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Do right and wrong exist?

I'm curious about objective right and wrong. If you believe in God, this is a no-brainer. Some things are wrong, some things are right, simply because God says so and He knows. But if you don't believe in God, can you still believe in objective morality? I personally don't think you can. I mean, what do you base it off of? How do you find out what's objectively right or wrong? (By objective I mean "existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality." from dictionary.com)
Sure, there's subjective morality. Any idea of right or wrong come up with by a human is by definition subjective. That's all well and good. Problem is that it only applies to people who believe in it and it gives them no authority to proclaim anything as "what we should be doing." Very often everybody disagrees with each other and we don't get anywhere. (Just look at Congress for an example of this.)
Maybe you disagree with me and you think there is objective morality but no God. That's fine. I would like to ask you to answer a question for me though. Let's pick an easy one. Why is rape objectively wrong? Don't misunderstand me, I can't think of a single instance where rape wouldn't be wrong. I believe very strongly that sexual abuse is one of the greatest evils in the world. Why is it evil? If you can answer me without using a God-based or subjective argument, I'll concede the point.
That point is this: Without God, there is no such thing as right and wrong, only the things we call right and wrong. And since nobody can agree on what to call what, we're all in a lot of trouble.

  • Mar 4 2013: *sigh* This is another crap religious argument. My deity defines right and wrong therefore I am right and you are wrong and it is fundamentally okay for me to believe that you are evil and deserve to be destroyed and tortured. If there is a deity he created 2.1 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims whose religion directly contradict each other and whose religion states that those outside it deserve eternal torment. He gave both sides nukes.

    Morality is defined by society! It is defined by civilization and not by a magic spirit or special book. If you are a Christian and you believe morality comes from a deity whose will is expressed through a book, the bible in this case, you have to agree that slavery is okay because it is okay in the bible.

    And if you look at your last statements you state that without whatever deity you believe in we can't agree on morality. You also use rape as a case in point. So you imply that we can't agree that rape is wrong. Well, guess what, most people agree is rape is wrong despite your implications. I am so tired of this religious crap about how atheists are immoral when priests are raping children and "holy warriors" are flying into buildings to perform mass killing.

    So I will present the counter point, if right and wrong comes from "God" how does he communicate it? Is it magically imparted to each member of society and then society generates a moral code? That sounds a lot like moral codes come from society. It comes from a book. Well, the Old Testament clearly indicates racism and slavery are okay and so maybe you are arguing that you would like to own some black people? Or maybe you think the teachings come through prophets? How do we verify a prophet? Muslims have one. Christians have one.
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      Mar 6 2013: At least biblical slavery was not so racially based as the us slave industry.
      Equal opportunity slavery unless Jewish.
      Bright side?
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    Mar 8 2013: ...The author anchored his question to gods, so a few words of wisdom from the past are apt...

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones"___Marcus Aurelius
  • Feb 22 2013: I think right and wrong exist on a continuum. It's not always black and white, but there a difference between right and wrong. I am an agnostic and I don't believe that you need to believe in God to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Some of the least moral people I know are "Christians" and some of the most ethical people I know are atheists.
  • Mar 3 2013: Human thought is relative. This may be called 'relativity of mind'. Take away God from the picture and we are left to our wits. Not only we proclaim what is right and wrong based on our perception but also hold on to it as truth and become egoistic about it. There is an element of passion indeed. Take any 'ism' as an example. There are zealots who defend it come what may. If Adam Smith or Karl Marx revisit today they will certainly redefine the concepts. But we will be very hesitant to do so. The point I am making is that no slavery to any idea even if it is good. Freedom of my mind to modify is important.
    A criteria for right and wrong can be whether it promotes human welfare or not. This can be Godless but involves empathy for humanity. This love for humanity is natural and in-built. This argument is not in conflict with spirituality.
    Spirituality beyond religion may eventually dawn on us and probably lead us to the path without intellectual hair splitting.
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      Mar 3 2013: I agree.

      Suggest we can be spiritual in an atheist way too.

      No gods. Just exploring our consciousness and the universe.
      • Mar 3 2013: If the exploration of the universe (or 'physical realm') is known as science, is the empirical method our prayer? :P
      • Mar 4 2013: Universe fascinated man for centuries. The scientific method has been rigorous and was a great leap forward from superstition but is prevelant in the last few hundred years. On the other hand man's wonder and fear resulted in several erroneous conclusions over several millenia. This may be called 'empirical'. Having said that I am open to the fact that intuition and great humility resulted in understanding the final reality by very few. in do think with a genuine prayer on the lips we will get more spiritual. The problem of all religions is the organization ,grouping, rules, books-in the process lose the original truth. Somehow prayer to me is something more than empirical
    • Mar 3 2013: A Sethuramiah, your remarks were so well put that I have just shared them with a friend on another forum.
    • Mar 3 2013: A Sethuramiah,
      In my years on this Earth, I have modified my thinking many times on many subjects. You stated it very well. We need to be able to do this in order to grow and become.
    • Mar 4 2013: This reply states my own feelings very well. We should measure the effect we have on other humans and on the wider world. Try to be aware to what extent we are spreading pain and suffering and what extent we are spreading joy and love.
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    Feb 27 2013: I've read a delightful Zen story on the internet recently:

    "A wise Zen frog was explaining to the younger frogs the balance of nature: "Do you see how that fly eats a gnat? And now (with a bite) I eat the fly. It is all part of the great scheme of things."
    "Isn't it bad to kill in order to live?" asked the thoughtful frog.
    "It depends . . ." answered the wise frog just as a snake swallowed the Zen frog in one chomp before the frog finished his sentence.
    "Depends on what?" shouted the students.
    "Depends on whether you're looking at things from the inside or outside," came the muffled response from inside the snake."
    • Feb 27 2013: Wise man said Vegan need B12 or else get sick. Nature is beautiful and so is eating.
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      Feb 28 2013: From my personal view, I don't think it's bad to kill in order to live, if it's really unavoidable.
      I don't even talk about the laws of nature.
      Say, a man point the gun against your head and states himself clear that he is going to kill you. And you happened to also have a gun. Would you shoot first?
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        Feb 28 2013: i should think a quick roll of the head and a shot to the shoulder could be enough...is there an unavoidable situation?
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        Feb 28 2013: Let's rewind your question to the root. We can hardly make a step without stepping on a living creature. We cannot make a single breath without consuming oxygen and "polluting the air" with carbon dioxide. Is it moral to LIVE? Do we have a choice?

        Perhaps, requiring more than bare necessities while blaming others for doing so is what makes us evil. Hence, "...give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

        As for your question, I do not own guns specifically because I don't want to have to answer it. I didn't choose to live. Let it be not my choice to die or to end someone else's life. This is my way to avoid death which is unavoidable.

        Although, I don't believe that there is "objective morality", some circular concepts are self-consistent which makes them irrefutable and, hence, absolute. E.g. you cannot prove false a statement "this statement is true". The golden rule of morality is of the same nature. Specific moral rules would change depending on who "YOU" are in "as YOU would have them do to YOU" and morality evolves as we do, but the principle remains unchanged - "absolute".

        By the way, the golden rule only works assuming that everyone wants same things. Which is only true at the level of bare survival needs. So, when we desire things beyond "our daily bread", the golden rule becomes much harder to use.
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      Feb 28 2013: humourously true.
  • Feb 27 2013: God or no God, doesn't subjective ultimately become objective? We are never born fully developed from a physical, mental or social perspective. Thus, I would hope we learn, what is right or wrong, from a combination of observing behaviors and responses and asking questions and seeking answers. We ultimately don't need "God" to decide that rape or any other social behavior is wrong. A consistent negative response to the behavior is all that is needed.
    • Feb 28 2013: Exactly! The word rape was invented for such cases, otherwise if it weren't bad it would be called sex. 100 out of 100 people would say they would rather have sex than be raped.
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        Mar 1 2013: Not quite I suggest. There are all sorts of outliers in regards to masochism.
  • Feb 22 2013: People who believe that they have to be righteous because God is watching are evil.
    People should be righteous because they want to be.
    • Feb 22 2013: This is true. People who are righteous just because God is watching are not righteous.
    • Feb 23 2013: As an atheist I understand your point of view... I only want to say that your statement is inflammatory(this is rich coming from me, but I'm learning) & only strengthens the pov of the believer. Further there are studies showing that belief in something or someone 'watching' over us is more than a common factor in our history, but a hardwiring in our evolution. Even skeptical minds have tendencies, though much less, to fall prey to this basic human behaviour. My girlfriend doesn't have a skeptical mind by any means & though she says she believes in god, isn't a member of any church... She always thinks that dead relatives are watching over her. I suspect that this belief affects her behaviour, even if only by a small degree... & I certainly don't think she's evil.
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        Feb 23 2013: It's perhaps not a bad test. Would I do this if people I love could see me?
      • Feb 23 2013: perhaps I should've added 'only' infront of because.
        I don't mean to say that religious people are evil.... I just mean that when their motivation to 'do good' / 'be righteous' / (other positive behaviour) is based upon "someone who can punish me is watching" means that when you remove that someone their reason will disapear.

        Religious people are not forced to have that motivation, many of them do good just because they want to.
        • Feb 23 2013: This sort of thing is difficult for the non-believer to grasp, the idea that we do good because we love God and because we love good and not because we are afraid of God. Glad you brought this up.
  • Mar 8 2013: The problem with the question you pose is that you have to assume that there is objective morality at all, this might be reasonable to the confines of you belief but it doesn't hold true in the world as we understand it. Quite simply, you cannot be independent of your thoughts, you are an observer of your reality.. therefore objective reality can't be thought of as existing. So you cannot find out what is "Objectively right or wrong", we can't prove that any holy text was written by god, we can't prove any 'prophet' actually heard the voice of god, and not just the voice in his head, and we can't prove there is a god. So the only thing you can know about an objective truth is that you cannot know if one exists.

    The obvious answers to the question you pose is simply the emotional and physical damage that the act causes not only to the victim but to the victims loved ones as well. Or in fact anyone that learns of the incident and feels the empathetic pains. There is also the implications to consider of self-suffering within the attacker who would feel tremendous guilt if they are not devoid of emotion or empathy; and if they are devoid of emotion and empathy then imagine the suffering already bestowed upon them that their mind might close down entirely their ability to feel. It's the over all effect of large human suffering that we can safely determine that rape is wrong. I can't imagine being able to argue it more reasonably or rationally than that.
  • Mar 7 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyd6om8IC4M

    this answers your question, you're welcome.
  • Mar 6 2013: Your argument is that without God one cannot have any clear ability to discern right from wrong?
    Lets assume (as I do) that religious texts are primarily false but well meaning anecdotes. That would mean that we created them. In this reality, we would also have created the "right and wrong" that some believe to have been divine. As one with no religious affiliation, it is some what insulting to assume that if I see someone being killed, that I only know it to be wrong because you say it is. Or would it make more sense that my internal conscience tells me not to remake or condone atrocities in general?
    Right and wrong is an ideal that is developed (developing) with human evolution of intelligence. This theory is supported by how we now see that some things we thought were wrong (biblical or religiously; such as homosexuality) are actually inherently wrong to defy.
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    Mar 4 2013: Really?
    There is no such thing as Objective Morality.

    If you hurt someone, is wrong.

    Religion has nothing to do with this.
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    Feb 27 2013: The question you are asking is whether morality is learned.

    "From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long argued that we begin life as amoral animals. One important task of society, particularly of parents, is to turn babies into civilized beings — social creatures who can experience empathy, guilt and shame; who can override selfish impulses in the name of higher principles; and who will respond with outrage to unfairness and injustice. "

    Harvard psychologist Paul Bloom has looked for evidence of morals in babies.

    "A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone."


    Another way to approach the question is whether humans are the only animal that demonstrates a sense of morality.
    For aan answer we can turn to Frans de Waal, who studies primate social behavior.

    "Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity -- caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share."


    De Waal summarizes by saying, "I believe there's an evolved morality. I think morality is much more than what I've been talking about, but it would be impossible without these ingredients that we find in other primates, which are empathy and consolation, pro-social tendencies and reciprocity and a sense of fairness."
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      Feb 27 2013: I agree we seem to have an evolved morality, but suggest with an overlay of cultural programming.
    • Feb 27 2013: I don't know. I've read the articles regarding children and primates with regard to empathy and morality but to me it boils down to simple common sense.

      Imagine being a caveman. You are alone and starving and need to eat. You come across another caveman, you can either fight, which is just fine, or you can team up and hunt together. Teaming up and hunting together sounds more appetizing than killing the other caveman and eating them. Something about roast Woolly Mammoth, mmm mmm good. You two assumes that anything you catch will be split 50/50, why, because that is what is FAIR. No one likes unfairness. Being fair is MORAL. Anyway, as soon as you team up you have just now entered an agreement with each other. You expect the other one to tell you the truth if he sees an animal to hunt. If he lies to you and you go off for miles hunting what was a lie (didn't actually see the prey) you will be pissed off beyond belief. Why? Because he lied to you, it's that simple. Lying is immoral. Telling the truth is MORAL. Now what if you two finally caught something and the other one decides to cut you out of your 50/50 agreement and take more for themself? You would be pissed off beyond belief! Why? Because doing unto others things which they do not agree to is IMMORAL. Lastly. Say that you two, as you are hunting, see an injured caveman. He will live but he needs shelter, some rest, and some nourishment. Do you keep on walking or do you help him? I'd help but I wouldn't blame someone else for not helping. Empathy, being strange, is to be measured by the individual wielding it. I can't speak about others' empathy but I can speak all day about others' lying or doing things to other people that they don't agree to.
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        Feb 27 2013: I'm not sure how much common sense young children have, but they seem to have an innate sense of fairness at a fairly young age. I would be surprised if this is a product of reasoning.

        But I agree with our adult human reasoning faculties we can see how cooperation, fairness and other group dynamics humans have (and some other mammals, especially primates) would benefit survival, so if there is any genetic disposition involved it would be likely to be promoted by natural selection.

        I don't think other mammals are using reasoning to conclude they should work as a group. It is innate.

        Just to be a pain, but I suggest sometimes it is moral to do something to others that you wouldn't want done to yourself, and that they don't want you to do to them. If someone is a threat to society it is reasonably moral to lock them up in my view. I don't want to be locked up and neither do they, but it makes sense for the greater good.

        If that other caveman was an enemy that killed your mate would you still help him?
        • Feb 28 2013: No, I wouldn't help the caveman who killed my mate. I'd probably finish him off.

          A criminal has already done harm to someone else that didn't agree to it. Their punishment is restraint from doing it again and also just rehabilitation. They may not agree to their punishment but then they shouldn't of harmed another person. I don't want to be locked up myself so I don't commit crimes against others.
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        Feb 27 2013: This whole scenario that you have described is a subjective fabrication, it suggests that you hold a strong internal sense of what is right and wrong. This is a subjective morality. Where is the evidence of an objective morality?
        Do you see a form of morality in other animals? Is it learned? What forms of morality do we se in babies? Do animals and babies deceive or lie? Do they have a sense of fairness?
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      Feb 27 2013: The research whether animals have morals begs a question. We can determine that animals have empathy, that empathy is evolved, etc. But we need to presume that empathy is moral. How do we know that?
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        Feb 27 2013: To be clear, de Waal states that morality evolves out of several things which he sees in other animals:
        1. Empathy and consolation
        2. Pro-social tendencies
        3. Reciprocity and fairness.

        He states: "If you ask anyone, "What is morality based on?" these are the two factors that always come out. One is reciprocity, and associated with it is a sense of justice and a sense of fairness. And the other one is empathy and compassion. And human morality is more than this, but if you would remove these two pillars, there would be not much remaining I think. And so they're absolutely essential."
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          Feb 27 2013: Theodore, I have no doubt that scientific research can show that animals have the three items you list and that they are a product of evolution.

          By the way, accepting that all living creatures are a product of evolution implies that all traits they have are also a product of evolution.

          I also agree with the reasoning that morality is based on reciprocity and compassion. However, this statement does not come from science. To make this statement, we need to already know what morality means, and this knowledge is not scientific.
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        Feb 27 2013: Its very interesting.

        What is morality from a human perspective?

        I guess it often but perhaps not always relates to group dynamics, favoured behaviours, social cohesion etc. Perhaps the cultural overlay might add some complexity that might not fit.

        If it is about groups, then might not other similar animals have a kind of proto morality?
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        Feb 27 2013: What is the origin of the word "moral?"
        Morals are concerned with or adhering to the code of interpersonal behavior that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society. We are differentiating between to types of morality, objective and subjective. De Waal is observing a basis for objective morality and identifies empathy and reciprocity. It is this basis that requires a scientific investigation, such as Bloom's inquiry into babies behaviors.
        The rest is just rule making and subjective: ( morals) a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do : the corruption of public morals.
        • standards of behavior that are considered good or acceptable.

        see ethical, honorable, righteous, virtuous
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    Feb 22 2013: "Without God, there is no such thing as right and wrong..."

    Without god? Which god?

    Most of humanity believes in a different god than you, or none at all. One can easily look around the world and see billions of people who do not share your belief, yet many of these people behave rather admirably, often under trying circumstances.

    One wonders why you posed the question since you are certain of your answer....
  • Feb 22 2013: Simple.

    Love = right. Hate = wrong.

    Everything else is open for individual interpretation.
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      Feb 23 2013: I disagree with you....
      If I hate somebody because he hates everybody else, or if he does something bad, then does it neccessarily make me bad?
      Then, we can go deeper down thinking what "Hate" and "Bad" means, but my opinion is that you cannot really set "Love" and "Hate" as the absolute standard for "Right" and "Wrong" completely ignoring what is behind them.
      • Feb 26 2013: Well, I was taught to love even my enemies. I believe hate to be the motive behind everything that is going wrong in the world. Plus it is also an undeniable burden. If we loved more, forgave more, and hated less... I sincerely believe there would be less "wrong" to go along with it. In response to your first sentence, no it does not make you bad. However, it does nothing to help the situation. Hate makes situations negatively stagnant.
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        Feb 27 2013: Re: "If I hate somebody because he hates everybody else... then does it neccessarily make me bad?"

        Does it make you different from the person you hate?
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        Feb 28 2013: "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." -- Hermann Hesse
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    Feb 21 2013: Sometimes it depends on who is more powerful, prominent or strong. . .Or may be for someone, it depends on your sunglasses' colour. To me, it depends on a natural feeling beating down in the bottom of our hearts which tells us inmediately if something we're doing or thinking is wrong or right. We usually can guess it subconciously.
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      Feb 21 2013: You are right about " depending on a natural feeling beating down in the bottom of our hearts which tells us immediately if something we're doing or thinking is wrong or right." -We are 'hard wired' with an inner compass. Here's a quote I love: " The only thing that doesn't follow majority rule, is personal conscience."
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        Feb 21 2013: I sincerely agree with you. And I also love -it's real- your statement "we are 'hard wired' with an inner compass". It's true. We, philosophy lovers, call it something like 'natural law', (nothing to do with Nature).
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    Feb 20 2013: Of course there is objective right and wrong.

    I am right.

    You are wrong.

    And that is about as objective as it gets. Any married man understands this..
  • Mar 8 2013: Very muddy topic. Of course right and wrong exist. If they didn't our society would not function. Anarchy is not a sustainable system. Chaos is bad order is good. But too much order can be very bad. No order at all is worse. The first known system of laws was found to have originated about 9,000 years ago. Since then society has become more complex and law has followed accordingly.
  • Mar 5 2013: Religion is actually tell what should do, what should not, religion can guide our action, but can not determine action people take. That is why we need law to decide what is right, what is wrong.
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      Mar 5 2013: There are situations beyond religion and law, and sometimes they are not totally correct, because they change what they had said before.
      What about them ?
      • Mar 5 2013: I believe, religions were born out of the believes, rights and wrong as established by like minded people who presented them in the name of God, to gain immediate acceptance and avoid irrational and unanswerable questions. The religions have evolved over a period and hence there is nothing wrong if new definitions are created for situations that did not exist earlier or were not adequately handled.

        For example, it is said that Buddism is born of Hinduism and a lot of similarities can be seen. And among Hindus there are several sub-sects based on differences in believes (or rights and wrongs) that indicate that oldest religion in the world has allowed and tolerated evolution of its constituent rules on rights and wrongs.
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          Mar 5 2013: A question:
          Does it mean religions are true ?
          And if they are, do you agree that a rule cannot be true forever, and you should think about it yourself ?
          So ... religions are just guidances. This is you who should judge and decide.
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          Mar 5 2013: I kind of agree about your thesis on religions evolving.
          They may be useful social technologies for teaching a particular moral view.
          Their weakness is they often rely on supposed divine command via scriptures and revelation, coming up with different answers, and usually not providing a way to assess what is moral beyond the bible or sutras or pope says so.
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    Mar 5 2013: Religion is fascinating and helpful, but it should not completely dictate how people live their lives.
  • Mar 3 2013: We perceive reality through illusions and stereotypes born from our living necessity of the processing and resultant categorisation of information: hence, because our experience of reality is wholly subjective, morality is intrinsically subjective. However, as we are generally social beings, we attempt to create an inclusive, universal morality to establish a suitable moral paradigm for our interaction and societies: no matter morality's innate subjectivity.
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    Mar 2 2013: if one of these exist, then must the other
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    Feb 23 2013: Shakespear wrote "There is nothing right ot wrong, but thinking makes it so."
    Right and wrong are value judgements
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    Feb 21 2013: Of course.........Standing is right. Standing on someone's foot is wrong.
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      Feb 21 2013: So anyone who cannot stand is wrong??
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        Feb 21 2013: Standing is right. Standing on someone's foot is wrong. (figure of speech)....
        Everything, everyone, everybody, every "body" has a "stand" that is their own and to all of which they are entitled in its entirety....(including all its extensions, like "feet" and finger tips" on a "body")
  • Feb 21 2013: Many interesting answers here already, but I want to try answer: "Why is rape objectively wrong?"
    It is objectivly proven via statistics, that I will not go into here, that beeing a victim of rape heightens the chanse for trauma which in turn heightens the chanse for negative personal effects; Such as depression, eatig disorders, anxiety, the list goes on and on. People exposed to trauma tend to need more and produce less.
    Lets then assume that the perpetrator might not be evil, as we have no proof he is, objectivly. Lets assume he is a normal man (or even a woman) that wants to live in a safe and well functioning society, prefrebly one with a good ecconomy. How can we tell something about this want, objectivly? Again, I think we can prove this both psycologicly and statisticly. The flow of people from areas/countries with poor functioning societies/ecconomies comes to mind.
    The more traumaticed people he/she have around him/her, the less chanse he/she will have to live in such a society.
    Hm. Yes. This question WAS easy. We do not have to go into complicated morals, not even "good or bad" to answer, a simple "cause and effect" is enough to prove that rape is objectivly wrong.
    Or what say you?
  • Feb 19 2013: Have you ever made a mistake or done a wrong. even without Gods intervention for a sec. have you ever done something and had a guilty conscience afterward. youve known deep within yourself that what you did was wrong. Your conscience is yours , it wasnt directed by God and isnt controlled by him, its part of who YOU are the real you. everyone conscience is their own private one. God can only strive with yours to allow you to see the truth of his purposes, to guide you if you want to or not for your benefit.
    Gods name was slandered in the garden of eden , his right to rule was brought into queston , his sovereignty was at stake Gods name was brought into disrepute. Man in effect said to God we can manage without you, so God put them out of the paradise and allowed time to pass to see if man can rule without God. And have they?? Has mankind made a good job of living together. They are destroying the planet,killing and bombing in wars fighting everyday, we see starvation on a mass scale. see 2Tim 2 1-6 we know from scripture we are in the last days. math 24 tells of a sign that Jesus gave when he would "come". It involved a composite list of EVENTS that by seeing them one would know that he was present. It was like a fingerprint in time. he said not to be misled, to not believe people who came on the basis of his name saying they were he, why,? because he was returning invisibly, only those with spiritual eyes of discernment would know that Jesus was turning his attention to the end of days. When you see the signs as in mat 24 you will know he has returned in power as King. Like when someone rings your doorbell you dont see them do you, the bell is a sign that some is present. Jesus went back to heaven when he died waiting till his enemies were made a footstool for him. He did not become King till the witnessing of the signs that we see today. The bible says on becoming King he will clear satan from heaven, wow to earth because the devil has now a short time ...
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      Feb 20 2013: Firstly I'm not aware of any compelling proof for any gods or goddesses let alone Yahweh.

      Secondly, I guess you subscribe to divine command. The creator of the universe gets to set the rules and do anything it likes with its creations like sending them for eternal punishment, drowning the entire planet etc.

      Glad there is no evidence of a divine dictator.

      I note the bible is a confusing array of stories and multiple perspectives of a god. I note believers disagree how to interpret it. Pretty poor effort by the creator if it does have a clear plan for us. It doesn't even seem to exist.
  • Feb 14 2013: The thing with a modern rationalist is that he seems to say, with a profound conviction that:
    "Everything depends on the context, it just depends on what you believe, which is pure subjectivity. but it excludes me"
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      • Feb 14 2013: I would say that people who really believe something are busy acting upon them. They are not looking for evidence of their believes in a clever argument.
      • Feb 23 2013: "you're never going to talk anyone out of their most dearly held beliefs."

        You needn't talk most people out of their most dearly held beliefs. Not when you live in a mostly rational society. But sometimes things go awry and people are led down the garden path by a demigod like Joseph McCarthy or an ultimately destructive leader like Adolf Hitler. Then you need people like Senator Margaret Chase Smith and Edward R. Murrow to speak out or you might need an army of allies well supplied with arms and intelligence officers. Or maybe you need a Carrie Mathison (Homeland)?. But it was only Smith And Murrow there who were just talking. And talk they did, God love them.
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    Feb 12 2013: No, I dont think right and wrong exist.For me they are just labels that are put on visible behaviors and are called so according to how well they serve certain purposes( like if you form a group, the memebers will conciously or unconciously develop "rules" to keep group functioning or not-functioning.Those favorable acts are called right and least favored wrong.Also ,without God,there will be things we call "right"or "wrong" cuz i dont think they originate from God for reasons mentioned above.)
    After all our perception creats reality.Just some thoughts.
    • Feb 12 2013: Oh yeah, we'll definitely still call things "right" or "wrong" even if we don't believe in God. My point is how it's illogical to do so.
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        Feb 13 2013: erh...First how God is relevant?
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        Feb 14 2013: ohhh.....trap!!! ahhhhhhhhhhh.....;D ;D ;D

        @scot hey, guess your point is exactly what you are looking for as being illogical,pointed by Mark.Do you think?

        @Mark good to see you on ted again ! !emmm.....you have said what is left to say.better go to sleep now.ha-ha-ha
        • Feb 14 2013: I don't know if I'd say "trap", but yeah, I wanted to make atheists actually think about what they believe in. You got me :).
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        Feb 15 2013: Hi scot . I would say to examine what we all believe could be helpful no matter where we are at spiritually.(or some dont even call it spiritual or anything). dont you think?
        • Feb 15 2013: I assume you're saying that everybody's beliefs have merit? Sure, of course. If there wasn't a nugget of truth at the center of the idea no one would believe in it.
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          Feb 17 2013: Hi Scott suggest different views on morality have different degrees of merit once we can agree on what behaviours or conditions are most useful or beneficial. That is the hard part. And believing in this god or that with their conflicting rules and subjective interpretations is not that helpful.

          Are the requirements of the Aztec gods any better than those of a particular interpretation on a monotheistic god?

          Some of us non theists have thought about this a lot and even if we give a theist the benefit of the doubt that some creator god or goddess exists and has rules for us, that does not make the rules right or wrong, it does not make the god good or evil, unless you define it conveniently as all good. And then we are still stuck because we have no reliable way of interpreting what it wants.

          And ultimately, does it make sense to believe there is some absolute right or wrong? I get that there could be a god that divinely commands us to do this or that. But what does it mean by saying god knows what is absolutely good? What does that mean? Or is it just another definition or assumption that god knows what is best for us, without any proof.

          So if there is a creator goddess, we really don't know much about it, whether it wants anything, and if it does want what is good, and for us to do what is right, does it just come down to defining what the creator wants is good and right by definition. Not very helpful sorry.

          As for the Abrahamic god, well if the old testament bible is reliable its not a that moral or a character in human terms. You might define it as all good, but if it were a human it is a monster.

          If you look deeply at human morality it always come backs to how human interact with each other primarily and more broadly with other animals etc and the mechanisms they construct to manage their societies.
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        Feb 16 2013: =.=||| ohh, scot .what i was trying to say is that to think about or examine our own beliefs could be helpful not just for aheists but also non aheists.To think with presumptions you just see what you want to see.
  • Feb 11 2013: On the surface, the question , ' Do right/wrong exist ? or ' How does one measure the rightness/wrongness ? 'sounds too complex to pose, let alone answer.
    But maybe the answer is simple : the rightness is to be measured, always, by the degree to which it serves the good of the whole, not the ambition of the part. This is because the uni-verse, across all fractals of reality is ONE.
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      • Feb 11 2013: Hmmmm ...

        I'll think about it. I feel that it must be not quite so, but at the moment i have nothing but feeling.
        I'll be back :)
      • Feb 11 2013: I am back with a bit more than feeling :)

        "Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
        see no Dharma in everyday actions.
        They have not yet discovered that
        there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."

        In QM , each process of the Whole is the Whole.


        It may mean that inside your life/Whole you balance right / wrong as well.
        " As above so below "
        We are condemned to live on the consequences of our taste. If one has no sense of beauty he/she is doomed to the appalling nightmare.
        Beauty/ Truth/ Love is one thing, they always come together.
        'Whenever Beauty looks,
        Love is also there;

        Rumi :
        Your embrace some form
        saying, "I am this."
        By God, you are not this
        or that or the other
        you are "Unique One"
        (the emphasis is mine) :)
      • Feb 12 2013: Beautifully said, Mark ! As always :)
        And yes...
        Actually, i didn't come back with the argument against, but with the extension of ' Yes '
        "As above so below " is the key.
        I have more than 'feeling' now, it's not understanding, but ' standing under ' , it means that it is difficult to say.
        That's why i've used quotes, quotes ...not other people's thoughts. It's my thoughts, but they're dressed better.:) .
        I'll be back, if/when i manage to condense my 'standing under' into understanding .
      • Feb 13 2013: Hi, again !

        Btw. ' feeling' is very important. For me it's a primary data. It's intuition that does not dare to speak itself. Because for rational mind it would be nonsense, but for subtle mind 'non sense' is good, because sense is sooooo limited
        " As above so below "
        Above is all that is and not quite IS, perfect beauty of undisturbed stillness, everything is reconciled in all possible directions... and so is Below, our reality where wrong and right is balanced within itself by constant motion for it is mirroring Above and you have no chance to hurt reality whatever you are doing, it'll find the way to reconcile your ' wrong' with someone's 'right', which is only possible because of your 'wrong'. On the scale of Reality right/wrong makes no sense at all.
        So, we get the picture.
        And here is my extension :
        Above is the Same, Below is always changing to stay the same. In our human domain it is a hustle and bustle, confusion , drama ... i make my choices for myself, you make your choices for yourself , they ( we don't like them :) ) also make their choices for themselves.. human history, in short.
        And now imagine , we all fallow the golden rule: " Dethrone yourself from the center of your world, put another there ... ", what our human history will look like ?
        There will be no history at all ! Below will be Above like: undisturbed joy of being !
        It's like the phase transition in physics , it changes the substance of the stuff so dramatically that it becomes another stuff. Water becomes ice or steam. ( again...as above so below ) Some call it ' paradigm shift ', religions intuit it and call Paradise on Earth. What we need is to practice ' don't do to others..." , there are no others, anywhere, whatever you are doing to others ( be it people or nature ) you are doing to yourself, because the uni-verse, across all fractals of reality is ONE.

        Does it make sense ? :)
      • Feb 14 2013: Your 'intuition VS feeling' point is very convincing.
        I feel exactly how you've described, when i have a ' feeling'
        Thanks ! :)
        And Yes... to everything you've said, very well put.
        What i am trying to say is maybe it's time for us to EVOLVE , and it's " also just reality acting in its own service" ?
      • Feb 15 2013: ".. there are many such popular ideas going around, collectively refered to as new age spirituality "
        .I can't say No, it's different , because i don't know exactly what new age spirituality is. But i think that New Age philosophy hopelessly flattens the thing.
        " We are always in the middle of something big "

        Yes, but this ' big' is always slightly different, it is never the same in size and intensity.
        It's growing, speeding up and pace is relentless.

        Maybe we have a kind of a ' similar' picture in mind, but i try to make the bridge between the 'picture' and life. I am not quite satisfied with a picture that doesn't come even tangentially with the life you and me are experiencing.
    • Feb 11 2013: I'd say in general that that's true. I believe that selfishness is the great evil, and selflessness perfection. As to why I believe that, though, it's because God said so.
      • Feb 11 2013: Selfishness is ignorance and yes, maybe evil.
        God doesn't judge you, God experience ' to be ' through you.
        We are not punished FOR our selfishness, we are punished BY our selfishness.
        • Feb 12 2013: True true, God usually doesn't need to punish us. He just lets the consequences of our actions happen to us.
      • Feb 23 2013: Scot, one can believe that selfishness is in error without bringing God into it. An infant is selfish by nature. It's all he's ready for. As he grows he will learn to share with others and care about them. but his natural tendency will be to remain selfish. Only when he has grown enough as a human being can he understand that to counter this tendency, he must make an effort to be selfless. By choosing to try to be selfless whenever he feels able to, he is living his ideals. That is, he is trying to do "what's right" for the good of his society. He need not believe in a deity for this. I believe in God. But I know believers who do not do right as often as some others I know who are not believers.
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    Feb 9 2013: I like the argument that Sam Harris makes on this, that is no God is necessary to develop an objective morality. He maintains that we always define something as wrong that diminishes the well being of people to the worst possible state imaginable.
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      Feb 9 2013: Harris also has a remarkable ability to define words like 'religion' and 'science' in manners which diminish the well being of people to a pretty low par state of imagination...
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        Feb 9 2013: Will you care to explain? Or possibly refer a talk/text by Harris?
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          Feb 10 2013: http://fora.tv/2010/11/10/Sam_Harris_Can_Science_Determine_Human_Values

          Harris has his TED talk, but this link is to a lecture series he had - although both dedicate semantics to overstating words like religion and science - this lecture shows an agenda, which is anti-religion. Although (Idk where you are from) most Eastern theologians DO NOT define religion similar to most in the West.

          God may not be necessary to develop a moral objectivity, I agree, but that does not make those who believe in God or religion wrong, that train of logic is what is militant about this new wave of atheism spreading across America - and it would seem the world.
    • Feb 11 2013: Yes, but how do we define "worst"? There's still no real criteria here.
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        Feb 12 2013: We simply don't define "worst". We form an idea about it based on our understanding, experience and feeling. I think even without definition we can still imagine situations with practically no reason to be in. We can call that "worst". I also think even without definition most of us will agree on this "worst".
        • Feb 12 2013: Right, this is the definition of subjective.
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    Feb 9 2013: If you believe in free will, right and wrong exist. Anything you do which interferes with another's free will is wrong, anything else is right. Perhaps there's more to it than that. but it's a good place to start. If you don't believe in free will, then nothing whatsoever matters.
    • Feb 11 2013: Ok, sounds good. How do you know that's what objectively right or wrong though? Sounds like an opinion to me.
    • Feb 15 2013: Can't we agree that free will is a given? How many of us are there who feel that, 24/7, everything we think and do is being decided for us?