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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 27 2013: This question is tightly linked to the question whether we objectively have free will. I had a conversation to discuss free will from purely materialistic perspective. If we accept that our state of mind is determined by the state and movement of trillions of particles composing our body and that each next state is predetermined by the previous state, we have to accept that we make no choices. And if we make no choices, we cannot speak of any morality. We just do what we are preconditioned to do.

    Take bees or ants. They live in colonies. They have rules of social interactions. Can we say, they have "morality"? Does a bee work hard because it is "moral"? Does an ant protect the colony because it is "moral"? Or is this behavior simply encoded in their DNA as a result of evolution? Humans are more complex than ants and bees, but are we different in principle? So much for "morality".

    And yet, some things are brought into existence simply because we *believe* that we have them: free will, happiness, human rights. Morality seems to be one of those things.
    • Feb 28 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?
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        Feb 28 2013: Have you read the last paragraph of my post? I believe, I have free will to make choices. Not because I have evidence of free will - I don't. Not because I can rationalize that I have free will - as you see, I can rationalize the other way too. But exactly because of what you said - "I feel that I do".

        Same with morality. This was just an example how reason can take us wherever we feel like going. It's not that we "shouldn't rely on reason to make moral choices" - we just don't. That's how things ARE.
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        • Feb 28 2013: Truly love that you use "imo" & not "imho" like my boyfriend does. If you knew him, you'd understand that I'm being completely sincere in response to how his opinions are proffered & defended to the death long after they've been clearly shown to be incapable of holding any water at all. Confidence he has, humility - not so much.

          This is the sort of thing, the free will question, that one truly learns about only through experience. Our choices are not always ours alone. Simple fact of life. And there's no way life is simple. We may feel grateful to fate, God or what have you when our choices are ours and ours alone. Or, we may feel grateful when we feel that our choices have come not from us alone, but with the help of The Holy Spirit. And we can often tell when our choices are ours alone and when they are not, but only with experience.
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          Feb 28 2013: Isn't it funny that the very same people who argue that we do not have free will and, therefore, can't really make choices, then argue that we can use reason to make better moral choices, that we need to use reason to justify our beliefs, etc. But what's the reason to believe that we have reason? Where is reason in this reasoning?

          So, why are we making fun of logical inconsistencies in religion, Epicurean paradox, etc.?

          "Мало того, что пойдешь в посмешище — найдется щелкопер, бумагомарака, в комедию тебя вставит, вот что обидно! Чина, звания не пощадит, и будут все скалить зубы и бить в ладоши. Чему смеетесь? Над собою смеетесь!.. Эх, вы..." -- N. V. Gogol "The Inspector-General"

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