Deconversion and morals
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23-03-2015, 04:09 PM
RE: Deconversion and morals
(23-03-2015 03:28 PM)pablo Wrote:  Bad people do bad things. God has nothing to do with it.
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23-03-2015, 05:24 PM
RE: Deconversion and morals
Without a god, they would quickly realize their belief in a god had nothing to do with why they were obeying the laws and social expectations.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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23-03-2015, 06:32 PM
RE: Deconversion and morals
(23-03-2015 09:35 AM)Ocean theRAPIST Wrote:  After reading all the different threads here on morals, I had a thought last night that what would happen concerning morals if every theist came to the conclusion that their religious beliefs were BS and started living in reality?
And by this question I mean would they all go nuts? Would there be more crime in the world without the fear of their gods? I know many theists believe that morals don't exist without their god.
IMO I believe good people will do good and bad people will do bad. But I feel that some theists are only playing nice because their fear keeps them from being worse than they are.
Most people in the US prison system believe in some sort of god but, that hasn't stopped them from committing crimes. What about the ones doing good because they feel they have to?

We don't have to idly speculate about the subject. We can instead examine the people who have deconverted as a microcosm. And by that standard, we can see that by and large theists who deconvert continue to be moral, by almost any standard based on widespread human comfort, equity, agency, and dignity. (By standards that arbitrarily include adhering to a specific belief system or conforming to certain rules about, say, sexuality? Not so much.)

Furthermore, you note that there are a large number of theists in prison. There are also a notable number of atheists in prison. What is interesting is that when we compare the number of atheists in prison compared to the number of theists in prison, PROPORTIONATE to their share of the overall population, theists are much more strongly represented. If we're using time in prison as a gauge of immorality, theists are more immoral than atheists.

This is a weak gauge at best. Not only are our society's laws not the most morally-informed ones around, which would cause us to question whether incarceration DOES indicate immorality, but imprisonment is also influenced by non-moral factors such as economic class, education, and race, each of which have correlation factors that would suggest a higher imprisonment rate of theists independent of their commission of crimes. A study in which these variables would be controlled and in which the nature of the crimes were categorized (victimless crimes such as drug use, crime versus societal rules such as social security fraud or bribing a public official, crime versus property such as vandalism or theft, crime versus person such as assault, rape or murder, etc) would interest me, but I am unaware if it has been performed.

But you're proposing something that even this weak gauge would be incapable of measuring: That there is a certain class of people who, while theists, behave in a moral manner, but once removed from theism would not.

Theism (well, religion) is often put forth by its advocates as a source of morality for the general population... usually with scarce evidence beyond that it often makes an effort to condemn certain immoral behaviors, plus some anecdotes. So the claim is there... though the support for it is wispy-thin, and arguments just as strong (with further anecdotes) can be made for the opposite position. But you're not suggesting it as a source of morality for the general population, but rather for a potentially very narrow subset of the population. If this is not the case for a lot of people, then that doesn't disprove your proposition. It just narrows the subset further, to potentially miniscule scale.

This proposition is not falsifiable, which means it is of very limited uitlity. It would be better to consider a similar proposition that this subset of the population that behaves well under theism but would behave poorly under atheism exceeds X%, where X is given a specific value. This moves it into the realm of the testable and the knowable.

For informing our strategies, and specifically whether efforts at deconversion are wise in the face of this possibility, we should also consider another subset of the population: Those who behave badly under theism, but would behave well if their theism was abandoned. In other words, people who behave badly BECAUSE of religion. (People who behave roughly the same either way, while likely a large proportion of the population, do not raise the same moral questions as these two categories.) A good argument could be made that so long as this second population is in excess of the first, a strategy of deconversion will tend to turn more bad people good than turn good people bad.

So the question is, which is the bigger problem in the world today? People behaving badly, not just who happen to be religious, but BECAUSE they are believers? That is, their bad behavior is shaped, inspired, and motivated by their religion? Or people behaving badly, not just who happen to be non-believers, but BECAUSE they are non-believers?
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24-03-2015, 03:16 AM
RE: Deconversion and morals
I still remember the words my headteacher said in an assembly when I was seven:

Doasyouwouldbedoneby - he wrote on the chalkboard; and it means just that. I think most people capable of rational thought can agree on the commonly accepted moral values that are a benefit to society.

I Think; Therefore I Am....
...or is it the other way around?
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24-03-2015, 05:58 AM
RE: Deconversion and morals
(23-03-2015 09:35 AM)Ocean theRAPIST Wrote:  After reading all the different threads here on morals, I had a thought last night that what would happen concerning morals if every theist came to the conclusion that their religious beliefs were BS and started living in reality?
And by this question I mean would they all go nuts? Would there be more crime in the world without the fear of their gods? I know many theists believe that morals don't exist without their god.

When I was Christian, I remember rationalizing that if God weren't real, I could do whatever I wanted.

When I stopped believing, I didn't really change, other than I no longer believed in God. I didn't suddenly feel some compulsion to go out and do horrible things. I didn't feel like I was now free to go do those horrible things I'd been secretly wanting to do. I was still the same person, with no desire to go out causing harm.

I think a lot of people rationalize morality the way they do because they're stuck in a rut with how they conceptualize it. If they ever find themselves out of that rut, they'll stop trying to shoehorn everything back into it and instead try to figure out how morality works without assuming a God.


(23-03-2015 09:35 AM)Ocean theRAPIST Wrote:  IMO I believe good people will do good and bad people will do bad. But I feel that some theists are only playing nice because their fear keeps them from being worse than they are.

You've examined three of the four possibilities. What about the ones who are only being assholes because they believe they're supposed to be? For example, if people stopped believing in God, there would be a lot less opposition to gay marriage, established medicine, science, and global warming.
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24-03-2015, 07:49 AM
RE: Deconversion and morals
Some people fear that idea in a mass realm, I don't think more than 1-5% of people would act out in any manner that is harmfully different than their current life.

I'm sure there are people who would fill some spectrum of social abnormal who wouldn't see any other justification to be thoughtful of others. I think only a few would have that situation where they struggle to empathize before acting on a whim to achieve some personal valued gain. I think only people already pushed to stressful limits may think it means there is no recourse so why not.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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24-03-2015, 08:06 AM
RE: Deconversion and morals
This question assumes that people who believe in God are all moral to start with. I don't think they are. According to my code, taking things on faith is immoral.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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24-03-2015, 09:09 AM
RE: Deconversion and morals
(24-03-2015 05:58 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(23-03-2015 09:35 AM)Ocean theRAPIST Wrote:  After reading all the different threads here on morals, I had a thought last night that what would happen concerning morals if every theist came to the conclusion that their religious beliefs were BS and started living in reality?
And by this question I mean would they all go nuts? Would there be more crime in the world without the fear of their gods? I know many theists believe that morals don't exist without their god.

When I was Christian, I remember rationalizing that if God weren't real, I could do whatever I wanted.

When I stopped believing, I didn't really change, other than I no longer believed in God. I didn't suddenly feel some compulsion to go out and do horrible things. I didn't feel like I was now free to go do those horrible things I'd been secretly wanting to do. I was still the same person, with no desire to go out causing harm.

I think a lot of people rationalize morality the way they do because they're stuck in a rut with how they conceptualize it. If they ever find themselves out of that rut, they'll stop trying to shoehorn everything back into it and instead try to figure out how morality works without assuming a God.


(23-03-2015 09:35 AM)Ocean theRAPIST Wrote:  IMO I believe good people will do good and bad people will do bad. But I feel that some theists are only playing nice because their fear keeps them from being worse than they are.

You've examined three of the four possibilities. What about the ones who are only being assholes because they believe they're supposed to be? For example, if people stopped believing in God, there would be a lot less opposition to gay marriage, established medicine, science, and global warming.

You're right, I did leave out that option. I know for myself, since becoming a non believer that I have a much better outlook on life and I care more for people and our planet. I value life a lot more now and I think a lot of people would value it more if they knew it was the only one they had. But, there are those that I've came across that I feel would fall in to a deep state of depression and would lash out because they would feel their life to be meaningless and just wouldn't give a shit.

As a whole I don't think we would notice a difference. People are going to do what's good for themselves and since we live in social communities it's beneficial to do good.
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