TED Conversations

TEDCRED 10+

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.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 2 2013: Scot,
    You asked: "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?"
    My knowledge of the scriptures is sketchy, but over the years I have formed opinions based on what I have seen or read, and believed to be true. In the modern sense, since Christ's birth, I believe rape was made "evil" in the fact it is a violent act performed by one person, upon another.
    However, even before Christianity arose, rape was considered a great insult, as one race would use it as a means to dilute the blood of another race. This reason, to me, would appear to be why rape was wrong. But would that be considered objectively? I do not think so. Would it reconsidered evil? I do not think it would be considered evil in that era.
    As for objective right and wrong, I feel it is encoded in our genes to be cooperative with others because it furthers our own personal goals of security and comfort. When humans began to cooperate, they did it because they saw "safety in numbers." The person(s) who were cooperative in this strategy were able to pass their genes along, unlike those who did not.
    This is also considered to be selfish behavior. But if by selfish behavior we give birth to new ideas and innovations that help all of society, does that make this particular reason for cooperation wrong?
    You say that without God, there is no such thing as right and wrong, only the things we call right and wrong, and it is all subjective. Is it even possible for humans to look at right and wrong objectively? Is it possible to look at any moral idea completely objectively?
    I am new to TED, and so far I have read some very interesting posts which have given me much "food for thought."
    Thank you.
    • Mar 3 2013: If by scriptures you are referencing the bible, then the opinion you have concluded is misinformed. Rape and slavery was sanctioned by the bible "Deuteronomy 22:28-29 If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her." While there are 'consequences' they do not advocate equality as the woman is forced into marriage. While this is because during that time woman had little to no rights, there are several other passages that also condone such acts during times of war "They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil. Judges 5:30."
      • Mar 3 2013: Yes, by the word scriptures I am referring to the Bible. I was also referring to rape as being seen as evil in today’s society. Before Christ, rape was used as a means to dilute the blood of the conquered and while it was considered wrong by the vanquished, it was not considered evil. Therefore, rape cannot be viewed objectively in that context no more than it can be viewed objectively in today’s society.
        I did a quick search and it seems that Deuteronomy and Judges was/is in the Old Testament. Did not Christ’s teaching say that violence against another was wrong? Rape is a violent act committed by one person against another. And is not a violent act considered evil? Once again, rape cannot be viewed objectively, any more than right or wrong.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.