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Thread: Atheism And Moral Progress

  1. #1511
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Again, Jim, you are using the word "absolute" in a sense that I do not think you can support/defend. And we have already had the discussion about your use of "good." You are attempting to carve out absolute and objective claims for words that represent things that are clearly subjective. "Good" does not exist in nature and is never intrinsic to a thing (idea, object, etc.). It is an assessment by a valuer. What is "good" to one may well not be "good" to another, making the word relative and subjective. I do not see how you escape this reality.

    Bottom line, you cannot assess "good" without specifying "to whom" and "as measured by what metric?" The former makes it relative. The latter, I believe, makes it subjective.
    But we are not speaking of individuals, the subjectivity of individuals, we're speaking of societies, groups of people, and what is "good" for societies, for communities of people, which has nothing to do with the subjective beliefs of individuals. The moral against murder and theft, afaics, is always a "good," is always benificial for society.
    Last edited by JimL; 09-14-2019 at 06:41 AM.

  2. #1512
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    But we are not speaking of individuals, the subjectivity of individuals, we're speaking of societies, groups of people, and what is "good" for societies, for communities of people, which has nothing to do with the subjective beliefs of individuals. The moral against murder and theft, afaics, is always a "good," is always benificial for society.
    Jim - a society does not assess anything. Individuals do. And individuals will assess what is "good" for a society on the basis of subjective preferences and subjectively selected metrics. Most of the Christians on this site believe "alignment with the word of god" is the best metric, so they will assess the modern movement to accept same-sex intimacy as "bad for society." I do not find that to be a good metric and prefer to assess the society in terms of equitable treatment of all under the law and acceptance of people even if they are different, so I welcome the shift. Some use the metric "the health of the economy" to determine what is "good for society" so they hate any efforts to regulate that will negatively impact the economy. I don't place money/economy above all and am content with modest growth if it means we can continue to push forward with ecological and climate-related initiatives, and ensure that future generations will have a healthy environment and planet, because I believe those are in the long-term best interests of our society.

    The moral prohibition against random killing (murder is a poor choice because it self-defines as bad) and theft is not objectively for the good of society - it is for the good for a society that values life and personal property, respectively. If a society does not, then these things will not be perceived as "good." A society comprised of individuals who value money above life might disagree with your prohibition against killing. A society that does not have the concept of personal property will not have a prohibition against theft. A society that see power, virulence, or honor as demonstrated by successful theft will not have your prohibition against theft (see the concept of "counting coup" among Native Americans, which includes this concept related to theft as well as other "acts of bravery").

    You cannot find a "good" for society that is "objectively" good. It is good TO someone based on someone's selected metric. You are trying to create an absolute/objective "good" where such a thing cannot exist. You are looking from the perspective of your OWN personal preferences, and declaring them to be "objectively good." It doesn't work that way.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  3. Amen JimL, shunyadragon amen'd this post.
  4. #1513
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Right a made up idea - where do you find equal anything in nature?
    We find equality in the evolved values of a given society. The US Civil Rights Act is an example just as is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are not universal laws as such. Universal laws don’t exist except within the “made-up idea” of Law-giver deity. Rather they are the product of the evolution of the necessary social behavior for humanity to survive as cooperative intelligent social animals.

    That is just untrue and stupid Tass. The fact is if materialism is true we are only doing what evolutionary process created us to do.
    But “materialism” is NOT true according to you. So how do you explain the history of Christian violence with regard to the Christian enslavement of tens of thousands of Africans, the destruction of Native American culture and systematic discrimination against blacks during the Jim Crow era, etc. etc. etc.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  5. Amen shunyadragon amen'd this post.
  6. #1514
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    We find equality in the evolved values of a given society. The US Civil Rights Act is an example just as is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are not universal laws as such. Universal laws don’t exist except within the “made-up idea” of Law-giver deity. Rather they are the product of the evolution of the necessary social behavior for humanity to survive as cooperative intelligent social animals.
    Tass, equal rights are not necessary for human survival, and haven't been for most of our history. And you talk about evolved values as if there are objectively better or worse values - which there are not in your world.



    But “materialism” is NOT true according to you. So how do you explain the history of Christian violence with regard to the Christian enslavement of tens of thousands of Africans, the destruction of Native American culture and systematic discrimination against blacks during the Jim Crow era, etc. etc. etc.

    First Tass, the majority of Christian through most of History had nothing to do with slavery, second it was largely Christians that took down slavery in the West. Third, discrimination and racism are not New Testament principles - just the opposite, and you know that. And it is not like slavery is an evil in your world - just animals doing what animals do - why do you dislike nature so much?
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Jim - a society does not assess anything. Individuals do. And individuals will assess what is "good" for a society on the basis of subjective preferences and subjectively selected metrics. Most of the Christians on this site believe "alignment with the word of god" is the best metric, so they will assess the modern movement to accept same-sex intimacy as "bad for society." I do not find that to be a good metric and prefer to assess the society in terms of equitable treatment of all under the law and acceptance of people even if they are different, so I welcome the shift. Some use the metric "the health of the economy" to determine what is "good for society" so they hate any efforts to regulate that will negatively impact the economy. I don't place money/economy above all and am content with modest growth if it means we can continue to push forward with ecological and climate-related initiatives, and ensure that future generations will have a healthy environment and planet, because I believe those are in the long-term best interests of our society.

    The moral prohibition against random killing (murder is a poor choice because it self-defines as bad) and theft is not objectively for the good of society - it is for the good for a society that values life and personal property, respectively. If a society does not, then these things will not be perceived as "good." A society comprised of individuals who value money above life might disagree with your prohibition against killing. A society that does not have the concept of personal property will not have a prohibition against theft. A society that see power, virulence, or honor as demonstrated by successful theft will not have your prohibition against theft (see the concept of "counting coup" among Native Americans, which includes this concept related to theft as well as other "acts of bravery").

    You cannot find a "good" for society that is "objectively" good. It is good TO someone based on someone's selected metric. You are trying to create an absolute/objective "good" where such a thing cannot exist. You are looking from the perspective of your OWN personal preferences, and declaring them to be "objectively good." It doesn't work that way.
    So, leaving aside the asserted communities that don't value personal property, I don't believe there are any such people, but leaving that aside for the moment, you wouldn't agree then that the moral against murder, or random killing if you will, or theft for instance, or rape etc etc. is a "good" when it comes to being in the best interests of society as a whole?

  8. #1516
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    So, leaving aside the asserted communities that don't value personal property, I don't believe there are any such people, but leaving that aside for the moment, you wouldn't agree then that the moral against murder, or random killing if you will, or theft for instance, or rape etc etc. is a "good" when it comes to being in the best interests of society as a whole?
    Anyone who values life will see "random killing" as a moral evil (as I do). Anyone who values life will see a prohibition against random killing as a "good" for a society (as I do). Someone who values power or money above life will not see this as a "good" for society if it prevents them from accumulating power or money. Someone who believes in social Darwinism might believe that culling the population is "for the good of society." By their metric, that would be true.

    You are trying to establish an absolute/objective good for a society and it simply doesn't exist. "Good" is a qualitative assessment that requires a valuer and a metric to assess. Depending on the valuer and the selected metric, the assessment will differ. A thing is not "intrinsically good." It is "good as assessed by X using metric Y."

    If you don't believe this, take your "random killing is immoral" principle and explain why it is an objective good without making reference to any subjectively selected metric and in a way that demonstrates that everyone/everywhere/everywhen will assess it as a "good." This is what you need to do to show it is objective and absolute/universal.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  9. #1517
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Anyone who values life will see "random killing" as a moral evil (as I do). Anyone who values life will see a prohibition against random killing as a "good" for a society (as I do). Someone who values power or money above life will not see this as a "good" for society if it prevents them from accumulating power or money. Someone who believes in social Darwinism might believe that culling the population is "for the good of society." By their metric, that would be true.

    You are trying to establish an absolute/objective good for a society and it simply doesn't exist. "Good" is a qualitative assessment that requires a valuer and a metric to assess. Depending on the valuer and the selected metric, the assessment will differ. A thing is not "intrinsically good." It is "good as assessed by X using metric Y."

    If you don't believe this, take your "random killing is immoral" principle and explain why it is an objective good without making reference to any subjectively selected metric and in a way that demonstrates that everyone/everywhere/everywhen will assess it as a "good." This is what you need to do to show it is objective and absolute/universal.
    Well, I think I have to disagree. I don't believe that what is "good," i.e. what is in the best interests of any particualr society, i.e any group of people living in community, has anything to do with what any one individual might subjectively think about it. If random killing, theft, rape etc etc, were considered to be perfectly "good," i.e moral rather than immoral, that society would amount to chaos, would be a terrible, i.e. not a "good" place in which to live. That's why random killing, theft, rape, etc are, in my opinion, objectively immoral if some might subjectively disagree, because objectively, those behaviors would not be "good" for a healthy functioning society within which the majority members thereof can live a healthy functional life.

    I think we may be focusing on different things when thinking about morals, you are focusing on individuals and there subjective perspectives, while I think they, i.e. morals, have only to do with societies as a whole, i.e. people living together in community. For an individual living alone on an island, there would be no such thing as morality.
    Last edited by JimL; 09-15-2019 at 02:36 PM.

  10. #1518
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Tass, equal rights are not necessary for human survival, and haven't been for most of our history.
    Neither are gods.

    Nevertheless, the concept of “equal rights” has developed, whether you like it or not. They have been successfully implemented by many Western cultures with overall positive results…some such countries have topped the World Happiness Report and Human Development Index.

    And you talk about evolved values as if there are objectively better or worse values - which there are not in your world.
    No. I talk about “evolved values” as something that has demonstrably developed over time and adopted by many societies - Your use of “your world” being the natural world as opposed to your fictional world of gods and spirits I presume.

    First Tass, the majority of Christian through most of History had nothing to do with slavery,
    This is factually inaccurate. Furthermore, Christian societies had a great deal to do with the establishment of colonies worldwide resulting in the near destruction of the indigenous cultures of the original inhabitants.

    second it was largely Christians that took down slavery in the West.
    Yes, we saw how that worked with the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Third, discrimination and racism are not New Testament principles - just the opposite, and you know that.
    New Testament principles have historically meant whatever its Christian adherents want them to mean. Slavery was justified by the judicious selection of biblical texts, e.g. Ephesians, VI, 5-7: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling…”

    https://time.com/5171819/christianit...-book-excerpt/

    Also, the implementation of the 1964 Civil Rights Acts against “discrimination” was opposed by many white Evangelical Christians at the time.

    And it is not like slavery is an evil in your world - just animals doing what animals do.
    Define “evil”.

    - why do you dislike nature so much?
    …compared to what?
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  11. #1519
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Well, I think I have to disagree. I don't believe that what is "good," i.e. what is in the best interests of any particualr society, i.e any group of people living in community, has anything to do with what any one individual might subjectively think about it. If random killing, theft, rape etc etc, were considered to be perfectly "good," i.e moral rather than immoral, that society would amount to chaos, would be a terrible, i.e. not a "good" place in which to live. That's why random killing, theft, rape, etc are, in my opinion, objectively immoral if some might subjectively disagree, because objectively, those behaviors would not be "good" for a healthy functioning society within which the majority members thereof can live a healthy functional life.
    It would be terrible to you, because you value life and harmony, two metrics you have subjectively chosen. Most of us do, so most of us would agree with you. But the adrenaline junkie who values the thrill of the hunt would find your society boring and staid and evaluate it differently. The sociopath who wants more than anything to slate his blood lust would not only disagree with your rule, but would (and does) ignore it. Most of us think as you do - and value life and harmony. But the fact that most of us value this does not make it objectively a good, and does not make that good universal or absolute. It simply makes it "widely held."

    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    I think we may be focusing on different things when thinking about morals, you are focusing on individuals and there subjective perspectives, while I think they, i.e. morals, have only to do with societies as a whole, i.e. people living together in community. For an individual living alone on an island, there would be no such thing as morality.
    Societies don't have morals. Societies don't think. Individuals do. When someone says "Society Y believes X" they are actually saying, "Most of the individuals in Society Y believe X."

    While it is true that most moral guidelines are about interactions, there are also moral prohibitions against suicide, masturbation, gluttony (though one could argue that is about taking "more than your fair share"), and various forms of excess that have only to do with the self. So the person living alone on an island could (and probably would) still develop a moral code. It would simply be devoid of elements that have to do with interactions with others. Morality is about action - not just interaction.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  12. #1520
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post

    While it is true that most moral guidelines are about interactions, there are also moral prohibitions against suicide, masturbation, gluttony (though one could argue that is about taking "more than your fair share"), and various forms of excess that have only to do with the self. So the person living alone on an island could (and probably would) still develop a moral code. It would simply be devoid of elements that have to do with interactions with others. Morality is about action - not just interaction.
    I don’t think so. An individual on an island would develop a life-style that suits his needs, not a moral system per se. Whereas individuals living in community need to temper their individual needs so as to not impinge on those of others. Hence a system of rules is developed to which all can agree for the effective maintenance of society. And this we call morality.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  13. Amen JimL amen'd this post.

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