I think part of the difficulty with this issue is that atheists &/or evolutionists donâ€™t appear to be giving good examples of what their morals are, they just give an example instant or situation, so judging their morals is rather like pulling teeth. Now, I reckon atheists are capable of setting â€˜official parametersâ€™ for themselves. So I thought Iâ€™d write out a simple definition of my moral ideals as proof it can be done & perhaps as a means of encouraging other atheists that their morals can also be more clearly enunciated. (I must illustrate that this definition is personal to me, and I donâ€™t speak for any other member of this debate). Now, as one person figuring things out for themselves without an external guide, I have to admit this could be a â€˜work in progress.â€™ Itâ€™s not as simple as it first appears.
First off â€“ my key ideal is â€œsocial responsibility,â€which is an aspect, if you will, of empathy. I also assume people have certain rights â€“ like the right to exist or the right to their own opinion (freedom of thought), and that immoral means will not result in a moral outcome. (If you have a different key ideal then your morals will be based on different principles and your assumptions may be different to mine).
Secondly, my definitions on how I judge an issue;
A. The subject has little to no moral impact on society B. It benefits society and is moral C. It deprives society and is immoral D. I do not understand the issue and i. I need to study more on the issue before deciding ii. I will never be able to understand the issue enough to judge
Thirdly, how I should act in reference to my morals (a self-pledge); I should try to act in a manner which will support an issue I consider moral and I shouldnâ€™t support issues I consider immoral. Careful thought should be given about acting against an immoral issue â€“ as my action in and of itself can be immoral. If I am unable to judge an issue I shouldnâ€™t support or hinder either side. I should recognise that Iâ€™m not infallible and should admit faults, try to correct any errors I make or apologise when the error is beyond correction. I admit that daily life may mean I can not focus on certain issues or give the support I believe they deserve.
Fourthly, I think there is a hierarchy of social influence and need (but DONâ€™T confuse with social class â€“ Iâ€™ll explain further in a second). When faced with an issue that has social pros & cons I place the issue on the hierarchy. If the issue deprives a higher tier than the tier that which is benefited, I conclude the issue is immoral. If the issue benefits a higher tier but deprives a lower tier it can still be considered moral. Itâ€™s a case of greater good. When faced with two issues of benefit that counteract, the one of greater benefit deserves my moral support.
1st Tier: Personal Society â€“ the smallest unit of society, immediate relationships (example: family) 2nd Tier: Global Society â€“ the sum collection of society, the world as a whole (example: international affairs) 3rd Tier: National Society â€“ the society within a nation (example: a country) 4th Tier: Local Society â€“ a knit of communities within an area (example: a county/state) 5th Tier: Communal Society â€“ the society formed by proximity (example: a town/neighborhood/estate)
I realise this is somewhat generic. On a size scale it goes from smallest then largest, then successively getting smaller in scale. Other social aspects that I can set into the tiers include economical, military and global communities â€“ like the scientific community or a religion.
An example minor issue with pros & cons: displaying sweets at the counter. Consideration : sweets can be displayed elsewhere, it is a marketing method to sell more sweets. Outcomes : children see sweets & demand them, adult impulsively pick up candy bars they wouldnâ€™t have brought otherwise. Pro- it benefits the stores which can benefit the economy. Con â€“ it aids overweight and dental problems. The con is effective on the 1st tier â€“ personal, the pro is effective on either the 3rd or 4th tiers â€“ local society. Conclusion: displaying sweets at the counter is immoral. Possible actions: asking stores not to display sweets at the counter, trying not to buy from stores which do display sweets this way, favoring stores which have made it their policy not to do so. Doing all of these actions is probably not realistic â€“ sometimes I shop from the only store around & just get annoyed at where the sweet display is.
This is about as much as I can define. So far, I find this code/guideline/set of principles useful for sorting out how I stand on morals issue in daily life. I hope it makes some sort of sense.
Now, I know this is a moral code produced by an atheist, but is this also an Evolutionary version of morals? Hmmmâ€¦ To be honest, evolution wasnâ€™t on my mind at all when I created this. However, in some ways, yes, I guess. Social responsibility - an individual working to benefit its species - this moral view point has got to help the species survive and prosper. Though this hardly supports the selfish gene theory. It might be that I find this my key issue because I evolved that way - one of the reasons our species prospers so well. But, if others donâ€™t feel that way, then perhaps not. Iâ€™ve never considered evolution and morals in the same light until looking at this thread.
No thanks. I would rather believe that all men are equal, that there is no 'happy accident' or any stupendous malfunction, but a true and living spirit of God which lives in and equalizes everyone...God is the equalizer, giving human creatures of every discription the exact same potential to be perfected.
Actually, you have forgotten Free Will in your arguement.
Yes, people are unequal in that they are physically different, with different strengths & weakness.
However, people's situations are also different, and the choises of others can, and do, hinder their potential.
For example, there have been geniuses born in undeveloped countries who were never able to apply their genius due to their circumstances. That is not an equal opportunity to be the best they can be. The will of (some?) people in their & other (developed?) countries hinders them.
I think what you mean is that everyone is equal in the eyes of God, which is quite different to God made everyone equal. It mean God doesn't have favortism.
Find me a study of a human being who has been kept alone for all of his life, and prove to me that he shows nothing of what we consider 'morality'. Then, I may believe that morals are learned. Specific moral codes are learned, morality itself is not.
I guess you haven't heard of 'Feral Children'.
Before being taught how to interact they are survivalists, who do commit acts which can be considered immoral.
As they are taught how to interact & communicated they establish a set of social morals i.e. they are shown anti-social (immoral) behavior has bad consequence & makes people conflict with them & social (moral) behavior has good consequences & makes other aid them.
If I didn't mention Free Will here, it is because I mentioned it ad nauseum elsewhere...What I mentioned in that post was not denying our potential
Then I misinterpreted what you were saying. :o It did strike me as very odd that someone who freely admits be being Christian would omit something so fundamental to Christianity, but I couldn't see where you were mentioning it!
I was looking only for evidence that the individual would not recognize any sort of standard. I certainly believe they would even if they were never exposed to another human. That doesn't mean God did it...but like I said, moral codes are learned, morality may not be.
As I believe that you are in a state of innocence until you are able to comprehend morality, I still disagree with you on this point.
First off, without human interaction there is no need for moral standard. Issues of morality only come into play when there is some sort of social interactivity.
Further more, you need to have an ability to understand beyond your immediate survival needs - cognizance, and the ability to understand others - empathy.
For example, a baby has no morality, they are in a state of innocence. They can't understand that they need to use morality & they are unable to use it anyway. Babies have wants and they will use any means they have available to obtain them (mainly crying and kicking up a fuss). They don't consider that their behavior may be inconvenient to other, as they lack the ability to understand how others may perceive their actions.
Psychological studies have shown that empathy in children usually doesn't start developing until around 3 years old. The ability to fully recognise that your actions can cause harm to others is legally defined in the UK as 10 years. Itâ€™s known as the age of legal responsibility. ;)
Would you hold a young child accountable, regardless of the moral codes of the society they were raised in, as they were born with morality instilled into them? They are unable to feel guilty for their actions - they lack the morality required. A child's reason for not doing harmful acts is a fear of punishment, their reason for generous acts is potential rewards (even if it's just having a parent paying attention to them).
Another example is sociopaths - an adult that can not feel guilty because they lack empathy & morality. In our current legal system sociopaths aren't held accountable for their crimes - they are declared mentally impaired &/or criminally insane. Sociopaths are in a state of innocence, but happen to be fully cognitive, letting them 'fit in'. See here for further explianation of a sociopath.
quote: The causes of this sociopathic disorder have been narrowed to several factors through research. One of the primary causes of sociopathic behavior is believed to be neurological abnormalities mainly in the frontal lobe of the brain. This area is also related to fear conditioning. The abnormal anatomy or chemical activity within this area of the brain may be caused by abnormal growth (possibly genetic), brain disease, or injury. This theory has been supported by much research using positron emission tomography (PET) which visually shows the metabolic activity of neurons within the brain (Sabbatini, 1998).
The amygdalae, two small regions buried near the base of the brain, have long been known to affect aggression, sexuality and recklessness. Recently, they have also been shown to affect how people interpret the emotions of others. Subtle damage to the amygdalae may explain many of the characteristics of psychopaths - including the difficulty of getting through to them emotionally. It may be that they simply cannot "see" emotions in others.
So this would seem to indicate that it is possible for some people to be born incapable of having morality, who just so happen to have a lack of empathy.