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Basis of Morality

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Jaymann
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Basis of Morality

Post by Jaymann »

As Holman suggested, this topic deserves its own thread. If the human condition were merely the survival of the fittest, everyone would be like, I got mine and screw everybody else. While this attitude currently appears to be running rampant, it is far from universal. Why does it seem that most people have a moral compass they try to live by? Is it:

Religion?
Philosophy?
Human Nature?
Science?!? (See Sam Harris)
Just an illusion that doesn't really exist?
Other?

Please discuss.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Smoove_B »

Everything old is new again.
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Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Paingod »

As an atheist, even if I'm left to my own devices and no one's watching, my actions are still by-and-large very moral by US standards. I don't even pirate video games because I want to support the people that make them in hopes of them making better games later.

My personal philosophy is that trying to take more than you need and/or hurting others to get ahead is simply wrong. It makes me feel good to be good, so I am.

I find it personally offensive when someone tries to tell me that morality comes from religion, and that I can't possibly be moral simply because I don't see a great reward waiting for me at the end of my life. Living a good life while I have it IS the great reward.

I may wish to live longer than I have, but that's mostly because it pains me to know there's so much of history I'll never get to know about that has yet to unfold. I dearly wish I could live long enough to see humanity become an interstellar species, if it ever achieves it.
Last edited by Paingod on Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Blackhawk »

Humans have a built in biological mechanism for compassion, and we have a built in mechanism for self-interest. I'll quote what I said in the thread that spawned this:
Grifman wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:22 pm


If the physical world is all there is, then there is no morality. Yet many/most atheists attempt to live what we would call a moral life. You can try to construct a moral system but it's an entirely arbitrary system, and there's nothing that compels anyone to live by your vision of morality.
Emphasis mine. If it is compelled, is it truly moral?

When there is an absence of externally compelled morality, it can be replaced with compassion. With compassion, you aren't avoiding harmful actions out of fear of divine consequences, or because those are the imposed rules, and you aren't helping because it is expected or because of a divine reward. Compassion is internal. You act because you genuinely do not want to see others suffer.

We could argue all day which is better, but i will say this: Those who lack the innate compassion and introspection do better when the rules are imposed on them, while those who can look inside will do better without, as they can adapt to changing situations and a changing world.
I will say this: It is hard to ignore your conscience. It is easy to break rules. Give me the person who doesn't harm out of a desire not to spread suffering over the person who doesn't harm out of fear of consequences any day.

/edit - and for reference for those who weren't around back in the day, I'm an atheist who was raised Baptist, who followed or was heavily influenced by multiple religions, mainstream and not, until about a decade ago. I've spent many, many hours pondering morality and religion.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Blackhawk »

Paingod wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:10 pm


I may wish to live longer than I have, but that's mostly because it pains me to know there's so much of history I'll never get to know about that has yet to unfold. I dearly wish I could live long enough to see humanity become an interstellar species, if it ever achieves it.
I get this! There are so many cool things we'll (probably) get to do, and I won't get to find out about any of it, as I won't exist for it. I get to look back and learn about all the stuff leading up to the future, but I don't get to see what happens next! It's like getting to binge one season of the greatest show ever made, then having to cancel the service.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by LordMortis »

I dunno but do meercats or ant or bees have morality or religion?

I think my moral compass is mainly a failed attempt at self interest. That deep down I'm afraid that if we all acted on impulses contrary to the golden rule, I could never walk outside. I could never trust another person at all. Ever. I need to do the right thing as part of enough people doing the right thing to keep from having to go to war with my neighbor or forge an alliance of convenience with my neighbor to go to war with the next guy. This isn't just for show. It needs to be at your core. This is why you return the shopping cart and why you hold the person who doesn't use a turn signal with with contempt.

Does biology or God or the way I was raised create that deep down need to abide? No idea. I am an avid irrational believer of free will and that puts me on the God side of things but I also know my belief in free will is literally irrational.

This kinda goes back to the failed contract the US has with its black citizens. It we look to our community and the government it is rooted in to protect us and we abide by the rules of a civil society for those protections but the civil society then attacks us, the contract is worthless. The need, the appeal for morality, it's hard to come by.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by LawBeefaroni »

From the other thread:
LawBeefaroni wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:26 am
geezer wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:51 pm
Grifman wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:22 pm
Paingod wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:53 am
Grifman wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:06 pm
Paingod wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:59 pm
I know life is full of contradictions and everyone manages them every day - I just don't see many atheists designing their entire lifestyles around them.
Sure they do, you just don't recognize it.
Can you cite examples? I mean, real world "big" things that would differentiate an atheist from anyone else in terms of lifestyle that requires us to have logical inconsistencies as a group? Not just things on an individual level that might apply to anyone, religious or not.
If the physical world is all there is, then there is no morality. Yet many/most atheists attempt to live what we would call a moral life. You can try to construct a moral system but it's an entirely arbitrary system, and there's nothing that compels anyone to live by your vision of morality.
It’s late, and I’m not on a keyboard, so just, “bullshit” (at least insofar as religion - in practice just as human a construct as ethics - creates anything more absolute.)
Atheist morality and religious morality, both forms of philosophical altruism, could very well have the same root source: biological altruism.


There is some evidence that there is a biological basis for "morality."
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Little Raven »

LawBeefaroni wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:14 pm
There is some evidence that there is a biological basis for "morality."
Substantial evidence, in my opinion.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by El Guapo »

Just to settle this, I am the basis of morality.

Glad to be of help.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by geezer »

Little Raven wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:16 pm
LawBeefaroni wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:14 pm
There is some evidence that there is a biological basis for "morality."
Substantial evidence, in my opinion.
Indeed. Even when it could still be religious in nature. ;)

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Holman »

It seems likely that we're biologically and psychologically wired to care for those close to us. Whether this is nature or nurture or both doesn't matter so much as the fact that humans have always been more inclined to act on behalf of their closest emotional connections ("loved ones") than on behalf of strangers.

The history of successful societies is the history of expanding this circle of compassion. Religion has always been very good at this, and most religions have as their highest ideal some version of loving the stranger, the Golden Rule, what have you. (The ones that don't have usually pursued social harmony through more political means, such as the cult of the divine emperor, and they've not survived the fall of their political underpinnings.) But other social institutions have been good at this as well: a great many myths, stories, ideals of heroism or chivalry or duty, etc, no matter how secular or spiritual in flavor, are about encouraging and rewarding altruistic behavior because it's good for society as a whole. It's one of the asks we make of those who would benefit from society.

So to me the question "Do we need religion to have morality" is a bit of red herring. Religion is powerful because it binds people together in hope, in community, and in a sense of purpose, just as (and often more effectively than) other social institutions that pursue similar goals. But it's not the only thing that has done it. There have been many factors, some as high-minded as art and philosophy, some as basic as economics and communication.

I'd go out on a limb and suggest that, just as religion has made societies more compassionate, the needs of society (and the influences of non-religious social institutions) have made religion moreso as well. There's a feedback loop tending towards the positive, but there are also atavistic/tribal/exclusionist elements in religion (and not only in religion, obvs) that push in the other direction. We can all come up with examples of religion bent to immoral purposes.

This is a little long-winded and murky, I know, and it's not exactly a straightforward topic. But I think it comes down to religion not as the single source and origin of moral/altruistic standards but as one of the best social tools for promoting and supporting those standards. At the same time, religion does and always has had a lot to learn about being good.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Holman »

One other point:

The common atheist complaint that "morality based on fear of God is no morality at all" doesn't really hold water.

All morality, whatever the narrative source, is based on both ideals and fear. If religious morality is "only" fear of God, then secular morality is "only" fear of judicial punishment or social shame or dishonor or loss of status. But all of these systems (religion included) offer carrots as well as sticks.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by coopasonic »

Zaxxon posted this last year, but if anyone missed it, I find it relevant to the conversation: https://waitbutwhy.com/2019/08/story-of-us.html
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Skinypupy »

Holman wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:10 pm
All morality, whatever the narrative source, is based on both ideals and fear.
Not sure I agree.

Ideals? Absolutely. Fear? Maybe in some things, but I would very rarely consider fear to be an overarching factor in what guides my moral compass (speaking as an atheist). Fear of punishment is not what keeps me from murdering or beating others. Fear of getting caught isn't what keeps me from stealing. I refrain from doing those things because I try to live my life in a way that will not harm others...and actively doing any of those things would cause harm.

I'm not sure there's any element of fear that guides that decision.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Holman »

Skinypupy wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:36 pm
Holman wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:10 pm
All morality, whatever the narrative source, is based on both ideals and fear.
Not sure I agree.

Ideals? Absolutely. Fear? Maybe in some things, but I would very rarely consider fear to be an overarching factor in what guides my moral compass (speaking as an atheist). Fear of punishment is not what keeps me from murdering or beating others. Fear of getting caught isn't what keeps me from stealing. I refrain from doing those things because I try to live my life in a way that will not harm others...and actively doing any of those things would cause harm.

I'm not sure there's any element of fear that guides that decision.
You presumably have a very comfortable life, as do I. The carrots work great for you and me. That's one of the benefits of society for people at our level.

Now suppose you find yourself in desperately poor circumstances with no likely improvement available. Immoral and criminal opportunities are easier to find than legitimate ones. What holds you back from stealing or worse? Sheer high-mindedness?
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Kraken »

When I was a small child I had the fear of God and hellfire driven into me, so I can't discount religion as my source of morality, even though I stopped believing in any of that by adolescence. As an adult, I believe that what goes around comes around. Karma, the Golden Rule, however you want to put it. If you try to be kind and cooperative, most others will treat you the same.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Skinypupy »

Holman wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:41 pm
Skinypupy wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:36 pm
Holman wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:10 pm
All morality, whatever the narrative source, is based on both ideals and fear.
Not sure I agree.

Ideals? Absolutely. Fear? Maybe in some things, but I would very rarely consider fear to be an overarching factor in what guides my moral compass (speaking as an atheist). Fear of punishment is not what keeps me from murdering or beating others. Fear of getting caught isn't what keeps me from stealing. I refrain from doing those things because I try to live my life in a way that will not harm others...and actively doing any of those things would cause harm.

I'm not sure there's any element of fear that guides that decision.
You presumably have a very comfortable life, as do I. The carrots work great for you and me. That's one of the benefits of society for people at our level.

Now suppose you find yourself in desperately poor circumstances with no likely improvement available. Immoral and criminal opportunities are easier to find than legitimate ones. What holds you back from stealing or worse? Sheer high-mindedness?
That's a very good point, thanks for pointing out the privilege blind spot. Will definitely have to give that some thought.

I'd like to say I would have the same high standards when faced with desperate circumstances, but it's entirely possible that could change. I am fairly confident to say that fear of eternal damnation from a higher power wouldn't factor into the decision though. :)
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Holman »

Skinypupy wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 5:15 pm
That's a very good point, thanks for pointing out the privilege blind spot. Will definitely have to give that some thought.
It's a complex issue, but I think the biggest carrot of all is the security that the system will basically work in your favor (or at least not directly victimize you) if you follow its rules. But of course there are whole communities of people for whom the opposite is true, and there the moral rules (or at least our moral rules) break down.
I'd like to say I would have the same high standards when faced with desperate circumstances, but it's entirely possible that could change. I am fairly confident to say that fear of eternal damnation from a higher power wouldn't factor into the decision though. :)
Oh, of course. But the religious "stick" isn't the only one out there. There's a reason prison is allowed (designed) to be such a Hell on earth.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by gameoverman »

I'm not religious, and haven't been since I was a kid. However, I am aware that how my parents raised me was influenced by religion because they did believe in some kind of God. I know this because I talked about religion with them and they were against organized religion but not against religious beliefs. Example: Such and such religion is BS, it's just about collecting money. But they could still believe in God since in their view such a God would not require ministers/priest/whatever to tell people what's what.

What this means is I think my moral beliefs are informed by religion whether I myself am religious or not. Even so I think most moral beliefs are self evidently 'right'. For instance, do we really need someone to tell us that murdering people is wrong? Let's say we lived in a culture where I could freely go out and kill whoever I felt like killing and no law or rules are against that. Sounds good right? I can take revenge on people, go all vigilante on criminals, etc. There's one obvious problem though. This would mean other people would be free to kill me! Uh, now that doesn't sound so good. That's why it's best we outlaw murder. It has nothing to do with religion.

This is why I think people would have some morality even if not exposed to any religion. If babies were raised on a desert island they'd come up with their own moral code. They might even invent their own religion for the purpose of providing a framework for that moral code. What wouldn't happen is that they'd have neither a moral code or religion just because it wasn't provided for them.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Smoove_B »

In case anyone wants to read a really good book on it (well, I found it to be a good book), I humbly submit The Science of Good and Evil:
In The Science of Good and Evil, science historian Michael Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates; how and why morality motivates the human animal; and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence.

Along the way he explains the implications of scientific findings for fate and free will, the existence of pure good and pure evil, and the development of early moral sentiments among the first humans. As he closes the divide between science and morality, Shermer draws on stories from the Yanamamö, infamously known as the "fierce people" of the tropical rain forest, to the Stanford studies on jailers' behavior in prisons. The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Jeff V »

My basis of morality is to simply not be an asshole. I do not advocate things that would make me a shitty person. Religion has nothing to do with it, it's all a matter of a society that I'd like to live in.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Holman »

Jeff V wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:56 pm
My basis of morality is to simply not be an asshole. I do not advocate things that would make me a shitty person. Religion has nothing to do with it, it's all a matter of a society that I'd like to live in.
You didn't come up with any of that yourself, though. There's no independent way to define "asshole" or "shitty person" without the social/historical/cultural (and, yes, religious) environment of your upbringing.
Last edited by Holman on Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Jaymann »

Jeff V wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:56 pm
My basis of morality is to simply not be an asshole. I do not advocate things that would make me a shitty person. Religion has nothing to do with it, it's all a matter of a society that I'd like to live in.
I love that idea.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by hepcat »

My basis of morality is that if I think you NEED the last churro, I’ll let you have it. But if you simply WANT the last churro, I’ll cut you down where you stand.

So basically my love of churros is where my morality both begins and ends.

Man I love churros.
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Grifman »

I am going to reply here to some of the replies to me in the Trump vs. Biden thread:

Remus said:
Religious morality is arbitrary too. I believe mankind can be moral without a guiding "extra" power to make us so. Your statement there makes it seem like we need that guiding hand to make it happen.
I was speaking to Paingod on his own terms, assuming atheism is true. If religion is true, then religious morality is not arbitrary at all. It is rooted in God's character.

And I don't get how you can say that I said we need that guiding hand to make it happen since I clearly stated the following:
Yet many/most atheists attempt to live what we would call a moral life.

Geezer said:
It’s late, and I’m not on a keyboard, so just, “bullshit” (at least insofar as religion - in practice just as human a construct as ethics - creates anything more absolute.)
Again, I was speaking to atheism on it's own terms. If atheism is correct, there is no necessarily objective reason to act moral. If you can get away with a crime and profit from it, why not?

If religion is true, then morality is real. Given the terms of the discussion, you can't just circumvent it by saying "Reliigion is bullshit". The issue isn't whether religion or atheism is true but how each accounts for morality.


Blackhawk said:
Emphasis mine. If it is compelled, is it truly moral?
I am talking of a moral compulsion, an inward need or desire to act morally not an external compulsion such as the law. Sorry if I did not make that clear. I would agree, just doing something because you feel an outward threat is nothing you should gain any "credit" for.


Isgrimnur said

Image

See, this is what gripes me, when atheists don't even understand what they are critiquing. Though there are "divine" rewards, that is not what "doing good" is about, not even close. In Christianity, doing good is really rooted in one thing - the character/image of God. First, we are called to emulate God and act in a way that models him. Secondly, because humans are made in the image of God, we are called to love our fellow man, no matter how imperfect we may be.

If you are going to critique religion, at least critique it accurately, not based upon caricature.


Paingod said:
If someone believes religion is the only thing making a person truly moral, then they must be a fucking monster just below the surface.
I never said that. I instead noted that many/most atheists try to live "moral" lives.
Atheist morality comes from understanding that good and right things help everyone in society survive and thrive in peace and happiness, not because someone's threatening to spank them if they don't.
But that's not rooted in science or the physical world. That's a metaphysical position. How do you know that survival and peace and happiness are "good" things? Science certainly doesn't tell you that. That's just your opinion. And what if someone disagrees with you? What is someone is a "Joker" character a la Batman, who enjoys seeing suffering and chaos. Why is your view on "peace and happiness" more valid that theirs?
This one particular argument that religious people wheel out any time they're challenged by an atheist is probably the single most repugnant and closed-minded thing they can say. It insinuates that if not for the rules of society, we'd be out there eating babies and raping men/women until we were exhausted - and that's as far from the truth as you can get. See also: The countless examples of absolutely inhumane, criminal, and irredeemably evil acts committed throughout history under the guise of "religious moral superiority".
Again, that's not anywhere close to what I was saying. You asked for a contradiction that atheists live with and I gave you one. In fact, as I noted, my contradiction assumes that many/most atheists try to live moral lives despite not having any objective reason to do so.


Lawbeefaroni said:
Atheist morality and religious morality, both forms of philosophical altruism, could very well have the same root source: biological altruism.
That may be true, but it describes how morality may come about but it does't explain "why" we should follow that morality.


Holman said:
But I can't resist throwing out there that modern Western Europe is probably the closest thing we've ever had to a genuinely atheistic civilization (not just officially atheistic, like the USSR), and its rates of violent crime are among the lowest in the world.

Murder rates (not just killing, as in warfare, but actual murder between civilians) were much, much higher in Europe when it was culturally unified as religious Christendom.

EDIT: Of course I don't mean to imply a linear relation between atheism and morality: prosperity and the social safety net probably have more to do with it than irreligion does. But it's notable that a culture where God is more or less gone from the public sphere can do better than almost anyone on objective measures of ethical behavior.
First off, one could argue that Western Europe is living off of its Christian heritage, that it has absorbed Christian morality. Secondly you may not have cause and effect right. Europe may not see as much warfare now because of the impact of WW1 and WW2, not because of the decline of religion. Thirdly you are cherry picking your data. I suspect the millions killed and imprisoned in the atheist states of the USSR, Communist China, North Korea, and the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge would have a very different opinion regarding the peace and happiness of atheist societies. :)
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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by gbasden »

Grifman wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:02 pm

If religion is true, then religious morality is not arbitrary at all. It is rooted in God's character.

See, this is what gripes me, when atheists don't even understand what they are critiquing. Though there are "divine" rewards, that is not what "doing good" is about, not even close. In Christianity, doing good is really rooted in one thing - the character/image of God. First, we are called to emulate God and act in a way that models him. Secondly, because humans are made in the image of God, we are called to love our fellow man, no matter how imperfect we may be.
If this is true, how do you reconcile the different faces of God in the old and new testaments? Old testament God is vindictive and spiteful and kind of a dick compared with the teachings of the new testament.
Grifman wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:02 pm
I suspect the millions killed and imprisoned in the atheist states of the USSR, Communist China, North Korea, and the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge would have a very different opinion regarding the peace and happiness of atheist societies. :)
You could just as easily divide this into totalitarian vs. democratic regimes rather than atheist vs. religious. Unchecked power corrupts whether it's Stalin or the Spanish Inquisition.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Isgrimnur »

I wasn't critiquing religion, merely a subset of its adherents.

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Re: Basis of Morality

Post by Holman »

Grifman wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:02 pm
Holman said:
But I can't resist throwing out there that modern Western Europe is probably the closest thing we've ever had to a genuinely atheistic civilization (not just officially atheistic, like the USSR), and its rates of violent crime are among the lowest in the world.

Murder rates (not just killing, as in warfare, but actual murder between civilians) were much, much higher in Europe when it was culturally unified as religious Christendom.

EDIT: Of course I don't mean to imply a linear relation between atheism and morality: prosperity and the social safety net probably have more to do with it than irreligion does. But it's notable that a culture where God is more or less gone from the public sphere can do better than almost anyone on objective measures of ethical behavior.
First off, one could argue that Western Europe is living off of its Christian heritage, that it has absorbed Christian morality. Secondly you may not have cause and effect right. Europe may not see as much warfare now because of the impact of WW1 and WW2, not because of the decline of religion.
I specifically excluded killing in warfare in my comment. Medieval and renaissance Christians killed neighbors and strangers in numbers that were pretty shocking by our standards. The same goes for other violent crimes such as assault. I don't even think pogroms are included in these numbers.
Thirdly you are cherry picking your data. I suspect the millions killed and imprisoned in the atheist states of the USSR, Communist China, North Korea, and the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge would have a very different opinion regarding the peace and happiness of atheist societies. :)
In one of my posts I added that I wasn't implying a straight relationship between atheism and morality, just that modern Europe exists as an example of an atheist culture with high levels of moral behavior. I also suggested that prosperity, comfort, and the existence of a fair social safety net probably has a great deal to do with it. I'd add now that prosperity and comfort, at least, are pretty much lacking under oppressive regimes regardless of their particular ideology.

In short, if it's possible for an irreligious society such as modern Western Europe to be relatively moral and for a devotedly religious society such as medieval Europe to be immorally cruel, we can at least say that religion isn't the sole determinant of public morality.
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Jaymon
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Re: Basis of Morality

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Question, why do you believe that western Europe is an atheist culture ? What evidence or cultural behaviors point you to that?
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Re: Basis of Morality

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Grifman wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:02 pm
Paingod wrote:If someone believes religion is the only thing making a person truly moral, then they must be a fucking monster just below the surface.
I never said that. I instead noted that many/most atheists try to live "moral" lives.
I know you didn't say that. I did, and it's how I feel. If a person assumes I lack morality because I don't follow one of the literally ten thousand mythologies that have been punted around since the dawn of humanity, then I naturally assume that means they lack morality and only act moral because of a threat of punishment in the afterlife. I.E., they must be a monster who only wears the mask of morality as a pass into heaven.
Grifman wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:02 pm
If religion is true, then morality is real.
Religion = Morality? I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say the two are not inextricably linked. Religion and morality are two very different concepts. Binding them together is a self-serving approach. Peanut Butter Cups taste great. That doesn't mean Chocolate = Peanut Butter. Peanut butter by itself can be wonderful without chocolate, and you can love peanut butter and hate chocolate. There can also be a lot of people who love chocolate but hate peanut butter.
Grifman wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:02 pm
Atheist morality comes from understanding that good and right things help everyone in society survive and thrive in peace and happiness, not because someone's threatening to spank them if they don't.
But that's not rooted in science or the physical world. That's a metaphysical position. How do you know that survival and peace and happiness are "good" things? Science certainly doesn't tell you that. That's just your opinion. And what if someone disagrees with you? What is someone is a "Joker" character a la Batman, who enjoys seeing suffering and chaos. Why is your view on "peace and happiness" more valid that theirs?
How in the frog butters does that even make sense? Humanity, as a whole, sans religious influence, has always functioned better when everyone works in some form of relative harmony with each other and it's pretty well documented that a society that treats everyone well has less strife, suffering, and chaos. A society of "Jokers" would implode within a week after they started eating each other because no one was even bothering to grow food.

You're asking for proof of morality without religion - a scientific basis - when your own stance has no scientific basis itself. But I mean, if you need a study, they've made them. You just have to be willing to do a Google search.

Christopher Hitchens sums it up better than I can:
"I think our knowledge of right and wrong is innate in us. Religion gets its morality from humans. We know that we can't get along if we permit perjury, theft, murder, rape, all societies at all times, well before the advent of monarchies and certainly, have forbidden it... Socrates called his daemon, it was an inner voice that stopped him when he was trying to take advantage of someone... Why don't we just assume that we do have some internal compass?"[14]
I've been listening to this YouTuber for a little while now. He's a convert from evangelical to atheist and he discusses a lot of points between the two, and he's all about finding the science and facts - as well as seeing things from the religious side, which I can't.
Last edited by Paingod on Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basis of Morality

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Jaymon wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:01 pm
Question, why do you believe that western Europe is an atheist culture ? What evidence or cultural behaviors point you to that?
In western Europe there is very little *public* appeal to religion or to a basis in the divine. Law, government, education, etc are conducted in a secular context. Even in the countries with an official state church (such as the UK), religion is far removed from public life for the connection to be a mere formality. It's difficult to imagine a major western European political party being in thrall to a religious movement the way to GOP is to the Christian Right, for example.

Obviously there are plenty of believers in Europe, but even the nature of belief there seems different from (for example) the U.S. Fewer people use the language of God acting directly in their lives or believing in miracles. Of course there are pockets of exception to this, I know.

In short, I call western Europe an atheist culture not because its laws or constitutions make it so but because it has moved so much farther towards religion fading away into something entirely private and unobtrusive.
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Re: Basis of Morality

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I like the term "secular culture" as opposed to atheist, which, though inaccurate, connotes a stance of being anti-religion.
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Re: Basis of Morality

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Jaymann wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:57 pm
I like the term "secular culture" as opposed to atheist, which, though inaccurate, connotes a stance of being anti-religion.
That's more accurate. I'll agree. I was using "atheist" as the absence of God, not a rejection of Her.
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Re: Basis of Morality

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Holman wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:36 pm
Jaymon wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:01 pm
Question, why do you believe that western Europe is an atheist culture ? What evidence or cultural behaviors point you to that?
In western Europe there is very little *public* appeal to religion or to a basis in the divine. Law, government, education, etc are conducted in a secular context. Even in the countries with an official state church (such as the UK), religion is far removed from public life for the connection to be a mere formality. It's difficult to imagine a major western European political party being in thrall to a religious movement the way to GOP is to the Christian Right, for example.

Obviously there are plenty of believers in Europe, but even the nature of belief there seems different from (for example) the U.S. Fewer people use the language of God acting directly in their lives or believing in miracles. Of course there are pockets of exception to this, I know.

In short, I call western Europe an atheist culture not because its laws or constitutions make it so but because it has moved so much farther towards religion fading away into something entirely private and unobtrusive.
Maybe, like me, they are big fans of Matthew 6, 5:6. As a person who was raised Catholic, I was big into the going to Church every Sunday. I even went to Catholic School from K through high school. I've stopped being a regular worshipper but even back then I didn't say "God this" or "God that". If it weren't for the school uniforms you probably wouldn't even know I was Catholic.

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Re: Basis of Morality

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My belief is that the basis of morality is part biological imperative and part life experience. That life experience may be influenced by religious texts and leaders. Even if those religious texts came from some divine source, many versions of them encapsulate hate in various ways like racism, sexism and homophobia. Add in the fact that so often religion is used to commit and conceal atrocities, you'll have to forgive me for thinking religion is not the beacon of morality for humanity.

I try to do good. I also fail. More than I would like I learn that my humor is hurtful. It's the humor gained through experience. I saw the simple, aggressive humor of my uncles and multiplied it with a cleverness they lacked in a way that has cost me friends. My point is that I want to do good and be kind to people, but my experience has introduced flaws. As I become more self-aware I try to fix it, just like some religious texts have been changed or expanded over the years to address some issues.

At the macro level we have laws which act as a backstop to what we've experienced and been taught. Laws aren't morality, though. In fact, I'm learning some of them could (should?) be considered immoral (see the War on Drugs, ICE, etc).

Anyway, if there is some divine entity that created us and judges us delivering an eternity of consequence. I really hope he isn't the Old Testament God. If we've fucked it all up, well, he made us. Do you blame the soufflé for falling or the chef who made it. Sure, the soufflé doesn't have free will and maybe we do. Who thought that was a good idea? As a guy with a car that drives itself, sometimes autonomy isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Note: I am not a religious or ethical scholar so go easy on me.

After re-reading all of that I think it lacks a coherent point. But what the hell, I bothered typing it so I'll leave it!
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Re: Basis of Morality

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Jaymann wrote:
Jeff V wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:56 pm
My basis of morality is to simply not be an asshole. I do not advocate things that would make me a shitty person. Religion has nothing to do with it, it's all a matter of a society that I'd like to live in.
I love that idea.
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Re: Basis of Morality

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This crossed my feed recently:
Interview with a primatologist about empathy and morality among other primate species.
De Waal’s body of work adds up to a sustained argument against human exceptionalism. His 2013 book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, takes aim at critics and dissenters—anthropologists, behaviorists, Christian fundamentalists—and at the “strident atheism” of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. De Waal, a non-believer himself, sees religion as an offshoot of our biological drive to do good.
The interview doesn't touch on it directly, but the phrase "biological drive to do good" pushes against the naive theistic argument that "good" can't be defined without reference to the divine. After all (this argument says), ideas can say anything, so how would humans know good from evil unless a higher power defined them for us?

The interview partakes of the view that moral behavior has a biological basis in assisting and preserving the well-being of others, with the interesting additional note that primates actually don't limit their altruism just to members of their own social group.
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