February 27th, 2008, 04:18 PM
Interesting site. I hope Tex sees it
Here's a question I'd ask of Gary as he seems to be a particularly strong proponent of atheism (and feel free to jump in, all you heathens): As post-colonial Europeans, or Europeans actually, is our "moral code" outwardly different in appearance than the Judeo-Christian moral code? If yes, how and why? And if no, what does that do to your sense of morality?
Beyond that, is the African-Christian or Asian-Christian (etc.) moral code the same as the North American-Christian moral code? I'm not so sure...
February 27th, 2008, 04:39 PM
Just Another Philistine
I can't figure out if I am an atheist or just simply against Judeo-Christian religions. It's the formal organizations I cannot abide but what that says about the existence or non-existence of a god I am not prepared to say.
I suspect there is no difference between moral codes as all x-Christian moral codes must be based on The Golden Rule. Where the difference arises is in the religions associated with the X-Christian moral code - and that goes to practices and theology rather than moral code.
Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 27th, 2008 at 04:42 PM.
February 27th, 2008, 06:48 PM
Well, according to some philosophers, Christian thinking created evil. Prior to Christianity, the distinction was between good and bad, defined by heroism and subjugation. Bad was noble badness. Christianity turned bad into evil and took the heroism out of it. Resentment as the motivating force, supplanting success and victory, turned all things natural and strong into evil and 'unworthy of heaven' actions. The afterlife negated the value of this life. The Old Testament was a bloody story of violence and power. The New Testament an altogether different perspective based upon denial of this life in favor of another fantastical one. turning the other cheek was a slap in the face, an expression not of humility but of resentment, derived from weakness of spirit and the inability to fight for oneself.
So, I guess it depends upon whom you ask.......
February 28th, 2008, 06:36 AM
Just Another Philistine
I always thought Christianity rested on the problem of evil. Considered for a long time, death is evil. It happens without rhyme or reason, not only to people, but in all of nature. So, create a place where death has no power, say a garden where the lions lay down with the lambs, where man is as perfectly innocent and pure as the rest of nature. Now, introduce evil. You need an agent, of course, and who better than women. Afterwards, you can explain that, yes, man is flawed - that's why some men do bad things - and it's women's fault.
February 28th, 2008, 09:32 AM
Neither of you answered my question though, and I'm curious...
(Regardless of whether we're relativists, humanists, essentialists, absolutists, whateverists...)
If the morals held by Unbelievers are indistinguishable from the morals held by Believers, what is the difference -- if any -- to our sense of personal morality?
One of the primary attributes of a psychopath is an inability to distinguish right from wrong -- not a lack of exposure or education, but an actual inability. A psychopath can, however, generally tell the difference between "in my best interest" and "not in my best interest."
If the Unbelievers profess widespread internalization of agreed upon "best interests" and "not best interests" as the basis of a non-absolute societal moral code, yet unlike the psychopath we have the ability to distinguish right from wrong as both an emotional and intellectual conviction, what then does that say about the moral code of Unbelievers or Believers? If they're indistinguishable, are Unbelievers just kidding themselves, and morals really come from something hard within? Are Believers kidding themselves that it comes from somewhere "outside"?
Do the people in the middle who profess "i don't know" have more or less conviction that their morals are correct? Does one's impression of the source of morality change one's personal morality?
Last edited by Fung Koo; February 28th, 2008 at 10:44 AM.
February 28th, 2008, 10:54 AM
Why do you assume that the morals held by unbelievers are the same as those held by believers?
February 28th, 2008, 11:22 AM
I can't say that I know anyone who professes atheism that truly believes oppositely to any of the basic Judeo-Christian morals. Torture, Abuse, and Murder = Bad. Kindness, Generosity, Sharing = Good. Christian morality is basically The Golden Rule.
Most socio-functional viewpoints that atheists profess, as HE points out, are also really just The Golden Rule. The only question is where you think it comes from.
So if atheistic types (I'm including agnostics in this group) feel that morality is a functional derivation from societal pressures of conformity, and that the individual is shaped by Culture and cultures are the course of morality, and that the individual has the ability to change their personal moral convictions... and the believers say "well, God wants it that way" -- outwardly there is no real difference. If the application of morality is essentially the same, regardless of where you believe that it comes from, and morals across cultures are more or less identical... there's no evidence to support a nihilistic view or even an aesthetic view of morality. It's just a personal conviction based on nothing much...
In Scandinavia there is a movement away from traffic regulations. Towns are taking out stop signs and speed limits and removing road lines. The overall effect is a decrease in the overall pace of traffic, reduced pedestrian accidents, and the overall efficacy of the system has improved. Without Lines. In other words, relaxed societal laws. Is that spontaneous morality kicking in? If not, what is it?
February 28th, 2008, 11:55 AM
What about sexual morality? Ask Tex to tell what's allowed and what's not, then ask Hal Duncan.
February 28th, 2008, 12:14 PM
Just Another Philistine
C'mon, Gary. Sexual morality versus traffic morality versus academic versus political versus cooking recipes versus marbles?
Putting an adjective in front of morality distorts the argument. You can't do the adjectives unless you agree on the nouns. Remove all the adjectives and what morality remains. Isn't that the question Fung Koo is after?
February 28th, 2008, 01:28 PM
But the answer is not that simple! What aspects of morality does God govern? If you're an atheist, are you more likely to be a sexual deviant? You want the truth? You can't handle the truth. (sorry for the poor imitation)
My point is that action and belief are two different things. Are thoughts of amoral behavior indications that more than one code of ethics applies? Or must we murder or have sex with a horse in order to transgress?
February 28th, 2008, 02:16 PM
Well I think generally if morality is some kind of absolute then it stays the same while people change around it. The current moral argument about sexuality is only maybe 200 years old, tied to industrialism, but the most recent argument is probably less than 60 years old, tied to reproductive control in heterosexuals.
Efforts to squash homosexuality in the more distant past seem to generally push homosexual culture underground, but its never not been present, and it's never fully vilified. Some crazies treat it like murder, but they are the exception. Most people have a sort of indifference toward it. Sexuality is by and large a moral neutral, I'd say. Societal factors influence a given society's attitude toward it in a given time, with widespread urbanization and general wealth being two primary factors increasing popular acceptance (and the promoting the super crazies into super crazydom).
If there is an absolute for morality, it would be like the straight line at the centre, with all of our silly societal ideas grading the curve above and below the line across time...
But the question still stands: if you can't tell the difference between the morals of one self-professed type of person and another self-professed type of person, do the values people use to excuse their perception of their own views hold value? If the undercurrent is the same, does the look of the surface matter?
February 28th, 2008, 02:33 PM
Is sin determined by contemplation or action? If there is no sin in someone's world view, then there's no guilt, I assume. If there's no guilt, there's no morality.
Where does guilt come from? Learned? Prescribed? Getting caught? (a la Bill Clinton)
February 28th, 2008, 02:51 PM
Just Another Philistine
Okay, let's try to take the really semantically loaded terms out of it.
Is there right and wrong in an atheist's world view? If said atheist does something wrong, does said atheist feel guilt? I submit the answer to both question is yes.
Now put a group of two or more atheists living together. Their notions of right and wrong are going to reach a happy medium, Foo's famous MAUCOS. Now, when they violate those notions of right and wrong, they are going to feel guilt because they agreed to what is right and wrong and did the wrong anyway, intentionally or unintentionally.
Now, you get Hal Duncan and a company of like minded folk and they will establish the norms for themselves but they will still have boundaries, even in their sexual practices. And folk who exceeed the norms will be frowned upon.
And the neighbors living next door who can abide everything about Hal and his band of o/c sexualists, will try to convince them to change their ways and, when they can't, will do what all moral people do. They'll eliminate the threat to their own morality. They'll chase Hal and company away or they will burn crosses on their lawns or they'll kill them.
Because people who do not share our morality are others and the do unto does not apply to true others, only to the others who believe as we do.
The folk who manage to transcend this behavior become saints.
Imagine atheistic saints. What would they look like?
Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 28th, 2008 at 02:53 PM.
February 28th, 2008, 03:19 PM
Wow HE! I'm impressed with your worldbuilding.
It's hard to establish right and wrong in a world without forms. All the rules are arbitrary. It can be done, but they're just, as before, by consensus.
We do see cults from time to time that operate on different moral levels.
February 28th, 2008, 03:28 PM
Just Another Philistine
Consider your family. How difficult was it for you to establish right and wrong with your children? Whatever form you used, because it seemed good to you, worked out to the extent the family acceded to that form.
Whenever two or more are gathered...they figure out a way to get along.