Can atheists tell right from wrong?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Norsefire, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    Well, you're kind of cheating a bit there since murder is by definition any killing that is wrong. But I think you'll find HUGE differences in the standards that different cultures use to judge when it is or isn't acceptable to kill people. There are some cultures where it's never acceptable to kill anyone for any reason, even in self defense. There have benn other cultures where you're perfectly justified in killing someone simply because they insulted you.
    So far as I can tell, Norsefire is simply confused about how atheists are able to behave themselves even though they aren't under constant threat of magical punishment.
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  3. Yorda Registered Senior Member

    yes, different humans can have different morals. for example, animals don't have the same morals as humans. animals almost never do anything wrong, they always follow god's moral. but even though morals change through time and culture, it doesn't mean that there is no absolute moral.
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  5. Zakariya04 and it was Valued Senior Member

    what a stupid thread title - of course atheists can tell right from wrong, they do have fuckin conscious' you know.

    for fucks sack!!

    obviously i ahvent read this thread so apologies for repeating what someone else has said
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  7. Medicine*Woman Jesus: Mythstory--Not History! Valued Senior Member

    M*W: Thanks, Zak, for setting them straight. It boggles my mind that people think atheists don't have morals. We don't get around the law just like anybody else. However, it is probably true that we are not as guilt ridden as theists. We just don't find it necessary to be amoral or immoral.
  8. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    Murder? Many people believe that killing can be justified and what separates one from the other varies greatly.

    In any event, do we agree that murder is wrong because murder is objectively wrong? Or do we agree because the societies that have spread their ethics around the world all agreed on that point and had similar definitions of murder? (Those cultures do derive from similar sources. Even communism is a western idea, so part of western culture. When you consider the spread of the three Abahamic religions and the rise in prominence of western culture generally along with that, it should not be too surprising to see commonalities in belief about "proper" behavior.

    As I noted elsewhere, for much of human history, killing anyone not apart of your tribe or culture was not considered generally wrongful by your own people. In Romer a father could kill his kids, wife and slaves (or he could sell the kids and wife and make them slaves) and not be condemned for it. Yet the Romans had highly developed theories of ethics and a generally strong sense of honor.

    If it comes from "God" then it might be an objective standard...but if it comes from God sometimes and other times we are are mistaken (as with chattel slavery in western culture, athat was viewed as acceptable for 1700+ years after Christ), then how do we know we are not mistaken in other things?

    The Bible condemns homosexuality and eating shellfish more strongly than it does slavery (which it does not really condemn at all, though it never holds it up as a virtue either). If the Bible is the only source of morality, whose to say that slavery is wrong? Maybe we are wring to think it's wrong.
  9. Zakariya04 and it was Valued Senior Member

    well yeah -in my humble opinion most people you meet r ok and quite alright probably the same for the human race in general. However all people do bad things Just some people do more bad things than others!!!!

    seriously though surely you conscious dictates how guilty you feel along with the way youhave been bought up, you dont need to go to sunday school to know that fucking someone nover is a bad thing!!
  10. Yorda Registered Senior Member

    that has always been wrong, but people thought it was right because they were racist/evil/afraid.

    life's unchanging moral law says that all morals depend on circumstances. time and place. for this reason, even killing can be right, but only in rare cases. for example, it would have been right to kill hitler to prevent him from killing even more.

    moral is both objective and subjective.

    you have to think about why the bible condemns those things. the bible condemns male homosexuality and shellfish because they were unhealthy in those days. it no longer applies to our modern society.

    no, we aren't wrong, the bible is wrong! god wrote many parts of the bible, but you have to remember that the d-evil also wrote many parts of it to test us.

    how do we know we're not mistaken? by using our brain of course. christians think homosexuality is wrong because they don't use their brain, they use their bible. the bible is very outdated. god's laws are constantly updated in our brain.
  11. Balerion Banned Banned

    So whenever we show you that morality is always changing, you just say it isn't "real" morality? Is that your little trick? Despite the evidence against your position, you defend it with cheap stunts like saying that? C'mon. Be fair about it.

    Morality is not objective. Western society believes that murder is the killing of an innocent person...but this view is not shared by everyone, and who are you to say that they are wrong? As a matter of fact, our own legal system views murder differently than we do as a society. For instance, a woman who kills her abusive husband will go to prison for it, even though we could largely agree that he had it coming.

    And that constitutes a shift in morality. How is that not obvious to you?

    I can appreciate that you are no bigot, and that you can see the BS where it is in your holy book...but you can't go around trying to justify things by saying "the devil did it". There isn't a single Christian institution that would claim the devil wrote a single word of the bible.

    Seriously, just think about it for a minute. Morality comes from society, not from religion, or even or legal system. And it changes, as you can see. Suppressing a woman's rights, or keeping another human being a slave is a moral issue, and there is no way around it. Morality is your sense of right and wrong, so these issues ultimately fall under its realm. Since out stance on those issues have since changed, it becomes obvious that our morality has changed, as well.
  12. Yorda Registered Senior Member

    of course it's wrong to kill innocent people. what are you talking about? who wouldn't agree with this?

    ok, instead of the devil, let's just say that evil people wrote those parts in the bible. that's the same thing, the devil is just a metaphor for evil, like god is a metaphor for good.

    morality comes from humans and the god within them.

    ok, i understand what you mean now. yes, obviously our morality has changed. but there is an unchanging absolute moral and we are coming closer and closer to it the more we evolve. that's the moral i'm talking about. the real moral.
  13. Balerion Banned Banned

    You're looking at the world through the eyes of the society you grew up in, and you don't even know it. What constitutes innocent? Who is to say that it's wrong to kill someone for a crime that would, in this country, not be a crime? They hang homosexuals in they consider it wrong? They obviously don't agree with this. And for you to say "but of course that's wrong" does not invalidate their morals, it simply tries to hide your head in the sand and pretend that morals different than your own don't exist.

    If you want to pretend evil exists, fine. But again, I'd love to find one Christian institution that would agree evil people wrote parts of your bible. They would just tell you what I'm telling you--the people who wrote this were speaking from the morality of their time, which seemed perfectly acceptable back then. Today, many of those values no longer apply. The people who wrote them weren't bad, it is actually the people that still preach them that have problems.

    It comes from us, yes, but not the individual. It comes from society, which is our collective consciousness.

    Well, first of all, what you're implying has no basis in anything. It's a guess, an assumption, that you made up in your head. Not knocking you, but that is a false idea. Morality is subjective, so there is no "ultimate goal" it is trying to reach. In the end, the only things that are certain is that, overall, a human being will try to survive, and to protect its offspring. That is all that is certain. There is no morality drive that pushes us to some greater good, because good is only in the eyes of the beholder, and not anything written on a tablet. Even if there is a god, it has not let us know what it wants, and it has not even given us an internal compass strong enough to put us all on the same map.
  14. losfomoT Unregistered User Registered Senior Member

    This is a great statement... I agree with this. But after this you start to get enigmatic, Yorda. Do you believe in God or not?

    A YES answer would mean you believe in an all-powerful being that created the universe. A NO answer would mean that you think of God as a metaphor for the concept of GOOD.

    Morality is partly defined by society, but it is more defined within each of us. I believe that definition is based on something very simple... how would WE feel?

    For example, how would you feel if someone stole from you? Not very good. You would be upset... so you know that stealing must be a bad thing.

    How would you feel if someone hit you? Not very good, it would hurt, so you know violence is a bad thing.

    How would you feel if someone tried to kill you? You would be terrified, because you don't know what death is. You know you don't like feeling terrified, so you know that trying to kill someone is a bad thing.

    What's the best way to avoid being hit? Certainly not to hit someone else. This will INCREASE the chance of you yourself being hit... just like killing people will INCREASE the chance of you yourself being killed.

    Morality ultimately comes down to this idea:

    Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

    Special circumstance, of course, changes things.

    The BOOK teaches a lot of things that I would deem immoral by the above idea.
  15. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    That's your opinion, that "treat others as you would want to be treated" is our moral code. Murderers might disagree; they may think the righteous, honorable, and moral thing is to murder and torture others, and not doing so is evil and wrong.
  16. Balerion Banned Banned

    As Norsefire said, that really isn't what morality comes down to. That's what your morality comes down to. Like I've been saying all along, morality is subjective, which means it is different things to different people--perhaps more accurately, it is different things to different societies, but both are true. In the times of all-powerful kings and the like, it was moral to put your king ahead of yourself, and ahead of anyone you knew. That meant putting the king ahead of your children, if need be. Today, such a notion would be considered backwards, and the prospect of selling your kid down the river to appease someone else, no matter what their rank, would be considered completely immoral.

    While "treat others as you wish to be treated" is a very nice, very helpful idea, it isn't the standard for morality. It is simply the standard for our morality. Meaning, the morality of the Western world.
  17. Yorda Registered Senior Member

    Sure those morals exist, but they are wrong morals because they come from evil people, not from God and truth. They're obviously not doing the right thing.

    Everything that we can talk about exists, the question is what it is.

    My Bible? I'm not a Christian. But many Christians agree with me, because many of them ignore the evil parts of the Bible.

    There are no bad people, there are only ignorant people. That's what evil is: ignorance

    Ultimately, morality comes from our feelings and empathy.

    The Bible says that morality is written in our heart and conscience. What is right and wrong depends on circumstances: time and place.

    You know what God wants if you have listened to the internal compass that is your heart. God just wants you to be happy.

    I believe in a God/gods similar to what you see in Hinduism. Hinduism says that the self is God. For this reason everyone believes in God because everyone believes in 'self'. And at the same time, nobody believes in God because God is just another word for the self.
  18. Yorda Registered Senior Member

    Everyone would be good and everyone would have the same morals if everyone was equally happy. Fear creates irrational morals.

    I doubt there is any murderer who seriously thinks so. Murderers kill because they are very confused/lost, and they find relief from their depression and problems when they give into rage.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2008
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

    That's a cop out, and an ignorant statement. You only view those morals as wrong because they do not fit your own. Those very same people you condemn would argue your own point back at you with equal certainty of their own moral righteousness.

    We can talk about trolls and leprechauns, as well. Do they exist? No, clearly not. The concept of evil is a slap in the face of human intelligence, and has roots in the times before we understood that chemical composition in the brain plays a role in a person's actions, just as their upbringing plays a role. You call a person evil, I call them sick.

    They'd have to ignore 98% of it, then. Anyway, what is your denomination? Or did you simply invent this new philosophy?

    Ah, I see now. You shouldn't speak in hyperbole, especially when you mean something far more benign than what you actually say. If you had said "ignorant" rather than "evil" at the start of this, then we could have saved ourselves a lot of time. Well, whatever, I happen to enjoy the conversation.

    Anyway, that statement still isn't totally correct. There are some very bad people that are smarter than you or I will ever be. For them, it isn't ignorance, but their mental stability (or lack thereof), that makes them do the bad things they do. Some people just do not have the ability to feel remorse. Others can't help the desires they have to do something violent. None of this is ignorance, because they all know right from wrong--albeit, in some cases, they can't feel right from wrong, but they know what it is all the same.

    Yes, but I happen to believe that those feelings come from what society has told is right or wrong. Now, I don't argue that we don't have these within ourselves already, because we obviously do. But I believe there is a large amount of social conditioning that leads us to feel one way or the other about a certain moral issue. For example, my own feelings on abortion...when I first became aware of what this procedure was, I was appalled. But that was because my first experience with it came at the hands of a very pro-life organization that wanted me to see the ugly side of it, not the fair argument. Later, when I discovered just what an unwanted pregnancy can do to a young girl's life, I felt differently. A complete 180. But you could say that society's own shift in morality shifted mine, because today the argument is far more positive, and revolves around a woman having the right to choose, and what they will have to go through if that right is taken away.

    I'm not sure what you're trying to say here...are you contending that right and wrong is different than morality? If that is the case, no, I disagree. But let me take that first line and say this: If morality was written in our hearts and conscious, then we wouldn't need the bible to tell us what our morals are, would we? I'm not saying we do, but it's laughable that the book that claims to be the source of all morality actually also states that morality comes from within. Funny.

    A very nice idea, and I wouldn't try to dispel that notion. I don't buy it, but good for you for believing it.

    Quite a bit convoluted, but whatever gets you through the day, I suppose.
  20. Yorda Registered Senior Member

    I guess I can't prove it, but don't think it's just my subjective opinion, I think that it's objectively wrong to kill gays.

    I don't have any denomination or philosophy, I just believe in pretty much all religions and all kinds of weird stuff.

    We usually don't know what the other person is talking about, otherwise we would agree with them. I happen to know what you're talking about though, but I choose to not agree with it.

    They may be intelligent in some things, but they are ignorant about many other things. Usually people only do bad things because they're unhappy, not because they're sick, but being sick usually also makes you unhappy.

    Society doesn't affect me at all. And morality doesn't have much to do with society. Morality is very simple. Morality is empathy/feelings. For example, if I cut myself with a knife, it hurts, that's why I know that it's also wrong to hurt other people. Other morals are created the same way. Just put yourself in the other person's shoes and you know what is right and wrong.

    No. Morality depends on circumstances. It's subjective. But it's also objective.

    People at that time weren't ready to listen to their heart, they wanted the laws to be written on stone. It was too abstract and hard for them to "listen to their heart". They also weren't ready to understand what God really was, that's why they wanted to build statues (golden calf) to worship.

    God is the same as you. You know that because you want the same thing that God wants: you also want to be happy.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    In your mind, yes. But because it isn't a universally-held belief, then it isn't objective.

    That's what I figured. Unfortunately, you haven't done much study at all on anything. You really should, because it would refine your arguments in some areas, and make you sound far less ignorant in others.

    Uh, no. Be clear when making your point, that way there isn't unnecessary disagreement. When you said evil, when you should have said ignorant, I could have skipped the evil part and gotten right into disagreeing with you about ignorance. See?

    OK, Dr. Yorda, the evidence is firmly established against you. You're picking the word ignorance because you think it sounds good for this point, but you're mistaken.

    That right here invalidates the entire paragraph. I have no reason to read further.

    I'll just add: you're very wrong.

    Apparently you don't understand what subjective and objective means. It cannot be subject and objective. It is one or the other.

    A fairy tale. For someone who says they aren't Christian, you certainly believe in a lot of those stories.

    Don't preach to me. I'm not interested in your fantasy.
  22. Betrayer0fHope MY COHERENCE! IT'S GOING AWAYY Registered Senior Member

    There is no objective morality.
  23. Betrayer0fHope MY COHERENCE! IT'S GOING AWAYY Registered Senior Member

    Who is this we you speak of?

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