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Atheists: Is Murder Acceptable With You?


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#1 usafjay1976

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:33 AM

Hopefully, my topic is an attention grabber. :)

Back to the topic. If there is no God, no ultimate authority, then we (humans), are just a bunch of random particles thrown together that happen to function, walk, think, love, etc.

If your great, great, great (and many more greats) ancestor was a rock (The Big Bang), why is murder wrong? We have no grand purpose, no design, and our importance should be no greater than that of the rock or any other object on this earth, correct? Why should it matter if a human sees someone weaker and decides to kill them? Survival of the fittest, right?

So again, if all we are is a product of evolution, what makes murder of another human wrong?

#2 Jesse

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:52 AM

Good question. I hope we get some replies.

#3 gilbo12345

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:47 AM

You'll probably get "No" and then that is it ;)

Since they can claim no, just that it is unjustified within their own worldview

#4 JayShel

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 10:23 AM

Much like my signature which I will post for future reference:

“in some cultures they love their neighbors; in others they eat them, both on the basis of feeling. Do you have any preference?” -Dr Ravi Zacharias

It would be arrogant and ignorant to claim that people cannot be good without belief in God. My argument is not that atheists cannot be good without belief in God, but rather that they must look outside of their beliefs system to find a basis for good behavior or morality. There is no objective basis for good behavior if we are just self-aware computers made out of meat. If life has evolved over millions of years, from cosmic accident after cosmic accident, then all life is equally absurd and pointless, so based on that worldview it is just personal preference as to whether you should value life or snuff it out, especially if it conflicts with self-interests. Therefore, on this basis, there could be no moral objection to a dictator who is violently quashing a rebellion, murdering men, women and children, s*xually assaulting people, and torturing them, such as in Syria. Since they do not value human life, should we respect their beliefs, or is there some objective morality behind our outrage? In a truly moral relativistic landscape, might makes right.


I took some of this from this article, summarized, added, and changed a bit here and there: http://creation.com/...ical-foundation

#5 Minnemooseus

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 01:58 AM

OK - I'll bite.

usafjay1976 apparently thinks that atheists have no personal morality. That morality is something imposed by God. Apparently he thinks that man has no free will to be moral on his own. Well, if so, usafjay1976 is wrong.

Moose

Added by edit - I guess JayShel has already covered the matter.

Edited by Minnemooseus, 04 October 2012 - 01:59 AM.


#6 JayShel

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 04:47 AM

OK - I'll bite.

usafjay1976 apparently thinks that atheists have no personal morality. That morality is something imposed by God. Apparently he thinks that man has no free will to be moral on his own. Well, if so, usafjay1976 is wrong.

Moose

Added by edit - I guess JayShel has already covered the matter.


Any input on the dilemma that arises out of this, ie the last part of my post about Syria?

#7 jonas5877

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:52 AM

Hopefully, my topic is an attention grabber. :) Back to the topic. If there is no God, no ultimate authority, then we (humans), are just a bunch of random particles thrown together that happen to function, walk, think, love, etc. If your great, great, great (and many more greats) ancestor was a rock (The Big Bang), why is murder wrong? We have no grand purpose, no design, and our importance should be no greater than that of the rock or any other object on this earth, correct? Why should it matter if a human sees someone weaker and decides to kill them? Survival of the fittest, right? So again, if all we are is a product of evolution, what makes murder of another human wrong?

What makes the murder of another human being wrong is the rules our society has set in place. Killing another human being isn't always wrong. The government does it to convicted murderers. Soldiers kill other soldiers and occasionally innocent bystanders by accident. Neither one of those things is considered wrong by most people in our society. For some societies, killing someone outside their group is not considered wrong.

So, what makes a killing be classified as murder?

#8 MarkForbes

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:25 AM

An atheist would commonly plead that they subscribe to humanism or utilitarianism. And that way they would be objecting to murder and other transgressions.

#9 revelation

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 03:08 PM

An evolutionist / atheist could spin that arguement on its head and claim as the majority of wars have been fought between people who believed in a 'god' then god has had no effect on his followers, so maybe there's no god.

As a Christian that's not my view but I will admit that there has been a lot of Christians who have not obeyed Jesus command not to take up the sword.

#10 JayShel

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 04:12 PM

An evolutionist / atheist could spin that arguement on its head and claim as the majority of wars have been fought between people who believed in a 'god' then god has had no effect on his followers, so maybe there's no god.

As a Christian that's not my view but I will admit that there has been a lot of Christians who have not obeyed Jesus command not to take up the sword.


I have heard that argument many times, and I dismantle it quite easily. Mass murderers can (and have) used ANY worldview as a way to gain sociopolitical power in order to obtain a goal, usually more sociopolitical power. The worldview they use is almost always a perversion of the worldview that the surrounding culture holds. If you use this argument then you are condemning all worldviews in one fell swoop, and it is a straw man to condemn a worldview based on the actions of one individual anyway.

Just look at Anders Breivik. He was a crazy murderer and he called himself a Christian (since he was born in a primarily Christian society), and yet he quoted and admired Charles Darwin, listing Origin of Species as one of the most important books he has ever read. Or look at Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Hitler and his "master race" idea. I wish I could broadcast this to the world so people would stop using this argument.

#11 Fred Williams

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:46 PM

What makes the murder of another human being wrong is the rules our society has set in place. Killing another human being isn't always wrong. The government does it to convicted murderers. Soldiers kill other soldiers and occasionally innocent bystanders by accident. Neither one of those things is considered wrong by most people in our society. For some societies, killing someone outside their group is not considered wrong.

So, what makes a killing be classified as murder?


There is a difference between murder and killing, and the Bible makes the distinction when it uses the Hebrew word for 'murder' in the ten commandments where it says "thou shalt not murder".

Was it right, or wrong, for societies to throw their children into the fire as a sacrifice? According to your logic, its OK if the government (society rules) says its OK?

#12 jonas5877

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 04:11 AM

There is a difference between murder and killing, and the Bible makes the distinction when it uses the Hebrew word for 'murder' in the ten commandments where it says "thou shalt not murder".

I agree that the word murder is used despite non-Christians trying to change it to "kill" in order to demean Christian men and women serving in the military. However, I have not been able to define murder using the Bible and that has always bothered me. From your reading of the Bible, what is your definition of murder? What scriptures support that definition?

Was it right, or wrong, for societies to throw their children into the fire as a sacrifice? According to your logic, its OK if the government (society rules) says its OK?

Easy question to ask but quite hard to answer. Nice use of shock value, though. There is a difference between the rules of a government and the morals within a society ruled by that government. I am sure the parents of those children were dismayed at the loss of their children but they may have been proud of the fact that they were sacrificed for the god of their religion. Their feelings would probably be similar to those of the parents of the soldiers who lost their lives in battle. However, a government forcing the sacrifice despite the morality of the society, would be considered wrong by that society. With the world so interconnected, the judgement of what is moral within a particular society is usually weighed against the morals of humanity as a whole. Those morals tend toward equal treatment of individuals and the right to remain alive, able to choose your own religion...etc.

Is it right or wrong to kill every man, woman and child in a defeated nation after winning a war?

#13 gilbo12345

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 07:07 AM

One can ask on what foundation does the morals of society rest on?

Considering the down-hill stretch we have had with morality in these modern times, I'd assume that the foundation isn't very solid.

#14 usafjay1976

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:52 AM

OK - I'll bite.

usafjay1976 apparently thinks that atheists have no personal morality. That morality is something imposed by God. Apparently he thinks that man has no free will to be moral on his own. Well, if so, usafjay1976 is wrong.

Moose

Added by edit - I guess JayShel has already covered the matter.


I never said atheists have no personal morality. I absolutely believe man has free will.

My question was, and still is, WHY is murder wrong? If we are just a bunch of molecules thrown together and we have no ultimate purpose. Survival of the fittest. Why don't I, you, or your average person, just go out and off another person? Where does that moral compass come from?

As a society, we say murder is wrong. Why?

If you are an atheist and you believe survival of the fittest, why doesn't that apply to humans? If your great ancestor was a rock, why can't you kill that evolved rock (human)?

#15 miles

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 02:22 PM

I never said atheists have no personal morality. I absolutely believe man has free will.

My question was, and still is, WHY is murder wrong? If we are just a bunch of molecules thrown together and we have no ultimate purpose. Survival of the fittest. Why don't I, you, or your average person, just go out and off another person? Where does that moral compass come from?

If you are an atheist and you believe survival of the fittest, why doesn't that apply to humans? If your great ancestor was a rock, why can't you kill that evolved rock (human)?


An atheist (a person who does not believe in god) and a psychopath (a person who does not experience empathy) are not the same thing. The pre-frontal cortex of a normal human being, whether atheist or theist, is the region of the brain that generates a emotional response to the actions and expressions of other people. The capacity for empathy for others is sufficient in most people, regardless of religious belief, to reject murder.

If you want a more formal justification I'd suggest picking up nearly any ethics textbook that discusses systems of morality (Kant's categorical imperative, Mill's utilitarianism, ethical egoism, etc.). You'll find that with the exception of divine command theories, just about every model of morality rejects the idea that morals are determined by god and that each model is capable of justifying prohibitions on murder, even if they do it for different reasons.

Here's some very brief examples of how different moral systems can justify prohibitions on murder.
Kant:
An individual should behave in a way they want everyone to behave
Everyone committing murder is not desirable
An individual should not commit murder

Mills:
An individual should act in a way that maximizes happiness of everyone
Committing murder does not maximize happiness of everyone
An individual should not commit murder

Egoism:
An individual should act in their own self-interest
Not being murdered is in each individuals self-interest.
If the consequences of an action outweigh the benefits, the number of people choosing the action is reduced.
To reduce each individual's chances of being murdered, groups of individuals (aka society) should create consequences for murder that exceed the benefits.
An individual should not commit murder because the consequences outweigh the benefits

'Survival of the fittest' is a description not a command. Acknowledging that natural selection occurs does not create a requirement that natural selection must be allowed to occur without human interference. Acknowledging that bad eyesight would be a handicap to survival does not require us to refuse to use glasses to compensate for bad eyesight. Even if it were proven that being a murderer was somehow beneficial to individual 'fitness', it does not logically follow that these more fit individuals must be allowed to kill.

As a society, we say murder is wrong. Why?

All societies say murder is wrong for the simple reason that no society can exist without saying murder is wrong. A society is at its basic level a group of people living/working together. No rational person will voluntarily live or work with people that they think will kill them at any time. Self-preservation would cause individuals to either live completely alone or to split into smaller societies where murder within that smaller society would be prohibited.
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#16 gilbo12345

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 10:06 PM

An atheist (a person who does not believe in god) and a psychopath (a person who does not experience empathy) are not the same thing. The pre-frontal cortex of a normal human being, whether atheist or theist, is the region of the brain that generates a emotional response to the actions and expressions of other people. The capacity for empathy for others is sufficient in most people, regardless of religious belief, to reject murder.

If you want a more formal justification I'd suggest picking up nearly any ethics textbook that discusses systems of morality (Kant's categorical imperative, Mill's utilitarianism, ethical egoism, etc.). You'll find that with the exception of divine command theories, just about every model of morality rejects the idea that morals are determined by god and that each model is capable of justifying prohibitions on murder, even if they do it for different reasons.

Here's some very brief examples of how different moral systems can justify prohibitions on murder.
Kant:
An individual should behave in a way they want everyone to behave
Everyone committing murder is not desirable
An individual should not commit murder

Mills:
An individual should act in a way that maximizes happiness of everyone
Committing murder does not maximize happiness of everyone
An individual should not commit murder

Egoism:
An individual should act in their own self-interest
Not being murdered is in each individuals self-interest.
If the consequences of an action outweigh the benefits, the number of people choosing the action is reduced.
To reduce each individual's chances of being murdered, groups of individuals (aka society) should create consequences for murder that exceed the benefits.
An individual should not commit murder because the consequences outweigh the benefits

'Survival of the fittest' is a description not a command. Acknowledging that natural selection occurs does not create a requirement that natural selection must be allowed to occur without human interference. Acknowledging that bad eyesight would be a handicap to survival does not require us to refuse to use glasses to compensate for bad eyesight. Even if it were proven that being a murderer was somehow beneficial to individual 'fitness', it does not logically follow that these more fit individuals must be allowed to kill.


All societies say murder is wrong for the simple reason that no society can exist without saying murder is wrong. A society is at its basic level a group of people living/working together. No rational person will voluntarily live or work with people that they think will kill them at any time. Self-preservation would cause individuals to either live completely alone or to split into smaller societies where murder within that smaller society would be prohibited.


I must admit great post, now I guess this comes to semantics of the title of the thread, since you've demonstrated that murder is not acceptable.. However I guess that what we, the theists, are getting at is that there is no moral justification to claim something as good or evil within the atheistic worldview. Moral justification is different to what is acceptable or not ;)

#17 usafjay1976

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 07:55 AM

I suppose I should change the thread title to, "Why is murder wrong". I still haven't seen anything that tells me WHY.

Again, if we are just a bunch of molecules, that over billions of years, went from a big lifeless rock and evolved to what we are today (humans), why is it wrong if your average Joe wants to kill someone? Yes, society, laws, etc say (in general) it is wrong. Why?

#18 jason

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 12:47 PM

because they say so. i know of some people that find cheating on their spouses acceptable and also share girlfriends. if theres ultimately no moral compass then theres no moral right.

i submit this event in germany where two consenting adults agreed to a murder. one was the victim who had a fantasy of being eating by a cannibal ,and the other was a man who wanted to do just that.
http://news.bbc.co.u...ope/3443803.stm

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Armin_Meiwes

note the wiki link has some vulgar words. two consenting adults so why is the german goverment charging him with a crime?

#19 revelation

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:33 PM

I have heard that argument many times, and I dismantle it quite easily. Mass murderers can (and have) used ANY worldview as a way to gain sociopolitical power in order to obtain a goal, usually more sociopolitical power. The worldview they use is almost always a perversion of the worldview that the surrounding culture holds. If you use this argument then you are condemning all worldviews in one fell swoop, and it is a straw man to condemn a worldview based on the actions of one individual anyway.

Just look at Anders Breivik. He was a crazy murderer and he called himself a Christian (since he was born in a primarily Christian society), and yet he quoted and admired Charles Darwin, listing Origin of Species as one of the most important books he has ever read. Or look at Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Hitler and his "master race" idea. I wish I could broadcast this to the world so people would stop using this argument.



Actually you didn't dismantle my argument you proved it. The point I was making was that many many people have claimed to be Christians but are willing to kill. I'm not talking about the odd mass murderer but the thousands of 'christians' who fought and killed fellow 'christians' in e.g. WW1 WW2

#20 gilbo12345

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:40 PM

because they say so. i know of some people that find cheating on their spouses acceptable and also share girlfriends. if theres ultimately no moral compass then theres no moral right.

i submit this event in germany where two consenting adults agreed to a murder. one was the victim who had a fantasy of being eating by a cannibal ,and the other was a man who wanted to do just that.
http://news.bbc.co.u...ope/3443803.stm

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Armin_Meiwes

note the wiki link has some vulgar words. two consenting adults so why is the german goverment charging him with a crime?


...... Someone had a fantasy about being eaten?.... That just proves the point that this world is going downhill.
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