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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 5 2013: There is no such thing as "objective right and wrong". The abstractions of philosophy and the assertions of religion can entertain the most absurd ideas as if they had validity that, in the world of experience, will come crashing down when confronted with practicality. What is 'real' is what is pragmatic and utile. No one can demonstrate, in experience, a pure objective reality or, for that matter, a pure subjective reality. On that basis God, a pure objective reality, is a fiction in as much as it requires a subject with an awareness of something, the thinker or experiencer. The thinker is also a fiction in as much as no one can demonstrate the validity of a pure experiencer either.

    So it seems to me that you have a continuum, experiences that are very meaningful to you ('subjective') and experiences that are not meaningful to you ('objective'). But experience is fluid, what may upset me in one moment can, in the next moment, not bother me at all. If you are going to use some sort of criteria for 'good' and 'evil' it must be experienced based. I would suggest it is the mundane observation that no one or thing - a society e.g., likes to suffer. The yardstick for behaviour is therefore the 'Golden Mean' which if followed alleviates suffering. Proper behaviours are therefore those that approximate the Golden Mean (good) or move away from it (evil). Good and evil are simply actions which are 'harmonious' or 'inharmonious' in relation to the golden rule. It is because we chase after non-existent ultimate's, divorced from experience, that we allow neurotic behaviours, religion and ideologies etc. to flourish and cause incalculable harm. The true evil is therefore a belief, not rooted in a pragmatic/utile world view, which must be constantly reinforced by violence, physical or mental about some sort of ultimate that is a pure abstraction. On that score, belief in God or some ideology, are dangerous psychoses about false ultimate's.

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