Morality absent of religion
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30-08-2013, 10:41 AM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 08:57 AM)Elder Cunningham Wrote:  Which makes morality a bit like homosexuality, which promotes pack harmony in groups with a single dominant male.

There, that one should also go down quite well with the religious right.

Interesting you should mention it. As I understand it, that is one of the suspected origins of homosexual behavior. It goes down like a bitter pill coated in broken glass with the fundees.

You can lead a theist to reason, but, you cannot make him think.
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30-08-2013, 01:15 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 08:17 AM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  Religion very much advocates ignorance. Claiming to know all the answers already, without evidence, logic or testing. Just look at the modern fundamentalist movement, and historical cases of heresy.

As I've said before, in my own experience I was discouraged from reading scientific literature, as it was "not for us to know".

Ecclesiastes 1:18 - "He who increases knowledge, increases sorrow"

Martin Luther -[i]"Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense and understanding."
Thing is religion is a huge umbrella for which you can't really generalise.
You argue with someone, say a Christian and invariably they will say "I don't believe that", because each person's belief is personal. So your generalisation becomes a strawman.
We all know most people interpret their scripture. Such that even when it say clearly " Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.", Well they don't go around killing people that work on week-ends, and most of them are happy to work on week-ends themselves.
If your church or priest or whatever told you not to read science books then that is the opinion of that person, not all or religion. There are some religious scientists.
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30-08-2013, 01:18 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 08:29 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Morality - The conscious consideration of the consequences of my actions
Morality has nothing to do with how we expect others to act. That's more of a social pressure.
You can use morality as a social pressure if you want.
When you make a distinction between good and bad, you are consciously evaluating and realizing the consequences of your actions and labeling them as good or bad.
That doesn't sound much like morality.
Going by your definition.
I decide not to kill someone because I realise the consequence is that I will go to prison. Therefore I don't kill the person.

Does this seem like I have made a decision based on my own moral judgement?
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30-08-2013, 01:28 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 01:18 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(30-08-2013 08:29 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Morality - The conscious consideration of the consequences of my actions
Morality has nothing to do with how we expect others to act. That's more of a social pressure.
You can use morality as a social pressure if you want.
When you make a distinction between good and bad, you are consciously evaluating and realizing the consequences of your actions and labeling them as good or bad.
That doesn't sound much like morality.
Going by your definition.
I decide not to kill someone because I realise the consequence is that I will go to prison. Therefore I don't kill the person.

Does this seem like I have made a decision based on my own moral judgement?

The way you've stated the analogy, no. But let's look again at what you said earlier.

(30-08-2013 01:18 PM)Stevil Wrote:  If we do away with moral judgement and simply focus on our own lives, realising that our own actions have consequences on ourselves and on our society, then we will all be much better off.

Not killing someone based on the fact that that someone is part of our society, and it would be bad for that someone to die at your hands would be a moral decision.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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30-08-2013, 02:22 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 01:28 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  
(30-08-2013 01:18 PM)Stevil Wrote:  If we do away with moral judgement and simply focus on our own lives, realising that our own actions have consequences on ourselves and on our society, then we will all be much better off.

Not killing someone based on the fact that that someone is part of our society, and it would be bad for that someone to die at your hands would be a moral decision.
Why would it be bad for that person to die at my hands?

Morality is a distinction between good and bad. You already have that in the premise and your conclusion is the same as the premise. So this reasoning is circular.

Personally I would say that despite the threat of going to prison, I still don't want to kill someone because they might resist and kill me instead, thus taking this action puts my own life in danger. Their relatives and friends might seek bloody vengeance on me, so again I am in danger.
If I support a society where people can go around killing each other, then yet again my life is in danger.
So from a selfish perspective alone, I can justify not killing people and having a society that supports not killing people. I have not needed to invoke the concept of morality.
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30-08-2013, 02:38 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 01:18 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(30-08-2013 08:29 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Morality - The conscious consideration of the consequences of my actions
Morality has nothing to do with how we expect others to act. That's more of a social pressure.
You can use morality as a social pressure if you want.
When you make a distinction between good and bad, you are consciously evaluating and realizing the consequences of your actions and labeling them as good or bad.
That doesn't sound much like morality.
Going by your definition.
I decide not to kill someone because I realise the consequence is that I will go to prison. Therefore I don't kill the person.

Does this seem like I have made a decision based on my own moral judgement?

Yes, you have made a moral decision. In that decision you placed value on your own life and welfare over that of anothers. It wasn't that you no longer wanted to kill him, you still do, but you considered the consequences of your actions and made a moral decision that was one of self protection.

But let's say you both are on an island stranded there from a ship wreck and rest of the world presumes you are both dead.

You have the same desire to kill this person as you did before, but now what are the consequences of that action ?

You won't face any prison time, but when you consider what you will be losing compared to what you have to gain by his continued survival, what choice do you make ? Are you willing to kill off someone who can help you survive, someone whom you can talk to, someone whom you can depend on during adverse times ? If you still value your own happiness and own welfare, you might decide that he is more use to you alive than dead.

I think you are still seeing morals as something internally that guides you to make the right decision, but it's not. We label actions as moral or immoral based upon certain criteria.

Morality is merely the ability to consider the consequences of your actions.
Many animals don't possess that ability. They simply act upon their desires without any consideration for the consequences.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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30-08-2013, 02:47 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 02:38 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Yes, you have made a moral decision. In that decision you placed value on your own life and welfare over that of anothers.
You are conflating the ideas of self preservation and morality.

People could easily understand my decision if I said "Self preservation" however if I said "Morality" people would need to ask me many more questions in order to understand my decision. Even then many people would tell me that my decision was not based on morality.

(30-08-2013 02:38 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  But let's say you both are on an island stranded there from a ship wreck and rest of the world presumes you are both dead.

You have the same desire to kill this person as you did before, but now what are the consequences of that action ?

You won't face any prison time, but when you consider what you will be losing compared to what you have to gain by his continued survival, what choice do you make ? Are you willing to kill off someone who can help you survive, someone whom you can talk to, someone whom you can depend on during adverse times ? If you still value your own happiness and own welfare, you might decide that he is more use to you alive than dead.
Yes, so selfishly I may decide not to kill him, because there is more value for me to have him alive. This doesn't sound like morality. At no point am I saying that I don't kill him because it is wrong to kill people.

(30-08-2013 02:38 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Morality is merely the ability to consider the consequences of your actions.
So, if a rapist considered their actions, thought long and hard about them before raping a little girl. They devised a plan so that they wouldn't get caught. Does this then mean that it is moral to rape little girls as long as you have considered the consequences?
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30-08-2013, 05:27 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 02:22 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(30-08-2013 01:28 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Not killing someone based on the fact that that someone is part of our society, and it would be bad for that someone to die at your hands would be a moral decision.
Why would it be bad for that person to die at my hands?

Morality is a distinction between good and bad. You already have that in the premise and your conclusion is the same as the premise. So this reasoning is circular.

Personally I would say that despite the threat of going to prison, I still don't want to kill someone because they might resist and kill me instead, thus taking this action puts my own life in danger. Their relatives and friends might seek bloody vengeance on me, so again I am in danger.
If I support a society where people can go around killing each other, then yet again my life is in danger.
So from a selfish perspective alone, I can justify not killing people and having a society that supports not killing people. I have not needed to invoke the concept of morality.

I suppose it in order to have a meaningful discussion on this, we would have to have a set definition of morality.

Morality can be explained through evolution, that as a social species we do well to do what favors the pack, or "society". This is instinctual not because of an inherent sense of "right" and "wrong" or good and evil, but because of it's benefit to us in giving us a better chance at survival. Thus, morality is necessarily selfish at its root.

What I think you're trying to get at (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that morality is defined by those philosophical terms of good, bad, wrong, evil. These terms are concepts of the human intellect, but have no real meaning in nature, or the basic reason for morality. We ascribe those terms onto human acts to better define them today.

True, in today's modern society, not every "good" act necessarily betters our chances at survival. However, I believe that humans acting good toward one another evolved from the necessity of the "selfish morality" of our ancestors. Now that life isn't as threatened by nature, our sense of empathy has grown into simple "good" acts that help to better society in general, and the term "morality" is generally used to describe such behavior.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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30-08-2013, 06:04 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 01:15 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(30-08-2013 08:17 AM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  Religion very much advocates ignorance. Claiming to know all the answers already, without evidence, logic or testing. Just look at the modern fundamentalist movement, and historical cases of heresy.

As I've said before, in my own experience I was discouraged from reading scientific literature, as it was "not for us to know".

Ecclesiastes 1:18 - "He who increases knowledge, increases sorrow"

Martin Luther -[i]"Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense and understanding."
Thing is religion is a huge umbrella for which you can't really generalise.
You argue with someone, say a Christian and invariably they will say "I don't believe that", because each person's belief is personal. So your generalisation becomes a strawman.
We all know most people interpret their scripture. Such that even when it say clearly " Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.", Well they don't go around killing people that work on week-ends, and most of them are happy to work on week-ends themselves.
If your church or priest or whatever told you not to read science books then that is the opinion of that person, not all or religion. There are some religious scientists.


I think most religions would rather science stayed out of certain areas. They seem comfortable with astronomy, physics and chemistry... but biology, neuroscience and cosmology they seem less so. It's the fear that science may disprove another aspect of their beliefs. Neuroscience in particular is associated with research into human personalities and free will... the religious don't want a naturalistic explanation for what they call the "soul".

Religion only changes when it absolutely has to, and it's generally only to save face when confronted with undeniable evidence.

The concept of Papal Infallibility is one of these areas. I think the RCC would prefer it's members to be ignorant and uneducated, than intelligent, critical thinkers... if more of them were, Papal Infallibility wouldn't wash with many.

As the Vatican put it... "Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth."

Between 800 AD and and 1100 AD, Islam led the world in science and mathematics, yet today only fragments of their discoveries remain. Some historians put it down to one Imam called Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, who declared science and mathematics to be the work of the devil. Within just a few years, every library in the Islamic world was burned to the ground, and their works lost forever.

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30-08-2013, 06:08 PM
RE: Morality absent of religion
(30-08-2013 06:04 PM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  Between 800 AD and and 1100 AD, Islam led the world in science and mathematics, yet today only fragments of their discoveries remain. Some historians put it down to one Imam called Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, who declared science and mathematics to be the work of the devil. Within just a few years, every library in the Islamic world was burned to the ground, and their works lost forever.

Well; let's be fair. The Mongols had a large part in that too!

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