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Can morality exist without religion?


pellinore
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(Def of morality:principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour).

I was prompted to consider this question after a conversation I had with someone recently. They maintained that a drug addict or alcoholic could only become 'well' through using a 12-step programme. If they did it on their own, they obviously did not have a real addiction. I can see the sense in this argument, though it seems a bit tautological- someone might think they have a hopeless addiction, but if they are able to recover through the help of CBT, self-help books or the support of friends, then they were not hopelessly addicted in the first place.

Could it be the same with religion and morality- we might believe, for example we are doing the "right" or a "good thing" by helping someone else, but how do we really know that, if the act is not framed by religion?

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Morality was doing fine, until religion came and screwed it up. The most hostile and degrading approaches to human living are found in the bible and the quran. Nowadays morality thrives with the atheists.

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8 minutes ago, zep73 said:

Morality was doing fine, until religion came and screwed it up. The most hostile and degrading approaches to human living are found in the bible and the quran. Nowadays morality thrives with the atheists.

A mate of mine uses the phrase (fair warning, he’s an Antitheist) “moral coward” to describe theists because they (we) abrogate responsibility for our moral framework and decision making to someone else,

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oi vey...

 

 

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fascinating.jpg.405cdf7b5b927b02681f28abf2d9711b.jpg

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religion =/= morality 

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ABSOLUTELY, it can and does.  OTOH, it sometimes cannot exist WITH certain religions.  I speak of the dogma, not the people who keep that faith.

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It requires a conscience. Psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists by definition lack a conscience and therefore have necessity of the crutch of a religion.

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Posted (edited)

As per eastern philosophy, even atheists and agnostics are capable of gaining enlightenment, provided there is adherence to virtuous conduct and the dictates of the inner conscience. Buddhism and the Sankhya religious philosophy in Hinduism is non-theistic in nature.

I had created a thread in this regard citing the example of Rajini Menon who attained enlightenment solely through adherence to virtuous conduct.

The enlightened sage Anandamayi Ma had also stated that atheists are capable of spiritual development and enlightenment provided they adhere to an ethical and virtuous life.

 

 

Edited by Ajay0
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Guest chiron613
On 9/30/2022 at 10:10 PM, pellinore said:

(Def of morality:principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour).

I was prompted to consider this question after a conversation I had with someone recently. They maintained that a drug addict or alcoholic could only become 'well' through using a 12-step programme. If they did it on their own, they obviously did not have a real addiction. I can see the sense in this argument, though it seems a bit tautological- someone might think they have a hopeless addiction, but if they are able to recover through the help of CBT, self-help books or the support of friends, then they were not hopelessly addicted in the first place.

Could it be the same with religion and morality- we might believe, for example we are doing the "right" or a "good thing" by helping someone else, but how do we really know that, if the act is not framed by religion?

I think a more difficult question is whether morality is compatible with religion - can morality exist in a religion?  When you consider how much violence has resulted because of differences in religious beliefs, how many people have been tortured and murdered for not believing in a religion, how many wars have been fought over religions, you have to wonder whether morality has any place in religion.

There are lots of people - non-religious people - who won't do others harm because they themselves wouldn't want to be harmed.  And there are many, many religious people who will commit horror against others, because they believe God wills it.

So yeah, morality can exist without religion; and maybe it can exist in spite of religion.

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Guest chiron613
On 9/30/2022 at 10:10 PM, pellinore said:

(Def of morality:principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour).

I was prompted to consider this question after a conversation I had with someone recently. They maintained that a drug addict or alcoholic could only become 'well' through using a 12-step programme. If they did it on their own, they obviously did not have a real addiction. I can see the sense in this argument, though it seems a bit tautological- someone might think they have a hopeless addiction, but if they are able to recover through the help of CBT, self-help books or the support of friends, then they were not hopelessly addicted in the first place.

Could it be the same with religion and morality- we might believe, for example we are doing the "right" or a "good thing" by helping someone else, but how do we really know that, if the act is not framed by religion?

The argument about the 12-Step Program is not sound.  It is always possible to make claims like this, that are impossible to properly test.  The one I like best is:  If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill.  How hard do you have to pray?  Why, hard enough to make water run uphill.

Or, if you have enough faith, you can be healed of your cancer.  If you aren't healed, your faith wasn't strong enough.

So if you get sober/clean without a 12-Step Program, you weren't really addicted.  That means, basically, that everyone who ever got sober or clean *before* there were 12-Step programs, wasn't really addicted.

It is clear that many people have recovered from addiction without the benefit of a 12-Step program.  It happens all the time.  A 12-Step program can make it much easier to recover; and it can make the difference between dying of the addiction, and having a life.  But many people get clean without the 12 Steps.

We know we're doing the right thing when we help people.  That's it.  Nothing too complex.  The Golden Rule, just do what you can to help people, and as much as possible avoid doing any harm.  It's got nothing to do with religion.  It's got to do with humanity, compassion, empathy, recognizing the person in each human being.  This preceded religion and will exist after religion vanishes.

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5 hours ago, chiron613 said:

The argument about the 12-Step Program is not sound.  It is always possible to make claims like this, that are impossible to properly test.  The one I like best is:  If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill.  How hard do you have to pray?  Why, hard enough to make water run uphill.

Or, if you have enough faith, you can be healed of your cancer.  If you aren't healed, your faith wasn't strong enough.

So if you get sober/clean without a 12-Step Program, you weren't really addicted.  That means, basically, that everyone who ever got sober or clean *before* there were 12-Step programs, wasn't really addicted.

It is clear that many people have recovered from addiction without the benefit of a 12-Step program.  It happens all the time.  A 12-Step program can make it much easier to recover; and it can make the difference between dying of the addiction, and having a life.  But many people get clean without the 12 Steps.

We know we're doing the right thing when we help people.  That's it.  Nothing too complex.  The Golden Rule, just do what you can to help people, and as much as possible avoid doing any harm.  It's got nothing to do with religion.  It's got to do with humanity, compassion, empathy, recognizing the person in each human being.  This preceded religion and will exist after religion vanishes.

A thoughtful and thought-provoking post, thank you. I like this:The one I like best is:  If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill.  How hard do you have to pray?  Why, hard enough to make water run uphill.

Edited by pellinore
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@pellinoreif the religious are the only ones with morals, then that means anything they do immoral is a deliberate act.

At least the atheists lacking morals are still capable of good and bad but without the deliberate aspect. 

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Guest chiron613
5 hours ago, pellinore said:

A thoughtful and thought-provoking post, thank you. I like this:The one I like best is:  If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill.  How hard do you have to pray?  Why, hard enough to make water run uphill.

I should have pointed out that this idea is from Robert A Heinlein.

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It requires being born with a conscience. People with various deficient psychologies, such as sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists and others, by definition are born without a conscience.

 

Even people born with a conscience can do wrong, though.

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On 9/30/2022 at 9:10 PM, pellinore said:

(Def of morality:principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour).

I was prompted to consider this question after a conversation I had with someone recently. They maintained that a drug addict or alcoholic could only become 'well' through using a 12-step programme. If they did it on their own, they obviously did not have a real addiction. I can see the sense in this argument, though it seems a bit tautological- someone might think they have a hopeless addiction, but if they are able to recover through the help of CBT, self-help books or the support of friends, then they were not hopelessly addicted in the first place.

Could it be the same with religion and morality- we might believe, for example we are doing the "right" or a "good thing" by helping someone else, but how do we really know that, if the act is not framed by religion?

This is a good question, as morality is subjective, not objective to begin with.    Helping people can be good or bad depending on the kind of help you offer, for example taking someone off the street and telling them they can only heal by following your rules is not good help, forcing your ideas on someone who you THINK needs help, without letting them ask or tell you what kind of help they need is bad, not help at all.   Giving blankets to homeless in winter is probably good help as you give them the blanket and they get to decide what to do with it, you walk away and go on with your life.  If you give them money you can't get upset thinking about whether they will use it to buy drugs instead of food, you have to just let it go, give it if you feel like it, don't if you are afraid you are enabling their bad habit.   It is all in your mind, not theirs.  So, you do what you feel is right and that is your morality, based on your feelings, not religion or any other authority.    

 

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17 hours ago, Ell said:

It requires being born with a conscience. People with various deficient psychologies, such as sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists and others, by definition are born without a conscience.

 

Even people born with a conscience can do wrong, though.

 I would say they do have a conscience, but it is buried under layers of conditioning, desires in the form of cravings and aversions that they are compelled to act against their own conscience. (All vices like greed, lust, hatred are but cravings and aversions, and in their extreme form leads to errors in personal conduct or crimes.)

  We have experiences ourselves where we have committed minor faults even though our conscience had not permitted it.

Purification of heart, emphasized in Christianity, actually means purification of the consciousness, of all the psychological impressions that lead to cravings and aversions.

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2 hours ago, Ajay0 said:

 I would say they do have a conscience, but it is buried under layers of conditioning, desires in the form of cravings and aversions that they are compelled to act against their own conscience. (All vices like greed, lust, hatred are but cravings and aversions, and in their extreme form leads to errors in personal conduct or crimes.)

  We have experiences ourselves where we have committed minor faults even though our conscience had not permitted it.

Purification of heart, emphasized in Christianity, actually means purification of the consciousness, of all the psychological impressions that lead to cravings and aversions.

No. You do not understand that a conscience is genetically determined. Such people lack the genetic instructions to express the organic brain structures that generate a conscience. One might compare it to being born without legs. Such people will never walk. Instead in order to 'walk' they require crutches: rules to live by. That is why politicians are always busy proposing new laws.

The Old Testament is such a crutch: a book of rules.

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“Can morality exist without religion?”

I would submit that in the case of organized religion believers abrogate their right to determine right from wrong in favor of believing a man made god they can never prove the existence of makes such judgements, all in an effort to distance themselves from any responsibility for their actions. 
 

cormac

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5 minutes ago, cormac mac airt said:

an effort to distance themselves from any responsibility for their actions. 

 

Does this also apply to those who assert that they do not have a free will?

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Will Due said:

Does this also apply to those who assert that they do not have a free will?

If God is omniscient and omnipotent as most believe then we have no free will since He already knows the outcome and does NOTHING about it except reward/punish us FOREVER for what He knows we’re going to do anyway DURING ONE MINISCULE LIFETIME. Existence therefore basically becomes a numbers game, a crap shoot, to see how many end up on either side - good or evil. 
 

Conversely if we actually do have free will there is no evidence that any such God was required. 
 

cormac
 

 

Edited by cormac mac airt
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4 minutes ago, cormac mac airt said:

If God is omniscient and omnipotent as most believe then we have no free will since He already knows the outcome and does NOTHING about it 

 

Why doesn't the fact that God does nothing to interfere with your decisions and actions indicate to you that you have a free will?

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Will Due said:

Why doesn't the fact that God does nothing to interfere with your decisions and actions indicate to you that you have a free will?

Free will where God knows BEFOREHAND what you’re going to do isn’t free will, it’s basically a pre-programmed game. And ultimately before the end of Creation God ALREADY knows the outcome. Actual free will would mean that no one INCLUDING GOD knows what’s going to happen until it happens. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, it’s one or the other. Either it’s effectively pre-programmed or God ISN’T omniscient and omnipotent. 
 

cormac

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