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Switch to Forum Live View Is there any issue in modern life than can't be reduced to a moral position without God?
9 years ago  ::  Mar 31, 2009 - 12:47PM #1
artboyz
Posts: 293

Believers say the essential benefit of faith to society is the moral compass it provides. I suggest that not only can we come to universally moral solutions to any problem without God, but that religion often leads us to the wrong response and interferes with solving problems.


Can we put some issues on the table and see how my theory holds up?

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 31, 2009 - 4:38PM #2
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,212

How about thou shalt have no other God before me?




How is an atheist going to find a moral arbitrator without God?

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 3:16AM #3
Norm_uk
Posts: 74

Mar 31, 2009 -- 4:38PM, Jcarlinbn wrote:


How about thou shalt have no other God before me?




How is an atheist going to find a moral arbitrator without God?




 


Why does an atheist (or anyone) need a moral arbitrator?


The only morality that is valid is anything which promotes the survival and well being of the human race...anything else should be treated as untrustworthy.


Morality is also something to be debated. The bible condone's slavery and polygamy yet most Christians and Jew do not follow these things today...if we want to place the last word with God the question remains...which God?


 


N.


 

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 3:38AM #4
Eudaimonist
Posts: 2,036

Apr 1, 2009 -- 3:16AM, Norm_uk wrote:

The only morality that is valid is anything which promotes the survival and well being of the human race...



Why this?


Not that I necessarily disagree with you, but a Christian will likely insist that, without a Creator God to create a moral standard and purpose for us, then all we have are arbitrary opinions about morality that carry no weight.


 


eudaimonia,

Mark

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 3:58AM #5
sparrowhawk
Posts: 13

I think the question at the heart of this is what causes an action to be moral or immoral.  From my perspective, the morality of an action is determined by whether it tends to cause harm or not; if that's the basis of morality, then of course I don't need to resort to God to tell me if something causes harm or not, so I don't need God for morality.  (In fact I'd argue that religion detracts from morality under this framework, since it encouranges people to make decisions based on what they think God wants instead of what causes harm.)


However, many theists (Divine Command theorists, to be specific) think that the morality is an action is determined by what God thinks about it.  Recently a Muslim acquaintance discovered I was an atheist, and immediately questioned me on how I can be moral without religion.  The two moral issues he brought up were (a) modest dress and (b) drinking alcohol.  Now, I don't think either of these is a moral issue, but most Muslims do.  So from a Muslim perspective, I can't be moral without religion, because simply avoiding actions that harm others isn't enough to constitute morality.


 


So it seems to me that to argue that morality is possible without religion, we first have to debunk Divine Command theory.  Otherwise, theists can easily throw out "moral" issues that they think we need God to resolve, but which we don't necessarily see as moral issues at all, like the importance of wearing hijab.

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 10:32AM #6
Blü
Posts: 26,191

Our morality is based on certain genetic imperatives.


First, we need to survive.


Second, we need to breed.  And since we're mammals, we need not only to copulate but to have instincts both in mother and in offspring to suckle the infant.  And since we're humans and give birth to infants who are helpless for the first five years or more, we need pair bonding and male participation in the offspring's survival.


Third, we're also gregarious, so we need instincts suitable for communal living - a sense of peck order, cooperation and tribe.


Fourth, we're also primates.  A common feature of primates is that their societies are ordered by forming one-to-one relationships and climbing (or failing to climb) the social ladder in this way.  The larger the primate brain, the more relationships are routinely involved for any individual, and humans have the largest primate brain.


On top of that we have educated values and morals, which we learn from our parents, our education and our society.  This tells us how to hold a fork, whether we give or demand dowries for our daughters, who gets to serve in the army, and how to deal with noisy neighbors.


I don't see where supernatural beings are implied, let alone necessary, for any of that.


 


Cripes, I'd like a buck for every time I've said this around here.

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 10:43AM #7
artboyz
Posts: 293

Mar 31, 2009 -- 4:38PM, Jcarlinbn wrote:


How about thou shalt have no other God before me?


How is an atheist going to find a moral arbitrator without God?




I was curious about issues not relating to religion specifically. Assuming we all share the world and face similar issues; how does faith, or lack thereof, affect how we resolve them; and is there a trend of effectiveness one way or the other? We often complain to theists that their worldview is divorced from reality. I 'd like to discuss the specific instances where religious solutions to real modern problems are problematic; and often exacerbate the problem. Conversely, let's talk about how secular solutions work, even if sometimes counter intuitive. Such as: legalizing drugs to reduce drug abuse; reducing poverty to battle abortion, etc.

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 2:18PM #8
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,212

Please Welcome sparrowhawk


to Discuss Atheism and to beliefnet.

Thanks for joining us.


You might also want to check out the Atheism & Secular Philosophies board, it is a bit less contentious.


Apr 1, 2009 -- 3:58AM, sparrowhawk wrote:


 Recently a Muslim acquaintance discovered I was an atheist, and immediately questioned me on how I can be moral without religion.  The two moral issues he brought up were (a) modest dress and (b) drinking alcohol.  Now, I don't think either of these is a moral issue, but most Muslims do.  So from a Muslim perspective, I can't be moral without religion, because simply avoiding actions that harm others isn't enough to constitute morality.


 


A special welcome to a "Muslim atheist."  That must be interesting, to say the least. 


The question I ask on issues like this is what are the biases of the interpreter for God.  Paul in the case of Christians and Muhammad for Muslims.  They are of course supposed to have direct communication with God but they were men, and had the sexist prejudices of men of that era when male mortality rates from incessant wars and territorial battles made fecundity a primary "virtue" for women. 

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2009 - 4:05PM #9
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,212

Apr 1, 2009 -- 3:16AM, Norm_uk wrote:


if we want to place the last word with God the question remains...which God?


N.



I think the more important question is whose God.  The God of Fred Phelps, while similar to the God of Pope Benedict, is quite different from the God of Bishop Spong yet all claim the Christian God, roughly derived from Paul. There are similar differences in the mediators for the Muslim Allah. Allah may be the one true God, but you certainly get confusing messages from the leaders of the various groups of Muslims around the world. 


It is also amusing to notice which particular morals of God the various mediators choose to promote.  The ones most notably absent are the words attributed to Jesus about loving ones neighbor, and not judging others.  Not surprising as Paul regretted his mistake of basing his Christ on Jesus in the first place.     





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9 years ago  ::  Apr 02, 2009 - 6:52AM #10
sparrowhawk
Posts: 13

Thanks for the welcome, J'Carlin!  To clarify, though, I've never been Muslim; I just live in a Muslim country.  Grew up Christian (dad is a minister, mum is a former nun), nearly went to seminary myself, moved to the Muslim world and subsequently became an atheist.


I'm also technically not new to Beliefnet, having been a Bnet addict during the website's first few years.  (I used to moderate the Progressive Christianity and Homosexuality Challenge & Critique boards.)  But I've been away for a good long while... it's fun to be back.  :-)


(Also, it's off-topic, but Muslims would not agree that Muhammad is the interpreter for God, nor that he could possibly have introduced any biases in to the Qur'an, which they see as an eternal and uncreated revelation.)

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