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The Atheist Moral Argument


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#91    redhen

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:20 PM

View PostThe Silver Thong, on 29 March 2013 - 09:12 AM, said:

Morality in humans can almost be certian as we are still here and as a social creature.

Yes, just like other non-human social creatures exhibit moral behaviour, especially in the form of reciprocal actions; you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. I continue to be amazed that many people believe only homo sapiens sapiens are moral agents. I guess that's because it makes it so much easier to treat animals as property to do with as we will. That's the basis of Christian theology when it comes to animals, they are there for our use, they have no self interests. Which of course is wrong.


#92    stillvoice

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:23 PM

I would have supposed that religious believers would use the moral argument against atheists by asserting that a society built on the groundwork of a religion instils a person with a moral grounding and moral compass to a much greater degree than a secularised atheist society based on materialism could hope to achieve. Organised religions often come under criticism but at least they imbue a moral code based on the principles of the faith into a society at large something which increasingly secularised western culture is failing to do.

If morality is relative and not a universal constant can we as human beings be trusted without the necessary apparatus which religion provides to implement a fair and just moral code?

Arthur C Clarke said "One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion."

Edited by stillvoice, 29 March 2013 - 07:24 PM.


#93    Sherapy

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:54 PM

View PostArbenol68, on 27 March 2013 - 09:06 PM, said:

There's a couple of things I think you're mistaken about.

Firstly, I don't believe too many atheists believe there is a moral argument against the existence of a god. The reverse is certainly true. Many theologists have used the existence of morality to try to prove that God exists. All one can say is that a materialistic view of morality removes any need for a god to exist. It's not the same as saying that it can be used to prove gods don't exist.

Secondly. Having a materialistic worldview  may lead one to reject ideas of absolute morality (an arguable point), but that does not then equate to a belief that morality doesn't exist. It clearly does, only an atheist would favour a natural explanation. I think you make the mistake of equating relative morality with no morality. They're not the same thing.

As an Atheist/Agnostic




#94    White Crane Feather

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:32 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 27 March 2013 - 11:39 PM, said:

Mnnn! But what if, to take an example, you do not enjoy being caned on the bottom, but someone else does. Should you follow your desire not to be caned  (or to cane someone and inflict pain), or the other person's desire to be caned, because for them, pain is pleasure?. (Watching a movie on the life of carl jung and his mistress, who apparently had such a prediliction for sexual gratification, prompted me to use this example.) She used to be beaten by her father and found it arousing. THe psychologicla pressure of dealing with such an "unnatural" gratification came out in behaviours which led her parents to jung for treatment He eventually discovered the cause and released her from her self loathing and she became a psycho therapits therslef. She still, however, sought sexual gratification from being "spanked," and jung  involved himslef in this as part of a long time sexual relationship with her.

Is it healthier to "cure" or alter such a desire as unhealthy, or to accept its nature/causations and submit to it? (One of the disagreements between jung and freud lay in the application of psychotherapy beyond understanding the causes of people's behaviours)
Ugggg I did not know that movie was out yet... It seems I get further and further out if the loop.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
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#95    White Crane Feather

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:43 PM

View Poststillvoice, on 29 March 2013 - 07:23 PM, said:

I would have supposed that religious believers would use the moral argument against atheists by asserting that a society built on the groundwork of a religion instils a person with a moral grounding and moral compass to a much greater degree than a secularised atheist society based on materialism could hope to achieve. Organised religions often come under criticism but at least they imbue a moral code based on the principles of the faith into a society at large something which increasingly secularised western culture is failing to do.

If morality is relative and not a universal constant can we as human beings be trusted without the necessary apparatus which religion provides to implement a fair and just moral code?

Arthur C Clarke said "One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion."
It's funny.... Cultural realativisim in ethics... Seams well.... Like there could be anything that goes. But if we are to be a mathematical empirical society... There is a very powerful ethic that arises from the mathematics of economics ( real economics).

As I learn more, as I pay attention more, proper economic theory actually coincides with awesome ethics. Mabey the universe has to balance choice with utility. From the ultra high perspective... How do you come closest to doing right by a mass of free thinking sentient beings?

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
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#96    Sherapy

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:51 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 27 March 2013 - 11:27 PM, said:

And lots of people need the fear of consequence of civil laws and of social  disapproval to  make them behave. Perhaps only few people possess a logically derived, personal philosophical /ethical position on everything, and use logic and discipline to stick to it, always; whether under observation and part of a society, or alone on a desert island.

My personal ethics and moralities were worked out  from wide reading, deep thinking, and studies of philosophy and logic, when I was an atheist. I had to change only a few minor things as a theist who lives with god in side me and around me. For example I gave up eating, drinking and taking anything which could harm or reduce the potentiality of my body or mind.

In part that was because most religious principles evolved as social principles to benefit society. As society changes the reeligious principles must change jus tas civil laws mus tchange to reflect the new realities of an evolved society, but some truths, such as what constitutes a good diet and healthy lifestyle, or how to treat people, remain the same.

That's good that you used your religion as a way to take care of yourself. I have always been an Atheist/Agnostic and I do not drink, do drugs and I am a vegetarian and follow a healthy lifestyle which includes regular/consistent exercise. All by personal choice because it is what is best for me.




#97    stillvoice

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 09:08 PM

View PostSeeker79, on 29 March 2013 - 08:43 PM, said:

It's funny.... Cultural realativisim in ethics... Seams well.... Like there could be anything that goes. But if we are to be a mathematical empirical society... There is a very powerful ethic that arises from the mathematics of economics ( real economics).

As I learn more, as I pay attention more, proper economic theory actually coincides with awesome ethics. Mabey the universe has to balance choice with utility. From the ultra high perspective... How do you come closest to doing right by a mass of free thinking sentient beings?

As 'sentient beings' we each should extract such secrets and comforts as our nature (and the nature of the universe) enables us to find. This is assuming that the universe has any vested interest in sentient life at all?

If all human life is reduced to mere economics then communism and its derivatives are the only ideology which have an intrinsic morality in my opinion.

Edited by stillvoice, 29 March 2013 - 09:10 PM.


#98    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:22 PM

View PostThe Silver Thong, on 29 March 2013 - 07:55 AM, said:

If Karma was a real thing we would have a lot less evil. Thats just my opinion. Guilt is weapon to use on others or to use on ones self. It`s about what or who that guilt comes from directed from the stigma of what guilt is and who is directing it.  I feel bad for some of my actions but I could nevresponseser use guilt or Karma to explain misfortune. It`s counter preductive as I don`t know a human that has never done everything right. That would mean Karma could mean anything and to stress over it as a guilt of something does no good.
In my opinion, karma is a real and physical force, with two real elements . First there is the physical "natural law' of cause and effect or consequence Every actiion causes reactions,. A "good " person will act in a way that promotes productive/creative responses to him, by those around him. A "bad' person will promote more destructrucve responses.  
Second there is the psychological effect. All humans have a level of self awareness which creates psychological feed backs and conflicts  Thus a person acting against the wishes of their community will always have a physcological responseThis might not be guilt, but a fear of being caught or of consequence. This will prevent tranquility /peace of mind cause fear, and also force them to act in ways which require stress and effort to avoid detection.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#99    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:31 PM

View PostThe Silver Thong, on 29 March 2013 - 08:41 AM, said:

What if I factor out all the above and go with out morality religion would not exsist. Humans had morals far before the invention of a god let alone religion.

No. Human morality evolved in tandem with spiritual belief and religious practice. One cant exist without the other because they come from same evolved abilities of the human mind. A modern human can be moral without being religious but the ability to be either is inseperable  All human moralities and religious spiritual beliefs grew from several intellectual realisations including; self awareness, the effect of consequence, and the recognition of the rights of others. Unless one recognises that others have the same feelings and rights as yourself there can be no sense of morality. Unless one recognises thats one's actions have good or bad effects on others, and can understand and predict such effects, again, there can be no such thing as morality as humans know it..

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#100    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:47 PM

View PostSherapy, on 29 March 2013 - 08:51 PM, said:

That's good that you used your religion as a way to take care of yourself. I have always been an Atheist/Agnostic and I do not drink, do drugs and I am a vegetarian and follow a healthy lifestyle which includes regular/consistent exercise. All by personal choice because it is what is best for me.
And for me. And of course this is how and why many religious beliefs evolved.  Humans recognise "best practice" when they see it and codify it into both civil laws and also into religious beliefs and codes.  Latest studies show HUGE benefits to being a vegetarian, from 10-20 % reduction in things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, to a 40 % reduction in ones creation of green house gasses, and a very significant improvement in life span.



The ongoing results of a new large-scale study illuminate the health benefits of adhering to a vegetarian diet.

Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health recently released some of the findings from its current Adventist Health Study-2, and the results make a convincing argument for plant-based eating. The study is currently following roughly 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists with a variety of dietary habits, although many Adventists are vegetarian or vegan due to religious belief. Vegetarian Adventist men were found to live to an average age of 83.3, 9.5 years longer than other Californian citizens, and women to 85.7, 6.1 years longer than their omnivorous counterparts. Additionally, the study found that men who consume beef more than three times per week are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease, and women with a diet high in meat and cheese have a more than doubled risk of developing ovarian cancer. Loma Linda University includes more details and statistics on its official website for the study.
http://vegnews.com/a...Id=5051&catId=8

My wife is a seventh day adventist (And actually at church atm ) so i declare a bias here. But while my  dietary habits have a lot to do with her, and also with general biblical principles, they also follow the principles and recommendations of my cardiologists who are among the best in the world. They also reflect my ecological awareness  as a geographer and steward of the earth, and  hence my desire to lessen my environmental footprint

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#101    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 11:14 PM

View Postredhen, on 29 March 2013 - 04:20 PM, said:

Yes, just like other non-human social creatures exhibit moral behaviour, especially in the form of reciprocal actions; you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. I continue to be amazed that many people believe only homo sapiens sapiens are moral agents. I guess that's because it makes it so much easier to treat animals as property to do with as we will. That's the basis of Christian theology when it comes to animals, they are there for our use, they have no self interests. Which of course is wrong.
Thats an interesting perspective.

In my case i came to chose biblically based christian perspectives after already being a secular humanist with a good understanding of both ecology and sociology/psychology. I already understood, intellectually, my duties and responsibilites to my fellow humans and my planet.

But spirituality put HEART into my duties and responsibilities. I, in effect, no longer had a choice but was spiritually compelled to act as a steward of the earth . It is precisely because I am different from all other animals that I  have a duty and a responsibilty. I can actually recognise these things and act on them. I can create or  destroy by choice.

Other animals are purely responsive to environmental and genetic imperatives, along with some learned socialised behaviours in animals such as primates, which most closely reach humans levels of self awareness.

Thus, in my case, 'religion' emphasises, and adds meaning to, my relationship to others and to the world. We are all one, and  with great power comes great responsibilty. it is similar morality to buddhism but not so absolute. For example if pushed i put humans and humanity above other animals, precisely because we are more capapble of making a differnce. I would like to see the world population reduced to a sustainable level, and all humans living a comfortable non maerialist non/growth consumption based,  and sustainable life style, which also allows the environment to recover. But we will have to use our abilities and creativity to help the world recover a natural balance because it cannot do it alone. A study of  the australain mainland and off shore islands shows that the ecosystem on the mainland, influenced by 50000 years of light aboriginal populations, is very diffeernt and less diverse than the environment of the islands which were never inhabited.

So ANY occupation by humans changes the word's balance and ecosystems.

Ps I am almost entirely a vegetarian, But not because I think it is ethically or morally wrong for a human to kill other animals and eat their meat. That is a natural evolved human habit.

No, vegetarianism is preferable because of the huge health benefits it confers. Modern humans eat far more meat than our ancestors because they can.

Also being vegetarian lessens my impact on the planet. It reduces my green house gas production by 42 % and greatly reduces the acreage of my ecolocical footprint, or the amount of world's resources I use, to live.

Interestingly the "biblical" diet of 5000 years ago is nuts fruits and legumes, and that diet is the one most recommended by my cardiologists and other health professionals in the 21st century. I would never have become  a vegetarian if not for my wife's influence. As a biblically based christian believer she has  mostly abstained from meat, alcohol, nicotine, tea, coffee, etc all her life.

Ps the biblical perspective on the use of animals merely reflects the knolwedge gained in the first
agricultural revolution, where humans began to domesticate animals and crops. The bible is a "spiritual journey of understanding", by people transitioning from nomadic pastoralism to settled argrarian living, and of course it reflects the values and understandings of such a community.

Edited by Mr Walker, 29 March 2013 - 11:33 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#102    goodconversations

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 11:21 PM

Quality conversation! :clap:

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#103    MysticStrummer

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:13 AM

View PostThe Silver Thong, on 29 March 2013 - 06:49 AM, said:

Karma is not cause and effect. It`s a personal desire to harm who has harmed you.

Wow. I've never seen anyone define karma that way. I have to disagree strongly.

View PostThe Silver Thong, on 29 March 2013 - 07:55 AM, said:

If Karma was a real thing we would have a lot less evil.

That's assuming karmic debt is always paid in the current lifetime. I'm not saying I believe absolutely in reincarnation by the way, but I can't say for sure that it doesn't happen either. If there are multiple lifetimes, karmic debt may not be repaid until well down the line. Some people talk about souls being old or young, with the older ones obviously having learned more lessons. Some say we need to live every possible sort of life for our souls to evolve, which would mean knowing what it was like to be the saint and the sinner. I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot more ways to be a sinner than to be a saint, no matter what religion you're talking about. Being a saint seems to be a narrow path, while being a sinner can be pretty varied. If that's the way it is, there would be far more sinners than saints in the world at any given time, until a sufficient number of people reach the status of "old soul".

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#104    White Crane Feather

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 01:17 AM

View Poststillvoice, on 29 March 2013 - 09:08 PM, said:



As 'sentient beings' we each should extract such secrets and comforts as our nature (and the nature of the universe) enables us to find. This is assuming that the universe has any vested interest in sentient life at all?

If all human life is reduced to mere economics then communism and its derivatives are the only ideology which have an intrinsic morality in my opinion.
That's probably because you don't really understand what Adam smith was preposing. I understand the draw to communism intimately at heart I am one, but at thought I cannot be. But of course I am indoctrinated in modern economic theory, but as I'm sure you can relate it is a social SCIENCE, which means its evolving with peer review and empirical study.  Don't confuse idiotic western ( financial  ????... economics with real economics.) real economics is a study of choice not dollars ;)

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
Bruce Lee-

#105    Arbenol

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 03:34 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 29 March 2013 - 10:31 PM, said:

Human morality evolved in tandem with spiritual belief and religious practice. One cant exist without the other because they come from same evolved abilities of the human mind.
I don't agree with you here. You're correct, I believe, that religions have taken on "best practices" of being human. But I don't think you can argue they have co-evolved. Religions tend to grow and adapt subsequent to moral developments, not in conjunction with them. There always seems to be a lag before they catch on. They tend to get there eventually but many religions, especially christian, tend to be conservative and to resist change. The moral development of humankind is a proactive and progressive movement - the exact antithesis of many churches. (Notwithstanding the many progressive theists that exist).





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