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Scot Wilcox

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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.

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      Feb 9 2013: I do not know who Sarah is, but are you saying that ANYTHING anyone does to her is not wrong?
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          Feb 9 2013: Agreed sir. Everything I am aware of arises from my mind and my mind tells me that certain acts are wrong, certain acts are right, and certain acts are neither. All acts are one or the other. Yes that is a human construct as is all conscious activity. A specific act may well be wrong for one person while right for everyone else. For example jumping on a grenade is right for the survivors but wrong for the hero, who would tell you it was the right thing for him to do, but in terms of survival it was clearly the wrong thing to do. In selfless, altruistic, sacrifical acts doing the wrong thing is right. The greater good.
        • Feb 15 2013: I believe Mr. Long makes a good point when he mentions " the greater good". The selfless act he describes is the sort of thing that can be bad for an individual, but good for mankind. We can see this happening in small groups and large ones. George Washington didn't want to be president. He didn't feel that he could enjoy the job or that it was likely to do him any good to attempt it. But he was convinced to take it on for the good of our country. And I believe he accomplished much that those who sought to put him in office wished that he would. A noble human being often furthers the collective goals of mankind.
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          Feb 15 2013: To be clear Mr. Meijer, is it your belief that none of the deeds of Mankind, from the beginning of human history to the end, can be considered universally and absolutely good or evil? Do you embrace and propagate the philosophy that no human action is anything other than neutral, neither good nor evil? If my question can be answered with a "Yes", or a "No", I would appreciate, but I do not demand, it. Thank you sir.
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        • Feb 16 2013: @Mark Meijer - I can't imagine that it would bother me if our goals are in our human minds only. After all, as "our goals", where else should they be? God may be aware of them, and I do happen to believe He knows and sees all things, but they are still, by definition, our own, particular human goals, not possessed by Him as well. What constitutes human welfare is not really so difficult to discern. You seem to wish to avoid doing so, however. Please forgive me if you are sincerely engaged in the betterment of mankind. Meanwhile, Mr. Wilcox asks a good question. When sharing a common faith, it is easy to agree on the difference between right and wrong. Are there other ways of doing so? Of course. We can share common goals in the absence of a common philosophy. Then, whatever furthers our goals is right, whatever hinders them is wrong.
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          Feb 16 2013: What we CHOOSE to believe is important, it is not irrelevant or trivial. It is an important part of who we are as individuals. It defines the lack of identicalness between all 7 billion of us. That is why I asked you if you CHOOSE to believe that under certain circumstances certain acts (let's take the example of a suicide bomber destroying a pediatric clinic full of innocent, non-combatant, mothers and their children) would not be considered wrong, or evil. I understand you to be saying you have CHOSEN to believe that such an act could, under specific, subjective circumstances, be deemed a neutral, or even a good, act. To answer your question, I am sorry to say that I do not see how advocating for the acceptability of such an act, under ANY circumstance, could be considered to be for the betterment of mankind.
          My answer, what I have CHOSEN to believe, is yes, there is absolute, objective good and evil. Even though some might call good evil, or evil good, the fact remains that certain acts are universally, objectively, immutably good or evil.
          Your answer as stated herein ["The question isn't whether right and wrong exist subjectively. They obviously and undeniably do."] is that they only exist subjectively and are based upon human constructs. On that we disagree. Thank you sir!
        • Feb 18 2013: The things you tend to focus on put me in mind of a family member who used to focus on the same sorts of things. Though this made him seem uncaring, his profession had him actively engaged in the welfare of at-risk children. And it was obvious that he cared a great deal what happened to them. He clearly had their welfare at heart. That's why I brought up the betterment of mankind issue.

          As for the subject at hand, I believe that by viewing this thread in its entirety, you'll be able to see that Mr. Wilcox is a believer, as am I. We believers can sometimes despair of a world so engrossed in secular concerns, pastimes and goals. It can cause us to despair of those left to raise their children in godless homes with no clear notion from one day to the next of what constitutes right and wrong or how to teach it. He feels we're all in a lot of trouble if we don't have God to guide us. This is his real concern. He's worried that the godless will surely ruin things for the rest of us. In truth, they often lead us forward in an ever-changing world which requires new viewpoints. I think that if you can quiet the philosopher within yourself for a bit and bring out the part resembling a thoughtful political leader, we'd all benefit.
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          Feb 16 2013: I am feeling heat but sensing no light in this exchange. I apologize for my contribution to such a predicament. My words have gone beyond my intellect and I am unable to put forth a convincing argument so, as you said earlier, "to be honest I don't really care all that much to talk about it anymore.Voltaire said a long dispute proves both parties wrong. Thank you Mr. Meijer, I look forward to the next topic. Be well sir.

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