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EdEarl

You don't need religion to have morals.

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" Slavery, in and of itself, was not originally such a bad thing, "

 

Yes it was.

 

"I worked for a company for 24 and they no longer required my services and laid me off, killed me, said I was done...."

Dead yet?

No, OK that's better than slavery then.

 

Gees,

"Consider two villages that were at war; when one village is defeated, it may no longer have the ability to provide for its people. So what do the winners do"

 

I considered that. I came to the conclusion that the war should not have been declared.

In addition to the reduced death toll, it means I don't have to pretend that slavery is a good thing.

Do you really thing there's a God up there who wants dead people + slaves?

 

"If initially its "alright" to treat non-tribe members in a sub-tribe manner,..."
it isn't

"then racism is not without reason, and therefore no more immoral than slavery."

That's consistent with the idea that racism is obviously wrong.

BTW the site rules proscribe racism, so think carefully about how you reply to that.

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I don't even know how to cross myself. And I NEVER went to confession. I certainly fall way short of being morally sound in the eyes of a Catholic. I am Satan to Muslims, a WASP to everyone that isn't, a "landowner" to everyone that doesn't and so on. If I were to add up all the ways I fall short of being moral in all the eyes that see me lacking, I would be rather an immoral bastard. And I atheist to boot. Would be pretty hard to rationalize my life and behavior as being "universally" moral.

John Cuthber,

 

But if morality is set by Forum rules and UN conventions, how is that morality that can be had in some natural universal, human way, without religion?

 

Either a person can come to morality by themselves, or they have to be led to it.

 

Which do you figure?

 

Regards, TAR

Mohammed unified Arabs that were separated into idol worshipping, warring tribes, under the Alah banner. He had a whole host of proscriptions, that the Angel Gabriel forwarded.

Why, if people are naturally moral, would he have to have told them the rules?

Why did Moses have to tell the Jews, or Sidhartha have to tell his people the "right" way to be?

Think carefully before you respond...just because.

Edited by tar

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Regardless of whether or not morals are learned or innate (it's very clearly both in various ways, and silly to argue otherwise IMO), the point here is that morals preceded religion, so by chronological logic alone religion clearly cannot be their source.

 

Sure, many religions tend to hijack for their own purposes these preexisting human tendencies... tendencies seen in just about every social animal ever studied... but that does not make religion the source of morals.

 

Further, many of these religions are laughably hypocritical when claiming to be the source of morality as evidenced by even a remedial review of the fantastic evils and appalling commands so often put forth in their central texts and guiding literature... The aforementioned support of slavery, ritual human sacrifice, rape, murder and death by stoning for ridiculously mundane and otherwise ordinary acts... not to mention all of the other countless bronze age psychotic pathologies we find rife throughout their core teachings.

 

Most of the rest of the bickering and back and forth and silly games of "gotcha!" being played in this thread are IMO a waste of time and little more than a distraction from the OP. No, you don't religion to have morals. End program.

 

 

 

"Incompatible religious doctrines have balkanized our world into separate moral communities, and these divisions have become a continuous source of bloodshed. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it has been at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews vs. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims vs. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims vs. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims vs. Timorese Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. These are places where religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in recent decades.

 

Why is religion such a potent source of violence? There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments. Religion is the one endeavor in which us/them thinking achieves a transcendent significance. If you really believe that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly. The stakes of our religious differences are immeasurably higher than those born of mere tribalism, racism, or politics. "

 

― Sam Harris

Edited by iNow

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I don't even know how to cross myself. And I NEVER went to confession. I certainly fall way short of being morally sound in the eyes of a Catholic. I am Satan to Muslims, a WASP to everyone that isn't, a "landowner" to everyone that doesn't and so on. If I were to add up all the ways I fall short of being moral in all the eyes that see me lacking, I would be rather an immoral bastard. And I atheist to boot. Would be pretty hard to rationalize my life and behavior as being "universally" moral.

John Cuthber,

 

But if morality is set by Forum rules and UN conventions, how is that morality that can be had in some natural universal, human way, without religion?

 

Either a person can come to morality by themselves, or they have to be led to it.

 

Which do you figure?

 

Regards, TAR

Mohammed unified Arabs that were separated into idol worshipping, warring tribes, under the Alah banner. He had a whole host of proscriptions, that the Angel Gabriel forwarded.

Why, if people are naturally moral, would he have to have told them the rules?

Why did Moses have to tell the Jews, or Sidhartha have to tell his people the "right" way to be?

Think carefully before you respond...just because.

"But if morality is set by Forum rules and UN conventions, how is that morality that can be had in some natural universal, human way, without religion?"

 

Did it not occur to you that the causation might be the other way round?

AFAIK nobody needed to consult a priest when setting up this forum.

 

"Either a person can come to morality by themselves, or they have to be led to it."

There is evidence that we are born with a primitive sense of morals.

We are, if anything, led away from it.

One factor that might do that is belief in a deity who says "It's OK to kill the following groups of people...."

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Considering that men who return from war are usually traumatized and suffer PTSD from the things they have seen and done, one must conclude that we have some form of intrinsic moral compass. The same condition occurs whenever police person must kill someone in the line of duty. Although, some people, sometimes called sociopaths, do not suffer this kind of trauma. Thus, some people have an intrinsic moral compass and some must be taught.

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iNow,

 

End of program?

 

I am not in full agreement that morals must predate religion.

 

Consider a individual. As learned in your "Religion hijacks" thread, the ability for a person to put themselves in someone elses shoes does not really develop until the age of three or four. There is some argument that our internal judge developes to some extent by having "conversations" with an unseen other, which would require at least some capacity to put oneself in someone elses shoes.

 

If the brain area, responsible for these kinds of considerations is not yet developed in the toddlers studied for their inate moral compass, what then of the logical order? Can you have morals, prior obtaining the knowledge of good and evil?

 

If they come hand in hand, then an inate sense of belonging, fairness, and whatever other attributes are found in babies, are building blocks of morality, that only come to fruition when a person is able to put themselves in the shoes of an unseen other. Whether that be another actual individual, or an imaginary one.

 

In this religion comes after being a baby, but morals do as well, and most of history is made by adults, with already the capability to put themselves in the shoes of an unseen other.

 

So, then the chicken and the egg question should be discarded if morals are both caused by religion, and religion caused by morals, and the development of each needs to be considered in the presence of the other, in the adult populations that have made history and cobbled together our societies, created our laws, and our institutions, and our transcendent values of good and evil, that exist prior to birth, during life, and continue to be entertained, after our deaths.

 

Sam Harris provides a long list of human conflicts that religion has explicitly caused. A long list of conflicts caused by differing sets of trancendent rules of behavior. Each set, though, was a development created by and for and with large groups of inately "moral" adults.

 

What of the "good" it took to create a unified, transcendent rule book?

 

While I am personally the enemy of those who would blow up innocents for the non-existant seat on a Satin bench next to a river of honey, surrounded by virgins, I am also the friend of those who would kill such evil men and women, to stop them from taking innocent life.

 

And as the history since Mohammed shows, the same rules that tend to provide moral grounds and unification, causing a strong "we" to emerge, also creates an out group of "non-believers" who become definite "thems".

 

Based on what objective rules, could a humanist cobble together a transcendent religion, that explicitly places 80-90 percent of the "warring" populations of inately moral humans, in the "them" column? Without using the workable transcendent ideas and specific rules and laws and findings of religion. And if such a manifesto were to be described, would it be of any value if 10 percent went along and 90 percent had other ideas? Would it have to be "enforced" or would people just "naturally" agree?

 

Regards, TAR

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"I am not in full agreement that morals must predate religion."

Please yourself, but morality is present in us as babies and it's also present in our evolutionary forebears.

Religion isn't.

 

But it doesn't matter.

The original post didn't ask about which arose first.

 

The postulate is

"You don't need religion to have morals."

And I can prove it true by the simple expedient of existing.

I have no religion, but I have morals.

 

As iNow said,

End program.

(Unless, of course, you wish to call me a liar)

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iNow,

 

End of program?

 

I am not in full agreement that morals must predate religion.

I guess you think no other animal possesses at least a basic morality? Or do they also have religion?

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John Cuthber,

 

I worked for a company for 24 and they no longer required my services and laid me off, killed me, said I was done. I was an "at will" employee to them, but I was reliant on the salary to live. There is a slavery component in there somewhere. More than rhetorical. Much more than rhetorical. I interviewed and was hired back, by the same company 4 months later, in an other department, and am again "subject" to their whims and am required to "take care of" the paying customer. If I were to step out of line, I would be "killed" (rhetorically?). . . .

 

Throughout your term of employment you retain the right to choose to work there. A slave has no such choice.

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Religion was invented by humans.

 

All religious texts were written by humans.

 

Therefore, morality must come from humans.

 

Hence, you don't need religion to have morals.

 

(Don't even try to start an argument that the religious books were written by god through man please ... this is an adult science forum.)

 

 

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John Cuthber,

 

Well if the question is whether an atheist can have morals, then I went to deep with the question.

 

I am, myself an atheist, have been for probably 40 years. It makes no sense to me that someone should deny life and desire and pleasure for the sake of a false reward or a false punishment. It is fully possible, to be "good" for the sake of real reasons, real people, real communities an real shared values, purposes and even transcendental ideas.

 

My angle is not that religious people have it right, and non-religious people have it wrong, not that religious people have it wrong and non-religious people have it right, but that the morals we have have not "popped" in to us from our genes alone, but from a history of humans experiencing the world, and each other and coming up with some rather workable rules of behavior, that are consistent with natural needs and desires and natural behavior, but are also consistent with ever widening communal values.

 

Not every human society has a bill of rights, and a constitution that protects the rights of the individual, while simultaneously pledges the individual to a greater goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The protection of the weak is a strong common thread in the U.S. and this "idea" came from the Bible. As did tithing, As did doing onto others, as you would have them do unto you. Private property rights and other "ideas" that stem from several of the ten commandments are also biblically based.

 

These ideas are not present as the lion steals and kills the wildebeast baby. The mommy wildebeast starts to fight, but sees quickly the battle is already decided...and she moves along.

 

Were the Bible and the Koran and whatever regilious texts other of our religions are questioned, is when they don't work, or the conclusions and way of being from the one, is contrary the tenants of another. In this we look for the commonalities and workable ideas that are consistent with ALL religions and call them the morals you can have, without having any one of the religions.

 

But my argument would be that secular is not acheived by having no religion, but by having all of them at once.

 

Regards, TAR2

If this is not analogous to operating under the judgement of "the one", then I'll be a monkey's uncle.

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"Not every human society has a bill of rights, and a constitution that protects the rights of the individual, while simultaneously pledges the individual to a greater goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"

True, but those who live in a society lacking such provisions are likely to realise it's unfair.

It's not relevant anyway. Morals are not always followed: so what? they still exist.

 

"The protection of the weak is a strong common thread in the U.S. and this "idea" came from the Bible. As did tithing, As did doing onto others, as you would have them do unto you."

Not really, the idea is documented as having predated Christ (and hence Luke) by nigh two thousand years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule#Ancient_Babylon

 

I suspect that it's much older than that and predates history. It's obviously tricky to explicitly prove that, especially to someone who won't accept that its innate nature and existence in our ape cousins constitute evidence.

 

Anyway,

I still exist.

I still have morals

I still have no religion. (Please don't waste time pretending that atheism is a religion)

The postulate in the OP is true based on simple observation.

End program.

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Not every human society has a bill of rights, and a constitution that protects the rights of the individual, while simultaneously pledges the individual to a greater goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Just to pick a quick nit... the United States constitution doesn't do that either. While waxing poetic about the nature of our governance, you have mistakenly attributed to our constitution words present only in our Declaration of independence from England, itself not a governing document.

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Except you discount religious ideas as being constituents of your own ideas of what moral behavior is.

 

While the stories and ledgends are in many cases "untrue", by your own admission, they must have been based on the truth. The truth that both ape and man are aware of, because its true.

 

It remains a fact that moral behavior is not automatic and needs to be judged.

Inow,

Cross posted. the unaddressed post was in response to John Cuthber.

iNow,

 

Well, a proper nitpick. My mistake. But both the U.S. and England have Protestant roots.

 

Regards, TAR2

Martin Luther doesn't have nothing to do with this discussion.

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"Except you discount religious ideas as being constituents of your own ideas of what moral behavior is."

 

In much the same way that I discount the tooth fairy: because it's nonsense.

So?

 

"The truth that both ape and man are aware of, because its true."

And, though you seem unable to grasp this, it's true without religion.

Imagine there's a planet somewhere without religion, they might understand the merit of not hurting others because, in doing so, you invite being hurt in return.

 

And I'm still here, with morals, but no religion.

So it's still possible.

 

Arguing that the original assertion in the OP is false is arguing that I'm not here.

Do you not see why that seems a little foolish?

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John Cuthber,

 

You are not religious. That does not mean religion had nothing to do with your upbringing.

 

If the question is whether you can know the difference between right and wrong, without going to church or believing in an anthropomorphic god, then I have the same answer as you do, that yes you can, because I know evil when I see it, and I attempt to be good, and I do not go to church or believe in the God of the Bible and the Koran (as therein depicted).

 

But, I took the question as whether or not you can have morals without religion. Not as whether you can have morals without being religious. And in this, my upbringing, and that of my parents, and that of the majority of the people I speak to and read and interact with, is repleat with religious underpinnings, and I assume that any moral judgements I have come to, have not been come to without the aid of religion.

 

So regardless of the fact that you are good and not evil, how is it that you know the difference between? Who is the judge of it? Does it not take a certain other or two, to assist in the judgement?

 

Can you be moral if religion is taken completely out of the equation, in the historical, and societal sense?

 

Assuming that God is a community ideal, only, and not the fellow the Bible was talking about.

 

Regards, TAR

As to the tooth fairy, it was rather a nice thing to find the quarter under my pillow, to reduce the pain and feeling of loss caused by the missing tooth. The tooth was gone from under the pillow, but I still had something in its stead. I knew at an early age that my Mom or Dad had made the exchange. I still put the teeth I lost under my pillow, and each one continued to magically change into coinage in my sleep.

I continued the tradition, with my children. The Easter Bunny also visited our house in the early Morning hours of Easter. And I once was rather moved by a Easter Morning sunrise service on a beach on the L.I. sound in CT. At the time I was solidly atheist, but it was still a beautiful and meaningful moment.

If you recieve a gift on Christmas morning, and it has no tag...it is from Santa.

If you recieve a gift in life, and nobody in particular gave it, to whom do you ascribe the gift.

Lady Luck, Mother Nature, a good soul, the Easter Bunny, fairies, Angels. What's the difference?

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"If you recieve a gift in life, and nobody in particular gave it, to whom do you ascribe the gift.

Lady Luck, Mother Nature, a good soul, the Easter Bunny, fairies, Angels. What's the difference?"

Among the differences is the issue of whether or not their purported representatives on Earth tell me to stone people to death for being people.

 

That's the fly in the ointment with your argument.

If I got my morals from religion, how am I able to say that religion gets morality wrong?

 

If I got them by osmosis from society, how come I can judge society?

How can our Prime Minister, whose upbringing, in religious terms, was probably quite similar to mine, believe it is acceptable to do what he does when I think it's abhorrent?

 

Anyway, I'm still here with morals, but no religion.

There's no way the OP is right unless you start messing with the definitions of the words, and if you do that you plingen the horbfugle.

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John Cuthber,

 

Well, you said yourself that people get it wrong and have to be put right by others in their society. If you are naturally moral, and they are as well, then a shunning works. Your disapproval is felt by the Prime Minister and he adjusts his behaviour accordingly. If he refuses to adjust his behavior you will have to stone him.

 

Regards, TAR

by whatever manner of stoning you find morally acceptable. Maybe with stones under 3 and 1/2 cm.

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Well, I learned a new term in this threrad that might describe my own 'religious" beliefs.

 

I'm an "ignostic believer". I believe there is a significant chance that God(s) exist(s) but that knowing any of the defining characteristics or natures of the(se) God(s) is impossible at this time. I even "believe" God(s) should be "worshipped" but in the ancient definition of "worshippped" (observed or studied).

 

"Morals" are not actually "natural" to any animal including man. I believe that they are an artefact of language (and empathy). They are also important to civilization to maintain order if not decorum. I believe religion is a confusion of ancient applied science that arrived at the same conclusions.

 

Civilization is of paramount importance especially in a world with 7 billion people who are almost each dependent on it. This is why many morals have been encoded into law. The same thing got them encoded into religion after the collapse of ancient science.

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Unless you think that no man should judge another, and that mercy and forgivness should be entertained.

 

In which case I would have to say that that is oddly reminiscent of a book I once read, written by Mohammed and his scribes.

Sorry Cladking, that was for John Cuthber, I had not seen that you posted.

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Regardless of whether or not morals are learned or innate (it's very clearly both in various ways, and silly to argue otherwise IMO), the point here is that morals preceded religion, so by chronological logic alone religion clearly cannot be their source.

 

 

 

I'm not sure what is meant by innate, if it's the opposite of learned as you seem to have used it, how is it clearly shown? Even a new born baby is going to have had interaction with it's environment, so to what degree of unlearned are we talking about here?

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I believe reciprocity and empathy is fundamental in what is considered innate morality and has been demonstrated in many animal studies as well as human babies. It serves as a blank canvas for society to mould and, for me, explains why many societies have different approaches whilst displaying many similarities such as what seems to be, in most societies, a universal golden rule ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ even in societies we’d consider abhorrent, such as those that practise cannibalism and human sacrifice. I therefore have to agree with the OP and conclude morals must have preceded religion.

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I'm not sure what is meant by innate, if it's the opposite of learned as you seem to have used it, how is it clearly shown? Even a new born baby is going to have had interaction with it's environment, so to what degree of unlearned are we talking about here?

You might start here if you need a summary or high-level overview. It's a good piece written a few years ago by Steven Pinker: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?scp

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dimreepr,

 

Proceeded religion, but by how far? When Moses brought the tablets down from the mountain, there was morality written on them. Let's assume, for the sake of reality, that he chiseled them himself, and he knew these lessons from his own experience of the world, his own muses, and from the stories and ledgends he had been told about the origin of the world and the origin of man. Let's say the Jewish Religion was started that day. The situation was already ripe for it, the people already accepted it on some level. They already knew these things were right and workable and sensible, or it would not have "taken off", and made sense to everybody.

 

So you can have morality or the building blocks of it, but to get everybody on the same page on the topic, some good ideas, and the writing of them down, does not hinder the process. In fact, when looked at as a history of ideas that has flowed through the human story, the idea holders, the Moses's and the Mohammeds and the Sidharthas and the Martin Luthers play a rather large role in the flow.

 

One can, because I do, ignore the impossible parts, and the false parts, and the ignorant parts, and still "get" what religions are saying about the world and our responsibilities to it.

I do not take God literally, I take him figuratively. And in the imaginary world of Easter Bunnies and Santa Claus, and the Lion in Narnia, God as an idea, makes perfect sense. Everybody "gets it" in their own manner. Everybody has access to the world and has internalized it. Otherwise we all could not be holding a model of it.

 

But as a history of ideas, as passed down workable rules of behavior, religion is central to our moral values. And we would not have the ones we have, if it was not for religion. And I am talking about this here example of human life as is extant on this Earth.

 

I would not expect the morals of some other lifeform on some other planet to be that much like ours, anyway. They did not have Moses and Mohammed and Jesus and Sidhartha to blaze the trail.

 

Regards, TAR

And they most probably are not human, with our set of senses, strengths and frailities, needs and desires. They would most probably NOT have our moral values, whether built in the genes or discovered, or thought up.

"Universal" values I am afraid are basically applicable to caring about what happens to Earth and the life upon it. At least up to now.

I don't have much experience or even any stories about what is "proper behavior" outside the asteroid belt.

We don't consider going by the morals of a fish or a worm or a bat. Well maybe a bat, being a mammal, we could find some common ground. But a Hezitrope on Planet M3 circling a nearby star? I doubt they would go by the same rules as us. They could come to our Earth while on a jaunt, fuel up off one of our power lines in the country, and not even stop to chat or leave payment, or even give us and our rules of behaviour a thought.

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Tar

I think any ‘dangerous animal’ that has evolved to cooperate with its fellows, for survival, will by necessity have at least a rudimentary set of morals, together with an increased intelligence, due to the need to not kill or injure those you rely on for survival; so in answer to your question I think it would go back to the ancestor that first started down that road, which would predate Moses by quite some time.

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