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Restarting the Morals Debate


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#21 Wally

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 04:17 PM

Morals usually overlay all laws of all societies.  Before Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, they could do whatever they wanted to women and g*ys.  That certainly wasn;t helpful and all here must agree that it was wrong.

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Those are really bad examples to try and prove your point. Neither country even tolerates atheists’ much less there moral views.

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 05:25 PM

Theoretically you are correct, but in practice bad moral behaviour is self destructive so we don’t do it.  Just because something is possible that does not make it a good choice. 

From what I can tell, human beings tend to be involved in all kinds of destructive behavior. Sometimes I think our sanitized society has a tendancy to give us false impressions about what people really are.

The law set aside, murder is not self-destructive. Its destructive, but not self-destructive.

Is murder morally wrong aside from anyone's opinion, or is it wrong only because we as a society have agreed that its wrong?

Terry

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 05:30 PM

That's total nonsense. I know several atheists, and they do NOT have the attitude that whatever the majority accepts = moral.

For instance, the majority frowns on the rights for G*ys to marry, yet the vast majority of atheists do not feel that it is immoral.

Even though not directed at me, I find 92g's post rather insulting. Making such generalized claims of atheists amounts to a broad ad hominem.

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My opinion is based on several discussions with atheists, and is not an attack anyone. I agree that you can come up with examples where they do not share that opinion, but it serves more to demonstrate the contradictions in their beliefs than what they generally believe.

I think "Chance" understood what I'm saying. We'll see... :wacko:

Terry

#24 Red Wizard of Thay

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 05:37 PM

My opinion is based on several discussions with atheists,

So you say. I think you may have misunderstood them.

I agree that you can come up with examples where they do not share that opinion, but it serves more to demonstrate the contradictions in their beliefs than what they generally believe.

And there is something wrong with atheists contradicting each other? This merely shows that they are not drones, as many fundamentalists love to claim.

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 06:06 PM

So you say. I think you may have misunderstood them.


I promise there was no misunderstanding. In the mind of good philosophical atheists, there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong. Right and wrong are strictly determined by societal standards.

And there is something wrong with atheists contradicting each other?


I didn't say they contradict each other, they contradict themselves. Philosophical contradictions demonstrate inconsistancy in a persons argument.

This merely shows that they are not drones, as many fundamentalists love to claim.


What's a fundamentalist? What fundamentalist claims atheists are drones?

Terry

#26 chance

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 07:23 PM

The Debatinator

Morals usually overlay all laws of all societies.  Before Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, they could do whatever they wanted to women and g*ys.  That certainly wasn;t helpful and all here must agree that it was wrong.

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I sort of agree, basically laws are codified morals.
Morals like the law is subject to circumstance (political, religious, popular and unwritten), by comparing one society with another we are judging them based on our own standards. Must be careful doing that.

re your example - Provided the country in question keeps within it’s borders, other countries are ‘diplomatic’ about abuses of civil rights (especially if you wish to trade with that nation). That’s the politically correct answer.
But it doesn’t take a moral giant to see the injustice of treating any minority or weaker s@x with state sanctioned prejudice. The road to achieving our current level of tolerance has been a long and hard won (sometimes bloody), luxury.

One way to prove to other nations the superiority of our way of life is to lead by example, e.g. various open door polices (exchange students, scientists, religious and political leaders), once the common man understands I believe the tide is unstoppable. Megalomaniac leaders with large armies and plenty of guns tend to disagree on this point however.

#27 chance

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 07:40 PM

92g

From what I can tell, human beings tend to be involved in all kinds of destructive behavior.  Sometimes I think our sanitized society has a tendancy to give us false impressions about what people really are.

The law set aside, murder is not self-destructive.  Its destructive, but not self-destructive.

Is murder morally wrong aside from anyone's opinion, or is it wrong only because we as a society have agreed that its wrong?

Terry

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re destructive behaviour, Sadly this is true. In part I blame lack of direction from governmental agencies supposedly dedicated to serving the constituents i.e. does your primary or secondary school have a moral class, or any form of social responsibility training? Very little if any I would wager.
It seems as if society in general thinks this is not necessary. It is one area where we atheist fall down rather badly compared to religious groups i.e. that actively promoting good citizenship as part of some doctrinal teaching.

Re – is murder morally wrong, Yes and No, and again it depends on the circumstance, to murder to further ones own greedy aims is about as bad as it can get. But in extreme circumstances – like various self defence situations, or pre-emptive strikes, or marooned on an island with limited resources, it becomes much less black and white.

#28 chance

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 07:50 PM

92g

I think "Chance" understood what I'm saying.  We'll see...  :wacko:

Terry

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When one discusses morals it is sometimes difficult to distinguish if we are talking metaphorically. E.g. An atheist might say “There is no such thing as good and evil, right or wrong”, and in a ‘very technical sense’ it is the right answer. BUT if you are not aware that that person was speaking at that (philosophic) level, it gives the impression that atheists are a bunch of amoral weaklings who cant tell right from wrong.

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 07:57 PM

Re – is murder morally wrong, Yes and No, and again it depends on the circumstance, to murder to further ones own greedy aims is about as bad as it can get.


If murder motivated by personal greed is morally wrong regardless of anyone's opinion, then a moral law exists outside the human race. If a moral law exists outside of the human race, then there must be a moral law giver.

We can thus conclude the following:
1) A moral law giver outside the human race means that someone has set standards for the human race. This is an argument for the existance of God.
2) Morals, having been instituted by God, are not a consequence of evolution.

Terry

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 08:00 PM

In part I blame lack of direction from governmental agencies supposedly dedicated to serving the constituents i.e. does your primary or secondary school have a moral class, or any form of social responsibility training? Very little if any I would wager.


I blame it on the sin nature of human beings, and education is not a solution to the problem. Jesus Christ is the solution to the problem of sin. That doesn't mean christians don't sin, but at least they do not have to be slaves to it.

Terry

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 09:55 PM

If a moral law exists outside of the human race, then there must be a moral law giver.

Does this also apply to the laws of mathematics?

#32 chance

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 01:40 PM

If murder motivated by personal greed is morally wrong regardless of anyone's opinion, then a moral law exists outside the human race. If murder motivated by personal greed is morally wrong regardless of anyone's opinion, then a moral law exists outside the human race.


Indeed, Apes show remorse, to a somewhat lesser degree than ourselves, This only goes to show that it is a common and workable survival trait, and not that it exists outside of our own race.

What we would consider moral behaviour can be observed in a more or less diminishing quantity as intelligence decreases, e.g. (from the top down):

Human Adult,
Human child,
Ape,
monkey,
Dog,
Cat,
then a big drop to reptiles and insects and
none in bacteria.


If a moral law exists outside of the human race, then there must be a moral law giver.


Assumption based on a false premise above – because morality evolving as a survival trait is equally plausible, so there is no MUST.


We can thus conclude the following:
1) A moral law giver outside the human race means that someone has set standards for the human race. This is an argument for the existance of God.
2) Morals, having been instituted by God, are not a consequence of evolution.


Observation of the animal world with an evolutionary explanation is also a valid description that is observable.

#33 chance

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 02:01 PM

92g

chance> In part I blame lack of direction from governmental agencies supposedly dedicated to serving the constituents i.e. does your primary or secondary school have a moral class, or any form of social responsibility training? Very little if any I would wager.

92g>I blame it on the sin nature of human beings, and education is not a solution to the problem. Jesus Christ is the solution to the problem of sin. That doesn't mean christians don't sin, but at least they do not have to be slaves to it.


It’s just that we are far from perfect, and that we have out paced our evolutionary legacy.

E.g. in a family situation, can you get away with lying to your mother? I would suspect not, even if she would not admit it or broach the subject. Why is this?
Body language, vocal inconsistencies etc were the law in times past, there was no need to prove anything, your mother new you were lying and you got punished. Now just expand that situation to a small group of nomadic hunter gatherers and the same principles apply.
Because everyone knows everyone, you have to toe the line, clandestine behaviour will get revealed in very short order. Those primates that evolved ‘a nagging feeling’ when they did some action not beneficial to the group, survived, those that did not stood a much lesser chance of staying in that society, with the obvious results.

So how has immoral behaviour survived – basically we are too good at surviving. Once we discovered a settled way of life, the ‘small group morals’ that we had evolved from and fit in so well with breaks down, because there is doubt about our own ability to be certain if someone is deceiving us. Result – formalised law, ritualised leadership (political and/or religious), war, diplomacy.

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 02:57 PM

Indeed, Apes show remorse, to a somewhat lesser degree than ourselves, This only goes to show that it is a common and workable survival trait, and not that it exists outside of our own race. 


Animals cannot commit murder.

You agreed that murder on the basis of greed was wrong independant of human opinion. That means that remorse has nothing to do with morality.

How someone feels after having commited murder has nothing to do with it being right or wrong. Remorse comes after the fact, so it has little, if any, value in an evolutionary context.

Having a conscience at birth, given by God, to know not to do such things is beneficial to perpetuating the human race.

....Assumption based on a false premise above – because morality evolving as a survival trait is equally plausible, so there is no MUST.


Commiting murder for greed has nothing to do with survival. It has only to do with greed.

Terry

#35 chance

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 07:36 PM

92g

Animals cannot commit murder.


Technically it’s a description of killing for personal profit of some sort. One could argue that male lions practice infanticide when the ruling male is displaced. Chimpanzees can fight to the point of mortal injury. But basically I agree that murder in the sense that it is commonly used is a Human frailty.

You agreed that murder on the basis of greed was wrong independant of human opinion. That means that remorse has nothing to do with morality.


Not actually ‘independent’ of human opinion, it would be more correctly stated that it is a society norm held unanimously. Remorse is the feeling of guilt after the fact, perhaps a better term would have been shame.
Regardless, the feeling of shame is the inherited trait, e.g. had we evolved from Lions, one might not feel shame if you married a widow with a young infant, killed the infant, and proceeded to start a new family with her.

How someone feels after having commited murder has nothing to do with it being right or wrong. Remorse comes after the fact, so it has little, if any, value in an evolutionary context.

Exchange shame for remorse as explained above (poor selection of words on my part). Remorse however may prevent you from committing the act a second time, and as a way of apologising to the group that you offended.

Having a conscience at birth, given by God, to know not to do such things is beneficial to perpetuating the human race.

If only that were true, but it is well documented that much (but not all) morality (or conscience) is a learned behaviour. E.g watch young children, as they approach 3ish when they discover how to deceive. Ever been confronted by a child caught in the act and bluntly denying the fact! The parents are in a constant teaching mode to educate the child in societies expectations.
It’s interesting to speculate how far not teaching children right and wrong could be taken, as in the fables of children being raised by Wolves and to what extent they would then think is right and wrong.

For the instinctive side of the argument, some mental disorders like Autism (I’m generalising here) can severely affect that individuals ability to think empathically, this can give the impression of low moral behaviour. Sociopathic behaviour could also be classed as some sort of defect in the brain that is not learned.

Commiting murder for greed has nothing to do with survival. It has only to do with greed.

I agree, in modern times. But if we are discussing the source of our morals there would have been a point in our distant path where individuals could have, either:

A. Murder the competitor to obtain some advantage (food, mate, etc), or
B. Follow the rules.

While there is short term benefit in the murder, it’s likely you wont get far in the society as no one is going to trust you.

#36 ManhattanProject

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 04:52 PM

What about hitler? It MUST HAVE benefitted him somehow....

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 06:11 AM

I appologize for the late response, but I have family in town, so I haven't had time to think about this much...

Not actually ‘independent’ of human opinion, it would be more correctly stated that it is a society norm held unanimously.


A society norm is nothing more than human opinion. We could go on and ask, is murder for greed independant of societal norms wrong? Answer: yes it is.

Result: then a moral law exits, and all that I stated still holds.

Exchange shame for remorse as explained above (poor selection of words on my part).  Remorse however may prevent you from committing the act a second time, and as a way of apologising to the group that you offended.


I don't see where this help your case much, but if you think so its fine. I'm sorry for murdering that person, everythings fine now!

If only that were true, but it is well documented that much (but not all) morality (or conscience) is a learned behaviour.


Its true that people learn a certain amount of standards from their culture. God's word even states so:

PRO 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

However, that doesn't mean that God hasn't instilled in us a basic level of morality from which most of the human race operates:

ROM 2:14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,

That instinct is what God has given each of us so that the human race can survive.

I think the whole argument boils down to a single question. Can materialistic processes explain the origin of morality? The answer to that is a clear NO. There is no know materialistic process that can generate non-materlial entities. Morality is a non-material entity, and requires a non-material source.

Conclusion: The evolution of materialistic process did not produce morality.

Morality is a type of information, and information requires a mental origin. Even as you stated above, children learn much morality from there parents. Where did the parents get the information from? Where did their parents, parents get the information from? Where did their parents, parents, parents, parents,...... get the information from?

Answer: God

IMO, the existance of morality, like the existance of the information in DNA, is a powerful argument against evolution, and at the same time, for the existance of God.

I think its also worth noting a remarked difference between evolutionary thinking, and biblical thinking.

Evolutionists believe that emotion is the key to proper human behavior, where christians understand that thinking is the key proper human behavior.

This can be seen from the statements about remorse and shame being determining/decisive factors in social norms. Conversely; the bible tells christians to:

ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

1CO 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.


This is not knew, as seen in the debate between Fred Coppleston and Bertrund Russel:

Bertrand Russell [BR]: You see, I feel that some things are good and that other things are bad. I love the things that are good, that I think are good, and I hate the things that I think are bad. I don’t say that these things are good because they participate in the Divine goodness.

Frederick Copleston [FC]: Yes, but what’s your justification for distinguishing between good and bad or how do you view the distinction between them?

BR: I don’t have any justification any more than I have when I distinguish between blue and yellow. What is my justification for distinguishing between blue and yellow? I can see they are different.

FC: Well, that is an excellent justification, I agree. You distinguish blue and yellow by seeing them, so you distinguish good and bad by what faculty?

BR: By my feelings.


http://www.answersin...k/2004/1224.asp

http://www.direct.ca/trinity/evil.html

The impact of evolutionary dogma has led to much of the desrtuctive irrational behavior in our society, since it has people operating more on human emotion that the rational thought of their creator, Jesus Christ.

Terry

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 07:57 AM

Evolutionists believe that emotion is the key to proper human behavior

I think all Christians are well advised to proceed very slowly when attempting to presume what 'evolutionists' believe.

where christians understand that thinking is the key proper human behavior.

And the same goes for the converse, it appears; here I was thinking it had something to do with this Christ fellow.

If I asked for clarification as to what distinguishes 'thought' from 'emotion', I'd be inviting you for a walk through a quagmire, so I won't do that. I'd rather repeat my earlier question, hoping that rephrasing it might inspire someone to attempt an answer:

Do the laws of mathematics exist outside of human thought? Did God invent them? If so, could He have made them different than what they are? Was making 2+2=5 an option He rejected or overlooked? If you conclude that the laws of mathematics must exist independent of human thought, must they not also be independent of God as well?

When God invented moral laws, did He have complete freedom to make them anything He wanted? If He had made it: "Thou shalt kill thy neighbor, rape his wife, eat his children", would it not be more moral to reject His law than to obey it?

#39 lionheart209

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 08:12 AM

Those are really bad examples to try and prove your point. Neither country even tolerates atheists’ much less there moral views.

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When people attempt to be their own god, they go wrong.
This is revealed to us every day in secular society, groups like the ACLU who advocate distribution of child P*rn, people trying to reform God's institution of marriage by making it ok for same s@x's to marry, people thinking that its ok to do whatever they want, by convincing themselves that there is not a God to be accountable to.

These are all examples of wicked things that can and do happen when fallible man tries to be his own god.
God set the standard on morals for all mankind, if followed man would do much better.

The infallible word of God, the Holy Bible is the blue-print in which man should live by, it has all the answers that can't be proven wrong.
From lifes origin to morals to future events leading to the destruction or eternal life of all life.

God bless <><
Louie Buren <><

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 08:53 AM

I think all Christians are well advised to proceed very slowly when attempting to presume what 'evolutionists' believe.


1st, I'm wrong to say that about evolutionists in general, and its more along the lines of atheists, but given that evolution is very important to the atheist worldview, and that athiests are the primary promoters of evolution as a worldview, then I still think in general what I said was true.

Futhermore; I'm basing this on my personal discussions with atheistic evolutionists, as well as statements from prominent atheistic evolutionists. I'm sure that there are variations in what evolutionists belive, but I don't understand the sensitivity to addressing the logical and philosophical outcomes of general evolutionist/atheist postions.

Do the laws of mathematics exist outside of human thought?


Yes, just like the laws of physics.

Did God invent them? If so, could He have made them different than what they are? Was making 2+2=5 an option He rejected or overlooked?


Logical truth is part of the essence of god, and while he is omnipotent, he cannot do things that are contrary to his character.

If you conclude that the laws of mathematics must exist independent of human thought, must they not also be independent of God as well?


No, they must not. Logical truths, which is what mathematics boils down to, are part of his charachter. They exists because he exists. Why he exists, I don't know, but as logical truths exist, so does he.

Furthermore; to argue that the laws of mathematics are dependant on human thought means that the universe had no principles to operate on before humans existed. That definately does not fit the evolutionist scenario, or even creationist scenario for that matter.

GEN 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

ROM 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
ROM 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
ROM 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.


Logical truths are part of the invisible attributes of God. The fact that logical truths exist, and they always have exisited are an argument for the eternal charachteristics of God. Eternal non-material life existed before non-eternal material life.

When God invented moral laws, did He have complete freedom to make them anything He wanted? If He had made it: "Thou shalt kill thy neighbor, rape his wife, eat his children", would it not be more moral to reject His law than to obey it?


He is free to do anything that is not against his charachter, but somethings are against his charachter.

NUM 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

TIT 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
HEB 6:18 in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.


Since God is the author of morality, he and he alone determines what is moral and what is not. Morality is part of the essence of God.

Terry




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