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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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  • Mar 3 2013: I think its both cultural and natural for right and wrong to exist. Cultural because at birth and for an extended time we are nurtured and dependent on parental care and affection. We survive upon arrival by being protected from the elements, starvation, etc. Parents get help from their parents, tradition, etc. We learn the value of independence as we age and what is more natural than the golden rule for guidance through life.

    It is natural because the gift of life confines us to our physical existence and identity. We must live with what we have become by our actions and deeds. This affects how others think of us including parents, siblings, mates, civic leaders, etc. Observing rules that have been developed in the interest of civilization and being sensitive to what attracts the mate of you choice, etc., would logically influence one's sense of right and wrong. Beyond that there is such a thing as feeling good about yourself. The sins or wrongs you commit you get to own despite what others may know or not know about you. You don't look in the mirror to know yourself.

    The inspiration and start ups of religion is simply and extension of the cultural side of this equation.

    I like what Sam Harris has to say about this matter.

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