The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
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21-01-2015, 02:33 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(21-01-2015 12:01 PM)Bear100 Wrote:  So can you clarify this difference between "intrinsic moral obligations" to "plain morals"?

Plain morals:
I don't like hurting people, I only like helping people. When people hurt other people, I think that's bad, when people help other people I think that's good.

Moral Obligation:
I have a duty not to hurt people, but only to help people.

Intrinsic Moral Obligation:
This duty is written in my heart, weaved into my DNA. When I listen to my heart, and hear my conscious speaking to me, I see a law telling me "thou shall not hurt people, only help people".

Intrinsic: belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing.
synonym: inherent, innate

As opposed to extrinsic: not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside.
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21-01-2015, 02:35 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(21-01-2015 11:34 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(20-01-2015 11:33 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  You are still arguing as if the "eternal moral laws" are real, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that morality is a behavior that humans (and other animals) posses.

No, I have never been arguing that eternal moral laws are real. I’ve consciously avoided doing this, in fact I explicitly stated on several occasions, that for all intended purposes it is better if we assume that they don’t exist, that they are in fact a false belief.

If you think i’ve argued as if they were real, than you misunderstood something that I said, perhaps even drastically so as a result. You would likely have to go back and read what I said, with this in mind, and you’ll likely get a clearer perspective as a result.

Quote:In fact, we know some of the behaviors of the early humans and their reverence for death through the burial of the deceased, which predate religion by millennia.

We see animals behave morally, in fact it is an entire realm of study (altruism) in evolution and biology.

All true, but I’m not sure what you think this means for what I’ve argued so far. But it should be noted that animals don’t just behave morally, they behave all sorts of ways, engage in actions, deemed evil, and immoral if done so by humans.

Nor do other animals have belief systems, that require them to go through a series of justifications, that serve to relegate our impulses to some extent. Beliefs matter to humans, hence why atheists typically argue about the capacities of certain beliefs to lead to destructive behaviors. Beliefs don’t matter to other animals, for whom such things do not exist. There’s no belief to eradicate, or to reeducate a chimpanzee on in order for him to avoid engaging in genocide.

Quote:To put it more simply, what are your intentions with this conversation?

I don’t know, just to argue a perspective, to see what valid criticisms there are to consider, what misunderstandings would I likely need to address. To gauge how strong or weak my perspective is, and to enjoy myself while doing so.

Quote:Do you believe that you are demonstrating evidence for the existence of eternal moral laws?

No, in fact I’m arguing as if the existence or eternal moral laws has been proven false.

Quote:Do you believe that the morals peddled by religion are good?

I don’t think religions peddle morals, but that’s another topic all together.

Quote:(you also largely avoided my point about amorality when it comes to following guidelines you are told are moral without questioning them. One can't be a moral actor by doing what you are told, you are merely following a command under the assumption that it must be moral, this is where I pointed out that this type of thing happens far too often in society, and tends to lead to things like the Holocaust.)

I’m not too sure as to what you mean. I’m familiar with secular moral perspectives that judge morality based on consequences, and the actions themselves, but you seem to be suggesting a standard based on intent, which I’m not familiar with?

If several individuals go out and feed the poor, one based on merely following a religious command to do so, the other doing so because he knows he’ll score brownie points with the girls he’s trying to bed, and another doing so because he’s worried that the poor will go around robbing people if they are not fed, would we say all of these people acted for amoral reasons?

What would the reason have to be for it to be moral?

Okay, let me put it this way, in post #83 on this thread, your comments are suggestive of arguing from the point of this "eternal moral code" being a real thing.

For instance "You can’t be dismissive of beliefs, by appealing to these preceding biological instincts. Because we all know that beliefs can have a great deal of influence in shaping how we actually behave. "

I can be dismissive of beliefs when they are based on an unsupported presupposition. You are suggesting a belief in an "eternal moral code" is something that is 1) uniquely human and 2) something that (at the very least) humans have always had.

On point 1, how would you demonstrate the lack of a belief in an "eternal moral code" in other organisms? The scope of the difficulty you have placed yourself in by suggesting this is that at some point, our Ardipithicus ancestors were amoral beings, but once we classify our lineage into the genus Homo, they suddenly gained a belief in an "eternal moral code". Either the belief in this "eternal moral code" exists in other animals, or it was derived from a subset of our behaviors and instincts within human societies.

On point 2, I hinted at this above but how does one demonstrate that humanity has always had a belief in morality, much less in an "eternal moral code"?

This is why one would loosely classify altruistic behavior as a moral type of behavior, because morality itself is defined based on our humanity (but we also have moral obligations not restricted to other humans or even to things that are living when we suggest that murdering dogs is immoral or destroying landforms and harming the Earth is immoral). But altruism is (like morality) a behavior and it is most decidedly not eternal or uniquely human.

"All true, but I’m not sure what you think this means for what I’ve argued so far. But it should be noted that animals don’t just behave morally, they behave all sorts of ways, engage in actions, deemed evil, and immoral if done so by humans."

Humans are animals. Humans are not separate from the animal kingdom. The fact that animals act immorally no more demonstrates they lack morals as a whole, than some humans acting immoral means humanity (as a whole) has no morality.

"Nor do other animals have belief systems, that require them to go through a series of justifications, that serve to relegate our impulses to some extent. Beliefs matter to humans, hence why atheists typically argue about the capacities of certain beliefs to lead to destructive behaviors. Beliefs don’t matter to other animals, for whom such things do not exist. There’s no belief to eradicate, or to reeducate a chimpanzee on in order for him to avoid engaging in genocide."

How do you know animals do not have beliefs or belief systems? Some animals very clearly align their reproductive cycles with lunar cycles. Chimpanzees and other primates have been shown to mourn for their dead. Animals have been demonstrated to even understand the basic concepts of fairness (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOZ8OSd5xlg).

"If several individuals go out and feed the poor, one based on merely following a religious command to do so, the other doing so because he knows he’ll score brownie points with the girls he’s trying to bed, and another doing so because he’s worried that the poor will go around robbing people if they are not fed, would we say all of these people acted for amoral reasons?"

Person 1 who was commanded to do so, is doing good but not because of his own morality. = amoral

Person 2 who is trying to "score brownie points" is doing good for a selfish reason, which is a big part of the reason we all do good things (I do good things because it makes me feel good). Assuming his intent is to help, then he is acting morally (we are animals after all, so doing good to feel good and impress a mate is not a crime or immoral, as this is not deception).

Person 3 who has justified his doing good based on the concept of preventing further harm by the desperate person on society, is also acting morally.

You see, what you just defined were 3 different scenarios, 2 of which people used their internal moral compasses to do good, and one who only did so because he was commanded to do so. He is the only one who acted without thinking on it and assumed it was moral because he was asked to do it.

Abraham was commanded to kill his son, and fully intended to act upon this because he believed the commandments from a god to be moral in nature. His near murder of his son would not have been a moral action.

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21-01-2015, 02:43 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(21-01-2015 02:35 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(21-01-2015 11:34 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  No, I have never been arguing that eternal moral laws are real. I’ve consciously avoided doing this, in fact I explicitly stated on several occasions, that for all intended purposes it is better if we assume that they don’t exist, that they are in fact a false belief.

If you think i’ve argued as if they were real, than you misunderstood something that I said, perhaps even drastically so as a result. You would likely have to go back and read what I said, with this in mind, and you’ll likely get a clearer perspective as a result.


All true, but I’m not sure what you think this means for what I’ve argued so far. But it should be noted that animals don’t just behave morally, they behave all sorts of ways, engage in actions, deemed evil, and immoral if done so by humans.

Nor do other animals have belief systems, that require them to go through a series of justifications, that serve to relegate our impulses to some extent. Beliefs matter to humans, hence why atheists typically argue about the capacities of certain beliefs to lead to destructive behaviors. Beliefs don’t matter to other animals, for whom such things do not exist. There’s no belief to eradicate, or to reeducate a chimpanzee on in order for him to avoid engaging in genocide.


I don’t know, just to argue a perspective, to see what valid criticisms there are to consider, what misunderstandings would I likely need to address. To gauge how strong or weak my perspective is, and to enjoy myself while doing so.


No, in fact I’m arguing as if the existence or eternal moral laws has been proven false.


I don’t think religions peddle morals, but that’s another topic all together.


I’m not too sure as to what you mean. I’m familiar with secular moral perspectives that judge morality based on consequences, and the actions themselves, but you seem to be suggesting a standard based on intent, which I’m not familiar with?

If several individuals go out and feed the poor, one based on merely following a religious command to do so, the other doing so because he knows he’ll score brownie points with the girls he’s trying to bed, and another doing so because he’s worried that the poor will go around robbing people if they are not fed, would we say all of these people acted for amoral reasons?

What would the reason have to be for it to be moral?

Okay, let me put it this way, in post #83 on this thread, your comments are suggestive of arguing from the point of this "eternal moral code" being a real thing.

For instance "You can’t be dismissive of beliefs, by appealing to these preceding biological instincts. Because we all know that beliefs can have a great deal of influence in shaping how we actually behave. "

I can be dismissive of beliefs when they are based on an unsupported presupposition. You are suggesting a belief in an "eternal moral code" is something that is 1) uniquely human and 2) something that (at the very least) humans have always had.

On point 1, how would you demonstrate the lack of a belief in an "eternal moral code" in other organisms? The scope of the difficulty you have placed yourself in by suggesting this is that at some point, our Ardipithicus ancestors were amoral beings, but once we classify our lineage into the genus Homo, they suddenly gained a belief in an "eternal moral code". Either the belief in this "eternal moral code" exists in other animals, or it was derived from a subset of our behaviors and instincts within human societies.

On point 2, I hinted at this above but how does one demonstrate that humanity has always had a belief in morality, much less in an "eternal moral code"?

This is why one would loosely classify altruistic behavior as a moral type of behavior, because morality itself is defined based on our humanity (but we also have moral obligations not restricted to other humans or even to things that are living when we suggest that murdering dogs is immoral or destroying landforms and harming the Earth is immoral). But altruism is (like morality) a behavior and it is most decidedly not eternal or uniquely human.

"All true, but I’m not sure what you think this means for what I’ve argued so far. But it should be noted that animals don’t just behave morally, they behave all sorts of ways, engage in actions, deemed evil, and immoral if done so by humans."

Humans are animals. Humans are not separate from the animal kingdom. The fact that animals act immorally no more demonstrates they lack morals as a whole, than some humans acting immoral means humanity (as a whole) has no morality.

"Nor do other animals have belief systems, that require them to go through a series of justifications, that serve to relegate our impulses to some extent. Beliefs matter to humans, hence why atheists typically argue about the capacities of certain beliefs to lead to destructive behaviors. Beliefs don’t matter to other animals, for whom such things do not exist. There’s no belief to eradicate, or to reeducate a chimpanzee on in order for him to avoid engaging in genocide."

How do you know animals do not have beliefs or belief systems? Some animals very clearly align their reproductive cycles with lunar cycles. Chimpanzees and other primates have been shown to mourn for their dead. Animals have been demonstrated to even understand the basic concepts of fairness (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOZ8OSd5xlg).

"If several individuals go out and feed the poor, one based on merely following a religious command to do so, the other doing so because he knows he’ll score brownie points with the girls he’s trying to bed, and another doing so because he’s worried that the poor will go around robbing people if they are not fed, would we say all of these people acted for amoral reasons?"

Person 1 who was commanded to do so, is doing good but not because of his own morality. = amoral

Person 2 who is trying to "score brownie points" is doing good for a selfish reason, which is a big part of the reason we all do good things (I do good things because it makes me feel good). Assuming his intent is to help, then he is acting morally (we are animals after all, so doing good to feel good and impress a mate is not a crime or immoral, as this is not deception).

Person 3 who has justified his doing good based on the concept of preventing further harm by the desperate person on society, is also acting morally.

You see, what you just defined were 3 different scenarios, 2 of which people used their internal moral compasses to do good, and one who only did so because he was commanded to do so. He is the only one who acted without thinking on it and assumed it was moral because he was asked to do it.

Abraham was commanded to kill his son, and fully intended to act upon this because he believed the commandments from a god to be moral in nature. His near murder of his son would not have been a moral action.

And to further elaborate on the moral scenarios, it is not always moral to offer help to someone who is asking for it.

For instance, I know drug addicts and have some of them littered throughout my family tree. At some point, me giving them things to try and help them out (like food or money) isn't actually helping them to help themselves overcome their addiction. Instead, I have begun to help enable their addiction and its detrimental effects on their health and survival.

It is also a reason why our social assistance programs aren't actually free rides or free money or permanent for the poor and needy in the US. It is because they are intended to help ease the burden of day to day living so that these individuals can get back on their feet. Those that manipulate the system are ultimately harming themselves more than they are being helped, because they have built a dependency on a system that can only afford them short-term securities. These individuals often need some other additional form of help in order for them to realize this, such as better access to education and/or counseling (if they are an addict or are struggling with a mental health issue).

Some people are actually really lazy and really do just try and game the system, but a few bad apples don't mean the system as a whole is defunct or unnecessary.

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21-01-2015, 02:46 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
You also said this:

"If you continue to concentrate on what different people find good, right, or wrong, you'll be avoiding the point being made. The OP is not about this. It's not about what is good, but the very idea that we are obligated to live in accordance to it, to be moral, to do what is good, what is just, etc..."

in post #77

Which is suggestive of the idea that morality is defined as a commandment to do good, instead of it being an altruistic behavior.

Ergo, it sounds as if you have defined morality in such a way so as to make the existence of a god necessary for morality to exist.

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21-01-2015, 02:48 PM (This post was last modified: 21-01-2015 02:55 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(21-01-2015 02:23 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  There is nothing intrinsic about this morality. It is tribal and instinctive. ... .

It isn't god given, it's a simple evolutionary response to living in close quarters with others of your own kind.

I think you jumped into the conversation, unaware of the context, that would have been more apparent if you read the other posts in the conversation. As a result you read the previous post as an arguments for the existence of intrinsic moral obligations, when in fact it wasn't. An understandable mistake.

It was a part of a string of post attempting to clarify why I consider the belief in intrinsic moral obligation, to be religious belief, no differently than I would consider irreducible complexity, or intelligent design to be a religious belief. This wasn't an endorsement of any of these beliefs, just a clarification as to why I categorized it the way I do.
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21-01-2015, 02:52 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
And I will elaborate further on the differences between moral, amoral, and immoral

amoral = doing a moral or immoral action because you are told to do so, and doing it without using any internal reasoning as to whether it is or isn't moral or doing it in spite of believing it to be immoral. (Abraham going to sacrifice his son. Or a modern christian using the guidelines for slave beating in the bible, despite slavery being illegal and immoral).

Moral = an altruistic behavior that provides a benefit to another organism, without doing harm. (holding a door open for someone who is disabled, helping the poor, rescuing a dog, conservation efforts for forests and ecosystems, etc)

immoral = an action which causes harm. In particular it causes avoidable and unnecessary harm so that while killing is generally not a good action, doing so in self-defense or for the necessity of survival (eating) is not immoral, but killing for pleasure or out of anger or selfishness is. Other forms of harm would be those that directly effect the survival of other organisms (like stealing, or rape, or destroying property/habitat)

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21-01-2015, 02:53 PM (This post was last modified: 22-01-2015 12:22 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(21-01-2015 02:33 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(21-01-2015 12:01 PM)Bear100 Wrote:  So can you clarify this difference between "intrinsic moral obligations" to "plain morals"?

Plain morals:
I don't like hurting people, I only like helping people. When people hurt other people, I think that's bad, when people help other people I think that's good.

Moral Obligation:
I have a duty not to hurt people, but only to help people.

Intrinsic Moral Obligation:
This duty is written in my heart, weaved into my DNA. When I listen to my heart, and hear my conscious speaking to me, I see a law telling me "thou shall not hurt people, only help people".

Intrinsic: belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing.
synonym: inherent, innate

As opposed to extrinsic: not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside.

You forgot the most important part. You made that shit up and referenced no scholar. There is no scientific evidence that anything "is written in your heart". Obviously you know NOTHING about Cardiology, or Neuro-science. Hearts don't speak to people. When your brain talks to you, (electrical pathways fire) it's because you LEARNED from your culture what you think IN a given circumstance about what is moral. You referenced DNA as you NEED to sound all "sciency" as you think it gives weight to crapola.
You have demonstrated yet again your thinking is totally muddled, uneducated, bizarre and meaningless. You have demonstrated further you can come up with no real differences and you have attempted to create a distinction without a difference.
Reference a scholar from Philosophy or Neuroscience or even Moral Theology that agrees with your totally artificial fake distinctions.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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21-01-2015, 03:06 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
And this:

Plain morals:
I don't like hurting people, I only like helping people. When people hurt other people, I think that's bad, when people help other people I think that's good.

Moral Obligation:
I have a duty not to hurt people, but only to help people.

Intrinsic Moral Obligation:
This duty is written in my heart, weaved into my DNA. When I listen to my heart, and hear my conscious speaking to me, I see a law telling me "thou shall not hurt people, only help people".


is incorrect in its entirety.

1) morality is a behavior, it isn't something with levels or varying degrees. It is something that changes with society though (it has not always been seen as immoral to own humans)

2) There is no "moral obligation", as this suggests that there is someone holding you to this obligation. We, as a society, do value moral people over immoral people, but no one is actually obligated to act morally. In fact, one could act amorally and simply never do any harm to others, and they would not be defined as immoral or bad individuals. They could even be productive members of society.

3) "...weaved into my DNA." is nonsense in terms of how you have defined morality. It is certainly true that some behaviors do appear to have a genetic influence. But some behaviors are memes, these are perpetuated in society but not through genetics (not always anyways).

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21-01-2015, 03:09 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
What reason do you have to think that there is an "eternal moral code" or that this "eternal moral code" is uniquely human? Or that is something all of humanity has had during its civilized era?

What relevance does it hold in how it has influenced society?

For instance, another point I made that seemed to not be responded to, is that we have believed all manner of incorrect things throughout history that clearly influenced and shaped society. That doesn't make them correct, or even useful (there is a reason that the phrase "4 corners of the Earth' exists, and it is because we thought the Earth had corners, i.e. that it was flat).

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21-01-2015, 03:12 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
To elaborate further, Dawkins talks about an example of a moral conundrum in "The God Delusion" when a moral scenario is posed to a group of westerners and to an isolated South American Tribe (one that does not worship a religion and has never done so).

Both groups responded in remarkably similar ways. Indicating that no religious underpinnings were necessary to formulate a moral decision similar to that of people within a western society.

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