Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
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08-12-2014, 02:59 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:22 PM)tear151 Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:12 PM)WitchSabrina Wrote:  And
PS
The thread title sucks.
Theres no link between atheists & morals.

Yes, you are correct about that, atheism is simply the denial of God as I am aware, however, there are more implications to a Godless world than simply "There is no God". A large portion of ethics was based on the idea that "God says so". So atheism makes a large part of accepted western philosophy unfounded as the God explanation can no longer be valid.

My atheism led me to nihilism, which led to moral nihilism, which led me to question what I could do in a meaningless world... I discovered I could just make one up, with no regard for the ideas of old, so I rejected morality as a relic of God more than anything, instead of saying, there is no morality without God therefore God, I went for, No Morality without God, therefore not necessarily morality, morality is just one the things you can choose to be your meaning.

I like morality reject as relic of god..... I cqn use that! LOL

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08-12-2014, 03:00 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:30 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  So, you're saying, there was no morality before God?

No there was no concept of morality, before there was some sort of beliefs about reality having some sort of spiritual component, that human existence was teleological, had a telos, some sort of inherent purpose, and direction, which it was to fulfill.

This not to say that people didn't act in ways that were caring, or empathetic, like other animals do, but once these sorts of things took on the form of knowledge, and judgements, that actions can have a quality of being moral and immoral, good and evil, that this stemmed from view of the world that was highly spiritualized, enchanted by religious superstitions about the nature of man.
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08-12-2014, 03:02 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:57 PM)tear151 Wrote:  They felt that theft was unvirtuous, if they saw a poor beggar on the street, his poverty and lack of knowledge made him bad, because he's unvirtuous, it was elitist, Aristotle's idea of virtue ethics sums up the zeitgeist of the era quite well. It's based on ideas about what is objectively good for your personal development rather than was is good per se. Again my descriptive egoism (Thank you to poster who gave me that term, it's far more precise), accounts for this, because people like being educated, they like not being stolen from, I'm simply saying that's perfectly good enough a reason to lock people up and dislike people who steal from you, you don't have to take the next step of saying there's something "Wrong" about those actions.

"Wrong" = "Harmful"

Theft is harmful to a person, so it is harmful for society, so it is considered "bad" by most people in most cases. What is so hard to grasp about this? Are you just playing with words?

Also, you didn't tell me, which parts of Ancient Greek ethics has Western philosophy rejected?

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08-12-2014, 03:05 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:51 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:37 PM)tear151 Wrote:  So what is your position then, do you agree with me that the world is indifferent to us, and that the will builds itself on a inherent nihilism?

There's a lack of sacred cow in your posts, I can respect that.
I would say that I am a descriptive egoist and a moral nihilist.

I see other people's moral beliefs as a potential threat rather than as a foundation for a peaceful society.

I often see moral beliefs used to try and control or judge others, I think without the idea of moral beliefs, moral obligation and the idea that others should act morally (however that is defined) then I think that leaves society open to the possibility of being non judgmental, tolerant and interestingly diverse.

I'm not an anarchist, I think we do need some enforced rules governing society, I just don't want these rules based on someone's moral beliefs. I mean, whose moral beliefs are those to be enforced? I also don't like the idea of forcing the majority view onto others and hence oppressing the minorities.

As a whole I think most western societies are moving towards the direction of being more tolerant and less "traditional" moralistic. Either governments are deciding to stick to their core responsibility of a safe and stable society or "morality" is changing such that people are becoming more tolerant of the diversity we see in our globally integrated societies.

Weirdly, I find the egoist camp is far more tolerant and accepting than most moralists, Well... not even tolerance, simply indifference and a certain care free attitude to the world.

The freedom from guilt... well not guilt... rather feeling I should be guilty... or responsible for things outside my control... is very liberating.

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08-12-2014, 03:07 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:02 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:57 PM)tear151 Wrote:  They felt that theft was unvirtuous, if they saw a poor beggar on the street, his poverty and lack of knowledge made him bad, because he's unvirtuous, it was elitist, Aristotle's idea of virtue ethics sums up the zeitgeist of the era quite well. It's based on ideas about what is objectively good for your personal development rather than was is good per se. Again my descriptive egoism (Thank you to poster who gave me that term, it's far more precise), accounts for this, because people like being educated, they like not being stolen from, I'm simply saying that's perfectly good enough a reason to lock people up and dislike people who steal from you, you don't have to take the next step of saying there's something "Wrong" about those actions.

"Wrong" = "Harmful"

Theft is harmful to a person, so it is harmful for society, so it is considered "bad" by most people in most cases. What is so hard to grasp about this? Are you just playing with words?

Also, you didn't tell me, which parts of Ancient Greek ethics has Western philosophy rejected?

That the beggar outside your door is a disgusting wretch who is unvirtuous and should not be treated with as much respect as the virtuous. That you should focus on others more than your own personal development and character.

What's your grounds for suggesting that what is harmful to others is wrong? If it's subjective, then I simply don't accept what you're saying, and you can't justify why I should because it's subjective.

If it's objective, you need to explain what about it is wrong.

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08-12-2014, 03:14 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2014 03:18 PM by tear151.)
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 02:59 PM)WitchSabrina Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:22 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Yes, you are correct about that, atheism is simply the denial of God as I am aware, however, there are more implications to a Godless world than simply "There is no God". A large portion of ethics was based on the idea that "God says so". So atheism makes a large part of accepted western philosophy unfounded as the God explanation can no longer be valid.

My atheism led me to nihilism, which led to moral nihilism, which led me to question what I could do in a meaningless world... I discovered I could just make one up, with no regard for the ideas of old, so I rejected morality as a relic of God more than anything, instead of saying, there is no morality without God therefore God, I went for, No Morality without God, therefore not necessarily morality, morality is just one the things you can choose to be your meaning.

I like morality reject as relic of god..... I cqn use that! LOL

I think the misunderstanding (This is my fault entirely) was that people thought I was suggesting they change their behaviour, I was just giving a more... consistent way to describe it without calling on hard to define concepts. I said it earlier. There's a bastardisation of the poem calling immigrants to the statue of liberty I used, in regards to "subjective morality" and "secular humanism"

“The disillusioned refuse of your emptying churches.
Send these, the Godless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift amnesty to the nihilistically bounded”

I know it's bad, I'm not a poet by any means, but the quality of the poetry is irrelevant really, it's the idea behind it, I hope you can see that idea, nihilism is scary, but it's actually quite easy to get out of it when you stop asking why? What is the meaning? Why should I act in the certain way... and you just turn around and go

wait... if there's no meaning... if the universe doesn't care about me... if I'm fundamentally insignificant then... then... oh my goodness, that's it! WHY THE FUCK NOT! EUREKA!

sorry I have a tendency to repeat myself Tongue

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08-12-2014, 03:17 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:07 PM)tear151 Wrote:  That the beggar outside your door is a disgusting wretch who is unvirtuous and should not be treated with as much respect as the virtuous. That you should focus on others more than your own personal development and character.

Oh, that's how modern western philosophy has "mostly rejected the Greeks"? Give me one Greek philosopher who claimed that we should focus on others more than we should focus on ourselves.

And jeez, that was more than 2000 years ago. Of course we wouldn't adopt Ancient Greek philosophy as it is. That doesn't make it worthless. And you didn't address my point about the similarity of our ethics and theirs, as well as their irrelevance to religion.

(08-12-2014 03:07 PM)tear151 Wrote:  What's your grounds for suggesting that what is harmful to others is wrong? If it's subjective, then I simply don't accept what you're saying, and you can't justify why I should because it's subjective.

If it's objective, you need to explain what about it is wrong.

Again, playing with words. You can call it wrong, you can call it bad, you can call it harmful. The result is the same.

What is harmful to a person is harmful to society, to the human species. That is the objective part. Our most basic instinct in life is survival. It goes without saying that we want to live and not be harmed. Thus anything that impedes our survival was named "bad". What is your problem with that?

I know that there are more complex questions of the "good vs bad" variety and they are mostly subjective.

I still fail to see the point in this. What would you have us do?

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08-12-2014, 03:26 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:05 PM)tear151 Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 02:51 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I would say that I am a descriptive egoist and a moral nihilist.

I see other people's moral beliefs as a potential threat rather than as a foundation for a peaceful society.

I often see moral beliefs used to try and control or judge others, I think without the idea of moral beliefs, moral obligation and the idea that others should act morally (however that is defined) then I think that leaves society open to the possibility of being non judgmental, tolerant and interestingly diverse.

I'm not an anarchist, I think we do need some enforced rules governing society, I just don't want these rules based on someone's moral beliefs. I mean, whose moral beliefs are those to be enforced? I also don't like the idea of forcing the majority view onto others and hence oppressing the minorities.

As a whole I think most western societies are moving towards the direction of being more tolerant and less "traditional" moralistic. Either governments are deciding to stick to their core responsibility of a safe and stable society or "morality" is changing such that people are becoming more tolerant of the diversity we see in our globally integrated societies.

Weirdly, I find the egoist camp is far more tolerant and accepting than most moralists, Well... not even tolerance, simply indifference and a certain care free attitude to the world.

The freedom from guilty is truly liberating.
As a generalization we appear to have evolved to the point where we are capable of making reasonable moral considerations. Memes are probably relevant here.
The majority of us, based on our own personal feelings, share varying degrees of empathy, one towards the other.This too can make for a stable and more acceptable social environment.
Contrary to the above norm, psycopaths feel no empathy and may become unfeeling serial killers. Masochists may love pain (probably within reasonable parameters) but need not be psychotic. Our choice of pleasure seems irrelevant until it impinges negatively on self and others.
The 'God' as moral's arbiter par excellence is quite flawed. To give credence to crass commands originating thousands of years ago, and held to represent some 'perfect being' just doesn't make sense. Nothing endures except change, and with change we need to assess our ethical evaluations.
As agnostics/atheists we can only do our best, whether that involves moral relativism, utilitarianism , or some other system . Our concern for a better world seems most salient here.
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08-12-2014, 03:26 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:05 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Weirdly, I find the egoist camp is far more tolerant and accepting than most moralists, Well... not even tolerance, simply indifference and a certain care free attitude to the world.
Yeah, I don't think it is that we don't care per se (apathy) it's just that we tend to respect that others have their own opinions, their own lives and their own choices. It's not our place or (to be more precise) it's not our obligation to interfere. The words "Ego" and "selfish" generally have a poor reputation in public, just as the term "atheist" is seen in poor light in USA. But when you get down to it "egoism" doesn't mean that "I know best". It means that I respect that each person knows best for themselves.

(08-12-2014 03:05 PM)tear151 Wrote:  The freedom from guilt... well not guilt... rather feeling I should be guilty... or responsible for things outside my control... is very liberating.
This is an interesting one too.
I have been on a religious forum where they take this to mean that I don't believe in god or don't believe in morality so that I can behave immorally guilt free.

But of course this isn't the case. I don't believe in god because there is no evidence for it. I don't believe in morality because there is no evidence for it.
A side effect (consequence) of lacking belief in moral obligation is that there are less reasons to feel guilty for my own actions. In contrast the Catholic Church try to make their followers feel guilty for pretty much everything, guilty for having sex, guilty for having "impure" thoughts, guilty for being human. Things that most atheists wouldn't feel any guilt about as these are a natural part of life.
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08-12-2014, 03:27 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2014 03:31 PM by tear151.)
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:17 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 03:07 PM)tear151 Wrote:  That the beggar outside your door is a disgusting wretch who is unvirtuous and should not be treated with as much respect as the virtuous. That you should focus on others more than your own personal development and character.

Oh, that's how modern western philosophy has "mostly rejected the Greeks"? Give me one Greek philosopher who claimed that we should focus on others more than we should focus on ourselves.

And jeez, that was more than 2000 years ago. Of course we wouldn't adopt Ancient Greek philosophy as it is. That doesn't make it worthless. And you didn't address my point about the similarity of our ethics and theirs, as well as their irrelevance to religion.

(08-12-2014 03:07 PM)tear151 Wrote:  What's your grounds for suggesting that what is harmful to others is wrong? If it's subjective, then I simply don't accept what you're saying, and you can't justify why I should because it's subjective.

If it's objective, you need to explain what about it is wrong.

Again, playing with words. You can call it wrong, you can call it bad, you can call it harmful. The result is the same.

What is harmful to a person is harmful to society, to the human species. That is the objective part. Our most basic instinct in life is survival. It goes without saying that we want to live and not be harmed. Thus anything that impedes our survival was named "bad". What is your problem with that?

I know that there are more complex questions of the "good vs bad" variety and they are mostly subjective.

I still fail to see the point in this. What would you have us do?


Rather than say what is harmful is bad, I find it would be more logically consistent of you to say "I see other people being harmed, it makes me feel uncomfortable, my will, the shadow puppeteer, the subconscious mind that is not rational, has given me this... discomfort the idea of suffering, thus I rationalise that to feel good I must act in a way that reduces suffering".

Again, no difference in action, just a way of explaining it that doesn't assume anything other than self interest, you don't have to justify what morals are, what good means, what bad means, because what makes you want to avoid displeasure and chase pleasure isn't just something you can turn off. That's just the subconscious mind.

My evidence for that mostly comes from the stuff B F Skinner pioneered and logical arguments for a deterministic universe (A probability tree diagram universe from my study of quantum).

For example

1. The brain is part of the physical world
2. There is no soul
3. The physical world runs on scientific principles that are predictable, like physics

Thus there is no free will as the brain is indistinguishable from any other physical thing in that it has no free will.

Followed by

1. To be responsible for something you must be able to prevent it
2. An entity lacking free will can't prevent it
3. Thus responsibility is incoherent

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