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Buckwheat Jones

IF THERE IS NO GOD, I CAN BE A MORALLY CORRECT HEDONIST

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Buckwheat Jones

 

IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN A GOD OR SUPREME BEING, CAN YOU BE A HEDONIST?

 

This is a philosophical discussion I’d like to have. It has some bearing on the direction of our culture right now, but I also think it’s an interesting intellectual exercise I’d like to explore. I know we have some good logical thinkers here. Some are atheistic, agnostic and religious so I guess we’ll have a well rounded thought experiment. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

 

My premise is this: 

 

If you don’t believe in a Prime Mover (higher power, God, etc.), I say you can be a complete hedonist without any ethical or moral penalty levied against you by any of our societal norms, activists, or entities. One can be a complete relativist in all regards, because there are no absolute Truths that we can trace back to a Creator who made us with some sort of plan that by its nature, regulates some of our behaviors. If I am untethered in this way, I am free to act on my own behalf to any degree that I see fit, and I can do so above criticism because my ethics are as valid as anyone else’s.

 

Common arguments against this:

 

Postulation:

 

I can be an atheist, and still act according to the Golden Rule. I don’t need God for that.

 

Response:

 

That’s true, but not relevant. You are just acting out of your own sense of “Ought.” My sense of “Ought” is the opposite of yours, but is as valid as yours.

 

Postulation:

 

My Truth is independently my own. It need not conform to your Truth. It does not rely on anything outside of myself like God. I can act ethically and morally towards others as I understand ethics and morality (because there is no set standard), and live within my own skin just fine.

 

Response:

 

That’s true, and is the exact same argument I can use from the other side of the coin.

 

Postulation:

 

Independently of any God-like notion, I can act from the Golden Rule because it makes for a society that runs smoothly and harmoniously. 

 

Response:

 

It does. But then there is nothing incumbent upon me to accept the premise that I must care about a cohesive social order. I am a Wolf, and believe that that which serves me best is that which serves me the most. And if that which serves me the best is at the expense of those things that are important to you (like social order…or your car stereo), I am just as ethically free to pursue any of my goals as you are yours.

 

Postulation:

 

Human beings have an innate value and we are then duty bound to respect that in others. It is responsible of me to recognize this value and so treat others with respect.

 

Response:

 

If we are the end result of happenstance and chance, where does any innate value come from? As intelligent beings, we can assign it, but it doesn’t mean much because my Truth need not be your Truth. This notion of “innate value” is simply a subjective assignment of terms that I am not duty bound to follow because it doesn’t originate from anything higher than myself.

These are just a few things I could come up with off of the top of my head. And I put them in here just to advance the conversation past the obvious. 

 

 

 

 

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gravelrash

If any consolation to your postulations, I am a Francophile. What did I learn over 35 years studying French language, history, and culture? Sartre was an idiot. Existentialism is a loser philosophy.

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kestrel
Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, gravelrash said:

If any consolation to your postulations, I am a Francophile. What did I learn over 35 years studying French language, history, and culture? Sartre was an idiot. Existentialism is a loser philosophy.

:yeahthat:

"Nothing matters..and so what if it did"..."Oh by the way Simone..have you checked the mailbox to see if there is a check from my publishers" The existentialists and nihilists were a religion of sorts..as opposed to "Faith Hope and Love they had the doctrine of Contempt, Hate and Despair...Like many adolescents of the time I read all the Sartre-Nietzsche right along with Kerouac and the like and to be kind it was pretty much a waste of my time...The only utility it had was freaking out the Straights and  sitting around with my teen age buddies quoting "No Exit"  to each other and nodding knowingly back and forth. But to answer the point Yes you can be an Atheist and still be "Moral"  maybe like the Stoics vs the Epicureans type of thing....and Eternally it means precisely nothing..Pascal's Wager notwithstanding.

Kestrel...

Edited by kestrel
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gravelrash

Huis-clos... Exercise in suckassism. The lesbians might have been judged by society but they fell to Sartre's sucks to daddy issues. Kafka is real.

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MontyPython

Well I guess I should start with the fact that I am a Christian. I believe in God. Jesus is my savior. I pray. I go to church.

And I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who are fine people. Honest people. Patriotic people. Hard working, tax paying, worthy people. They are good people because they want to be good and see genuine value in goodness, not because they think they "have to" be good or else they "can't go to Heaven". In fact that's what makes them better people, in my opinion, than many of the so-called Christians I know - The fact that they're good because they want to be good, not because their religion makes them believe they "have to" be good.

:shrug: 

 

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gravelrash
Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, MontyPython said:

Well I guess I should start with the fact that I am a Christian. I believe in God. Jesus is my savior. I pray. I go to church.

And I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who are fine people. Honest people. Patriotic people. Hard working, tax paying, worthy people. They are good people because they want to be good and see genuine value in goodness, not because they think they "have to" be good or else they "can't go to Heaven". In fact that's what makes them better people, in my opinion, than many of the so-called Christians I know - The fact that they're good because they want to be good, not because their religion makes them believe they "have to" be good.

:shrug: 

 

Good people are here on earth in this mortal plane. No reason to entertain stupid people when honest people want to discuss important issues.

Edited by gravelrash

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wisefool
11 hours ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

 

IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN A GOD OR SUPREME BEING, CAN YOU BE A HEDONIST?

 

This is a philosophical discussion I’d like to have. It has some bearing on the direction of our culture right now, but I also think it’s an interesting intellectual exercise I’d like to explore. I know we have some good logical thinkers here. Some are atheistic, agnostic and religious so I guess we’ll have a well rounded thought experiment. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

 

My premise is this: 

 

If you don’t believe in a Prime Mover (higher power, God, etc.), I say you can be a complete hedonist without any ethical or moral penalty levied against you by any of our societal norms, activists, or entities. One can be a complete relativist in all regards, because there are no absolute Truths that we can trace back to a Creator who made us with some sort of plan that by its nature, regulates some of our behaviors. If I am untethered in this way, I am free to act on my own behalf to any degree that I see fit, and I can do so above criticism because my ethics are as valid as anyone else’s.

 

Common arguments against this:

 

Postulation:

 

I can be an atheist, and still act according to the Golden Rule. I don’t need God for that.

 

Response:

 

That’s true, but not relevant. You are just acting out of your own sense of “Ought.” My sense of “Ought” is the opposite of yours, but is as valid as yours.

 

Postulation:

 

My Truth is independently my own. It need not conform to your Truth. It does not rely on anything outside of myself like God. I can act ethically and morally towards others as I understand ethics and morality (because there is no set standard), and live within my own skin just fine.

 

Response:

 

That’s true, and is the exact same argument I can use from the other side of the coin.

 

Postulation:

 

Independently of any God-like notion, I can act from the Golden Rule because it makes for a society that runs smoothly and harmoniously. 

 

Response:

 

It does. But then there is nothing incumbent upon me to accept the premise that I must care about a cohesive social order. I am a Wolf, and believe that that which serves me best is that which serves me the most. And if that which serves me the best is at the expense of those things that are important to you (like social order…or your car stereo), I am just as ethically free to pursue any of my goals as you are yours.

 

Postulation:

 

Human beings have an innate value and we are then duty bound to respect that in others. It is responsible of me to recognize this value and so treat others with respect.

 

Response:

 

If we are the end result of happenstance and chance, where does any innate value come from? As intelligent beings, we can assign it, but it doesn’t mean much because my Truth need not be your Truth. This notion of “innate value” is simply a subjective assignment of terms that I am not duty bound to follow because it doesn’t originate from anything higher than myself.

These are just a few things I could come up with off of the top of my head. And I put them in here just to advance the conversation past the obvious. 

 

 

 

 

It has been a while since I have posted anything, but this kind of thing will drag me out from under my rock.

 

I think as far as anyone can ascertain your assessment of Naturalism is true, which is to say that if your premise is "God or gods do not exist", then your points are congruent with reality.  I'd also point out that atheism has other insurmountable issues such as EAAN, The Problem of Evil, and The Problem of Consciousness, and the fact atheist philosophers spend so much time trying to cover up the facts you raised is probably a hint that it is a false belief system. 

 

Out of all the atheists that I have debated and dialogued with, only two have ever admitted that your propositions are true, the rest deny the rational outcome, and many attempt to shame me for thinking like that, which again is odd insomuch as they are usually the type of people who are quick to say things like "we need to follow the evidence no matter where it leads and how uncomfortable it makes us".

 

Basically you are spot-on.

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Oathtaker
17 hours ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

 

IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN A GOD OR SUPREME BEING, CAN YOU BE A HEDONIST?

 

This is a philosophical discussion I’d like to have. It has some bearing on the direction of our culture right now, but I also think it’s an interesting intellectual exercise I’d like to explore. I know we have some good logical thinkers here. Some are atheistic, agnostic and religious so I guess we’ll have a well rounded thought experiment. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

 

My premise is this: 

 

If you don’t believe in a Prime Mover (higher power, God, etc.), I say you can be a complete hedonist without any ethical or moral penalty levied against you by any of our societal norms, activists, or entities. One can be a complete relativist in all regards, because there are no absolute Truths that we can trace back to a Creator who made us with some sort of plan that by its nature, regulates some of our behaviors. If I am untethered in this way, I am free to act on my own behalf to any degree that I see fit, and I can do so above criticism because my ethics are as valid as anyone else’s.

 

Common arguments against this:

 

Postulation:

 

I can be an atheist, and still act according to the Golden Rule. I don’t need God for that.

 

Response:

 

That’s true, but not relevant. You are just acting out of your own sense of “Ought.” My sense of “Ought” is the opposite of yours, but is as valid as yours.

 

Postulation:

 

My Truth is independently my own. It need not conform to your Truth. It does not rely on anything outside of myself like God. I can act ethically and morally towards others as I understand ethics and morality (because there is no set standard), and live within my own skin just fine.

 

Response:

 

That’s true, and is the exact same argument I can use from the other side of the coin.

 

Postulation:

 

Independently of any God-like notion, I can act from the Golden Rule because it makes for a society that runs smoothly and harmoniously. 

 

Response:

 

It does. But then there is nothing incumbent upon me to accept the premise that I must care about a cohesive social order. I am a Wolf, and believe that that which serves me best is that which serves me the most. And if that which serves me the best is at the expense of those things that are important to you (like social order…or your car stereo), I am just as ethically free to pursue any of my goals as you are yours.

 

Postulation:

 

Human beings have an innate value and we are then duty bound to respect that in others. It is responsible of me to recognize this value and so treat others with respect.

 

Response:

 

If we are the end result of happenstance and chance, where does any innate value come from? As intelligent beings, we can assign it, but it doesn’t mean much because my Truth need not be your Truth. This notion of “innate value” is simply a subjective assignment of terms that I am not duty bound to follow because it doesn’t originate from anything higher than myself.

These are just a few things I could come up with off of the top of my head. And I put them in here just to advance the conversation past the obvious. 

 

 

 

 

Well thought out.

There are parts of your dialogue that touch on the “Euthyphro Dilemma”.

One of Plato’s early dialogues was titled Euthyphro.

In it Socrates asks Euthyphro "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?".

The term “pious” has been taken to mean moral or “righteous”. 

The dilemma is in essence, does God make something moral/righteous or is the moral / righteous an organic state in its own right and God espouses it because it is moral/righteous?

Is God a being or is God existence itself?
 

We are all part of something much larger than ourselves. People may choose not to believe that but, it doesn’t change the fact that physically and philosophically (metaphysically) we are. 
 

People who eschew faith and are egocentric, in my opinion, are not fully developed. There seems to be a lot of anger that drives contempt in the faithless I have spoken to; at least I have perceived it that way.

Is the  “voice in your head”  some would refer to as “parentalistic” that keeps you from doing evil or heinous or just plain “bad” things an affect of God? Or is it the Super-ego that Freud refers to? If it’s the later, there is probably quite a bit of religious morality worked in regardless of your current beliefs. 
 

I’ll end with this, regardless of ones belief or faith for that matter, there is a type of social contract that we all or most of us live under. We agree that murder, mayhem, and acting like an animal is “out of bounds” . We live in a dichotomy where acting out with a depraved moral/ethical process is reprehensible to us but “going there” to shut it down causes a lot of internal dialogue that is uncomfortable. We all have a limit and will act in a manner we consider righteous if pressed too hard. We know right from wrong and we have an idea of where those limits lie.

Some though, are just broken, that needs to be considered...
 

 

 

 

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Buckwheat Jones
20 hours ago, MontyPython said:

Well I guess I should start with the fact that I am a Christian. I believe in God. Jesus is my savior. I pray. I go to church.

And I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who are fine people. Honest people. Patriotic people. Hard working, tax paying, worthy people. They are good people because they want to be good and see genuine value in goodness, not because they think they "have to" be good or else they "can't go to Heaven". In fact that's what makes them better people, in my opinion, than many of the so-called Christians I know - The fact that they're good because they want to be good, not because their religion makes them believe they "have to" be good.

:shrug: 

 

I understand what you’re telling me, but the point I’m trying to argue is if there is no ultimate Truth then “choosing to be good” is just a way of living. There’s nothing ethical about it because it’s ethically benign. And if I want to live badly by abusing other people, that’s ethically benign as well. It’s just another way of living. 

You know. Moral relativism. 

But what I haven’t really seen discussed is the Flip Test. Attempting to do that here. If the argument works one way, it should work in the other. 

If there is no God, no Prime Mover, then there can be no Truth. There can only be what we want truth to be. Which is malleable. So you can be an atheist who lives by the golden rule, and that’s fine, but you can also be entirely self serving and that’s just as “ethical.”

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Buckwheat Jones
11 hours ago, wisefool said:

It has been a while since I have posted anything, but this kind of thing will drag me out from under my rock.

 

I think as far as anyone can ascertain your assessment of Naturalism is true, which is to say that if your premise is "God or gods do not exist", then your points are congruent with reality.  I'd also point out that atheism has other insurmountable issues such as EAAN, The Problem of Evil, and The Problem of Consciousness, and the fact atheist philosophers spend so much time trying to cover up the facts you raised is probably a hint that it is a false belief system. 

 

Out of all the atheists that I have debated and dialogued with, only two have ever admitted that your propositions are true, the rest deny the rational outcome, and many attempt to shame me for thinking like that, which again is odd insomuch as they are usually the type of people who are quick to say things like "we need to follow the evidence no matter where it leads and how uncomfortable it makes us".

 

Basically you are spot-on.

Thank you. Flip Test. If it goes one way, it has to go the other. I’m surprised that someone you discussed this with could not see this, but then again, maybe they did and just reverted to bomb throwing. 

 

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MontyPython
30 minutes ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

I understand what you’re telling me, but the point I’m trying to argue is if there is no ultimate Truth then “choosing to be good” is just a way of living. There’s nothing ethical about it because it’s ethically benign. And if I want to live badly by abusing other people, that’s ethically benign as well. It’s just another way of living. 

You know. Moral relativism. 

But what I haven’t really seen discussed is the Flip Test. Attempting to do that here. If the argument works one way, it should work in the other. 

If there is no God, no Prime Mover, then there can be no Truth. There can only be what we want truth to be. Which is malleable. So you can be an atheist who lives by the golden rule, and that’s fine, but you can also be entirely self serving and that’s just as “ethical.”

I just flat out can't agree. It's ridiculous to suggest there is "no" ultimate truth and/or ethics without the existence of a Prime Mover.

Truth is truth regardless of the existence or non-existence of a Prime Mover. Or for that matter, regardless whether or not any given person even believes there's a Prime Mover. And I don't just mean foundational truths like water is still wet, 2+2 still equals 4, etc. I also mean right is still right and wrong is still wrong. Ethical is still ethical. Every single one of my atheist friends understands perfectly well why murder is wrong, rape is wrong, stealing is wrong, and so forth. And being ethical people, they don't want to do wrong things. Again I repeat: If the only reason a so-called Christian doesn't engage in murder/rape/theft/etc is because his religion forbids it, then that person isn't nearly as "good" or "ethical", in my opinion, as an atheist who doesn't do those things without being "forbidden" by religious tenets, but instead because he understands why those are bad things, and chooses of his own free will not to do bad things.

B)

 

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zurg
Posted (edited)

I haven’t studied or been exposed to these types of dilemmas much, so I can’t claim to be an expert, and I can’t speak very confidently. However, what Monty states sort of makes the dilemma “real”. It takes it away from the theoretical to the palpable. So I find myself siding with that view. 
 

That way of thinking has a kind of logic behind it too. It’s almost axiomatic like math. You don’t need a lot of assumed axioms (e.g. murder is unethical) and a bigger construct follows. For example in probability, I think only three axioms are required. One is that probability is a non-negative real number. Another is that given a set of possible events, the probability that at least one event occurs is 1. And a third one is that probabilities of mutually exclusive events are additive. 
 

If this discussion is intended to show that morality requires an outside force/being, and that the intuitive feeling of right and wrong we have isn’t naturally ours, I think you’re treading on the axiomatic assumption territory. Which I would have no problems with, I certainly believe we are the result of a creation. 

Edited by zurg
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JerryL
2 hours ago, MontyPython said:

I just flat out can't agree. It's ridiculous to suggest there is "no" ultimate truth and/or ethics without the existence of a Prime Mover.

Truth is truth regardless of the existence or non-existence of a Prime Mover. Or for that matter, regardless whether or not any given person even believes there's a Prime Mover. And I don't just mean foundational truths like water is still wet, 2+2 still equals 4, etc. I also mean right is still right and wrong is still wrong. Ethical is still ethical. Every single one of my atheist friends understands perfectly well why murder is wrong, rape is wrong, stealing is wrong, and so forth. And being ethical people, they don't want to do wrong things. Again I repeat: If the only reason a so-called Christian doesn't engage in murder/rape/theft/etc is because his religion forbids it, then that person isn't nearly as "good" or "ethical", in my opinion, as an atheist who doesn't do those things without being "forbidden" by religious tenets, but instead because he understands why those are bad things, and chooses of his own free will not to do bad things.

B)

 

Based on what?  Where did the moral authority to define right and wrong come from?  Even if one group, absent any "prime mover", develops a sense of morality that is similar to what we look at as "inalienable rights endowed by our Creator," why do those take precedence over over another group that doesn't adhere to the same moral philosophy?

You can say, "Truth is truth" and you can say "murder is wrong" but I will then ask, as defined by whom?  If there is no prime mover and I can greatly enhance the situation and security of myself and my immediate family through murder or theft, what is there to say that I am "wrong?"  Why does your moral framework, which in this case is nothing more than an opinion, trump my moral framework?

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Buckwheat Jones
2 hours ago, MontyPython said:

I just flat out can't agree. It's ridiculous to suggest there is "no" ultimate truth and/or ethics without the existence of a Prime Mover.

Truth is truth regardless of the existence or non-existence of a Prime Mover. Or for that matter, regardless whether or not any given person even believes there's a Prime Mover. And I don't just mean foundational truths like water is still wet, 2+2 still equals 4, etc. I also mean right is still right and wrong is still wrong. Ethical is still ethical. Every single one of my atheist friends understands perfectly well why murder is wrong, rape is wrong, stealing is wrong, and so forth. And being ethical people, they don't want to do wrong things. Again I repeat: If the only reason a so-called Christian doesn't engage in murder/rape/theft/etc is because his religion forbids it, then that person isn't nearly as "good" or "ethical", in my opinion, as an atheist who doesn't do those things without being "forbidden" by religious tenets, but instead because he understands why those are bad things, and chooses of his own free will not to do bad things.

B)

 

Monty, how can good be good if good doesn’t begin someplace higher than ourselves? If it doesn’t come from someplace higher than ourselves, aren’t just left with consensus?

Good is good just because most people agree upon what good is. 

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Buckwheat Jones
16 minutes ago, JerryL said:

Based on what?  Where did the moral authority to define right and wrong come from?  Even if one group, absent any "prime mover", develops a sense of morality that is similar to what we look at as "inalienable rights endowed by our Creator," why do those take precedence over over another group that doesn't adhere to the same moral philosophy?

You can say, "Truth is truth" and you can say "murder is wrong" but I will then ask, as defined by whom?  If there is no prime mover and I can greatly enhance the situation and security of myself and my immediate family through murder or theft, what is there to say that I am "wrong?"  Why does your moral framework, which in this case is nothing more than an opinion, trump my moral framework?

Exactly the point I’m making. And if my moral framework is the only basis for my actions, what happens if my moral framework is diametrically oppositional to Monty’s? 

If there is no standard that’s supernaturally based, then our moral framework is whatever we want it to be. And we’re not perfect, so it’s like letting the trainee drive the bus. 

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JerryL
Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

Exactly the point I’m making. And if my moral framework is the only basis for my actions, what happens if my moral framework is diametrically oppositional to Monty’s? 

If there is no standard that’s supernaturally based, then our moral framework is whatever we want it to be. And we’re not perfect, so it’s like letting the trainee drive the bus. 

Funny that you posted this now.  The past week or so I have been watching some YouTube clips on "Christian Apologetics."  When Ravi Zacharias passed, I heard him referred to as a "Christian Apologist."  I was confused as I had seen clips of him and he didn't "apologize" for Christianity!  So, when I found out what it really meant, I watched some clips of him which led me to clips of Frank Turek.  Frank has some pretty good clips on exactly this topic.

Edited by JerryL

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Ticked@TinselTown
On 6/28/2020 at 6:35 PM, gravelrash said:

If any consolation to your postulations, I am a Francophile. What did I learn over 35 years studying French language, history, and culture? Sartre was an idiot. Existentialism is a loser philosophy.

But the Marquise de Sade did have a way with...  words...

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JerryL
On 6/29/2020 at 9:35 AM, gravelrash said:

If any consolation to your postulations, I am a Francophile. What did I learn over 35 years studying French language, history, and culture? Sartre was an idiot. Existentialism is a loser philosophy.

Je suis d’accord avec vous.  Sartre était fou.  Mais, les français ont toujours cru qu’ils sont les plus intelligents, les plus civilisés, les plus cultivés, etc.  Si ça vient d’un français, c’est forcément bon.  Ça n’explique que Sartre, non plus, mais aussi les gens plus récents comme Serge Gainsbourg.  Gainsbourg était un ivrogne sans grand talent.  Mais pour les français, c’est un poète et un philosophe redoutable. 

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MontyPython
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, JerryL said:

Based on what?  Where did the moral authority to define right and wrong come from?  Even if one group, absent any "prime mover", develops a sense of morality that is similar to what we look at as "inalienable rights endowed by our Creator," why do those take precedence over over another group that doesn't adhere to the same moral philosophy?

You can say, "Truth is truth" and you can say "murder is wrong" but I will then ask, as defined by whom?  If there is no prime mover and I can greatly enhance the situation and security of myself and my immediate family through murder or theft, what is there to say that I am "wrong?"  Why does your moral framework, which in this case is nothing more than an opinion, trump my moral framework?

 

2 hours ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

Monty, how can good be good if good doesn’t begin someplace higher than ourselves? If it doesn’t come from someplace higher than ourselves, aren’t just left with consensus?

Good is good just because most people agree upon what good is. 

 

I can't deny serious bafflement this even needs to be explained. Every single person who has the capacity to think understands perfectly well why they, themselves wouldn't want to be murdered or raped or robbed or cheated or lied to or whatever. Everybody. And that includes atheists. No atheist wants to be murdered or raped or robbed any more than any Christian wants to be murdered or raped or robbed. Therefore no "outside influence" or "prime mover" or "religious doctrine" or anything else is necessary for the atheist to understand perfectly well why it's equally wrong to murder/rape/rob somebody else. What could be simpler or easier to understand?

And even in the case of Christians (like me), my understanding of the reasons those things are wrong DOESN'T come from the Bible. It comes from my ability to understand why I shouldn't do things to others that I wouldn't want somebody to do to me. Yes it's true such things are also taught in Christian tenets, but by no stretch is it necessary to be a Christian to understand them and live by them. There are plenty of atheists who are every bit as good, honest, scrupulous, generous, etc as any Christian.

And I stand immovable that if any so-called Christian only refrains from hurting others because his religion forbids it, then I have much less respect for that "Christian" than I have for the atheist who refrains from hurting others because he understands why hurting others is wrong.

B) 

 

Edited by MontyPython

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Buckwheat Jones
17 hours ago, MontyPython said:

 

 

I can't deny serious bafflement this even needs to be explained. Every single person who has the capacity to think understands perfectly well why they, themselves wouldn't want to be murdered or raped or robbed or cheated or lied to or whatever. Everybody. And that includes atheists. No atheist wants to be murdered or raped or robbed any more than any Christian wants to be murdered or raped or robbed. Therefore no "outside influence" or "prime mover" or "religious doctrine" or anything else is necessary for the atheist to understand perfectly well why it's equally wrong to murder/rape/rob somebody else. What could be simpler or easier to understand?

And even in the case of Christians (like me), my understanding of the reasons those things are wrong DOESN'T come from the Bible. It comes from my ability to understand why I shouldn't do things to others that I wouldn't want somebody to do to me. Yes it's true such things are also taught in Christian tenets, but by no stretch is it necessary to be a Christian to understand them and live by them. There are plenty of atheists who are every bit as good, honest, scrupulous, generous, etc as any Christian.

And I stand immovable that if any so-called Christian only refrains from hurting others because his religion forbids it, then I have much less respect for that "Christian" than I have for the atheist who refrains from hurting others because he understands why hurting others is wrong.

B) 

 

One of the reasons that philosophy is worth studying is so that one can articulate an argument that normally one consider to be self evident. It’s self evident, you would think, that it’s wrong to kill another person. Or abuse them, or rape them. I think it’s important to be able to take that all apart and critique the Why of it.  And then to flip the argument to the other side and see if it still applies. This is how you form strong convictions that are not situational.

You're  saying that an atheist believes killing is wrong because he himself wouldn’t want to be killed. And that makes some sense, but is it based on anything more substantial than that? What if I say that I don’t want to be murdered either, but I don’t have any problem killing someone else if it serves my purposes?

You base your atheist’s beliefs on his value system and nothing else. I base my theoretical hedonist’s beliefs on his value system and nothing else. 

Since neither’s value system is tethered to anything other than themselves, both value systems are ethically neutral. There might be more people on the planet who subscribe to the value system of your atheist, but so what? All we have then is consensus. And this is not good, in my opinion, because when our culture circles the drain and goes all in that men can be women, or that white people today are collectively guilty for yesterday’s slavery, then conviction is defined by the number of subscribers and nothing else. 

So I’ll ask you again, where does Good come from, and if it’s based on what most people think, then don’t we just have consensus instead of Truth?

Also, my perception of your argument, and I admit I could be wrong, is that if you don’t believe in God you’re not a good person. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that you can be a good person and be an atheist as well, but if you live by the golden rule without tethering that to an ultimate source of Truth (that there is an original benchmark for what Good is) then you you are just following a set of personal beliefs. Which is ok. But tell me why a personal set of beliefs that runs opposite of yours is wrong. 

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MontyPython
35 minutes ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

One of the reasons that philosophy is worth studying is so that one can articulate an argument that normally one consider to be self evident. It’s self evident, you would think, that it’s wrong to kill another person. Or abuse them, or rape them. I think it’s important to be able to take that all apart and critique the Why of it.  And then to flip the argument to the other side and see if it still applies. This is how you form strong convictions that are not situational.

You're  saying that an atheist believes killing is wrong because he himself wouldn’t want to be killed. And that makes some sense, but is it based on anything more substantial than that? What if I say that I don’t want to be murdered either, but I don’t have any problem killing someone else if it serves my purposes?

You base your atheist’s beliefs on his value system and nothing else. I base my theoretical hedonist’s beliefs on his value system and nothing else. 

Since neither’s value system is tethered to anything other than themselves, both value systems are ethically neutral. There might be more people on the planet who subscribe to the value system of your atheist, but so what? All we have then is consensus. And this is not good, in my opinion, because when our culture circles the drain and goes all in that men can be women, or that white people today are collectively guilty for yesterday’s slavery, then conviction is defined by the number of subscribers and nothing else. 

So I’ll ask you again, where does Good come from, and if it’s based on what most people think, then don’t we just have consensus instead of Truth?

Also, my perception of your argument, and I admit I could be wrong, is that if you don’t believe in God you’re not a good person. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that you can be a good person and be an atheist as well, but if you live by the golden rule without tethering that to an ultimate source of Truth (that there is an original benchmark for what Good is) then you you are just following a set of personal beliefs. Which is ok. But tell me why a personal set of beliefs that runs opposite of yours is wrong. 

But that's exactly what my argument rest upon: The "why" of it. The ultimate source of truth.

I'm at a loss to figure out how to explain it any better. :shrug: Seriously, I just can't figure out how to say it better: If a "Christian" is only "good" because his religion tells him to be and he's worried that he'll "go to Hell" if he isn't "good", and NOT because his own intelligence makes it clear to him why good is good and bad is bad and chooses to be good because he wants to be good, then as far as I'm concerned he is a hypocrite, an inherently evil person. On the other hand, an atheist doesn't worry about "going to Hell" or "religious tenets" or "prime movers" or anything else along such lines. So if the atheist chooses to be good it must be because he wants to be good. He sees genuine value in being good. That makes him a much better person in my opinion than that phony "Christian".

So that's exactly the point: The "why" of it. The ultimate source of truth is the human ability to grasp WHY it's wrong to hurt others, NOT because your religion FORBIDS you to hurt others. And like it or not, atheists are every bit as capable of grasping that truth as any religious person.

Edited to add: You specifically said "You're  saying that an atheist believes killing is wrong because he himself wouldn’t want to be killed. And that makes some sense, but is it based on anything more substantial than that?" My response is "What could possibly be more substantial than that?" It's certainly more substantial than anybody who would refrain from killing ONLY because his religion forbids it. That's no better than somebody (like a jihadist) who does kill because his religion allows it.

B)

 

Edited by MontyPython

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JerryL
26 minutes ago, MontyPython said:

But that's exactly what my argument rest upon: The "why" of it. The ultimate source of truth.

I'm at a loss to figure out how to explain it any better. :shrug: Seriously, I just can't figure out how to say it better: If a "Christian" is only "good" because his religion tells him to be and he's worried that he'll "go to Hell" if he isn't "good", and NOT because his own intelligence makes it clear to him why good is good and bad is bad and chooses to be good because he wants to be good, then as far as I'm concerned he is a hypocrite, an inherently evil person. On the other hand, an atheist doesn't worry about "going to Hell" or "religious tenets" or "prime movers" or anything else along such lines. So if the atheist chooses to be good it must be because he wants to be good. He sees genuine value in being good. That makes him a much better person in my opinion than that phony "Christian".

So that's exactly the point: The "why" of it. The ultimate source of truth is the human ability to grasp WHY it's wrong to hurt others, NOT because your religion FORBIDS you to hurt others. And like it or not, atheists are every bit as capable of grasping that truth as any religious person.

Edited to add: You specifically said "You're  saying that an atheist believes killing is wrong because he himself wouldn’t want to be killed. And that makes some sense, but is it based on anything more substantial than that?" My response is "What could possibly be more substantial than that?" It's certainly more substantial than anybody who would refrain from killing ONLY because his religion forbids it. That's no better than somebody (like a jihadist) who does kill because his religion allows it.

B)

 

You say:

"If a "Christian" is only "good" because his religion tells him to be and he's worried that he'll "go to Hell" if he isn't "good", and NOT because his own intelligence makes it clear to him why good is good and bad is bad and chooses to be good because he wants to be good, then as far as I'm concerned he is a hypocrite, an inherently evil person."

But that is not the argument.  The question is not if or why "I am good?"  The question is does "good" exist, at all, and, if it does, where does it come from? 

For me, religion cannot "make" someone "good."  Good exists because God exists.  It is up to the individual to choose how they live their life within that.   

You make the point that everyone "knows" that murder is bad?  Why is that so?  The response of the "apologists" I have talked about is that the knowledge of good and evil is born in us BECAUSE God is good and because he gives us the choice to follow good or bad.  Without God and his moral creation, man would NOT look at anything as good or evil as universals because that concept would not be a part of their makeup.  

If there is no objective, created, "good," then the entire concept is subjective and who are you to tell me what "my" good should look like?

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Buckwheat Jones
24 minutes ago, MontyPython said:

But that's exactly what my argument rest upon: The "why" of it. The ultimate source of truth.

I'm at a loss to figure out how to explain it any better. :shrug: Seriously, I just can't figure out how to say it better: If a "Christian" is only "good" because his religion tells him to be and he's worried that he'll "go to Hell" if he isn't "good", and NOT because his own intelligence makes it clear to him why good is good and bad is bad and chooses to be good because he wants to be good, then as far as I'm concerned he is a hypocrite, an inherently evil person. On the other hand, an atheist doesn't worry about "going to Hell" or "religious tenets" or "prime movers" or anything else along such lines. So if the atheist chooses to be good it must be because he wants to be good. He sees genuine value in being good. That makes him a much better person in my opinion than that phony "Christian".

So that's exactly the point: The "why" of it. The ultimate source of truth is the human ability to grasp WHY it's wrong to hurt others, NOT because your religion FORBIDS you to hurt others. And like it or not, atheists are every bit as capable of grasping that truth as any religious person.

Edited to add: You specifically said "You're  saying that an atheist believes killing is wrong because he himself wouldn’t want to be killed. And that makes some sense, but is it based on anything more substantial than that?" My response is "What could possibly be more substantial than that?" It's certainly more substantial than anybody who would refrain from killing ONLY because his religion forbids it. That's no better than somebody (like a jihadist) who does kill because his religion allows it.

B)

 

Monty, forget about religion. Religion has nothing to do with this argument. Think philosophy. How is it possible to have a conviction about what is right, untethered from an original source, that is not based on a personal belief system?

if you have a personal belief system, I have a personal belief system. Tell me why yours is more ethically correct than mine. 

Again, tell me where “ Good” comes from. Please tell me what good is and how it exists independently from people.

Because so far all you have told me is that people choose to be good because they believe good is good. And using that logic, I can tell you that some people can choose a different understanding of “good” that serves only themselves, and you have yet to explain why this is not ethically benign.

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Buckwheat Jones

In other words, and as straightforwardly as I can phrase it, if Good doesn’t come from a higher source, then Good is whatever I say it is. And if it is whatever I say it is, then Good is relative. And this is what American culture has has glommed on to. And this is why the thread here is relevant.

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zurg
30 minutes ago, Buckwheat Jones said:

In other words, and as straightforwardly as I can phrase it, if Good doesn’t come from a higher source, then Good is whatever I say it is.

That’s an axiom, an assumption, by definition not provable. That’s your starting point. From that onwards, everything falls in place. The result is what we see. You’re saying because the result is what it is, and because the result comes about from your assumption, therefore your assumption is correct. 
 

However, strictly speaking, it is ONE starting point that gives the correct result. That doesn’t mean other assumptions couldn’t give the same result. 

Edited by zurg

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