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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
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.

  • Mar 4 2013: *sigh* This is another crap religious argument. My deity defines right and wrong therefore I am right and you are wrong and it is fundamentally okay for me to believe that you are evil and deserve to be destroyed and tortured. If there is a deity he created 2.1 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims whose religion directly contradict each other and whose religion states that those outside it deserve eternal torment. He gave both sides nukes.

    Morality is defined by society! It is defined by civilization and not by a magic spirit or special book. If you are a Christian and you believe morality comes from a deity whose will is expressed through a book, the bible in this case, you have to agree that slavery is okay because it is okay in the bible.

    And if you look at your last statements you state that without whatever deity you believe in we can't agree on morality. You also use rape as a case in point. So you imply that we can't agree that rape is wrong. Well, guess what, most people agree is rape is wrong despite your implications. I am so tired of this religious crap about how atheists are immoral when priests are raping children and "holy warriors" are flying into buildings to perform mass killing.

    So I will present the counter point, if right and wrong comes from "God" how does he communicate it? Is it magically imparted to each member of society and then society generates a moral code? That sounds a lot like moral codes come from society. It comes from a book. Well, the Old Testament clearly indicates racism and slavery are okay and so maybe you are arguing that you would like to own some black people? Or maybe you think the teachings come through prophets? How do we verify a prophet? Muslims have one. Christians have one.
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      Mar 6 2013: At least biblical slavery was not so racially based as the us slave industry.
      Equal opportunity slavery unless Jewish.
      Bright side?
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    Mar 8 2013: ...The author anchored his question to gods, so a few words of wisdom from the past are apt...

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones"___Marcus Aurelius
  • Feb 22 2013: I think right and wrong exist on a continuum. It's not always black and white, but there a difference between right and wrong. I am an agnostic and I don't believe that you need to believe in God to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Some of the least moral people I know are "Christians" and some of the most ethical people I know are atheists.
  • Mar 3 2013: Human thought is relative. This may be called 'relativity of mind'. Take away God from the picture and we are left to our wits. Not only we proclaim what is right and wrong based on our perception but also hold on to it as truth and become egoistic about it. There is an element of passion indeed. Take any 'ism' as an example. There are zealots who defend it come what may. If Adam Smith or Karl Marx revisit today they will certainly redefine the concepts. But we will be very hesitant to do so. The point I am making is that no slavery to any idea even if it is good. Freedom of my mind to modify is important.
    A criteria for right and wrong can be whether it promotes human welfare or not. This can be Godless but involves empathy for humanity. This love for humanity is natural and in-built. This argument is not in conflict with spirituality.
    Spirituality beyond religion may eventually dawn on us and probably lead us to the path without intellectual hair splitting.
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      Mar 3 2013: I agree.

      Suggest we can be spiritual in an atheist way too.

      No gods. Just exploring our consciousness and the universe.
      • Mar 3 2013: If the exploration of the universe (or 'physical realm') is known as science, is the empirical method our prayer? :P
      • Mar 4 2013: Universe fascinated man for centuries. The scientific method has been rigorous and was a great leap forward from superstition but is prevelant in the last few hundred years. On the other hand man's wonder and fear resulted in several erroneous conclusions over several millenia. This may be called 'empirical'. Having said that I am open to the fact that intuition and great humility resulted in understanding the final reality by very few. in do think with a genuine prayer on the lips we will get more spiritual. The problem of all religions is the organization ,grouping, rules, books-in the process lose the original truth. Somehow prayer to me is something more than empirical
    • Mar 3 2013: A Sethuramiah, your remarks were so well put that I have just shared them with a friend on another forum.
    • Mar 3 2013: A Sethuramiah,
      In my years on this Earth, I have modified my thinking many times on many subjects. You stated it very well. We need to be able to do this in order to grow and become.
    • Mar 4 2013: This reply states my own feelings very well. We should measure the effect we have on other humans and on the wider world. Try to be aware to what extent we are spreading pain and suffering and what extent we are spreading joy and love.
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    Feb 27 2013: I've read a delightful Zen story on the internet recently:

    "A wise Zen frog was explaining to the younger frogs the balance of nature: "Do you see how that fly eats a gnat? And now (with a bite) I eat the fly. It is all part of the great scheme of things."
    "Isn't it bad to kill in order to live?" asked the thoughtful frog.
    "It depends . . ." answered the wise frog just as a snake swallowed the Zen frog in one chomp before the frog finished his sentence.
    "Depends on what?" shouted the students.
    "Depends on whether you're looking at things from the inside or outside," came the muffled response from inside the snake."
    • Feb 27 2013: Wise man said Vegan need B12 or else get sick. Nature is beautiful and so is eating.
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      Feb 28 2013: From my personal view, I don't think it's bad to kill in order to live, if it's really unavoidable.
      I don't even talk about the laws of nature.
      Say, a man point the gun against your head and states himself clear that he is going to kill you. And you happened to also have a gun. Would you shoot first?
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        Feb 28 2013: i should think a quick roll of the head and a shot to the shoulder could be there an unavoidable situation?
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        Feb 28 2013: Let's rewind your question to the root. We can hardly make a step without stepping on a living creature. We cannot make a single breath without consuming oxygen and "polluting the air" with carbon dioxide. Is it moral to LIVE? Do we have a choice?

        Perhaps, requiring more than bare necessities while blaming others for doing so is what makes us evil. Hence, "...give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

        As for your question, I do not own guns specifically because I don't want to have to answer it. I didn't choose to live. Let it be not my choice to die or to end someone else's life. This is my way to avoid death which is unavoidable.

        Although, I don't believe that there is "objective morality", some circular concepts are self-consistent which makes them irrefutable and, hence, absolute. E.g. you cannot prove false a statement "this statement is true". The golden rule of morality is of the same nature. Specific moral rules would change depending on who "YOU" are in "as YOU would have them do to YOU" and morality evolves as we do, but the principle remains unchanged - "absolute".

        By the way, the golden rule only works assuming that everyone wants same things. Which is only true at the level of bare survival needs. So, when we desire things beyond "our daily bread", the golden rule becomes much harder to use.
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      Feb 28 2013: humourously true.
  • Feb 27 2013: God or no God, doesn't subjective ultimately become objective? We are never born fully developed from a physical, mental or social perspective. Thus, I would hope we learn, what is right or wrong, from a combination of observing behaviors and responses and asking questions and seeking answers. We ultimately don't need "God" to decide that rape or any other social behavior is wrong. A consistent negative response to the behavior is all that is needed.
    • Feb 28 2013: Exactly! The word rape was invented for such cases, otherwise if it weren't bad it would be called sex. 100 out of 100 people would say they would rather have sex than be raped.
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        Mar 1 2013: Not quite I suggest. There are all sorts of outliers in regards to masochism.
  • Feb 22 2013: People who believe that they have to be righteous because God is watching are evil.
    People should be righteous because they want to be.
    • Feb 22 2013: This is true. People who are righteous just because God is watching are not righteous.
    • Feb 23 2013: As an atheist I understand your point of view... I only want to say that your statement is inflammatory(this is rich coming from me, but I'm learning) & only strengthens the pov of the believer. Further there are studies showing that belief in something or someone 'watching' over us is more than a common factor in our history, but a hardwiring in our evolution. Even skeptical minds have tendencies, though much less, to fall prey to this basic human behaviour. My girlfriend doesn't have a skeptical mind by any means & though she says she believes in god, isn't a member of any church... She always thinks that dead relatives are watching over her. I suspect that this belief affects her behaviour, even if only by a small degree... & I certainly don't think she's evil.
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        Feb 23 2013: It's perhaps not a bad test. Would I do this if people I love could see me?
      • Feb 23 2013: perhaps I should've added 'only' infront of because.
        I don't mean to say that religious people are evil.... I just mean that when their motivation to 'do good' / 'be righteous' / (other positive behaviour) is based upon "someone who can punish me is watching" means that when you remove that someone their reason will disapear.

        Religious people are not forced to have that motivation, many of them do good just because they want to.
        • Feb 23 2013: This sort of thing is difficult for the non-believer to grasp, the idea that we do good because we love God and because we love good and not because we are afraid of God. Glad you brought this up.
  • Mar 8 2013: The problem with the question you pose is that you have to assume that there is objective morality at all, this might be reasonable to the confines of you belief but it doesn't hold true in the world as we understand it. Quite simply, you cannot be independent of your thoughts, you are an observer of your reality.. therefore objective reality can't be thought of as existing. So you cannot find out what is "Objectively right or wrong", we can't prove that any holy text was written by god, we can't prove any 'prophet' actually heard the voice of god, and not just the voice in his head, and we can't prove there is a god. So the only thing you can know about an objective truth is that you cannot know if one exists.

    The obvious answers to the question you pose is simply the emotional and physical damage that the act causes not only to the victim but to the victims loved ones as well. Or in fact anyone that learns of the incident and feels the empathetic pains. There is also the implications to consider of self-suffering within the attacker who would feel tremendous guilt if they are not devoid of emotion or empathy; and if they are devoid of emotion and empathy then imagine the suffering already bestowed upon them that their mind might close down entirely their ability to feel. It's the over all effect of large human suffering that we can safely determine that rape is wrong. I can't imagine being able to argue it more reasonably or rationally than that.
  • Mar 7 2013:

    this answers your question, you're welcome.
  • Mar 6 2013: Your argument is that without God one cannot have any clear ability to discern right from wrong?
    Lets assume (as I do) that religious texts are primarily false but well meaning anecdotes. That would mean that we created them. In this reality, we would also have created the "right and wrong" that some believe to have been divine. As one with no religious affiliation, it is some what insulting to assume that if I see someone being killed, that I only know it to be wrong because you say it is. Or would it make more sense that my internal conscience tells me not to remake or condone atrocities in general?
    Right and wrong is an ideal that is developed (developing) with human evolution of intelligence. This theory is supported by how we now see that some things we thought were wrong (biblical or religiously; such as homosexuality) are actually inherently wrong to defy.
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    Mar 4 2013: Really?
    There is no such thing as Objective Morality.

    If you hurt someone, is wrong.

    Religion has nothing to do with this.
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    Feb 27 2013: The question you are asking is whether morality is learned.

    "From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long argued that we begin life as amoral animals. One important task of society, particularly of parents, is to turn babies into civilized beings — social creatures who can experience empathy, guilt and shame; who can override selfish impulses in the name of higher principles; and who will respond with outrage to unfairness and injustice. "

    Harvard psychologist Paul Bloom has looked for evidence of morals in babies.

    "A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone."

    Another way to approach the question is whether humans are the only animal that demonstrates a sense of morality.
    For aan answer we can turn to Frans de Waal, who studies primate social behavior.

    "Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity -- caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share."

    De Waal summarizes by saying, "I believe there's an evolved morality. I think morality is much more than what I've been talking about, but it would be impossible without these ingredients that we find in other primates, which are empathy and consolation, pro-social tendencies and reciprocity and a sense of fairness."
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      Feb 27 2013: I agree we seem to have an evolved morality, but suggest with an overlay of cultural programming.
    • Feb 27 2013: I don't know. I've read the articles regarding children and primates with regard to empathy and morality but to me it boils down to simple common sense.

      Imagine being a caveman. You are alone and starving and need to eat. You come across another caveman, you can either fight, which is just fine, or you can team up and hunt together. Teaming up and hunting together sounds more appetizing than killing the other caveman and eating them. Something about roast Woolly Mammoth, mmm mmm good. You two assumes that anything you catch will be split 50/50, why, because that is what is FAIR. No one likes unfairness. Being fair is MORAL. Anyway, as soon as you team up you have just now entered an agreement with each other. You expect the other one to tell you the truth if he sees an animal to hunt. If he lies to you and you go off for miles hunting what was a lie (didn't actually see the prey) you will be pissed off beyond belief. Why? Because he lied to you, it's that simple. Lying is immoral. Telling the truth is MORAL. Now what if you two finally caught something and the other one decides to cut you out of your 50/50 agreement and take more for themself? You would be pissed off beyond belief! Why? Because doing unto others things which they do not agree to is IMMORAL. Lastly. Say that you two, as you are hunting, see an injured caveman. He will live but he needs shelter, some rest, and some nourishment. Do you keep on walking or do you help him? I'd help but I wouldn't blame someone else for not helping. Empathy, being strange, is to be measured by the individual wielding it. I can't speak about others' empathy but I can speak all day about others' lying or doing things to other people that they don't agree to.
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        Feb 27 2013: I'm not sure how much common sense young children have, but they seem to have an innate sense of fairness at a fairly young age. I would be surprised if this is a product of reasoning.

        But I agree with our adult human reasoning faculties we can see how cooperation, fairness and other group dynamics humans have (and some other mammals, especially primates) would benefit survival, so if there is any genetic disposition involved it would be likely to be promoted by natural selection.

        I don't think other mammals are using reasoning to conclude they should work as a group. It is innate.

        Just to be a pain, but I suggest sometimes it is moral to do something to others that you wouldn't want done to yourself, and that they don't want you to do to them. If someone is a threat to society it is reasonably moral to lock them up in my view. I don't want to be locked up and neither do they, but it makes sense for the greater good.

        If that other caveman was an enemy that killed your mate would you still help him?
        • Feb 28 2013: No, I wouldn't help the caveman who killed my mate. I'd probably finish him off.

          A criminal has already done harm to someone else that didn't agree to it. Their punishment is restraint from doing it again and also just rehabilitation. They may not agree to their punishment but then they shouldn't of harmed another person. I don't want to be locked up myself so I don't commit crimes against others.
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        Feb 27 2013: This whole scenario that you have described is a subjective fabrication, it suggests that you hold a strong internal sense of what is right and wrong. This is a subjective morality. Where is the evidence of an objective morality?
        Do you see a form of morality in other animals? Is it learned? What forms of morality do we se in babies? Do animals and babies deceive or lie? Do they have a sense of fairness?
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      Feb 27 2013: The research whether animals have morals begs a question. We can determine that animals have empathy, that empathy is evolved, etc. But we need to presume that empathy is moral. How do we know that?
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        Feb 27 2013: To be clear, de Waal states that morality evolves out of several things which he sees in other animals:
        1. Empathy and consolation
        2. Pro-social tendencies
        3. Reciprocity and fairness.

        He states: "If you ask anyone, "What is morality based on?" these are the two factors that always come out. One is reciprocity, and associated with it is a sense of justice and a sense of fairness. And the other one is empathy and compassion. And human morality is more than this, but if you would remove these two pillars, there would be not much remaining I think. And so they're absolutely essential."
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          Feb 27 2013: Theodore, I have no doubt that scientific research can show that animals have the three items you list and that they are a product of evolution.

          By the way, accepting that all living creatures are a product of evolution implies that all traits they have are also a product of evolution.

          I also agree with the reasoning that morality is based on reciprocity and compassion. However, this statement does not come from science. To make this statement, we need to already know what morality means, and this knowledge is not scientific.
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        Feb 27 2013: Its very interesting.

        What is morality from a human perspective?

        I guess it often but perhaps not always relates to group dynamics, favoured behaviours, social cohesion etc. Perhaps the cultural overlay might add some complexity that might not fit.

        If it is about groups, then might not other similar animals have a kind of proto morality?
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        Feb 27 2013: What is the origin of the word "moral?"
        Morals are concerned with or adhering to the code of interpersonal behavior that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society. We are differentiating between to types of morality, objective and subjective. De Waal is observing a basis for objective morality and identifies empathy and reciprocity. It is this basis that requires a scientific investigation, such as Bloom's inquiry into babies behaviors.
        The rest is just rule making and subjective: ( morals) a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do : the corruption of public morals.
        • standards of behavior that are considered good or acceptable.

        see ethical, honorable, righteous, virtuous
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    Feb 22 2013: "Without God, there is no such thing as right and wrong..."

    Without god? Which god?

    Most of humanity believes in a different god than you, or none at all. One can easily look around the world and see billions of people who do not share your belief, yet many of these people behave rather admirably, often under trying circumstances.

    One wonders why you posed the question since you are certain of your answer....
  • Feb 22 2013: Simple.

    Love = right. Hate = wrong.

    Everything else is open for individual interpretation.
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      Feb 23 2013: I disagree with you....
      If I hate somebody because he hates everybody else, or if he does something bad, then does it neccessarily make me bad?
      Then, we can go deeper down thinking what "Hate" and "Bad" means, but my opinion is that you cannot really set "Love" and "Hate" as the absolute standard for "Right" and "Wrong" completely ignoring what is behind them.
      • Feb 26 2013: Well, I was taught to love even my enemies. I believe hate to be the motive behind everything that is going wrong in the world. Plus it is also an undeniable burden. If we loved more, forgave more, and hated less... I sincerely believe there would be less "wrong" to go along with it. In response to your first sentence, no it does not make you bad. However, it does nothing to help the situation. Hate makes situations negatively stagnant.
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        Feb 27 2013: Re: "If I hate somebody because he hates everybody else... then does it neccessarily make me bad?"

        Does it make you different from the person you hate?
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        Feb 28 2013: "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." -- Hermann Hesse
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    Feb 21 2013: Sometimes it depends on who is more powerful, prominent or strong. . .Or may be for someone, it depends on your sunglasses' colour. To me, it depends on a natural feeling beating down in the bottom of our hearts which tells us inmediately if something we're doing or thinking is wrong or right. We usually can guess it subconciously.
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      Feb 21 2013: You are right about " depending on a natural feeling beating down in the bottom of our hearts which tells us immediately if something we're doing or thinking is wrong or right." -We are 'hard wired' with an inner compass. Here's a quote I love: " The only thing that doesn't follow majority rule, is personal conscience."
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        Feb 21 2013: I sincerely agree with you. And I also love -it's real- your statement "we are 'hard wired' with an inner compass". It's true. We, philosophy lovers, call it something like 'natural law', (nothing to do with Nature).
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    Feb 20 2013: Of course there is objective right and wrong.

    I am right.

    You are wrong.

    And that is about as objective as it gets. Any married man understands this..
  • Mar 8 2013: Very muddy topic. Of course right and wrong exist. If they didn't our society would not function. Anarchy is not a sustainable system. Chaos is bad order is good. But too much order can be very bad. No order at all is worse. The first known system of laws was found to have originated about 9,000 years ago. Since then society has become more complex and law has followed accordingly.
  • Mar 5 2013: Religion is actually tell what should do, what should not, religion can guide our action, but can not determine action people take. That is why we need law to decide what is right, what is wrong.
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      Mar 5 2013: There are situations beyond religion and law, and sometimes they are not totally correct, because they change what they had said before.
      What about them ?
      • Mar 5 2013: I believe, religions were born out of the believes, rights and wrong as established by like minded people who presented them in the name of God, to gain immediate acceptance and avoid irrational and unanswerable questions. The religions have evolved over a period and hence there is nothing wrong if new definitions are created for situations that did not exist earlier or were not adequately handled.

        For example, it is said that Buddism is born of Hinduism and a lot of similarities can be seen. And among Hindus there are several sub-sects based on differences in believes (or rights and wrongs) that indicate that oldest religion in the world has allowed and tolerated evolution of its constituent rules on rights and wrongs.
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          Mar 5 2013: A question:
          Does it mean religions are true ?
          And if they are, do you agree that a rule cannot be true forever, and you should think about it yourself ?
          So ... religions are just guidances. This is you who should judge and decide.
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          Mar 5 2013: I kind of agree about your thesis on religions evolving.
          They may be useful social technologies for teaching a particular moral view.
          Their weakness is they often rely on supposed divine command via scriptures and revelation, coming up with different answers, and usually not providing a way to assess what is moral beyond the bible or sutras or pope says so.
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    Mar 5 2013: Religion is fascinating and helpful, but it should not completely dictate how people live their lives.
  • Mar 3 2013: We perceive reality through illusions and stereotypes born from our living necessity of the processing and resultant categorisation of information: hence, because our experience of reality is wholly subjective, morality is intrinsically subjective. However, as we are generally social beings, we attempt to create an inclusive, universal morality to establish a suitable moral paradigm for our interaction and societies: no matter morality's innate subjectivity.
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    Mar 2 2013: if one of these exist, then must the other
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    Feb 23 2013: Shakespear wrote "There is nothing right ot wrong, but thinking makes it so."
    Right and wrong are value judgements
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    Feb 21 2013: Of course.........Standing is right. Standing on someone's foot is wrong.
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      Feb 21 2013: So anyone who cannot stand is wrong??
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        Feb 21 2013: Standing is right. Standing on someone's foot is wrong. (figure of speech)....
        Everything, everyone, everybody, every "body" has a "stand" that is their own and to all of which they are entitled in its entirety....(including all its extensions, like "feet" and finger tips" on a "body")
  • Feb 21 2013: Many interesting answers here already, but I want to try answer: "Why is rape objectively wrong?"
    It is objectivly proven via statistics, that I will not go into here, that beeing a victim of rape heightens the chanse for trauma which in turn heightens the chanse for negative personal effects; Such as depression, eatig disorders, anxiety, the list goes on and on. People exposed to trauma tend to need more and produce less.
    Lets then assume that the perpetrator might not be evil, as we have no proof he is, objectivly. Lets assume he is a normal man (or even a woman) that wants to live in a safe and well functioning society, prefrebly one with a good ecconomy. How can we tell something about this want, objectivly? Again, I think we can prove this both psycologicly and statisticly. The flow of people from areas/countries with poor functioning societies/ecconomies comes to mind.
    The more traumaticed people he/she have around him/her, the less chanse he/she will have to live in such a society.
    Hm. Yes. This question WAS easy. We do not have to go into complicated morals, not even "good or bad" to answer, a simple "cause and effect" is enough to prove that rape is objectivly wrong.
    Or what say you?
  • Feb 19 2013: Have you ever made a mistake or done a wrong. even without Gods intervention for a sec. have you ever done something and had a guilty conscience afterward. youve known deep within yourself that what you did was wrong. Your conscience is yours , it wasnt directed by God and isnt controlled by him, its part of who YOU are the real you. everyone conscience is their own private one. God can only strive with yours to allow you to see the truth of his purposes, to guide you if you want to or not for your benefit.
    Gods name was slandered in the garden of eden , his right to rule was brought into queston , his sovereignty was at stake Gods name was brought into disrepute. Man in effect said to God we can manage without you, so God put them out of the paradise and allowed time to pass to see if man can rule without God. And have they?? Has mankind made a good job of living together. They are destroying the planet,killing and bombing in wars fighting everyday, we see starvation on a mass scale. see 2Tim 2 1-6 we know from scripture we are in the last days. math 24 tells of a sign that Jesus gave when he would "come". It involved a composite list of EVENTS that by seeing them one would know that he was present. It was like a fingerprint in time. he said not to be misled, to not believe people who came on the basis of his name saying they were he, why,? because he was returning invisibly, only those with spiritual eyes of discernment would know that Jesus was turning his attention to the end of days. When you see the signs as in mat 24 you will know he has returned in power as King. Like when someone rings your doorbell you dont see them do you, the bell is a sign that some is present. Jesus went back to heaven when he died waiting till his enemies were made a footstool for him. He did not become King till the witnessing of the signs that we see today. The bible says on becoming King he will clear satan from heaven, wow to earth because the devil has now a short time ...
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      Feb 20 2013: Firstly I'm not aware of any compelling proof for any gods or goddesses let alone Yahweh.

      Secondly, I guess you subscribe to divine command. The creator of the universe gets to set the rules and do anything it likes with its creations like sending them for eternal punishment, drowning the entire planet etc.

      Glad there is no evidence of a divine dictator.

      I note the bible is a confusing array of stories and multiple perspectives of a god. I note believers disagree how to interpret it. Pretty poor effort by the creator if it does have a clear plan for us. It doesn't even seem to exist.
  • Feb 14 2013: The thing with a modern rationalist is that he seems to say, with a profound conviction that:
    "Everything depends on the context, it just depends on what you believe, which is pure subjectivity. but it excludes me"
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      • Feb 14 2013: I would say that people who really believe something are busy acting upon them. They are not looking for evidence of their believes in a clever argument.
      • Feb 23 2013: "you're never going to talk anyone out of their most dearly held beliefs."

        You needn't talk most people out of their most dearly held beliefs. Not when you live in a mostly rational society. But sometimes things go awry and people are led down the garden path by a demigod like Joseph McCarthy or an ultimately destructive leader like Adolf Hitler. Then you need people like Senator Margaret Chase Smith and Edward R. Murrow to speak out or you might need an army of allies well supplied with arms and intelligence officers. Or maybe you need a Carrie Mathison (Homeland)?. But it was only Smith And Murrow there who were just talking. And talk they did, God love them.
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    Feb 12 2013: No, I dont think right and wrong exist.For me they are just labels that are put on visible behaviors and are called so according to how well they serve certain purposes( like if you form a group, the memebers will conciously or unconciously develop "rules" to keep group functioning or not-functioning.Those favorable acts are called right and least favored wrong.Also ,without God,there will be things we call "right"or "wrong" cuz i dont think they originate from God for reasons mentioned above.)
    After all our perception creats reality.Just some thoughts.
    • Feb 12 2013: Oh yeah, we'll definitely still call things "right" or "wrong" even if we don't believe in God. My point is how it's illogical to do so.
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        Feb 13 2013: erh...First how God is relevant?
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        Feb 14 2013: ohhh.....trap!!! ahhhhhhhhhhh.....;D ;D ;D

        @scot hey, guess your point is exactly what you are looking for as being illogical,pointed by Mark.Do you think?

        @Mark good to see you on ted again ! ! have said what is left to say.better go to sleep now.ha-ha-ha
        • Feb 14 2013: I don't know if I'd say "trap", but yeah, I wanted to make atheists actually think about what they believe in. You got me :).
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        Feb 15 2013: Hi scot . I would say to examine what we all believe could be helpful no matter where we are at spiritually.(or some dont even call it spiritual or anything). dont you think?
        • Feb 15 2013: I assume you're saying that everybody's beliefs have merit? Sure, of course. If there wasn't a nugget of truth at the center of the idea no one would believe in it.
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          Feb 17 2013: Hi Scott suggest different views on morality have different degrees of merit once we can agree on what behaviours or conditions are most useful or beneficial. That is the hard part. And believing in this god or that with their conflicting rules and subjective interpretations is not that helpful.

          Are the requirements of the Aztec gods any better than those of a particular interpretation on a monotheistic god?

          Some of us non theists have thought about this a lot and even if we give a theist the benefit of the doubt that some creator god or goddess exists and has rules for us, that does not make the rules right or wrong, it does not make the god good or evil, unless you define it conveniently as all good. And then we are still stuck because we have no reliable way of interpreting what it wants.

          And ultimately, does it make sense to believe there is some absolute right or wrong? I get that there could be a god that divinely commands us to do this or that. But what does it mean by saying god knows what is absolutely good? What does that mean? Or is it just another definition or assumption that god knows what is best for us, without any proof.

          So if there is a creator goddess, we really don't know much about it, whether it wants anything, and if it does want what is good, and for us to do what is right, does it just come down to defining what the creator wants is good and right by definition. Not very helpful sorry.

          As for the Abrahamic god, well if the old testament bible is reliable its not a that moral or a character in human terms. You might define it as all good, but if it were a human it is a monster.

          If you look deeply at human morality it always come backs to how human interact with each other primarily and more broadly with other animals etc and the mechanisms they construct to manage their societies.
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        Feb 16 2013: =.=||| ohh, scot .what i was trying to say is that to think about or examine our own beliefs could be helpful not just for aheists but also non aheists.To think with presumptions you just see what you want to see.
  • Feb 11 2013: On the surface, the question , ' Do right/wrong exist ? or ' How does one measure the rightness/wrongness ? 'sounds too complex to pose, let alone answer.
    But maybe the answer is simple : the rightness is to be measured, always, by the degree to which it serves the good of the whole, not the ambition of the part. This is because the uni-verse, across all fractals of reality is ONE.
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      • Feb 11 2013: Hmmmm ...

        I'll think about it. I feel that it must be not quite so, but at the moment i have nothing but feeling.
        I'll be back :)
      • Feb 11 2013: I am back with a bit more than feeling :)

        "Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
        see no Dharma in everyday actions.
        They have not yet discovered that
        there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."

        In QM , each process of the Whole is the Whole.


        It may mean that inside your life/Whole you balance right / wrong as well.
        " As above so below "
        We are condemned to live on the consequences of our taste. If one has no sense of beauty he/she is doomed to the appalling nightmare.
        Beauty/ Truth/ Love is one thing, they always come together.
        'Whenever Beauty looks,
        Love is also there;

        Rumi :
        Your embrace some form
        saying, "I am this."
        By God, you are not this
        or that or the other
        you are "Unique One"
        (the emphasis is mine) :)
      • Feb 12 2013: Beautifully said, Mark ! As always :)
        And yes...
        Actually, i didn't come back with the argument against, but with the extension of ' Yes '
        "As above so below " is the key.
        I have more than 'feeling' now, it's not understanding, but ' standing under ' , it means that it is difficult to say.
        That's why i've used quotes, quotes ...not other people's thoughts. It's my thoughts, but they're dressed better.:) .
        I'll be back, if/when i manage to condense my 'standing under' into understanding .
      • Feb 13 2013: Hi, again !

        Btw. ' feeling' is very important. For me it's a primary data. It's intuition that does not dare to speak itself. Because for rational mind it would be nonsense, but for subtle mind 'non sense' is good, because sense is sooooo limited
        " As above so below "
        Above is all that is and not quite IS, perfect beauty of undisturbed stillness, everything is reconciled in all possible directions... and so is Below, our reality where wrong and right is balanced within itself by constant motion for it is mirroring Above and you have no chance to hurt reality whatever you are doing, it'll find the way to reconcile your ' wrong' with someone's 'right', which is only possible because of your 'wrong'. On the scale of Reality right/wrong makes no sense at all.
        So, we get the picture.
        And here is my extension :
        Above is the Same, Below is always changing to stay the same. In our human domain it is a hustle and bustle, confusion , drama ... i make my choices for myself, you make your choices for yourself , they ( we don't like them :) ) also make their choices for themselves.. human history, in short.
        And now imagine , we all fallow the golden rule: " Dethrone yourself from the center of your world, put another there ... ", what our human history will look like ?
        There will be no history at all ! Below will be Above like: undisturbed joy of being !
        It's like the phase transition in physics , it changes the substance of the stuff so dramatically that it becomes another stuff. Water becomes ice or steam. ( above so below ) Some call it ' paradigm shift ', religions intuit it and call Paradise on Earth. What we need is to practice ' don't do to others..." , there are no others, anywhere, whatever you are doing to others ( be it people or nature ) you are doing to yourself, because the uni-verse, across all fractals of reality is ONE.

        Does it make sense ? :)
      • Feb 14 2013: Your 'intuition VS feeling' point is very convincing.
        I feel exactly how you've described, when i have a ' feeling'
        Thanks ! :)
        And Yes... to everything you've said, very well put.
        What i am trying to say is maybe it's time for us to EVOLVE , and it's " also just reality acting in its own service" ?
      • Feb 15 2013: ".. there are many such popular ideas going around, collectively refered to as new age spirituality "
        .I can't say No, it's different , because i don't know exactly what new age spirituality is. But i think that New Age philosophy hopelessly flattens the thing.
        " We are always in the middle of something big "

        Yes, but this ' big' is always slightly different, it is never the same in size and intensity.
        It's growing, speeding up and pace is relentless.

        Maybe we have a kind of a ' similar' picture in mind, but i try to make the bridge between the 'picture' and life. I am not quite satisfied with a picture that doesn't come even tangentially with the life you and me are experiencing.
    • Feb 11 2013: I'd say in general that that's true. I believe that selfishness is the great evil, and selflessness perfection. As to why I believe that, though, it's because God said so.
      • Feb 11 2013: Selfishness is ignorance and yes, maybe evil.
        God doesn't judge you, God experience ' to be ' through you.
        We are not punished FOR our selfishness, we are punished BY our selfishness.
        • Feb 12 2013: True true, God usually doesn't need to punish us. He just lets the consequences of our actions happen to us.
      • Feb 23 2013: Scot, one can believe that selfishness is in error without bringing God into it. An infant is selfish by nature. It's all he's ready for. As he grows he will learn to share with others and care about them. but his natural tendency will be to remain selfish. Only when he has grown enough as a human being can he understand that to counter this tendency, he must make an effort to be selfless. By choosing to try to be selfless whenever he feels able to, he is living his ideals. That is, he is trying to do "what's right" for the good of his society. He need not believe in a deity for this. I believe in God. But I know believers who do not do right as often as some others I know who are not believers.
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    Feb 9 2013: I like the argument that Sam Harris makes on this, that is no God is necessary to develop an objective morality. He maintains that we always define something as wrong that diminishes the well being of people to the worst possible state imaginable.
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      Feb 9 2013: Harris also has a remarkable ability to define words like 'religion' and 'science' in manners which diminish the well being of people to a pretty low par state of imagination...
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        Feb 9 2013: Will you care to explain? Or possibly refer a talk/text by Harris?
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          Feb 10 2013:

          Harris has his TED talk, but this link is to a lecture series he had - although both dedicate semantics to overstating words like religion and science - this lecture shows an agenda, which is anti-religion. Although (Idk where you are from) most Eastern theologians DO NOT define religion similar to most in the West.

          God may not be necessary to develop a moral objectivity, I agree, but that does not make those who believe in God or religion wrong, that train of logic is what is militant about this new wave of atheism spreading across America - and it would seem the world.
    • Feb 11 2013: Yes, but how do we define "worst"? There's still no real criteria here.
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        Feb 12 2013: We simply don't define "worst". We form an idea about it based on our understanding, experience and feeling. I think even without definition we can still imagine situations with practically no reason to be in. We can call that "worst". I also think even without definition most of us will agree on this "worst".
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    Feb 9 2013: If you believe in free will, right and wrong exist. Anything you do which interferes with another's free will is wrong, anything else is right. Perhaps there's more to it than that. but it's a good place to start. If you don't believe in free will, then nothing whatsoever matters.
    • Feb 11 2013: Ok, sounds good. How do you know that's what objectively right or wrong though? Sounds like an opinion to me.
    • Feb 15 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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    Mar 8 2013: I suggest objective morality only exists within a framework that sets the standards by which you can measure or assess human acts.

    Agreeing on the framework is the difficult thing.

    Assuming objective morality only exists if there is a god or goddess is a flawed assumption. A gods moral code is just one more framework. In most cases modern human rights and frameworks that aim to reduce suffering and harm are superior in achieving these aims than Any divine command framework.

    Assuming a perfect moral god is just a philosophical cop out. Why assume a god is morally perfect even if it tells you it is? That's where subjective faith comes in.
  • Mar 8 2013: I do agree with you in the stance that rights and wrongs are validated through the teachings of religious preaching. However, I believe that right vs. wrong is a mindset that isn't necessarily primarily gained through one's religion but also through one's emotions and social experiences. Therefore, this isn't an objective right or wrong, God or no god. Nothing is absolute; if it were so, the question of doing the right or wrong thing wouldn't exist. But because subjective morality exists, we question the rights and wrongs that we have learned to know.

    In the case of rape, you ask why is it objectively wrong? Let me rephrase your question, when is it objectively right? Some might say for reproduction; we live in a day and age where this isn't necessary. I don't think people need God or religion to know that imposing someone's free-will for personal pleasure and desire for power is wrong.
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    Josh S

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    Mar 7 2013: Great question, I personally dont think right and wrong exist without a God to base it off of.

    I wish people would answer the question if they were going to comment though, i cant even read a legible answer that makes sense until i scroll for like 15 seconds.
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      Mar 8 2013: Hi Josh, why do you think right and wrong only exist if there is a God?
      I don't really understand that view.

      Do you need to assume god decides what is right and wrong i.e. divine command?
      What if god is cruel?

      Or does right and wrong exist independent of god but only he is smart enough to figure it out?
  • Mar 6 2013: Answering both Amirpouya Ghaemiyan & Obey No1kinobe :
    There a few fundamental things declared as right or wrong in ALL religions. I don't thing there would be a reason for any to question or change them. For example a man shouldn't want to ask 'what is wrong if I marry my sister ?'. On the otherhand if one asks 'why can't cremate my dead as I can not afford a burial', that could perhaps be a debatable issue resulting in new answers and revelations.
    In some relegions (Hinduism for example) the scriptures are believed to have come from the Gods or their incarnations and in some other religions from their prophets. Popes, Gurus or the like have played the role of custodians of the preachings, practices and interpretation. The problem seen in recent times is the number of such Gurus who can provide a correct interpretation of the scriptures have become less. Problems arise when the pretend to know evertihng and give an incorrect interpretation of the 'right and wrong'.

    At least about Hindu scripture I can say this: if you read the right ones and do try hard, would get the correct answers, often scientific and practicable. There is a saying :"If you see a stone there is no Dog; If you see a Dog there is no stone" - when you see it as a Dog you forget what it is made of. One need to learn how to see the Dog in the stone.
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      Mar 6 2013: Thanks tj.

      I can think of good reasons not to marry your sister without relying on holy scriptures.

      I suggest the revelations can be assessed as to their moral worth on there practical merit.
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      Mar 6 2013: I disagree.

      The risk of misinformation permeating all of humanity is ever present. There was a time when a flat world was considered mainstream discourse. While I reasonably accept that logic must be tempered with various forms of moral teachings (including religious texts), there is nothing conclusive about moral agreement between different religions, however you want to cut it. They could simply be all wrong.

      Also, there is no way of knowing when you have achieved the "correct interpretation".

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    Mar 5 2013: in the forming of society we created social norms, where majority rules and will rule. so the most people who believe in a certain thing are agreed with and empowered, because in that there exists community. in a community or group lies the shared belief of right and wrong, not that one can not believe on their own it is just not as likely. in fact an individual might base it off of their own expriences. I do not agree with you that it is a "no brainer" if one believes in God, because one can believe in a different way, since we are different nad unique individuals.
  • Mar 5 2013: Right or wrong in human behaviour, likes, thoughts, relationships, ownerships, etc., have evolved as the human race became more civilized, complex, diverse, populous, closely knit and geographically & ethnically segmented. Those rights and wrongs over a period of time had become part of every group’s believes, practices, controls and necessities to enable them live peacefully without hurting another’s body, thoughts, emotions, life, acquisitions and family.

    To make people in a group follow these ‘rights and wrongs’ would not have been easy to start with. Hence there came into existence the rulers, leaders, hierarchy, law, respect, honor, humiliation, punishment and the enforcement mechanisms. Alternate mechanisms devised for making people easily accept and follow these ‘rights and wrongs’ should have been the God, religion, believes like heaven & hell, fairy tales, ghosts, etc., I believe. This has worked wonderfully in making people follow the community rules and develop amazing cultural systems that contributed to the harmonious lives. These had become part of religious preaching, epics and holy books over a period of time and sought to be preached by holy men / women who became worshipped icons.

    A rape or sodomy of a human or similar act are construed wrong as it results in often irreparable hurt to the body, psychology, image and social status of the person. There is no reason to allow anyone consider a rape as a ‘right’ even when the affected says nothing about it.

    The ‘rights and wrongs’, established as part of evolution of civilizations, are the fundamental threads used to knit the fabrics of civilizations. They ‘rights and wrongs’ are not established by religions and cultures or Gods but they, as established by like-minded group of people, are the ones that gave birth to new religions, cultures, ethnicities, revolutions and civilizations. I am saying this, despite being very religious.
  • Mar 5 2013: Interesting question. First of, I'm an Atheist and despise religion. Its only purpose is to spread ignorance, and I would like to remind you that morality in Christianity is rather ambiguous, and has, for the most part of its existence, condoned acts of violence.

    Now, instead of making an essay on the issue I'll go straight for your question: Why is rape wrong ? 1) The enforcement of your will on a victim 2) Knowingly inflicting physical and psychological pain on someone (not to mention taking pleasure in it) 3) Stripping your victim of her freedom, making of a living creature a tool to your personal desires.

    Now, these points are general, as they can be sometime beneficial (Parents enforce their will on children to raise them, for example), and that is where common sense steps in to make the difference between such situations. As far as God goes, well, he's just a metaphor to enforce the will of the authority on the populace, and it's still working to this day.
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    Mar 5 2013: you can only ask the question where right and wrong has to exist, otherwise there is no question.
    To determine what is right or wrong is the argument.
    The argument is the possible follow up to the question. The possible multiple sides of an argument are always right till all concede and one is left standing. at this point there is no longer a right or wrong.
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    Mar 4 2013: One plus one equals two is right and one plus one equals three is wrong.
    Rape is wrong because I don't want anyone to rape me.
    The golden rule is to treat others the way you want others to treat you, and don't treat others the way you don't want others to treat you.

    Why do we need objective morality? Even the objective morality taught by religions are biased and different between each religion. Some religions does not even have the same concept of God.
  • Mar 4 2013: Louise, Geraldine and Will
    Thank you for your comments. Will Menta-You are making a good argument. The concept of awareness is the most important. Awareness coupled with sincerity of purpose will lead to healthier decissions. In fact Indian Vedanta emphasizes total awareness without attachment as the requirement to reach truth.
    Geraldine-There is an Indian saying that time changes and change is in-built in time. So we have to be open.
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    Mar 4 2013: Question: do feelings turn into thought or do thoughts turn into feelings?
    • Mar 4 2013: Although I realize you most probably meant your question to be rhetorical, I will attempt to answer it (call me crazy). Feelings most definitely turn into thought. Thought helps us to organize our feelings. (Is this a question in your homework tonight?) And thoughts can & often do produce feelings. After all, we are not robots, But, if any robots are reading this, can you please come over right away? My Roomba seems to have lost its sense of direction.
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        Mar 4 2013: No, my question wasn't completely rhetorical and was not homework related at all, but I was interested in others opinions.

        My follow up question is which comes first in your understanding, feelings or thoughts?
        • Mar 4 2013: Probably feelings. We see,hear,smell,taste or feel something, like maybe we feel the elevator has started to move, and we think, "Finally." So, we use the word "finally" to refer to our feeling of relief that we physically discerned movement we were impatient for. We were first feeling that it was taking longer than we hoped it would to move. There is a succession of feelings here. Hope that it will start to move soon. Impatience that it hasn't, and relief when it finally does, all of which can be expressed with one thought, "finally",a thought that we can share with others experiencing the same thing in the same way perhaps. They may validate what we've just said with a chuckle or choose to ignore it.
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        Mar 4 2013: So, according to the topic above in relation to the belief that feelings precede thoughts, then would it suffice to correlate that right and wrong come from the feelings of individuals? Feelings that one might enjoy one activity, while the other party may completely dislike.
        • Mar 4 2013: Hmmmmmmmmmm. It sounds like you're wondering about the dynamics of a couple of people deciding on how to spend their time together. Am I correct?
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        Mar 4 2013: I am thinking that, right and wrong exists and doesn't exist. They don't exist naturally, but it does exist from the evolution of expressing feelings and understanding each other more to the point that we know that there are rights and wrongs, but religion simply has aggregated all this knowledge into books. Though more or less those religious books' are but another opinion that people should consider, but not rule out others opinions as well. That is just how it seems to equate to.
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        Mar 4 2013: I should add that something I view is right is something that is consensual and those consensual individuals' should be responsible for their agreement, but something that isn't consensual should be wrong, if one party acts without the consensus factor. Though I think people should have the right to learn from their wrongs, which they have taken or will take responsibility for, even if that issue is not documented or is documented. I think right and wrong should be established through dialogue between parties and taboos should be suspended in this dialogue, and, I feel, that then there will be more understanding of individuals' beliefs of right and wrong and they should be tolerated, until it is not consensual when the ideas become actions.

        Thanks for hearing me out Louise. =)
    • Mar 4 2013: To answer the original question about feelings, is booth. A feeling can invoke thought and thought can invoke a feeling. However feelings are just chemical reactions to reinforce and alert an individual. In example when you hurt yourself your brain signals “you” to that what is going on right now is dangerous. When you feel good having intercourse your brain initiate the release of good feelings, reinforcing you (rewarding you) that what you are doing is good. Reproduction is one of the most important activities a living creature could do. To go further, if you observe yourself, isn’t it better to give than to receive a gift. It has been found by scientist that most people like it better when they give a gift or help someone than to receive. But why do we feel good when we give? Hypothetically, when our ancestors had to survive every single day, giving ensured cohesion and heightened the chance that when an individual needed help, food or needed a stone tip axe, than someone from the group will help him. So giving is reinforced with a stronger feeling of joy then the receiving one. When we evolved into conscious beings thoughts and accessing memory become possible. So merely thinking about getting hurt or having intercourse can initiate a feeling associated with it. Just as getting hurt and feeling the pain can bring up a memory about the last time you got hurt. This is a crucial part of our success as an animal. By doing this we can plan ahead and teach ourselves to be more careful and not to get hurt next time.
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        Mar 4 2013: Yes, I understand, but do you think everyone is mindful of this?
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      Mar 4 2013: Can u actually separate the two Derek? They are both mental process. From a neuro-physiological level different faculties are operating but in the subjective sense we understand our feelings based on the thoughts that we having at the moment (if you understand what I'm saying)
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        Mar 5 2013: Hi Orlando,
        When I think about how information enters our lives, then I think of chemicals, neurons, sensory neurons, and the brain. Information enters our mind through the senses, which I believe the fives senses main function is. Our reasoning for right and wrong comes from how our external affects our internal, like when someone pricks their finger on something sharp and feels pain from it and hopes it doesn't happen again by being more careful around sharp objects. Subjectively, you are correct that things are processed in the mind, but does a 6 month year old child process information through "thoughts" in words or "feelings" (which the word feelings may or may not be in their baby vocabulary)?

        When I think of "thoughts", then I think of self aware individuals with an adequate range of vocabulary at their disposal in one of the homo sapien languages, so feelings come before thoughts on that line reasoning for me.

        I am curious how do animals or just born children process information without words, then I lead to the idea that it is through "feelings", which they will react through an external or internal evolution. Like hunger makes babies stomach begin to digest itself, which then sends signals in the mind to move muscles in the stomach, which leads to a baby crying from the sensation of hunger.
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          Mar 5 2013: Hi Derek,

          Thanks for clarifying your point and I totally agree with everything you said (I like your analogy of the 6 month old child, that was an excellent point).

          What you said about the relationship between the internal and external is spot on. It appears that much of what we take to be subjectivity is highly dependent upon the development of our brain and other sensory organs. I've never considered this position before when considering the relationship between our neurophysiology and consciousness (experience).

          But i think your correct. It is remarkable how babies, though they may not be aware, are biologically programmed to cry and express themselves when they need to be fed, changed, etc..

          I read you earlier comments regarding feelings and its relationship to morality. the philosopher David Hume believes that at its core, all morality is, is relating how we feel in a given moment.
  • Mar 4 2013: U consider god important because u grew up in a christian culture. But it is actually quite easy to seperate belief in God and a belief in right and wrong. Many atheists don't believe in God but still believe in the concept of right and wrong, and many pre-christian civilization still believed in right and wrong, long before the ever encountered the idea of one god.

    In fact, if you look at ancient Greek and Roman religions, which had many gods that constantly fought. Religion had nothing to do with morality. In the old days people prayed to the Gods to give them crops or to help them win a battle, and they tried to win the gods favor, but they did not use the gods to define their concept of "right and wrong."

    What you are talking about is called (I think) "moral relativism." That is the belief that right and wrong are just points of view. The argument goes that everybody has their own opinion about whats "right and wrong" and nobody is more right than any one else. People do make that argument sometimes, in philosophical discussions.

    But its a big leap to go from not believing in the christian god, and then suddenly not believing in "right and wrong" at all. "Right and wrong" are much bigger concepts than any mere god.

    Just try to measure your impact on other people. Even if you don't believe in a god, you can ask yourself these questions: Are you hurting other people? Are you causing unnecessary pain and suffering? Do you make people happy or unhappy? The answer to those questions will usually, more or less, tell you whether your actions are "right" or "wrong."
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    Mar 3 2013: Shouldn't this topic have been posted in the debates category?
    • Mar 4 2013: It may've devolved into a bit of a debate. I'm kinda glad of that. More stimulating that way. Stimulates the mental juices.
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    Mar 3 2013: Umm no not really. The concept of right and wrong is different in different cases. The definition of right and wrong changes for every different boundary level. By boundary level I mean different levels of existing. First being individual, then others like family, people you know, social status, state, country, the world or even society as a whole. The concept of right nd wrong is differently defined in each one of these. Thus it is very subjective and has no "definition"
  • Mar 3 2013: The closer a person is to there own inner being the less discussion and debate is required around this fundamental question. There is no need to include an external deities instructions. As a human being becomes more conscious the path walked through this life becomes an expression of the peace that is felt within. Lack feeling peace and there is sliding scale of discontent that is acted out in the human beings life, always an accurate reflection of the absence being felt within.
  • Mar 3 2013: "But if you don't believe in God, can you still believe in objective morality?"

    You can still believe in objective morality, but you would probably be wrong.

    The search for objective morality has been going on for at least two thousand years. Perhaps we can agree that if this question is still being discussed in the year 3000, then objective morality will probably never be discovered.

    Objective morality is not necessary. Almost everyone agrees that society operates better when people try to be good to each other. That simple idea, and building the criminal code in accordance with the will of the people, is as good as it is likely to get.
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    Mar 2 2013: Free will relates to morality and questions of right and wrong

    An interesting discussion -

    My view is that one must assume freel will, otherwise nothng else makes sense.
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    Mar 1 2013: Does right and wrong exist?

    I have to wonder how wording would effect this conversion.

    I will presume that when must of us hear "right and wrong" we generally think "good and evil".
    But what if the question was
    “Does constructive and destructive exist?”
    “Does beneficial and harmful exist?, would we still think good and evil?

    Could wording change the emotional response to a none-emotional analytical response?
    I say yes and believe wording is a large facture in many arguments.

    What if green-energy was call free-fuel-energy?
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    Feb 28 2013: Without any references or cross-links, I will try to bring my own point of view.

    All of us live in society. Besides religious notions of right and wrong, there are social and civil norms, and after all there is a low.
    Speaking of religion, I can say that it can be source of "right and wrong" concept only individually, but not globally. There are many religions in the world, and we can often see that concept of "right and wrong" in one religion can contradict the concept in other religion. But let's close the subject of religion, my least favorite subject.
    Concerning the low, I can't say that low is always definite and perfect in "right and wrong" concept. And also I would not say that you can get the idea of "right and wrong" our of low easily. And again, it can't be global source of this concept, as different countries and sometimes even different parts of one country have different low.
    When we start to talk about social norms, we are coming closer to the essence of subject. But even here we can face contradictions as sometimes what is right and normal for one society is absolutely wrong for another.

    So, what do we have here, after all?
    Yes, right and wrong exist.
    No, global right and wrong, valid for humanity 100%, don't exist.

    Right and wrong concept is individual case. Individual for each country, state, religious group, social group, for each family and sometimes even for each person.

    What this concept is growing from?
    From our surroundings. From the basis of religion. From the idea of low (sometimes this idea is very transparent). From social norms that were explored by personal experience or experience of someone you know very well. From the morality concept that we learned from educational literature and books that we read in our free time, from movies and news. And of course, from family that is very strong source.

    Each person has his own right and wrong concept. It grows and evaluate as we grow, during all our life.
  • Feb 28 2013: Of course they exist.I think my life's meaning is trying to experience to know right from bad.And I know there isn't absolute thing in the world.But I will never give up seeking the truth in my life.
  • Feb 28 2013: We are born with a rough draft of moral intuitions (channels) which include care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. The various degrees in which we tweak each channel is based upon context and is where our disagreements come into play and are subjective.

    Jonathan Haidt

    However, it appears the first three channels have common objective elements, "giving or creating a value "(right) and "taking or destroying a value" (wrong) from another. The last three channels appear to have a more tribal (ingroup) element which may be more subjective in nature.
  • Feb 27 2013: I really like your statement that without God there is no such thing as right and wrong!

    It is so easy to react to a snarling and obnoxious clerk in a store and say "I have every right to shop-lift here!!"

    There are civic and moral codes/rules that govern society. As you know many countries have different codes and rules, especially their governments. Specifically male - female relationships are all over the map.

    In addition to that, every individual who thinks something is right, will do it (see above) or that something is true and thus believes that. Often it depends whether we think we can get away with it too.

    The highest code is the spiritual code. This was started by the giving of the Ten Commandments. We should not see humans before that point as people who would kill and covet anybody and anything they felt like. The giving of the 10 Commandments only made braking them sins against God.
    It is also the case that we cannot be regarded as spiritual or followers of the spiritual code, without first following the moral and civic codes as the base or foundation.
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      Feb 28 2013: Why is gods rules or this spiritual law any different from any other code of conduct?

      Because god says so?

      Or because this enhances our lives in some way we can access?
      • Feb 28 2013: Because there is only One that is good and thus the Source of good.

        The motive for the good we do makes it good for us, or not. People that don't believe God exists can only do good with the thought "I am good!" That is self-merit, and that does not make our character any better.
        To be really selfless, one needs the realization that it is not our good we are doing but His.

        That is what the Swedenborgian concept is based on of doing good "AS IF of ourselves."
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          Mar 1 2013: So we can not do good if there are no gods?

          Some big presumption in your position.
      • Mar 1 2013: Not good for the one doing it. Who do you thank and give merit for the good you are doing?
      • Mar 2 2013: The least you can do is thank your neurons or other active brain particles.

        Maybe you're right, after all science says there is nothing more than that..
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          Mar 2 2013: As far as we can tell good and bad are human concepts related to how we interact and behave. A mix of nature and nurture.

          That doesn't mean there is not value in thinking about and promoting codes of conduct or values that reduce suffering and improve the human condition.
      • Mar 3 2013: "As far as we can tell good and bad are human concepts related to how we interact and behave. A mix of nature and nurture."
        That's right, "as far as we [our body] can tell.. But that is choosing to limit yourself to what the body can tell us. If you decide to force yourself, and allow yourself, to think above time and space, to think and see relationships above matter, you'll experience spiritual life.
        You are now limiting yourself to civic and moral code and, one might say, that those codes are enforced in one way or another. Either by law or by friends.

        The next higher, the spiritual code, is not enforced at all. It is not, and cannot be enforced by anything or anybody, not even by God, because that's what gives us free choice.
        No one can tell what we are thinking and thus can't tell why we do anything. So, for our protection, no one can tell what spiritual state we are in, whether we choose to be spiritually alive or dead.

        You probably heard the saying "We are what we love." Since love is spiritual, no one can see or measure or determine in any way what kind of person we are because it is impossible to do so.
        In addition to that, love (we) can only exist in freedom. No freedom = no love.

        Very much in line with that is this little book. The Doctrine of Life. It says much of the above but shows much more than I can here.
        Sections in "Teaching About Life" (notice the second one?)
        < Everything to do with religion is about life and doing good
        < We cannot do good on our own
        < Doing good from the Lord means refusing to do evil
        < The Ten Commandments show us what is evil
        < We become spiritually good as we refuse to do evil
        < Refusing evil involves struggling against wanting to do it
        < We must refuse evil as if we do that by ourselves
        < If there is any other reason, we are not refusing evil, only not showing it
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      Feb 28 2013: ...

      "The highest code is the spiritual code. This was started by the giving of the Ten Commandments"

      Ten Commandments?! ...

      Not likely, at all...
      Just look around the world at so many people living good live's without these commandments or even a hint of christianity..

      I know many good people who know right from wrong and live good lives and are not christians, or even align themselves with religion, and these include my three children.

      And yes, it does make our character better, and our lives more noble, if we live well, do the best we can, with no expectation of an afterlife or reward
      • Feb 28 2013: What was left out?

        Just responding to the first passage. The next and last verse #25 says "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
        So no authority, no higher rules and certainly no spiritual guidance.

        This follows my post above. Also, as explained in the Second Coming, people wrote the Bible from their own perspective and God used those words to portray a higher, spiritual level of meaning. It is that spiritual meaning which makes it God's Word, not the literal text.

        This is how we believe the Word of God should be regarded and how it then makes total sense,
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        Mar 1 2013: Too many graven images these days.
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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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  • Feb 27 2013: I think, this question is simple question but the answer about this is useful for everybody. "Do right and wrong exist?"
    it let me think maybe right and wrong will be exist in our mind, when our mind thought about this was right or wrong.
    when we thought that good something was happened, in that time the "right" is exist. And when we thought that bad/ wrong something was happened, in that time the "wrong" is exist.
  • Feb 27 2013: Objective morality is a fact.

    If you ask 100 people if they would rather be lied to by others or to be told the truth, 98-100 will say they want to be told the truth. It might be 98 or 99 if the 100 people you ask contain a couple of oddballs.

    If you ask 100 people if they would rather that others who do actions towards them that affect their person, property, or freedom of movement, do so with or without their agreement, 98-100 will say they want to give their agreement before any action is done that affects them.

    Telling the truth and getting agreement before actions can be watched in others and studied, no matter the country. It will always come out that telling the truth and getting agreement before actions is the peaceful route for people to take. To lie or to do actions towards others without their agreement creates conflict.

    You brought up rape. Using truth and agreement I can assure you that no matter where on the globe rape occurs that the victim does NOT agree to the action of rape committed on them by another person. You might say that victimhood is subjective on the victims part but what is life if not lived through our mind and our intellect and our free choice? It wouldn't be called rape if the sex was consensual! In Afghanistan's culture the men have sex with boys and it is accepted (by adults). I can GUARANTEE you that the virgin boy does not AGREE to be penetrated by any man. Like a slave they will get used to the mistreatment and will probably do it to others as they get older. Its up to societies to change themselves. Others societies looking in cannot attack them without being attacked first or getting agreement to attack from a strong majority of the people first.

    The affected persons mind and whether or not they agree to what is being done to them is where morality originates. If what is being done to them is being done to restrain them, like a criminal, then they obviously have no say in the restraint that is being placed on them.
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      Feb 27 2013: Re: "If you ask 100 people if they would rather that others who do actions towards them that affect their person, property, or freedom of movement, do so with or without their agreement, 98-100 will say they want to give their agreement before any action is done that affects them."

      Does this mean that taxes and driving licenses are objectively immoral? How about democracy when a minority is forced to accept the will of the majority?
      • Feb 27 2013: No, it means that if I want to punch someone in the face or take their food I should get their agreement before proceeding.

        Taxes and driver's licenses are societal things. To live in a society that is civilized (key word here) there must be laws. In order for a society to function and to be governed by the people (democracy) there is an obligation to understand that laws will be made according to the majority of the peoples wishes (hopefully based on a Constitution) and that those wishes certain individuals will not always agree to, but be forced to accept or else break the law.

        The original posters post got me thinking some more and I think that the concept of debating subjective vs objective morality and hence whether there is such a thing as morality at all, is a perfect mechanism...for teaching psychopathy.

        If one were to instead look at the word "innocence" and debate its meaning they will come to same conclusion I have regarding what is morally right, which is telling the TRUTH, getting AGREEMENT before doing actions that affect others, and having EMPATHY for those in need. If you do these three things consistently you will be consistently innocent. Whereas if you lie, "do what thou wilt" towards others, and have no empathy for anyone, you will be guilty. Guilty of creating conflict because as sure as the sky is blue and the grass is green these are surefire ways to create conflict no matter where you live or in what time period.
  • Feb 26 2013: Well, This is tough. Morality is a very controversial topic because its so subjective. But in everyday life you can just tell when something is right or wrong. It either hurts the person or helps them. Your point is incredibly true. Only the things we call right and wrong exist. What's right and what's wrong changes as our society grows. So the answer is that until everyone can get along and agree what's right and wrong will always vary. Here's a hint, if it feels so good. Too good to be true its probably not right. But this is true only if your the only one gaining.
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    Feb 25 2013: A great TED talk on this subject!
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      Feb 25 2013: Yes, a good talk which ruffled a lot of feathers as indicated by the comments which followed.

      Steve Pinker also does a good job here:

      I think a lot of confusion on this issue could be cleared up if the word reason was used instead of science. Pinker touches on this during the last part of his talk.

      I believe Sam spoke at this group debate as well.
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        Feb 27 2013: Good talk from Pinker. I enjoyed the first part where he argues that morality does not come from God with the "cut the middle man" argument.

        But the second part, whether science can help us tell right from wrong, begs lots of questions. First, he starts from giving RATIONAL explanations to human sacrifice and burning witches. This implies that reason CAN justify these acts as well. So, why do we use reason to justify some acts and condemn the other? Second, he says that cruel public executions deter others from crime as much as just locking the person up. This is far from being obvious. I see many rational arguments against this point. Reason is not why cruel public executions are not practiced. They are not practiced because they are, well, cruel and gruesome (as we think today). Third, he says that morality emerges from the debate between journalists, essayists, polemicists, legal scholars, and moral philosophers. He did not name scientists. Fourth, he redefines science giving it a broader sense to fit his rationalizations. He concludes saying that [for defining morality] science "is indispensable, but not enough" which seems to imply that science alone cannot determine what is moral. Which is fair.

        I agree with Hume: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." Ask a criminal and he will give you perfect reasons for committing the crime.

        I did like one part of Pinker's reasoning - where he rationalizes the Golden rule reasoning that "I am not special". This is a philosophical point rather than scientific one. I associate it with the concepts of "rejecting self" and humility which can be traced in many religions. And it is an irrational belief. Ask a 4-year old, and he will give you 20 perfectly rational reasons why he should have a cake while his brother is not allowed to.
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        Feb 27 2013: I agree, reason, and evidence, borrowing a lot from the scientific method, and the knowledge in the sciences of biology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, group dynamics etc etc.
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      Feb 27 2013: A definition of morality would be helpful?

      I mentioned earlier in this thread what is the answer to Sam's question.

      I think people are so blinded by the meme of no bias that they miss these points.
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      Feb 27 2013: Letitia, you gave one of the best and most concise definitions of scientific method in another conversation that I have ever read. Do you agree with Sam Harris that science can help us answer moral questions?
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        Feb 27 2013: Thank you. I do agree that science can help us answer moral questions. I think your use of the word "help" explains it all. Science is just a method. The answers are there in the facts whether we figure them out or not, regardless of how we figure them out. I applaud Sam Harris for recognizing that there is a barrier to overcome in the way that we see morality as being outside the influence of scientific inquiry. Science may not be able to provide an explanation for everything, but it can't hurt to try can it?
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          Feb 27 2013: Re: "Science may not be able to provide an explanation for everything, but it can't hurt to try can it?" I like this approach. I believe, morality comes from "self" - self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-reflection, etc. And science can, definitely, help us understand ourselves. E.g. neurological research can explain how our emotions work and the mechanisms which cause us to feel angry or grateful.

          However, I'm skeptical that moral rules themselves can follow from any scientific research. We cannot have a scientific experiment to determine whether an act is moral without defining what IS moral before we start the experiment. Harris argues that we "know" that a father killing his daughter because she was raped is immoral. I agree. But how do we "know" it? Not from science, but from our emotions. Harris is unable to explain how we "know" it, except reflecting upon the act, perhaps, thinking of his own daughters, and shedding a tear. That's not a scientific evidence.

          I believe, science can explain psychological and neurological mechanisms involved in moral decisions, how these mechanisms evolved, etc. I don't believe, science can or should tell us what is right.
        • Feb 28 2013: "I believe, morality comes from "self" - self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-reflection, etc"

          I read once that peer pressure is the main thing that instills morality in us & keeps it in us.
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    Feb 24 2013: Right and Wrong is an easy way to decide. In dangrous and risky enviroment , Righ and Wrong Duality serves for survival. However in advanced society or higher level of Evolution, Right and Wrong seems to be a bit of retarded. We dont have to connect the Right and Wrong Dulaity to God Concept. There is no use in that and at the end of the day cannot be proved. Right and Wrong Dulaity finally will serve Position. Position has the possibity to impose its interpretation about Right and Wrong duality in deed, regardless of what it says in words.
    I think Human needs to learn to replace Right and Wrong Duality with Consequence Concept. The Consequences show if something is Right or Wrong. If we have a hole in Ozon layer, then there must have been something wrong! That was just an example! Poverty is a Consequence and shows that something is wrong. that was another example. It is obvious there is a Problem that needs to be solved. There are already Solution to some degree and those are Norm and Conscience. Both are related to Consequence Concept. Norm is so called Inter-generational Experience , which is based on Consequences and Conscience/Conciousness is a Human Evolutional Capabilty which allows and makes the 'Transfer of Consequnce Feeling' possible.
    On a Rational and System level we search for Solution. The Solution are made and executed by Human. That means we need to replace the Right and Wrong Dulaity with another Dulaity which I call 'Parameter and Solution Duality'.
    That means the Parameters on the Ground and their connection show how a Solution should be. In other words.
    In 'Parameter and Solution Dulaity' the Symmetry of Parameter breaks into Solution. That is definitely not a Right and Wrong Concept. An advanced Solution maker is capable to consider himself or his own interest and its consequences as a parameter of his Solution.A Solution maker is the local Break of Symmetry!
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    Feb 23 2013: Sounds like you think the options are either a creator god or goddess defining what is right and wrong, or we might as well give up and accept any type of behaviour.

    Suggest that is probably wrong on both counts.

    First why assume the rules of a creator god or goddess are the appropriate framework to use for moral decisions? You have to make all sort of unfounded assumptions to get close to this making sense and even then the position is questionable.

    Second, while there is perhaps no absolute morality, perhaps there are some moral frameworks that improve the condition of conscious beings, that reduce suffering more than others.

    Personally I find it worth fighting for the values I think improve our lives such as opposing racism, sexism, homophobia and supporting various rights and freedoms within limits etc and are willing to debate other values such as those that think it is moral to cut their children's genitals for some religious reason, or not give gay people or different races equal rights.

    Life may not come with easy answers although religions sometimes try and pretend there are. But we have thousands of years of philosophy, hundreds of science, and better access to information and forums such as TED than ever before. It's not easy but we are not starting from zero.

    While not absolute, I suggest there are sound arguments for not raping and killing without good reason, for supporting freedom of speech and religion (both within limits) and for doing away with monarchies etc.

    It's not a choice between the bogus rules of some divine dictator or anything goes. False dichotomy Mark. Such a binary view I see threaded through a lot of religious positions. If there is no absolute we can still meaning in our lives and strive for improvement in ethics etc.
  • Feb 22 2013: Yes, I guess, well no, I'm not sure
    Yes they do, together as one.

    If there is power, then there must be two basic ways to use it.
    One way is......and the other way is.........
    Perhaps, without power, there is no such thing as right and wrong.
    The object of power is to do, by means of power.

    Do you believe there is one who has all power and that one is God?
    If that is true, then God has evil power.
    And uses it too.
    Apparently more profusely and liberally than good power.

    I can not answer this. I am not smart enough.

    If there was no death, then there would be no right and wrong.
    No God is needed. If there is death there is right and wrong.
    No God is needed.
    • Feb 23 2013: "If there was no death, then there would be no right and wrong."

      But there would still be suffering. To prevent as much of it as possible, to prevent as much chaos as possible also (thanks earlier contributor for bringing this up), we would still need right and wrong and some way of enforcing it and reinforcing it. I read once that peer pressure is the main thing that instills morality in us & keeps it in us. This is why most of the time most of us don't have much need of the enforcers (though remembering they are there can help too).
      • Feb 24 2013: Louise.
        I stated in my post that I am not smart enough. ( ) nothing up there.
        You know, though I don't believe in God, I cannot help but wonder where does this sense of modesty, shame or guilt come from in humans? Because it does appear in those who have no religious upbringing, training or indoctrination around this, but somehow, it seems part and parcel of the human condition.
        If there would still be suffering, but no right or wrong, then how is suffering one or the other?
        I think you said it when you said, "we would still need...."

  • Feb 22 2013: Perhaps rather than "right and wrong" you should be asking about "co-operating and defecting".

    Because that explains stuff a lot better. Right and wrong are ethical things which involve a lot of factors... co-operating and defecting however only take 2 sides which have extremely limited options (work together or not).

    If in general it pays off to co-operate then most people would want to do that.
  • Feb 22 2013: Where there is no choice, there is no moral right and wrong. Where there is no life, there is no choice, merely the laws of physics acting upon particles. In addition to life, i would say consciousness is required for choice, or perhaps more specifically the ability to think abstractly. My reasoning is this: An animal, bacteria, or plant's acts are governed by certain laws of self-preservation, which, without abstract thought, i would consider as unbreakable as the laws of physics. So, If you define objective as independent of observer, then no, there is no objective morality. Because morality only governs conscious actions, there can be no morality in the absence of that condition, subjective or not.

    My point is this,
    1. Morality does not exist outside the context of consciousness.
    2. Objective morality exists.
    3. Morality can be objective only if it applies to all conscious beings.
    4. Any morality which is not absolute (does not apply to all conscious beings) is what we call ethics or virtue.
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      Feb 22 2013: It is usually described as the ability to be a moral agent. That definition can change over time. So if the definition of moral agent changes, can there really be objective right and wrong or does that change with changes in definition. For instance, children have typically been exempt from being a moral agent. but some kids are looking at adult sentencing for crimes as an adult. An adult is a moral agent and an child is not. So is this right or wrong?
  • Feb 21 2013: Trusting yourself is right. Distrusting yourself is wrong. Who is your self? Your self is living...

    That's about the only thing we can all agree on, so it's the closest we have come collectively to knowing who we are. When you trust that you are living then you can stop killing yourself with addictions and live yourself with freedom.
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      Feb 27 2013: "It has been theorized that humans are susceptible to self-deception because most people have emotional attachments to beliefs, which in some cases may be irrational. Some evolutionary biologists, such as Robert Trivers, have suggested that deception plays a significant part in human behavior, and in animal behavior, more generally speaking. One deceives oneself to trust something that is not true as to better convince others of that truth. When a person convinces themself of this untrue thing, they better mask the signs of deception."
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    Feb 21 2013: Something can be right or wrong only in an instant time. What is wrong can be right and what is right can be wrong just a few seconds later, when something unsuspected just occurred to change everything

    How can you tell that some action or re-action is right or wrong when you didn't see what will happen later? I mean, what about the total consequence of all this? What if someone who did something that you thing that is wrong, but it is actually right and you didn't have the long term vision to reveal it up to yourself? And vice versa.

    If only God knows what is wrong and what is right it is because he domain the whole spacetime and knows it. But how can you tell something that only God knows?

    There is no objective wrong and right since it's a concept based on the human mind and our capacity to streamline in short-terms.
    • Feb 23 2013: You are a movie lover, I suspect. And the more twists the better, right? Can't beat that!
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        Feb 24 2013: Maybe a few movies I could think about that, but what I really love is the human mind and how life create stuffs

        (I'm a biochemistry)
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          Mar 5 2013: You mean you are a biochemist? But you need to be a neuropsychologist to understand what is right or wrong?
  • Feb 21 2013: Yes, right and wrong does exists. God is supreme power who controls everything but blessed human beings with brain to distinguish between good and bad. If it would not have existed then we would have never realised the worth of pain and happiness.
    • Feb 21 2013: So you think without being consciously aware of right or wrong you can't fully appreciate happiness & pain? I've seen plenty of obvious happiness from the family pets... I would argue that they are easily happier than most humans. On the other hand, I've seen animals in pain too. And while they can't verbalise or describe what they feel, it's clearly very 'realised' to them from the way they cry out and the look in their eyes. Ever seen a bird weep next to its dead life partner? So sad.
      • Feb 22 2013: You don't have to be sad for anything or anyone.... I really appreciate your point of view. But pain and happiness is just a brief description of right and wrong. We are in present world realise so much around us as wrong and appreciate humanity. Why?? It's only because we can distinguish between right and wrong. But each individual has his own perception about things. Some believe in presence of god in making others happy, creating peace and spreading humanity in world whereas some people have entirely opposite definition to it. If they would not have been able to differentiate between good and bad then everyone would have never appreciated Mother Teresa and no one would have criticised bomb attacks and mass killings. Definitely I believe in the fact that God is supreme power who has given intelligence to human being to find out difference between good and bad. But at same time given liberty to do karma. One who understands it always try to be in obedience of supreme power while some non believers tend to create their own world of right and wrong around them.
        • Feb 22 2013: Yes well we see the world very differently. I think that its down to personality in the end, whether you want to believe in a supernatural power or not. Perhaps more plausible when you see examples of Christians turning aethiest like myself & visa versa. Sometimes no amount of perceived logic can persuade one side to the other... & yet somehow I feel compelled to try. I strongly feel having been brought up Christian, but ultimately losing faith due to the way my mind works(logical, rational & requiring imperical evidence) that I have seen both sides of the coin & I am very comfortable facing the harsh reality of no afterlife. Further, my right & wrong 'ability' tells me that either this world & it's inhabitants evolved & are at the mercies of Mother Nature, or a very thoughtless/cruel god created it, filled with flaws, pain & unnecessary suffering. & I absolutely do not accept that all negative aspects of life are gods mysterious plan? And all good things are gifted by him. Or her. Or it, I mean has to an it... With no other gods, there would be no need for reproductive features & therefore no definable sex.
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      Feb 22 2013: Neetika, kindly allow me ask few questions here. Do right and wrong exist in Mars? Or say in Sun? Like the way hydrogen exists on earth, Mars and Sun?
      Or say, if a very hungry tiger, almost desperate to the point of starvation and death, finds a human and hunts it to eat, will it be right or wrong? For both the tiger and the human?
      If my house is destroyed in earthquake and the insurance company rejects my claim for compensation citing act of God will it be right for the insurance company?
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    Feb 20 2013: It exists in the human mind. The concept of whats wrong and whats right is a concept thats created. For example, in the "civilized" and "western culture", cannibalism is wrong and condemned, but to those cultures that practice it in brazil and wherever else in the world, its perfectly right and normal. To me it doesn't exist, to me everything that happens has the potential to be the right thing to happen depending on how you choose to perceive it.
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      Feb 21 2013: I agree. That is why my answer is stated that way:)
  • Feb 20 2013: Of course they do. This question itself is non sense and insane. What about child sexual abuse? What about if somebody kill you now, just because they decided to? What about if somebody blond start to question himself if maybe his hair is black? Wrong. Face the Truth and Reality.There are LAWS in the physical plan as well as there are laws in the mental and spiritual plans. If we lose right/wrong notion we lose our grounds and our minds. It's chaos, and chaos is far from Nature and the Universe. Or life. No matter what religion or belief you have.
  • Feb 11 2013: Scot, You say,

    "OK, so it doesn't seem that anybody doubts the fact that atheism and objective right and wrong are mutually exclusive "

    How in the world did you reach that conclusion..?? ... and what does being an atheist or a Christian or a Buddhist or a Muslim have to do with what is "objectively "right or wrong...? It it's objective .. then it's objective , it stands for itself ... regardless of who's life view or religious view is involved ...
    • Feb 11 2013: You're absolutely right. I believe that there is objective truth. However, how can we know that objective truth except through religion? Since atheists have no way of finding out what that objective truth is, it might as well not exist to them. Am I wrong?
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        Feb 13 2013: Atheists don't know what is objective truth and look for it. Religious depend on 2000 year old books with dubious authorship to claim objective truth. Take your pick.
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        Feb 17 2013: Scot, what is the objective truth you believe in and can you demonstrate why this has merit?
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    Feb 11 2013: Yes

    A higher level of survival for the greatest number is right and a lower level of survival for the greater number is wrong
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        Feb 11 2013: It is not a zero sum game, survival for all life, please look at my post below.
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        Feb 11 2013: Survival is not objective?
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        Feb 11 2013: What is the one single thing that all life does no matter what?
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        Feb 12 2013: What is your point?
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        Feb 12 2013: Wrongness = death

        Which by the way is why people are so hung up on being right.

        Survival is about as objective as you can get.

        Have a nice day
        • Feb 23 2013: This is for Mark, because he tried to argue against wrongness=death. Nice try, Mark. But this has been grappled with successfully for millennia. This is why as a group we know to be sad when someone dies young, but not so sad when they've passed at 90 or 100. And the latter particularly if they lived a full life. We all have a pretty good idea of what a full life means around here. I can't imagine that's not true where you live.
  • Feb 10 2013: "And since nobody can agree on what to call what, we're all in a lot of trouble."

    In democratic societies, full agreement is not necessary, just 1 vote more than 50%. For defining crimes, this has proved adequate.
    • Feb 11 2013: Are crimes the only wrong things in the world?
      • Feb 11 2013: Scot,

        Of course not. There are many other things in the world that are wrong but not considered crimes. The future will surely bring many new things that may be wrong. The judicial system usually follows after the act. There can be no "content" to your concept of "wrong" until the deed is first done. You cannot make a law against something that is wrong (crime) ... when it has not happening yet ....
        • Feb 21 2013: Beg to differ. Believe laws are composed occasionally from anticipation alone. Certainly policies are. Many times we can anticipate how a new product or procedure will give rise to a new temptation. We do this sort of thing at home all the time. So, if we bring home a teddy bear that records & plays back what it hears, we make a rule that Teddy can only record our own voice and not for instance the angry neighbor's voice. Though he may be heard sometimes in the background.
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    Feb 9 2013: The objective reason is that if you do something to someone that you would not want done to yourself you are in affect saying that you do not want to be responsible for that person. When you say that you are sequestering your self from that person from now on because you do not want that responsibility.

    E.G. The next time you get irritated or angry with a situation ask your self is that something I have done myself.

    The other day I became irritated with people zooming down the road near my house so I decided I would pull into traffic even though they would have to slow down not to hit me.

    A day or two later a teenager was crossing the street in front of me, in that slow way that is popular with the teens, and I had to slow way down not to hit him. I was pissed and honked my horn etc. Then it occurred to me that I had done the same to the people that were zooming through by on the road near my house.

    When I was a kid I broke a bottle at the beach, rather than taking it to the trash I just buried it in the sand (I knew better)
    a few minutes later I stepped in the spot and cut my foot.

    The apparency is that we are separate and our activities are separate, but they are not, so when you do something bad to "someone else" we are really doing it to our self.

    The movie that illustrates this is Grounds Hogs Day.

    People generally realize this regarding their immediate family but when it comes to the nation or the world not so much.

    The worse evil there is is complacency.
  • Feb 9 2013: "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."

    Which God of many religions are you referring to? There is no single God and each God has its own rules. In addition many of these rules are not detailed enough or are outdated to deal with issues such as human cloning, gay marriage, abortions, biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, rights of minorities, rights of society versus individuals etc.

    I believe that objective right and wrong exists because these concepts are based on human condition. If we stipulate that all animals, including human beings, have the right to exist and we know that people want to experience the least suffering cause by others in their life while having the most freedom, we have basic principles upon which we can build morality without the need for God.

    With rational thinking we can then determine if an action is right, wrong or neither. Not everything can be determine as such because we don't have enough knowledge at the moment.

    A good start to look at this philosophy is Sam Harris work such as his TED speech:

    • Feb 11 2013: But see, you stipulated some ground conditions. Some assumptions. Therefore your morality is subjective. Why should I agree with your ground conditions of a right to exist?
      Also, just because a religion exists doesn't mean their God exists. I believe in one God because I've had personal experiences with Him. I haven't with all these other Gods. They might exist, it's true, but since I have no personal experience with any of them, they might as well not exist. Besides, my God says He's the only one and I trust Him.
      • Feb 12 2013: "Why should I agree with your ground conditions of a right to exist?"

        Personally you don't have to agree to it however majority of people and nations will agree with this basic condition. This basis of morality (right to exist, minimize suffering and have freedom of choice) are reflected in United Nations declaration of Human Rights.

        In terms of Gods, since we have so many and everyone claims that their God is the only one we can't universally declare morality based on any specific God's rules. Rather I believe we need to use our intellect and science to define morality in humanity context.

        • Feb 12 2013: You're totally right. However, none of this is objective morality, it's subjective. That's fine, but it's not the topic of this thread.
          Knowing objective truth is a personal quest. It can only be known by personal spiritual inquiry. Is it ironic that objective truth can only be known by a subjective process? Absolutely. I think it's funny too. But that's the truth, and it doesn't change according to how I want it to be.
      • Feb 13 2013: "However, none of this is objective morality, it's subjective. "

        Objective reality has to be founded on subjective basic terms since morality, unlike for example math, is about subjects (people) and not objects (equations).

        And since morality is subjectively based on human needs, not some random concept of non-living matter, then again we can objectively look at what morality is about and find basic rules that will provide us objective (i.e. fair and not bias) guidance for our actions.
      • Feb 21 2013: Scot, you say you only know your God. Sure, that's the one you've been taught about & feel you've gotten to know personally. Great, really. And you speak of the possible existence of other gods, which shows respect for other peoples views and that's admirable. But just think for a minute about the people such as yourself that believe there is only one God. Among such people we usually say, "Oh, you see God that way? I see Him this way." In other words, among monotheists, it is conceded that there is only one God. He (or even She) is just seen in many different ways.
  • Feb 9 2013: To have law and civilization imples write and wrong. Religions vary so much Stoics and Buddhists have right and wrong. Or maybe the concepts of right and wrong does not vary as much as we think There are at least ten versions of the Golden Rule.
  • Mar 8 2013: I've been impressed by how few believers have shown up here. I attribute this to them having better things to do with their time than to participate in forums. I normally have very little, if any, time for forums. Occasionally I crave expression and indulge in that craving. But I'm very aware of how it upsets me that some people, including some politicians, spend way too much time talking about what they're going to do and very little time actually doing any of it. I know the US is composed mainly of believers. Their lack of participation here should not lead anyone to the opposite conclusion. Belief in the Almighty can be a dicey deal, but most of us crave it whether we know we do or not.
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      Mar 7 2013: does this have anything to do with the topic? I'd like to know before i try.
  • Mar 7 2013: If there is no purpose,there will be no right and wrong.
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      Mar 8 2013: Perhaps there is no absolute purpose, but that does not mean our lives are without meaning and purpose.
  • Mar 7 2013: i have one movies that can answer you problem : The Ledge
    in this movie, u can know who more better.. Be Atheis or be Fanatic...

    if u didnt know what wrong or what true, just ask ur self : Did everyone near u have disturb with all you have done? If the answer yes, so you have done wrong in ur life..Simple
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    Mar 7 2013: This question can lead to really deep conversations of different spectrums in philosophy, God, Free-will, etcetera.
    However I do not think no being a God would make this argument less interesting. And in the other hand it depends on what God you believe in and your personal believes, the bible its not a PG book. I talk about many immoral context, and other holly books as well.

    With or without God in the equation I would assume that we would have to give a definition of what is considered "right".

    Remember that words are created by man to be able to express ideas.
  • Mar 6 2013: That may have been a bit ambiguous. It's difficult to get a point across in text when I only get to use 2000 characters... haha
  • Mar 6 2013: There still is such things as right and wrong without believing in 'God'. The right and the wrong are just believed to be different things.

    People say Nature vs. Nurture? I say they both work together.

    Nurture (education in this sense) is necessary for a person to believe a certain right or a certain wrong. They must be taught certain these things.

    To be right or to be wrong is not a question of God's presence. We are all God. It is a function of: 'one receiving positive or negative reinforcement at a young enough age for doing what someone-esle-in-charge said to do'.

    IT ALL STARTS WITH EDUCATION! The younger you start educating someone, the easier it will be.

    Human beings all have a conscience. In my mind the conscience is God. We're not immediately consciously aware of it's mechanisms, but we can all LEARN to be.

    We're all 'in a lot of trouble' because collectively our emphasis on education is terrible. That's just because we have not been collaborating as to what is the best for the human race. TED is GREAT for this! It's letting us do what I just said we haven't been doing! Besides the point I know...

    If the parents in our society all collaborated, and came together to decide what WAS the right thing for our civilization, and we all decide what we want, we'll be just fine. It will just take a couple of generations before we notice the real change.

    Collaboration in education and the execution of such education decides what is right and wrong in somone's mind.
  • Mar 6 2013: I think I understand where you are coming from, there are areas where human beings are unable to be sure about right and wrong. However, is it possible that your answer dodges the question when it comes down to more simple questions such as, is rape (for example) 'absolutely' morally wrong? or just subjectively wrong? I've heard it said that, moral absolutes 'just exist' in the same way mathematical truth exists but I'm not sure that answers the questions either but just passes the buck. (Please excuse typos - using a phone at the moment)
  • Mar 6 2013: Jacob - so ultimately you are saying that morality is subjective?
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      Mar 6 2013: I'd suggest if you define moral as improving wellbeing it is less subjective than accepting whatever a culture and religion says is right and wrong.
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    Mar 6 2013: Right and wring are simply mutual to each other. Right exist only if wrong exists and vice versa. So we believe something is right, because we also know the wrong.

    So now if we deny the existence of right or wrong, we will find some other names or terminology to differentiate things in human terminologies. So in my opinion, they are just terminologies we use to differentiate things.
  • Mar 6 2013: Right and Wrong

    only "exist" or "manifest" with in the lower frequencies of consciousness or as Shakespeare put it "nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so"

    Dr Eben Alexander the Neurosurgeon who take a journey into the realms of "formless" and returned to write about it said "I could see that earth was a place where good and evil mixed, and that this constituted one of its unique features.

    The Doctors observation echo the line from Yates's Crazy Jane .."Fair and foul are near or kin and fair needs foul"
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    Mar 6 2013: Phrases about Right is easy to read and understand. Phrases about Wrong is difficult to digest while reading. But Wrong is easy to do and Right is difficult to follow.....

    Right and Absence of Right(Wrong) do exists. This is a perfect known mindset of all humans and cannot be changed/debated.
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      Mar 6 2013: I agreed until itwas stated that we can not change it nor debate it.
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    Mar 6 2013: No, I would not call it instinctive in the scientific sense. I would call the examples you site cultural. But I would posit that within each culture certain criteria exists that designate an innate feel for right and wrong. You seem to be wanting a universal definition of right and wrong. I am not addressing what I would consider lesser instances (i.e. "womenfolk to leave the house"). In my culture, that is not an issue. I am speaking to universal instances, like murder. I do realize their are cultures that condone murder for various reasons. If you examine those reasons, truly examine them, whether they are legal or not in each respective instance, the bottom line is that even in these instances of condoned murders (since we are grappling over right and wrong) there is an element of selfishness and control. Would you like to be on the receiving end? That is really all you have to ask yourself.
  • Mar 5 2013: Continued from previous post :

    Ex1: It is right to drive on the right-hand side of road in New York and it is wrong to drive so in New Delhi. As per the practice implemented in those cities, you can drive safe on the RH side of the road in NYC but you get killed in New Delhi as you are expected to drive on the LH side. So a rule or law would have been enacted to implement this ‘right’ behaviour based on the convention followed in that place.

    Ex-2: Over a decade back it was ‘less-acceptable’ for a man to travel in shorts or pyjamas on a commercial airline but now none cares if you are dressed casual.

    Ex3: Many are okay to eat meat and many others who are decisively against it. Even among those who eat meat, some would go to the extent of killing you if you present a plate full of cow’s meat or pork as it would be against their religion.

    Ex 4: One is allowed to marry many girls and for another more than one wife is wrong, because their religions allow it and their governments endorse it. In both cases having a relationship with somebody else’s wife or husband is wrong.

    To conclude, the largely accepted ‘rights and wrongs’ are better left so if they help in our lives and amply justified by the past. It is okay to change the wrongs to right or differentiate them according to the user (as in examples 2, 3 and 4) if it does not hurt the social fabric.
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      Mar 6 2013: If i understand your conclusion, i disagree. If human societies are to improve they should constantly examine their values and be open to changes that improve human wellbeing.

      Otherwise there would still be slaves and the caste system unchallenged. No democracy or human rights.
      • Mar 7 2013: Please ask yourselves : if you take some 100 'rights and wrong' as we learnt from our religion or forefathers, how many of them would you find a need to reexamin just for the sake of reexamination ? I opined that there would always be some (largely accepted ‘rights and wrongs’) we would continue to accept the way they were when examined with a rational and open mind even if one CAN go against that just for the sake of taking an opposite view. Example : if your religion disallows consuming pork, why would you want to change that practice among all those following it ? or if you want to consume it would you still want to identify yourselves with that religion ?
        If one group of people have one practice that they consider as right and that too since ages, I feel that, there is no need to seek a change far as it worked perfectly well. There will always be believes or practices of the past unsuitable to the current time which one should try and alter without any guilt attached. Hope this it more clear.
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          Mar 8 2013: Again, since we are talking about morality here, it does not make sense to mix moral philosophy with traditions/customs/religions. The former, though incomplete, is fundamentally reason-based, and constantly questions its own axioms. Respect for traditions without questioning its functions and purpose promotes resistance towards any ideas of change, some of which may be progressive. It may be said that anyone is free to join a religion that forbids pork consumption. Such freedom does not imply that the practice of not consuming pork has any rational or moral basis. If we must err in the search for moral truth, we must err knowing we have tried our best not to err by exploring our moral premises down to their very roots (at least the philosophers must do their job). The failure to do so is even worse than doing wrong.

  • 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.
  • Mar 4 2013: Right and wrong, like all things in the realm of biology, can be considered through the lens of evolution. You don't hurt others because evolution has taught us that is wrong. Although this answer is short, hopefully it can illustrate an interesting concept.
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    Mar 4 2013: If it causes you or others suffering, it can be worded as being wrong. If it causes you joy, but others suffering then it is a selfish pleasure and hence wrong. If it causes others pleasure and you suffering, then it's still detrimental to you and can be called wrong. Which leads you with a very narrow path to what is right; performing altruistic actions without them being detrimental to you.
    • Mar 5 2013: How would one's actions have to be altruistic for them not to cause suffering? I can't see how most of my actions could be causing any suffering, but they aren't altruistic either, for the most part.
  • Mar 4 2013: I don't think religion or God really make up any integral part of this subject matter. I do not see how a Bhuddist, Druze or Athiest would disagree in agreeing that cold blooded murder is wrong. Certainly, religious scriptures have incorporated moral wrongs into a religious code of what's unlawful which can contravene current law in matters such as rape within marriage - which is a debate within itself. However, I think an important note to add is understanding the natural instinct of the human and his survival mechanism which would very much give us clues as to what is right or wrong and why - without having to involve religion into the equation.
  • Mar 4 2013: Morality is the differentiation of actions between those that are good and those that are bad.Peace is good and conflict is bad.This is understood universally.As humans the way we interact with others is through our speech and through our actions.If we objectively look at other people that are alone,doing whatever it is that they please by themself,harming no one else,then whatever action that individual does alone is moral,as they are harming no one and there is no conflict.If however we objectively look at other people that are not alone,say two people or a group of people,one can determine that one of those people lying to another of those people has a high probability of causing conflict.This is universal no matter where the person lives on the planet or in which time period that person lived.Telling the truth to others is peaceful and doesn't cause conflict.And if it does it is ultimately not the fault of the one telling the truth.Sometimes others don't want to hear the truth but either need it to be told to them,or need to be told the truth in such a way as to be as unoffensive as possible.Likewise,one can objectively look at others and determine that ones actions towards others,actions that would affect the other person directly,their property,or their path of movement,have to be done with the affected persons agreement.And if not agreement there is a high probability of the action creating conflict.Two people can agree to do whatever together,harming no one else,and because of their mutual agreement and harming no one else,their actions are therefore moral.Whatever it is that they decide to do together.

    Children can't raise themselves so their agreement before actions done of their behalf, is not always necessary. Children should be raised decently.What wouldn't be decent is that which would offend an adult,such as getting beaten,robbed,or raped.

    A society is based on laws.A criminal wouldn't agree to actions done to restrain their further criminality.
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    Mar 4 2013: Right and wrong only exists to the individual. Everyone's perception of right and wrong is different, but we as society, are guided by policy, by authority. A person could think committing murder or theft is right (is natural?), but the rest of society (guided by laws) believe it to be wrong. We are taught the difference between right and wrong since we were children, it's just jargon... The idea is to keep society in order, in control.
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    Mar 3 2013: Are you kidding me? If someone came over to your house and killed one of your loved ones for no reason, it would be WRONG. You would know it. You would not have to know whether or not they believed in God or not. You would not have to know if they had mental issues that may (later) mitigate the perps culpability. You would know, as anyone else would, that it was WRONG for them to kill an innocent person.

    Wake up.
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      Mar 5 2013: Why is it wrong?

      I agree with you, but why?
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        Mar 5 2013: Why do you agree with me? You FEEL that it is wrong to kill an innocent person, as mentally healthy people would feel that it is wrong. We could get into a long philosophical discussion about right and wrong, and about exerting control, and about human rights and all kinds of topics that would attempt to quantify what we know intrinsically. All you have to do is posit the golden rule in any questionable situation - would you like this to be done to you? Or your child? Or your parent? Or your spouse, sibling etc.? That's a good litmus test to help determine what is right or wrong to do. That's why the golden rule has stood the test of time.
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          Mar 5 2013: So it feels wrong because we wouldn't like it to happen to us.

          It kind of comes back to instincts, empathy, and feelings then.

          How we feel is how we feel and not necessary universal.

          If someone else feels differently then we are at an impass, unless we have a better defined description of right and wrong.

          For example someone might feel it is wrong for their womenfolk to leave the house, drive a car, show their face. And many women in that culture may feel that this is also right.

          The golden rule is a good starting test, but not sufficient in my view. It also breaks down in some circumstances. I wouldn't like to go to jail for a crime, but on balance think it better that criminals do go to jail.

          I would suggest something like wellbeing would provide a better foundation.
  • 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 ( 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.
  • Mar 3 2013: I do not think that God necessarily has to be a source of morality and morals. Bible(a.k.a God's words) has great morals and also great lessons. Apart from this, I believe that every human is created evil at first but becomes good as they grow and age. The process of someone being good or evil will be decided during growth. If someone chooses to embrace 'right' morals, he is considered 'good' in our society. If someone chooses not to embrace 'right' morals, he is considered 'bad'. If God is nonexistent, all the morals that were wrote in the Bible is merely an opinion. As the human race increased in size and populations, we have determined a lot of things. Such as one being one. If we choose to call one two, we will be counting two..blahblahblah. In case when God is non-existent, morals are just opinion and things that human decided to choose and decide. Not single supernatural whatever all powerful creature haven't told us what is right and wrong except God. If God was non-existent, as I state again, all this moral and lesson comes from human mind.
    Who knows? There might be a civilization where rape is considered as a good, healthy thing to do. This will probably sound crazy for some people. However, this is merely my opinion on this subject. I welcome all the replies and extra thoughts on this matter.Thanks for reading
  • Mar 3 2013: This is based on the opinion that if God exists there would be an objective morality from which to abide by. This alone is a subjective statement that Deism argues against. While it is true that morality takes a subjective stance, it is constantly reinforced by both the law and social factors. This also means that culture plays a large part in morality, as there is no single defining factor that is not subject to change over time. For instance using your question rape is seen by (western) society as wrong, because it violates human rights meaning it also go's against the law, therefore, making it morally wrong. While this morality is subject to change, so is the bibles interpretation of morality as well, as seen in the crusades, stoning, subjugation of minorities, beating of woman, and rape have all been seen as morality right in one time or another in the eyes of several religions. This brings the conclusion that was is 'right' and what is 'wrong' changes through-out time whether there is a belief in God or not.
  • 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.
  • Mar 3 2013: Yes they exist. But they are not absolute. Beyond good and evil...

    Morality means different things in different cultures and different communities within those cultures. Take BDSM, Neo-Nazism, or even sex before marriage.
  • Mar 3 2013: Right/Wrong is based on the assumption that we are individuals separated from one another. THAT is an illusion....a dream...seemingly as real as the dream you dreamt last night. Those who intentionally DO right.....or DO wrong.....are to varying degrees........Unconscious.....sleeping.
    • Mar 3 2013: And so are you. Wake up and smell the coffee. To paraphrase Robert Frost, we have promises to keep and many miles to go before we sleep again.
  • Mar 3 2013: Well , i ve questioned myself many times about the existence of right and wrong. I came up with the idea that right and wrong could be identified in the rules of "worlds' survival"; this means that everything may be seen as right from different perspectives. Wrong is only what destroys the human and natures' survival and consequently their well being. For this reason, rape for ex. yes is wrong.
    • Mar 3 2013: I gather you believe that morality should be concerned with forming universal rules for human propagation and wellbeing? If so, how do we define a universal wellbeing?
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    Mar 3 2013: ....

    morality and a little neuroscience
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    Mar 3 2013: I dont think that good or bad really exist but this two exist due to our thinking and how we take perception of diffrent thing
  • Mar 3 2013: Rape is wrong because it is painful.
    • Mar 3 2013: Painful to the psyche as well as the body. It's degrading, can result in an unwanted pregnancy or a fatal disease and is a power play creating a victim of power wielded not just without consent but with brutality.
    • Mar 3 2013: While rape may be considered wrong, it is not solely because it is painful. There are many thousands of things that cause pain of varying degree's that are considered morally right. Rape is considered wrong because it violates another human being's free will, personal space, inflicts harm, and possibly lasting psychological effects.
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    Mar 3 2013: I think that there are good actions and not so good actions. It all depends in our experiences and the way we see our present world. But what I'm really convinced of is that everything we do in this life, everything, eventually will return to us in the exact way we did. For example if you give money to a friend because he really needs it that action will return to you maybe not as money given from a stranger but it will return.
    • Mar 3 2013: "But what I'm really convinced of is that everything we do in this life, everything, eventually will return to us in the exact way we did. For example if you give money to a friend because he really needs it that action will return to you maybe not as money given from a stranger but it will return."

      It may help you to know that this sort of thing is referred to as bread upon the waters, just in case you didn't already know :-).
    • Mar 3 2013: While a persuasive argument it advocates a simple answer to a complex question. There are more things to consider than karma, such as conformation bias and law of large numbers that make these seemingly random experiences appear connected. In order to achieve a universal answer beyond 'good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people' as karma suggests, factors such as how the person was acting and presenting their selves must also be taken into consideration.
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    Mar 2 2013: Why would a god think rape is wrong? And how is that any different to something humans could figure out?

    How do you know god thinks rape is wrong?

    Rape and child abuse didn't make it into the 10 commandments.

    In the bible raped women are have to marry their rapist. Seems rape is less of an issue for Yahweh than working on the Sabbath.
  • Mar 2 2013: what a stupid question. how how could you make outer the devinity it's the same thing when you ask if could i be alive without water
    what a pitty !!!!
    there is just one god wo manage this universe and a manager must has a constitution that we have to execute
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      Mar 3 2013: “good question ; i think wrong and right become a convention between people it's like the coulours when i say this coulour is red or blue by convention that i say it is .it means that every one agrees . and it's so for wrong and right.”

      You wrote it?
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    Mar 2 2013: Scott,you say "Some things are wrong, some things are right, simply because God says so and He knows"

    So easy to say. Kind of silly when you unpack it.

    This presumes some sort of god exists. That is an open question.
    You presume it knows what is right or wrong.
    You presume that it also tells us what it thinks is right or wrong. Why assume that? If it has tried to do this it has done a miserable job.

    For the sake of argument let’s assume some sort of creator deity exists.

    Do you assume an absolute human morality exists independent of god? What proof do you have of that?
    Or is it just what god says?

    Is there a standard by which we can assess this god given morality? If yes, what is this and why is that an appropriate standard? Or is it just what god says?

    Strictly speaking, if there is no absolute morality independent of the god you just have another subjective moral framework that is not necessarily any more valid than a human made framework.

    Within any consistent subjective moral framework, with well understood principles, we can make objective assessments.

    If it is just what god says so at a particular time, with no clear underlying values, and it can change its mind, there is no clear objective morality. You are in a worse position than those that don't subscribe to divine command. This can lead to perverse outcomes e.g. killing homosexuals is good, because god says so.

    I would not be surprised if you think god wants what is best for us. But how does god define what is best for us? What is this outcome god is aiming for? And then we can examine this.

    Why would a god think rape is wrong? And how is that any different to something humans could figure out?
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    Mar 2 2013: @ Mark Meijer: i would disapprove of falsely absolutizing morality as well. This is where it starts to sound ludicrous, but could there be some greater paradigm that I do not grasp? Surely we can hope for a better world than one where, given the absence of objective morality, logic is constantly at risk of being contorted to suit every person's own beliefs? As a fairly cynical person, I suspect human morality is built in the same way as history: it is strongly influenced by the dominant powers of the day. Centuries ago, a king would have found it perfectly justifiable to kill a subordinate with greater talent than himself on the grounds of preserving the political order. Today, democratic and meritocratic society strongly condemns such an act. In the future , we may yet witness a repeat of the king's behaviour. This moral inconsistency is just as hypocritical as all the flawed attempts at establishing objective morality.

    I am undecided though. I could be forcing myself into a false dichotomy too. Nice talk we're having here.
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        Mar 3 2013: Well, I'm not a philosopher so I'm not aware of other positions you can take besides moral relativism and moral subjectivism. I'm agnostic and moral nihilists are repulsively animalistic, so I'm stuck between these two options.
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      Mar 2 2013: This is a comment building on yours. Not objecting to any point you make.

      While the frameworks we use to decide what is right or wrong are subjective, surely there is still value in seeking and promoting values frameworks, that to the best of our ability to discern, improve the human condition and reduce suffering.
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        Mar 3 2013: Yes, insofar as it is pragmatic to do so.
  • 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.
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    Mar 2 2013: Dear Scott;
    Your question is unnecessarily complicated. The answer is simple.

    There are some things that are objectively and subjectively, individually and collectively wrong. Those are the things that are universally wrong.To be able to tell what is right or wrong, all that anyone needs to do is to FEEL their own self (body, mind, soul, spirit). Doing things that are wrong and then counting on being forgiven on Sunday, or Saturday or Friday or any other day...doesn't work. What works is moving forward with the notion that " I will do to others as I will have done to myself".
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    Mar 2 2013: those who see reason under attack, and the question of whether god(s) have a role in our moral lives trivial and boring, might find this presentation of interest

    The Fate fo Reason in the Age of Belief
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    Mar 2 2013: You said it beautifully. I'm new here and happy to find a home for my obscure thoughts. I've thought about this a lot. It could be said that anything that hinders life is wrong, but if so, It ultimately raises the question of: "Is life right?" Life is maintained through co-existence, co-existence is maintained, through peace, so anything that disturbs peace, disturbs life, but is that objectively wrong? Before life on Earth, was the universe wrong or incomplete? If humanity does truly complete the universe by introducing an element with the capacity to appreciate it, then it would imply that life is right, that peace is right. Which brings to the real question on my mind: "Is life necessary?"
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        Mar 2 2013: For the first questions, according to Neil DeGrasse Tyson (I hope I spelled that right) no, we are starstuff. We are made up of the same exact components as the distant cosmos. We are the universe.

        And a Buddhist whose name I can't remember spoke of life as comparable to a jar. The same air exists within the barrier of the jar as does around it. If the jar is smashed, the air inside is immediately assimilated to the air outside. The human shell is like a jar. It is smashed when enlightenment is achieved.

        Not to mention the Taoist view of what happens to us after death, how we return to the great consciousness, or something to that effect.
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        Mar 2 2013: I have yet to form a complete personal opinion on these things yet, but I figured these were apt and interesting. For now, it's all conjecture. I would love a day when we have answers to these questions backed by incontestable proof. Science still has a ways to go. Thank you for the great questions by the way.
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    Mar 2 2013: It seems to me that it is easy to point out why an absence of objective morality would be wrong. In essence, that would be the same as saying "As long as you believe you are right, you are right". So if Hitler believes genocide was justified, it would be justified to a moral relativist. No sane person could accept such an immoral doctrine without first being brainwashed with propaganda.

    But you are right in pointing out that it is hard to identify why there might be objective morality. After all, without the totalitarian solution of God, why should I trouble myself with moral concerns? If you cite the Golden Rule, I can thus reply: why should I care about reciprocity? What is it about reciprocity that makes it an objective quality? Is it due to the benefits that come from reciprocating acts of kindness, and the survival of the human race? In that case, it would seem to me that morality is highly hypocritical since it is built on the foundations of cost-benefit analysis rather than pure morality. Food for thought.
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        Mar 2 2013: This is interesting indeed. while the statement is an attempt to be morally objective, it is still morally subjective, right? Because anyone can define their own set of moral axioms, as we have been looking at Hitler. So. Forget about moral nihilism. What about you? Do you think it is a good idea to strive for moral objectivity?
  • Mar 2 2013: During the course of living we meet people who may have similar understandings about the world but still it remains this question why somebody labels something with the word bad, or wrong, why for somebody an action may seem rude and intolerable, whereas another person would't even think about it.
    What I am trying to say is that we all should know that messing with somebody's life when s/he doesn't want to, or taking advantage of someone's body, believes, freedom is definitely wrong, and I think all will agree with this. So, for instance, why is rape objectively wrong? It's wrong because it happens without the agreement and willing of the other person; his/her freedom and independence is thrown to the garbage, and that hurts- because it is supposed that we are human being who actually think and tolerate the others, but not animals who only follow their natural instincts.
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    Mar 2 2013: Why is rape objectively wrong ?

    Well, because everybody normal consider it wrong , isn't that obvious ? But why everybody does that ? Because we have the notion of 'wrong/evil' and see that rape fits that notion .
    That's enough for objective , therefore if don't believe in God you can still believe in objective moral truths .
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      Mar 2 2013: Don't (or didn't) some people think rape is okay within wedlock?

      Are you suggesting its objective if everyone agrees?
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        Mar 5 2013: No , I'm not saying that something's objective if everyone agrees , instead I'm trying to say that the common sense is enough to know what's right or wrong (well, at least in this case) . His dictionary definition of objective is very odd .
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      Mar 2 2013: I would say universally wrong.
  • Mar 2 2013: Maybe right and wrong come down to the intent behind the action?
    • Mar 2 2013: Right in context of human behavior should mean not harming or hurting another individual without their prior consent or knowledge as in the case of hurt caused by piercing a needle on a patient by a doctor.All human activity could be bracketed as wrong if it is going to hurt or harm the person with intent of actually harming or physically or mentally hurting the person concerned. I am in complete agreement with the essence of what you have said to define right and wrong with a little more insight into the question of objective morality.
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      Mar 2 2013: A lot of ethical analysis comes down to intent, but this is sometimes secondary to the consequences.

      But you also need a set of assumptions to define what is a morally right/good or wrong/bad intent or outcome.
  • Mar 2 2013: Check out Character Strengths and Virtues, a positive psych book about well.. strengths and virtues. One of the criteria for a strength or virtue being included in this book is it has to "produce beneficial outcomes, but be valued regardless of whether or not beneficial outcomes are obvious. It has to be valued in its own right." In another portion of the book the authors mention that the strengths and virtues they write about have been validated all across the world. So what you end up having is a list of good personality characteristics which are universally valued. As soon as you bring up the world valued, you get very close to talking about morals. Here are some specifics from the list to make the connection:

    - Self control
    - Justice
    - Community involvement
    - Honesty
    - Love
    - Generosity

    When it comes to things like adultery, drug abuse, alcoholism or pornography they are not explicitly stated as being bad, but these things being bad can be derived from the negative effect they have on self and others. Drug abuse and alcoholism are obvious to our culture so I will pass them.

    I am a psychology student, and one of my teachers mentioned once that there is a phenomenon happening now where men in their 20s are unable to be aroused by their significant others without taking Viagra because of the effect that pornography has had on them. If this is true, which based on my understanding of the brain is likely to be true, pornography can act basically the same way as heroin or cocaine.

    A statistic that I have heard stated is that couples who have premarital sex are 50% more likely to break up after marriage. Now to me that sounds like a correlation, but even if it is a correlation it says something important about commitment levels of people who are willing to have premarital sex.

    So basically: We all agree on what is fundamentally right. The problem is that people learn the rules of morality without learning the reasons of morality. There is more than one layer to it
  • Mar 2 2013: I'll answer that question with another question (or two.)

    What if God commanded us to rape and torture? Would that make those things good?

    Where does God get his morals from?

    Of course i'm referring to the Euthyphro dilemma. Some christians answer this with "God's goodness comes from his nature. Its in his nature to love love and hate hatred." But then, what if his nature were different? What if God loved cruetly and pain?
  • Mar 2 2013: good question ; i think wrong and right become a convention between people it's like the coulours when i say this coulour is red or blue by convention that i say it is .it means that every one agrees . and it's so for wrong and right
  • Mar 1 2013: Good insights and question, particularly interesting to me is a summing up with the inclusion of sexual abuse. The facts on it's prevalence are stunning and it's effect on society accordingly grand in scale yet it has taken a new "information age" to even begin to face and so correct the secrecy it has enjoyed at our collective expense.
    Certainly through investigation a person who has been subjected to a trauma such as sexual abuse will face major difficulties in the aftermath. And in a society where there is no responsive dialogue it amplifies as this usually means it is left largely untreated. The point again merits focus due to the outrageous number of people abused who end that aftermath suffering with grand scale consequences.
    Anger, as in PTSD, substance addiction and general inabilities in normal social satisfactions cause varying degrees of wrong behavior or, my stretch here historically so called "evil" They end in prison, insane, dead and many times with just sick with their own warped person hood. Not their fault we in this information age know however again un-examined they hold the bag of blank without that bit of information and so far society just pins them as wrong.
  • Mar 1 2013: I go back to Socrates for this one; "There is but one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance."

    The "question" (it seems to me to be a treatise for the existence of God) assumes it was a divine gift in the first place when we have a perfectly good TED talk showing science being as good a (or better) judge for moral issues as religion (Sam Harris). So you CAN leave your god out of this and still have rape be wrong; heck even animals know right from wrong, despite a complete lack of religion (Franz de Waal's TED talk proves that point). I await a concession speech... ;)

    Mom always said you taste like the broth you were boiled in, and as Scot is from Provo, I am guessing that he is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. It is not suprising that someone raised in an environs where the church and its congregation are not just a feature of the society, but are the organizing principle of the community, where virtually everyone you meet is a believer, might come to see his God in every facet of existence. If you were raised in a sealed environment where everything was white, an argument on colors will be lost on you; it is the individual ability to see outside of one's own peculiar paradigm that is the first step to true compassion. And compassion is the root of moralistic behavior, not anyone's god.

    Big G GOD (no matter what name you taped on him), has been responsible for far more suffering than necessary. All- powerful beings that allow for the sorry plight of all species we see demonstrated around the world have a POWERFUL amount of explaining to do, especially in the good versus evil category. I live in Connecticut and we recently had a most despicable evil befall twenty kindergarteners. What benificent omnipresent being could allow twenty young lives to be snuffed out without reason? I suggest none. But yes, there remains good and evil, God or no, and it is Socrate's definition, a man who was killed for trying to leave the gods out of it all. Was that good?
    • Mar 1 2013: Just for your information, I was raised in Maryland, not Utah, although that's where I live now. Also if you'll scroll down to the post of Mark Meijer (his was one of the first posts here) he debunks Sam Harris pretty well. Don't worry, Mark's an atheist too :).
      • Mar 1 2013: Was I incorrect about the LDS too? If so, sorry; just playing the odds... if not, then my point is further made; you have moved to somewhere where your paradigm is supported sociologically as well as theologically. Right or wrong doesn't need a specific location, but socio-theological thinking is more easily supported in larger self-supporting groups; ask an Iranian Jew.

        And Mark's argument about Sam's allowance for the thin possibility of change in the paradigm negating all premise for moral behavior without divine intervention is more ontological than fact based. How many doubts dance on the head of a pin? Might as well count them as count angels.

        I don't believe his allowance disproves anything; to belabor an example already used many times this thread, gay rights were unthinkable as they were a biological abberation a century ago; science has since been providing myriad examples of "gay" behavior in animals. If it is a natural behavior (as many examples from nature would suggest), it could be neither right or wrong, simply natural. Yet we often still try to define this as a good or bad, no matter which side of the argument you fall on. Science says it is natural, religion says it is evil. It is the human condition that causes liberals to adopt natural as good, when it is neither. So both sides can be guilty... yet this failure of secular thinking is not proof of the religious thought. It is simply another failure...

        Sam Harris aside, I see no rejoinder concerning Franz de Waal's talk. If you are correct in the need of religion to bring forth "our better angels", why do animals do the right thing? Could it be...natural?
        • Mar 2 2013: Not all religions condemn homosexuality. This is changing. Religions change by changing what they emphasize and how they see things to adapt to their times. They are never carved in stone. That's just the ten commandments.
    • Mar 2 2013: Socrates was simply at that moment championing education. He didn't really believe ignorance was the only evil. If you agreed with what you thought Socrates believed, then why did you say, "compassion is the root of moralistic behavior." He was saying there that there's only one good, knowledge.

      "Socrates was not the agnostic some have made him into. In fact, it seems that Socrates was very much a religious man, who believed that his live was guided by his daemon, what we today would call a “guardian angel”. -- Philip Coppens.

      Would you deny the families of the slain children in Newtown the belief that their children are in heaven and they will see them again one day? How is that compassionate? This is earth, not heaven. We Christians believe it's far from perfect to challenge us to make it better. And that God does not pretend to try to make it a good place for us.
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        • Mar 2 2013: "Atheists are by no means beyond frantic religious zealotry when it comes to their own beliefs and opinions."

          Explain please.
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        • Mar 2 2013: But how would an atheist engage in religious zealotry? Surely he would not do so sincerely, for he could not.
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        • Mar 2 2013: It seems as if you're trying to redefine the word religious.
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        • Mar 2 2013: " the zeal with which (some) atheists defend their beliefs and opinions is no different from (some) theists"

          Yes. I've noticed that for some years now. We like to say it is just as difficult to believe there is no god as it is to believe that there is one - so why not take the leap of faith that starts one on the beginnings of a relationship with Our Father?

          In actuality, it is far more difficult to believe there is no god than to believe there is one, since, as they say, one cannot prove a negative. It also is more difficult to be an atheist than a believer because most of us in this world are believers.
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        • Mar 2 2013: "Might as well give up now if you can't get over that."

          Surely with that you are not suggesting that I, myself, give up. Perhaps you meant, "One may as well give up if one can't get over that."

          "When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life." -- Marilyn Adamson
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        • Mar 3 2013: Just one more thing from me on this, if you don't mind. By being an atheist, you are believing that God does not exist, and this can't be proven. Therefore Mark, you really need to start considering yourself an agnostic. I know this will be difficult for you when the urge to paint all believers as fundamentalists comes over you again and you tell yourself that you must position yourself as far away from us as you can while doing so, but please realize that for you to be anything but an agnostic is hypocritical.
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        • Mar 3 2013: Great conversation, guys. A lot of fun to read...

          Louise, I haver come to my atheism fairly and squarely from a lifelong search for God. Agnosticism was the last stop along the way before I "came out" which is truly what it is like. Anyone claiming the mantle of atheist is NOT doing this because it is the easier option, believe that...

          I statrted Christian because that was where I was born. If I had been born in Mumbai, the chance I would have been Christian at birth would be much reduced. As it would be for you also. Had either of us been born in Riyadh, it seems almost certain we would be Muslim, yes? So One True God on this planet seems more a matter of real estate than real belief...

          As I searched for the OTG, I quickly dismissed my birth religion; the historical litany was more one of crusades and inquisitions than any of the true teachings of Jesus. I still hold all religions to the same litmus test " not as I say but as I do", and most fall far short. I sorted through any religion that came to hand; Buddhism was a front runner for a long time until I found the "Woman is the root of all evil" clause; that was a non-starter. And so it went. They all seemed to have a few good bits here and there, but always with some glaring flaw that left them wanting in my eye.

          The last one I gave any sort of chance was Zoroasterianism, where a main tenet that anyone claiming to know the mind of God was a heretic, as God was unknowable, and we should take very good care of the creation we were given until he shows us what he wants done with it. The main tenet was that life must be about good acts, bringing the balance toward the good. Like Jeffeson's biography of Jesus, the deism is vaguely still there, but it becomes more about what you do with it. If they weren't always burning things I might have settled here, but there is still an off-putting, mumbo-jumbo factor; I do not crave ritual as some do...

          So I am a quasi-Zen, proto-Parsee atheist. What's in a name?
        • Mar 4 2013: Scott - I was born an existentialist. When I was 3, my father taught me how to think, you might say. He encouraged me to think for myself. He liked being able to tell his friends I could think as well as they could. Then he'd sit me down with them. He maybe gave them a good, stiff drink first to even the playing field a little. When I was 4, the neighbors decided it was time I began to realize there was more than one philosophy out there. They explained the advantages of knowing about something bigger than any person or collection of people. It all sounded pretty good. And after my insisting on it long enough, our family started going to church. I still remember how proud I felt to get baptized. It was a hard won triumph, not an accident of birth. I felt the same way when our church presented me with my first Bible. And also on the day I was finally old enough to join the choir, a whopping 6 yrs old.
  • Mar 1 2013: I think the way you putted the question is very right....there are two types of right and wrong....1st one is made by our society and second one is made by us only (individual right and wrong) coming to your example of rape....I will take this as a wrong made by society.....there are things which we have to respect and obey to survive in this society.....

    God is a teacher...who is a fear....for all wrong dear 1s.....!!!
  • Mar 1 2013: I feel right and wrong exist, even without a belief in a higher power, because we sense the passage of time and the expectation of it's consequences. Our sense of right and wrong are a complex mix of past, present, and future states which depend on our interactions with others. Past or current interactions which were not profitable on some criterion may result in a future not of our liking. So even a so-called 'selfish' person has a sense of right and wrong only it it means they will not be able to satisfy their selfish ends.
  • Mar 1 2013: i believe that waht ever is done by you or anyone else has no right or wrong doing in it.
    we all do things to the best of our own ability there for you may not be doing the right or wrong thing.
    whose to say someone is wrong for doing what they believe is the right thing to do.
    why am i and your right.
    what is up or down, if i say that i am standing on the side lines of this planet and all that i see when i look at the sky is a side view would you tell me that i am looking up still.
    • Mar 2 2013: "we all do things to the best of our own ability"

      Clearly you've never been charged with teaching things to people who do not necessarily wish to learn them. We may do things to the best of our ability if we are trying our hardest. And if we are still on the learning curve, then we have not arrived at the true "best of our ability". A good teacher reads people and motivates them to try harder if they can. Thus excellence is achieved. It doesn't just happen. Like people are doing things, so they must be doing them to the best of their ability. Come on.
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    Mar 1 2013: Do right and wrong exist ?

    That would depend on what is existence.
    If existence requires a physical existence than right and wrong cannot exist.
    But if existence requires a thought than right and wrong do exist.

    As for objective morality, this idea do not make any sense because objectivity do not take parts, so as far as objectivity is the line between right and wrong then perhaps this line is non-existent. Morality is always subjective, it cannot be objective, even in the case of a rape, objectivity is not on the side of the victim nor the side of the rapist.

    Nothing a human being can do that can be objectively right or objectively wrong, in the case of a rape, the objectivity would be on the side of a surveillance camera that accidently records the rape.
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    Mar 1 2013: This is how objective morality should look;

    We should redefine what peace is? Because whom are you to tell me what my peace is? See if you think we practiced the Golden Rule as defined as this we could create peace.

    Its reciprocal, if party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex then he/she needs to find party (x) that also wants kinky sex and then the do on to others how they would want to be treated and have some crazy kinky sex. If party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex but party (z) does not want to then guess what you do on to others how you would want to be treated and don't have kinky sex with party (z) Because chances are there is something that party y does not want to do. (maybe party z want to kill some one) All he needs to do is find some one who is willing to die and kill them, if he cant find a party to kill, he doesn't do it. He respects the other person choices as if the are his own.

    So if 2 parties want to kill each other from what they describe as peace or the greatest glory they can do for their god let them do it. It only becomes a problem when one party does not want to kill the other. Or be killed
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    Feb 28 2013: If you want to take it biblical we do not have right and wrong, Jesus came and got rid of sin. So is a priest doing something wrong when he sexually assaults a child? Truth is, no he most certainly believes in Jesus and so he get to go to heaven and not hell. If the gods do not judge men why do men?
    • Mar 2 2013: No no no no no. A Catholic priest does not go to heaven because he believes in God. If he is in a state of grace when he dies; that is he has confessed his sins, promised sincerely not to commit them again and therefore been absolved of his sins by his confessor, he may believe he is going to heaven. You're getting Catholicism mixed up with some forms of Protestantism. But I believe most Protestants feel it is the sum total of their behavior and intentions on this earth that may gain them heaven, or not.
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        Mar 6 2013: That is not what the bible says, that if a man is on his dying bed and excepts Jesus in his heart as a or the savior he will go to heaven. Its pretty straight forward.

        Do you think when Jesus died for our sins to gain access to heaven, that his equal but opposite reaction is that it would create more sin on earth?
        • Mar 7 2013: "That is not what the bible says, that if a man is on his dying bed and excepts Jesus in his heart as a or the savior he will go to heaven. Its pretty straight forward. "

          1) Where does it say that?

          2)Do you really know so little about the Catholic religion?

          "Do you think when Jesus died for our sins to gain access to heaven, that his equal but opposite reaction is that it would create more sin on earth?"

          No. And when people speak of Jesus dying for our sins they are saying He is the Lamb of God, so that we no longer have to perform sacrifices to rid ourselves of sin. The Bible is not really saying that we're all going to heaven just by believing in Jesus. It's saying that when God sacrificed His only begotten Son, that act of sacrifice was the final one necessary. Fundamentalists can twist things for their own purposes. Biblical scholars despair of some of their choices. Jesus gave us a list of things to be doing. No way he wanted us to just sit around believing in Him & thinking everything was going to be fine because we did. Neither did He have any interest in us waiting until we were going to die before acepting Him. He wanted people to be living good lives, not lives wasted through gambling.
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        Mar 7 2013: I guess that is how you define sin. Unfortunately with man taking over the laws of which to live by instead of the gods. Its all sin now. So where do we draw the line?

        Could you pass this sin list, I can not glad I did live then or I would be going to hell....
        • Mar 7 2013: I believe you probably meant "I am glad I did not live then", though your meaning was conveyed regardless.

          It's interesting to ponder some of the things that the Israelites must have taken with them out of Egypt. It might also help with this to remember that Moses had been a prince of Egypt.
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        Mar 7 2013: What if to get into heaven, man could break no man made laws. I think we already know the pope wouldn't get in and neither would his successor.
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        Mar 7 2013: If a MAN asked you to walk through the eye of hell with him and he say's he will get you through to the other side. He say's he will hold your hand the whole time but you will never see it, he will be your strength but you will have to carry the burden. He will be your guide but you will have to follow. Would you believe him?

        When you make it through he will stop tell you to look at the journey you just made and show you it was YOUR eye you walked through.

        Why do men judge men?
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    Feb 28 2013: God has no place in this discussion. I can choose to believe in God but this does not prove that objective morality exist. Being that no one on this planet can determine weather or not God exist would suggest that no one can determine that God is the source of objective morality. Believing in something is different than something actually existing. (nonetheless I understand the logic of using God).

    Still we are left with the question objective morality. I actually see this issue as paradoxical. While I agree that morality, just like anything else, is a human construct/creation, I still hold on to the fact that there are indeed right and wrong ways to act. some of them are intuitive (while there may be exceptions, I'm sure all rational and sane people will agree that torturing babies is a bad thing). Some are more complicated (is it right to kill a prisoner who slaughtered and raped grown men and women?) If we accept the logic that killing is universally harmful, how can we vindicate capital punishment in the moral sense?

    In other words, I somewhat disagree that we can't determine objective moral truths. For one we need to take into account human suffering and happiness. We know there are many factors that Constitute to both (i.e biology and genes, economic and political structures,bio-chemistry, the human brain and consciousness, etc).

    we can understand how all these contribute to human happiness and suffering in an objective sense and w/o invoking God. Also if all these factors are products of human creation and human beings are part of the world/universe and operate within the confines of the laws of nature, then morality, at least in principle can be understood in an objective sense.

    I'm not saying there is a moral fabric inherent in the universe but given that we are not totally detached from the universe and its laws and elements suggest that we at least have the capacity to create and understand moral values objectively.

    just my opinion of course
    • Mar 2 2013: "Being that no one on this planet can determine weather or not God exist would suggest that no one can determine that God is the source of objective morality. "

      And yet many people would tell you that they HAVE determined that God exists. If you have not been able to do this yourself, then you will have no reason to believe them. But if your dying grandfather were to tell you he had determined that God exists & this gives him great comfort, would you say to him,"No one on this planet can determine whether or not God exists?" I would hope that you would love him enough to say no such thing. And with that action, or rather the lack of that action, you have moved toward God.
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        Mar 2 2013: Good point and your right. I do not have to say what I just said in every circumstance but that still does not prove that God exist (or does not exist). It proves nothing other than the fact that one wants solace in their beliefs.

        If it was me in that circumstance I would still hold true to what I said (or I at least picture myself doing so).

        Once again comfort does not equate to truth. I said what I said because I am honest enough to admit that I do not know. So anyone who tells me that they can DETERMINE or they KNOW that God exist I will say is lying. Even if I do not tell them, it doesn't take away from the fact that they are not telling the truth. The same holds true for the opposite assertion.

        As for your last statement "I would hope that you would love him enough to say no such thing. And with that action, or rather the lack of that action, you have moved toward God."

        what does God have to do with me keeping me mouth shut? How will I have moved toward God?
        • Mar 2 2013: "So anyone who tells me that they can DETERMINE"

          An honest person with anything resembling a good mind will not say to you that they CAN determine that God exists, for it would make no sense to do so.

          "what does God have to do with me keeping me mouth shut? How will I have moved toward God?"

          It is said that God is love.
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        Mar 4 2013: Hi Louise:

        You mentioned "An honest person with anything resembling a good mind will not say to you that they CAN determine that God exists, for it would make no sense to do so."

        That is exactly the point that I was making. Intellectually honest people would not assert such a statement but instead would embrace their ignorance and not feel threatened but the limits of their cognition.

        You are right it is said that God is Love but this does not mean that god exist. I can say the same thing about Santa or anything else that can be believed on the basis of faith. I think humanity can be full of love and this is what we should be working towards.
        • Mar 4 2013: Excuse me, but I believe you must have meant, " would embrace their ignorance and not feel threatened [BY] the limits of their cognition."

          Meanwhile, I'm sorry, but you have missed my point completely. I felt in all sincerity that you would not be able to follow it when I made it. You are not in a place where you would be able to understand it.

          The point is simply this. When one has determined that God exists by getting to know God through a relationship with God, one has moved beyond the ability to BE ABLE to determine that God exists, precisely because one has already done so.

          Consider this, if you will. A neighbor has just told you that there is a horse walking through your backyard. You have gone back there and seen for yourself that yes indeed this is the case. You have therefore determined that a horse is walking through your backyard. Because you have already done this, you are no longer in a position TO BE ABLE to do this. It has already been done.

          You see, a relationship with God is not established merely by choosing to believe in Him through an act of faith. That is merely the first step in an incredible journey. The journey gives you the relationship with and the knowledge of God. Those who walk with God understand this.

          It is your choice and yours alone whether you choose to embark on such a journey. And you cannot fool God into believing you are ready for it if you are not. You have a good heart. I wish there were more people in the world like you. That is, I wish more of the people in this world could have a heart as good as yours.
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        Mar 4 2013: Perhaps I may have...I see you've may have misunderstood where I was coming from. All I was saying is those who claim with certainty that God exist are being intellectually dishonest. I do not know if God exist or does not exist and I am perfectly ok with admitting my ignorance. I may never know if God exist and that's ok. I'm saying nothing more than this when I mentioned my statement. If your offended by that then my apologies.

        There are a few things we need to lay on the table and that you'll need to clarify for me:

        I understand your "horse in the back yard analogy" but I do not understand your conclusion in relation to God so you'll need to clear several things for me.

        1) if your alluding to the idea that you've had an experience of being in God's presence then all I have to say is that yes, you've had such an experience. It may have been extraordinary experience and there is no denying your experiences but this still does not prove that God exist. If God's ways are mysterious, what makes you think that you were in God's presence or that you know what God requires?

        2) I have never walked with God (nor do I intend to) but if this makes you a better person then what more can one ask for. Nonetheless there is no way that you can verify to me that the God you talk about is the "real god" who is one with ultimate reality. Once again if you have this experience, then I cannot take that away from you. Secondly I've had many such experiences and I still do not allude this to god so how do you reconcile that?

        My point is that I am not you and do not know the experiences that you had. what you call God, others may call consciousness or ultimate reality. Nonetheless I'm not trying to offend you and appreciate your comments. I'm just saying that there is no way to really verify God outside of subjectivity and even still, we can't be sure if what we experience is really God, since God is after all mysterious
        • Mar 4 2013: First, " If your offended by that then my apologies."

          No worries. I wasn't offended in the least.

          1) If you are acquainted with someone that you see almost everyday, especially when you take the trouble to look for him, do you have any doubt that he exists? If you experienced him only once in some sort of fantastical circumstances, then you might have reason to believe you only dreamed him up. As far as alluding to what God requires, I believe I only said He could not be fooled into believing one is ready for something when one is not. I didn't try to describe how one could be ready or what He would require for readiness. I do not pretend to know such things.

          As for 2), all I can say is I'm curious about your experiences and I admire your humility.

          I've been aware for many years that what I refer to as God may be referred to as the collective consciousness. I generally have no problem with that. However, I feel that we can be grounded quite effectively by the teachings of Jesus Christ and others who have spoken of something greater than ourselves and have tried to help us to be able to live together harmoniously. If this seems to contradict anything I've said before, I apologize. Might I add that I've never considered myself a fundamentalist by any stretch of the imagination. I feel that fundamentalism; in Christianity, in Judaism and in the Islamic world; is more destructive than constructive while religion as a whole is more constructive than destructive. That is,where religion teaches tolerance and the consideration of actions and not just beliefs, such as in the parable of the Good Samaritan, it excels. Where it teaches that might makes right or that a person's worth is determined by the group into which he is born, it fails. It is the overriding spirit of today's great religions that should guide us as reflections of the wisdom of the ages and not little bits of them that we choose here or there to further our more selfish agendas.
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        Mar 4 2013: Good to know that any offense was not taken.

        As for the first point, I think you have made your case, so I will not say much for fear of putting more words in your mouth.

        I do admire you approach to your religion or spirituality. As for someone who does not believe in God or that Jesus even existed, I will state that not everything in the bible is barbaric. There are obviously good precepts and values that can come from some of Jesus's teachings. I will say that this is not the only requirement to being a good person but if you ground your morals based off these teachings (and at least from speaking to you) you do not seem to be a bad person, that is more important in to me than weather or not God exist.

        I agree with what you said about fundamental religion. For me, its the belief that one's religion is certain to be the true religion and this causes conflict for many different belief systems. You essentially said what I would say so I have nothing more to add to that.

        As for me, I like to meditate and practice mindfulness. I try my best to live and enjoy the moment that I am in because this is the only mode of existence that I can be certain about. This is all easier said than done of course. I am also very nature oriented and I like to go on hikes. I find much peace in listening to music, having a nice beer and being with friends. I would rather live life saying that I did some of the things I did than to be an old man living in regret. I may not be able to do what I've always wanted to do but I truly embrace my experience I have to take the good with the bad. Knowing I'll have my bad days is want makes me appreciate the good times that I have.

        I do believe in transcendence but in the sense that we can better understand ourselves and change who we are and become better individuals. This is difficult and many factors play into this but I hope to find peace with everything one day.

        I just think all this can be accomplished w/o God.
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    Feb 28 2013: if man forgets who created who, as he seems to have done, then yes. anarchy will reign. i would sooner listen to the logic of peace than to relinquish free thought to some character of historically personal definition. mankind must have faith in something as a matter of survival. i would listen to the teachings of a peaceful man and abide by what i agree in, but superheroes belong in comic books.
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      Feb 28 2013: "anarchy will reign"

      Do you think that Jesus knew his equal but opposite reaction to entering heaven by believing in him and removing man of sin. Would be that it created more sin down here?

      If you want to take it biblical we do not have right and wrong, Jesus came and got rid of sin. So is a priest doing something wrong when he sexually assaults a child? Truth is, no he most certainly believes in Jesus and so he get to go to heaven and not hell. If the gods do not judge men why do men?

      However if you are interested in a logical solution to creating peace this we can accomplish
  • Feb 28 2013: I love this question.
    I believe morality is in itself subjective. It’s a matter of philosophical theories and the way we justify what we do.
    I don't think there's a certain standard of moral laws that we should all follow.

    And since morality is open to any philosophical debates, the only way to find out whether it's right or wrong depends on how well you can defend your conducts—or other’s in your own logical flow—especially in court.

    Nonetheless, I also believe there is and there has to be certain boundaries where we shouldn't cross the line.

    "Why is rape objectively wrong? "

    Because it hurts someone(mentally and physically) so bad against her will.
    As a child, we were told not to hurt someone especially against their will.
    Rape is by far one of the most despicable and diabolical crimes, which means it’s a common sense that rape is evidently wrong.

    What we could call to be "objective" in this case, if you ask me, is the things regarded the most reasonable—not that it’s like utilitarian’s idea that relies on majority’s welfare.
    Thankfully some ethic behaviors are believed to be common sense among people. That’s why we learn moral lessons and get advice from our parents and teachers over and over again. Getting older, some question those moral codes and sometimes change “the moral code”, though.

    Btw, it’s also possible what we consider to be moral might be contradictory what God tells us to do.
    (God ain’t humans. Humans ain’t God.)

    I'm not saying that religion is the answer, but technically there's no such thing as an objective morality in this planet unless we're flawless like God.

    Ultimately, we just need to find a way to live together. Peacefully and truly.
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      Mar 1 2013: What if I can show you were rape isn't objectively morally wrong and people actually act it out as a play to enjoy as what they would describe in the very least as being "fun".

      We should redefine what peace is? Because whom are you to tell me what my peace is? See if you think we practiced the Golden Rule as defined as this we could create peace.

      Its reciprocal, if party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex then he/she needs to find party (x) that also wants kinky sex and then the do on to others how they would want to be treated and have some crazy kinky sex. If party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex but party (z) does not want to then guess what you do on to others how you would want to be treated and don't have kinky sex with party (z) Because chances are there is something that party y does not want to do. (maybe party z want to kill some one) All he needs to do is find some one who is willing to die and kill them, if he cant find a party to kill, he doesn't do it. He respects the other person choices as if the are his own.

      So if 2 parties want to kill each other from what they describe as peace or the greatest glory they can do for their god let them do it. It only becomes a problem when one party does not want to kill the other. Or be killed

      Peace is about balance and harmony.... just like nature
      • Mar 1 2013: Hi Casey
        Technically, rape is not a reciprocal thing.
        "What if I can show you were rape isn't objectively morally wrong… "
        Sorry, but your example didn't really convince me.
        "Because whom are you to tell me what my peace is? "
        Exactly. Who am I to tell you what makes you yourself “peaceful”?
        I think those words: "my peace" are quite subjective, Casey.
        What you mean by “my peace”, I think, is for an individual. Not for everyone or for mutual stuff.
        I'd rather say it's "what I desire" or "what I crave for", in this case.
        I don't care whether having kinky sex gives you peace or not, but if your partner doesn't want to have that sex with you, by no means you should force her to get laid.
        'Cause it could be repellent to her—it could make you achieve “my peace”, though.
        "Peace is about balance and harmony"
        Then, the answer is clear. If you define "peace" that way, then, rape—the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse(—certainly does not belong to "peace" category.
        Then, what you should have said, instead, is living peacefully with others isn’t necessarily a moral thing, if you were going to argue with my last sentence there, “Ultimately, we just need to find a way to live together. Peacefully and truly.”

        And achieving peace isn’t the point of what I was saying, btw.
        (IMHO, I think you missed my point there.)
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    Feb 28 2013: As for your question about rape, I'll answer without reference to Bible. Rape is wrong because it's an action against free will, health and dignity of a person, because it's illegal action that any sociality recognizes as a crime. Because it's an action against morality.
  • Feb 28 2013: This is a very interesting and important question and one we must constantly evaluate. There appears to be something special about life, that is more than chemical reaction / interaction. The brain is a collection of atoms, but we are finding out the mind is much harder to define. If I drop sulfuric acid in water, I feel ambivalent, but if you dropped it in my eye, I would be furious. A chemical reaction happened both times, but you altered my being; you took away an ability. This could cause an empathetic reaction in the mind of nearby animals. (yes I sad animals, look up universal empathy.. bonobos, mice, or just look into the eyes of my dog). I state this because a balanced approach to empathy seems to guide our morality, not biblical doctrine. Empathy is why slavery ended while the bible condoned slavery. Sooner than later education will show the perceived god of a 6,000 year old earth will lose its influence, just as a perceived god of a flat earth lost influence.
    This can be seen in the fact that the Pope, after visiting the Large Hadron Collider decided to defer to science regarding the origin of the universe. Sooner or later you will most likely see an acceptance of scientific methodology, and GOD will be marketed as the grand architect of a universe with black holes that has existed for over 13.7 billion years. The marketing will adopt the scientific method as a way of better understanding an essence of GOD. It will be this evolution of our understanding of empathy that will begin to dictate our morale code, and we can draw wisdom from biblical history to help guide our future. Scientific knowledge will be seen as the fulfillment of our destiny after eating the forbidden fruit. It will be seen as the blessing bestowed upon us and the path which leads us back to the tree of life.
    We have an innate understanding that this life is precious. This will be our guide as it always has been, as it is written on our hearts.
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    Feb 28 2013: ...

    Scot's opening question was really a question entangled with his view that religous thinking (christian religion) has value in our lives, a view I strongly disagree with.

    AC Grayling does a good job arguing againts this view -
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      Mar 1 2013: What!

      You mean genocide is not okay when god says so?


      Divine command keeps everything simple.
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    Feb 27 2013: Is global warming and polution on Earth "bad"? Consider that on Venus it's much hotter than on Earth, there is no water, and there are rains of acid. Isn't that just objectively horrible? Why are we not saving Venus?
    • Feb 28 2013: Objectively Venus' natural state is well, natural. Why mess with nature?
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    Feb 27 2013: It seems that certain acts are considered immoral almost universally. E.g., murder, stealing, and lying. From this perspective, there is a temptation to agree with Michael Free. But is there a way to objectively determine what constitutes these tings?
    • Feb 27 2013: The innocence scale:

      On one side is TRUTH, AGREEMENT before action, and EMPATHY

      On the other side is Lying, Doing what thou wilt toward others (without their agreement), and having no empathy for others.

      But what is guilt? Guilt is what happens when other people find you guilty. It's impossible to be guilty when everything you do is on the innocence side of the scale. Some people may not like the truth, and will find it offensive, but rest assured you are not to blame, for you told the truth.
      • Feb 27 2013: We need to remember to temper the truth with empathy. When we don't do a good enough job of this, people have a right to be upset with the truth we've revealed.
        • Feb 28 2013: Yes, I couldn't agree more! But that doesn't mean we should ever lie. We can state the truth or decline to state the truth, or state the truth in a matter that is not offensive.
  • Feb 27 2013: Where do Good & Bad come from? Mother Nature is full of sloppy, allegedly immoral examples of behaviors. Good and Bad are useful constructs, but whenever one uses them you really have to ask the questions "for whom?" and "in what context?" You can't escape context. The Bible is incredibly inconsistent about what is and what isn't, and that's largely because "it depends." Even God cannot make up His mind, if you take things literally. And often things are neither, or both over time. Murder would be "annoying" not "Bad" if we were all immortal. Greed is good up to a point until it dominates other people's ability to live or resources are depleted. Balance, and Harmony are really better constructs than Good or Bad. Having empathy / compassion towards Nature and other Human Beings is a great step towards Good and does not necessarily require a belief in a god. In fact, would it not be a requirement for being Good with a capital "G"?
    • Feb 27 2013: Morality comes from the affected person's mind. If they agree to the action done to them by another then the action is inescapably moral, regardless of what a third-party observer has to say about it. 99 out of 100 people don't like being lied to or to have actions done to them without their agreement. This is reality. Truth: in accord with fact or reality.
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        Feb 27 2013: Re: "Morality comes from the affected person's mind. If they agree to the action done to them by another then the action is inescapably moral, regardless of what a third-party observer has to say about it."

        So, "moral reality" depends on the mind of the affected person. Doesn't it mean that morality is subjective? Then, doesn't it contradict with your other statement that "Objective morality is a fact."?
    • Feb 27 2013: "Having empathy / compassion towards Nature and other Human Beings is a great step towards Good and does not necessarily require a belief in a god. In fact, would it not be a requirement for being Good with a capital "G"?"

      I wish more people here in the US & elsewhere could not consider themselves "Good" until they started taking environmental concerns seriously.
  • Feb 25 2013: If you are forgiven and the value of that gift or sentiment is not understood by the receiver then what is forgiveness worth?

    When you released from the spiritual obligation of guilt, are you not freed. But if you don't understand guilt how can one be free.
    • Feb 25 2013: "If you are forgiv[ing] and the value of that gift or sentiment is not understood by the receiver then what is forgiveness worth?"

      It is said that we forgive more for our own sake than for the sake of those we forgive. This puts me in mind of a quote from Mark Twain that I happened across earlier today:

      "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."


      " When you [are] released from the spiritual obligation of guilt, are you not freed[?] But if you don't understand guilt how can one be free[?]

      I'd make a distinction between those who have guilt and don't understand it and those who have no guilt. We refer to the latter as psychopaths. I'd say psychopaths don't need to understand guilt to be free of it. I think they just never have it in the first place. But then there are those who have guilt only for what they consider to be wrong. If someone experiences something often enough, it can start to feel normal when its not.

      We need to remember some things are wrong even as we manage to forgive others for engaging in them. This is tricky. But some people are pretty good at this. You can see them cajoling others into doing the right thing sometimes. Do you know what I mean?
  • Feb 24 2013: Hi Louise, thanks for your feedback...

    I personally don't believe that god has anything to do with right or wrong - those philosophies are life guides to encourage social and moral compliance for the good of all.

    In my case, I repressed the issue and rationalised it until it became to big not explore.

    If you are raised in the world where sexual conduct with minors is excepted, then its excepted. Simple.
    You know no other way and therefore its normal.

    But to be forced or tricked into anything, is the evil that can't be undone.

    While you speak of forgiveness I can't help but wonder about the abusers value for that emotion. Forgiveness is only as good as the forgiven surely.

    To my way of thinking I feeling compassion for an abusive persons situation and the events that have lead them to this point, but the impact on the victims life is too great for simple forgiveness.

    Who will forgive me as my journey through life is marred by the fall-out for this selfish act of gratification regardless of it's origin.

    It is not law that will conquer this issue, it is the "people's" understanding of the hidden impact and the secret journey we must undertaken, on our own, that will generate change.
    • Feb 25 2013: Sorry, couldn't understand this part of what you had to say:

      While you speak of forgiveness I can't help but wonder about the abusers value for that emotion. Forgiveness is only as good as the forgiven surely.
  • Feb 24 2013: I personally believe that right and wrong comes with our feelings, when we look a person killing another one we feel that is a wrong thing, unless we are psychopaths, psychopaths don't have feelings, they know what is wrong or right just because of the society, the society said that this is wrong or this is right, they know what they are doing when they kill somebody, but they can't feel anything, they do it because they like it even know that is wrong.
  • Feb 23 2013: What is the the truth that we may ever know. Or can we (humanbeings ) really know anything? actually there is a trick that human brain has invented. this is called narrowing down the notion that we are dealing with. primitive man did invented stories and myths to define god. yet while making this they used that trick that is why they invented more than one god. if we are not alone in this nature and earth we tend to know and learn things by classifying them. because earth and nature is really hard to learn as a one unity. yet as time and technology developed we accepted that god may be one . and as much more technology and human brain develops we may soon think that every different think and object on earth may be one. so we may not need to make narrowinfg down the notions we are discussing. I believe that everything you come up with is part of you. your soul your god your earth an even me I am part of the whole being. And even if god really exists it is gonna take time to really happen to know it. because in a society in whivh just 3 or 4 geniuses are working to develop the human being it is really hard to know what is what. well actually ın order for sth to exist we need some limitations in terms of mental or even physical pre-accepted norms . I mean when defining sth we always use this limitations. for example when defining ''the family notion" we do first of all mention "the notion society" so that it could easily be defined and distinguished. thus we are uncocsciously making limitations or maybe we can call it naroowing the things we are defining. So you may ask what is iti about your question. think about a human who has no brain and invapable of thinking. a plain animal. this animals needs to be fed. yet for survival if yu do not let it be fed. that is wrong. if you give it its meal or whatever then you are going to dos sth we call GOOD. when doing al these and bads and goods. you dont have to rely on what god says or what you believe god supports.
  • Feb 22 2013: "The mere fact that they COULD change." In this world, everything changes over time. Even laws of physics. If you hold true to this it will not be possible to tell if something is "right" or "wrong" objectivly, only because there is no such thing as objectivly truth. Most interessting debates tend to stop after agreeing there is no objectivly truth, to solve this most debates clarify the parameters of "objectivly trutht for the sake of the debate" and most often end up with the solution "within foreseeable future". Hence my statement.
    Your example: "predetors are bad" is not valid. I am showing that "rape is wrong" under a "cause/effect" theory. Your example does not have any cause, nor effect. I am saying; "Rape is wrong, because..." and I am showing the effect that makes it so. You are trying to tell me "rapeist are bad people" and I am not even cloe to that in my cause/effect theory. In fact, I have pointed out why I am not even considering it.
    No no, by all means. Opinions are as far away from objectivly thruth as anything can ever be. But I do think that our base instincts are true, objectivly. Because they simply fall in under the given parameters as I explained in my prior posts. How they differ IS interesting. Opinions are based on subjective experiences, values, and so forth. They vary from person to person and you can hardly find two that thinks the same for the same reasons. Base instincts does not function after these principles, they just ARE. Ofc base instincts can differ slightly, due to many reasons, hence I brought in the statistics to eliminate the uncertainty. I disagree with you that emotions are driven by base instincts; Example: I am hungry (basedriven) so I eat. I am hungry (basedriven), but I give my bread to the homeless (emotiondriven). If I was hungry/basedriven enough, I would not do that.
    I still think that the statistical body shows the basedriven instinct in humans.
  • Feb 21 2013:

    Quote: "objective / subjective
    Distinction between propositions or judgments about the way things are and those about how people think or feel about them. The truth of objective claims is presumed to be entirely independent of the merely personal concerns reflected in subjective expressions, even though is difficult to draw the distinction precisely. Thus, for example: “Spinach is green” is objective, while “I like spinach” is subjective. “Seventy-three percent of people in Houston don’t like spinach,” however, seems to be an objective claim about certain subjects."

    This means that a study, that ends up in a statistic (that can aslo be redone and have the same result like proper science) is considered objective, not subjective. Also, an objective truth is timeconsistance. It does not change over time. For to be an absolute truth, it has to be so. The statistic about how rape victims react and what circumstances people prefer to live under - is consistant. I disagree in you calling it "subjective" only because it is peoples base instincts we are considering. These base insticts comes from our "reptile brain" and will not change in any foreseeable future.

    Btw: I added the url to the site I used as definition if you are interested in looking at it.
  • Feb 21 2013: What an interesting question Scott,

    As a "victim" of sexual abuse I have often asked the same question. What gave him the right?

    As over 42 years have passed since the event I have had the space to reflect. Doing "wrong" is subjective in the mind of the doer. Context for the act is not driven by choice but by conditioning. Each within a paradigm of experience where god or man has no influence, much like an animal.

    To say what is right or wrong is not the question. Was it required to progress in the act of survival is more the point.

    Killing is wrong, but living is right - to kill to live is sometimes required but surely its the context of that moment that determines the judgement, not by god or man but by the individual themselves.
    • Feb 23 2013: You've brought up a perplexing issue that has led me into a number of discussions, heated and otherwise, ever since I read Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead back in my school days. It purported, though this has been disputed since, that to the Samoans of say a hundred or more years ago, some forms of what we call child abuse were widely accepted. Since they were, no children who experienced this were traumatized by it. Societies as a rule do not wish to see their children traumatized, so is it right to remove the stigma from such things? I don't think it is because there's too dangerous of a slippery slope here. But how do we both heal the victims & condemn the abusers as people who've done irreparable harm? To say the harm is irreparable is to convince the victims they cannot ever recover. But to say that it is not irreparable is to convince the perpetrators that what they do is not so bad. As a Christian, I believe we have the power to forgive. But at the same time, I can't help but feel that some acts are unforgivable. To hold two opposing views in our heads at the same time is something a lot of people can't handle. God love them. But as a society, we have policies we must try to agree on. And yet some issues present such perplexing dilemmas. Meanwhile, as individuals, we can try to forgive those around us while not encouraging them to continue in error. And I would never consider changing the laws against child abuse, except perhaps to make them even stronger.
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    Feb 21 2013: To mesure right or wrong we have to see under waht rules we play. The example of rape (extreme example), with the social rules that we have, is something wrong, but e.g. in war time rules could be right to defeat the morale of enemies. I don't agree with rape in any case but someone could think that is right in some circumstances .
    Another example, homosexuality, is wrong under rules of some religions or lines of thought, right under others, or 50% with nuances for the rest and each of them are right taking into account the rules that they play.
    Then, both exist but subjectivity wins over objectivity.
  • Feb 21 2013: Check this out.... if Adam had not have touched the tree would he still be around today? Would God have killed him for nothing? What were Gods intentions when he made humans? Did he make them ,to fail,die and then go to live in heaven?
    God made them perfect, so much so he gave them the gift of free will. They could choose their life course, good or bad. Remember they were in a paradise they had everything they needed in abundance. They were MISLED by the devil who lied to them. God told them they would die if they ate the fruit, Satan said will NOT die. So... when Adam died 926 yrs later did that prove the devil a liar...well no ,he had to invent a story ,another lie to cover up his first lie and so he invented the immortality of the soul!. that when you die you dont really die you go on living somewhere else. This is not a bible teaching, no where in the bible does it say that the soul is immortal it says the opposite, that the soul is MORTAL and can die. EZEKIEL 18v4 Jesus was the first resurrected from the dead to heaven acts 2 ( even David had not yet ascended)... so where were all the souls of all the faithful before he (Jesus) came to earth?. Like Lazarus they were asleep in their tombs or graves, Apostle Paul says when the last trumpet sounds all will hear his voice and come out of their tombs... see when? on the LAST day the end of times not immediately on death. Martha said to Jesus concerning Lazarus .." yes Lord I know he will rise on the LAST day.." Adam BECAME a soul because he had breath in him without it he would become a dead soul. animal and birds of the air are souls too. What happens when we die Ecc9v5-10 the dead know nothing! The truth will set you free..why has Christendom not told the truth to the masses. They are blood guilty, they are all on the broad road that leads to destruction. in fact i have not met any who say that they are, all insist theyre on the narrow road to life. someone is clearly wrong... !
  • Feb 20 2013: I think when you say believing in god makes it a no brainier, you are assuming everyone is Christian & forgetting that there are many gods and many varied beliefs. So though I'm sure one could point to similarities & argue the same morals exist between them, one can also point out some pretty big differences. Now you have a real question on what is right or wrong on the religious front too.

    From a purely scientific/psychological(?) point of view, I've recently heard a few ideas on morality, the origin of religion... & following, perhaps how we get right & wrong. I would like to point out the 2nd part of derren browns 2-part tv series 'fear & faith'. In this he performs a series of experiments. One experiment was performed on two seperate groups of people & secretly filmed. They gave the individuals in each group a game to play, then left them on their own to honestly tally up the number of mistakes they made while playing. In the first group, all but one lied about how many mistakes they made. In the other group, everyone told the truth. Why the difference? Well as the rules were explained to the 2nd group, derren asked that no one sit on an old chair seated in the corner of the room, explaining it was an antique chair rumoured to be possessed by ghosts. Even though most of the subjects didn't consider themselves superstitious, derrens experiment seems to show that we are 'hard wired' to believe & that the suggestion of a presence in the room was enough to stop cheating.

    Derren goes on to hypothesis that we are all hard wired this way. That belief in a presence was part of our evolution. That it gave us morals. Those who didn't 'believe' were less successful in a group & therefore less likely to breed. Right & wrong is simply what helps us to get along with other humans... An essential step in evolution.
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        Feb 23 2013: Sounds like you think the options are either a creator god or goddess defining what is right and wrong, or we might as well give up and accept any type of behaviour.

        Suggest that is probably wrong on both counts.

        First why assume the rules of a creator god or goddess are the appropriate framework to use for moral decisions? You have to make all sort of unfounded assumptions to get close to this making sense and even then the position is questionable.

        Second, while there is perhaps no absolute morality, perhaps there are some moral frameworks that improve the condition of conscious beings, that reduce suffering more than others.

        Personally I find it worth fighting for the values I think improve our lives such as opposing racism, sexism, homophobia and supporting various rights and freedoms within limits etc and are willing to debate other values such as those that think it is moral to cut their children's genitals for some religious reason, or not give gay people or different races equal rights.

        Life may not come with easy answers although religions sometimes try and pretend there are. But we have thousands of years of philosophy, hundreds of science, and better access to information and forums such as TED than ever before. It's not easy but we are not starting from zero.

        While not absolute, I suggest there are sound arguments for not raping and killing without good reason, for supporting freedom of speech and religion (both within limits) and for doing away with monarchies etc.

        It's not a choice between the bogus rules of some divine dictator or anything goes. False dichotomy Mark. Such a binary view I see threaded through a lot of religious positions. If there is no absolute we can still meaning in our lives and strive for improvement in ethics etc.
      • Feb 23 2013: "it's obvious that people see only what they want to see anyway."

        There are always some people who want to see new ideas or be reminded of ones they haven't thought of for awhile. Then they see something they didn't expect to but are glad to have at hand. I see things almost daily that I didn't want to see. But to turn away is to deny truth. To love truth, to follow the ideal of loving truth, means we have to look things square in the face, whether we like them or not. Then we can move forward. Please don't give up on people (or truth, for that matter :)).
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    Feb 20 2013: Let's go back - You wrote:

    "Some things are wrong, some things are right, simply because God says so and He knows"

    Well, does your god operate by reason, or arbitray whim? I would hope it is reason, otherwise why provide your respect and worship. And if it is reason, then why isn't the position, on rape or anything else, something we humans can arrive at, as we are capable of reason as well? If it is arbitrary, then why the respect, etc.
    • Feb 20 2013: Interesting point. I would assume that most of the time God's reason and our reason will coincide. Not an issue. But sometimes nobody knows what's right or wrong and logically reasoning it out just won't cut the mustard.
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        • Feb 21 2013: If that person is God, sure. If you just ask Him yourself He'll tell you what's what. You just need to be listening.
  • Feb 20 2013: I admire your questioning attitude but I disagree with your statement that objective morality is coming from God. I think that the morality coming from God is the ultimate subjective morality because is coming from the unique experience between God and yourself (the subject) and each one of us has a unique experience and interpretation base on our religion or philosophy of life, experiences, consciousness, etc.

    Too much lives has been lost because of that incorrect statement that God-morality is objective - the only one, which is the perfect recipe and combination for disaster/war because each person will think they are right; but the French Revolution took the first steps to correct that.

    I think the less subjective moral/ethical code that the human race has been able to come with is the "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights," adopted by the UN after WWII. Is not perfect, but I think is the less subjective code to define what is morally right or wrong as of today.

    Does objective morality exist? I think it is an ideal but not a reality yet and i think we are really far from it.
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    Feb 20 2013: Every thing is relative. Right for me may be is wrong for you. There is no absolute right or wrong.
  • Feb 20 2013: If you have ever felt that you have done wrong then wrong exists. Say you spoke to a friend too harshly and had some regret about that.... then your conscience told you that you did wrong. Right or wrong exists in varient degrees. A tiny tiny wrong is still a wrong even if there is no written law against it. It is a law of conscience. One of the apostles Paul spoke of this when Jesus fulfilled the written Mosaic Law the only law that remained was the law of Love. Mans love and conscience would move him to obey the law code not because he was forced to. He would not rob or kill for example because he loved his fellow man and Not because he was forced to obey by a set of rules to which if he broke was to offer up a sacrifice every time he erred. What Jesus was saying was ...Let the Bible and Gods word train your conscience to the point of it being a benefit to you, so that you may live forever as God intended you to do right here on earth.!!
  • Feb 20 2013: Ok lets view it that we live without a God (for a sec) does right and wrong exist?. has anyone ever heard of or done anything that was wrong? made a mistake? against a set of rules or principles that they believed to be true. Has anyone ever felt guilt? If they did they automatically admit that wrong does indeed exist. That why humans have a conscience. a good one trained to help them benefit, or a bad one trained over years of wickedness and abusive actions. Look at this world ...has man really made a good job of things. A third of the world starves when there is enough food in it to feed everyone. Why do we spend 1Billion dollars a day on arms, why has no government ever sorted once and for all the real problems man faces. The last 120 yrs has seen major technical advances in medicine, scientific marvels, electric power, flight,communications all in a short time but sadly he has also procured more devastating war and killing that this world has ever seen in the same time frame. one step forward and 2 backwards. Some say the ww2 holocaust never happened, are they wrong? did right and wrong exist back then in those camps?
    Like wise if wrong exists in this world so does right.
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    Feb 20 2013: I would disagree with your statement "there is no such thing as right or wrong, only the things we call right or wrong..".

    When you've expressed your own perspective on rape by saying " I believe very strongly that sexual abuse is one of the greatest evils in the world. ", you have already answered your question. Then you ask "Why is it evil ? ". I'd love to hear about your reasons in believing so if you really think that "nothing is right or wrong objectively". Its because there is a reason for you to believe in such a way. No good reason can then justify a rape or any kind of sexual abuse, even though it may be the right thing for the ones who commit such acts.

    I don't believe in God completely as I'm an agnostic. But what I believe is, even without God, there is something called your own "consciousness" that will always be an "observer" for whatever you do. So, as far as I think, its humanly impossible to be completely objective while making a judgement on what is right or wrong. Your heart and mind will always give you reasons to believe in whatever you may want to. However, there would always be things that are fundamentally wrong even without any reference to God.

    So to answer your objective question, to me, even without God, there are many things that are inherently wrong with what they represent rather than their after effects.
    • Feb 20 2013: I personally believe in God, so yes, I already have an explanation as to why rape is evil. What I wanted to know was if anyone had an explanation that didn't involve God.
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        Feb 21 2013: My reasons were independent of any belief in God. What I had said was; "even without God, there is something called your own "consciousness" that will always be an "observer" for whatever you do.."

        To point out again: , "there are many things that are inherently wrong with what they represent"
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    Feb 20 2013: Perhaps if you assume there is an interventionist god that has clear expectations of its creations then that provides one framework for what is right and wrong in light of the views of the creator.

    It does not necessarily make these rules moral in a human sense or absolute. It's just divine command.

    God might be powerful, but that doesn't make god a nice being, or something to be respected. Feared maybe if some of the stories are true.

    If the creator commands we kill homosexuals, adulterers, unruly children, and people who work on Saturday, and the tribe next door, well that might be the right thing to do in accordance with gods law, but suggest humans have worked out a higher standard. It's not perfect, but include freedom of religion, protection of human rights, no slavery, equality, trying to reduce human suffering and improve the human condition etc..

    Most humans are more moral than the god of the bible.
  • Feb 19 2013: Hi scot ... in answer to the question yes. take Jobs example from the bible , he lived alone from God he had never known him yet he knew God existed and was able to make a defense against satan the devil too. satan asked God to be allowed to shower all kinds of harmful deeds on Job to see if Job could remain faithful or not.
    right or wrong! ok have you ever made a mistake? if the answer is yes then you have answered your own question ..wrong does exist along with right. Remember Adam and Eve .. if they had been faithful and taken the RIGHT course they would still be alive today right here on earth.! reason on it ! why thats where God made them, like any normal parent he blessed them and dearly wanted no harm to come to them at all least of all death. so this shows that God purposed ALL humans to LIVE not DIE on earth. Adams sin did not alter Gods plan for humans and the earth. read Ps 37v29,10,11 Math 5v5 God thought of a masterplan that through a just course he could turn a bad situation into a good one , his main objective. Adam died but he would have been alive today had he not disobeyed. So okay, what hope is there for us? God love you and me so much that sent his son , his pride and joy from heaven to be torttured till death so that all humans could live forever (like Adam) on the planet where they were born. God did not change his mind because of Ademic sin! Gen said to Adam be fruitful and fill the earth, no mention of death. Death was the penalty of disobedience so if theyy were obedient God would not have killed Adam/Eve for nothing would he. All humans were meant to live on earth, He God did not create it simply for nothing ( isaiah) 45v18 he formed the earth to be inhabited. Many people believe that if they are good they will all go to heaven. Is this the case really.? Job prayed to go to the grave and that in time God would remember him again. Acts 2 says that Jesus was the first resurected to heaven from the dead. to be ..
  • Feb 15 2013: (2/23:I posted what's below on 2/15 before reading any of the other comments.)
    I've been grappling with the issue raised in this topic for decades as some in my family choose to believe in God, others choose not to, and still others keep changing their minds about this. I'm one of the constant believers. For those who are not so, I can reach them by remembering that they understand, most of them, concepts such as what is best for all, or at least for the greatest number of people. The ultimate goal is health, both for ourselves as individuals and for our species but also for all other species whose goals are not largely restricted to surviving at the expense of human beings. Therefore we can choose to eliminate viruses such as smallpox, but try not to eliminate great numbers of other species which fit into the web of biodiversity which helps to sustain life on our planet.
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    • Feb 14 2013: Ah, but that idea itself is subjective! How do you know God is an idea come up with by humans? Undoubtedly some gods and religions are made up by humans, I won't contest that at all. In fact, I think most are. But that doesn't necessarily mean that all Gods are made up. If you can come up with a scientific experiment that conclusively proves the nonexistence of God without relying on circumstantial evidence, you might have a case. (But I think such an experiment is very unlikely because by the scientific method it's impossible to prove the nonexistence of anything.)
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        Feb 17 2013: Hi Scott,

        If someone claims something exists I suggest the burden of proof is normally on them, not on everyone else to disprove it.

        Suggest some mundane claims about existence can be reasonably proven false e.g. the claim that a regular African elephant exists in my living room. But I can not disprove that a spiritual elephant god that is all knowing, all good, all loving, all; powerful and created the universe exists in my living room.

        But suggest it is reasonable not to believe in this elephant god unless there is reasonable evidence.

        I note most gods believed in today exist are defined as immaterial, sometimes outside time and space etc. What that means, how something like that interacts with physical reality, are they made of spiritual atoms, how can you reliably know anything about something like that?
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      Feb 17 2013: Mark, suggest believing in conflicting versions of rules about what is right and wrong given by this god or that perhaps means you just have different objective set of rules as to what the gods you believe in want humans to do. It does not mean you have absolute morality.

      Divine command, what a god or goddess wants if it does exist is not necessarily right. It is just what the god wants. So if a god wants us to kill homosexuals and adulters, or the tribe next door, it is just what that god wants. Not absolute right or wrong.

      Some theists try to get round this by saying their interpretation of god is all knowing and all good and therefore what it wants us to do is by definition right. How convenient. You can define anything you want but that does not mean it exists.

      Every moral framework needs some starting assumptions and then you can work out objectively within that framework within the limits of human capability what best meets these. Your starting assumption might be what the pope says, or something like what reduces the suffering of conscious beings.
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        • Feb 23 2013: Oh yeah. We need to find some truths to agree on, as in, "We hold these truths to be self-evident... " that all people are equally deserving of justice and the protection of the law. And etc. and etc. and let's keep after it, there's much to do in this world.
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    Feb 13 2013: I always wonder if you believe in gods or goddesses then why assume these are all good, and that the rules they are supposed to set via revelation or scripture are objectively or absolutely good.

    Basically its a big assumption to assume divine command provides an absolute definition of right and wrong. Perhaps your god or goddess is not that nice. Yes it provides some sort of human interpreted objective morality, but suggest humans can not agree on what is right and wrong even when reading the same scriptures. A god's actions or rules may not be moral from many reasonable objective perspectives e.g. eternal punishment of your creations is not moral by most reasonable ethical perspectives.

    Back to reality, if you have some framework for what is good/bad, right or wrong, such as reducing suffering and improving the condition beings relative to their consciousness, then you can start to work through ethical questions objectively in a practical sense.

    Actually, I suggest believing in some particular version of god given laws if less than helpful these days for addressing complex ethical dilemmas.
  • Feb 11 2013: OK, so it doesn't seem that anybody doubts the fact that atheism and objective right and wrong are mutually exclusive. So the issue now becomes is morality possible with atheism? The end result of atheism as Mark Meijer said is that nothing means anything. However, it seems to me that most atheists dance around that result and don't want to face up to it. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Thoughts?
    Also, isn't it interesting that everybody basically has the same sense of right and wrong? The particulars vary, but the core principles are almost always the same across cultures and time. Doesn't that seem to suggest a larger objective truth peeking through our subconscious?
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      Feb 17 2013: I do. I mean I disagree with your claim.

      It depends on how you define the framework for morality. If defined as reducing human suffering or improving the human condition then you can objectively work out what is right or wrong.

      Suggest something like this has more sound arguments for it than my interpretation of god says this or that.

      It is not surprising humans have similar ideas of how best to get along. We have been probably been living in groups, like many other mammals, longer than our ancestors have been modern humans. We avoid pain. We seek pleasure. We have the mammalian part of brain that allows us to emphathise. We are mostly pretty much the same physically and psychologically across cultures.

      What you seem to be implying is like saying isn't it amazing all humans, all mammals breathe air. Perhaps this is evidence for some grand design, some agency.

      Suggest the naturalistic explanation for morality, and our air breathing has more merit than any particular supernatural agency as an explanation.
  • Feb 11 2013: We've constructed a right and a wrong in an abstracted sense. But I suppose we have to say that only the concepts of right and wrong exist. Otherwise we could think of a unicorn and then say it exists.
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      Feb 11 2013: It seems so. That makes it a pseudo debate. There seems to be no absolute standard of right and wrong and 'religious morality' suffers from rigid standards which have not been updated in thousands of years. Objective morality is a grey area but interestingly there are grey areas like 'health' or 'education' and we don't debate if wanting to remain in perpetual pain and physical discomfort is right or wrong from health point of view.
      Our ideas of morally right and wrong are dependent on individual and collective experience, evaluation of consequences and honest engagement with life. In all these, reasoning and logic play vital role so if we agree on scientific values to base our morality on and set our goals on lesser harm of greatest possible population, there seems to be a practical and meaningful conclusion about it.
      • Feb 11 2013: Ah, but we have to agree first! Good luck on that campaign.
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          Feb 12 2013: We do need good luck. If we do not know if it is right or wrong to force women in cloth bags or molesting kids by priests and debate on these, we don't know what we are talking about. We certainly need good luck then.
    • Feb 23 2013: But Austin, a unicorn is composed of flesh and blood, of solid matter. An idea DOES exist simply because we think of it.
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    Feb 10 2013: A rape is objectively wrong because, if you consider a social system boundary around of the rapist and the raped only, it diminishes the well being of the system to below par of where it was before the rape.
    I don't prefer words such as evil in social settings as 'bad' does well enough for me. Sexual abuse is bad because if we consider a social boundary around the abused and the abuser for a long enough time, it diminishes the well being of the system to below par of what it was before the abuse happened.
    • Feb 11 2013: How do you define "well being"?
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        Feb 12 2013: Let me try. "well-being" is a desired state of life for me without as little or practical conflict with your desired state of life.
        Having said that I hope you understand the limitations of definitions. A definition is an attempt to conclusively describe something based on understanding of it at a given time by a given person or group of persons with tacit admission that it may be modified later.
        The progress, development and well-being of societies never wait for things to be defined to any arbitrary level of correctness otherwise we still would have had apartheid, racial and gender discrimination and animal cruelty acceptable.
        • Feb 12 2013: Right. This is a subjective argument. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with that. But it is not objective and therefore not the discussion of this thread. Am I wrong?
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        Feb 13 2013: No, you are not wrong. And this demonstrates whether right and wrong exist or not - that was the heading of your question. You may read your comment above and notice the first and the last words.
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    Feb 10 2013: This is for Nicholas Lukowiak.
    Thank you for the video. I watched it again after almost an year. However, I failed to understand as to how by any manner it diminishes the well being of people to a pretty low par state of imagination.
    Of course Harris has an agenda, that is pretty apparent (he makes no scruples about it) and people and universities invite him to know about his agenda. I think his agenda is to foster reason and logic to examine morality and in doing that it is necessary to challenge and refute claims of 'religion' to be the sole trustee of morality. I am not convinced that such act diminishes the well being of people to a pretty low par state, even if we debate that it increases the well being.
    I agree that eastern theologians do not define religion similar to most in the west. As far as Hinduism is concerned, the religion of majority Indians is a gift of the Colonial scholars as there was no such thing as Hinduism 300 years ago. The spiritual tradition of Indian sub-continent before Islam arrived was karmic and it was called Sanatana Dharma, meaning eternal righteousness - so it was more of religion free morality than what West understand by the term 'religion'. But that does not make the modern institutionalized Hinduism (a brand propagated by VHP) any good, rational or well suited for modern value sets.
    A belief in God or religion as a personally held belief or practice is not harmful if not wrong, but it becomes problematic when such closely held belief starts to determine education, social decisions and other aspects of life of others. It is certainly disastrous when religious morality (something that was formed 2000 years ago) attempts to resolve a contemporary issue.
    I am no admirer of militant atheism and I don't think Harris is either.
  • Feb 10 2013: Right and wrong must always be in a relation to the "doer". As is a moral act or an immoral act. Because the "degree" of awareness of right or wrong is the key to the "degree" of the rightness or wrongness. Of course, an adult who knowingly commits an act of wrongness upon another, (rape was here mentioned) is fully guilty of the crime. However, as the judicial system also reflects, a child of, lets say the age of 12 years old, is much less "guilty" of the crime of rape then say for example a person of 21 years, (the age of adulthood) Therefore "punishment" for the crime is measured thereafter. One could say the same about a handicapped person who does not fully comprehend the consequences of his deeds.
    This does not negate the action as being wrong but it simply points out the fact that there are always "degrees of wrongness"
    In my mind, this tells me that an "act of wrongness" is and should be, measured by the degree of the individual involved in the doing of a wrong act. If he/she is conscious or not of the act being wrong, then must not also the action be a "subjective" wrongness ..?
    Nicholas and I had a discussion around this topic a bit earlier, (see his link) where we discussed "objective morality"
    Along the same lines, the individual involved has to be taken into account to measure the degree of immorality.
    Thus making any "objectivity" out of the picture.
    As in the animal world, there is no right or wrong. Animals eat each other, simple as that. One cannot say that it is wrong.
    Human beings are self conscious and it is here, exactly here, where the whole idea of morality, right and wrong begin to hold any form of meaning. Also, what is right today, may be wrong tomorrow. Slavery is an example of this. The concept of wrongness has to first be present
    A child "steals" a banana, perhaps not even knowing first what the meaning of the word to steal is .... Did it then "steal" a banana ...?
    • Feb 21 2013: "In my mind, this tells me that an "act of wrongness" is and should be, measured by the degree of the individual involved in the doing of a wrong act. If he/she is conscious or not of the act being wrong, then must not also the action be a "subjective" wrongness ..?"

      One can get in trouble with this one. That's why for adults we say, "Ignorance is no excuse". We have an obligation, whenever possible, to learn the rules. I get in trouble sometimes because I'm not very good at reading signs. I don't knock them down or obscure them. I just sometimes blow right past them without even bothering to read them or even see them. If I'm then rousted from an area I'm usually told,"You should have read the sign. It was clearly posted." It's nice when they say that with a smile. I'm lucky that I don't usually look like anyone's idea of a criminal. I just like to hike all over the area.
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    Feb 9 2013: "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."
    Ready?. . . imagine what it would be like to have a person who is very able and very desirous of forcing you to submit to genital contact and bodily penetration by physical superiority or by threat with a weapon. Against your best physical efforts this person overpowers and violates you, perhaps repeatedly. Your cries and pleas to stop are ignored. You feel helpless, soiled and violated. Your whole view of life and yourself is permanently disfigured. One objective truth makes sexual molestation and rape evil. . . the affect it has on the unwilling person. Do you concede the point? If not, explain please.
    • Feb 11 2013: This is a subjective argument. It focuses on the feelings of the victim, which while horrible and should not be endured by anyone in my opinion, are subjective.
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        Feb 11 2013: All societies subjectively ordain sexual molestation and rape to be not only aberrant but criminal. The decision to declare such behaviour to be criminal is subjective, but the act itself is objectively wrong. Even if a society were to legalize, or decriminalize, child molesting and forcible rape it would not change the fact that such acts are objectively, patently, universally, and absolutely wrong. Do you concede the point?
        • Feb 12 2013: I agree with you, that it would be objectively wrong. But how do you know it's objectively wrong? The only basis I have is that God said so.
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        Feb 12 2013: You must be implying that all humans are endowed by their creator with a knowledge of right and wrong. That debate takes us out of the natural realm into the supernatural realm. You have conceded that child molesting and forcible rape are objectively wrong. You came to that conclusion without any mention of God. I think even the most militant Atheist would concede as you and I have, that certain behaviour is wrong, objectively wrong. There is no need to invoke God. The word objective means unaffected and unchanged by varying details. Objective wrong is always wrong. How do we know something is objectively wrong? Easy to define, impossible to execute.Ask every SANE person on Earth if it is wrong. . . if they say it is wrong then it is objectively wrong.
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    Feb 9 2013: Of course the conceptions of what is right and wrong exist, but as to knowing exactly what the nature of what it is to be right or wrong - that is the existential dilemma, which we should never resolve or be satisfied with thinking we can know true objective or absolute knowledge of the right and wrong.
  • Feb 9 2013: hi Scot,

    Well, I havent yet come across to anything that was called "right" and "wrong" but many times I have come across to many thing that was called DIFFERENCE.

    Now think this way: What's food for you can be poison for someone else; and vice versa. is it "right" or "wrong"?

    Allow me to remind you the words of Shakespeare.
    "Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison." Hamlet, by W Shakespeare

    Now if you can think that sexual abuse is evil, (this is your thinking) you may be able to think the way that the abuser thinks. see the situation/question/problem/good/bad and the world through other perspectives (through someone else's eyes)

    Now give me non biblical answer, Why is God, "HE" ? who has got the convincing proof that God is HE?
    I think God is SHE (if She exists)... I may also think that God is a Dog (as dog is also God's creation)
    now is that "right" or "wrong"
    • Feb 11 2013: How can I give you a non-scriptural answer about God? All we know about Him is what He has said about Himself. Anything He says is scripture. Therefore, I can't provide you with any facts, but only opinions if I quote anything non-scriptural.
      • Feb 11 2013: hi Scot,

        As I understood you are a believer, with all respect, as you said you had a mere opinion about it.
        "All we know about Him is what He has said about Himself" - Well, as you can see here once again you stated "Him" as God.

        based on that sentence of yours, what would you say if I were to ask, what exactly we know about "Him" and what exactly "He" has said and to who exactly "He" has said it all about "Himself"? what would your possible answer be?

        • Feb 12 2013: Oh OK, I can answer that. God has said He is the Father of our spirits. He has a wife. He knows everything and has all power. He has a physical, immortal, perfect human-shaped body but a limitless mind. His purpose in creating this world and us is to educate us. Our purpose in life is to grow and progress from our experiences here, both good and bad, in order so that eventually we can grow up to be like Him. (There's a lot more, but that's a short summary.)
          He has said all this to various prophets since the world began, and to other inspired men and women. Every religion contains bits and pieces of this, but most have been corrupted over time. However, any person can know truth by asking Him directly about it. He'll tell you in your heart and mind. It's hard to describe what that feels like, it's like describing the taste of salt. Most people can get feelings or thoughts from Him if they're sincere and their minds are open. As you progress and get more used to Him and try to live a purer life, you can get more clear communications. Prophets are just people that have gotten to the point they can receive complete ideas directly. God chooses them to be His mouthpiece so we can know what we normal people need to know without having to spend 70 years to get there. I've asked God if His prophets in the past and the present day are actually prophets are not. He said yes. So I believe. I don't know if it will let you reply to me, but feel free to send me an email from my profile.
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    Gail .

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    Feb 9 2013: In my world, right and wrong do not exist - neither does evil. No exceptions.

    This said:

    My worldview places total responsibility for my life in my hands. (TOTAL). I am the creator of my reality. If have a want, I manifest it. If I am upset, I choose differently. I have done this so much and for so long that doubt about it has evaporated. I can manifest anything that I want, thus, I have godly power. If I am a god, and you are a god (because everyone is endowed with this power whether they recognize it - thus use - or not), and all that is, is a god - and no god has power over another god without consent - then the term god is meaningless, thus there is no Omniscient/Omnipotent "God".

    There are a growing number like me, who live as deliberate creators. There is a common thread among us. As we treat others, so do we treat ourselves. Why? Because we are really all one, and the separations that so many see among us are mere illusion. When I victimize another, I know that I see myself as a victim already, and because I manifest my beliefs (about victimhood) into my world, I can know that I will be victimized in my world. Thus treating others with respect benefits me greatly. Treating others with disrespect is not wrong. It just means that I will be treated disrespectfully. But ultimately, it is my choice how I want to be treated. To change the outcomes (consequences) I need only recognize that nothing happens without my first having asked for it through my thoughts, beliefs, & emotings.

    When one becomes self-aware, an ethic becomes profoundly obvious and it becomes impossible to operate within the strange confines of the commonly held worldview or accept its strange values of right/wrong & good/evil.

    My worldview correlates with the teachings of Jesus perfectly. It clashes profoundly with the teachings of Paul/Saul. The two worldviews are mutually exclusive. The Christian church should be called the Paulian Church.
    • Feb 21 2013: I find so much I like in what you say and so much I don't like. You say there's no evil. How do you describe someone intent on doing harm to others, perhaps even killing them, just for the thrill of it? They may never, on this earth, receive any kind of just consequence for their actions and this is what they count on. "Just don't get caught" they say to themselves. You notice that what you sow comes back to you. You probably don't try to carry on a secret life. I'm glad you don't if that's the case. But you lead an impossibly charmed life if you can really manifest everything that you want. Can you make the clock run backwards? Make time stop? Do you never want to? Some day you may be so old, you'll need help with all sorts of things. You could meet with a horrible fate tomorrow that would render you unable to help yourself as soon as that. Life is an uncertain affair whether you can see it that way or not. And it is often unjust. You may die young through no fault of your own. You are not a god, but a mortal like the rest of us. Those of us who have the courage to accept these sorts of truths realize how valuable we can be to each other. Jesus exhorted us to learn to help each other. The culture he came from already taught that.

      I'm glad you're self aware and have developed an ethic. For thousands of years there have been people doing this without needing to believe in any kind of deity. That's fine. But human experience, and therefore human nature, is extremely varied. Many are incapable of developing an ethic on their own. They move among us, often destructively, and we must try to meet the challenge of their existence. I wish you continued good luck and that someday you'll realize you have that and be grateful for it.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 21 2013: I understand how strange my worldview is compared to yours, but it is so much more logical and cohesive than yours. You have not yet examined your worldview to discover its inconsistencies and variances with what you want in life. You have not taken control of your emotions. You have not yet learned to walk TOWARDS and then through your fears. On the other side of fear is a whole different world, which is why Jesus often said, "Fear not".

        Here's how I view the world. In the beginning was a self-aware idea. John 1;1 calls it "the word". Scientists call it "the singularity". Christians call it "God". John 1 says, "and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

        In a moment of great inspiration, the idea split into its many pieces and began expanding to explore its possibilities. Ideas are made of thoughts and thoughts of words and words of meanings. We call this explosive expansion, the Big Bang.

        Quantum physicists have discovered that when you split a sub-atomic particle, its pieces are entangled. That means that not only do they exist independently, but they remain part of the original particle. They are an ASPECT of the original particle - not inferior to it in any way.

        I am suggesting that YOU are an ASPECT of what you call God. (Jesus said we are gods) And yes, so is the murderer as well as the child dying in a bizarre accident. Where you grant someone or something outside of you power, I grant me power. No one dies without his/her consent.

        Jesus said "All that you ask is answered". I realized that this also meant - if you don't like what you see, change what you are asking for. He said that you have the power to move a mountain into the sea. He said that if you find the kingdom of heaven (that is within you NOW), not only will you be given a counselor, but you will have all that you want. I learned that this is true.

        My life is EXACTLY as charmed as yours. I just know what I am manifesting because "I" choose it. I don't choose harm.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 21 2013: Christianity has lost its way. It accepts the teachings of Paul rather than the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said "love your enemies". Christianity says that they deserve hell. How loving is that?

        The first beatitude says "Blessed (of God/with God/walking with God) are the poor in spirit (spiritually ignorant/spiritually bankrupt/evil), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Christianity says that theirs is the kingdom of Satan. But if all are one, then the judgement that one has that a part of self is deserving of hell is inconsistent with Jesus' teaching: "Judge not".

        YOu cannot see the perfection of others because you have not yet done your own work and found your own perfection, that Jesus said is yours but Christianity says is not possible. BEcause of this, you project your mistaken beliefs on others in order to make sense of your world. But in doing so, you make your life, and the lives of those around you, quite miserable. By speaking ill of those Jesus said commit acts of "hamartia" (acting in ignorance causing harm) - Jesus never used the word sin pre KJV - you condemn yourself to all that you would condemn them to. Thus you receive as you give, in like measure.

        Jesus never used the word repent (not seeing imperfection in you). He used the words first recorded in koine Greek, "metanao" and "metamellamai", that means simply - change your way of thinking and change your way of emoting - respectively. Jesus never spoke of Hell. He spoke of Gehenna, where those with wretched lives eek out an existence.

        So in this context, "Change your way of thinking and emoting. Judge not (yourself or others). Believe what he taught (his teachings not his divinity) - that you are powerful. Then lift yourself up from your wretched existence and enjoy the bounty that you will see before you when you discover the riches that are of the kingdom of heaven that is within you now.

        This is a message worth spreading. The church wants it banished. Ask yourself why.
        • Feb 21 2013: Sorry, there's too little reality in your views. Ask yourself this, "What would I say to the family of a child kidnapped right off his schoolbus?" What would it sound like if you said, "He had to have brought it on himself". If a plane crashes & everyone dies, did they bring it on themselves? If it contained a surgeon flying in to save a life, would you say he got all that he wanted? No, he wanted to save the life of the person he was going to help. I've known too many cock sure young people who cannot give credit to their societies and their luck for partly making them who they are. Jesus admired humility and gratitude. You want to blame people for having bad fortune befall them, despite the fact that it falls on all of us. We don't blame ourselves for this or blame God either, if we know what's good for us. Rather, we cling to Him for His ability to get us through hard times. You want to think your path makes you immune to pain & misfortune. But it comes to us all.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 21 2013: Forgive me for the length, but I want to make one addition.

        In the Garden of Eden story, Adam and Eve did not eat of the Tree of Knowledge, as is so often taught. They ate of the Tree of Knowledge OF GOOD AND EVIL. When they did so, the Lord ("Lord" means "the word") said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand (while knowing good and evil), and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden (the direction of new beginnings/days) cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

        Those who stop judging the perceived unrighteousness of others, can easily and safely walk past the flaming sword, toward the cherubim, and see the eternalness of one's own life. Jesus called it the kingdom of heaven. He also said NOT to believe anyone who told you that it is anywhere but within yourself. (Isn't that what Christianity teaches?)

        Eternity is a very long, endless time (in either direction - having no beginning or no end). Can you not trust one of God's aspects to live out its potential without judgment because you have found the way to protect you (but not others directly) from harm?

        When you find the kingdom of heaven within you, you will walk in perfect alignment, and by seeing your own perfection and your own godliness, you can do much to help.

        NOW: Staying in this perfect alignment at all times is my goal. But Jesus said that if you seek, you shall find. If you ask, it is given.

        You, however, are seeking your own specialness - you want to be better than those you have judged harshly. You do not want to be one-with the Christ (the kingdom of heaven - your source) - obviously, because you still judge others unrighteously (as not righteous).

        This is your choice. Nothing wrong with it, other than you live a wretched life in comparison to another possibility that is realized through searching.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 21 2013: PS: the flaming sword is your fear.
        • Feb 21 2013: Again, sorry, there's too little reality in your views. Ask yourself this, "What would I say to the family of a child kidnapped right off his schoolbus?" What would it sound like if you said, "He had to have brought it on himself". If a plane crashes & everyone dies, did they bring it on themselves? If it contained a surgeon flying in to save a life, would you say he got all that he wanted? No, he wanted to save the life of the person he was going to help. I've known too many cock sure young people who cannot give credit to their societies and their luck for partly making them who they are. Jesus admired humility and gratitude. You want to blame people for having bad fortune befall them, despite the fact that it falls on all of us. We don't blame ourselves for this or blame God either, if we know what's good for us. Rather, we cling to Him for His ability to get us through hard times. You want to think your path makes you immune to pain & misfortune. But it comes to us all.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 21 2013: Re: "What would I say to the family of a child kidnapped right off his schoolbus?"

        I don't know what you would say, but I would not go there unless I knew that I was speaking to someone of like-mind. It would be too cruel to do so and I do not want to further the parents misconceptions by supporting error.

        I do NOT want to blame anyone. For there to be blame, there must be error. I do not see error because I define time differently than you.

        This is NOT about blame. It's about a soul's self-chosen course and purpose.

        You say that my view is not centered in reality? You (in your self-perceived smallness) see yourself as a victim. This is part of Christian teaching. So you cling to a god who will not step in and protect the child (thus, by inferrence - you)?

        I have faced imminent death at the hands of an aggressor, and using Jesus' teachings, "Fear not" and "Judge not", I found the place of peace within and he did not harm me. I also did this to avoid an imminent and seemingly inescapable rape. He walked out the door, locking it behind him.

        "Turn the other cheek" does not mean to turn it in fear. It means, fear not, and allow the great peace (that you call god) to protect you.

        I have tested my beliefs. Have you tested yours?

        But I will leave this conversation. I"m not here to proselytize. Simply to explain myself with respect to your question. I've done this to the best of my abilities within the framework of 2,000 characters per post.
        • Feb 21 2013: I was asking you to put yourself in the place of whoever would have to talk to the parents. I've also saved myself many times with the teachings of Christ giving me freedom from fear and helping me find eloquence. But there's simply no way anyone in their right mind believes they can manifest anything they want. You are simply ignoring all the things you would like to be able to manifest and cannot, such as to be instantly home instead of stuck in tonight's traffic jam. God helps those who help themselves, but does not on this earth grant us the ability to acquire all we can conceive of. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp,
          Or what's a heaven for?" -Robert Browning

          With the above example of the traffic jam I've just realized I've given you the ability to say again that you don't see time the way I do (as a thief, etc.). So here's another example. As a follower of Christ's teachings, you naturally wish to feed the hungry. Remembering that they exist in the hundreds of millions and get hungry again each day. you would like at least $100billion dollars with which to do that. Can you manifest this? With the help of all others feeling similarly you could, but not by yourself alone. We all have our limitations. Remembering this helps to keep us humble supplicants. We can & do pray for God's help in meeting the needs of the world. And we are not foolish enough to suppose that all who hunger do so because of their inadequacies as human beings. It is undeniably true that fate can be cruel.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 22 2013: Christ taught: Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Give unto God that which is God's. Money is Caesar's. Wisdom and power are God's.

        As you pointed out, I could have all the money in the world, but it would not feed all the hungry who are born every day. But the wisdom of how to manifest their needs according to the teachings of Jesus would end hunger. So it is people like you to prefer money over God who keep the hungry masses hungry and poor when they could be living in a world of abundance. You would tell them that they have sin in them and that they are powerless and dependent on a God who does not always answer prayers.

        I find it odd that you call yourself a Christian while not believing that Jesus was telling the truth when he said that if you ask for bread, you will not be given a stone.

        I do not believe that humans are inadequate. I have learned that seeing yourself as inadequate is a prayer to god that will be answered according to the request you are making. You can choose to be a humble supplicant if you want, but I prefer to be one-with christ and in control of great power. It's an ability that I have tested over and over and over again - because I practice daily. I have learned that Jesus was telling the truth, and here you are telling me that he was lying. Don't you think that is curious?

        Fate is only cruel if you are not determining your fate, thus you allow cruelty in. It's not "blame". It's acknowledgement of your choice - be it conscious or unconscious due to ignorance. From my perspective, your worldview is very cruel, so you can expect to see cruelty in your world. I, who do not see any imperfection in you, but see a wondrously beautiful and perfect aspect of God (or Christ), have immunized myself. How? The power of "God" is channeled through me and you. The only difference is that I choose how to use that power, and you allow your religious teachers to choose for you.

        "You are the light of the world" (Jesus)
        • Feb 22 2013: You have put a ridiculous amount of words in my mouth that I never said or tried to imply. You've gotten me mixed up with I don't know how many other people you've gotten angry at over the years. Jesus is about love and truth. Wish He were here to cast out your demons. I'm sure He'll find you in the end. Meanwhile, you could try seeing life as it really is and stop assuming such nasty things about people you hardly know. You say you see no imperfection in me after blasting me for all sorts of things I never even begin to do, like - ever. I absolutely never tell people they are powerless. Quite the opposite. You wish to ascribe blame where it truly does not belong. What I was talking about is how an earthquake for instance, or a stray bullet, can kill someone as innocent in Christ's eyes as a new born babe. These sorts of things just happen. Sane people realize this.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 22 2013: I think what you are missing here is that I do not have any power over you or others. I have full power within my reality, as do you within yours. I can lead the horse to water, but I cannot make it drink.

        As to the traffic jam? That's a choice too. I wouldn't be in one in the first place (though to be sure, I have spent enough time on the DC beltway to know them intimately. But, if you choose a life with traffic jams, who one is when choosing a life where one is stuck in traffic is a choice. You can choose frustration. I chose to practice manifesting. It was time alone, where I had nothing better to do. Now I choose to live in a place where traffic jams don't happen (except in summer - but still nothing like the DC beltway), but I never feel the need to go anywhere when I know that traffic is heavy. That is a choice of mine. I do not berate you for making a different choice. I do not look down on you.

        My life is wholly different since my awakening. I've lived your world. I was a Christian for 30 years. Now I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus as opposed to the exclusive divinity of Jesus.
        • Feb 22 2013: Oh. of course you have power over others. You keep creating reasons for me to return to this thread. You probably stick pins in lots of people making them feel all sorts of things they wouldn't be feeling otherwise right then, like outrage. Like I said earlier, I don't tell people they are powerless. And plenty of people know how to make horses drink water. But meanwhile, you've just said you can lead a horse to water. Ergo, you've said you have power over others. Where's your self awareness now? Might be time for some self-examination.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 22 2013: I can lead a horse to water if the horse is willing to be led. I cannot make the horse drink if the horse is unwilling to drink.

        Meanwhile, Jesus said that as you judge, so you shall be judged. Look at all those judgements of me. Hmmmmmmmmm. You're being very hard on yourself, but that too is your choice.

        I'm not sticking pins in you. You're bumping into your own mistaken beliefs. I cannot make you angry. You alone have the power to choose it or not. I choose not.

        the end
        • Feb 22 2013: Like maybe you weren't judging me? Even for a bunch of stuff I never did & never would do?
  • Feb 9 2013: It is beginning to appear that humans do not have much say in the way of "free will".
    They do not have very much of it.
    They have been under the belief however, and for a long time, that they functioned solely by and on free will.
    (for the most part)

    That seems to me to be wrong. :) to have allowed us to live under this false pretense strikes me as evil, sinister,
    cruel and sadistic. Which I personally judge and declare as wrong.

    But ultimately, we have this power called the power of life and it is overwhelmingly powerful.
    One can do whatever one wants to do and that is why I believe this power is so frightening to most. But...
    If we don't have free will, then are we really doing what we choose to do or are we also disillusioned there as well?

    How can we distance ourselves from emotion, feeling, thoughts and so on in order to be in a place or state of no right and wrong? Nothing would mean anything then. But maybe, that is what we really are and are supposed to be.
    A neutral observer and "experiencer" of conscious awareness. And grateful for it.

    I personally think that almost everything (can't think of anything right this moment), in life is not and does not, have a moral nature to it. Sex is one thing people have been brainwashed into believing is a moral issue to begin with, when it isn't.

    The moral nature in life, if there is one, and it is for humans and not other species on this planet (again, don't know for sure), is in how we treat one another. It isn't a subject per se, as most make sex a subject of immorality.

    As soon as a topic turns to sex it is immediately thrown in this realm of immorality by many, mentally.

    I think something has been withheld from us and I don't like that.
    Apparently, with all we do, we still haven't discovered it yet.

    That to me is like being sent a message but not being told or contacted that it is on the backside of a banana tree leaf that grows in the Costa Rican jungle, just outside the fence of a banana plantation. Odd.
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      Feb 9 2013: I do not know who Sarah is, but are you saying that ANYTHING anyone does to her is not wrong?
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          Feb 9 2013: Agreed sir. Everything I am aware of arises from my mind and my mind tells me that certain acts are wrong, certain acts are right, and certain acts are neither. All acts are one or the other. Yes that is a human construct as is all conscious activity. A specific act may well be wrong for one person while right for everyone else. For example jumping on a grenade is right for the survivors but wrong for the hero, who would tell you it was the right thing for him to do, but in terms of survival it was clearly the wrong thing to do. In selfless, altruistic, sacrifical acts doing the wrong thing is right. The greater good.
        • Feb 15 2013: I believe Mr. Long makes a good point when he mentions " the greater good". The selfless act he describes is the sort of thing that can be bad for an individual, but good for mankind. We can see this happening in small groups and large ones. George Washington didn't want to be president. He didn't feel that he could enjoy the job or that it was likely to do him any good to attempt it. But he was convinced to take it on for the good of our country. And I believe he accomplished much that those who sought to put him in office wished that he would. A noble human being often furthers the collective goals of mankind.
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          Feb 15 2013: To be clear Mr. Meijer, is it your belief that none of the deeds of Mankind, from the beginning of human history to the end, can be considered universally and absolutely good or evil? Do you embrace and propagate the philosophy that no human action is anything other than neutral, neither good nor evil? If my question can be answered with a "Yes", or a "No", I would appreciate, but I do not demand, it. Thank you sir.
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        • Feb 16 2013: @Mark Meijer - I can't imagine that it would bother me if our goals are in our human minds only. After all, as "our goals", where else should they be? God may be aware of them, and I do happen to believe He knows and sees all things, but they are still, by definition, our own, particular human goals, not possessed by Him as well. What constitutes human welfare is not really so difficult to discern. You seem to wish to avoid doing so, however. Please forgive me if you are sincerely engaged in the betterment of mankind. Meanwhile, Mr. Wilcox asks a good question. When sharing a common faith, it is easy to agree on the difference between right and wrong. Are there other ways of doing so? Of course. We can share common goals in the absence of a common philosophy. Then, whatever furthers our goals is right, whatever hinders them is wrong.
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          Feb 16 2013: What we CHOOSE to believe is important, it is not irrelevant or trivial. It is an important part of who we are as individuals. It defines the lack of identicalness between all 7 billion of us. That is why I asked you if you CHOOSE to believe that under certain circumstances certain acts (let's take the example of a suicide bomber destroying a pediatric clinic full of innocent, non-combatant, mothers and their children) would not be considered wrong, or evil. I understand you to be saying you have CHOSEN to believe that such an act could, under specific, subjective circumstances, be deemed a neutral, or even a good, act. To answer your question, I am sorry to say that I do not see how advocating for the acceptability of such an act, under ANY circumstance, could be considered to be for the betterment of mankind.
          My answer, what I have CHOSEN to believe, is yes, there is absolute, objective good and evil. Even though some might call good evil, or evil good, the fact remains that certain acts are universally, objectively, immutably good or evil.
          Your answer as stated herein ["The question isn't whether right and wrong exist subjectively. They obviously and undeniably do."] is that they only exist subjectively and are based upon human constructs. On that we disagree. Thank you sir!
        • Feb 18 2013: The things you tend to focus on put me in mind of a family member who used to focus on the same sorts of things. Though this made him seem uncaring, his profession had him actively engaged in the welfare of at-risk children. And it was obvious that he cared a great deal what happened to them. He clearly had their welfare at heart. That's why I brought up the betterment of mankind issue.

          As for the subject at hand, I believe that by viewing this thread in its entirety, you'll be able to see that Mr. Wilcox is a believer, as am I. We believers can sometimes despair of a world so engrossed in secular concerns, pastimes and goals. It can cause us to despair of those left to raise their children in godless homes with no clear notion from one day to the next of what constitutes right and wrong or how to teach it. He feels we're all in a lot of trouble if we don't have God to guide us. This is his real concern. He's worried that the godless will surely ruin things for the rest of us. In truth, they often lead us forward in an ever-changing world which requires new viewpoints. I think that if you can quiet the philosopher within yourself for a bit and bring out the part resembling a thoughtful political leader, we'd all benefit.
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          Feb 16 2013: I am feeling heat but sensing no light in this exchange. I apologize for my contribution to such a predicament. My words have gone beyond my intellect and I am unable to put forth a convincing argument so, as you said earlier, "to be honest I don't really care all that much to talk about it anymore.Voltaire said a long dispute proves both parties wrong. Thank you Mr. Meijer, I look forward to the next topic. Be well sir.