[quote name='miles' timestamp='1349472163' post='85994']
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.[/quote]
I am glad we can agree on a few things, such as on the premise that an atheist is different from a psychopath. As I stated before, I don't attempt to argue that and atheist cannot or would not attempt to behave morally without a belief in God.
Paul wrote in Romans:
7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are
just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness
, and between themselves their
thoughts accusing or else excusing them
) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
So empathy is God's law written on your heart.
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.[/quote]
Yes I studied philosophy in both high school and college.
[quote]Here's some very brief examples of how different moral systems can justify prohibitions on murder.
An individual should behave in a way they want everyone to behave
Everyone committing murder is not desirable
An individual should not commit murder
This seems familiar....
[url=""%5D%5B/url%5D<a name="en-NKJV-23329"> 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them
, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
So I would agree that this is a good basis for good moral behavior. This ties in with empathy, it is God's law written on your heart.
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[/quote]
In the coliseum, people fighting to the death maximized the happiness of everyone.
Often times, happiness is based on shifting desires and goals, which can lead to regret later on when they change.
Christians have a belief similar to this though, but it differs in two important ways:
It is not based on happiness, but fulfilling our deep need to worship God (which gets twisted into worshiping other things such as s@x, gambling, food, etc) and maximizing our wellbeing.
We do not determine how to do this, but God has told us how to do this in His infinite wisdom.
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
Egoism is particularly scary, because a social or legal punishment is all that stands between you and any criminal act. If you think the risk of punishment is low enough, or worth it, you will act how you want to regardless. Let's not forget if you BECOME the law, or society, you can do what every you want to whoever you want. Might makes right.