immoral ones.

No god required.


Quote:5. What's with the Christian questions? I'm not Christian. I'm starting to think that a lot of people in these forums don't even know what a deist is.

As a deist, I believe in the existence of a non-interventionist creator who only speaks to mankind through his creation (the universe and everything in it) and has given us the tools necessary to understand everything we need to know about him (ie. our reason and intelligence). I do not believe that any creator would rely on the fragility of the written word to convey his word to mankind, as the written word 1. cannot be in a universal language, 2. can be forged, 3. can be changed, 4. can be suppressed, 5. can be lies, etc.

Yes, many people here and other atheist forums have knee jerk reactions to anyone that believes in a god, and they try to pigeon hole them all into one catagory.

We're human after all.
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13-02-2014, 11:35 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

The deist God imprinting morality on humankind is a concept that is asserted without evidence. It is proffered, not proved. It is posited, not derived from evidence or logic.

The only difference between deist morality and atheist morality is the assumption at its core. We both recognize that no theist claim to morality withstands scrutiny.
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13-02-2014, 11:36 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 11:18 AM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  Btw, atheism requires just as much of a "special pleading" as deism, and people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Oh...

You need to elaborate on this statement.


Please, I'll wait...
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13-02-2014, 11:37 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
You cannot prove that slavery was actually meant to be the correct moral decision since it was accepted as normal behavior for centuries. It could just be your own moral compass that views the practice as wrong. making things up as we go along just to make your God valid and accountable for good morals decisions. Maybe it is us humans with the good compass and it is God steering us to the immoral thoughts - just sayin you cannot prove this concept to be false.

“Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up, must come down, down, down. Amen! If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.”
— Dan Barker —
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13-02-2014, 11:50 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 11:37 AM)Timber1025 Wrote:  Maybe it is us humans with the good compass and it is God steering us to the immoral thoughts - just sayin you cannot prove this concept to be false.

This is an interesting point.

How does lookingforanswers know that his deist god is good?

How does he know that the moral clues that god placed in the universe are for us to be moral, and not immoral?

How does he know that those humans that enslave others or that perform atrocities are not the ones that are discovering those immoral clues placed in the universe by his deist god?
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13-02-2014, 11:54 AM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 11:35 AM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

Does that statement require evidence?

Truth seeker.
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13-02-2014, 12:01 PM
RE: Basis for Atheist Morality
(13-02-2014 09:35 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Intrinsic / objective is the very opposite of contextual / subjective but leaving that aside for a moment, if any of what you just wrote was really true, let's test it.

Let's take something that is objective... Black and White (absence of colour and all colours). Can black and white be contextual?

If creation is the basis of morality, then we should, as much as our current level of scientific discovery permits, be able to draw up a list of moral laws from creation, so...

Please can you extract some moral laws from the gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear forces.

Thank you.

Imagine objective morality as a formula (much like the formulas that would apply to gravity, electromagnetism, etc):

M = A x I x C

M = morality of the action
A = the action itself (ie. punching someone)
I = the intention (ie. did you intend to punch the person)
C = context (ie. was there consent? were you defending someone?)

There is an objective answer in every situation, you just need to plug in the variables. Just because the formula is more complicated than M=A does not mean that it then becomes subjective.

It's interesting to see where everyone's mind goes when I say the word 'creation'. Someone else's mind when to leaves falling from a tree. When I say 'creation' that includes everything in creation. This includes the study of humankind's history. This includes the study of biology.

Sure, in the broad sense you could say gravity has moral implications (ie. it is immoral to drop a rock when someone is underneath), but I think that is a bit of a stretch. The real morality comes from what your action did to the person down below (ie. biology) and what your intention was in doing so.
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