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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: The way that you presented this point, I find, makes it fairly difficult to answer this question. This is mostly because you seem to come to this with a fair amount of bias of your own (I mean no offence, it is just an observation). The way that I am interpreting your point is that 'God' is the ultimate reality (and please, correct me if I'm wrong). You are proposing that there is religious morality (which is objective) and subjective reality (which only pertains to an individual). I believe that religious morality is, in fact subjective (especially because of the diversity of religions, and, even in different Christian denominations, there is a tremendous amount of disconnect between moral systems). For example, you said that "sexual abuse is one of the greatest evils in the world," but, in the Bible, there are many instances where rape occurs and it is seen as something that 'God' willed (e.g. Deuteronomy 20:10-14). This suggests that there is an individual morality, apart from that of a deity.

    That being said, I found this article (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-nature-nurture-nietzsche-blog/201005/did-morality-evolve) that talked about various possible causes (evolution and culture, mostly) that formed morality, and why there can be different views.

    For a different approach, I think that Hegel's Master-Slave Dialect (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) could also explain why there is an objective morality. For rape, it would say that it is better for men and women to be equal, as opposed to one dominating the other.

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