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Morality and Religion

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by cgannon64, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. gael

    gael Ard Ri

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    Quote bigfatron
    'As a final thought, I don't believe people are universally born moral either - I meet enough blatantly immoral people in my daily life to not accept that - some people need to be taught morality, some people,will simply be immoral whenever they think they can get away with it.
    Criminal and civil law are there to discourage the worst of this behaviour, but the honest truth is that some people are sociopathic and just don't care.
    Frankly I am sceptical that fear of eternal damnation will achieve any more with such individuals.'

    Mental disorders, whatever there cause or origin, can not be accounted for as a human characteristic in the broad scale of humanity, but I'm sure you'll agree that every one has an in built inhabition not to kill, rape, maybe steal. Although we can over ride or rationalise the feelings that we get when we commit these acts, like any animal we are born with them.
    Socal conditioning and the religion that goes with it plays a big part in what we view as right and wrong, but there are basic 'morals' that are ingrained into our psyche that make up what we are as a species, not only becuase we are inherently social by nature, but because killing each other with out having to be learned not to would be a disaster for our survival.
     
  2. cgannon64

    cgannon64 BOB DYLAN'S ROCKIN OUT!

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    Interesting. We have alot of posters with many varying backgrounds here. :)

    I do notice that everyone (or just about everyone) who responded to my second question was raised in an enviroment with some sort of religious influence. Now, I know I can't judge what kind enviroment that was, but I find that interesting. Also, alot of people denied that that vague (or strong) religious upbringing helped them form their morality.

    I wonder whether those same posters, if they didn't have the vague or strong religious upbringing would have turned out as good and moral as they are.

    BTW, I'm very glad this thread stayed civil (with the exception of one post :rolleyes: ). I was afraid it would become another mess. :goodjob:
     
  3. bioartist

    bioartist aspiring epidemiologist

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    As for me...I was raised by agnostic parents with loosely Christian backgrounds, but spent the majority of my childhood in daycares, one agnostic, one Catholic, and one Protestant...most of my time was spent in the Catholic one. My morals were mostly formed by observing my parents, and were verbalized by the Bible stories that were constatly floating around in daycare.

    Something to consider...Religion (or lack thereof) was never discussed in my household - I didn't know exactly of what faith my parents were until a few years ago - and I was never discouraged from practicing any religion. In daycare, as I listened to the Bible stories, I generally agreed with the moral of the story (pardon the pun) but instinctively the religious aspects of them never made sense to me. Even in a highly religious environment where I was encouraged to become Christian I somehow turned out Atheist...I formed my religious beliefs comepletely on my own...no input from my parents and contrary to the teachings of my daycare....just thought it was interesting how I turned out that way:)
     
  4. Gothmog

    Gothmog Dread Enforcer

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    I am not convinced that we have inate 'morals', it may be so but I don't think it is necessary to explain human behavior. If, as I theorise, we learn our morals through observation that would explain why we (in general) don't kill or rape each other. As well as why being raised in a violent environment lowers our inhabitions to such acts. Why so many social problems run in families. Why so many criminals were abused at an early age. Why it is so important to be raised in an environment of love, so that we can learn the morals involved in love.
     
  5. gael

    gael Ard Ri

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    Religion was never a part of my family. My mother was religious but never enforced it on us. When i was old enough to have my opinions respected, about 12, she stopped forcing us to go to church.

    I got into religion later at 15 through religous class in school, but slowly fell out of it two years later as I learned more about other things. I still carry some of that chatholic guilt from those years that I felt i knew God, but I feel now as though I was more niave and scared of God rather than really understanding religion.
     
  6. WillJ

    WillJ Coolness Connoisseur

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    I'm starting to agree, Gothmog.

    My revised theory: Most people are born with a very loose, simple set of "morals," which are probably more biological coding than anything else. Mostly that most people know from the start not to kill another human. But also another thing: To follow the guide of our "instructors," which are our mother and father (especially mother), but might be someone else if someone else raises someone from the start. This might date back from the wild animals teaching their young how to behave and how to live. Our "instructors" teach us morals, and we follow those morals because we don't want to dissapoint them. This is also why kids who are taught religion and religious morals at an early age may have a hard time letting them go, even when they learn at a later age that it isn't scientifically reasonable. (No offense to anyone.)

    Or something like that. This is just me thinking aloud.
     
  7. cgannon64

    cgannon64 BOB DYLAN'S ROCKIN OUT!

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    I agree with your post for the most part, WillJ. I think whether or not the child can let go of the religion and religious morals depends on the teachers. For example, in the enviroment I was raised in, Catholicism was a large factor, but it wasn't overpowering. My family had a large secular side. And, ironically enough, the secular side of my upbringing helped me learn to embrace the religious side. My parents don't force me to use C.S. Lewis books and ponder about evolution - they taught me enough Catholicism and secular teachings to appreciate the religious aspect and be intrigued by it. They didn't shove it down my throat - they gave me a taste of both sides and let me choose for myself...
     
  8. Gothmog

    Gothmog Dread Enforcer

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    What do you think would happen if a child was reared by a parent who killed everyone they met? I don't think newborns know not to kill other humans, I don't even think they understand life/death. But by a few months of age they understand what pain is, a little later they realize that their care givers experience it too and that they can inflict it, etc. etc.
     
  9. cgannon64

    cgannon64 BOB DYLAN'S ROCKIN OUT!

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    If they parent never got any retribution for it - if they didn't get caught, injured, or even scolded for it - then I think the child would learn that its acceptable.

    Sure, the child would understand that the parent was inflicting pain and death on someone, but they would probably think that it is an acceptable means to an end.
     
  10. WillJ

    WillJ Coolness Connoisseur

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    Yeah, you're probably right about that. I know some parents who shove religion down their children's throughts, while some only teach them about it. The first being a bad thing, the second being a good thing, of course.
     
  11. cgannon64

    cgannon64 BOB DYLAN'S ROCKIN OUT!

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    That would probably encourage the child to either rebel and become an Athiest (out of spite) or just go to Church every Sunday without thinking.

    :(
     
  12. gael

    gael Ard Ri

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    I think to get some sort of perspective on human morals you just have to look at other animals in the world, especially the social mammals.
    They don't kill each other, unless there territory is threatened, (and even then its very very rare). They have ritual displays and aggressive gestures or actions that are ingrained to settle the dispute without killing one of thier own.

    Humans have these same instincts, but because we are far more complex, and have the ability for self delusion, our morals have become very diverse and complex beyond even our own basic understanding as a specis.
    Our ability for self reflection mixed with a drive for social progression, at a pace that is hard for us to keep up with in evolutionary terms, has created a very muddy picture of what is right and wrong though out our history.

    But generally the same truths have held through and won the day. 'Don't do to others what you wouldn't like done on yourself'.
    The sentiment and morals of a social animal that just wants to get along with its own.
     
  13. smalltalk

    smalltalk monkey business

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    Being sort of an atheist, what could stop me to call my moral system a religion?

    After all, it's a matter of believe and I can't prove that I'm right.
     
  14. dannyevilcat

    dannyevilcat DESTROYER OF FURNITURE

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    My introduction to religion was by way of not being allowed to have a communion wafer like everyone else in the church. Of course, I wasn't a member of the congregation (only with a friend who was) and didn't understand that the wafer-eating is a special thing for catholics, but even being so young, I remembered the feeling of being left out rather than blessed by the Lord.

    The second thing I remember was being lured to a showing of some popular kids movie with another friend who's parents were born-again christians. About half way through they took me into a seperate room where a lady tried to convince me that if I tried hard enough I could hear God speaking to me. She proceeded to talk gibberish at the ceiling, saying she was having a conversation with God. Basically just trying to guilt me into believing. I'll never forget that clumsy attempt at conversion.
     
  15. Lostman

    Lostman Thread Killer

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    I'm currently 28. My parents instilled NO religion on my when I was growing up. We never attended church/temple (family is half non practicing christian, half non practcing Jew). It was never talked about. Just not a part of our lives.

    Because of this, I have had to find things out for myself. And I've chosen the path of a "Brite" (sp?). It's a term that is being used now to describe people with alternative religous views. I believe in one God, but am against orginized religion. I find too many flaws in the major orginized religions. I never understood why people suffer for they're God, or make others suffer because they don't agree with they're views. (the Jew in me I guess). And every religion thinks that they'res is the one. The one that will bring them to heven after death. How does anybody know they'res is the right one? Or that there is a right one? Just because your parents told you so?

    I also don't like the politics involved with religion. That bothers the hell out of me. Or the religion in politics. I don't care what faith my country's leaders follow, just as long as they can lead.
     
  16. FearlessLeader2

    FearlessLeader2 Fundamentalist Loon

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    I believe that morality is absolute, and that it devolves from God, as described in the Bible.
    I don't think so. 'Cold, sad, self-righteousness' is a state of being that someone who is convinced of the correctness of the morality they have adopted when they deal with those who disagree, but it is not the only way they can act. They could be compassionate, and desire to share their knowledge with others in a spirit of Christian brotherhood.
    I see religion, specifically Christianity, specifically true Christianity as practiced by Jehovah's Witnesses, as the one and only source of inforamtion on what is moral. All other religions, especially other so-called Christian ones, seek to turn Jesus' teachings into a means of exerting control over others instead of treating those teachings as a vitally important, lifesaving message that needs to be shared to have any value.
    We have seen both of these truths, and truly they are self-evident. Fundamentalist countries in the grip of false religions practice barbarous acts of cruelty in the name of false gods, or worse, falsely in the name of the one true god. Countries which practice atheism, China for example, have shown how brutal the state can be when no religion exists to create a moral framework for its laws.
    Perhaps my viewpoint is a little too narrow for others' tastes, but I believe that Jesus, and through him Jehovah, are the only legitimate sources of information on what the absolutes governing morality constitute.
    Clearly not. Humans are by proclivity subjective creatures, and an objective morality is the only one worth following. If right is not right for everyone, then there is no right.
    They cannot be unbound period, if you speak of absolute morailty and true religion. If you speak of subjective morality and false religion, then there is no point in having the conversation, because neither is even worth discussing.

    Of more interest would be subjective morality and true religion. That is, a legal system that does not recgnise the authority of God, yet seeks to emulate His morality. This sort of system could, in the short run, at the constitutional level, be almost as good as absolute morality, but would still have flaws. As time went on, it would of course get further and further out of whack, so to speak, as fallible humans modified morality to suit their whims rather than God's commands.

    Some government's have tried this approach, the US included, at varying starting points of adherence to God's absolutes. Clearly, all that still exist are in serious moral jeaopardy.

    One could try to base a new religion on God's morality, but exactly what purpose would be served by doing so, I have no idea... :confused:
     
  17. Deep_Thought76

    Deep_Thought76 .

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    I'll also answer your question.. My parents were of 2 different Protestant backgrounds, so they compromised on a third. I was forced to go to church every Sunday for years, even though I had long since begun to regard it as a waste of time. Mostly because I never understood all the stuff they were doing and talking about at first, and by the time I did understand I didn't care. So between sunday school and going to a Catholic middle school for a couple years, I got my share of exposure to religion. Could've been confirmed as a member of our church, too.. The people there are mostly my parents' friends and I barely know any of them. They wanted me to take the classes, but wouldn't insist that I actually join. To do so, I would have had to stand up in front of the congregation and answer a set of formalized questions along with the other tennagers in the confirmation class. They would have asked whether I "believed in God, accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior", etc, etc. To be accepted, I would have to answer 'yes', but my sense of honesty (morality, if you wish) would compel me to answer 'no'.

    I'll answer your other quiestion, about "the cold, sad self-righteousness of sheer moralism", by stating my belief (which I may have mentioned before) that all morality, whether individual or backed by a religion, is basically the same in the respect that it is invented. Simply put, there is no universally applicable moral law. It may feel more lonely if you're the only one who believes a particular way, but it is no more 'right' or 'wrong' because of that, and no religion, society, or person can claim that their code is the true one.
    (I could go on about backing up this assertion, but I don't want to threadjack or beat anyone over the head with my beliefs. 'sides, I've got other things to take care of today.)
     
  18. Pontiuth Pilate

    Pontiuth Pilate Republican Jesus!

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    Please. Yes, the Christian teaching is that upon your death you must be truly sorry for all your sins and they will be redeemed. But tell me, if you live your life deciding, "OK, I'm going to sin as much as I want and then beg for repentence in the end" do you think you'll be truly sorry? NO. The only way I can see someone being truly sorry from the depths of their heart and their soul is if they tried to be moral and failed.

    You can't trick God.


    Maybe not; if he exists. But my point is not whether you're moral yourself or whether God thinks you're moral, but whether society [other people] view you as moral. By that standard, yes, the trickster you illustrated would be moral. And I am willing to bet that at least half of your "billion Catholics" understands the implications of what I'm talking about and have made use of them often.

    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You don't see HIM stoning witches or tearing open the bellies of massacred pregnant ladies who don't accept your God in order to mercifully slaughter their unborn children, do you?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    Sorry, but what the hell are you saying? If the witch part is in reference to my title, its a joke about the Mafia game and you of all people should know that. As for the second part...why would a Christian kill an unborn baby of an Athiest, Muslim, etc? You're making NO sense whatsoever...:crazeye:


    Tsk! Haven't been reading your Bible, have you? Book of Hosea, look again. The section dealing with the righteous punishment to be dealt out to the idolatrous people of Samarra by an all-loving, all-forgiving God.... :rolleyes:

    Are you telling me this man didn't help the world? Are you telling me St. Peter would say to C.S. Lewis, one of the modern GENIUSES [emphasis mine] in Christian THOUGHT [again], "No, you didn't give enough to charity."

    Don't be silly.


    Damn straight! Tell me one place in your terrific Bible where intellectuality is praised. No place, that's where. And the reason is because Christ doesn't NEED smart people and he doesn't WANT smart people either. These people [you've got a lot of them in your tradition!] Aquinas, Augustine, Lewis, I'm sure you know the lot; they weren't Christians at all. Trying to meld reason and faith, Jesus Christ himself wouldn't be able to understand what they were on about. Rhetoric was a Greek invention and modern logic a medieval one. Jesus [or his apostle Peter] was not around to hear either of these. Jesus didn't argue from reason like your comfortable pipe-smoking Lewis; he sure didn't argue from logic either. These things are Hellenist traditions; Jesus, like all Jews, was part of the Semitic tradition, and just like all the other Jewish prophets, he was what we would call today a demagogue. He had about the same speaking style as Adolf Hitler [although, quite obviously, entirely the opposite ideas and goals, and I wouldn't compare their ideologies, only their rhetoric]: huge emotional-argument constructs, false dilemmas and other logical fallacies all over the place, a fiery speaking style that leaves you stunned [until you actually think calmly about what the speaker was saying] BUT IT WORKED [for both of them!] because people are quite willing to listen to nonsensical arguments if they can feel good about it. Why blame the recession on Germany's economic frailty when the Jews are always available to be a scapegoat? Why worry about death when believing in Jesus allows you to sidestep around the whole issue and pretend [believe, you'd say] that an eternal afterlife awaits you? Even Hell would be a comfort to these people - because at least your consciousness goes on. At least there doesn't have to come a point where you face your own mortality. You understand? These people were comforted by Hell, because even that was eternal. Jesus just couldn't lose.

    So to sum up, your intellectual armchair prophet would be thrown out of Heaven for [to steal a phrase] being "too smart for his own good". The Beatitudes don't praise cerebral mightiness [not with the people Jesus was talking to!] they praise obedience and meekness.

    I also believe that morality in modern society is not due to Christianity's influence at all! The Semitic society that produced Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad was NOT a just one. Our modern ideas of fairness, ethos, justice, a logical society, and equality stem from the GREEK and ROMAN philosophers [Plato, Aristotle, and the great Justinian jurists, not to mention Justinian himself!], not the Middle-Eastern ones. When you look at the Koran, for instance, or the Old Testament, these things become very clear. If all modern Jews and Muslims followed exactly the rules written in imperishable ink in their own Bibles, they would not be called barbarians, they would be called SAVAGES. The example passage out of Hosea, dealing with the people of Samarra and the holy justice they received [which startled you, I suppose] is a textbook example of exactly how far society was advanced in those days. The fact is Jesus was born and raised in a mud hut like we'd find today in Ulan Bator or Ethiopia [although I seem to remember a few Saints "discovered" some grotto or other]. He was quite right to rail against the superior Roman civilization because it WAS superior. The Jews couldn't build a road that went straight for ten miles if their lives depended on it [and I say that as a born and raised Jew, which answers your part-2 question ;) ].

    The reason the Bible [NT] is slightly more humane than its prequel and sequel is because Peter and other apostles went out into the real world - the Romanogreek world, not this Palestinian backwater - and borrowed the ideas of other philosophers who had already come up with the humane beliefs and MORALITY that we follow today.

    That's not to say that people listened to their own Bibles - no, they went on with the grand Semitic traditions of trial by ordeal, auto-da-fe [witch-burning] and all sorts of other barbarities. This continued until when, class? Until the Arabs decided to give the "glorious" western world back the manuscripts of its own philosophers - Plato et al - which had been kept safe in Arabic translations but had been lost during this Medieval Nightmare.

    Of course, once these ideas were rediscovered, they began to be adopted into society - but not with the co-operation of the Church. The Church [Catholic and its even more fanatical successors!] went more and more REACTIONARY [ie, more barbaric]. You want an excellent example of exactly the sort of morality the ideal Christian would espouse during those days, look at the Geneva colony of Jean Calvin. I'm sure you know all about what went on there. And you know, he didn't break a single rule in the Bible - he just followed more of them than you do ;) That was the Christian [the medieval or "semi-real" Christian, because as we established the "real" Christian was the Semitic barbarian].

    But fortunately morality won out [although religion claimed the credit!] People, given a choice of following the humanism of the Greeks or the ascetic self-deprecation of the Christians, chose the former, to the point where the Church had to adopt Greek thought [for the second time, remember] in order to retain their followers. Our nation, great example of the turmoil that was going on in this aptly called Enlightenment. People were beginning to see the advantages of reason, ethos, all the old Greek and Roman ideas [notice that those three words: reason, ethos, and idea, are all Greek!] Our nation was founded on those ideas, but because today the real morality has replaced the Semitic morality in most Christian churches, the fanatics [both Protestant and Catholic ironically] can claim the nation was built "on God". Nothing could be further from the truth. If our nation was built on God we would be living in a modern Geneva.
     
  19. Pontiuth Pilate

    Pontiuth Pilate Republican Jesus!

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    PS: didn't read the second page yet.

    Gannon said:

    BTW, I'm very glad this thread stayed civil (with the exception of one post :rolleyes: )

    What better confirmation could I ask for all the longwinded arguing I posted above, than that my posting a passage from the Bible [the one in Hosea which I have already mentioned twice] leads you think I am the only poster who isn't being civil. :D I think that kind of proves my point :hmm:

    And last of all, I don't want to make generalizations. I realize I've made the semitics [Jews, early Christians, and Muslims] look like savages, and many of them did live like what we would today call savages. However, we DO have to grant the credit to the Semitic religions for keeping literacy alive [which might have been lost in the Roman fall]. Also, the love of learning - something which the Jews and the Greeks held in common - was very present, not in the Christian ["the wise shall be made fools", because he was preaching to "fools" - illiterates - who wanted to be "wise" - the literate, learned rulers] or Muslim [I don't have a quote handy, but he said much the same thing] traditions, but in the Jewish tradition with its Akivas and other Talmudic writers. And these were great thinkers - sort of like your Lewis - although their brand of thought was somewhat inferior to the pure-logic brand espoused by people like Aristotle. And that too had to be mended by the great advance of the Reniassance, empiric thought, with Bacon and so forth. So, we have to give the Semitics plenty of credit for these things. But all this has nothing to do with morality, and on the grounds of the latter, I fully believe that when you praise Jesus instead of Justinian for your modern society, you're deluding yourself :(
     
  20. cgannon64

    cgannon64 BOB DYLAN'S ROCKIN OUT!

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    Just because many do it doesn't mean its right. Anyway, the "trickster" example we're using would be immoral in God's eyes, immoral in his own eyes (he knows he's sinning), and immoral in society's eyes (well, maybe not :p). You seem to have missed my point - someone who purposely spends their life sinning CANNOT and WILL NOT be truly sorry in their heart. Its just impossible.

    I ignore the Old Testament for the most part. I know its part of the Bible, but there are obvious flaws in there that I think are writer-influenced.

    You're running in circles because later you claim that Jesus used rhetoric extensively.

    You're missing the point; as a Catholic, you have to make a leap of faith and assume that Jesus was the Son of God. Yes, it doesn't fit in an argument, but that's why its called FAITH.

    You seem to forget that Greece and Rome existed after, during, and before Jesus' time. :rolleyes:
     

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