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Mr Rayon

How to make moral people?

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There were a few comments made by ewmon in another thread that I wanted to address here as the setting is more appropriate.

The argument made by him and many others is that morality is impossible without religion. I disagree with this for a number of reasons, the predominent one being that I do not believe the evidence is in support of moral instincts evolving from religion, but rather developing much earlier than and independant of religion.

The claim that athiests do not ascribe to moral codes and do 'whatever feels good' is as false as it is offensive. We owe a great deal of our success as a species to our ability to cooperate with other members of the same group to achieve greater goals; this cooperation is dependant on prosocial mechanisms, which in turn give rise to standards in our instinctive moral judgement. Since this level of interaction has been present in societies predating religious factions and is present across all societies irrespective of the predominant religious belief (or lack thereof, as the case may be), it's hard to argue that its origins may be found in any religion, let alone one in particular. More prudently, studies (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661309002897 has a good overview of these) have shown that inituitive moral judgement is not only the same between people of different religions, but also between religious and non-religious people.

And of course, regardless of all that, the Bible is full of atrocities that no sane person would call good moral behavior. How can the Bible be the source of ethical code when, for instance, it codones acts such as slavery?

Edited by hypervalent_iodine
Fixed up one particularly terrible sentence.

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Further to Hyper-V, who I agree with, the teaching of laws that you must follow because god said so, or to avoid burning in hell is not morality. Morality, the living of an ethical life, must be motivated by something others than obeying a more powerful figure, or avoiding potential suffering; we live a virtuous life because we want to live a virtuous life - it is both an end in itself and a means to that end.

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Is religion the only way?

Is morality itself intrinsic or extrinsic to God? That is, does it come from God (via Her nature or will) or does it come from outside of God? This dilemma has been around since at least Plato and as such Divine Command Theory was long dead before Christianity joined the game. Plato's version comes from one of his earlier texts called the "Euthyphro" which is the name of the person with which Socrates is talking. He poses a form of this question which has since become known as the "Euthyphro Dilemma". It goes roughly like this, "Are pious things pious because the gods say they're pious, or do the gods say they're pious because they're pious?". Now, this formulation has caused a lot of people who like the Divine Command Theory to try to say it's a false dilemma, but every attempt at trying to pull out a third "horn" has proved unsuccessful as they inevitably essentially collapse into one of the initial horns. To curb this issue and preserve the initial problem, philosophers have come up with the formulation I gave in the first sentence.

 

If morality is extrinsic to God, then humanity can be moral even in worlds without gods.

 

If morality is intrinsic to God, then morality is arbitrary and/or meaningless (which one depends on your method of trying to claim morality is intrinsic to Her).

 

So, which is it: is morality meaningless and/or arbitrary or are no gods required?

 

 

It should be noted that this problem only works for moral realists. Nihilists get a "get out of jail free" card on this one.

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T

The argument made by him and many others is that morality is impossible without religion.

Oh ok if that's his point I completely disagree, I don't have a religion right now but I still have moral standards that I hold myself to regardless of what any religion says. Wasn't religion the basis for all those old wars and even many now? The Crusades even? Burning people alive cause they're gay? Comes from religion. Of course there's religions like Buddhism and Shintoism and Taoism and Confucianism and some old Celtic religion I can't remember the name of, which aren't so bad.

Edited by SamBridge

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Oh ok if that's his point I completely disagree, I don't have a religion right now but I still have moral standards that I hold myself to regardless of what any religion says. Wasn't religion the basis for all those old wars and even many now? The Crusades even? Burning people alive cause they're gay? Comes from religion. Of course there's religions like Buddhism and Shintoism and Taoism and Confucianism and some old Celtic religion I can't remember the name of, which aren't so bad.

 

Ewmona has moved this to a new topic, http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/72628-the-source-of-morality-for-theists-and-atheists/ , if you'd like to add your discussion there.

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Some of the stories in the Bible are moral, some are not.
How can you tell the difference?
The answer is that you need a sense of morality.
Obviously you can't get that from religion because religion thinks that all the Bible stories are "good".

The inculcation of morality through storytelling is the normal, human way, is all. And many religious and quasi-religious works - the Bible, the Mabinogian, the Bhagavid Ghita, the Book of the Dun Cow, the Odyssey, the Navajo shamanic tales - exemplify that role.

 

And it is not simple - that stories teach lessons directly via superficial overt content is a bit of Sunday Truth not in evidence the rest of the week. Most of the great stories work on multiple levels, accept the growth and maturing of the (as was standard for ten thousand years) listener, have resonances and effects in their telling much deeper than a synopsis of their plots would indicate.

 

For example, the Bible does not "teach morality" in the manner of a collection of Jack Chick tracts. It is a collection of stories.

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Depends on what kind of morals you want. Morals are impossible to define and agree upon. Any set code will produce some undesirable effect over time.

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Zapatos At no time did I say there was shooting on every corner of the U S. Exaggerating and inventing my views does not equate to effective argument. If you take out 9/11, what percentage of murders/mass slaughters are done by U S citizens to each other? How many justifications of holding guns is due to Americans saying that they must have guns, one chap saying, to hold off (fellow U S) citizens for the 10 plus minutes it takes for police to arrive, in another thread, on here. That is not in the mind of the majority of the rest of democratic, 1st world countries. In cities, guns are NOT normality, around the world, in average families. EXCEPT, I believe, in Switzerland, is it? where every man between certain ages is in the army reserves, and has a gun, a specific number of bullets to be kept at home.

 

If you have livestock in Oz, you MAY, in fact rarely, have a simple basic rifle/shotgun, to put down an injured animal, or shoot a fox. My animals go to the vet or vet comes to me, and are given a needle. Never wanted or felt I needed a gun.

 

There is no realistic reason to have a gun to defend from foreignors. You have proven effective armed forces and police for foreign threats.. So, in cities, unless you feel you are under threat, or intend to threaten your own citizens, there is no LOGICAL reason to NEED to own guns. So, if a large number aggressively demand the right...

 

Then to also take into account the number of families who lose a member of their own family, by accident or temper, to home kept guns, quite apart from the expense, again, the mindset...

 

We are lectured, when travelling, that tipping is not an option when in the U S. Wait staff almost never get enough to survive on wage alone. They are not paid a wage to allow a basic dignified, comfortable life. The tipping is not an option. The customer is effectively, POSSIBLY, making up the difference for a basic income, IF they get enough customers.. Again, in similarly wealthy countries, that is not acceptable. Sure, tip if you are impressed, but your wait staff have an adequate minimum amount per hour, to earn anough for a modestly comfortable life, if working a 40ish hour week.

 

I am NOT saying my country is best. That is largely an American phenomenon, often due to many claiming that, never having travelled or having much education about any other countries. There are a number of European countries far better than Oz, in caring for the old, poor, infirm. but the U S has a SHOCKER of a reputation, around the western world. I have many European friends, and we see the state of much of America, hear the constant claims it's the best country in the world, and we just look at each other. No need to even say it, anymore, and no one I know who wants to emigrate has America in top 10 countries. Unless they want to get into films.

 

I'm not attacking America. Just saying this is the reality of Americas image in much of the EDUCATED, wealthy world.. One of America's loudest claims to the world, is that it is a proud, god fearing country. You want people to think of California, New York, largely democrat states and prestige rural areas, as America. The reality is the still wrecked St Louis, etc flood areas, the industrial wastelands, all of which could be turned around, if the wealthy paid fair taxes. Often, ironically, the saddest, poorest areas the most religious. The world saw the large scale horror of little initial or follow up care for those flood victims, in one of the most religious western countries. Compare the hedonistic, religiously slack Australians, who became the famous, spontaneous, volunteer mud army of Brisbane, etc., in their floods. It's now a given that thousands of strangers will turn up, strip clean and empty the damaged houses, bring food, bring spare furniture, not in big heavily publicised charities, but just being laid back, kindly people, most of no religion/vague spirituality/Go to church at Xmas classification.

 

Again, I say empathy is probably the most important thing to establish in an individual, to produce a moral, kindly, stable society. Religion can be included, but as often as not, that will introduce judgemental attitudes and an us and them divide. I say empathy is infinitely better on it's own, as a preference.

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menageriemanor, I do not know what to say, I respect your intellect but your view of the US is seriously flawed. Have you ever been here?

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menageriemanor - I repeat, you do not comprehend much about America.

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The US is a large country, so you can't really generalize, but menageriemanor makes some good points.

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The US is a large country, so you can't really generalize, but menageriemanor makes some good points.

I didn't really find that he had much to say about the US at all. Primarily menageriemanor's post was about our 'image' abroad.

It was also about Oz and other countries, how they and others are not like us, how they do things better, how they viewed the US poorly, didn't need guns, didn't want to live here, etc. When it came to actual statements about the US, we got very little, and even less that was any more than hearsay:

 

"Wait staff almost never get enough to survive on wage alone." - Yes, we know. That is why tipping is almost universal in the US. Not tipping in other places is not necessary because the get higher wages. So what? One way or the other they get the money. Either from the customer directly, or from the owner, who gets it from the customer directly.

 

"One of America's loudest claims to the world, is that it is a proud, god fearing country." - Citation?

 

"The reality is the still wrecked St Louis, etc flood areas" - As I live in St. Louis I was really perplexed by this one. We haven't had a decent flood in 10 years. If the 'etc.' meant the recent flooding in New York and New Jersey, I think they need just a bit more time to clean things up. It was after all only four months ago and it did $75 billion in damages.

 

"the industrial wastelands, all of which could be turned around, if the wealthy paid fair taxes." - Citation? At least something just a bit more specific.

 

"The world saw the large scale horror of little initial or follow up care for those flood victims" - Hurricane Sandy? I'd like to see some backup documentation on that one.

 

Sounds like a lot of unsubstantiated America bashing to me. We have enough real problems to take issue with that there is no need for this nonsense.

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