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TheoreticalBullshit on morality in absence of a deity

Well argued, TheoreticalBullshit. An excellent summary of the argument between religious folks and secular folks about where morality comes from, and defines my position pretty much to a tee.

Morality is entirely a social construct, for the benefit of that society and the individual members therein. This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

Comments

  1. Rich Wilson says

    That frankly made more sense than Sam Harris, although I could do without the sneers.

    I’m still trying to figure out this exchange between Beck and O’Reilly. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/bill-oreilly-offers-glenn-beck-his-post-rally-congratulations/ At first I was giving Beck some slack in that I thought he was saying that the Golden Rule is Judeo-Christian, but doesn’t have to be. But as I’m listening again at just before the 7min mark, he’s kind of saying that atheists only do the right thing because we’re afraid of being punished by government, but … I dunno, they lose me there (no surprise). Christians who ask where my morals come from seem to be implying that I pick my right/wrong based on man’s law while they do it based on god’s law. But if that’s the case, then why do I try to return lost things I find? And if Beck returns lost things because he’s afraid of God, how is that result any different than my returning a lost thing?

    All rhetorical of course.

  2. says

    The Golden Rule well predates the Judeo-Christian philosophy, and the earliest it’s expressed in a nearly recognizable form in antiquity is in the Code of Hammurabi as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. It became more about ethics in Egypt shortly thereafter, taking on the form of “do unto others” long before Jesus was even a glimmer in his author’s eye.

    We pick right and wrong based on how we’re raised, and while a lot of people are raised within a specific religion or another, that doesn’t mean the morals you were raised with, come from that religion. They come from the parts of the religion that the specific practitioner internalized. I mean, really, the Venn diagram of any individual’s right/wrong, any religion’s right/wrong, and the law’s right/wrong, would very likely show a much heavier overlap between the individual and the secular law than their specific religion. How many Christians stone their children to death for mouthing off?

    That you and I would try to return a lost item, says something about our own moral compass. It says that, if we lost a valuable, we’d hope that society would attempt to return it. By being “better angels”, we try to make society a nicer place for someone else, in hopes that should you ever need it, society would return the favor. If someone needs a threat of eternal torture to do it, that’s okay, but it’s a bit sad that someone has to be pressured with hellfire and brimstone before they’ll do the right thing.

  3. Rich Wilson says

    I like how Hitchens puts it:

    the Jewish people did not get all the way to Mount Sinai under the impression that murder and theft and perjury were okay

    it’s a bit sad that someone has to be pressured with hellfire and brimstone before they’ll do the right thing

    I think it’s more that they think we need the fear of fire and brimstone. Which would be even more sad if it weren’t so damn frustrating.

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