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Old November 6th 01, 02:54   #21
Jade Jaguar
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

I agree with Happy Phantom, and Bakana. I believe that a moral person does what is right, because it is right, and in the long run is best for everyone, and not because of the promise of a heavenly reward, which could be considered a bribe. The thing is that there are a lot of emotionally immature or morally challenged people people in this world, and religion seeks to instill good behavior in them with the promise of rewards later, because that is easier than instilling altruism in the selfish and inconsiderate.

Although I am an atheist, I believe that everyone and everything has an essence, spirit, or nature, which I hesitate to call a soul because of the christian inferences. I cannot prove this scientifically, but I believe I see evidence of it in nature. This is at it's heart the belief "that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy", or the belief that we don't know or understand everything yet. I do believe that everything, even the spiritual, is ultimately explainable by science, although we may need to attain the evolutionary status of Vorlons to do it!

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Old November 6th 01, 03:17   #22
channe
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

The last post is the question at the heart of my thesis - can there be morality without faith in some sort of God, some sort of higher law, a reference point?

I'm not going to get into it because I just wrote seventy pages on it.

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In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the grace of God.
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Old November 6th 01, 03:19   #23
channe
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

Question, JadeJaguar - where do you get your moral reference points from? How do you know what is wrong and what is right, what is good, and what is evil? How do you make decisions on that?

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In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the grace of God.
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Old November 6th 01, 04:03   #24
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

My point of view (as an atheist, yes):

Hurting others is wrong. Doing something just because I want to - without thinking of the consequences to other people, or to nature at large - is wrong.

Does there have to be a god - do I have to believe in a higher being - in order for me to live my life as best as I can while trying not to harm anyone else?

Do I have to believe in a supreme being in order to know that I should not steal? That I should not kill? Not lie for my own benefit? Not take another woman's husband?

I don't think so. To me, morality and belief in a higher being can be quite separate.

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Old November 6th 01, 04:17   #25
Jade Jaguar
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

Well, I have read some philosophy, and different philosophies have different takes, and all seem to have faults too. We might say that what produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people is what's right. But would it be right to round up the richest 10% of the people in the world, kill them, and distribute their wealth to the others? I don't think so. The golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is very good, unless you are a masochist, or suicidal. I do believe that principles must be universalizable, that is apply to everyone equally to be just. I hate to be so vague, but like the supreme court said about porn, I feel about right and wrong, I know it when I see it... usually. I don't think I am a self righteous person, or dogmatic, so I can be persuaded that I am wrong if appropriate evidence is put to me. In practice, I think a person gets their moral code, or lack of one from what they are taught, including by example, life experience, and sadly, tv, which unlike JMS usually portrays violence as the solution to our problems, and doesn't show the consequences of the violence of 'the good guys'. I think most religions have good moral codes, although these are sometimes corrupted. If I believed litterally in everything in the Bible, I wouldn't eat shrimp, or barbequed ribs, or accept interest on bank deposits, and we'd probably still be burning witches. The declaration of independence has some fine principles in it, We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal... But defining good and bad, right and wrong, is difficult. I think we must study many moral philosophies, and the element of time is important, in that we must examine the outcome produced over time by a given philosophy. What it comes down to though, is what is good is what produces a good outcome for the most people in the long run, and what is bad is what produces a bad outcome for most people over the long run. And yes, I realize that that is a very reflexive answer. If I may borrow a saying from another show, good is to live long and prosper, but add not at the expense of or to the detriment of others.

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Fluently! Errol Flynn as Robin Hood
You're talking treason! Olivia De Havilland as Arabella Bishop
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Pallindromes of the month: Snug was I, ere I saw guns.
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Old November 6th 01, 06:24   #26
bakana
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

I don't know if you can call it Moral or not, but the one thing that seems to occur most often in the majority of human cultures is the instinct to sacrifice for the happiness of another.

Sometimes that other is a child, a lover, a friend, a parent. In its highest form, a Stranger.

That sacrifice may take simple forms, such as offering gifts, allowing the other to have the more comfortable chair, or not eating the last donut.

At the other extreme, it may involve giving up a Life to save another.

The Third Principle of Sentient life.


In the long run, perhaps the Hypocratic Oath summed Morality up as well as anything can:

"First, Do No Harm!"



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Old November 6th 01, 11:51   #27
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

The idea that many theists hold that morality comes from religion is one of the huge points of propaganda that dogmas preach. Religion pushers hijacked morality and claim to own it, just like Republicans hijacked Jesus.

There was morality before Christ, before Yaweh, and before monotheism.

Isn't it possible that religion came from morality, not vice-versa?

It is more probable, and more fitting with human history, that the two influenced each other. That's the way patterns of behavior work: they intertwine and effect each other.

Early civilization developed because of some sort of moral code, even if it was implied. The fact that agriculture developed and cities were formed means that people had to practice morality, otherwise non-nomadic societies would not have stabilized, what with all the killing and all.

The idea that we need to be Good so that we don't get punished in the afterlife is, I'm sorry, a bit immature, and really underestimating humanity. Are we children, or Pavlovian dogs, that need a ghost story to direct our actions, or are we Men and Women, with free will and the ability to make our own decisions?

The funny thing is, most religions throughout history placed the emphasis on human decisions on this life, not the reward and punishment in the here-after. Pagan gods were very human and not to be taken as role models. They were paid homage because of their power, but it was up to the people to decided their own fate. Judaism has the concept of reward and punishment in the afterlife, but very different than Christianity, and it also places a much stronger emphasis in this life. Chrisitianity stressed the afterlife because it appealed to the poor and lower dregs of society, who were doomed to lead miserable lives. The promise of a Paradise after death was appealing- the good get rewarded, and the wicked will get their just desserts.

Times have changed. We need not cower in the face of a vengeful deity. Live for life, not for death.

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Old November 6th 01, 13:00   #28
channe
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

Kosher dietary laws as put forth in the Bible are not necessary unless you're Jewish.

You have some good points, JadeJaguar, but note how easily your words "what is good is what produces a good outcome for the most people in the long run." It's good that you realize it's a reflexive answer, because that sort of philosophy, while all right, can be perverted quite easily without a definite settlement. It can be perverted very easily into explaining away evil acts by saying they're "good." Yes, they might be good in the end, but you'd be getting into a philosophy that says "the ends justify the means..."

There's really only one taboo common to all cultures of note: incest. Anything else is free reign.

Yes, there was morality before Christ, before monotheism, and before Adonai, but... before Christ, Allah, and Adonai there were other gods, back, and back, and back, and back into the mists of time. Our rock-throwing ancestors worshipped gods and had moral codes because of it. Religion and morality has always been inextricably tied. It is only within the last two thousand years that morality has been tied with the monotheistic faiths only.

If you're a Catholic, for example, you believe that you have free will. God made you so you can choose between good and evil. As a Catholic, I always have in the back of my mind the fact that I have an afterlife coming up and that I really should think about that, but for most of us it is hardly a bribe, as was mentioned beforehand. We, like you, exist in the world. The world is, basically, what we know. Like you, what we do affects our world. We judge morality on that, as well.

But, where an atheist could, philosophically speaking, take advantage and commit a truly evil act if he knew no one would ever find out about it and there would be no consequences, a Christian could not.

In that way, the Afterlife is more of a help, not a hindrance or a silly notion.

GKarsEye, the God we worship today is not the God of thunder, lightning, strike-thee-dead stories, and the medieval poor man's God. I honor and worship that God, yes, but the God I know personally is the Father, the one who stands and watches the world, weeping for us and celebrating with is - He who allows me to make my own moral decisions because I have free will.

One of the stories we grew up with was the fact that when you die, you are the one that decides whether you go to Heaven or Hell. There's no Saint Peter, no Heavenly Judge. You are shown your life and you make that decision yourself based on your life - because at that time, you're dead, no longer bound by the flesh, and you cannot lie...

You know, on the Internet I find I am a minority...

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In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the grace of God.
-Aeschylus

[This message has been edited by channe (edited November 06, 2001).]
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Old November 6th 01, 13:49   #29
GKarsEye
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>If you're a Catholic, for example, you believe that you have free will. God made you so you can choose between good and evil. As a Catholic, I always have in the back of my mind the fact that I have an afterlife coming up and that I really should think about that, but for most of us it is hardly a bribe, as was mentioned beforehand. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It is debatable whether this is free will. If someone holds a gun to your head and orders you to do good, you can still choose what to do. Again, free will, but not really.

Limiting our choices to two, "good" and "evil," is hardly a choice. Life is much more complex, with consequences and responsibilities for all actions, which have practical repercussions beyond the simple ideas of good and evil.

What is better, choosing Right because of a command from God, or because the person came to the decision himself? It is precisely the lack of a concrete, direct, predictable eventuality coming from an action that makes the non-believer truly have free will: we do what we do because we have decided what is right.

While the concept of the afterlife may prevent some people from doing wrong, it can also cause great harm. We learned that the hard way on September 11.

The application of religion as a practical approach to directing people towards "good" ulitmately fails, as there are plenty of people who profess faith and do not act positively. In the end, we can argue until we're blue in the face about whether religion has done more harm than good. And in the end, it doesn't matter.

Even if, hypothetically, religion was a successful mechanism for control, it doesn't make it right.

Being born into a dogmatic household, trained to worship a certain way, educated through the lens of dogman, and bred to practice a religion can ultimately strip one of his free will. The person loses real choice- he/she never even had a chance. Sometimes I feel that raising a kid with a religion is a form of child abuse.

Channe, you may be a "minority" on the internet because, sadly, atheists are cowards. In person, they do not like to "admit" their atheism. If the subject comes up, they decline to talk about it or use that horrible word "agnostic." They fear being ostricised or condemned. "How can you not believe in God?!" People of religion are proud to announce their faith; atheists are ashamed of their lack of it. So, many atheists like to hide behind the veil of anonimity that the internet provides, and vent their frustrations that way. It's pathetic. I believe you said yourself that people should avoid talking about it if they don't know other people well because it's sensitive. Well, too bad, I say. If someone is that sensitive about it, he/she doesn't have a very strong faith anyway.

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Old November 6th 01, 14:11   #30
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Re: I\'m happy, sort of

Modern, mainstream Christianity does not teach that your actions in this life determine your status in the afterlife. Salvation as a free gift is a major tenet in most Christian sects. There is no way to earn your way into heaven. Only faith is necessary to achieve salvation. Therefore, I believe that the premise that religious individuals are only moral out of fear of retribution is false.

I could argue that individuals are "moral" out of a sense of social obligation. It might not be stretching credulity too far to say that humans are innately "good" and will act according to their true nature. However, regardless of a person's personal belief, it is the height of ignorance, in my opinion, to label people as uneducated or simple because they hold a particular set of beliefs.


Frizzell

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It implies that I am expendable. I am many things. I am bright, personable, charismatic and not a bad dancer but expendable? No."
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