Monday, May 23, 2005

Moral Frameworks and Where They Come From

As you and I have discussed previously, I have grave concerns that America is losing the necessary underpinnings for an ethical and moral public life. As a born again Christian, my faith provides base, the needle, even "magnetic north" for my "moral compass." Having said that, I've acknowledged that I believe there are people of deep moral and ethical convictions who are not religious or do not believe in God.

But I am curious. As a man who stands very firm on deeply held moral principles (foremost perhaps as a pacifist), where do your moral landmarks come from? How are your moral judgements grounded?

Before I either add more aspects of that question -- or even let you answer it (only one of us can blog at a time after all) -- a short digression by way of giving you my answer that explains it for me and my faith.

I would say I am blessed with a strict need to rationally think through, process, and integrate everything. (Others would say this is a burden.) I was an atheist up until 1987 or so. When sinking into a deep discontent and despair over an unwanted separation and ultimate divorce, I followed the example of my ex and got involved in 12 step groups. I discovered behaviors and patterns of thinking best explained by being a child of dysfunction. (The specifics are not important.)

I relied on the concept of an unspecified Higher Power to help me heal myself enough to start asking the big questions. That led to an agnosticism, and eventually to deism, and then to the Bible, and then to an acceptance of Jesus as both Son of God and my personal savior.

The real sticking point was achieving deism. As a highly rational and scientific minded person, I wasn't comfortable taking anybody's word for anything to do with God. So I conducted a thought experiment one January day, walking along frozen canals and abandoned settlements along the Mohawk River.

Fast forward, in the end, I concluded that I firmly believed in absolute good and absolute evil, and I could identify behaviors and events that were conclusively in one category or another. I further believed that I knew in my heart and mind that these "truths" would be true whether I accepted them or not, they were not relative or adaptable. To me, that had to argue for a consciousness of some kind, a God who was responsible for establishing a priori, good and evil. That may not mean the same for someone else, but for me, that was pretty convincing.

I know that you are not a moral relativist. I believe you hold a passionate dedication to some pretty basic moral truths, based on some of your previous responses.

But for you, if you've thought about it, where does morality come from? Why do we care to do right? Why should we do right?

How do we know what's right, upon what do we base it on? Are there moral truths that are knowable, and how can we prove them, or what can we use as evidence?

Because it has seemed to me that if you do not accept the possibility of some kind of creative consciousness or God, what one is left with is a strictly utilitarian argument, what is good for self, or family, or tribe, or nation, or survival of the species, and that no appeal outside of utility (usefulness of behavior or sets of behavior) would be logical.

LiberalAvenger's Response #1:

This is an excellent question and I am very glad that you asked it. It will be interesting and informative for me, too, to explore the whys and wherefores of my belief system.

It is also directly related to an issue that has at times infuriated me. There exists in our society at present a significant number of people who believe to their core that absent religion (and in particular, Christianity) in one's life, one is incapable of adhering to a moral code. This is insulting and asinine.

[continued response...]

I've spent a great deal of time overseas traveling or living in a dozen different countries. The one strong, persistent impression I've carried with me through these experiences is that there are definitely some constants to human nature. Regardless of our race, creed, color or national origin, for the most part, we humans all love our children, respect our elders, enjoy sex, fall in love, enjoy a good meal, etc.

This leads me to conclude that some universal moral truths do in fact exist in the human race. They are most certainly not strictly adhered to by all people at all times, but they are an intrinsic part of the force that guides humanity as a whole. I don't think one needs a governmental or spiritual law to understand that killing others is "wrong." Additionally, after having been thrust into an environment where the law (both governmental and spiritual) allows or even encourages killing (a religious war might be an example), there are unquestionably people who are conflicted about the act.

Religious doctrine across the board largely reflects these moral truths as well with very few exceptions. A Tibetan Buddhist can relate to the 10 Commandments while a Christian or Jew can relate back to The Eightfold Path.

Our societies and cultures, grown slowly over the course of hundreds or thousands of years, naturally reflect these truths as identified by religion in their laws, customs and social mores which, in turn, reinforce the values within us all.

[End Part #1 of LiberalAvenger's response. More to follow...]

83 Comments:

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Ella's Dad said...

Good question, for this really is the spine which undergirds a lot of what you guys have been discussing here.

Also, wanted to say that what you guys have started here at Debate Space may turn into a model for other like experiments. I and another blogger (Chad at PlaidBerry have started kicking around the idea of creating a similar space for Christians and atheists to . . . you know . . . talk.

Keep up the great work!

(Anyone know who I talk to in order to cut my Newsweek subscription short and get a refund?)

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Ella's Dad,

Thanks for the support. (I appreciate how your child is an obviously central part of your life, too.)

Keep us posted if you and Chad get something off the ground.

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

For me moral framework comes from a variety of sources. First and foremost parents and strong family structure that enforced and nurtured the beliefs I have. Things such as honesty, integrity and respect for the individual were driven home again and again in my childhood. Religion played a factor in my youth as well but it was a factor based on choice. I was not forced to go or belong to any religious sect.

The significance of formal and self education was also an important factor. A strong family structure enforced looking critically at what I was taught. It was not enough to regurgitate the teachings and beliefs of the teacher. In that sense I mean that if you're going to mention Thomas Paine and Common Sense, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics or the Constitution of the United States you better darn well have read and comprehend them.

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger GPV said...

Just vs Unjust,good vs evil.Some people need faith because they can't feel it, or make it out on their own.I don't mean that they lack the ability,but in all honesty
they want simple guidance and be sure that everyone agrees.No need to worship God if you don't abide by his ways.But in the bible it is also said that "Even if you don't believe in god you are worthy if you apply his rules.
1- Thou shalt not kill !!

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Personally, Trial and error, thought and process, I didn't have much parental "guidance" growing up, so what I believe to be right and wrong is mostly self-taught. Fragments taken from here and there that have proven true time and again without exception. What reason and logic I possess is put towards discovering what is 'right and wrong' and there is some reliance on 'feeling' my way through it. 9/10 if it 'feels' wrong, it probably is.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Synova said...

I would like to suggest that faith in God isn't the same thing as a list of rules. The difference is the difference between the Law and the Gospel.

I had an interesting exchange with someone, once, who was writing a science fiction story set in a culture where there was no right and wrong at all... not even murder held any moral cost. This person claimed, more or less, that terrible represive religions and people and culture just made all that stuff up. I said "you just can't do that, it wouldn't work" and got back "You can't tell me what I can't do!" Which was really rather funny, because if there are no rules I can tell him anything I please to tell him, can't I. ;-)

What I see when I look at Christian morality isn't a list of arbitrary rules set down by God and wrong because God said so, I see a list of rules set down by God because He understands the human condition. In a sense, we're the source of the rules, not God. I may follow those rules because I desire to be obedient, but I'm under no illusion that the rules themselves are for God's benefit.

In which case, it's possible to look at people and human nature and come up with a moral framework that relies on "natural law." Cause and effect. Chances are it will have similarities to religion based morality.

If I lie, the people I know will not trust me. Lying is bad. If I steal from my neighbor my neighbor is going to be injured and I may face retaliation. Stealing is bad. If I always think of myself first I'm going to have trouble building cooperative relationships and will be less secure because of that. If I'd like not to be murdered, it makes sense to support laws against murder even if I am then less free. If the community is to survive (and with it, my cooperative network that makes me more secure) children have to be brought to adulthood. Rules about sex quickly follow. (A small community may care for children cooperatively but in a larger community rules will develop to identify who is responsible for whom.)

It's usually pretty easy to understand why personal integrity is a good thing but it's human nature to fudge the margins with a concept of things too important to lie about and things that just don't matter that much. Or stealing... stealing big things is bad, but taking something from someone who won't miss it isn't so bad, or taking advantage of someone elses misfortune isn't stealing at all. Or sexual morality doesn't matter because I'm too enlightened to feel betrayed and will certainly take care of *my* children.

Maybe, yes, it's easier to just take God's word for it and follow the rules as they are given. But it's still possible to see the systemic problems presented by a failure to enforce a culturally consistant morality on the basis that *this* rule or *that* rule really don't apply to me. Murder seems unambiguous, but lying or stealing or adultery? Coveting?

Can you even imagine the pain that would be avoided if people just kept their pants on? I don't believe having a drink is evil, but how many families are torn apart by drugs and alcohol? Couldn't we rightly say that those things are bad? Even if they don't hurt *me*?

I think so.

And by following the rules, even when I don't directly avoid harm, I make it easier for others to avoid harm by reenforcing social mores. And we've gotten all the way to the admonition not to "cause our brother to stumble."

AND since we all live in the community there is always going to be pressure on others to toe the line. It's not just a religious thing. Cooperative efforts work better when everyone is, in fact, cooperating.

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

The question of ethics is who makes the rules: Man or God? But I think we have to distinguish between morality and ethics.

Do intrinsic values exist? If not how do we make MORAL decisions...how do we JUDGE what is Morally right and morally wrong?

Does Moral Law require a divine lawgiver?

Dr. Albert Schweitzer: "Ethics is concern for good behavior . . . an obligation to consider not only our personal well-being, but also that of others and of human society as"

True, but in a world of relavistic ethics, who sets the standard, if not God.

There does exist a universal moral standard....In studying chimps, Goodall and many others, have seen the presence of a definate moral code amongst them.

Quoting Jane Goodall "I've seen much evidence of their morality. To give one example: a male might break up a fight. Some of them watch sunsets--that's a spiritual mind at work. They can also show altruism"

If this is not God Given, then from where does it come?

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

Here's the best post I know of on this subject:
http://radio.weblogs.com/0143188/2005/04/06.html

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

Now having said that...Morality is NOT a product of any one faith!

It comes to ALL of us from GOD. I get uneasy when Christians insist that they alone are the rightful voice of Morality. The Ten Commandments were a Moral Code given by Moses to the Isrealites, The CHosen People.

While Christianity in an attempt to legitimize itself, has attached itself to the Old Testament (Christians - Olive branch - St Paul) lets not confuse truth with wishful thinking.

Where I get concerned is when Christians imply and/or insist that ONLY Christians and Christianity provide the Moral voice, the Moral standard, the moral compass.

These moral laws were also given to the ancient babylonians, who turned them into the Code of Hammerabi...a set of moral guideposts for the Ancient Babylonias to live by.

They transcend time and religion.

These moral laws are written on all mens hearts; and I agree that they come from a Divine Source, a Creative Consciousness, God.

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

but neither group questions the central fact that morality pertains only to the human race

Hmmm..this point is arguable..as my example of the inate morality found in Chimps. Morality does NOT simply pertain to humans...there is an inane morality that exists in animals...how many dogs have saved their owners from death and injury at their own expense.

If I save a child from drowning...is it not my sense of morality that compels me to do so? Then what compels the dog to save a child?
Or the ape in the zoo to fend off all the other apes when a child has fallen into the animal pit, as the ape cradles the child until help comes??? A sense of MORALITY!

Where does that inate sense come from? GOD!

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

The Ten Commandments are sometimes thought to be self-explanatory. But clearly they are not. They have exceptions. "Thou shalt not kill" does not apply in wartime. Also, the exceptions have exceptions. Killing in wartime does not apply to civilians or POWs. Soon one commandment branches out into an infinite regress, leaving the believer, if he rejects history, paralyzed from an infinity of choices. If that never really happens, it's because every believing Christian grows up within a moral tradition that trains him, situation by situation, to perceive right conduct from wrong.

Two points come to mind:
Most Christians, fail to understand that The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites as a Code of Behavior AMONG THEMSELVES. The God of the OT was creating a new nation..killing those outside the "tribe" was acceptable....killing those within your tribe was not.
As the Isrealites began to panic and building idols of Gold to the pagan gods they had previously worshipped..ONLY THEN.. was Moses given the Commandments to pass along to the Isrealites! Context is important in understanding the OT, and the purpose of The Commandments.

2nd point: Is the author implying that ONLY Christians grow up within a moral tradition that trains them alone to determine right from wrong situationally??

I am not a Christian, yet I have always had an inate moral sense that enables me to determine right from wrong situationally.

The same can be said of Jews, Muslims, Aethists, agnostics, and many others who do not subscribe to "religion" but instead different spiritual traditions, and we now know the same applies to chimps and apes.

 
At 1:14 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

Dogs are animals that have evolved to please humans. The theory goes that the wolves evolved into dogs by following humans around, eating their scraps, and the wolves which had traits that allowed them to get closer to the humans (IE, no fear or malice towards us) bred. Down the generations, they lost the ability to hunt as humans become their sole suppliers. They have a wide variety of traits but many were bred for their protectiveness.

Protectiveness is different from morality--a wolf has evolved to be protective of the members of its pack because if all the members of the pack are protective of one another, the individual wolves are all safer for it. The dog, likewise, is bred to look out for humans because if it does, then humans will generally look out for it.

Not conscious, perhaps, but I wouldn't really call it morality, either.

 
At 1:14 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"2nd point: Is the author implying that ONLY Christians grow up within a moral tradition that trains them alone to determine right from wrong situationally??"

I know the author personally, and the answer to this question is no.

 
At 6:00 AM, Blogger Huntress said...

If that never really happens, it's because every believing Christian grows up within a moral tradition that trains him, situation by situation, to perceive right conduct from wrong

Well Adam, in re reading closely, what I conclude from this comment that he believes that morality is taught and not inate.

It sounds to me like he's confusing ethics with morality.

Ethics are derived from morality, but where does "morality" originate..where does it "come" from, what is morality's "first cause" ?

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

No, I believe he's saying that morality is derived from tradition.

 
At 1:43 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

"No, I believe he's saying that morality is derived from tradition."

The Definition of Morality

Are traditions not learned or taught? Morality is not a matter of tradition or religion as Thomas Paine's work Age of Reason or others such as Aristotle and Plato would point out.

It should be interesting to note that Thomas Paine does argue there is a God (Creator) but it is not the God of religions. His arguments against religion(s) are such that they do not acknowledge God (the Creator) in all his/her munificence but rather acknowledges God as an omnipotent tyrant whose sole purpose is the guidance (right or wrong) and well being of mankind.

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

Morality, and Reason, and everything else for that matter are at least strongly connected to tradition. Paine, Aristotle, and Plato are all good strong names, but I happen to disagree with all three of them on nearly everything, Plato in particular. For my philosophical dish I prefer Protagoras, David Hume, and Karl Popper.

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

" Morality, and Reason, and everything else for that matter are at least strongly connected to tradition."

One's morality can certainly come from tradition. My argument is based more on reason which comes from the natural right of humans ability to think. Each is born with a faculty of intellect and reason. The existence of morality is derived from reason. Reason can certainly be blinded by tradition even when presented with inevitable truth. The works and philosophers I've mentioned are food for thought. To be honest I'm not a Plato fan myself it is from reason that I can take those things that are truthful in each and apply them to good. BTW Adam - your references are excellent recommendations for philosophic debate.

 
At 8:55 PM, Blogger Huntress said...

Adam...Tradition is taught!

its passed down from generation to generation...that is the same thing as being taught...what the author is saying is that morality is taught.


But that negates a first cause.

And frankly...the idea that morality comes from tradition makes no sense.

Native American Indians have traditions, Jews have traditions, Christians have traditions. What does a tradition have to do with morality?

Chimps don't have traditions...yet they have a moral code.

 
At 9:20 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

I wouldn't say taught exactly. "Passed down" would probably be a more accurate portrayal.

But then, if you have any more questions about the author's intended meaning, you could probably ask him yourself you know :) I don't want to continue answering on his behalf when I risk misrepresenting him.

Dos: I still say Reason is a tradition. The way that we go about questioning things usually follows a kind of doubting or discussing that has been passed down to us in the form of a tradition of thought.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

Sorry Adam have to disagree with you. Otherwise new issues such as stem cell research and application couldn't ever be discussed. It was new reason that brought the debate into being not old tradition. Reason is the grounds for morality. Be that reason right wrong or indifferent.

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

No need to apologize--disagreement is more enjoyable :)
I find your response odd. In what way is the debate over stem-cell research related to reason? It's a completely moral discussion, with arguments made entirely on traditional premises. The points of view, as I understand them, are on the one hand, you want to allow scientific research that could potentially develop cures for currently incurable diseases. In other words, allow the scientific practise to continue as it traditionally has.

However, with every advancement that science makes, it is also traditional to question the ethics of it.

People have a very rigid view of what tradition is. Tradition is not something stifling and rigid; tradition is a huge ground upon which there are many practises that have stood the test of time--as well as many points of view, and many of these points of view conflict with one another.

The very idea of debating the ethics of something is a tradition, but frankly, I don't see where Reason is involved with any of this, except to help give us an idea of what the situation is. Once you step beyond the realm of description and into the realm of right and wrong, Reason is no longer the moderator of the discussion. You appeal to other things, based not in reason but in a perception of morality.

That's how I see it, anyway :)

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger RepubAnon said...

My moral framework, although based on rationalism rather than religion, comes to the same basic conclusions.

It is not in my personal best interest to live in a system where "the strong do as they will, and the weak suffer as they must." Instead, it is in my best interest for society to follow the "Golden Rule": do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The current chaos in Iraq is a good example of why following The Golden Rule makes rational sense.

Unfortunately, many folks don't apply the Golden Rule's principle to other people's religious beliefs. Instead, they try and use political power to cram their religion down everyone else's throat.

This problem is endemic to many religions. Mahatma Ghandi was assasinated by a "Hindu fanatic who could not forgive Gandhi for his belief that Muslims had equal value to Hindus and no-one was better than anybody else." Violence between the Muslim Shiite and Sunni sects, Jewish/Muslim strife, Catholic/Protestant violence in Ireland. All these deeply religious folks felt morally justified in harassing, beating and even killing "non-believers" based upon strongly held religious beliefs.

Business management teaches one to delegate as much authority as far down the chain of command as possible without compromising control of the business' broader goals. This concept is mirrored in the US Constitution's recognition of the 51+ individual governments constituting these United States (Federalism)

Studying this lead me to what I consider a rational moral framework: society must balance the intrusive nature of state regulation against its members' respective rights to run their own lives. This is why, for example, I feel it is immoral for society to mandate posting the 10 Commandments in public schools due to the perceived endorsement of one particular belief system

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

Adam: "Reason is no longer the moderator of the discussion."

Are you suggesting we are acting on instinct (such as survival) nothing more nothing less? I am not quiet sure I follow what you are trying to get across here.

Repubanon: "This is why, for example, I feel it is immoral for society to mandate posting the 10 Commandments in public schools due to the perceived endorsement of one particular belief system."

If that be the case then we must eliminate all perceptions? If so who mandates and by what authority that which is perception and that which is not? Would my posting the 10 commandments in my yard be any less or more of a mandate than say putting the star of David on my door? In our country these are the types of things we do not have mandates for be they for or against. Regardless of whether I believe in a religion or not I believe humans have evolved enough to know what murder is and is not. Justification of murder is entirely a different matter be it with or without religious credo. The perception that all religious regardless of credo are murderous is no more valid than the perception that all of no religious credo are murderous.

 
At 5:32 AM, Blogger Huntress said...

Well said Dos Centavos, and I agree with you. The Ten Commandments may be perceived as being religious...but for decades black americans were perceived to be LESSER human beings. Lets change the perception!

The Ten Commandments do not belong to ANY ONE RELIGION..they do not even belong to RELIGION...they are moral codes that all individuals in ANY society need to live by in order to prevent the complete degradation and breakdown of that society. They predate Christianity and Judaism.

However, even if you insist on acording them a religious label - such as Judeo Christian Commandments - so be it - our country was founded on JUDEO CHRISTIAN principals, our Constitution was inspired by the Bible, and, God and His wisdom as expressed in The Bible, are both iintrinsic to and enshrined in the writings of the foundational documents of the United States.

Removing the Ten Commandments would be like removing the US Constitition from public places.

 
At 6:40 AM, Blogger Huntress said...

here exists in our society at present a significant number of people who believe to their core that absent religion (and in particular, Christianity) in one's life, one is incapable of adhering to a moral code. This is insulting and asinine...

Yes there may be a few vocal Christian or RELIGIOUSIST fundamentalists in the US that believe this, but those numbers are quite small.

More likely you are misunderstanding what is being said by those who know that our Founding Fathers believed in and created a country based on divine guidance from God.

Since liberals are always soooo concerned about our relationships with OTHER countries and how other countries view us....why are you not concerned that most of Europe and 3/4 of the rest of the world view Americans as OVERLY liberal in their lifestyle, one filled with vulgarity and crime, they believe we have two things on our minds: Money and Sex, that AETHIESM is now America's religion, and that secularism has destroyed the wholesome goodness of America..."America USED TO BE A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY"!

Why do liberals who profess to care so much about how this war in Iraq was perceived by other countries seem to be oblvious to the truth about how those same countries view secularist America as being at the root of all evil now!

I mean its not just Islamic fundamentalists that feel this way, LA, its 3/4 of the world: Asians, Europeans, and Arabs!

Comments like "Your TV Shows are corrpupting our youth, your disintegration of your core Judeo Christian prinicipals is shameful, we are disgusted by your culture, your women are loose, youre too easily tempted to behave IMMORALLY,your young people no longer have allegiance to their parents, their traditonal community, their religion, and you embrace sam sex marriage, the killing of unborn babies, and whats more, you insist on imposing that vulgar morality on the world" are frequent in both Asian and Arab media, more so in European media and coffee shop conversations.

Liberal secuarists may want to believe that Christianity, and Judaism, and RELIGION are the problem in America...and that the country is becoming "too Christian or Too Relgiius" but half of Americans and 3/4 of the world's poeple DISAGREE COMPLETELY.

America is no longer perceived as a Judeo Christian Country, but as one that has allowed liberal mores to sway us away from our core.

THIS is what the terrorists hate, this is why they try to kill us, not because we are a Judeo Christian country, LA, but because we are no longer! Because secularists have gotten a foothold, and have step by step, contributed to the moral decline of this country.

I think as a liberal, and as an aethiest, you need to step back and understand how this country is viewed by others.

.
I think what most Christians and Jews, and those who subscribe to religion are saying is that without the foundations found in Judeo Christianity, morality becomes relative. What you find morally acceptable, I find repulsive. But we need a standard by which to measure that!

If not The Ten Commandments, if not Judeo Christian foundations, then what do you propose should be considered the standard? Moral relativism states that all standards are okay because they respect the individuals choice. Come on LA...you're too smart not to see where that leads any society....down the path of CHAOS. If I think killing is an unborn child is morally okay..then why should I be punished for killing ANY child??

Its funny how you distain Americans for accusing those who do not believe in God to be incapable of living a moral life, but when 3/4 of the worlds other countries say the same thing about America, you seem not to care!

Do I need to remind you that Communism was the religion of its followers and human reason was their god. Communism holds to the belief that men of sufficient intelligence and good intentions could devise a perfect society free from want and conflict.

(lets define Sufficient intelligence!!)

Their enemy was the God of Christianity and Judaism.

And look at what Communism brought to the 20th Century! Some of the worst atrocities committed in the 20th century!!

Communists believed the struggle was between God and Communism ( NO GOD) They viewed America as a God-fearing country, and it was!!

They understood that the US was founded upon specific understandings about the Creator, as found in The Bible! We know that Our founders prayed for divine guidance in ordering the affairs of the new nation.

OUR FOUNDING FATHERS opened all their legislative sessions by invoking God’s guidance, coined money with In God We Trust, took the oath of office with, “So help me God.” and swore on The Bible when they testified in court.

Should securalists fight for the eradication of ALL these things? Our founding fathers must be appalled at whats happened to this country at the hands of secularists and aethiests who won't acknowledge the truth about this VERY truth:

When our Founding Fathers spoke and wrote about their hopes for this new nation they were creating, they unequivocally acknowledged that this experiment, this republic, would not work unless the people were religious and God-fearing!America was founded on Divine Rights!

The Declaration of Independence states the source of those rights is our "CREATOR"

They did NOT impose a state religion, but instead allowed for freedom of all religion, because where you have ONE religion you have tyranny, where you have two, you have religious war, but where there are many, you have FREEDOM.

They created this new country with the firm understanding that a relationship with God is fundamental that GOD not man rules, and that God is the source of all Authority, NOT Man!

You may choose NOT to believe in God..but if you live in America, you must abide by the moral standards our Founding Fathers relied on, and they turned to God and the Bible for those standards.

While The Ten Commandments are moral codes not religious codes, they were given to us by some Higher Creative Consciousness,(God for lack of a better name) and they too inspired our Founding Fathers when writing the US Constititution.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

What I am posting is not regarding the topic of morality in anyway and is merely an objection to a tactic used in debate upon this topic. With that in mind...

I'll never understand the mentality that "More people equals More right". Just cause 3/4th's of whoever and 1/2 of America disagree *according to whom?*, doesn't make them right.

One of my favorite quotes is:

"A person is smart. People are stupid, panicky animals." -MBI

And I will site history. The MAJORITY of the *known* world thought the world was flat, the MAJORITY of the *known* world thought that the SUN revolved around the EARTH, et cetera.

Historically majorities have been wrong and proof was sought by a FEW genuises to convince them otherwise (and usually suffered fates much like Galileo).

I mean think about it. How RARE are genuine genuises? They aren't the average, are they? They aren't COMMON, are they? So if GENUIS is rare, then we can assume that the MAJORITY of people AREN'T genuises...

Stating what a MAJORITY does or doesn't believe/agree with, for me, holds no sway and isn't very convincing. It is a false paradigm and should not be used in a rational, logical debate. IMO.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Also if the 10 Commandments AREN'T religious then why are the 1st THREE all referring to the worship of GOD?

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_10c7.htm

 
At 9:32 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"Are you suggesting we are acting on instinct (such as survival) nothing more nothing less? I am not quiet sure I follow what you are trying to get across here."

Not at all. I'm merely suggesting that the basis for whatever side we take is not which one is the more reasonable, but which one is the morally right one, and that Reason cannot tell us which one is morally right. In the end, it's a feeling that determines which side we take.

 
At 11:01 AM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

"Not at all. I'm merely suggesting that the basis for whatever side we take is not which one is the more reasonable, but which one is the morally right one, and that Reason cannot tell us which one is morally right. In the end, it's a feeling that determines which side we take."

Again I respectfully disagree. Morality is a reasoned and learning process that evolves through trial and error. Initial morality may be swayed by feeling (which is reason to make the decision) or gut instinct (again reason to make the decision). It is the results of such moral codes that one reasons with to determine right or wrong. Some are fairly cut and dried some border on the gray areas due to circumstance. Should I protect myself and when is murder justified in doing so? Must I wait till my person is violated or is violation of property sufficient? Is threat by words sufficient or must it be threat by words with weapon in hand? None the less the ultimate moral code is arrived at by way of reason.

 
At 11:40 AM, Blogger Liberal Serving said...

It's true that the founding fathers were all about god, but to assume they were christian in a comtemporary evangelical vein is naive and uninformed. The founding fathers were deists and thus waay less fundamentalist than is currently fashionable. I know that will attrack flaming because it undermines so much of the myth of america as fundamentalist country, so go ahead...

Aside from that historical argument, the founding fathers were all capitalists - many slaveowners - and all were wealthy business owners. Greed isn't very christian, though I know a lot of americans like to ignore the 10th commandment (thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's stuff) because it would undermine the most basic structure of our consumerist economy. I find it very easy to dismiss any christain who has a lot of possessions.

Tithing eases a lot of guilt I'm sure, but a real fundamentalist christian should adhere to a lifestyle of poverty. If you're going to get all literal about the bible, you should keep literal to the 10 commandments. Ok, bring on the weak logic that allows christians to buy giant SUVs and keep up with the jones...

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger Synova said...

I don't have any problem with the founding fathers as deists. That God existed was assumed by most people. Security leads to complacency. Though certainly there were reformations and revivals every so often... I hardly think our present crop of fundamentalists are unique. Certainly the original pilgrims thought that right worship was important enough that it could not be compromised. It would have been easier (and more profitable) to bend a little and just go along with the state church in England, after all.

I've had the discussion about affluence, long ago, with some friends who also seriously discussed the question of the morality of drinking caffine. Logically, and quickly, it falls apart. What is affluence? How much is too much? Where is that line? Can I even justify having more than one pair of jeans or more than one pair of shoes if I'm held to this standard?

Am I sinning to be judgemental of others? At what point is it sin and hubris to have snarky thoughts about the lady at church with a fortune of rings on her hands? Isn't it God's place to convict her since only God can see her heart?

Like most things involved in Christianity it's the state of the heart that matters and that isn't something other people are privy to. Coveting is an attitude, not an action. Hoarding wealth is a failure to trust god, but aquiring wealth may well not be any failure of trust at all.

The love of money is the root of all evil and it's easy to be caught by the lure of wealth, but sloth is also sin, and we are supposed to be good stewards, increasing wealth and taking care of our responsibilities. The woman of Proverbs 31 is in business increasing the wealth of the family, taking care of her household.

Admonitions to care for widows and orphans and loving (rather than judgemental) actions toward the lowest beggar doesn't contradict that.

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger Synova said...

Admonitions... don't.

(I'm actually pretty good with grammar, I just notice after posting.)

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger Liberal Serving said...

"What is affluence? How much is too much? Where is that line? Can I even justify having more than one pair of jeans or more than one pair of shoes if I'm held to this standard?"

Ah the christian slippery slope. A favorite. Because a question can be raised, the issue is discarded altogether. I hope you don't hold a strict interpretation of the bible's condemnation of homosexuality, because the bible is pretty clear about the meek shall inherit the earth. Selective strict interpretation is hypocritical.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

"Greed isn't very christian, though I know a lot of americans like to ignore the 10th commandment (thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's stuff) because it would undermine the most basic structure of our consumerist economy. I find it very easy to dismiss any christain who has a lot of possessions.

Are you saying according to Christianity a lot of possessions equal greed? Or are you really trying to get to the commandment thou shalt not covet? These are two different entities are they not? Are you saying because I attain my own the same as my neighbor that is coveting and greed? I care not that my neighbor does not have a television. Does this mean I should not have one as it could be perceived as greed? Can I own one possibly two but three is the sin of greed because my neighbor has none?

What life style should a person choose? That of their own or that of their neighbor? If the neighbor be a monk that is by choice is it not? By choice the monk chooses a life of the beggar. Should I not be a beggar as well and affix greed to those that do not donate for my sustenance? Shall I not be chastised for coveting that food which should be the property of another? Should I be forced to be a monk as well and reject all my possessions because monks have none and I'm greedy for having possessions?

To me it is a perception that people have concerning the credo of another. It is easier to cast stones in lieu of reality than to assess the reality. We are all too ready to point fingers of hypocrisy all the while denying our own.

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger Liberal Serving said...

I'm really not following this last post. In general, I assume that one asks many questions when one does not have an answer, or is not willing to commit to one. Hubris and obsfucation are easier than direct statements, for all the extra typing they require.

According to me the amassing of possessions is greed. According to the bible that is wrong. The acumulation of possessions in our culture is largely fueled by coveting/keeping up with the jones - either real jones in our neighborhood, or fake ones on television.

I'm saying that it is hypocritical for christians to follow some commandments and not others... don't really care how many tvs anyone owns.

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"Should I protect myself and when is murder justified in doing so? Must I wait till my person is violated or is violation of property sufficient? Is threat by words sufficient or must it be threat by words with weapon in hand? None the less the ultimate moral code is arrived at by way of reason."

You push this point hard, but have yet to demonstrate what this process of reasoning that allows us to come to moral conclusions is.

Give me some examples of how it works, and we'll go from there.

 
At 6:11 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

Liberal Serving:"According to me the amassing of possessions is greed. According to the bible that is wrong. The acumulation of possessions in our culture is largely fueled by coveting/keeping up with the jones - either real jones in our neighborhood, or fake ones on television"

Yes there are a lot of questions. The point being greed and covet as perceived by whom? Your definition of greed and my definition of greed the monks definition of greed are all relative. Would it be any different that it would also be the same within or without any religion.

From your definition people such as Bill Gates, George Soros, Tereza Heinz, and countless others of substantial wealth are greedy. I'll admit my perception is all of them have much, much more than they need when it comes to my current financial being. Yet because of Christianity they should be forced to deny them or mandate they step down to my level or lower still? The problem with this mode of thought is abound. It is not only the religious or only the non religious that perceive people such as I mentioned in this light. It is the fringes of those that would take action for envious and selfish reasons against those I've mentioned that I have issue with, be they religious or non religious is of no consequence.

As to the cause of greed certainly there are those that would rather have than have not just as surely as there are those that would rather have a lot than have not. Be they driven by personal conviction (such as I'll never go hungry another day in my life) or competition (jealousy / envy / betterment of the Jones'). Neither has anything to do with religiosity. It is not religion that is the issue it is greed and how each individual views it that is the issue.

We can debate whether one is truly religious or not simply by following rules in their rule book or we can debate the moral dilemma (of greed) at hand. As surely as there are different religions there are also different factions within each. The moniker they go by is irrelevant when dealing with the issue.

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

Adam: "Give me some examples of how it works, and we'll go from there."

For the sake of example:Cannibalism
I am hungry.
I must eat to survive.
Animals commit cannibalism.
Animals eat foliage.
Animals eat other animals.
I can eat foliage.
I can eat other animals.
I can commit cannibalism.

In the course of nature all of this is natural.

The moral dilemma is cannibalism acceptable for humans? In our society it is not. How did we arrive to that conclusion if not by reason? To say we inherited the moral code is certainly acceptable. To say it came from tradition or lore is certainly acceptable. How then do you explain to the those that want to commit cannibalism and see no reason why not to commit cannibalism that they should not do it. In the course of nature the answer of we just don't do it isn't sufficient for them.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger chaudes said...

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At 7:34 PM, Blogger chaudes said...

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I have posted some of
my photos here

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger chaudes said...

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I have posted some of
my photos here

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger chaudes said...

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I have posted some of
my photos here

 
At 10:50 PM, Blogger Synova said...

I said...

"What is affluence? How much is too much? Where is that line? Can I even justify having more than one pair of jeans or more than one pair of shoes if I'm held to this standard?"

Liberal Serving said...

"Ah the christian slippery slope. A favorite. Because a question can be raised, the issue is discarded altogether."

And the liberal neatly discards the same in the same way.

As it was, I wasn't discarding the argument but relating, in fact, the progression of an actual conversation among earnest young adults. Is it moral for me to have two pairs of jeans? Is it right for me to sit in judgement of others? I assure you that the *will* to follow through and live with one pair of jeans was there, if it seemed that God required it.

Liberal serving said...

"According to me the amassing of possessions is greed."

You think so? Surely you mean that it is *evidence* of greed, or else that the *desire* to amass possessions is greed. Yes?

I'd say that it could be greed (one motivation) or it could be insecurity (another motivation) or it could be habit (yet another motivation) or it could be a desire for the side-effects of wealth... standing in the community, public acclaim, or to satisfy the expectation of parents or others. Or else all of the above, otherwise known as ambition and vanity.

Greed or pride or lust or vanity are not *things* they are motivations, feelings, or attitudes. A pretty lady is not automatically vain. A person with accomplishments is not automatically proud. And a person with wealth is not automatically greedy.

(Besides, I'm hardly going to claim poverty and living paycheck to paycheck as a Christian virtue when the *cause* of it is wasteful inattention on my part.)

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger Synova said...

Oh, and the result of the conversation was that we were reacting, not to the wealth of people we disapproved of, but to the fact that they had more than we did. It was easy to look down our noses and feel superior to them because of our college induced poverty. We felt like they had too much, yet someone with less than we had might feel the same way about us. We concluded that feelings were unrealiable.

Considering the profound poverty that exists in the world we couldn't see a material difference between us and the rich lady with her many rings.

 
At 11:48 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"The moral dilemma is cannibalism acceptable for humans? In our society it is not. How did we arrive to that conclusion if not by reason?"

That's just it--it's perfectly reasonable to say that cannibalism is ok. You cannot come to the conclusion that cannibalism is right or wrong by reason. It's a matter of the rules that society follows--rules that evolved. It starts with a small band of humans who follow certain rules of behavior. The humans who follow rules of behavior that work the best in their environment supercede the humans following rules that might lead them to their deaths. In the wild, if you eat a species more closely related to your own, you're more likely to contract whatever diseases that animal has. SO obviously, if you eat your own species, it's much easier for diseases to get transferred.

One theory, therefore, is that our societies evolved because they believed (for, no doubt, reasons of superstition, unrelated to the medical reasons) that cannibalism was wrong, and the societies nearby that didn't believe this had their diseases spread much more quickly among their populations.

It's just a theory. But if you go from that, then now that we can treat diseases, and test bodies before we eat them--then there really is no rational reason not to go cannibal, is there? It's simply a matter of a tradition.

Allow me to tell a little anecdote.

When I was younger, I witnessed something interested. A draught had dried up a nearby stream, and I witnessed several salmon attempting to jump upstream to spawn, even though the water upstream had all evaporated, leaving nothing behind. My father was with me.

"Dad," I said, "it's so dumb. Why don't they just lay their eggs where they are now? Wouldn't that work the best?"

"It's not about what works the best," my dad said, "it's about what's always worked."

In terms of morality, we can never know what would work the best. Without our traditions, we are left in a nihilist void; we are morally blind. Our traditions may be what has always worked; but it is also a great deal more flexible than the fish's, because it isn't a genetically programmed pattern of behavior; it's transmitted on the level of information. We also have a lot of conflicting traditions to choose from.

If we relied on Reason, we wouldn't get anywhere. In the end, to make a moral choice, we rely on a feeling. When we see something that we feel is wrong, we feel it on a gut level. When we argue that something is right or wrong, we don't rely on Reason--we appeal to things that bring out traditional emotional responses in people.

That's how I see it.

You yourself just reasoned to how it is possible for us to commit cannibalism. I would like to see you attempt to reason how it is right or wrong to. I don't think it's possible to use logic to come to such a moral conclusion.

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Huntress said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

Adam: "Our traditions may be what has always worked; but it is also a great deal more flexible than the fish's, because it isn't a genetically programmed pattern of behavior; it's transmitted on the level of information. We also have a lot of conflicting traditions to choose from."

You just argued my point for me. The original basis for not advocating cannibalism came by way of reason. That in itself was the justification.

"In the wild, if you eat a species more closely related to your own, you're more likely to contract whatever diseases that animal has. SO obviously, if you eat your own species, it's much easier for diseases to get transferred.

How did you arrive at the conclusion if not by reason. The faculty of thinking by logic and reason based on cause and effect.

Could we have cannibalism today? As you suggest we certainly could by tossing out the diseased. Would that make cannibalism acceptable? For some yes for others no? Is the decision not to now based solely on tradition or gut feeling? Possibly, but that doesn't eliminate how the decision was arrived at in the first place. Although one leg of the argument for not doing it (disease) can now be removed that in itself does not remove all of the other reasoning behind it. Possible extinction of a society or village by ones own hand as well as by adjoining societies. Spring, summer and fall are fruitful implement cannibalism for winter months only. It goes on and on reasons for or against. The original choice for or against is still a reasoned choice.

Here is an article from Reason Online that comes as close to arguing the point you are trying to make. Where tradition and reason are at odds because the original reasons have been lost. That is not to say that the original reasons can not or will not be found again if current tradition is reasoned to be null and void.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Huntress said...

Liberal Serving:The Bible DOES NOT say the amassing of possession is wrong or evil.

The quote is THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF EVIL. Meaning to LOVE money, wealth,material goods instead of loving God FIRST, to seek to acquire material wealth rather than acquiring a relationship with God, is where Man errs in his way. It makes man Greedy, and it is GREED of any kind which lies at the root of evil!

Love God first, the material riches pale in comparison to the riches you receive from a relationship with God is what the author is conveying.

If you worship Money and material possessions, these are fleeting, temporal, and can disappear quickly. What are you left with then? God's love is eternal.

You really need to read and more importantly UNDERSTAND The Bible narrative rather before claiming that the Bible says this or that!
Taking anything out of context including what is found in the Bible is misguided, especially when using it erroneously to lay claim to Christian hypocrisy!

The Commandments DO NOT SAY money is evil. Nor do they say one cannot accumulate wealth! So this alleged hyprocrisy on the part of Christians that you claim is FALSE.

Rhiannon:

The Commandments mention God in a society that worshipped MANY GODS, as did the ancient Israelites, because the movement of consciousness towards ONE GOD was slow to happen.

God is another word to describe a Creative Consciousness, a "First Cause", An "intelligence" that underlies all that occurs both in the macro and microcosmic world.

The idea of The Commandments as a moral code was sent forth so that the Isrealites would stop building IDOLS to false Gods, and stop sleeping around with each other( to put in it in modern day terminolgy)

God as a concept DOES NOT BELONG to religion exclusively. The idea of a Creative Consciousness, a FIRST CAUSE, and the quest to understand what this first cause may be, is also part of the quest of Cosmology, of Quantum Physics, and of String Theory.

The greatest scientific mind of the 20th Century, Einstein, never denied the presence of God, or a Creative Intelligence, in the workings of the Universe and in his quest to understand the Universe.

The Commandments are a MORAL CODE OF BEHAVIOR meant for EVERYONE to follow.

Do aethiests NOT live by this Moral Code? Are you saying if you do not believe in God, you are exempt from behaving according to the the moral code of the Commandments. You can kill whenever, covet another woman's husband or boyfriend, steal?

The Commandments BELONG NO RELIGION exclusively...they are MORAL CODES to live by REGARDLESS of whether or not you believe in God.

Originally given to the Israelites, they were a moral code of behavior that applied to "their tribe". Killling another Isrealite even by accident was in violation of this Code. Killing a Roman, was not!
The enemy was those that stood in the way of nation building, when we understand the OT Narrative.

Today, as man has evolved in his consciousness, we understand that this Moral Code needs to apply to the LARGER tribe of man..to ALL men..in all Societies. However, The Commandment may say Thou Shall Not Kill, we understand that sometimes killing is deemed "acceptable" such as in war, or self defense.

Liberal: I did not SAY that the Founding Fathers were Christians...I acknowleged ( in previous posts) that they were Deist, as did DadManly, so what is your point?

As Deists the Fouding Fathers BELIEVED IN GOD.

I 've quoted quite a few cases to support that statement and to support that SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE DOES NOT MEAN OUR PUBLIC FIGURES CANNOT INVOKES GODS NAME IN GOV'T, IN SCHOOLS, IN COURTS!

Nor does a "non belief" in God imply a lack of moral behavior or foundation. However, that moral behavior has to have a standard by which even a non believer or non Christian, can be measured against or our societal laws have no bearing. That standard is The Ten Commandments. If it isn't then please let me know WHICH standard informs non believers, which CODE OF MORAL BEHAVIOR informs non believers?

Simply not believing in God DOESNT negate you NEEDING TO BEHAVE according to the Moral Codes outlined in The Ten Commandments, given to Moses by GOD!

God, or rather Divine Guidance from God, was at the heart and soul of everything the Founding Fathers incorporated in their lives, both personally and politically, and in the foundational documents of this country!

The Ten Commandments as a moral code of behavior informed, inspired, and are intrinsic to the United States Constititution.

Since the Ten Commandments are Judeo Christian in nature, meaning since they were given to the Israelites and are Codified in this manner in OT, and no where else, and since Christianity is connected to the OT, for without it the NT would be irrelevant, then it is fair to say that The Commandments are Judeo-Christian in nature.

However, they BELONG TO NO ONE RELIGION, they are a Moral Code by which ALL MEN should live, whether you be Agnostic, Christian, Aethiest, Jew, Hindu, Muslim. etc.

Therefore since the are a CODE OF MORAL BEHAVIOR NOT LIMITED TO JEWS AND CHRISTIANS...they can be displayed publically and in gov't buildings.

However, this country was founded on that which our Founding Fathers considered to be a Judeo Christian foundational Moral Code, so it is fair to say that this country is founded on Judeo Christian principals, at at its Heart and Soul it is a Judeo-Christian country.

It was those J-C principals,and the Divine Guidance as expressed in The Bible, that informed our Founding Fathers in the building of this nation.

And for the record Liberal Serving, Christians are human and fallible, NO ONE is perfect and NO one can live perfectly to the standard set by The Ten Commandments.No Christan has ever PROFESSED to be able to do so.

Because YOU claim to know the Bible, which you clearly do not, you also claim to recognize Christian hypocrisy.

You're knowledge of the first is erroneous, therefore your conclusions about the latter are likewise erroneous.

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

Dos: You completely miss my point. What I was using reason to do was find possible explanations for why our society evolved the way it did. That has nothing to do with coming to a conclusion on what right and wrong actually are.

Our society probably had some superstitious reason for believing that cannibalism was evil that had absolutely nothing to do with reason, back when the tradition was still new. The fact that I, today, still find cannibalism disgusting is not something that has anything to do with reason.

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger RepubAnon said...

Dos Centavos:

Post anything you like in your yard. Worship whatever you want in church. The problem arises when you want to use the power of government to post your beliefs in publicly-owned land while denying me that same privilege.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"Post anything you like in your yard. Worship whatever you want in church. The problem arises when you want to use the power of government to post your beliefs in publicly-owned land while denying me that same privilege."

There was a piece of art in a public-funded museum of modern art that had the artist's urine in a cut with a cross in it. It was called the "Piss Christ". That was there on government money.

If it's wrong to post christian beliefs on public property/with public money, is it also wrong to post criticism of it? Why or why not?

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

This post has sparked a lot of debate in the comments, but are we ever going to see any debate on the blog itself?

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

*Again, off topic.. more on religion than morals, sorry.*

Huntress:
Aside from the fact that you didn't actually answer my question (did you visit the site I posted btw?), just the question you thought you read...

ACCORDING TO YOU!
"God is another word to describe a Creative Consciousness, a "First Cause", An "intelligence" that underlies all that occurs both in the macro and microcosmic world."

Mmm-hmm. Try explaining this to my child when she's 5 or 7 (whenever) and reads the ten commandments out in the hallways of her school (wherever) and see if she or any of her friends actually UNDERSTANDS. See if her friends PARENTS can even comprehend or AGREE with YOUR version of "GOD".

There are only THREE reasons (that I know of) to PUBLICIZE religion and that is to A) CAUSE CONFLICT, B) Bring in more converts *strengthen ones powerbase* or C)arrogance/vanity/pride.

I posted this once on this site already, but here goes again, just cause I think it's relevant.

Think of an Apple.
What color is it?
What shape is it?

Hmm, that’s neither the color nor the shape of the apple I thought of…Mine had a worm… mine was green and red… mine was just the core…I got a rock (oops, Peanuts... wrong story)

Why? Why didn’t we think of the same apple?

Simply because each of us as individuals, have thoughts within our own minds and not anywhere else. Sounds silly, but that’s how it is - it’s the only way things can be.

Back to the apple…

An apple is something that all of us have seen, felt, smelled,touched, etc. It is something tangible
something we can touch. It is a thing that is very familiar, a thing we have direct knowledge of, a thing we have a common reference with. When we talk about “that apple” in our minds, it’s never like the one that someone else thinks of it simply cannot be. It exists in our “own mind” and at that moment and nowhere else.

Now Think of God.
You can keep all the religion and religious iconography that’s been injected into your lives, or you can dismiss it, it matters not for this little exercise.

Go ahead…Think of God

Do you think two people are going to think of the same exact thing? Is it realistic to expect two people to think of the exact same thing when asked to think of God?

It’s not gonna happen. It cannot.

Even if the two people have been brainwashed with the exact same information the simple fact that they are individuals makes their beliefs their own and as such their expressions of the thoughts are individual ( save for the truly brainwashed automaton whose existence is questionable).

If we can’t even think of the same thing when dealing with a common object like an apple, how can individuals have the exact same ideas about something we can’t see, nor touch - something we have no direct knowledge of … The answer is that we simple cannot.


The point is simply that Religion, belief and faith is only truly real when kept to one's self. The moment you open your mouth and start telling people what you believe and what they should believe because it’s what you believe your God believes, you have simply fallen out ot the apple tree.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

"Do aethiests NOT live by this Moral Code? Are you saying if you do not believe in God, you are exempt from behaving according to the the moral code of the Commandments. You can kill whenever, covet another woman's husband or boyfriend, steal?"

That's just plain ASININE and utterly DISRESPECTFUL.

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Moral Frameworks come from many places. Some from laws, others from observed behaviors.

Some learn them from religion but I feel more get them from their peers. You learn to act a certain way from the people around you. You emulate those actions and behaviors that you see most often.

This leads to the idea that Morals are a learned response and not inherint in anyone.

Also they are reinforeced by the events around us. Read things like Lord of the Flies for examples of how quickly we can lose those morals.

Religion has very little to do with the morals themselves but can act as a teaching tool to those that choose to follow them.

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"This leads to the idea that Morals are a learned response and not inherint in anyone."

Perhaps, but isn't the craving to learn them an inherent characteristic of humanity? After all, no human culture has been without morality in the history of our existence.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Rules exist in order for society to exist. Just like in the animal kingdom... Lions: No one eats before the head lion. This is a socially accepted norm among lions, because otherwise there is conflict among the pride. When in Rome, it was acceptable to watch men kill each other in the collesium for entertainment. Among cannabalistic tribes it's okay and *I think* even considered a sign of respect to eat one's dead.

When one is without a society, the rules are individual and based on what one has learned to survive, because survival is dependent only on the individual.

So going on that, one's moral structure depends on the society *or lack thereof*, that one has come to depend on and must exist within in order to survive.

... I guess morals all come down to survival instinct in that case.

Hmmm... much food for thought... *munch*.

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Quote: "Perhaps, but isn't the craving to learn them an inherent characteristic of humanity? After all, no human culture has been without morality in the history of our existence. "

Not even by a longshot. We have morals that are developed as we push past the physical need for survival. With excess and comfort come the need for rules to continue that comfort.

If you reduce the standard of living below the survival line then morals are quickly discarded.

When you get down to it we are still animals. Extreamly complex animals that can work together and produce wonders but deep down we are still driven by the need to survive at all costs.

We have proven that when threatened that we will act without restraint or morals just like animals.

 
At 8:16 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

" *Again, off topic.. more on religion than morals, sorry.*"

Not off topic as the question is where do your morals come from? I don't care if it's religion, I don't care if it's taught. I don't care if it's an in-depth analysis of the surroundings leading to enlightened bliss.

"The point is simply that Religion, belief and faith is only truly real when kept to one's self. The moment you open your mouth and start telling people what you believe and what they should believe because it’s what you believe your God believes, you have simply fallen out ot the apple tree."

This argument falls apart in that I can tell anyone what I believe and so can you. You nor any government can stop that basic right be it on private, public or government property. Because all can do that, then it stands to reason all can do all of the other things you suggest everyone is forbidden from doing. Whether one chooses to listen or agree is something entirely different. Thomas Paine as well as others that founded this country had a great deal to say about religion, morality and issues we continually face concerning our governments and the behavior of humans. His writing "The Rights of Man" are well worth the read and not just for history's sake. It is we the people that designate government and public property not the other way around. Our government does not marry the church to the state. If that were so we would have but one religion in government and not all. Our government does not deny any religion or it would be comprised of atheists alone. Either of the two would reject the basic rights of man concerning thought and speech. Because it is our government and because it represents all, it represents all religions, excludes and favors none. The fact that a person is or is not religious has no bearing on the rights they proclaim for themselves.

My issue with all of the complaints about religion is it doesn't go to the root of the problem which is to address the issue of morals and morality. Does anyone here believe that if all religions were abolished humans would be anymore moral? The argument of religion skirts the issue of morality entirely by placing focus on a specific moniker and members of groups versus a desired morality for benefit of all. It is but a sideshow that has no relevance to the deeper issue at hand. Even on morals where all agree be they religious or non the argument of the religious belief being inferior because it is attained by other than atheistic belief is sheer lunacy, as is the reverse.

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

"You nor any government can stop that basic right be it on private, public or government property. Because all can do that, then it stands to reason all can do all of the other things you suggest everyone is forbidden from doing."

The quote I posted no where said that people should be "forbidden" from "falling out of the apple tree" just that because people are individuals and think differently about all things (even apples) that no one can truly believe EXACTLY what anyone else believes and... Are you certain you read the whole quote? I thought the point of it was quite clear... but you seemed to have missed it entirely.

"Does anyone here believe that if all religions were abolished humans would be anymore moral?"

Again I think you missed my point entirely, which had nothing to do with whether religion should or should not be abolished, but that those who try to *push* their religion onto others are showing incredible DISRESPECT for those who believe differently... which is pretty much everyone if you can comprehend what the "apple" quote was all about.

Like I said, I was off topic, I was speaking more about religion than morals (though perhaps I was making an argument for something I consider ill/moral that others do not), I was not speaking about religion in context of morals, I was speaking about religion and the lack of Respect for all bents of faith whether it's faith in GOD or faith in one's self and how that creates conflict but above all is completely inane besides.

Morals are not religion, though some may consider religion to be moral.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"If you reduce the standard of living below the survival line then morals are quickly discarded."

I couldn't disagree more. Rules of behavior were developed long before we had a high standard of living--and it was the groups that had rules of behavior that meshed well with their environment and helped them to thrive that were the CAUSE of the increase in the standard of living, and allowed them to survive when other groups did not.

"We have proven that when threatened that we will act without restraint or morals just like animals."

Maybe people without much character will.

How exactly would you go about proving that all sorts of people, with all sorts of different personalities and good or bad habits, would react the same way to a threat/harsh environment?

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger David in Burbank said...

Great Debate. My 2 Cents.

Humans are animals, like cats and dogs, AND we have these amazing brains that transcend our animal side - almost. Meaning we have instincts. Did those come from God? Well, you decide. I don't think it has to come from a higher being - most instinct is “survival of the species” based and so is ours. But it is unknowable in the way God is unknowable and with our big complicated brains we have complicated the s--t out if it (thus the institution of religion.)

So we see common moral codes though almost all cultures because they are a reflection - or rather a refraction - of our basic animal instincts. And those are? Well, I couldn't give you a list. One I know for sure is pure instinct is the Love you feel for your own Children. That Love is overwhelming and seems to come from nowhere - and it is absolutely Necessary to the survival of our species, since children are annoying parasites for years and if we didn't have a built in Love switch, we would probably kill them before they reached age 2.

That Love alone, for me, explains all the rest. And you don’t have to have children to be effected by it, because we were all children once and we worshipped our parents and they, mostly, loved us back. That is until we grew old enough to reject them – possibly a second human instinct – or just the result of realizing they aren’t gods.

So really, for me, morality isn't a God question at all. Maybe if God exists S/He created a system of which we are a part - but that makes us far less significant, overall, then religion tends to want believe we are to Him/Her. That's fine by me, as I have no problem believing it all happened spontaneously (or evolved spontaneously) without a higher power directing it. Then we are utterly insignificant outside our own actions - and for me, that makes every action all the more important. And that is the reason I act in an ethical or morally responsible way rather than just in my own narrow, immediate self-interest (which is the primary sin in all the 10 commandments.)

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

rhiannon
Now that you explained it differently - yes I did miss your point about perception entirely and yes I re-read the entire post with your explanation in mind. Now what set me on the path of my train of thought.

"There are only THREE reasons (that I know of) to PUBLICIZE religion and that is to A) CAUSE CONFLICT, B) Bring in more converts *strengthen ones powerbase* or C)arrogance/vanity/pride."

The only three reasons you could think of? To me religion does preach morals. Even if it gets nothing across other than that it has served its' purpose.

 
At 7:57 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

You can preach morals without religion and probably have a more profound affect. I guess people who can't distinguish between morals and religion wouldn't know that there is a difference and maybe that's why they try to preach both? But aren't they still trying to convert people to what THEY believe is moral?

If preaching religion for some is an attempt to preach morals (I assume to those *they* think are without morals, otherwise they'd be *preaching to the choir* right? Therefore could I assume that since they link religion and morals as one that they think anyone who doesn't believe what they believe is without morals?) it would be harder for me to cut through all the (to me) delusion to get to the *moral* of the story, than to just learn the lesson on my own.

When people attempt to preach to me about thier religion, I find it difficult to think through their *delusion* to get to the point because as I've admitted in previous posts, I DO have an aversion to religion and it gives me a sickly, this is just *isn't right* feeling (which according to the Mormons I *churched* with for a while and even allowed them to perform their *paganistic* baptism ritual at the tender age of 8 (for cookies and brownies, etc) that feeling that tells me right and wrong is the *holy ghost*, though why the *holy ghost* would want me to veer away from religion when it is based in religion is beyond me... *shakes head* Uh... I think I lost my point somewhere... all this talk of religion is forcing my brain into shut-off mode. *jk*

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Quote:"I couldn't disagree more. Rules of behavior were developed long before we had a high standard of living--and it was the groups that had rules of behavior that meshed well with their environment and helped them to thrive that were the CAUSE of the increase in the standard of living, and allowed them to survive when other groups did not."

Really, thats interesting can you name a culture from history that had a basic survival or lower standard of living and had moral framework beyond survival itself?

Almost all of the moral laws we have come from societies that had already gotten past the need to survive.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Hmmm... also think about this. What qualifies as a *high standard of living*... for our ancestors it was wells of water in town, or even further back... the ability to irrigate water for farming... further back than that who knows? But the fact of the matter is that through co-operation humans are able to gain EASIER access to the things required for survival (Food, water, shelter, protection, etc) So what for us today would be a hardship or rough living, might well have been considered a *high standard of living* by our ancestors. This can be determined by considering what their quality of life was like BEFORE tribes/prides/flocks(whatever) and what it became AFTER tribes were formed.

In order for all this to come about humans had to learn to co-operate with one another, so rules had to be set and these rules became codes of conduct or morals.

Seems like a plausible theory to me.

I think Hida has a valid point.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

rhiannon
"If preaching religion for some is an attempt to preach morals (I assume to those *they* think are without morals, otherwise they'd be *preaching to the choir* right?"

Preaching morals be it in a religious setting or not makes no difference. By the same standard there are those that are moral without religion that preach to those that are religious. The bottom line as I stated before is religion is a conduit of morals and to argue against religion for providing that service is ludicrous.

Don't get me wrong, we may not all agree on the same morals and I could care much less about hell or heaven in an after life. My concern is the hell or heaven here on earth as it relates to me, the society I live in and the morals we attempt to legislate.

I will say the fortunate thing is our government is forbidden proselytizing and the individual is not. That is part and partial to what the forefathers warned us against. Now we can argue whether or not religion deserves merit in public schools or government institutions and my claim is they have every right to be there. They also have every right to be afforded the same government benefits as anyone else. If our government can not provide for everyone then it provides nothing for no one as that would be the moral thing to do. None should be excluded be they religious or not.

The debate in coming to understand how we've evolved to the point we are at requires discussion with all points of light examined. For government to dismiss that part of a society (religion) as less than everyone else only adds fuel to the fire concerning the basic rights of man in freedom of thought and speech. The same holds true in the reverse of a government proselytizing and excluding those who are not religious. How to legislate that freedom of thought and speech or even if it should be legislated at all (which our forefathers warn us against) is the core issue. Is posting the 10 commandments in a court room or any government building proselytizing? I think not.

If anything what I see in society is war raged against religion and religious beliefs specifically Christianity. In this sense it is not religion that is causing the problem or initiating the conflict. It is exactly the reverse. If you can convince me that my perceptions are wrong regarding this matter I'll gladly change my mind.

"When people attempt to preach to me about thier religion"

I just simply say I'm not interested and it doesn't take any more or any less than that.

 
At 11:30 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"Almost all of the moral laws we have come from societies that had already gotten past the need to survive."

Ever read Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"?

Some specific African tribes would leave newborn twins out to die because they believed them to be born of "evil". Granted, we find this practise abhorant today, but it clearly isn't a practise driven by survival instinct--they believed, because of local superstition, that it was morally wrong to raise twins.

This practise was not abolished because the tribes grew more prosperous, but rather, because another, more powerful (economically and of course, militarily) culture came to run their affairs.

Not saying that I believe killing twins is right, mind you--just saying that it was a decision based on certain ideas of morality that they were making, regardless of their relatively impoverished situation.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Quote:"Some specific African tribes would leave newborn twins out to die because they believed them to be born of "evil". Granted, we find this practise abhorant today, but it clearly isn't a practise driven by survival instinct--they believed, because of local superstition, that it was morally wrong to raise twins."

Are we sure this did not start out as a survival practice then later become a superstition?

Unsupportable children in poor cultures have been killed for centuries in order for the others to survive.

But even if that was not the case then it is not a question of morality as much as religion. Religion can influence or even dictate many morals. This is not something I disagree with but I want it to be clear that they be lost or conform to survival instincts if it comes down to that.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

"By the same standard there are those that are moral without religion that preach to those that are religious."

I agree and by the same token aren't they also attempting to convert others to their beliefs of what is moral when they are preaching?

"Is posting the 10 commandments in a court room or any government building proselytizing? I think not."

You and I differ there, because I think it is, if for merely the fact that the first 3-4 commandments are strictly RELIGIOUS in text and meaning. Therefore they are stating a belief, which I believe is protelizing... I may have to look the definition up.

"I just simply say I'm not interested and it doesn't take any more or any less than that."

Lucky you, religious nuts in the bible belt aren't so easily deterred. Eventually, my family resorted to placing my father's painting of our Lady Damcles (a succubus with a big sword in Hell- *he painted it after his divorce to my mother*) in our living room where it was visible from the door. That was generally enough to send them running for the hills.

My family had to resort to SCARING THE CRAP OUT OF PEOPLE, to get them to leave us alone (which was generally followed with visits from Social Services... you connect the dots | We even had a church we once went to THREATEN to "sic" SS on us if we DIDN'T COME BACK to their church! It was an empty threat, but no more wrong for it). A simple "I'm not interested" is NEVER enough for these people IMexp. (another tactic used only by my father, cause he really likes to mess with their heads, is to let them in, talk with them and convince them through profound logic that everything they believe is wrong... we never see those people again, ever. *shrug*)

I grew up in what could almost be considered oppression by the religious... mostly of the Judeo Christian bent (do mormons count or not?) (the only religions that DIDN'T try to forcefully CONVERT us were the pagan religions, but I found them far too steeped in delusion, confusion and ritual to deal with) When I gathered up the courage to REFUSE to say the pledge of allegiance (2nd grade) in defiance of religion (and patriotism... which I STILL don't understand... especially the part about FORCING children to swear alligence to something that they have NO comprehension of, isn't that BRAINWASHING?)

anyways... where was my point again?

So yeah, as I've said, I have an aversion to religion and I TRY NOT to let it affect my judgement, but I am only human, so I ask that you forgive me when I fail... but continue to call me on it (I need that) and though I agree that non-religious people who preach are equally guilty of conversion (which in and of itself is not a bad thing if done with logic and reasoning, as opposed to manipulation, deception, force, pressure, etc.) it often isn't the point that I bring up... cause A] I haven't had near as much experience with that, as with religious zealots and B] It doesn't bother me near as much, cause non-religious people who go around spouting delusional ideas usually wind up in an insane asylum.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

"But even if that was not the case then it is not a question of morality as much as religion. Religion can influence or even dictate many morals. This is not something I disagree with but I want it to be clear that they be lost or conform to survival instincts if it comes down to that."

I'd like to flip that around--I think that religion and morality and superstitions come FIRST, and cultures get by or fall behind based on whether or not those rules of behavior they have imposed on themselves help them to survive their situation.

Just as you can't say that we evolved a certain way IN ORDER to survive, but rather, only the ansestors with certain characteristics were best suited to survive the environments that they lived in, so I would say that in this case again, the rules came first, and continued to be practised not because they were imposed to help people survive, but rather, it continued to be practised because the cultures that practised them, for one reason or another, survived.

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

Adam

You've hit the nail on the head. There are two separate sets of rules. Instinct to survive which I relate to as the basic rights of humans. In other words they are inherent as without them it means demise. The others are those adopted by society which are laws / rules that serve the common good. All of them should be geared towards survival in a social society. People are social animals and as such require cooperation within their communities.

The issue is when the rule / law comes from beyond the community.

Rhiannon

If your experience with religion and religious zealots is as you state I for one would certainly like to see proof. Certainly as I can not prove that these types of atrocities have or have not occurred expect by your word I must draw from my own experiences (of which yours are not my case) or have the ability to hear the words of those accused. I can say living in the south this has not been an experience that I have endured in any shape form or manner. As it is until I hear both sides of the story I'll never know. Those that you say wronged you versus those that would say they have not.

You can see how this creates a dilemma in assessment. People declaring that this is the case without the proof (and we do have technology that would put it out in the open) versus silence or advocacy of those that say it isn't so. In this case who am I to believe and how am I to sort the matter at hand? I can not so the declarations and vitriol continues. In any case these are the people I consider the fringe of both sides of the equation. In my reasoning neither should have the reins of the of government and neither should be the majority to decide.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

I understand Dos, why you cannot take my word about my experiences, unfortunately I have no proof that I can give you... only a psychiatrist would likely see the emotional scars left behind from such treatment as I have recieved.

I'm glad you have a mind of your own and that you have a cynancism that allows you to dismiss a person's life experiences as not true, merely because you have not experienced such yourself. I guess if you have never experienced poverty, abuse, neglect, rape, molestation, then to you those things do not really exist either. Lucky you.

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Hida Reju said...

Rhiannon

Sorry but no one can really understand a pain unless they have gone though it. Anyone who says they can is lying.

That does not mean they do not feel something for the hurt of others. But you can never understand how much something that seems small to others can scar a person until it happens to you.

Simple fact of life unfortunatly.

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Hida:

That's what support groups are for.

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger Dos_Centavos said...

rhiannon
"I'm glad you have a mind of your own and that you have a cynancism that allows you to dismiss a person's life experiences as not true, merely because you have not experienced such yourself. I guess if you have never experienced poverty, abuse, neglect, rape, molestation, then to you those things do not really exist either."

Did I say your experiences were false? No I said no such thing. I said I would need proof just as I would need proof of the other things you suggest I would say do not exist because they haven't happened to me.

Is this being skeptical? Certainly it is. Is it being practical? Absolutely. Why would I not be those things. The accused have the right to know their accuser and of the charges being leveled do they not? Do not the accused get to defend themselves?

However we seem to be getting off topic here and for that I apologize to The Liberal Avenger and dadmanly. If they want to put religion versus atheism up for discussion as it relates to the American populace and the their perceptions of each other I'm sure it would make for a lively debate.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

Reading stuff like this makes it rather hard to agree with Cole.

If they're going to obsess on the subject, they could at least wait until they have real evidence before they start spreading rumors.

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

"...When people attempt to preach to me about thier religion..." -Rhiannon

"...I just simply say I'm not interested and it doesn't take any more or any less than that." -Dos

"Lucky you,..." -Rhiannon

and then I explained how it was different for me. (I having accepted you word about your life experience, idiotically assumed I would be extended the same courtesy and respect.)

Then you said : "If your experience with religion and religious zealots is as you state I for one would certainly like to see proof..." -Dos

I replied "...I'm glad you have a mind of your own and that you have a cynancism that allows you to dismiss a person's life experiences as not true, merely because you have not experienced such yourself..." -Rhiannon

"Did I say your experiences were false?..." -Dos

No, all you said was that you couldn't extend to me the same courtesy that I extended to you, which was to accept your life experiences as you explained them to be.

I suppose in retrospect it would be "practical" and "skeptical" of me to have doubted your word on that and to have required proof from you about your stated experience, instead of trying to share an experience of my own that were different from yours.

Anyways, this is TERRIBLY off topic (I never said it wasn't... in fact I said twice that it WAS off topic), so to help get things back on track if anyone remains interested the topic is: "Moral frameworks and where they come from."

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

I want to know why Dadmanly thinks it is wrong to use utility to postulate morals and ethics. I suggest that utility is exactly what morals began as and they have been passed on until they are not only tradition but are beginning to be included in our genetic foundations.

Because the christian god is a rather late comer on the religious scene, I take extreme umbrage at the idea that it is the source of all moral codes. Morality existed among tribal people to enable them to live together. It was easier then because everyone in the tribe knew all others in the tribe. They also knew the spirits that inhabited the trees, the rocks and the thunderstorms and avoided them. When people began to live in larger groups, they needed rules so that they and their belongings were safe from others in the urban areas whom they did not know. Leaders enforced the rules, but they soon found it easier if they could get the former spirits of the rocks, clouds, etc., to become the chief enforcers and back them up. So the cities of Mesopotamia were able to exist for centuries without imploding. When their spirits (gods) lost the wars, they went under. But the first moses (Sargon) had laws that didn't say much about a god and neither did Hammurabi. They both predated the old testament figures in the middle east. So did the laws of the pharoahs of Egypt.

The 10 commandments of Moses are what we spend a great deal of time arguing about. They are very exactly religious, Huntress, only they belong to three religions, not just christianity, all founded from Abraham in this order: Judaism (God the Father), Christianity (Jesus) and Islam (Allah or God). What you are giving us is strictly the fundamentalist version which comes from unlearned men arguing the equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Morality is based on utility. Certain tribes in the past ate the brains of their brave enemies to catch the strength that brought them to be such heroes. Instead they caught Kuru, the first Mad Cow Disease. They thought they were doing a fine, purposeful (utile) thing instead of killing themselves. We have morals to enable us to live together. The problem we have in the current world is that religious-based morals are counter productive. They are not helping us live together in today's flat earth society. They are rigid up or down rules in a world that lives by a number of others that work for those who live by them, whether we like them or not.

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

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