A Serious Question For The Atheists On This Board

Discussion in 'Free Speech Alley' started by G_MAN113, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. G_MAN113

    G_MAN113 Founding Member

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    Most of us, whether we believe in a Supreme Being or not, have a set of values that we believe in, a "moral compass". For those of us who do believe, that compass is oriented by our faith in the Supreme Being...he's sort of (for lack of a better term) a Father figure that guides us in the value system that gets us thru everyday life.

    Being a believer, I'm just wondering...what orients your moral compass if you're a non-believer? Upon what do you base your system of everyday values? Of right vs. wrong?

    This is not a flame...it's a genuine question designed to gain a better understanding of your point of view.
     
  2. martin

    martin Banned Forever

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    morality is basically rationality. i dont think murder is a bad idea because god says it is. if we as a society allowed murder, we would fall into chaos and people would be massacred all the time. we would live in fear. same thing with stealing, and all the other basic morals. because i am a rational person i recognize that there are some rules/laws/morals that we as a society must accept if we are gonna increase the collective happiness. and i want to be happy. i dont want people killing me or stealing my stuff.

    philosophers might say call it utilitarianism and claim that that all decisions should be made such that the outcome will produce the greatest aggregate utility for society. (utility in the philosophical sense meaning general happiness and satisfaction). or what you might call the golden rule, and think has religious origins, others might call the categorical imperative, the secular belief that people should never take the course of action that if everyone took, it would cause chaos.

    without morals, we would have chaos, and it would be bad for everyone. not that i care about everyone. i dont, i care about me, and i dont want chaos. and i want things to be easy.

    you dont have to have god to tell you that that things are better for you and everyone else if you are relatively moral and nice. morals are just like any other policy you think will contribute to your own, as well as society's, well being. like lower taxes. i favor lower taxes in the exact same sense that i favor burglary and murder being illegal. morals are like the rules of a sport. there is nothing holy about them. but if they werent there, the sport would suck.

    but there are plenty of "morals" that i think are stupid and based only in religion and not rationality. for instance hookers and drugs and gambling.

    every rational society in history, religious or not, has the same basic moral laws that religious people attribute to their beliefs.
     
  3. LSUGradin99

    LSUGradin99 I Bleedeth Purple 'N Gold

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    Great post martin.
     
  4. Rex

    Rex Founding Member

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    On morality...

    I am neither an anthropologist nor a psychologist, but I believe that every personal system of morality has two components: an evolutionary, subconscious biological side plus a current sociological conscious one.

    The biological component contains those norms of morality which enable humans to compete for their existence with other creatures and even with other humans. For example, "thou shalt not murder" is a manifestation of the fact that uncontrolled murder would have deleterious effects on populations. Similarly, patriotism and nepotism are biological rather than rational notions that say, in effect, that it is moral to defend one's own family even when it means death to outsiders.

    This set of mores existed before any human religion, and it would be silly to think that they would exist without the imposition of religious institutions, or even without the acknowledgement of some supreme being. They simply are necessary for human survival, and the "moral compass" of your question is simply irrelevant.

    The other side of morality is the conscious, rational side propagated by societal memes (see Richard Dawkins). Religious tenets fall into this category of mores. Whereas the unconscious biological component of morality is based on actual survival reward, the memetic side is based on expectation of reward.

    Both theists and atheists rely on such expectation. I abide by those moral guidelines that I feel will do the greatest good for the greatest number of people because I expect a personal benefit from it, i.e. the security and serenity of a non-chaotic culture. Christians and many theists generally share that attitude, of course, but they also seek the rewards of an afterlife.

    The atheist believes that mores are derived, whereas the theist believes they are given. The atheist believes in standards of behavior, whereas the theist believes in rules. The problem for the theist is that there is no proof that any rules were actually given to us by a higher power, and thus those rules can be erroneous and arbitrary, and many mistakes have been made historically when cultures abided such erroneously-ascribed rules.

    Well, I'm rambling away from the question now.

    The answer, again, is just as martin said... we derive our morality selfishly, from a desire for a secure culture in which we can be happy.
     
  5. martin

    martin Banned Forever

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    i read richard dawkins like crazy, i love that dude. i read "a devil's chaplain" recently, and i have i just bought "unweaving the rainbow" and it is on my shelf waiting for me. richard dawkins is my jesus, at least as far as science is concerned. unfortunately, politically he is a rich man's rex. he isnt a fan of bush.

    i even bought susan blackmore's "the meme machine" because it has a dawkins foreword. it was boring, couldnt finish it. "the blind watchmaker" kicks ass. one good thing about dawkins is how is so intelligent and scholarly, and so willing to really taunt the crap out of religion with crushing ferocity. he wouldnt buy the "you gotta respect people's beliefs" mentality i get around here so often.
     
  6. Rex

    Rex Founding Member

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    well, martin,

    I consider you an enigma. I can't fathom how an atheist could possibly be a Bush fan, since he rules by faith and even admits to it.

    Dawkins is even a bit haughty with other evolutionists, like Gould.
     
  7. martin

    martin Banned Forever

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    right, i am assuming you read a devil's chaplain, dawkins talks alot about his dealings with gould.

    true, bush, is a religious man, but who isnt? i have to respect somebody. kerry is catholic, it is not as if that isnt stupid. a friend oif mine and i have a long-running discussion on whether we believe politicians lie about their faith to get elected, or if they do, do we favor that dishonesty for the sake of ambition or sincere religious insanity. we havent decided. i am assuming that a least some prominent politicos are atheist, but cannot get elected if they admit it, and they have to have their precious power, so they lie.

    so bush is religious, i still agree with his policies more, even if some of his decisions are guided by faith. i really have no choice. i would love to vote for a rational, non-delusional atheist for president, but 8i wont have that choice in long time, probably ever, and i figure i wll be alive at least 50 more years.
     
  8. CParso

    CParso Founding Member

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    I'm not an atheist, although I considered myself one for a while. I believe in some "higher being" or whatever you would like to call it - but not in organized religion. I'm in a Philsophy class right now that all we do is talk about morals and where they come from, we've read so many philsophers I can't even name them.

    Personally, I think that morals don't come from within us. There is no inner conscious that tells us right from wrong - nothing that we know by nature. I believe that the State of Nature (what humans were like b4 "society") was chaos, nothing but war against all - social contracts emerged in order to keep yourself safe, thus starting the beginning of this idea of morals. As society evolves, so do "morals".

    For instance, look at Rome back in their triumphant days - they ruled the world but some would say their down fall came from the collapse of the family and degrading of morals. Men killed who they wanted, f*#ked who they wanted, and took whatever they wanted. Those things weren't wrong then, because society didn't say they were wrong. People learn from history, and so society & morals progressed.
    -the emergence of Democracy.
    Then eventually America.
    Then that women & minorities are equals, that perhaps the death penalty is wrong - hell we even swab peoples arms with alcohol before giving them lethal injection.

    For instance, A person raised by wolves since birth and taken in as an adult by people - he would have no problem killing people, he's got no reason to think its wrong. There's nothing inside of him telling him he shouldn't steal another man's posessions - he doesn't even understand that concept. This whole idea of right from wrong is something that only intelligence can invent and cause belief in. As society continues to progess, these ideas will progress further because intelligence builds upon intelligence and thus morals will build upon morals.

    This isn't to say that morals aren't real, simply that they don't exist naturally. We've developed them out of necessity.
     
  9. JSracing

    JSracing Founding Member

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    off subject.....

    so does this mean Martin and Rex are going steady??? :shock: :confused:


    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
     
  10. G_MAN113

    G_MAN113 Founding Member

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    Guys...

    Thank you for your honest and insightful answers.
     

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