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The Official Erik Mesoy KOs Religio-Morality Thread!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Erik Mesoy, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. alphanav1

    alphanav1 Warlord

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    I’m just posting this in response to the object morals questions.

    Morals are subjective in a fine way. At one point in time, in one place, it was ok to kill newborn children who were thought to be weak; I am speaking of Sparta of course. In another time it was ok to keep slaves not of your tribe, then your nation, then your skin color. It was ok to torture people, force a confession out of them at one time. It was ok to kill prisoners of war, or make them your slaves. It was ok to offer human sacrifice to your god. Some thought it was ok to eat people; some think its ok to do so in the direst of circumstances to day.

    What today do we consider to be immoral that will moral tomorrow? I can think of many things, but will not name them.

    I could go on and name a thousand more examples of how things we believe are immoral were once considered moral. Morals are subjective across time and place, person to person. One can say that there is an objective morale code and that we have to discover it, which is another argument. Some can say that they know what the objective moral code is, the merits of which must be debated.
     
  2. Blasphemous

    Blasphemous Graulich

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    BE, to put it simply, I agree, but I think it's all on an intellectual - and not instinctive - level.
     
  3. Taliesin

    Taliesin Puttin' on the Ritz

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    The Book of the Dead was a guide for souls after death. The wealthy paid to have it inscribed on their tomb walls or placed in the tomb with them; other people attempted to memorise it before death. If a soul did not follow its directions to the underworld, they would wander, homeless, forever. The bit Erik quoted was a set of moral directives in the form of a confession the soul must make to Osiris: a confession of innocence, of purity. Obviously the idea was that one would actually follow its precepts in life, so that reciting the confession wouldn't be a lie (Osiris wasn't bad at spotting lies...).
     
  4. Taliesin

    Taliesin Puttin' on the Ritz

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    They may be good for others. The atheist probably thinks they would be. That doesn't mean he must go around telling them that they must obey him and live as he does, partly because he might be wrong, partly because this might actually dissuade them from acting as he does.

    No, it doesn't. Many ethics are based on morals, true. Many use morals as guidelines. But living ethically requires more flexibility and more thought than simply following some rules. Aristotle did much to develop and codify Western ethics, and he says nothing about morals. He talks about character, and right action, and principles, but says nothing about cosmic laws that must be obeyed.


    No, discrete edicts don't necessarily come into it. There are some that are usually appropriate guides-- not killing, not harming, and not stealing are about the only ones that come to mind. However, ethical living is a process of being of good character and choosing the correct path in any decision. Some people base their ethics on the Decalogue or something like it, but some don't, and this doesn't make them less ethical.
     
  5. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    Yes of course, in my opinion they are, but according to my morals, it's none of my business what morals anyone else follows.
     
  6. WillJ

    WillJ Coolness Connoisseur

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    Nope. Aesthetics are subjective, right? (Actually, some would say they're objective, but I think we can agree that they're not.) But would you say that they're meaningless? Don't you buy paintings that you like? You don't buy paintings just because Stalin liked them, right? Morality is much the same.
    Um, how exactly are rights not a subject of morality?
     
  7. Blasphemous

    Blasphemous Graulich

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    Well, in a pluralistic democratic society at least, they are something agreed upon by the nation as a whole, without pertaining specifically to a certain moral code. People are allowed to have whatever moral code they want as long as they don't do anything to harm human or civil rights, which are the basis of any democracy.
    None of this, of course, applies to non-democratic nations...
     
  8. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    Sort of. Except that's hard to prove, and I started with the easier goal of showing that morality exists outside of any specific religion, which is easy to do with the Necronomicon. I don't really have many 4000-year-old atheist texts on my hands. :crazyeye:
    (Actually, the aim is more like Perf's thread, to stop this clogging up other threads, and hopefully to refute it, but I can see that's unlikely.)

    I have those too, but The Abolition is about Natural Law/Morality, and I thought it was more relevant to the case in point. The Letters are sort of an anti-guide to clear thinking and directed at Christians.

    Well, it being out of date is sort of the point, my dear fellow. Maybe I should have mentioned that the piece is titled "Admissions of a Righteous Soul". Anyhow, this moral text exists outside of any religion in existence today, and before most of them.

    And yes, you did confuse C.S. Lewis with Lewis Carroll.

    And the bit about the campaign promises was HILARIOUS. :lol:

    I say they're objective, and the people who demand $100 000 for draping a square of orange cloth over a green frame are nutcases riding the wave of moral relativism.




    P.S.
    Boy, it was fun starting this and watching the discussion. It's been incredibly sane.
     
  9. Mr. Do

    Mr. Do Emperor

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    Wow this thread's a really interesting read! (Yes I'm shocked)

    Personally on imposing my morals as an atheist it's a purely selfish instinct: I'll impose my morals on others for things I wouldn't want had done to me, but if it doesn't/ couldn't affect me, go nuts. Kinda like the "golden rule" I guess. And probably very inconsistent!
     
  10. mdwh

    mdwh Deity

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    I don't think religion has anything to do with morality here - these problems you pose apply to religious based morality too. Religions are just examples of things which define a set of moral rules, along with non-religious philosophies such as utilitarianism or humanism.

    Well maybe there exists a set of moral codes which came from God, but you have to prove to me that God exists, and that that happened. Otherwise it's meaningless - we don't know whether this happened, or even if we did, we don't know which religion it happened with. I might as well claim that my moral codes came from some all knowing aliens.
     
  11. mdwh

    mdwh Deity

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    Just because something is not absolute doesn't mean that we can't compare moral rules, or debate about which set of actions are better. The same applies to music, literature, art, politics, economics and many other things.

    You don't sit there and say "Well I'm right and Stalin was wrong because morality is absolute", nor do you say "Well we're both right because morality isn't absolute". You put forward an argument explaining why you think Stalin's actions were wrong.
     
  12. Cheetah

    Cheetah Deity

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    That's the way I see it as well.

    Instinctively we want to live unharmed, and intellectualy we found out the best way to do that is to agree with others not to fight.
     
  13. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    It's that time of year again when the Off Topic forum starts having morality debates, so...

    *TEN-MONTH BUMP*

    Read the two texts in the Original Post.
    Text 1 is an Egyptian morality text several thousand years old; Text 2 is a nonreligious argument for absolute morality outside of religion.
     
  14. Sidhe

    Sidhe Deity

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    Personally I believe those who aren't bound by moral dogma or codes of belief are in a much better position to look at the whole picture, rather than how their own tennants agree or disagree with others, simply because you are not bound to take one view, you can in fact be more objective about morals, this is self evident and it's no great surprise that the best works on ethics and morality of the last 3000 years have been written in the main by atheists and agnostics. I've said all this before but, I still think the best way to approach morality is to have an open mind, religion diminishes this capacity to some extent. What's truly worrying is though in some of the most ignorant and backward cases your told to ignore the religous texts admonishments agains blind faith; you are directed how to think morally and not to question morals, to encourage intolerance, regardless of how irrelevant and out of date such morals are, this is dangerous philosophy and leads to hard line judgemental beliefs and breeds hate, in all the religions I've seen it practiced.

    Any rule that does not change over time to reflect societys best interest is immoral, and no amount of proselytising and religous dogma changes this. This is where the moral danger lies in religion, in that by the time it has forgone it's slavish devotion to one moral standard, the damage has already been done, those who would be judged fairly have already been persecuted.

    To me religion should accept all of it's beliefs moral or otherwise no matter how arguable they are, and act as a guide as to how they should be acknowledged, and if not why they are dismissed,any apocryphal, coptic or arguable beliefs should be open to criticism or support to all adherents, religion should and alow people to come to their own beliefs and ideas. Inherent in it's systems though are the repression of those ideas it finds troubling no matter where they might lead, in other words you dismiss the beliefs and restrict your awareness to only those accepted ideas, kind of reading a book with some of the pages torn out, or looking at a painting head pressed firmly to to the canvass. You are told who is right and that other accounts are contrary to the acepted wisdom and thus cannot by their narrow definitions be true or have any merit, by an inner circle of adherents and your right to question them is non existant. This is not healthy for morality for the growth or for the religion itself for that matter.
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    His opinion IS just as valid as yours, but you're surely intelligent enough to present your side of the argument to attempt to prove that your view is MORE MORAL.

    It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; it is relative. Does this make beauty meaningless? Just because we don't rely on a religion to tell us exactly what's beautiful and what isn't doesn't make beauty meaningless.. much like morality isn't meaningless even if we don't have laws set in stone passed to us from the outside.
     
  16. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    It's on both levels. A big player on how we feel moral is guilt and attempting to avoid it. This is certainly an instinctive rather than intellectual force.

    Just because the nature of morality sets up conflicts doesn't mean it's meaningless. It's a fact of the world that different people have different moral systems and different moral values which sometimes result in a conflict.
     
  17. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    There are two issues: can morality exist outside of religion, and can morality exist outside of God?

    To the first, clearly I have seen atheists and other nonreligious people act in a manner that they felt was moral. They may not have had the specific moral code of a particular religion to guide them, but they have been motivated by a philosophy, or school of thought, or whatever. I think that certain moral behavior are hardwired into our genes, because we evolved as social animals, who need a moral code to live in a society.

    To the second, if it is indeed possible for the universe to exist without having been created by God (I am not certain that it was), then in such a universe morality can exist, but I think it would always be subjective - based on the moral code of being social animals, or some sort of utilitarianism. In a universe in which God (as I understand Him) exists, I think that there is definitely a morality. As it happens, I believe that God didn't create morality, but that there are fundamental laws governing the universe, such as justice and mercy, which God could not even violate. However, "lesser" laws such as no stealing can be violated if they will bring about a greater good.
     
  18. sanabas

    sanabas Psycho Bunny Hall of Fame Staff

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    I'm answering the other questions you put to other people as well, since most of them could probably get asked again in response to each of my answers.

    I they'd probably work reasonably well for almost everyone, but they are just for me. I'm happy to suggest them to others, but one of the main points of mine is that personal morality is a personal choice. Everyone else can make the same choice if they want to, but I'm not arrogant enough to think that my personal morality is the only possible correct set of morals, that should be applied to everyone.

    To pick a random example, let's say I think eating at McDonald's is immoral. It means people who do eat at McDonald's don't have exactly the same set of values as me. I don't automatically think they're immoral, because I don't think the standard I apply to myself is a universal standard to apply to everyone. I'll explain my reasoning if it comes up, but it's not up to me to enforce my personal code on others, or to police other people's moral choices.

    They're personal, subjective values. I don't think most of my values are objective universals, so I don't feel the need to make other people conform to my personal values.

    Murder, rape and all those nasty things aren't just down to personal morality. Put 'personal' into the first sentence of this quote, and then, yeah, I do really believe it is wrong. It is one of the few things in my code that I do think less of people for disagreeing with & not following.

    Best ones for me. Not necessarily the best ones for you. And not so black & white for me that I can automatically know what my opinion will be. I would struggle to draw up more than a vague framework for my own moral choices. I could explain that framework to you, but they're just guidelines, when I get faced with moral choices in my life, it requires actual thought on my part, not just looking up the relevant area of the framework. Unless your thought process, and the positive and negative values you assign to things when making a decision are exactly the same as mine, you're not always going to make the same choices as me, even if we do start from exactly the same framework. I can also make changes to what I think as I find new information. Trying to draw up a concrete, 'this is the best set of morals to have, here are all the rules you need to have those same morals yourself' wouldn't work particularly well, because I don't think having such a rigid code is a good thing to start with.
     
  19. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Here's a quick statement. Most people's morality include the concept that "self-defense is permitted", right? I mean, some religions pay lip service against these concepts, but you'll find few practictioners actually (consistently) "turn the other cheek".

    So. I feel justified in imposing my morality, if imposing my morality is a way of defending myself from someone else. And the kicker is, a lot of people also believe that self-defense is permitted, and I can work with people regarding such a motive, and form a teamwork of self-defense.

    So, Stalin wants to kill people. I don't want to be killed. Self-defense is permitted. This means that I form a team of people that are willing to act in collective self-defense. So, we'll team up (as a society) against people who want to kill people.

    I can form teams with people whenever we agree on a morality, and so I do. I include these people in my society, and attempt to sway or exclude those who disagree.

    So, the answer is "sometimes"
     
  20. Masquerouge

    Masquerouge Deity

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    Well since different religions have different morals, and that non-religious persons have morals that differ from religious people, morals are de facto subjective.

    And since morals are subjective, then they do not have to be religious.
     

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