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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 14 2013: Ah, but that idea itself is subjective! How do you know God is an idea come up with by humans? Undoubtedly some gods and religions are made up by humans, I won't contest that at all. In fact, I think most are. But that doesn't necessarily mean that all Gods are made up. If you can come up with a scientific experiment that conclusively proves the nonexistence of God without relying on circumstantial evidence, you might have a case. (But I think such an experiment is very unlikely because by the scientific method it's impossible to prove the nonexistence of anything.)
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        Feb 17 2013: Hi Scott,

        If someone claims something exists I suggest the burden of proof is normally on them, not on everyone else to disprove it.

        Suggest some mundane claims about existence can be reasonably proven false e.g. the claim that a regular African elephant exists in my living room. But I can not disprove that a spiritual elephant god that is all knowing, all good, all loving, all; powerful and created the universe exists in my living room.

        But suggest it is reasonable not to believe in this elephant god unless there is reasonable evidence.

        I note most gods believed in today exist are defined as immaterial, sometimes outside time and space etc. What that means, how something like that interacts with physical reality, are they made of spiritual atoms, how can you reliably know anything about something like that?
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      Feb 17 2013: Mark, suggest believing in conflicting versions of rules about what is right and wrong given by this god or that perhaps means you just have different objective set of rules as to what the gods you believe in want humans to do. It does not mean you have absolute morality.

      Divine command, what a god or goddess wants if it does exist is not necessarily right. It is just what the god wants. So if a god wants us to kill homosexuals and adulters, or the tribe next door, it is just what that god wants. Not absolute right or wrong.

      Some theists try to get round this by saying their interpretation of god is all knowing and all good and therefore what it wants us to do is by definition right. How convenient. You can define anything you want but that does not mean it exists.

      Every moral framework needs some starting assumptions and then you can work out objectively within that framework within the limits of human capability what best meets these. Your starting assumption might be what the pope says, or something like what reduces the suffering of conscious beings.
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        • Feb 23 2013: Oh yeah. We need to find some truths to agree on, as in, "We hold these truths to be self-evident... " that all people are equally deserving of justice and the protection of the law. And etc. and etc. and let's keep after it, there's much to do in this world.

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