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.

  • thumb
    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.
      • thumb
        Feb 13 2013: erh...First how God is relevant?
      • thumb
        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 :).
      • thumb
        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.
        • thumb
          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.
      • thumb
        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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.