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Obey No1kinobe

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No god = No Morality?

Recently, and reasonably frequently, there are claims made by some very thoughtful people that without god or without religion there would be no absolute morality and human civilisation risks sliding into survival of the fittest.

For someone like me who assumes all the law giving gods are man made and so are the religious laws - we have always managed to develop morality ourselves anyway. Perhaps human morality is a mix of instinct, cultural and experiential programming and reason. I include religion in the programming part.

But there is still the question would an end to traditional religions remove a pillar in society that improves the human condition.

For the more religious, I guess you had better hope you have the right god and right interpretation and right set of divine laws.

Also if a god gave us a conscience, this seems to work more or less with or without belief in any particular deity or dogma. You may be a good person but might not get to heaven.

So would the decline of traditional religion shift us towards survival of the fittest? No.

1) Atheists can be as good or evil as believers

2) Some religious laws are immoral from the perspective of equality, freedom, and improving the human condition. We would be better without these.

3) Religion had thousands of years to address slavery, race and sex equality, sanctity of life and has not done well. The enlightenment drove these forward.

4) During the reign of religion we have had more wars, murder compared to now - as the grip of religion has decreased.

5) Where we see religious fundamentalism we often see more violence. The most devout are often the most dangerous.

6) USA one of the most religious first world countries in the world with a huge rate of gun crime, murder, imprisonment compared to less religious western nations.

7) We owe much of our more civil societies to enlightenment values of equality, freedom

We have a sound basis for morality without god. We don't need god to value life.

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Closing Statement from Obey No1kinobe

Thanks all.

The key takeaways for me are:

(a) Many people believe that if god given absolute rules are taken away then anything goes. This seems to be a key teaching in Christian circles.

There is a lot of confusion here. Many think they know who god is and what his rules are. Somehow they ignore or explain away that there are many gods and conflicting god given rules. What if you have the wrong god, wrong rules, or there is no god. The certainty is sad to see.

Also, it is just a human definition that whatever god does is moral and what he says is moral is the absolute. If god punishes us in hell it is moral. If god asks us to smite neighbouring tribes it is moral. If god floods the world and kills nearly everyone including innocent babies it is moral. Original sin passed from generation to generation is moral.
This is similar logic to that used in the Nuremberg trials. It was only a war crime if the allies didn't do it.

We are gods play things his creation his rules. You can not challenge them. Well we can. We can judge these rules and gods actions and see some are good, some are silly and some are downright cruel. You might believe these are the rules, but how can you say they moral other than by definition.

(b) That if religion fades as a morality indoctrinator, we may lose some of the nasty medieval rules, but need to be sure we put energy into living moral lives, guiding our kids, and supporting a moral society.

I suggest we invented the gods and their rules, we can build on these and secular foundations in the future without gods


I have to disagree. Firstly there are so many different conflicting beliefs on what absolute morality is. It simply does not exist in this simplistic form.

Lorraine, all I can say is I don't think personal revelation, however profound is a sound basis for absolute morality. There have been many revelations and they don't all agree. It might work for the individual but don't claim it is the ultimate truth.

Imagine if

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  • Apr 23 2012: I'm going to go back and define morality again. Morality is behavior that is acceptable in a culture by that culture. Having relations with your cousin is acceptable in some cultures, but not in others. Therefore, morality is subjective. Moral absolutes are defined by where one is at, culturally. All over the world, every day, cultures kill other cultures because their moral code tells them that what they are doing is okay and good for their culture. In Rwanda, the Hutu's killed almost a million Tutsi's. Why? They didn't like them. They just wanted to get rid of them. For 10 years, Hutu's killed their neighbors. They couldn't readily get guns, so the used machetes for their primary weapon. Now, I'd like to know, how to you come to a point in your life where you look at your moral compass and it says, "It's okay. Take your machete and go to town on those people". Here in America, if someone kills someone with a machete, it will make the network news lead story. That's just one death. I'm telling you this to illustrate that the Hutu's had morals. Their morals included killing every Tutsi that they encountered.

    This scenario is what happens when man defines his morals. This why I do not wish to leave the moral making decisions up to my fellow man. This scenario has happened thousands of time over history. Jews, slaves, Serbians, Cambodians, and even the Aztecs, were victims of another culture's own self proclaimed morality.

    This is why, I embrace Christianity. But this thread is not about religion. So I say that my morals come from my faith. My faith says that the number one commandment is to love God. The 2nd commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is the Christian belief. When Christians kill witches, or jews or homosexuals, or non-christians, they are not following the teachings of Christ. Islam also teaches love above anything else. Islamic fundlmendalists pervert their teachings and kill in the name of Allah. They are not morally right.
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      Apr 23 2012: Fair enough Casey. I''m with you on your 2nd commandment. Pity it didn't make it into the originals.

      Some forms of Christian belief are relatively benign, but most ideologies have the possibility of extremism, especially religious ones. Catholic militias and orthodox militias in the Balkans. Catholic versus Protestants in Ireland still. All the Islamic stuff. I actually think Religion is just one of the factors not the whole story in most cases, but it adds a lot of heat.

      Your benign beliefs are not the whole story of Christianity, and definitely the whole story of Religion.

      And being benign does not make your faith the truth.

      Also, all religions and gods are man made so subjective anyway in my opinion. You come full circle. IF you think your source materials are the best there is, fair enough as long as you have looked at them objectively, suspending your faith for a minute and see it how others see it.

      I'm not sure you have read all the bible - Isiah, Leviticus etc. Or the Koran. they are a mix of good and bad. Not all love. Islam is submission. The new testament has less angry tribal god nonsense, but is still apocalyptic, human sacrifice, etc etc. And isn't Yahweh the Father this murdering god of bronze age imagination was pretty brutal. Same god right. Trinity and all that. How do you reconcile this?

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