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Author Topic:   Who's More Moral?
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4235 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 1 of 125 (391127)
03-23-2007 4:29 PM


Because the recent topic 'Atheism Examined' seems to be veering into yet another 'who's more moral' debate, rather than a foray into the definition of atheism, I am proposing that the conversation be moved to a new thread.

I don't know how much personal lead-in is required here. But over-all the 'atheist' side was defending itself as equally moral, and there is now a smattering of 'more moral' coming up as well, from both sides?

Maybe we could just list some of the things which both parties feel are the common ground items, and the areas of disagreement. What are the different morals of the two groups, if any?

For myself the main difference is that I include love of God in my morality, which governs things like church attendance, blasphemy, attachment to creation and creatures, fasting and abstinance, and the requirements of the internal life via prayer. To me, if I lapsed in these areas, I would be 'less moral' than I could be, but not 'more moral' than a person without these constraints.

For others, love of others is key and/or sole basis of moral objectives. What I perceive as the main problem in 'religious morality' is that love of God has often surpassed love of neighbor. The Inquisition would be an example of so much 'loyalty' to God, that others were harmed. This seems to be an hypocrisy, as loving others should spring from loving God, in Christendom at least.

Also, since no one seems to believe in any 'real' or true morality, what is this yardstick which is used to determine whether another is weak or strong? Aren't we just saying stagnate or modern? Or are we talking about who has more pure motives?

Edited by anastasia, : title change

Edited by anastasia, : No reason given.


Replies to this message:
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AdminPhat
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Posts: 1920
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-03-2004


Message 2 of 125 (391244)
03-24-2007 1:47 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

    
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1740 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 3 of 125 (391297)
03-24-2007 12:18 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by anastasia
03-23-2007 4:29 PM


Standard of Right and Wrong
Being moral is nothing more than being good according to a standard of right and wrong.

The secular world has standards of right and wrong.
Various groups religious and nonreligious have standards of right and wrong.
This board has standards of right and wrong.
Individuals even have their own standards of right and wrong.

Some people put more rules on themselves than others and I agree that doesn't make one "more moral" than someone who doesn't need as many rules.


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ringo
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Message 4 of 125 (391318)
03-24-2007 2:15 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by anastasia
03-23-2007 4:29 PM


anastasia writes:

Or are we talking about who has more pure motives?

It's not just "purer motives" but a purer source of morality.

To me, morality is "purer" if you own it, if it's a part of you. A morality that is injected/imparted/imposed by an external force is more like an invading pathogen.

A "foreign morality" can seldom be assimilated/acclimated to the same extent as a "native-born morality". There's always a culture shock.


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This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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mick
Member (Idle past 3269 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 5 of 125 (391353)
03-24-2007 5:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by anastasia
03-23-2007 4:29 PM


anastasia, what is morality?
Hi Anastasia,

Anastasia writes:

For myself the main difference is that I include love of God in my morality, which governs things like church attendance, blasphemy, attachment to creation and creatures, fasting and abstinance, and the requirements of the internal life via prayer. To me, if I lapsed in these areas, I would be 'less moral' than I could be

Either you or I are confused about what "morality" means. It is not at all clear to me why adherence to a requirement of one's God or church is considered to be a moral responsibility. If you are required to fast or be abstinent by your church's teachings, why is it necessarily a moral requirement? What is moral about fasting, or going to church? For that matter, if God tells you to do something, why is it then moral for you to do it? Are you not simply following a command or requirement? You are not necessarily engaged in any moral reasoning whatsoever.

It would help if you could explain what you think "morality" is. One example would be "it is moral to live your life in such a way that minimizes the suffering of others, and promotes the happiness of others". I'm not saying that is the best definition, simply that once we have such a definition we can go on to decide whether something is moral or not. On the basis of my simplistic definition above, going to church, fasting and saying your prayers are not moral behaviours whatsoever, because they have no effect on the suffering or happiness of others. "Attachment to creation and creatures", as you put it, is on the other hand clearly a moral concern.

Please could you tell us what your definition of morality is, and how it encompasses what seem to me to be amoral concerns such as church attendance?

Mick


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by anastasia, posted 03-23-2007 4:29 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4235 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 6 of 125 (391396)
03-24-2007 9:57 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by ringo
03-24-2007 2:15 PM


Ringo writes:

To me, morality is "purer" if you own it, if it's a part of you. A morality that is injected/imparted/imposed by an external force is more like an invading pathogen.

Thanks for the grammar correction there Ringo. I let that one slide, since I have hang-ups about pile-on edits. :)

If I get your meaning right, I agree with you. There is a time when we all have to make any morality our own. Until that time it is just rules and regulations. There is nothing moral about driving slowly to avoid police, but rather, 'owning' yourself and your behaviour should naturally make you conscientious.


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Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4131 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 7 of 125 (391401)
03-24-2007 10:34 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by ringo
03-24-2007 2:15 PM


Ringo:
To me, morality is "purer" if you own it, if it's a part of you. A morality that is injected/imparted/imposed by an external force is more like an invading pathogen.

A "foreign morality" can seldom be assimilated/acclimated to the same extent as a "native-born morality". There's always a culture shock.

"All men alike stand condemned, not by alien codes of ethics, but by their own, and all men therefore are conscious of guilt." (C.S. Lewis / The Problem of Pain)

A Christian cannot say with any good sense, that an atheist cannot be good. We can only say that with a naturalist framework there is no complelling reason to be good, since good is whatever benefits you and your survival.

If you don't believe me, then perhpas Kai Nielsen:

“We have been unable to show that reason requires the moral point of view or that really rational persons need not be egoists or classical immoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me. Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.”
(Kai Nielsen, “Why Should I Be Moral?,” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (January 1984), 90.)

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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4235 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 8 of 125 (391402)
03-24-2007 10:39 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by mick
03-24-2007 5:44 PM


Re: anastasia, what is morality?
mick writes:

Either you or I are confused about what "morality" means.

Or, morality has different meanings for different people.

It is not at all clear to me why adherence to a requirement of one's God or church is considered to be a moral responsibility. If you are required to fast or be abstinent by your church's teachings, why is it necessarily a moral requirement? What is moral about fasting, or going to church? For that matter, if God tells you to do something, why is it then moral for you to do it? Are you not simply following a command or requirement? You are not necessarily engaged in any moral reasoning whatsoever.

Do you want the long version first, or the short? :)

First off, if I don't follow the commands of the church, I feel guilty. This is because at one time in my life I had to use some reasoning to discover if these rules were worthy of my respect, useful, efficacious. Eventually, they became more than rules, and a part of what I believe is 'good'.

This is like what I posted above to Ringo. The rules of the church can be no more than traffic rules that people break. I may ask just as well what is 'moral' about obeying any laws. The answer is that laws are intended to benefit society. There is nothing moral about following them without believing them. That is just being scared.

The long answer I will actually shorten. It has to do with; 'so what's so good about going to church anyway?' (or fasting, etc.) All of these things are forms of prayer, or actions intended to bring down God's help for humanity. This is most likely not something you will buy into, but at least maybe you will understand how it is that I ould feel that these things were moral. I do believe they are rules that have benefits.

Please could you tell us what your definition of morality is, and how it encompasses what seem to me to be amoral concerns such as church attendance?

The most basic definition is that moral behaviour is following of one's conscience. This does not work by itself, since we have as a society already imposed morals comprised from collective experience. The greatest common denominator in morality, amoung people in all walks of life, is this same care for others that you have mentioned. Since a conscience is an individual thing which must be honed, we don't all leap to the 'love' conclusion right away. This was a conclusion that took thousands of years to perfect on a world-wide level of imput. It is still not finished in practice.

However, love of others is not the only moral, necessarily. One can also love himself, creation, and/or God. We can not require of others that they also love themselves or God, but we are coming to understand that without creation we can't 'love' at all. Preservation is vital. The only reason why I brought that up is because it can illustrate a point.

I love nature, I assume you do as well. I also assume neither of us run a no-kill shelter in our back yards. I Do believe that those who do, would feel like a bad person if they didn't do it. Their conscience has put this burden on them as part of what they are 'meant' to do in this life. We are all individuals. There are things that only affect me, like efficient use of time, where I feel 'guilt' when I don't use my time wisely. There are family situations that are unique to all of us, and our societal system can't decide what is best for every person. It is very simply the idea that because I feel going to church is something which makes me better as a person, as well as has benefits to society, that I certainly consider myself to be breaking my own code if I fail.

When it comes down to it, we can't be much use to others without respecting and upholding our own standards. If I believe in God, this should make me love others, and this love of others should also bring blessings from God. There is no 'amoral' in life. All of our actions should be the best possble given our capabilites. It is entirely possible IMO to make every single act of the day moral.

Edited by anastasia, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
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kuresu
Member (Idle past 795 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 9 of 125 (391404)
03-24-2007 10:52 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Rob
03-24-2007 10:34 PM


We can only say that with a naturalist framework there is no complelling reason to be good, since good is whatever benefits you and your survival.

i'm sorry, this makes no sense. isn't your survival a compelling enough of a reason to be good?

and you'll note, I hope, that arguments from authority get nowhere here (which is precisely what you have done with the Kai Nielson quote).

instead of relying on arguments of authority, how about actually proving your case?


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Replies to this message:
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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4235 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 10 of 125 (391406)
03-24-2007 11:01 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by kuresu
03-24-2007 10:52 PM


kuresu writes:

isn't your survival a compelling enough of a reason to be good?

It would be, in a perfect world where all we had are good choices to make. But in reality, there are many situations where being good can cause a person to die. If all of us were good all of the time society would improve, sure. It would help us all to survive in the long run. Again, in reality, a moral person must see the forest and not the trees. In other words, they need to keep going in the right direction even when it would have 'bad' results. Most of us only see one tree at a time and we concentrate on knocking that down with whatever tools we have, bad or good. I am sure that all of us, being imperfect, are quite aware that this mysterious thing called 'surival' is not there for us in a bad moment. :)

instead of relying on arguments of authority, how about actually proving your case?

Just slow down. I don't even know that there was a case. Rob quoted something from Lewis since it just so happened to have a similar wording as Ringo had used. So far he has given a few sentences of input in a thread, not a case.


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Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4131 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 11 of 125 (391407)
03-24-2007 11:02 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by kuresu
03-24-2007 10:52 PM


i'm sorry, this makes no sense. isn't your survival a compelling enough of a reason to be good?

Not in the slightest the way I see it... because all men will die. Your survival is not even in question my young apprentice.

Why should you change for me... or my offspring?

How does it benefit you or your survival other than invoking some meaningless metaphysical or quazi-emotional plea for existential meaning (non-emperical hocus pocus)?

I suppose in the mean time, that you (not me) are willing to obey the politically correct doctrine and do what you have to do in order to get ahead in this society. But that pertains only to your immediate survival, and does nothing to convey whether or not you are truely moral (if said political expedience is in a Christian culture). To you, it appears that being moral is only a survival mechanism, and is in no way neccesarily genuine.

Ringo might not approve of your approach.

So good to be back...


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kuresu
Member (Idle past 795 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 12 of 125 (391409)
03-24-2007 11:06 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by anastasia
03-24-2007 11:01 PM


what do you mean by survival, though? Personal survival? What of survival of the family or group? Which is more important for humans? I'd say the latter. Your death, should it help the survival of your group, would be a good act, then.

oh, and he quoted Nielson, not Lewis (for a change).


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tudwell
Member (Idle past 4261 days)
Posts: 172
From: KCMO
Joined: 08-20-2006


Message 13 of 125 (391410)
03-24-2007 11:10 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by anastasia
03-24-2007 11:01 PM


anastasia writes:

But in reality, there are many situations where being good can cause a person to die.

Umm... I think you've misread/misinterpreted something. In Message 7 Rob said (emphasis mine):

quote:
We can only say that with a naturalist framework there is no complelling reason to be good, since good is whatever benefits you and your survival.

If being good is whatever keeps you alive, I don't think being good could possibly kill you. I realize most people have different moral standards where good doesn't equal staying alive, but that's what Rob wrote, and that's what Chris was responding to when he asked:

quote:
isn't your survival a compelling enough of a reason to be good?

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 795 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 14 of 125 (391411)
03-24-2007 11:13 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Rob
03-24-2007 11:02 PM


Your survival is not even in question my young apprentice

you know, generally speaking, an apprenticeship is a willing partnership of sorts. I don't ever recall agreeing to be your apprentice, or for you to be my mentor.

And be careful how you bandy around the term "survival". As I just told anastasia, there are multiple levels for it. Sure, we all die. But survival isn't thought of in those terms. Nothing can defeat old age (as of now). So when we use "survival", we mean it more in terms of not dieing from old age. And then you have this thing called "group survival", which is very important to us humans. You would give your life to save your family, no? That is a good act. The survival of the group is more important that your own singlular survival.

i ask again, isn't survival a compelling enough reason to be good?


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Replies to this message:
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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2200
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 15 of 125 (391412)
03-24-2007 11:17 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Rob
03-24-2007 11:02 PM


Should be in humor thread
Rob writes:

Your survival is not even in question my young apprentice.

Where have I heard that one before?

Welcome back Rob, let the games begin!

OFF TOPIC - Please Do Not Respond to this message or continue in this vein.
Take comments to the Moderation Thread.
AdminPD

Edited by AdminPD, : Warning


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