Senate The roots of Morality: Why are we good?

Discussion in 'Community' started by LostOnHoth, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Feb 15, 2000
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    Most of us have some moral or ethical framework which allows us to distinguish between right and wrong.

    For me, I subscribe to the idea that morality and ethics (rules which are based upon a moral framework) are a function of human biology. Human beings are social creatures and so we construct around us a social environment which is conducive to social order. Social order is therefore based upon mutually agreed norms of behaviour. Morality is therefore a social construct which is subject to change, like language, dress, music and literature- all the aspects of social life which constitute culture.

    What is your personal framework for making moral decisions? How would you describe the basis of your personal morality?
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 14, 2014
  2. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    Absolute morality has one ultimate source, and one only: God. He defined what's true and false, right and wrong; our only choice is whether to accept that. We all have ideas on how we'd like to be treated, but preference and truth are not inherently equal.

    To put it another way, let's say you're shopping for a car. Your favorite color is blue, but that doesn't mean all cars painted blue are the best for everyone. If I showed up and tried to convince you otherwise, you'd rightly think I was unreasonable. However, if I attempted to convince you a Honda was safer than the self-exploding Ford Pinto you wanted, truth (not preference) would be the main discussion point.

    Truth is what corresponds to its referent, so if any moral stance is completely true regardless of opinion, a higher standard beyond humanity has to exist. As I've said before, messages only come from minds, so the source of absolute morality would have to be personal. When most people think of a supremely personal, moral, powerful intelligence, their first thought is usually of God.
    Last edited by Moviefan2k4, Jan 14, 2014
  3. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    I don't really see how one could say truth regarding morality could come from god, when at least the Christian god is an amazingly good example of just about everything that is NOT moral, either in his actions or his instructions.

    LostOnHoth, I think there's two approaches to that. I do think that altruism has a biological development. An experiment that was carried out with robots showed that altruism would be evolutionarily preferred as a trait, and so it does make sense, to me, that that is something that is primarily hardwired into us biologically. However, I do think that in a way that is distinctly different from at least most animals, we are sufficiently advanced in mental capacity to focus on logic rather than biological imperatives. To that extent, on a personal level, I determine my morality based off of what I consider to be logical, working with some basic axioms that are focused on trying to treat people with the sort of respect that I would want to be treated and a basic concept of fairness.
  4. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Lowbacca, what is your basis for declaring God's actions or commands immoral? If you reject the supernatural, what source is left to justify the existence of absolute morality? There's no observable biological source for things like love, grace, or mercy, which is why I use the illustration of people validating absolute truth even while denying it. I used a quote from C.S. Lewis in another thread, which says "any standard used to measure two options is different from either."
  5. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    God directly or indirectly is responsible for the deaths of millions in the Bible itself. How could God be considered moral after atrocities like that?
  6. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    I think murder and genocide are things that can, based upon a logical construct, be easily argued to be morally bankrupt and, frankly, evil, starting with the simple and I think defensible axioms that all people should be treated equal on a base level.

    There are certain things that I think contain natural gray areas. For example, I have a personal stance on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs that I would not project onto others because I don't think it relies on global axioms, and so I wouldn't expect others to hold the same morality on such issues, and those issues are largely personal matters. However, when those matters involve others, I think rationality should lead to the same conclusions on some topics.
  7. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

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    Aug 11, 2004
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    I think morals started simply out of fear of retaliation. That it's beneficial to work together and organise in a social group (i.e. a pack) goes without saying, but I think that, in addition to that, as man developed sentience, he became more aware of the risk of later being stabbed in his sleep by crossing someone. From there, the logical conclusion that you shouldn't do to others what you wouldn't like them doing to you follows very easily. At its core, it's just self-preservation; self-interest.
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  8. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    Why is it wrong for the Creator of all life to take it back at His own discretion?
  9. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    You are actually trying to justify the actions of a being that has committed several acts of genocide?

    What. The. ****.
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  10. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    In order to call anything absolutely wrong, you have to accept that something is absolutely right. You're free to believe whatever you want, but stating something's inherently wrong implies a standard beyond human opinion. The Bible makes it clear that God takes no joy whatsoever in the destruction of the wicked, but sometimes there's no alternative.

    Think of it this way: on what objective basis can you say its completely wrong for someone to murder your own family in front of your eyes? You'd be deeply hurt and angry over it, but you wouldn't be able to explain why it was so terrible without introducing the notion of perfect justice.
  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    It wouldn't be wrong or right as much as it would be unworthy of worship.
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  12. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Genocide is wrong by human standards. And human standards are the only ones we have. Your god is a murderous, evil, genocidal monster. How can anyone choose to worship him knowing all the horrible things your Bible says he has done? It's sickening.
    Last edited by timmoishere, Jan 15, 2014
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  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    The second sentence is incorrect. The basis of human morality is mammal/primate evolution. Observations of mammals/primates in the field and in zoos have provided strong evidence of the building blocks of helping behavior, sympathy, empathy, cooperation. These in turn have evolutionary roots going farther back, to things like maternal instinct and the calls birds make to warn each other of predators. The chemical/biological basis of instinctive mothering was coopted to drive more complex interactive behaviors of social animals. We don't need Jesus for the golden rule. It's hard wired into the monkey brain.

    Human nature is complicated, but the old story that humans nature is at base evil, and that we need God to provide us with a framework for good behavior has been shown to be false.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 15, 2014
  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    The thing is, you're viewing this from the stance of "I shouldn't have to see people killed". The wrongness of the act has nothing to do with the observer here, and everything to do with depriving said family of their lives.
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  15. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    I used the "in front of your eyes" aspect to drive the main point home, which is that some behaviors are indeed wrong for everyone, regardless of opinion. If humans invented morality we'd all agree on it, but the reverse happens far more often. An unchanging standard has to exist which we all are bound to, whether we like it or not; pinpointing the specific source of that standard's another matter.
  16. VadersLaMent Chosen One

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    Apr 3, 2002
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    Providing secular reasons for the origins of morality hold true because we have existing humans and all of history to study and apply.

    Providing religious reasons for the origins of morality amounts to nothing more than preaching because first you'd have to prove the actual existence of a god.
  17. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    If so-called "human standards" are so great, then why do some humans still murder without remorse? Mental illness can account for some of it, but a lot more folks are just plain selfish in their hearts.

    Here's the difference between us and God on moral issues: He has the perfect right to do whatever He pleases, whenever and to whomever He desires. He's the Creator of all, and no one is above Him. Calling Him a monster would imply a higher standard exists above Him, which would negate His supremacy. I asked you why it was inherently wrong, and all you came up with were more personal objections.
  18. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    The latter is exactly what Christian apologetics is all about.
  19. VadersLaMent Chosen One

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    Then to date it has failed beyond anecdotes.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    humans provide all the context that is required. We are all bound to the standard of basic human wants and needs as we interact with each other over the course of our finite lifetimes. I cannot "prove" murder is wrong, but I don't have to, because I was born with an innate human ability to project my sense of self into the shoes of others and understand how they experience things. I can picture the grief that another father would feel if his son died in a car accident at the hands of a drunk driver. I feel the happiness of helping behavior that my body has evolved to feel. Even if I were psychologically damaged or biologically defective I might still be able to weigh the risks of non compliance with social standards of moral behavior. The appeal to some kind of moral standard external to the world is completely unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive, because it attempts to divorce us from the better part of our primate nature.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 15, 2014
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  21. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    Here's the overarching question, which atheism as a belief has no inherent justification for...

    If there is no such thing as absolute morality, why is anything (including God) absolutely immoral?
    Last edited by Moviefan2k4, Jan 15, 2014
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    a boring question. Why do we need to concern ourselves with "absolute immorality" when we have practical morality in a real-world context, reinforced by our own biology? The universe is indifferent to our moral standards, but we have every reason not to be indifferent to them.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 15, 2014
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  23. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Mar 4, 2011
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    I believe there is a standard for absolute morality and it actually comes from paganism:

    As it harms none, do what ye will.

    I'm not a follower of paganism or any other organized religion but that statement works much better across the board than the statement that "There is a god, who can do whatever the hell he wants for no other reason than 'he said so', and whatever he does will always be the most moral act. Even if such an act includes murdering people--because he can or because he was pissed or something."

    If we're using "absolute morality" or "absolute truth" here, and mass murder is absolutely wrong, then it's wrong for a divinity as well.

    Making exceptions for a divinity is moral relativism.
  24. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Feb 15, 2000
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    I've been tied with with real work and will respond in more detail soon but quite simply nothing is "absolutely immoral", that is a value judgement based upon subjective context. Killing, rape, torture, slavery have all been considered to be moral activities by people at different points in time. It depends on who you are killing, raping, torturing, enslaving and why.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 15, 2014
  25. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Mar 4, 2011
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    This is true, but correct me if I'm wrong but I think the rape, torture, enslavement and murder were done (and are still done) to keep certain people or groups in power by oppressing others.

    So is a "moral standard" a societal rule that enables us to love together as humans, or is it an arbitrary rule set up to maintain a certain power structure? I would think that acceptance of rape, torture, enslavement and premeditated murder would be the latter.

    But you may be right about a lack of absolutes.
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