Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
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24-06-2011, 12:00 AM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
(19-06-2011 12:12 AM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  The word of god is seen promoting slavery. If the word of god is the absolute morality, then slavery is good. I agree with your view of ethics, but I cannot agree that the scripture can be viewed so differently as to completely invalidate everything it says. Christian theology clearly states that the moral guidelines exist within the bible. All the studying of passages in the world doesn't change that fact. The non-god pillar I'm using is survival. In the event the group does not follow certain edicts they will not survive. This forms the reason for society to create moral laws and ensure that the negative actions aren't taken.

Let us try a different approach. I'll ask you to answer three questions.

1) Why does survival, which you would like to use as the foundation of your ethics, matter in the first place?

2) Is it not true, from a purely materialist point of view, that human desire for survival is the result of the evolutionary selection process favouring individuals carrying random mutations promoting it by simple virtue of them ending up dominating the gene pool? Were there not likely organisms positively enjoying destruction or injury in the distant past that were gradually selected out?

3) Are societies which rely on the oppression of part of the population but are otherwise sustainable ethical?

For the last question here a reflection about this very point.

Abusive, oppressive, discriminatory, unjust social arrangements have been shown historically to be perfectly viable. Whatever caused the fall of the Roman Empire for example, it most definitely wasn't slavery (or brutal circus games). Quite to the contrary it seems obvious that it couldn't in fact have prospered without this injustice. Similarly had the Third Reich managed, as Hitler hoped, to work out a peace agreement with the USA it most likely would have endured despite its monstrosity. There is simply no support for the thesis that immoral societies doom themselves. Socrates already noted, foreshadowing Darwinism as it were, that if being evil was bad for you evil men would long be extinct.

Quote:Omniscient does indeed mean knowing everything, but everything is very big. Take for example if there was a choice between promoting Africa or promoting America. If the outcome of promoting America leads to a better inevitable future which God would know, and acting towards the better, god promotes America over Africa, the Africans suffer and have been given unjust treatment. This is the gap and issue of Omniscience, there is no individuality when you are promoting most the group. No matter how well the individual is understood by god an action within space and time cannot be duplicitous.

In your example the treatment meted out to Africa would not be unjust since it serves the greater good whcih involves valuing each human being equally.
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24-06-2011, 12:22 AM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
I'm starting to hallucinate from being awake for so long, but that's never stopped me from posting before. I'd like to see where you're going with this so I'll answer.

(From a quick skim, I'm assuming you're still talking about absolute morals and whether or not we can comprehend them)

You answer your question #1 with your question #2. Those beings that either weren't efficient at survival or lacked desire to survive (if such a thing exists, the lack of knowledge about the state of non-existence is enough to scare sentient beings into a desire to exist) were phased out by evolution.

And question #3? Oppression of human beings, regardless of context, is immoral. Human suffering defines the morality regardless of whether or not a society remains functional. The effectiveness of a regime has nothing to do with morality. Communism demands efficiency through deprivation of human rights, but an inefficient, collapsing democracy is still supreme in terms of morality.

Like I said, I'm tired, a little high, and I have 3 Sam Adams at dinner... so if this doesn't apply to anything you've said, ignore it.

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25-06-2011, 09:02 PM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
(24-06-2011 12:22 AM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  I'm starting to hallucinate from being awake for so long, but that's never stopped me from posting before. I'd like to see where you're going with this so I'll answer.
First I must commend you on your flawless typing despite being in state of advanced sleep deprivation.
Quote:You answer your question #1 with your question #2.

It precisely does not, but merely shifts the problem with the new question being: "Why does the instinct for survival, which is just a random outcome of evolution, matter? Why do we not decide to ignore it?"
Quote:And question #3? Oppression of human beings, regardless of context, is immoral. Human suffering defines the morality regardless of whether or not a society remains functional. The effectiveness of a regime has nothing to do with morality. Communism demands efficiency through deprivation of human rights, but an inefficient, collapsing democracy is still supreme in terms of morality.
But now you have knocked down Lilith Pride's proposed foundation for a materialist ethics, namely survival, what do you propose to substitute it with? Avoidance of suffering? But then one could ask, echoing the first two questions: "Why does suffering matter? Is it not too an arbitrary product of mutation and selection we could refuse to consider?"
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25-06-2011, 11:07 PM (This post was last modified: 25-06-2011 11:21 PM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
1) Why does survival, which you would like to use as the foundation of your ethics, matter in the first place?
This is a silly question. If a species fails to survive, then ethics is moot since they go extinct. Can't get much more mandatory than "existence depends on this".

2) Is it not true, from a purely materialist point of view, that human desire for survival is the result of the evolutionary selection process favouring individuals carrying random mutations promoting it by simple virtue of them ending up dominating the gene pool? Were there not likely organisms positively enjoying destruction or injury in the distant past that were gradually selected out?
First off a materialist is focused on wants not needs.... I would suggest a different word. Darwin explains this quite well in discussing how some survive through adaptability and strengths while others survive through being more popular with females. This question has absolutely nothing to do with morals though as you're asking about a view on a biological process. Obviously if something has to survive to exist, then there is a limit to how destructive it can be, else it will die out. This is really simple to look at, survival is necessary because if it's not achieved then you're dead. I thought using survival would make this easier for you.

3) Are societies which rely on the oppression of part of the population but are otherwise sustainable ethical?
The reason that this is unethical is because it takes away from one of my mandates. Don't steal within the society. Oppressing a part of the society hurts the overall society's integrity and leads to uprisings. A society can quell rebellions but eventually will succumb to them. Oppressing a portion will always result in more fighting, as in order to survive a species will fight for it's needs (even if this means fighting within itself). If the society cannot create an equilibrium for it's inhabitants there will be a breaking point. Can you live unethically? yes. Can you live a long life? yes. Will your unethical choices lead to a prosperous future for your society? most likely not.

Bad choices can exist and thrive, and the reason that many manage so well nowadays is that the general public is more ethically sound than the leaders. Despite the leaders tainting of the moral nature of a society the public will remain focused on these principles. Nowadays our leaders are allowed to be beyond the worry of needs. They live a life of luxury, but most still live a life of needs and have important things to focus on. If you really want to argue this more I'll suggest to you that when the idea of treating poor people as humans not objects came about the bible had been quite old. Kant was the revolutionary philosopher who convinced people of the ethics of treating people always as people and not as simply a means to an end. Before he came along it was quite expected that in a hierarchical system the lower rungs were more like tools than humans. The rich have always had loose morals, and religion didn't stop this. Power over others, breeds misuse.


I'm tired so I'll stop it there for now. Feel free to say what you want as always

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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26-06-2011, 10:13 AM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
Morals are simply limiting the eliminating or minimizing the amount of human suffering, death, or mental anguish. I think that morals can be established within a society without any interference of gods. I think that morals are what society uses to keep it's self running, creating a safe and enjoyable place for people while minimizing human suffering, death, or mental anguish.

Morals have been around before the idea of gods were invented, like a chimp pulling a sharpened stick away from another chimp to stop conflict, or a wolf bringing back meat for an injured wolf. Though there was not an immediate gain from helping out their fellows, their particular society benefited on the whole.

Sorry if this doesn't seem very coherent.

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26-06-2011, 06:40 PM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
(26-06-2011 10:13 AM)perithoos Wrote:  In your example the treatment meted out to Africa would not be unjust since it serves the greater good whcih involves valuing each human being equally.

I didn't forget this side conversation. I was using an example that could be seen within the world. Explain to me how universal good is morally right for Africans. Humans have not all joined into one giant society, what helps Americans does not tend to help Africans. Favoring Americans is unjustly disfavoring Africans. Even if the species as a whole is benefited by the choice Africans are not benefited in any way. If Africans disappear then no matter how much better the rest of the world gets it won't effect them at all. This is personal interest and a very important part of morality which omniscience does not help at all.

While I do in general agree with utilitarian morals like your suggestion. It in no way is ethically treating Africans as they are not a subset of Americans, and will gain no real benefits from choosing America.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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26-06-2011, 10:25 PM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
(25-06-2011 11:07 PM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  This is a silly question. If a species fails to survive, then ethics is moot since they go extinct. Can't get much more mandatory than "existence depends on this".

If just one lesson is to be learnt from philosophy, then it must be that there is no such thing as an obvious statement. We must exclude such an intellectual equivalent of a taboo from our thinking process, if we really are interested in the truth. The reason survival matters is that it is the precondition for what actually gives life a meaning, which you still are failing to pinpoint. Note also that there are people less than convinced by the necessity of mankind's continued existence: these charming fellows propose that humans stop breeding so as to rid the Earth of the "cancer" they decided they constitute.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voluntary_H...n_Movement

Quote:First off a materialist is focused on wants not needs.... I would suggest a different word. Darwin explains this quite well in discussing how some survive through adaptability and strengths while others survive through being more popular with females. This question has absolutely nothing to do with morals though as you're asking about a view on a biological process. Obviously if something has to survive to exist, then there is a limit to how destructive it can be, else it will die out. This is really simple to look at, survival is necessary because if it's not achieved then you're dead. I thought using survival would make this easier for you.

The point of the question was to demonstrate that there is nothing profound about the survival instinct and that our desire to live is just the product of random accident from a strictly materialist point of view.

Quote:The reason that this is unethical is because it takes away from one of my mandates. Don't steal within the society. Oppressing a part of the society hurts the overall society's integrity and leads to uprisings. A society can quell rebellions but eventually will succumb to them. Oppressing a portion will always result in more fighting, as in order to survive a species will fight for it's needs (even if this means fighting within itself). If the society cannot create an equilibrium for it's inhabitants there will be a breaking point. Can you live unethically? yes. Can you live a long life? yes. Will your unethical choices lead to a prosperous future for your society? most likely not.

As already pointed out feudalism, which lasted over a thousand years, seems to be a clear counterexample to your thesis.

Quote:Bad choices can exist and thrive, and the reason that many manage so well nowadays is that the general public is more ethically sound than the leaders. Despite the leaders tainting of the moral nature of a society the public will remain focused on these principles. Nowadays our leaders are allowed to be beyond the worry of needs. They live a life of luxury, but most still live a life of needs and have important things to focus on. If you really want to argue this more I'll suggest to you that when the idea of treating poor people as humans not objects came about the bible had been quite old. Kant was the revolutionary philosopher who convinced people of the ethics of treating people always as people and not as simply a means to an end. Before he came along it was quite expected that in a hierarchical system the lower rungs were more like tools than humans. The rich have always had loose morals, and religion didn't stop this. Power over others, breeds misuse.

Kant's Moral Imperative pretty much mirrors the Christian Golden Rule. And yes religion did not end oppression, but then neither did Kant. We still have a long way to go towards the moral perfection of mankind...
As for people living better nowadays I think it's more to do with a cosy compromise between the middle and upper classes, with the former looking on impassible as the latter exploit the lower socio-economic strata provided their own prosperity remained untouched. The fact that macroeconomic changes due to globalisation mean the ruling economic elites no longer can merely limit themselves to squeezing like lemons the poor only is behind the recent unrest, in countries like Greece for example, where those jobless youths covered in degrees are mostly middle-class kids ...
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27-06-2011, 11:54 PM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
(26-06-2011 06:40 PM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  I didn't forget this side conversation. I was using an example that could be seen within the world. Explain to me how universal good is morally right for Africans. Humans have not all joined into one giant society, what helps Americans does not tend to help Africans. Favoring Americans is unjustly disfavoring Africans. Even if the species as a whole is benefited by the choice Africans are not benefited in any way. If Africans disappear then no matter how much better the rest of the world gets it won't effect them at all. This is personal interest and a very important part of morality which omniscience does not help at all.
While I do in general agree with utilitarian morals like your suggestion. It in no way is ethically treating Africans as they are not a subset of Americans, and will gain no real benefits from choosing America.

The example is a poor one because in actuality the US's pre-eminence and the ensuing unjust economic and political order is not of in fact ethical at all and hence aligning oneself with absolute moral truth would require us to change that state of affairs. Having said that there could well be cases were even the most just human ruler would be forced to seek the lesser evil by promoting the interests of the greater number irrespective of wether it meant letting a minority come to harm. Now an omniscient and omnipotent being wouldn't be thus limited and could fine-tune creation so as to engender the best possible outcome. That the exact nature of the latter could be quite counter-intuitive by corresponding to suffering-torn human History rather than everlasting bliss is the essence of the to me most convincing attempts at resolving the problem of evil.

Quote:Humans have not all joined into one giant society

The point is all humans are equal and hence we should care for all equally.
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29-06-2011, 07:54 AM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
I agree that all should be cared for equally which was my point about how that is impossible under the overwhelming broadness "god" is given.

I would like to apologize as I feel this is probably going to be offensive. While discussing this with you I had forgotten that we are talking about two fundamentally different kinds of ethics and morals. I'm look at mortal morality, without any concern for the immortal aspect. To me suffering within this realm doesn't get justified afterwards, and even when looking at your view it seems it just gets more suffering. For you though, the main idea of morality is seeking immortal ethics the ethics that will improve yourself for the inevitable future after death. This is a pretty harsh divide that is really going to stop us from finding an agreement on morals, because I see no justification after death for someone.

Also, you can't just claim Kant's ideas came from christianity as the ideas you're claiming from came from plenty of other places before that. Society has had most of those rules for a long time, christians didn't magically start having them.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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29-06-2011, 10:36 PM
RE: Malevolent God; a moral deconstruction
(29-06-2011 07:54 AM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  I would like to apologize as I feel this is probably going to be offensive. While discussing this with you I had forgotten that we are talking about two fundamentally different kinds of ethics and morals. I'm look at mortal morality, without any concern for the immortal aspect. To me suffering within this realm doesn't get justified afterwards, and even when looking at your view it seems it just gets more suffering. For you though, the main idea of morality is seeking immortal ethics the ethics that will improve yourself for the inevitable future after death. This is a pretty harsh divide that is really going to stop us from finding an agreement on morals, because I see no justification after death for someone.

Actually life after death (by the way in the vast majority of cases and certainly in all the most common ones Christianity doesn't justify earthly evil by pointing to heavenly afterlife) is immaterial to the question of ethics per se: the point of being moral is to be ''righteous'' i.e. to try to align oneself with an ideal archetype of perfection. That would still be so even if death meant the end of existence, since the real question is whether actions are right or wrong in an objective, absolute sense. If you answer with the negative then you are condemned to the alternative which is nihilism meaning nothing matters, not even pain or survival. All our human values would be fanciful illusions conjured up by the subatomic dance of fundamental particles. There is simply no intellectually viable halfway between moral absolutism and nihilism. And I'll be direct too and tell you that I don't believe for a second that you are a nihilist and that you only reject absolute ethics because adopting it fully consistently would upset your comfortable life. Those who resent religion do so not because they resent the idea of an omnipotent creator but the moral obligations that are part and parcel of every creed. They prefer Plato's cosy cave to facing the blinding sun. I never excepted anyone to believe in religion, but I do expect everyone to let go of the weakness and corruption that is moral relativism.

Quote:Also, you can't just claim Kant's ideas came from christianity as the ideas you're claiming from came from plenty of other places before that. Society has had most of those rules for a long time, christians didn't magically start having them.

That wasn't claimed actually: these are mostly universal values shared across cultures, religions and epochs, which are a consequence of human nature and evolution (an enlightened believer would say God precisely fine-tuned creation so that humans emerged with natural instincts in line with the ethics he intended for them). The point made was that Kant hadn't invented anything.
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