TED Conversations


This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • 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.
    • Comment deleted

      • 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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.