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Author Topic:   Moral high ground
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


(1)
Message 278 of 318 (646391)
01-04-2012 2:59 PM
Reply to: Message 276 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 2:54 PM


Topic Drift
I don't judge people's morality by their admirations, but by how they conduct themselves. Is that really what you think morality should be judged on? Fucking beliefs!?
I think this discussion has drifted a bit from the OP. As I understand it, the original argument was saying that religious people who claim that they are morally superior to atheists based on the respective deaths caused by the two sides, and who also hold that all the deaths in the OT actually happened are wrong.
It is then a discussion for those people to determine what the actual numbers are. For those who know the flood is a myth, or who don't base their level of morality on supposed deaths caused by each side, this argument is useless or purely academic.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 276 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 2:54 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 280 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 3:10 PM Perdition has replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


(2)
Message 282 of 318 (646402)
01-04-2012 3:28 PM
Reply to: Message 280 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 3:10 PM


Re: Topic Drift
Well, I'm still not seeing the connection between believing that your god did something bad in the past, and being a bad person.
Well, it depends on whether you consider your god to be a good or moral being.
If I told you that I admired the hijakers on 9/11 or believed that Timothy McVeigh was A-OK, regardless of whether I worked with the homeless and donated every extra dollar to charity, wouldn't you kind of keep your distance from me?
I agree it's kind of a guilty by association thing, but who you admire tends to be who you emulat. And being able to justify calling someone else's repugnant actions "good" is just one step from being able to justify doing it yourself.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 280 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 3:10 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 285 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 3:52 PM Perdition has replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


(3)
Message 289 of 318 (646419)
01-04-2012 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 285 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 3:52 PM


Re: Topic Drift
If you did, that would make you a bad person?
Yes. If someone tells me that they think a genocidal war-mongerer is a good being, they have become a bad person in my eyes. Are they as bad as that genocidal, war-mongerer? Not even close. But they've slid over to the "dark side" at least a bit.
No, your conduct outweighs your admirations.
Well, I would say conduct coupled with motivation. If I save a drowning kid, I'm a good person. But if I saved them only because they were wearing my expensive watch and I wanted to get it back, I'm definitely not as good.
What I'm arguing is that morality is a spectrum. Doing bad things is bad. Believing bad acts are good is also bad, though not as bad as if you had actually done them.
And that makes you a bad person? Really?
Believing that atorcities are good is bad. Yes. For example, people in the south during the civil war who may not have owned slaves, but who still thought slavery was a good idea are not good people. They didn't do anything wrong, but they were still not people I would condone.
Does "being closer to being able to help someone" make you a good person? Or does actaully helping someone make you a good person?
Helping someone makes you really good. Believing that someone should be helped makes you less good, but still good. Believing that person should just die and let you get on with life makes you bad. Actually pulling the trigger to kill that person makes you worse.
Again, it's a spectrum, and while actions definitely push you closer to the extremes, beliefs and attitudes (admirations, etc) tend to tip you a bit.
Now, to be honest, it does take a calculation of all your actions and all your beliefs to make a full estimation of your "morality." But believing genocide is good is definitely a black mark.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 285 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 3:52 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 4:32 PM Perdition has replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 292 of 318 (646435)
01-04-2012 4:41 PM
Reply to: Message 291 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 4:32 PM


Re: Topic Drift
Unless the religion motivated them to have that belief, and having that belief was one of the action we were measuring with. But that's not what we were supposed to be doing here.
I would agree that any particular belief held by someone who happens to ascribe to a particular religion should not be held against that religion - unless that belief is mandated or at least influenced by that religion.
I thought that's what we were doing here. If someone is saying that a religion is wrong because someone has bad beliefs that are not a product of that religion, then they're also wrong.
What gets difficult, however, is that we can seldom tease apart the motivations and influences for any particular belief. It may be a misunderstanding of their religion, or it may be simply their upbringing, or maybe even a neurological disorder...or a combination of these or other reasons.
What we can do, however, is look at trends. Does a particular set of beliefs or actions more commonly show up in a person who belongs to a particular religion or not. If most people who hold a belief also happen to belong to a particular religion (or closely related group of religions) it's fair to say that the religion probably has a hand in the formation or continuation of that belief.
I feel like I'm rambling a bit here. Unless something in my post jumps out at you, we can probably let this side topic fall to the side.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 4:32 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 293 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 4:46 PM Perdition has replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 295 of 318 (646442)
01-04-2012 4:49 PM
Reply to: Message 291 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 4:32 PM


Re: Topic Drift
I've also brought up that we're only focusing on the bad things that have been done and if you really want to find the moral high ground, you should look at the good things that have been done as well.
True, but there are some caveats. For example, people often bring up charities as a good thing from religion, but there are a good number of non-religious charities out there and atheists are just as likely to engage in charitable works as religious people, so that would seem to be a moot point. So any purported "goods" have to be ones that are exclusive to the religion.
"My religion may condone slavery, but it also tells me to feed the hungry, so it's at worst neutral."
"Well, my atheistic morality tells me to feed the hungry and it says that slavery is bad."
In comparison, all we can use to compare the two stances is the bad thing, since the good things cancel each other out.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 4:32 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 299 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 5:32 PM Perdition has replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 296 of 318 (646443)
01-04-2012 4:53 PM
Reply to: Message 293 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 4:46 PM


Re: Topic Drift
What brought me in was the idea that the Flud story in Genesis should be counted in the deaths brought about by religion. I don't agree with that.
Peronally, I'm torn on this point. Why did god flood the earth? If he did it because the people he created were not following his rules, and his rules are told through religion, I would call it a religious motivation.
If God had not created his religion, his reason would not have existed to flood the earth.
However, if he flooded the earth for personal reasons. Say he was curious how it would affect our development, I would say that was not religious, though just as heinous.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 293 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 4:46 PM New Cat's Eye has seen this message but not replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3355 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


(4)
Message 300 of 318 (646463)
01-04-2012 6:01 PM
Reply to: Message 299 by New Cat's Eye
01-04-2012 5:32 PM


Re: Topic Drift
But a religion can have a tenet like: Help the poor.
Without tenets, how can you assign the merit to atheism for motivating people to give?
I'm not assigning it to atheism, I'm just saying that religion doesn't have a monopoly on the merit. Here, we get into the same problem with assigning deaths. Is the charity performed because of religion, or is there another motivation.
But I guess I agree. If we're going to assign a particular act of violence to religion, we should find acts of "goodness" that have religious motivations as well.
I'd say ones that are tenets of the religion should be counted on the religiously motivated side.
But you just said that atheism has no tenets. So, if we're going to try to use these calculations to compare, we're going to have tenet after tenet propped up by religion and the atheists are going to have nothing.
What we need to try and do is figure out which acts are religious, and which are maybe more cultural or even ingrained in what it means to be human. If atheists do an action about as often as religious people do, it should be considered a human attribute and not religious.
What most of these types of calculations come down to is, if we got rid of all religions, would the net effect make the world better or worse. Many atheists would argue that many wars would be eliminated (not all, by a long shot) but most of the good things, like charity, community, sense-of-purpose, etc would still exist.
So, if removing an institution would eliminate some unnecessary deaths, but have no effect on the good things being done, doesn't that mean the effect of that institution is a net negative?
Now, I'm actually curious, hypothetically, what would happen to the charities done under the auspices of religions, if the religion were abandoned. Would someone keep them going from a moral compulsion, or would they just stop operating, leaving only the non-religious charities in operation? If that were the case, the calculation becomes more complicated.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 299 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-04-2012 5:32 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 308 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-05-2012 10:47 AM Perdition has not replied

  
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