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Thread: Common question now?

  1. #1 Common question now? 
    Forum Sophomore Brandon's Avatar
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    Does science destroy religion?

    Do most scientists believe religion is harmful?

    Do most scientists believe with out religion people may have less morale values and modivation to persuse happiness?( fuel the economy?)

    I watched a few very interesting documentaries with a few scientists, philosifers and theorists that discussed the very basics and they all seemed to come to this same conclusion. Im only wondering if it is a more popular idea yet.. any input for discussion is appreciated..


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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Does science destroy religion?

    Do most scientists believe religion is harmful?

    Do most scientists believe with out religion people may have less morale values and modivation to persuse happiness?( fuel the economy?)

    I watched a few very interesting documentaries with a few scientists, philosifers and theorists that discussed the very basics and they all seemed to come to this same conclusion. Im only wondering if it is a more popular idea yet.. any input for discussion is appreciated..
    1. Does science destroy religion. No, why would it?

    2. Do most scientist believe religion is harmful? Find a poll. I don't know of another way to determine what "most scientists" think. Also, when many people discuss what "scientists" think, they answer as if their particular area of science is all encompassing and that a host of scientists in a myriad of scientific disciplines all think the same way.

    3. Do most scientists believe ...... Same answer. Find a poll. Even then I am not sure why the opinion of scientists on either the economy or society is relevant. Scientists are not economists and scientists are not political leaders. Scientists are no more experts in these disciplines than are taxi drivers.

    What conclusion did your documentaries find?


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    Maybe you are missing my point.. but answered my questions as well.. its not really a common question like I thought.Its not really complicated.. but is a lot to explain. I watched a series called "the atheism tapes". I think it is a form of studying religion from a scientific point of view. The conclusion is a matter of opionion but leads to say that science does destroy religion. And those all interviewed believe religion is harmful because faith causes massive wars. The documentary is well worth watching if you are interested in anything I have said..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Maybe you are missing my point.. but answered my questions as well.. its not really a common question like I thought.Its not really complicated.. but is a lot to explain. I watched a series called "the atheism tapes". I think it is a form of studying religion from a scientific point of view. The conclusion is a matter of opionion but leads to say that science does destroy religion. And those all interviewed believe religion is harmful because faith causes massive wars. The documentary is well worth watching if you are interested in anything I have said..
    Hi Brandon:

    I think I will pass on the "atheism tapes". They don't sound like science to me, but something designed to heap derision on religion and call it "science". I am passing on reviewing them because it is possible that very important aspects of our lives may be dependent on the environment we place ourselves in. Physical fitness is a good example. Creativity may be another example.

    You have told me enough already for me to reach this conclusion about these tapes by noting that the atheist tapes claim "massive wars" come from religion. I am not a foreign policy expert. However, I have read a few papers on "the cause of war" and genocide.

    You know, I have not seen "religion" emerge as a "cause of war" in the papers and chapters from books I have read on this subject. Thus, this is pure atheist propaganda. To be balanced though, theists do sometimes say the same thing and may attribute the great genocides of the 20th Century to the "atheist triad" of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler. If atheists respond to this argument, they try to give Hitler back to the theists and say "Hitler was your guy." There is a Wikipedia article on Hitler's religious beliefs and he was not a practicing theist.

    Anyway, if you want to look at the "cause of war" and genocide from an objective (scientific) standpoint then the cause of war and genocide is not known. Whatever causes these things, it is not religion or even atheism. Rather, the evidence seems to be more consistent with the idea that group violence is caused by something that can effect both atheists and the religious.

    It is worth studying this because of one particular aspect of war that is unsettling, at least to me. Most theories of war causation deal with the international system around the time of war. These theories do not address a statistical law that applies to interstate war called a "power law". The power law means that the relationship between war frequency and war intensity is constant for interstate wars and this has been studied for at least European wars for the last several hundred years. Thus, a logarithmic plot of war frequency vs. war intensity (as a percentage of population killed) will be a straight line for all wars in regions that have been studied. This statistical observation is called "Richardson's Law".

    The cause of "Richardson's Law" is unknown and most theories of war causation do not attempt to explain it. However, at least one investigator has speculated that Richardson's law means that all wars have the same (unknown) cause.

    This is unsettling if you look at other systems that are governed by a "power law". For example, one "power law" governed system is called the "percolation model" or "forest fire" model. If you do a computer simulation of this model then the computer will allow "fuel in the forest" (dry wood etc.) build up until lightning strikes start fires of various sizes. The relationship between fire intensity and frequency follows a power law.

    In the percolation model, if you inhibit lightning strikes, then the system does something alarming. If you inhibit lightning strikes enough while fuel builds up in the forest, then at some point a rare lightning strike will cause the entire forest to burn to the ground.

    This is a concern because if you think of the likely effect of nuclear weapons on war, then nuclear weapons should "inhibit lightning strikes". Thus, nuclear weapons may not prevent war, they may only delay war until the unknown "cause of war" builds up to the point when these weapons will be used.

    On the other hand, if we could isolate the "cause of war", and reduce it, then you might literally save a couple billion people. At least one investigator has run computer simulations on a percolation / sand pile type of power law controlled system that showed that when the unknown "fuel" is reduced by about 30% from the level where big wars occur (current state), then the big spikes (world wars) seem to disappear from the simulation. This means that world war may be a preventable event.

    Nevertheless, this is just one example of a problem that is currently unsolved, and may remain unsolved without some advances in "collective intelligence", or ways that different people can link up to solve a problem together.

    I hope this does not sound like a rant. I am consciously trying not to just "disagree", but to add something to a post that tries to move people more toward "collective problem solving" to see what works and what doesn't.

    I may be missing your point also. This is the scientific study of religion section not the foreign policy section. If you were more interested in atheism vs. science then I am not aware of a legitimate conflict between religion and science, and many people who spend their lives in science, including myself, are practicing religious. I practice my religion because when I sought God, a series of events occurred that convinced me that: 1. God exists. 2. God's nature is good. It seemed to me that these events where specifically designed to convey both "messages". They were not designed to convey #1 without #2.

    In my opinion, this is the basis for the inability of science to prove (or disprove) the existence of God from a reproducible scientific perspective. I believe that God does not want people to accept that He exists without understanding some things about His nature.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Best,

    Dedo
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    OK first, look at iraq. There "god" aliha or whoever directly tells them to go on suicide bombings for their religion.. Not harmful??
    Second, there are quite a few countries that love technology, but do not want to teach the "mayjor" science courses in there country because the leaders directly believe that science destroies religion. I could go on but its better to just watch them, total about 3 hrs long, 6 interviews.

    Yes it is a matter of opinion. I understand that. You can disagree thats awesome. But If you had the time to watch the documentary, then disagree, it would make a better argument. It is a very interseting documentary, No matter what your faith is. Im not an Athiest, I believe in a type of budda or something, im too young to just pick a random god to worship. Its just interesting on a global scale from my point of view. They basicly compare the effects of religion on a global scale, then ask what is modern science changing?

    I thought it was going to be a dumb show and give up half way through, but it was the opposite. Well worth watchin them all.
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    I don't know when I would have time to review the documentary Brandon. However, I will keep it in mind. There is a book called: "The Psychology of War" by Leshan that discusses rhetoric coming from leaders and individuals just prior to engaging in war or group violence. Leshan notes that "mythic" rhetoric involving some grand fear or grand quest is very common.

    So whether a person says he is going to kill for his perverted view of religion, or for some perverted view of a grand society (Marxism, Nazism), it is really the same sort of thinking.
    The belligerents are are creating a grandiose mindset to justify violence. This is likely more a symptom than a cause.
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    I see exactly what you are saying. I dont know anything that the nazi's believed. I dont really want to know either haha. Its jus a great documentary. And I wondered how most people/scientists (because its a science forum) felt about the subject.
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    Some points to consider.
    1. Human behavior is complex, and cannot usually be reduced to a simple formula. It could be that some religious beliefs would discourage war in some cases and encourage it in others. Non-wars are not usually written up in history books.
    2. Not all religions are the same.
    3. Animals, for example chimpanzees, have wars without benefit of any religion.
    4. There have been atheistic regimes which conducted wars. Dedo mentioned a few.
    5. Religious beliefs evolve, and sometimes the interpretations differ. Thus some Christians have much different beliefs than other Christians although nominally tracing their beliefs to the same text. Often, the interpretation is colored by some selfish interest. For example, some Christians were slaveholders, others were abolitionists. The same is true for any other religions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    . . . For example, some Christians were slaveholders, others were abolitionists. The same is true for any other religions.
    A quote by Chris Hedges, the columnist, reiterates what you've said. (He may have been quoting someone else.)

    "Religion is good for good people, and bad for bad people."
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    Quote Originally Posted by PumaMan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    . . . For example, some Christians were slaveholders, others were abolitionists. The same is true for any other religions.
    A quote by Chris Hedges, the columnist, reiterates what you've said. (He may have been quoting someone else.)

    "Religion is good for good people, and bad for bad people."
    I don't think that is equivalent to what I wrote. I simply made an observation without labeling anyone as good or bad. His statement seems too general, and does not distinguish between different religions. All generalizations are false.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I don't think that is equivalent to what I wrote.
    Of course. I think I'll go back to my normal mode of reading/learning vs contribution. It's much easier.
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    Haha pumaman.. I understand what you are saying Harold and im not disagreeing with you. There is no experiment to conduct. But watching the documentary first we could make a hell of an arguement haha.. It would make a great thread if a few prople watched them and all had some different opinions on it.

    I found it on netflix last week, im sure it will be there for a while. yea its on youtube but is broken into sections. If your bored, check it out..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Does science destroy religion?
    I think there is some truth to this. A traditional role of religion was to explain or make some sense or order out of natural phenomena. So, lightning was Thor casting thunderbolts, etc. Now, the general idea among people who believe in God, is usually that God set off the big bang billions of years ago, then sat back and watched. It's is a much different concept. And of course, many people reason that if the biblical creation myths are wrong, then why believe any of it.

    Another function of religion is to explain normative values, like why people just don't go around killing one another. Here I think that the science explanation is much less satisfying. The science explanation is that traditions of behavior arose which benefited the successful cultures and allowed them to survive. These have been passed on from generation to generation. But then, knowing this, why should YOU follow those traditions? Is it just to gain acceptance and avoid punishment? I think people prefer to believe in something and internalize the moral values. This is just human nature. The scientific explanation leads to moral relativism.

    Cue angry response from atheists in 3.....2....1....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Does science destroy religion?
    Do most scientists believe religion is harmful?
    Science marginalises religion, and pushes it into a very narrow corner where it survives by declaring that science will never know everything. But the few gaps that are left for it to exploit are forever diminishing. The 'God of the Gaps' theory is true. In fact, religion loves gaps. Gaps in knowledge. Gaps in the fossil record. Gaps in morality. Open-mindedness is a gap. You name it, and religion loves gaps. If we could ever pick up on anything scientific in holy scripture, which was discovered later then we could take it more seriously. But there is nothing. Not even the value of PI, which the Bible gives as 3, when the earlier Greeks found a much closer approximation.
    I understand that a large percentage of scientists do believe in God. This could be as many as 50%, but I suspect that the figure is more to do with their enquiring minds than a blind faith. Church attendance is a good place to study human behaviour. Nobody can prove that there is a God and nobody can prove that there isn't, which leaves a choice of positive or negative belief.
    At the other end of the spectrum, some scientists believe that religion is a pernicious meme which somehow turns the population away from the truth and even leads to wars. Fantasy is more entertaining than fact.
    I would say ditch religion, stop worrying about it and get a life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The scientific explanation leads to moral relativism.
    What's wrong with moral relativism?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The scientific explanation leads to moral relativism.
    What's wrong with moral relativism?
    I don't think a society could function if everybody really behaved that way. It would mean you'd steal something any time you knew you wouldn't be caught, for example. This is not the way atheists typically behave. They get angry at perceived injustice. They act as though they have moral values. So, even if they intellectually believe in moral relativism, I think it is different on an emotional level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The scientific explanation leads to moral relativism.
    What's wrong with moral relativism?
    I don't think a society could function if everybody really behaved that way. It would mean you'd steal something any time you knew you wouldn't be caught, for example. This is not the way atheists typically behave. They get angry at perceived injustice. They act as though they have moral values. So, even if they intellectually believe in moral relativism, I think it is different on an emotional level.
    I happen to think that moral relativism is what is going on right now. We don't share all the same beliefs of moral righteousness. Our morals are sculpted by the environment we grown up in. The Polynesian peoples had no problem with cannibalism, but now abhor it due to western influence, for instance. As a humanist though, I do believe that we should be able to come up with a set of rules that would be to the benefit of everyone based on human dignity and empathy, but, because of moral relativism, it is not really practical at the moment.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    I don't think a society could function if everybody really behaved that way. It would mean you'd steal something any time you knew you wouldn't be caught, for example. This is not the way atheists typically behave. They get angry at perceived injustice. They act as though they have moral values. So, even if they intellectually believe in moral relativism, I think it is different on an emotional level.
    It's not an all or nothing proposition. I'm a moral relativist and fully recognize and have seen many examples of people's morals shaped by their environment. That being said, I live my life and try to shape society towards some basic rules, such as allowing people considerable freedom within that basic framework of not-harming others or the environment. Often people confuse willingness to break or flexible fixed rules as baseless moral relativism while completely ignoring that those same people who resist rigid rules can be every bit dedicated to principles as those that follow rigid rules. In fact many people follow rigid rules without even understanding any basic principle; in my experience far too many religious folks are in this category (e.g. they know steeling is wrong because some book says so, but can't articulate any reason as to the why.), blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous whether their source is religion or some godless philosophy such as Arab Nationalism, US Jingoisic neo-conservatism etc.

    We are also somewhat hard-wired for moral behaviors through mirror nerves and empathy. I watched this recently as my unit attended a pre-deployment ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan. I felt the tug of emotions from distressed families saying good-buy even though I was staying back to retire; looking around, there wasn't a dry eye in the place-even among the single Soldiers and those not leaving. Also, most social animals exhibit moral behaviors within their own group and I'd say they are neither moral relativist or religious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I watched this recently as my unit attended a pre-deployment ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan. I felt the tug of emotions from distressed families saying good-buy even though I was staying back to retire; . . .
    So, career military?
    Last edited by PumaMan; September 13th, 2011 at 02:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Does science destroy religion?

    Do most scientists believe religion is harmful?

    Do most scientists believe with out religion people may have less morale values and modivation to persuse happiness?( fuel the economy?)

    I watched a few very interesting documentaries with a few scientists, philosifers and theorists that discussed the very basics and they all seemed to come to this same conclusion. Im only wondering if it is a more popular idea yet.. any input for discussion is appreciated..
    Yes, everyone agree that religion can make people do stuff: either good or bad. It gave them hope, strenght, and bond people (into community), gave them faith and determination and stability. This idea is soo entrenched: even Hollywood made movie about it (eg: Book of eli).
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I happen to think that moral relativism is what is going on right now.
    Okay, but do you really think your set of values is neither better nor worse than those which were prevalent in Germany in 1939, say?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    I'm a moral relativist
    f
    many people follow rigid rules without even understanding any basic principle; in my experience far too many religious folks are in this category
    blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous
    This illustrates my point perfectly. While claiming to be a moral relativist you show a marked preference for your own values over someone else's, specifically those religious folks who follow rigid rules.
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    Interesting discussion. I conclude with massive data of history and using humans as an experiment. That this need to understand life as we know it started before any form of writing, or maybe before any basic language. Once people could speak to each other they shared ideas of reality. Some would be simialar, some different. Which divided them. Bascily my point is, needing to know the science of the world ten thousand years ago created religion. Now that new technology is around, new generations will abandon the idea of a man in the clouds with a finger pointing at you and causing miracles that science explains more an more with detail. New generaions like myself who don't dismiss what religion has taught us about how to function as a civil society. My main point, religion was a evoltuionary phase in science. But society will not forget how to function when more generations abandon the idea of god intersecting with our lives.. it would be dangerous to make the world instantly forget religion. But if it is phased out with new generations then human morale will not really change.
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    Okay, but do you really think your set of values is neither better nor worse than those which were prevalent in Germany in 1939, say?
    From a dispassionate, objective viewpoint? Yes, but not from a subjective, humanist perspective. I get your point though. A dispassionate, scientific perspective is not good for everything.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Bascily my point is, needing to know the science of the world ten thousand years ago created religion.
    I would tend to agree here, and would go as far as to say that it seems almost inevitable to me that as soon as a being reaches the point where they can think in the abstract, they will ask themselves, "Why am I here? Why is all this other stuff here around me?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Now that new technology is around, new generations will abandon the idea of a man in the clouds with a finger pointing at you and causing miracles that science explains more an more with detail. New generaions like myself who don't dismiss what religion has taught us about how to function as a civil society. My main point, religion was a evoltuionary phase in science. But society will not forget how to function when more generations abandon the idea of god intersecting with our lives.. it would be dangerous to make the world instantly forget religion. But if it is phased out with new generations then human morale will not really change.
    I tend to disagree here, as I doubt we will ever be able to scientifically explain where the universe came from, without introducing a bigger picture that also requires explanation, and there will always be the possibility that "God did it". Whilst religion might have formed as one way to understand the universe and our place in it, that doesn't mean religion is wrong to assume that "God did it". Even if science works out exactly how the universe works, there will always be the possibility that it works that way because God wanted it to work that way.

    I expect that there will always be religion, in some form or another, anywhere in the universe where there is intelligent life who hasn't worked out why the universe exists.
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    I agree with you speedfreak. Completely. Even if we did understand everything and where our universe came from it still comes down to your faith or belief. But would society evolve past the need for war with our own species? Or could science solve the reasons for war in a thousand years? If we can mass produce solar panels for every energy need we no longer wage wars for another persons rescources.. any other ideas of harm that science can solve that religion cannot?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Does science destroy religion?
    Do most scientists believe religion is harmful?
    Science marginalises religion, and pushes it into a very narrow corner where it survives by declaring that science will never know everything. But the few gaps that are left for it to exploit are forever diminishing. The 'God of the Gaps' theory is true. In fact, religion loves gaps. Gaps in knowledge. Gaps in the fossil record. Gaps in morality. Open-mindedness is a gap. You name it, and religion loves gaps. If we could ever pick up on anything scientific in holy scripture, which was discovered later then we could take it more seriously. But there is nothing. Not even the value of PI, which the Bible gives as 3, when the earlier Greeks found a much closer approximation.
    I understand that a large percentage of scientists do believe in God. This could be as many as 50%, but I suspect that the figure is more to do with their enquiring minds than a blind faith. Church attendance is a good place to study human behaviour. Nobody can prove that there is a God and nobody can prove that there isn't, which leaves a choice of positive or negative belief.
    At the other end of the spectrum, some scientists believe that religion is a pernicious meme which somehow turns the population away from the truth and even leads to wars. Fantasy is more entertaining than fact.
    I would say ditch religion, stop worrying about it and get a life.
    .
    To have some balance here, I think I will advise an alternative view from Ox's advice / perspective Brandon, because I believe his advice is a mistake.

    I will agree with Ox that my faith was strengthened from my "inquiring mind". For much of my life, my practice of religion may have come from a mindset similar to Pascal's wager eg. "I can't be sure God is there; however, if He is there I don't want to cross Him." So my participation in my religion was pretty superficial.

    Possibly out of curiosity, or a feeling that I had something missing from my life, I just decided to seek God more aggressively, to see for myself if He existed. It was then that things changed very quickly, and I gained a perspective about how God had been directing my life at key turning points for many years, and even my minimal participation was critical to my ability to perceive God's direction.

    I will just relate one example where I from my point of view, seeking God was important for me.

    I have never been that great at sports and I am no big risk taker. However, I love the water and I like to surf. Right after I started surfing, this guy in my neighborhood literally ran after my car while I was heading to the beach. I saw him and pulled over to chat. He was the head of a group called "Christian Surfers". We connected an went surfing a couple times and I learned from this guy to say a prayer before entering the water. Has it mattered? You be the judge:

    1. One of my favorite places to surf is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There is about a 100 miles of coastline there, and many, many, surf breaks. Twice, in the past 10 years I returned from a trip to this area and found out that someone was paralyzed riding waves at the exact break I was at.

    2. Once our neighbors were planning a trip to the west coast of Maui, and their son who was a beginning teenage surfer was excited to tell me about it. Surfers often tell each other about favorite spots and I knew a mellow spot on this side of Maui where the waves are small and the locals are friendly called "S-turns". I was about to mention this to the kid, and this bizarre feeling of danger came over me that I can only describe as a premonition. So I just didn't say anything to the kid about the break. The exact week that my neighbor's family was at west Maui, a surfer was killed by a Tiger shark at S-turns.

    Can these experiences be explained some other way? Of-course. However, for me, I cannot imagine an explanation or criticism that would convince me to not say a prayer before heading out.

    Thus, I disagree with Ox's advice to "ditch religion", because from my perspective the only reason that I made the right decision at critical turning points in my life is because my decision to seek God helped me to be able to hear God's direction at those critical junctions in life.
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    That's true dedo.. even wilder for me, 3 years ago right before christmas me an my fiance were struggling hard for money to even pay our rent. For no fuckin resaon a voice in my head tell me to drive 30 miles to buy a few scrtach off lottery tickets. And I won 5,000 dollars for no fuckin reason.. something drove me there to buy that next scratch off ticket and pure chance is hard for me to believe... I'm not dismissing religion is possible I'm just trying to understand the universe like all of us. My questions are a matter of perspective and opinion. I have been very lucky many times in life.. I personally feel my great grandma intervines my life with extrodonary events. The last thing I asked from her was to have a baby and now I have 2 crazy awesome daughters haha.. I'm trying to stick to the science discussion though. Basicly it relies on the awesome human experiances to cause belief or faith in anything. But there are so many religions how the hell can I pick one to warship when none are exactly what I believe so far. I talk to dam much I know haha
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    To be balanced though, theists do sometimes say the same thing and may attribute the great genocides of the 20th Century to the "atheist triad" of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler. If atheists respond to this argument, they try to give Hitler back to the theists and say "Hitler was your guy." There is a Wikipedia article on Hitler's religious beliefs and he was not a practicing theist.
    Here's the Wiki article referenced by dedo; Adolf Hitler's religious views - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Here's the section mentioning Hitler and atheism; Adolf Hitler's religious views - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    And here's some images relevant to Nazism and religion; gott mit uns images - Google Search

    And now for moral relativism. I am most certainly atheistic in the context of anthropic diety, but having reviewed the wiki on moral relativism I find that I tend toward a moral absolutism.
    Sex with children is always wrong, as is slavery.
    While I wont say that revenge is always wrong, certainly forgiveness is morally praiseworthy. Okay, so I possess a mix of moral absolutism and moral relativism.
    Last edited by GiantEvil; September 13th, 2011 at 07:36 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    That's true dedo.. even wilder for me, 3 years ago right before christmas me an my fiance were struggling hard for money to even pay our rent. For no fuckin resaon a voice in my head tell me to drive 30 miles to buy a few scrtach off lottery tickets. And I won 5,000 dollars for no fuckin reason.. something drove me there to buy that next scratch off ticket and pure chance is hard for me to believe... I'm not dismissing religion is possible I'm just trying to understand the universe like all of us. My questions are a matter of perspective and opinion. I have been very lucky many times in life.. I personally feel my great grandma intervines my life with extrodonary events. The last thing I asked from her was to have a baby and now I have 2 crazy awesome daughters haha.. I'm trying to stick to the science discussion though. Basicly it relies on the awesome human experiances to cause belief or faith in anything. But there are so many religions how the hell can I pick one to warship when none are exactly what I believe so far. I talk to dam much I know haha
    Brandon, your experience is exactly the kind of thing I am trying to understand. Sometimes you just get this "feeling" that you are being guided. Then sometimes right away, or years later, you see that you made a key choice in the right direction (hopefully in the right direction).

    Where does this "intuition", or coincidence come from? From my perspective, it is God. The atheists will have a different explanation. Who is right?

    It is worth determining which perspective is correct. It is beyond the scope of this forum to suggest what religion you should follow although Ox's suggestion to forsake religion is essentially that sort of advice. I think each theist would recommend their own religion just as Ox suggests no religion and I follow Jesus Christ. The way i approach a perplexing decision is to put it before God (with persistence), and hope such "guidance" comes.

    I am wondering if we can sharpen our ability to hear such "guidance" or "good intuition". Can it be investigated or studied? I don't know.
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    Perfect dedo. I think we are getting a little off topic though. But I think I can answer my questions now. Does science destroy relligion? No. Science created religion and people will always respect our history to be sure that it never gets lost, it will always be there. Do people think religion is harmful? Yes and no. It is the same thing as asking is a nuclear bomb harmful? They keep people in check haha. Until they fall into the wrong minds or hands and cause destruction. Do people need religion to have higher moral values? People need something to have moral values. Whatever you believe that makes your life complete, is ok...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    This illustrates my point perfectly. While claiming to be a moral relativist you show a marked preference for your own values over someone else's, specifically those religious folks who follow rigid rules.
    It's not a judgment, it's based on experience traveling all over this rock we live on.
    And not sure why you ignore my clear point that it wasnt' just religion based fixed-morals I'm against when I said this: "blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous whether their source is religion or some godless philosophy such as Arab Nationalism, US Jingoisic neo-conservatism etc. " To add further, I reject both for essentially the same reason--they are appeals to authority and without knowing a principled reason particularly vulnerable to straying from the "rules," oven more so than a moral relativist who at least has some deeper core values from which to use when making a decision. Getting back to theist, I also think there's a strong case that principles-based morals, which tend by their very nature to be relative, is very much what the New Testament intended. I'd also agree with Averroes, Islamic philosopher, who captured a similar idea when he stated that the most educated, those who understood moral principles, not just the rigid rules, should be the most subject to societal (and Allah's) punishment because they still made bad choices with even better knowledge of the consequences. To take a simple example, if I steel bread so feed my starving kid an absolute moralist in an absolute moralist society might condemn me to loosing my hand and I'd expect it. On the other hand, regardless of my views, a moral relativist society might find me find me guilty but than in its own form of grace reduce my sentence to paying off bread while even helping me feed my family.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    It's not a judgment, it's based on experience traveling all over this rock we live on.
    And not sure why you ignore my clear point that it wasnt' just religion based fixed-morals I'm against when I said this: "blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous whether their source is religion or some godless philosophy such as Arab Nationalism, US Jingoisic neo-conservatism etc. "
    I didn't ignore it at all. The fact that you are "against" anything, and believe those philosophies are "dangerous", means you are exercising a moral judgment. You think you have a better philosophy than those whose views you are against. Whereas, I think if you really literally followed a moral absolutism you would have to say that those other people are just as correct as you are, and nobody's moral system is any better than anybody else's.
    Note that I am not criticizing you for that. Everybody does the same thing, because that's how human beings are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    This illustrates my point perfectly. While claiming to be a moral relativist you show a marked preference for your own values over someone else's, specifically those religious folks who follow rigid rules.
    It's not a judgment, it's based on experience traveling all over this rock we live on.
    And not sure why you ignore my clear point that it wasnt' just religion based fixed-morals I'm against when I said this: "blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous whether their source is religion or some godless philosophy such as Arab Nationalism, US Jingoisic neo-conservatism etc. " To add further, I reject both for essentially the same reason--they are appeals to authority and without knowing a principled reason particularly vulnerable to straying from the "rules," oven more so than a moral relativist who at least has some deeper core values from which to use when making a decision. Getting back to theist, I also think there's a strong case that principles-based morals, which tend by their very nature to be relative, is very much what the New Testament intended. I'd also agree with Averroes, Islamic philosopher, who captured a similar idea when he stated that the most educated, those who understood moral principles, not just the rigid rules, should be the most subject to societal (and Allah's) punishment because they still made bad choices with even better knowledge of the consequences. To take a simple example, if I steel bread so feed my starving kid an absolute moralist in an absolute moralist society might condemn me to loosing my hand and I'd expect it. On the other hand, regardless of my views, a moral relativist society might find me find me guilty but than in its own form of grace reduce my sentence to paying off bread while even helping me feed my family.
    Just a quick note here. I think the ideal moral absolute would be that no one in the society be reduced to the choice of stealing. The stealthiest members of the group would be sent off to steal bread from some other place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    It's not a judgment, it's based on experience traveling all over this rock we live on.
    And not sure why you ignore my clear point that it wasnt' just religion based fixed-morals I'm against when I said this: "blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous whether their source is religion or some godless philosophy such as Arab Nationalism, US Jingoisic neo-conservatism etc. "
    I didn't ignore it at all. The fact that you are "against" anything, and believe those philosophies are "dangerous", means you are exercising a moral judgment. You think you have a better philosophy than those whose views you are against. Whereas, I think if you really literally followed a moral absolutism you would have to say that those other people are just as correct as you are, and nobody's moral system is any better than anybody else's.
    Note that I am not criticizing you for that. Everybody does the same thing, because that's how human beings are.
    Are you not equating moral relativism with total moral freedom?

    Moral relativism for me means the idea of looking at morals from the perspectives of others and looking at the whole spectrum objectively. This does not mean that someone who believes in moral relativism can not have personal moral beliefs as well. In fact, I find it difficult to imagine anything different.

    The Wiki article on moral relativism identifies three varieties:

    Descriptive relativism describes the way things are, without suggesting a way they ought to be. It seeks only to point out that people frequently disagree over what is the most 'moral' course of action.
    Meta-ethical relativism is the meta-ethical position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective. Justifications for moral judgments are not universal, but are instead relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people.[1] The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is".[2]
    Normative relativism is the prescriptive or normative position that, because there is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others - even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards.[3] Most philosophers find that this position is incoherent, or at least that it is unclear how meta-ethical relativism can lead to 'ought' statements.
    I suppose I agree most with Meta-ethical relativism, in that objectively all morals are equal, but at the same time I believe, when injecting my subjective understanding of the human condition, that a single set of morals is possible and desirable. I don't believe these views are mutually exclusive.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Just a quick note here. I think the ideal moral absolute would be that no one in the society be reduced to the choice of stealing. The stealthiest members of the group would be sent off to steal bread from some other place.
    What makes it ideal? And why should any individual members of the society subscribe to this moral absolute, as you see it, if they can improve their own position by stealing from their neighbors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalster
    I suppose I agree most with Meta-ethical relativism, in that objectively all morals are equal, but at the same time I believe, when injecting my subjective understanding of the human condition, that a single set of morals is possible and desirable. I don't believe these views are mutually exclusive.
    Meta-ethical relativism, as defined in your reference, says: The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is".
    I think this is an illogical position, as the moral position seems to come from nowhere, yet is something you believe. Not that there is anything wrong with that. We all believe things for illogical reasons, it just some of us think we are being completely logical about our beliefs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Just a quick note here. I think the ideal moral absolute would be that no one in the society be reduced to the choice of stealing. The stealthiest members of the group would be sent off to steal bread from some other place.
    What makes it ideal? And why should any individual members of the society subscribe to this moral absolute, as you see it, if they can improve their own position by stealing from their neighbors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalster
    I suppose I agree most with Meta-ethical relativism, in that objectively all morals are equal, but at the same time I believe, when injecting my subjective understanding of the human condition, that a single set of morals is possible and desirable. I don't believe these views are mutually exclusive.
    Meta-ethical relativism, as defined in your reference, says: The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is".
    I think this is an illogical position, as the moral position seems to come from nowhere, yet is something you believe. Not that there is anything wrong with that. We all believe things for illogical reasons, it just some of us think we are being completely logical about our beliefs.
    Dude, I said "some other place", not "neighbors".
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Dude, I said "some other place", not "neighbors".
    I know you did, but I'm asking about my neighbor. Maybe it's easier to steal my neighbor's stuff, and I know when he's on vacation. Besides, he's a pain in the ass. Why shouldn't I just go ahead and steal it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Dude, I said "some other place", not "neighbors".
    I know you did, but I'm asking about my neighbor. Maybe it's easier to steal my neighbor's stuff, and I know when he's on vacation. Besides, he's a pain in the ass. Why shouldn't I just go ahead and steal it?
    One thing I like about your example is you went out of your why to highlight and combine an example that addresses that we're having a discussion about moral relativeness versus absolute morals as well as look at the specifics behaviors in each case.

    For your example, your absolute morals from some racist philosophy, for example, might make stealing from darker people perfectly ok, but something you do only when he's away out of practical necessity. Or the opposite case it might be absolutely forbid stealing under ANY conditions even if your child was starving. My guess is you might argue that the specific rule is more important than the system it came from...or is it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Dude, I said "some other place", not "neighbors".
    I know you did, but I'm asking about my neighbor. Maybe it's easier to steal my neighbor's stuff, and I know when he's on vacation. Besides, he's a pain in the ass. Why shouldn't I just go ahead and steal it?
    One thing I like about your example is you went out of your why to highlight and combine an example that addresses that we're having a discussion about moral relativeness versus absolute morals as well as look at the specifics behaviors in each case.

    For your example, your absolute morals from some racist philosophy, for example, might make stealing from darker people perfectly ok, but something you do only when he's away out of practical necessity. Or the opposite case it might be absolutely forbid stealing under ANY conditions even if your child was starving. My guess is you might argue that the specific rule is more important than the system it came from...or is it?
    I'm not sure who is being addressed here, but I'm now going to question the usefulness of the categorization's absolute and relative in relation to morals.
    Considerations we hold as absolute, relative to our own groups tribes nations etc, we might not apply to others outside that particular classification boundary.
    Intentional ghettoization, such as that seen in Warsaw and as currently practiced in Gaza is morally wrong, despite the different circumstances between the two.
    And stealing from immediate neighbors is just bad business, like crapping where you sleep. If your neighbor has stolen something from you, then steal it back, and piss on his doorknob.
    If you are both drug dealers, don't call the cops.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    I'm not sure who is being addressed here, but I'm now going to question the usefulness of the categorization's absolute and relative in relation to morals.
    Considerations we hold as absolute, relative to our own groups tribes nations etc, we might not apply to others outside that particular classification boundary.
    Intentional ghettoization, such as that seen in Warsaw and as currently practiced in Gaza is morally wrong, despite the different circumstances between the two.
    And stealing from immediate neighbors is just bad business, like crapping where you sleep. If your neighbor has stolen something from you, then steal it back, and piss on his doorknob.
    If you are both drug dealers, don't call the cops.
    When you say that ghettoization is morally wrong despite different circumstances, I believe that qualifies as an absolute moral statement. There were certainly people in the SS who thought the Warsaw ghetto was a capital idea, and there are certainly people today who would dispute that Gaza is an equivalent situation. You have not provided any objective criteria for your contention of this absolute moral value. Therefore, I would have to say you hold this as a belief. I point this out because some atheists claim they do not have any beliefs at all.

    Your objection to stealing from one's neighbor seems to be a fear that one's neighbor will take revenge. But I already stipulated that the thief knew he would not be caught. Anyway, that cold calculation of the consequences is the kind of logic that a psychopath would use, and I don't think you are really a psychopath. Again, I think you probably have a belief that the action is unethical, and you wouldn't steal from your neighbor even if you knew he'd never find out.
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    I think we're getting confused over the definitions of moral and absolute relativism. Just because one has a set of morals, even if they seemed relatively fixed, doesn't mean it's either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I think we're getting confused over the definitions of moral and absolute relativism. Just because one has a set of morals, even if they seemed relatively fixed, doesn't mean it's either.
    As Kalster pointed out there are different kinds of moral relativism. The way I am using the terms, you can view a particular moral issue as being relative or absolute. If you think it is relative, you are recognizing that it differs among different cultures, or changes with the circumstances. You will probably be tolerant of opposing views. You may be fairly easily persuaded to change your mind about it.

    If you think it is absolute, then you view it as something that exists apart from yourself or other people and is not changeable. You will probably feel more strongly about it. You will be appalled by any violation of this moral value even if it occurred long ago or in a very different culture.

    It is possible to feel both ways about it. That is, on an intellectual level you are a relativist, and understand the social or psychological motivations which lead to a particular behavior, but emotionally you are an absolutist and find it unacceptable.

    I think if somebody were a complete moral relativist, they could never get angry or upset about anything anybody else did, because they would always see the motivation and empathize with the person who committed the infraction, no matter how heinous it is.
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    Did anyone watch the athiest tapes??? Haha it turned out to be an interesting thread anyway...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
    Does science destroy religion?
    I think there is some truth to this. A traditional role of religion was to explain or make some sense or order out of natural phenomena. So, lightning was Thor casting thunderbolts, etc. Now, the general idea among people who believe in God, is usually that God set off the big bang billions of years ago, then sat back and watched. It's is a much different concept. And of course, many people reason that if the biblical creation myths are wrong, then why believe any of it.
    Religion appeals to peoples' emotions, so it should be easy to see why science should feel some antagonism. If people are emotionally committed to believing that Thor is the reason for the thunder, you can forget any appeals to common sense. Until their egos are sufficiently pacified, they're just going to sit there and go "nuh huh!! nuh huh!! nuh huh!!" (or keep saying "You can't be totally, infinity, perfectly certain about that, so why should I believe you?!!!") when you try and talk about ionization.



    Another function of religion is to explain normative values, like why people just don't go around killing one another. Here I think that the science explanation is much less satisfying. The science explanation is that traditions of behavior arose which benefited the successful cultures and allowed them to survive. These have been passed on from generation to generation. But then, knowing this, why should YOU follow those traditions? Is it just to gain acceptance and avoid punishment? I think people prefer to believe in something and internalize the moral values. This is just human nature. The scientific explanation leads to moral relativism.

    Cue angry response from atheists in 3.....2....1....
    Religion provides a fear of punishment, but I have to say I still have a problem with people who only do what is right out of a fear of hell fire. Those people can only be relied upon until an alternate rationalization emerges that lets them do evil and still believe they will be saved.

    You can still idealize good behavior, as something to be aspired to at least, without the need of a powerful dude in the sky to officiate over it. It's kind of like how the Olympics (modern version at least) doesn't require a God, just a large following of human fans.

    I try to be a good person because I believe that beautiful women can intuitively sense my personality, and want them to be impressed with what they see. That's not always going to bear out, but I figure it will bear out enough of the time to be worth having gone to the trouble. Does anyone really need to be a better reason than that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I think if somebody were a complete moral relativist, they could never get angry or upset about anything anybody else did, because they would always see the motivation and empathize with the person who committed the infraction, no matter how heinous it is.
    That's a fairly good description of buddhist ethics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I try to be a good person because I believe that beautiful women can intuitively sense my personality, and want them to be impressed with what they see. That's not always going to bear out, but I figure it will bear out enough of the time to be worth having gone to the trouble. Does anyone really need to be a better reason than that?
    Can you get any more shallow kojax?

    That's a fairly good description of buddhist ethics.
    I'm not religious but I admire Buddhists/Buddhism for the same reasons given by Arthur C. Clarke.
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    If that is what Buddhism teaches, I don't think it is very natural. Someone who thinks that way will probably be taken advantage of by others who are less tolerant. In other words, they will be a doormat.

    I think it pretty much describes the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Here was a guy who couldn't bring himself to admit the British were any better than the Nazis. Consequently, he stood by and let the British fight World War 2 without any support from himself.

    Sure, he led the Indians to independence, but the British didn't have much will to maintain their empire at that point. But then right away he got walked all over by the Muslims, who split off and formed Pakistan. So, basically, I think his philosophy was ineffective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    So, basically, I think his philosophy was ineffective.
    I can't believe your opinion of Mahatma Gandhi's work to make India independent (he was a Hindu, BTW). Also, your low esteem of Buddhism is somewhat shocking.

    Here's what Einstein said about Gandhi: "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth." I see and understand what Einstein saw.

    he stood by and let the British fight World War 2 without any support from himself.
    Please tell me why the Hindus and Muslims of India would even want to help England in WW2? Also check out Ireland -- they maintained neutrality and didn't help at all in WW2. Heck, the USA let England fight it alone for two years -- until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. And let's not even get started on the Treaty of Versailles after WW1, which was instrumental in Hitler's rise to power in the 30s.

    As an aside, I also subscribe to Einstein's views on patriotism:
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    If that is what Buddhism teaches, I don't think it is very natural. Someone who thinks that way will probably be taken advantage of by others who are less tolerant. In other words, they will be a doormat.

    I think it pretty much describes the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Here was a guy who couldn't bring himself to admit the British were any better than the Nazis. Consequently, he stood by and let the British fight World War 2 without any support from himself.

    Sure, he led the Indians to independence, but the British didn't have much will to maintain their empire at that point. But then right away he got walked all over by the Muslims, who split off and formed Pakistan. So, basically, I think his philosophy was ineffective.
    Strange tangent to take.

    The naturalness of it is irrelevant, unless you are arguing against moral relativism from a natural law perspective. I think the mistake you have made here is to conflate non-attachment to emotional responses (getting angry or upset) with passivity (being a door mat). One can be unattached from an emotional response (not the same as not having an emotional response) and still choose to act, perhaps even violently.

    Moral relativism doesn't mean 'anything goes', if that's what you think it means - only that the laws of morality are not written into the fabric of the universe. Based on this idea, there are several relativist perspectives, some of which have been discussed.

    As for the Gandhi issue, he was raised Hindu and had a Jainist mother so i'm not sure that relates to Buddhist ethics; and i think the situation was far more complex than you seem to think.

    And even if his philosophy was ineffective, what has this to do with morality from an absolutist perspective? Either it was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do, regardless of the result. Or do i misunderstand absolutist ethics? I see them as having been written into the fabric of the universe, and as such are something humanity has discovered, as opposed to develop, which are immutable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PumaMan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    So, basically, I think his philosophy was ineffective.
    I can't believe your opinion of Mahatma Gandhi's work to make India independent (he was a Hindu, BTW). Also, your low esteem of Buddhism is somewhat shocking.
    Believe it. And he was strongly influenced by Buddhism.
    Here's what Einstein said about Gandhi: "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth." I see and understand what Einstein saw.
    As a philosopher, Einstein made a great physicist.
    he stood by and let the British fight World War 2 without any support from himself.
    Please tell me why the Hindus and Muslims of India would even want to help England in WW2? Also check out Ireland -- they maintained neutrality and didn't help at all in WW2. Heck, the USA let England fight it alone for two years -- until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. And let's not even get started on the Treaty of Versailles after WW1, which was instrumental in Hitler's rise to power in the 30s.
    They might want to help fight the Nazis because the Nazis were really, really bad. It would have been interesting to see how Gandhi's nonviolent tactics would have worked against the Nazis. Probably about as well as the Jewish nonviolence did. The Irish are not my favorite people, at least as far as their politics are concerned. The US was more isolationist than undecided, and did help with war materials. See above.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    The naturalness of it is irrelevant, unless you are arguing against moral relativism from a natural law perspective.
    No, not natural law. I just think we are hard wired by nature to be inclined to treat our beliefs as though they were absolute.
    I think the mistake you have made here is to conflate non-attachment to emotional responses (getting angry or upset) with passivity (being a door mat). One can be unattached from an emotional response (not the same as not having an emotional response) and still choose to act, perhaps even violently.
    Possible, perhaps. I don't think it's likely. And nonviolence is a tenet of Buddhism.
    Moral relativism doesn't mean 'anything goes', if that's what you think it means - only that the laws of morality are not written into the fabric of the universe. Based on this idea, there are several relativist perspectives, some of which have been discussed.

    As for the Gandhi issue, he was raised Hindu and had a Jainist mother so i'm not sure that relates to Buddhist ethics; and i think the situation was far more complex than you seem to think.
    Gandhi claimed to be a Buddhist as well as a Hindu, at least that's what it says on a lot of web sites.
    And even if his philosophy was ineffective, what has this to do with morality from an absolutist perspective?
    Either it was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do, regardless of the result. Or do i misunderstand absolutist ethics? I see them as having been written into the fabric of the universe, and as such are something humanity has discovered, as opposed to develop, which are immutable.
    I'm getting a little confused here. Are you saying it was either the right thing or the wrong thing, or do you think I as an absolutist should say it was either the right thing or wrong thing to do. I'm not an absolutist, or at least I will not try to make a logical argument from the viewpoint of an absolutist. I admit to being completely illogical about my moral beliefs.
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    Don't true buddist monks live in a santaury with more monks? Calling them a doormat is a matter of perspective. But can't you imagine living in a beautiful tranqual enviroment with extremely peaceful people.. monks made the christian view of "heaven" into a reality.. shit what more could you ask for??? They didn't find a higher power lurking in the sky, they found it in themselves.. when I'm around 60 years old I would love to be a monk...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    No, not natural law. I just think we are hard wired by nature to be inclined to treat our beliefs as though they were absolute.
    Do you mean evolved traits? Then i guess non-violence would be unnatural, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Possible, perhaps. I don't think it's likely. And nonviolence is a tenet of Buddhism.
    Non-violence is also a tenet of Christianity. Anyway, however unlikely you think it is, it is what we strive for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I'm getting a little confused here. Are you saying it was either the right thing or the wrong thing, or do you think I as an absolutist should say it was either the right thing or wrong thing to do. I'm not an absolutist, or at least I will not try to make a logical argument from the viewpoint of an absolutist. I admit to being completely illogical about my moral beliefs.
    I meant an absolutist would believe it was either the right or wrong thing to do: I was under the impression you were arguing for absolutism. In what way are your morals illogical? Do you mean that the conclusion does not follow the premise, or that the premise itself is arbitrary? You could have entirely logical morals, based on arbitrary premises, which i guess would be irrational but not illogical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Gandhi claimed to be a Buddhist as well as a Hindu, at least that's what it says on a lot of web sites.
    Gandhi believed in the soul. One of the central tenets of Buddhism is the belief that there is no soul. So he wasn't a Buddhist, but may have been influenced to greater or lesser degrees by Buddhism. Perhaps we should have a splinter thread if we're going to talk about the life and work of Gandhi? He's an interesting fellow.
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    It would be helpful if we could be careful to stick to the accepted definition of "moral relativism" if we're going to discuss it.

    Moral relativism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki- Moral Relativism
    Moral relativism may be any of several descriptive, meta-ethical, or normative positions. Each of them is concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures:
    • Descriptive relativism describes the way things are, without suggesting a way they ought to be. It seeks only to point out that people frequently disagree over what is the most 'moral' course of action.
    • Meta-ethical relativism is the meta-ethical position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective. Justifications for moral judgments are not universal, but are instead relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people.[1] The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is".[2]
    • Normative relativism is the prescriptive or normative position that, because there is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others - even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards.[3] Most philosophers find that this position is incoherent, or at least that it is unclear how meta-ethical relativism can lead to 'ought' statements.[3]

    Using this as the definition, I think we would all agree that the idea of "moral relativism" itself is just plain laughable. At the very least it's subject to abuse, because people living in a moral relativist society could simply invent moral philosophies or cultural identities that allow them to run amok, steal, rape, and pillage whomever they want without fear of retaliation from the moral relativists around them.


    I think Lynx's concept is different from this. It probably deserves a name of its own, if one hasn't already been thought of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I don't think a society could function if everybody really behaved that way. It would mean you'd steal something any time you knew you wouldn't be caught, for example. This is not the way atheists typically behave. They get angry at perceived injustice. They act as though they have moral values. So, even if they intellectually believe in moral relativism, I think it is different on an emotional level.
    It's not an all or nothing proposition. I'm a moral relativist and fully recognize and have seen many examples of people's morals shaped by their environment. That being said, I live my life and try to shape society towards some basic rules, such as allowing people considerable freedom within that basic framework of not-harming others or the environment. Often people confuse willingness to break or flexible fixed rules as baseless moral relativism while completely ignoring that those same people who resist rigid rules can be every bit dedicated to principles as those that follow rigid rules. In fact many people follow rigid rules without even understanding any basic principle; in my experience far too many religious folks are in this category (e.g. they know steeling is wrong because some book says so, but can't articulate any reason as to the why.), blind obedience to rigid morals are dangerous whether their source is religion or some godless philosophy such as Arab Nationalism, US Jingoisic neo-conservatism etc.

    We are also somewhat hard-wired for moral behaviors through mirror nerves and empathy. I watched this recently as my unit attended a pre-deployment ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan. I felt the tug of emotions from distressed families saying good-buy even though I was staying back to retire; looking around, there wasn't a dry eye in the place-even among the single Soldiers and those not leaving. Also, most social animals exhibit moral behaviors within their own group and I'd say they are neither moral relativist or religious.
    The idea of having guidelines instead of rigid rules, kind of like the "Pirates' Code" in Pirates of the Caribbean, where you're not actually expected to always obey them to the letter, is clearly a separate thing from the concept called "moral relativism". In a sense, I think what you're describing is the difference between using a formula or algorithm vs. just relying on rote memory. Some people earn full college degrees without ever learning to do that.

    Even a computer program has to be able to do this to some degree or another. If two commands contradict, and you don't want the program to crash, then it needs to be able to pick which rule it will follow, and which one it will disregard. Sometimes people make that decision arbitrarily instead of thinking it through, and really asking themselves which rule ought to be regarded as the important one. I think of religious fanatics as being people who fall into that category. If religion didn't mess them up, some other set of moral instructions would have.

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    "Pirates code," ROFL.

    You gave a good laugh this morning over my coffee.

    If two commands contradict, and you don't want the program to crash, then it needs to be able to pick which rule it will follow, and which one it will disregard.
    A good way to describe many of life's most important decisions that might effect others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post

    I meant an absolutist would believe it was either the right or wrong thing to do: I was under the impression you were arguing for absolutism. In what way are your morals illogical? Do you mean that the conclusion does not follow the premise, or that the premise itself is arbitrary? You could have entirely logical morals, based on arbitrary premises, which i guess would be irrational but not illogical.
    One could hardly argue against descriptive moral relativism. It is just a fact that different societies and groups differ in their moral codes. And it is pretty hard to say why your own moral beliefs are special. Nonetheless, if one carried this reasoning to its logical conclusion, one would have to abandon one's moral code entirely, or so it seems to me. This leads to a condition that would be harmful to the continuation of the species if everybody followed it, and inconsistent with the way our brains are wired.
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    This leads to a condition that would be harmful to the continuation of the species if everybody followed it, and inconsistent with the way our brains are wired.
    Too simple I think. It the very premise of some of those moral relative philosophies was based on altruism and continuation of the species, much like memes, they'll benefit and eventually dominate and thus help continue the species. On the other hand an absolute morality, which doesn't benefit society might well destroy it. Where I think moral relativism has a huge advantage is, much like a meme, it can evolve, adapt to changing societies and contribute to their success, while absolute morality can't evolve even if they are no longer the most beneficial to their societies. (where I think we are with a large portion of Abrahamic religions).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Too simple I think. It the very premise of some of those moral relative philosophies was based on altruism and continuation of the species, much like memes, they'll benefit and eventually dominate and thus help continue the species. On the other hand an absolute morality, which doesn't benefit society might well destroy it. Where I think moral relativism has a huge advantage is, much like a meme, it can evolve, adapt to changing societies and contribute to their success, while absolute morality can't evolve even if they are no longer the most beneficial to their societies. (where I think we are with a large portion of Abrahamic religions).
    Absolute morality certainly can and does evolve. Its adherents may not realize it themselves. For example, Christians no longer hold inquisitions, nor do they own slaves.

    What you are referring to as moral relativism is not totally relative, I don't think. You still hang onto some notion of preferred moral systems or standards. Someone who was completely committed to moral relativism would have no reason to prefer his own morals over that of a murdering thief, for example.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Absolute morality certainly can and does evolve. Its adherents may not realize it themselves. For example, Christians no longer hold inquisitions, nor do they own slaves.
    I'd say they are themselves a brand of moral relativist at least looking at one time compared to another.

    What you are referring to as moral relativism is not totally relative, I don't think. You still hang onto some notion of preferred moral systems or standards. Someone who was completely committed to moral relativism would have no reason to prefer his own morals over that of a murdering thief, for example.
    I still see we're struggling with the definition, which makes this conversation damn hard. It think we're going to parse out the definition some more to make progress.

    Let me illustrate what it means to me using an example from my youth.
    When I was 13 I fell through ice at a pond about two miles from my house. The water was chest deep and I somehow managed to pull and break the rest of the ice to get to shore. Exhausted, completely soaked and temperature in the single digits (F) with some wind. I crawled and stumbled to the only house close by getting colder and colder. When I got to the house the door was locked and no one was home. I did not know the owners. It was a simple and stark choice--either break in, get some shelter and live, or freeze to death. Because I'm writing this you know which one I picked. I think a strick moral absolutist would have frooze to death because they would have been guided by the black-and-white rule not to break into homes. I took the relativist approach, I fully understand why people shouldn't break into homes by weighed that against by need to survive. I saved myself and then attempted to make good by calling the police (who didn't charge me) and than the owner to explain what had happened. It was a summer home which he only visited once a month. He was sympathetic and wouldn't let me pay for the damage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Absolute morality certainly can and does evolve. Its adherents may not realize it themselves. For example, Christians no longer hold inquisitions, nor do they own slaves.
    I'd say they are themselves a brand of moral relativist at least looking at one time compared to another.
    The individual Christian probably believes that slavery is absolutely wrong, and in that way is an absolutist. He may not even be aware of any history of slavery.
    What you are referring to as moral relativism is not totally relative, I don't think. You still hang onto some notion of preferred moral systems or standards. Someone who was completely committed to moral relativism would have no reason to prefer his own morals over that of a murdering thief, for example.
    I still see we're struggling with the definition, which makes this conversation damn hard. It think we're going to parse out the definition some more to make progress.

    Let me illustrate what it means to me using an example from my youth.
    When I was 13 I fell through ice at a pond about two miles from my house. The water was chest deep and I somehow managed to pull and break the rest of the ice to get to shore. Exhausted, completely soaked and temperature in the single digits (F) with some wind. I crawled and stumbled to the only house close by getting colder and colder. When I got to the house the door was locked and no one was home. I did not know the owners. It was a simple and stark choice--either break in, get some shelter and live, or freeze to death. Because I'm writing this you know which one I picked. I think a strick moral absolutist would have frooze to death because they would have been guided by the black-and-white rule not to break into homes. I took the relativist approach, I fully understand why people shouldn't break into homes by weighed that against by need to survive. I saved myself and then attempted to make good by calling the police (who didn't charge me) and than the owner to explain what had happened. It was a summer home which he only visited once a month. He was sympathetic and wouldn't let me pay for the damage.
    We are talking about two different things. What I am referring to is the feeling we have that there is a right and wrong, apart from ourselves or the particular circumstances. I think you acted as a moral absolutist because you called the police and the owner. You did this because you had respect for the owner's private property rights and felt a responsibility beyond mere obedience to the law. A moral relativist may have reasoned as follows:

    There are laws against breaking into houses. This is understandable and I will usually obey the laws, because I would be punished otherwise. However, in this circumstance, I know nobody saw me break in. There is really nothing fundamentally wrong with breaking into a home, anyway. It is just a convention of this particular society that I happen to be living in right now.
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    One of the central tenets of Buddhism is the belief that there is no soul.
    Buddhism has no such tenets, central or otherwise.
    I think a strick moral absolutist would have frooze to death because they would have been guided by the black-and-white rule not to break into homes. I took the relativist approach, - - -

    - - - - There is really nothing fundamentally wrong with breaking into a home, anyway. It is just a convention of this particular society that I happen to be living in right now.
    We are confusing different logical levels of rule. There may be, say, absolute general rules that are always relativistic in specific application. There may be moral rules against breaking conventions - - - unnecessarily.

    For example: it may be a moral absolute that one not betray one's moral community (tribe, family, friends, whatever). But betrayal is by definition contingent on conventions, norms, and other forms of expectation. Normally breaking into a stranger's house in the US is a betrayal, for example - but if one is freezing to death, minimizing the damage, and willing to face the owner and the police honestly, then there is no betrayal in US ordinary convention.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    There are laws against breaking into houses. This is understandable and I will usually obey the laws, because I would be punished otherwise. However, in this circumstance, I know nobody saw me break in. There is really nothing fundamentally wrong with breaking into a home, anyway. It is just a convention of this particular society that I happen to be living in right now.
    I think that's a gross mis-characterization almost to the degree of driving this conversation into the black and white world of false dichotomies. You might accuse me of the same for considering absolute morality an unwillingness to ever break the law--even if it means killing oneself. Let me do some reading and perhaps we can better define our views against some more useful definitions.

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    I think Buddism wouldn't deny a soul because they'd simply refuse to consider the question.
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    Okay, lets go to the definition from the Wikipedia article.

    Meta-ethical relativism is the meta-ethical position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective.
    This isn't dealing with how rigid you are in applying a moral judgment. It's about whether you think there is an objective basis for the judgment. Now, if there is no objective basis for a moral judgment, then what is the basis for said moral judgment?
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    And I assume by objective, as in fixed and applicable to all cultures, societies and times?

    If not than there are obviously many systems and consideration by which to measure a particular set of ethics. Using it's name sake for example, Ayn Rand objectivism fits the ethics consistent with what she calls rational self-interest--a rather revolting system finds altruism morally repulsive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    And I assume by objective, as in fixed and applicable to all cultures, societies and times?
    Right. A morally absolute view would allow one to deplore the practice of slavery in the fifteenth century. Moral relativism would not.
    If not than there are obviously many systems and consideration by which to measure a particular set of ethics. Using it's name sake for example, Ayn Rand objectivism fits the ethics consistent with what she calls rational self-interest--a rather revolting system finds altruism morally repulsive.
    Do you have an objective reason to find Ayn Rand's objectivism revolting?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    This isn't dealing with how rigid you are in applying a moral judgment. It's about whether you think there is an objective basis for the judgment. Now, if there is no objective basis for a moral judgment, then what is the basis for said moral judgment?
    But what would classify a moral as objective? On what objective grounds could morality ever be based? Evolved traits? Another species could evolve with different morals. Memes? Same problem. God? Arbitrarily picking some and sticking to them no matter what? What else?

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Buddhism has no such tenets, central or otherwise


    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I think Buddism wouldn't deny a soul because they'd simply refuse to consider the question.
    What Buddhists Believe - Is there an Eternal Soul? - The doctrine of Anatta.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    This isn't dealing with how rigid you are in applying a moral judgment. It's about whether you think there is an objective basis for the judgment. Now, if there is no objective basis for a moral judgment, then what is the basis for said moral judgment?
    But what would classify a moral as objective? On what objective grounds could morality ever be based? Evolved traits? Another species could evolve with different morals. Memes? Same problem. God? Arbitrarily picking some and sticking to them no matter what? What else?

    [
    It's a problem for which I do not have an answer. A theist would say that the morals come from God and are chiseled in a stone tablet. Atheist point out that there is no rational reason to believe in commandments chiseled in stone tablets. Then they still believe in moral principles as if they were chiseled in stone tablets. I think both are equally irrational. I simply accept the irrationality as being inevitable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    This isn't dealing with how rigid you are in applying a moral judgment. It's about whether you think there is an objective basis for the judgment. Now, if there is no objective basis for a moral judgment, then what is the basis for said moral judgment?
    But what would classify a moral as objective? On what objective grounds could morality ever be based? Evolved traits? Another species could evolve with different morals. Memes? Same problem. God? Arbitrarily picking some and sticking to them no matter what? What else?
    Sometimes arbitrary ideals work just fine. Cheer leaders at a football game do various cheers to convince the football players to risk their health and safety trying to carry a ball across an arbitrary line drawn in the dirt. If their objective is not actually a moral ideal for them, then it certainly borders on it.

    I think most people like to feel like they're contributing to something larger than themselves, so the entity to which they wish to make their contribution gives them their basis to determine what would be considered to be a valuable effort. If that entity is the Mafia, then you might end up committing murders and robberies in order to serve your chosen patron. If it's the US government (in which case the USA itself, or its people would be the group you're really trying to serve), and your station is in the FBI, then you might end up arresting those Mafia members.

    It starts with the assumption that the entity toward which one directs their devotion is worthy of it somehow. I have no idea what logical process leads a person to believe that about the Mafia, but maybe it's not supposed to be a rational decision. I think the only very rational choice of patron would be to serve humanity as a whole, not one faction within it, but rather the whole group, as if it were all one tribe/nation/entity (even acknowledging that it doesn't consider itself to be one). Then, of course, you have to choose which plan or societal blueprint you think it will benefit from the most, and..... that might be represented by a religion or government.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I think the only very rational choice of patron would be to serve humanity as a whole, not one faction within it, but rather the whole group, as if it were all one tribe/nation/entity (even acknowledging that it doesn't consider itself to be one).
    What exactly makes this rational? I think you are confusing "rational" with what you believe in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    And I assume by objective, as in fixed and applicable to all cultures, societies and times?
    Right. A morally absolute view would allow one to deplore the practice of slavery in the fifteenth century. Moral relativism would not.
    If not than there are obviously many systems and consideration by which to measure a particular set of ethics. Using it's name sake for example, Ayn Rand objectivism fits the ethics consistent with what she calls rational self-interest--a rather revolting system finds altruism morally repulsive.
    Do you have an objective reason to find Ayn Rand's objectivism revolting?
    I asked the question to figure out if your idea of "objective," is very similar to "absolute." Indeed they seem to be very similar if not the same. I haven't thought through the slavery issue, because I haven't studied the 15th century enough. I don't believe in objectivism as you seem to define it. I also think it's quite likely we're hardwired to tend to towards certain morals, but even in those cases there are exceptions depending on circumstance. Let me present one of my favorite contrasting ethical considerations when talking to a close friend of mine who happens to be a Christian Chaplain.

    Most societies reject infanticide. Many people believe it's an unchanging prohibition regardless of circumstance--call that absolute (or objective as you have). Many would just wrap it up under "murder," which they'd also say is absolutely forbidden.

    In any case, we've studied cultures where infanticide is practiced, such as among the whores in Pompeii who killed their male babies, Spartans who killed all their physically defective, and in many high latitude Nomadic societies. Lets look at the last one. In their case infanticide was certainly practiced but only rarely and in extreme situations such as starvation of the group. Taking an absolute moralist, (or objective as you've seemed to define it), much like my earlier personal example, it seemed to be a situation of kill the babies or kill the tribe. I would say, given those stark choices, their morals, while personally repugnant to me (and most people), were acceptable and even necessary under their conditions. A absolutist view against infanticide would condemn the society to extinction. There are similar stark situations for elderly suicide, who used to be left on the ice in Greenland. Or consider the native Hawaii's where grandson's would help their grandfather build a canoe (and learn) only to have the tribe celebrate with him before pushing him offshore on a windy day never to be seen again (a lot more dignified death than American's usually allow their elderly). Such cultural flexibility might even be why we survived as a species.

    Within cultures fixed in time, like now, I think we can reason our way towards morals which benefit the most people. Furthermore if it can't be reasoned against some principles which benefit society and preserves the rights of individuals it probably shouldn't be followed. This is why I reject many of the positions of religious fundamentalist, who often cannot gets past quotes from a spiritual text (Koran, bible etc), usually can't articulate any "why," beyond "god says so," much less apply any depth of reasoning. And of course there's an whole spectrum of reasoning for any particular moral framework, many of my relativistic morals (such as against murder) are so common they could be mistaken for absolutism (or being objective) and are followed by most contemporary cultures. Many are less solid and I fully accept there can be more than one answer that equally benefits the society and individuals--in which case their society might just pick the best one or accept either as ok.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; September 19th, 2011 at 08:52 PM.
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    Let's make a distinction here between the interests of society and one's personal philosophy. It is often easy enough to tell why a society has certain rules. It is not so easy to tell what is going on inside a person's head that makes him follow the rule, often against his own personal interest.

    There is a youtube video that shows some lions in an African game preserve that come upon a herd of cape buffalo. They chase down a calf and (after knocking it into a river then wrestling it away from a crocodile) start chewing on the calf, but it's not dead yet. Then the buffalo herd, which had run away when the lions charged. comes back and circles around the calf and lions. A big bull goes after one of the lionesses, hooking it with a horn and tossing it into the air. The buffalo herd then drives the lion off, with the calf still alive.

    One wonders how the buffalo herd ever evolved the instinct to come back and protect the calf in danger. If the whole herd were to turn on the few lions at once they would be able to stomp them into the dust. But for that to happen, some individual buffalo has to step forward at great danger to himself, risking his removal from the gene pool.

    All this is a roundabout way of pointing out that there is a difference between the interests of society and the individual's behavior. It is not a given that people will behave in accordance with the norms of society, just because there is some benefit to the society to have the norms.

    Surely the cape buffalo is just acting on instinct. He does not reason: "If I go after this lion, then it will benefit the herd as a whole, and in the long run, will help to propagate my own genes in successive generations" or any such thing. Likewise, when humans behave in an altruistic manner, they are not usually making any such calculations either. They are thinking something like "this is just the right thing to do."
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    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Right. A morally absolute view would allow one to deplore the practice of slavery in the fifteenth century. Moral relativism would not.
    It's the other way around. Moral relativism allows one to posit that a different society would simply have different - possibly even better - morals, rather than losing morality altogether.

    That is, according to a relativist one could abolish slavery without destroying the possibility of morality in society - absolutists accept the millenia-old established particular morality as morality itself, not changeable except by destruction of it.

    A current example would be gay marriage in the US - the absolutists sincerely describe it as a further step toward the destruction of morality itself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Right. A morally absolute view would allow one to deplore the practice of slavery in the fifteenth century. Moral relativism would not.
    It's the other way around. Moral relativism allows one to posit that a different society would simply have different - possibly even better - morals, rather than losing morality altogether.
    What is "better" about anti-slavery than slavery? A real moral relativist would have to say that anti-slavery is just different, not inherently better than anti-slavery. You are making an absolutist kind of a judgment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    What is "better" about anti-slavery than slavery? A real moral relativist would have to say that anti-slavery is just different, not inherently better than anti-slavery.
    No, I am pointing out that only a moral relativist can allow the idea of different societies having different moralities, so that one can change society in morally significant ways without losing morality altogether.

    A moral absolutist, on the other hand, would be stuck with whatever the moral authorities established - as we see in the Biblical endorsement of slavery.

    It's not one morality better than another, let alone one moral rule better than another, but one society preferable to another - to a moral relativist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    What is "better" about anti-slavery than slavery? A real moral relativist would have to say that anti-slavery is just different, not inherently better than anti-slavery.
    No, I am pointing out that only a moral relativist can allow the idea of different societies having different moralities, so that one can change society in morally significant ways without losing morality altogether.

    A moral absolutist, on the other hand, would be stuck with whatever the moral authorities established - as we see in the Biblical endorsement of slavery.

    It's not one morality better than another, let alone one moral rule better than another, but one society preferable to another - to a moral relativist.
    Are you saying that it was moral relativists who abolished slavery? John Brown may be the most famous abolitionist. He was a bible thumper.

    Do you think slavery is morally wrong, or just somehow better from a practical standpoint? If it is wrong, was it also wrong before abolition, and they just discovered in the 1800s that it was wrong? Or did it become wrong in the 1800s or thereabouts?
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    Abolitionist arguments start well before 1800.

    Are you saying that it was moral relativists who abolished slavery? John Brown may be the most famous abolitionist. He was a bible thumper.
    With regard to slavery, he probably was a moral relativist, even if he didn't know it at the time. Anyone has to do some serious cherry picking of the bible to support or refute slavery--some parts not only accept but order it and describe how it should be done in great detail, while other parts infer it shouldn't be accepted. Many of the humanist of the day, took the awkward position that though slavery might be wrong, the inferior intellectual capacities of blacks might demand it, or it's a worthwhile trade off to bring them closer to morals of Jesus--Hume and Jefferson and many others had variations of that position.
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    Are you saying that it was moral relativists who abolished slavery?
    Yep. People who could imagine a different society with a different morality, who could reinterpret moral codes like the Commandments to better fit their desired social situations.

    Moral absolutists had been defending slavery on the established moral grounds of thousands of years of civilization - including the Bible's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post

    Surely the cape buffalo is just acting on instinct. He does not reason: "If I go after this lion, then it will benefit the herd as a whole, and in the long run, will help to propagate my own genes in successive generations" or any such thing. Likewise, when humans behave in an altruistic manner, they are not usually making any such calculations either. They are thinking something like "this is just the right thing to do."
    It's easy for us humans to forget that we are also the products of evolution, which means that not all of our behaviors are learned behaviors. Some of it is still instinct. Probably the buffalo also feels like "this is just the right thing to do" when they come back and fight. In their case it's impossible for them to reason it out. In our case it's just unnecessary sometimes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    What is "better" about anti-slavery than slavery? A real moral relativist would have to say that anti-slavery is just different, not inherently better than anti-slavery.
    No, I am pointing out that only a moral relativist can allow the idea of different societies having different moralities, so that one can change society in morally significant ways without losing morality altogether.

    A moral absolutist, on the other hand, would be stuck with whatever the moral authorities established - as we see in the Biblical endorsement of slavery.

    It's not one morality better than another, let alone one moral rule better than another, but one society preferable to another - to a moral relativist.
    Are you saying that it was moral relativists who abolished slavery? John Brown may be the most famous abolitionist. He was a bible thumper.

    Do you think slavery is morally wrong, or just somehow better from a practical standpoint? If it is wrong, was it also wrong before abolition, and they just discovered in the 1800s that it was wrong? Or did it become wrong in the 1800s or thereabouts?
    The industrial revolution made it impractical, to be honest. I've read some contemporary writings by Southern leaders like Robert E Lee that suggested that an end to the practice of slavery was inevitable regardless of the Civil War, because farm machinery was on its way to replacing manual labor anyway. You can't force a slave to operate a machine very well. There are just too many ways for them to sabotage it so they get out of a day's work.

    A wage laborer on the other hand, doesn't want to get out of a day's work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I think the only very rational choice of patron would be to serve humanity as a whole, not one faction within it, but rather the whole group, as if it were all one tribe/nation/entity (even acknowledging that it doesn't consider itself to be one).
    What exactly makes this rational? I think you are confusing "rational" with what you believe in.
    "Most rational" doesn't necessarily mean it's very rational. It just means there aren't any better contenders. You may be right that even that definition doesn't necessarily stand up to all forms of logical scrutiny. Maybe nothing does?

    At the most pragmatic level, morality is all about those behaviors which serve the common interest of the group. Other basis can be used I suppose, but the practical aspect of morality centers on delivering results to the community that adopts it. Most morals don't last very long if they can't do that. Think of the Sunday rule, for example. How many Christians really practice it now? When it started, the Sunday rule served as a way to enforce the expectation on business owners that they would allow their employees to take a day off every 7 days. Once it got replaced by the 40 hour work week, I think people were no longer afraid to see the Sunday rule undermined, because they knew it wouldn't lead to them ending up having to work non-stop with no breaks.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Abolitionist arguments start well before 1800.
    Pick any date that you like, before which, slavery was still acceptable to the majority of people in some society. Prior to that date was slavery (a) morally wrong, (b) morally right, or (c) neither right nor wrong but merely a feature of that particular society. Answer c is the morally relative answer.
    Are you saying that it was moral relativists who abolished slavery? John Brown may be the most famous abolitionist. He was a bible thumper.
    With regard to slavery, he probably was a moral relativist, even if he didn't know it at the time. Anyone has to do some serious cherry picking of the bible to support or refute slavery--some parts not only accept but order it and describe how it should be done in great detail, while other parts infer it shouldn't be accepted. Many of the humanist of the day, took the awkward position that though slavery might be wrong, the inferior intellectual capacities of blacks might demand it, or it's a worthwhile trade off to bring them closer to morals of Jesus--Hume and Jefferson and many others had variations of that position.
    The man was a fanatic in the cause of anti-slavery and was hanged for his actions. How can you say he was a moral relativist?

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    Moral absolutists had been defending slavery on the established moral grounds of thousands of years of civilization - including the Bible's.
    This does not mean other moral absolutists with different views were not opposing slavery. They were.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The industrial revolution made it impractical, to be honest. I've read some contemporary writings by Southern leaders like Robert E Lee that suggested that an end to the practice of slavery was inevitable regardless of the Civil War, because farm machinery was on its way to replacing manual labor anyway. You can't force a slave to operate a machine very well. There are just too many ways for them to sabotage it so they get out of a day's work.

    So, not morally wrong, just impractical?

    At the most pragmatic level, morality is all about those behaviors which serve the common interest of the group. Other basis can be used I suppose, but the practical aspect of morality centers on delivering results to the community that adopts it.
    Again, you are giving reasons why a community would want to have moral standards, not why an individual follows them.
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    Pick any date that you like, before which, slavery was still acceptable to the majority of people in some society. Prior to that date was slavery (a) morally wrong, (b) morally right, or (c) neither right nor wrong but merely a feature of that particular society. Answer c is the morally relative answer.
    This conversation is going nowhere because you continue to frame it as extremes (a false dichotomy). there is at least one more morally relative answer that could say: (d) it's morally wrong within the context of a society, most societies, or even every human society we can imagine-(along with a reason).

    --
    PS. I hated that water buff video, and never understood its popularity. A loin gets injured and a pride goes hungry--that's nothing to cheer about. The assumption that no reasoning happened are speculation as well. We're increasingly finding many animal capabilities we once assumed were exclusively human--a hold over from the idiotic supposition that we are somehow apart from them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Pick any date that you like, before which, slavery was still acceptable to the majority of people in some society. Prior to that date was slavery (a) morally wrong, (b) morally right, or (c) neither right nor wrong but merely a feature of that particular society. Answer c is the morally relative answer.
    This conversation is going nowhere because you continue to frame it as extremes (a false dichotomy). there is at least one more morally relative answer that could say: (d) it's morally wrong within the context of a society, most societies, or even every human society we can imagine-(along with a reason).
    Would you care to add a reason into (d)? I notice that you don't seem willing to go with (a), so that is consistent with a morally relativistic position. I think we're getting somewhere. I have a feeling there are some atheists on this forum who would not go along with that.
    --
    PS. I hated that water buff video, and never understood its popularity. A loin gets injured and a pride goes hungry--that's nothing to cheer about. The assumption that no reasoning happened are speculation as well. We're increasingly finding many animal capabilities we once assumed were exclusively human--a hold over from the idiotic supposition that we are somehow apart from them.
    Most people probably watched that and rooted for the buffalo calf. Even if you didn't , though, it was a pretty interesting video. If the bull buffalo was thinking, then what do you think he was thinking, and what made him risk his life for the calf?
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    Would you care to add a reason into (d)? I notice that you don't seem willing to go with (a), so that is consistent with a morally relativistic position. I think we're getting somewhere. I have a feeling there are some atheists on this forum who would not go along with that.
    Well the way you framed the answers made it appear (a) and (b) were absolute declarations. Perhaps a moral relativist could have picked them but his reasoning or conditions might have been obscured or assumed. I added (d) to distinguish it as relative. I could have easily added (e) which was a relative "slavery is moral," for ....., as well.

    The quick answer as to why I think it's wrong I don't think slavery raises the quality of life for all it members, nor uphold the rights, to steal the expression "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all people without infringing on those same rights of others. Do I think we're really endowed with those rights by some higher being? No. I do however think they represent an excellent model to follow, and goals worthy of shaping societies around. (I find it highly disturbing that most Americans we so willingly empower nations that don't hold those ideals, by purchasing goods from them). And I'll be the first to admit I haven't thought through everything in much depth and asked myself things like: Do all societies have a right to exist? People can have relative moralist positions, and strong convictions that they can either explain or argue appear consistent with some principles.

    --
    I have no idea what the water buffollo was thinking but it's not hard to imagine the lead buffalo picturing itself surrounded by its own pack approaching the pride of loins, and being vastly outnumbered, the pride of lions retreating--a form of reasoning by mental pictures and something humans do all the time.
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