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Mr. Heat Miser
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#41 Posted on 9.5.03 1243.46
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1245.23
Is "not harming others" still a weak notion if we call it the Golden Rule, and find it in the Bible?

Just askin', is all.

Because if you ask me, it's pretty weak to accept that an ultimate, personal moral being has set up a bunch of rules that can't even be agreed upon by believers. Whose interpretation do we go with? Southern Baptist? Shi'ite? Reform Judaism? Beats me.

The line for a moral code could go like this: If an act does not harm another individual or their property, there's nothing wrong with it.

That's absolute, and would seem to answer the why question pretty well.

Show me the ultimate failure of this one, DMC.
vsp
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#42 Posted on 9.5.03 1311.01
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1311.05
    Originally posted by DMC
    "Interesting tangent here to recent sodomy-law discussions, many of which are on the books but not regularly enforced, with a similar "is anyone REALLY hurt when the act occurs?" question surrounding them."

    Ah yes, the Wiccan Rede. "An it harm none, do what ye will." But can we get a definition of harm, and an explanation of why we should accept your definition at all, you conservative Puritan? Physical harm, emotional harm...can one act be seen as "harmful" by some and not by others? Why should you push your subject view of morality on me?

    Forget it, man, I say it is ok to torture babies with hot water and kill old ladies because they no longer serve a purpose--what do you say about that?

    DMC



Isn't this the point where the Pythons would flash "DIABOLICAL OVERACTING" on the screen?

Regardless, I'll play along. Of COURSE there are conflicting definitions of harm. That's precisely why moral relativists _exist_, because they refuse to accept that a single, all-encompassing moral code or definition of "harm" (whether it's based on the Bible, "common sense," "tradition," Hammurabi, Machiavelli, "community standards," the Koran, the Golden Rule, the Magna Carta, or anything else) is "right" for everyone and should be mandated for everyone.

As it happens, American law _also_ follows that principle to an extent. The Constitution enumerates a number of basic rights which citizens should not be deprived of, and which federal laws defend. (There's a very basic starting definition of "harm" for US citizens.) Beyond that, every state, every county, every town and every community has its own set of widely divergent laws, by-laws, guidelines and other restrictions on behavior. Opinions on what else is "harmful" vary from place to place, and from person to person.

Because of that divergence of opinion, _my_ opinion is that such laws should bend in the direction of tolerance whenever possible. Moral relativism isn't a call for outright anarchy, or for wiping all laws off the books -- it's an assertion that _where the line is drawn_ is open to debate, widely disagreed upon, and certainly not to be based on any single religious source.

When it comes to obvious physical harm, the laws should be and are robust already. Issues of non-physical harm (economics, discrimination, taxation, business practices, harassment, etc.) are more complicated, and the law has its hands full walking a tightrope between the rights of citizens and government, buyers and sellers, individual freedoms and corporate properties.

But when it comes to private behaviors that _don't_ cause obvious harm -- say, buying a vibrator in Alabama, sleeping with willing same-sex partners in Texas, paying someone for sex just about anywhere, and other acts prohibited by "morals" laws -- you'll go hoarse trying to convince me that the state has a vested interest in what consenting adults do behind closed doors and in prohibiting those behaviors.

And if there weren't many people out there pushing the notion that this _is_ a "Christian nation" (where "Christian" == their own particular denomination, Scriptural interpretation and moral leanings) and that behaviors outside of "traditional" religion-based norms and "traditional family values" ought to be banned, I wouldn't be reacting like a cornered animal whenever those topics come up.

EDIT: Case in point.


    Originally posted by DMC
    Yes but when someone wants to know exactly where you draw the line and, more importantly, *why*, the question becomes very muddled. I am a firm believer in the divine source hypothesis for the legitimization of moral laws. The only way moral rules make any kind of sense at all is because they are derived from an ultimate, personal *moral being* who holds those who break them responsible. All other justifications for morality ultimately fail, including the very weak notion that we should not "hurt" others.


You do realize that what you've stated here is not _fact_, is not _undeniable truth_, but opinion, right?

I am an atheist, and thus wholly reject the "divine source hypothesis." In and of itself, this does not make me right and you wrong, OR vice versa. You have your beliefs about religion and spirituality, I have mine, and we're both better off for it.

But I feel that when it comes to the law, let laws that govern human behavior be based on real-world standards that humans can agree upon, not upon interpretations (which are often conflicting) of how a divine being that many people consider to be a mythical storybook figure _wants_ humans to act.

Is the Bible devoid of wisdom, good advice and rules to live by? Certainly not. But I can dig a book out of my library and hold it up as a moral source, too, and I'm sure you'd give my book (whatever it may be) no more credibility as the sole foundation for moral law than I give yours.

(edited by vsp on 9.5.03 1120)
Cerebus
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#43 Posted on 9.5.03 1321.28
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1322.00
Why not just have everyone turn to Satanism?

...hey, don't laugh, this could stop so many 'bad things' from happening, you know...

The Eleven Satanic Rules

1) Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
2) Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure that they want to hear them.
3) When in another's lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
4) If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
5) Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
6) Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the person and he cries out to be relieved.
7) Acknowledge the power of magic if you have used it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
8) Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
9) Do not harm little children.
10) Do not kill non-human animals unless attacked or for your food.
11) When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.

...just cause it's named after 'Satan' doesn't mean it's all THAT bad, right? Even better then this are the the nine satanic sins...

Stupidity
Pretentiousness
Solipsism
Self-deceit
Herd conformity
Lack of perspective
Forgetfulness of past orthodoxies
Counterproductive pride
Lack of aesthetics

...well, discuss and complain.
vsp
Andouille
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#44 Posted on 9.5.03 1341.07
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1346.30

    Originally posted by Cerebus
    Why not just have everyone turn to Satanism?


Heh. I know this was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I don't believe in Satan any more than I believe in God. They are both part of the same mythos, after all.

I'm not actively anti-God or anti-Christianity, because the concepts help millions of people live their lives productively and happily. It's more of a state of personal apathy towards the concept than opposition or animosity; I view the my-religion-is-better-than-yours wars that erupt as being akin to sports-team rivalries, and choose not to pick a team myself or actively root for or against any of them.
MoeGates
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#45 Posted on 9.5.03 1347.04
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1359.03
My opinion is the fact that they use words like "lair" and "mating signal" cracks me up to no end. "If he does not stop, destroy him?" Do they think they're playing Dungeons and Dragons or something?

I'm surprised they didn't spell magic "magick."
DMC
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#46 Posted on 9.5.03 1401.13
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1403.51
Mr. Heat Miser: "The line for a moral code could go like this: If an act does not harm another individual or their property, there's nothing wrong with it."

The problem here is the definition of harm, which, as others agree, is not absolute. With a religious code, although there are "sects" with disagree with certain intricacies of particular religious doctrines, there is still an agreement that God does declare at least *certain* things absolutely right and absolutely wrong, and that He is the ultimate justification given for why we should follow these laws. One person's or one group's definition of the word harm does not stack up, and does not explain the existence of moral absolutes at all.

VSP: "But when it comes to private behaviors that _don't_ cause obvious harm -- say, buying a vibrator in Alabama, sleeping with willing same-sex partners in Texas, paying someone for sex just about anywhere, and other acts prohibited by "morals" laws -- you'll go hoarse trying to convince me that the state has a vested interest in what consenting adults do behind closed doors and in prohibiting those behaviors."

When did I say anything about the state violating those behaviors (although I would disagree with you on the legality of prostitution)?

"I am an atheist, and thus wholly reject the "divine source hypothesis." In and of itself, this does not make me right and you wrong, OR vice versa."

Why not? Is there no truth to be found in this area, can one *not* make rational and evidential arguments for or against atheism? (The existence of objective moral laws would count as a argument *against* atheism, by the way.)

DMC

Jaguar
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#47 Posted on 9.5.03 1402.03
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1409.16
Only eleven rules? Couldn't they have come up with the extra two to make it a good thirteen?

-Jag
vsp
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#48 Posted on 9.5.03 1435.09
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1435.54
    Originally posted by DMC
    I am an atheist, and thus wholly reject the "divine source hypothesis." In and of itself, this does not make me right and you wrong, OR vice versa."

    Why not? Is there no truth to be found in this area, can one *not* make rational and evidential arguments for or against atheism? (The existence of objective moral laws would count as a argument *against* atheism, by the way.)



Can you prove that God exists? Nope. Nor do you have to prove it (which is a good thing, considering the difficulty in empirically proving the existence of a noncorporeal being) to justify your beliefs.

Can I prove that God does not exist? Nope. Nor do I have to disprove it (which is a good thing, considering the inherent difficulty in proving a negative) to justify _my_ beliefs.

You can make all the arguments you want against atheism; I can throw just as many back promoting it. If neither side is provable, we are both in the realm of "belief" and "theory," and there is indeed no hard-and-fast "truth" to be found. Believe whatever works for you, man, but you seem shocked that someone doesn't agree about the credibility of your sources.



    With a religious code, although there are "sects" with disagree with certain intricacies of particular religious doctrines, there is still an agreement that God does declare at least *certain* things absolutely right and absolutely wrong, and that He is the ultimate justification given for why we should follow these laws.


What about those who do not follow a religious code? Do they get to stand out in the hall while the religious folk determine the absolutes and write the laws?
(edited by vsp on 9.5.03 1235)

(edited by vsp on 9.5.03 1238)
DMC
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#49 Posted on 9.5.03 1447.16
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1447.38
"You can make all the arguments you want against atheism; I can throw just as many back promoting it. If neither side is provable, we are both in the realm of "belief" and "theory," and there is indeed no hard-and-fast "truth" to be found."

Not necessarily...we may never be able to grasp "100% totally proven truth" on this issue of God, spirits, souls, etc., but who is to say that one side cannot be more rational than the other? Even if they are equally rational, wouldn't the atheist want to at least consider the implications of their beliefs if they are *actually* false?

Obviously, this may get us father off topic than I wished to go.

"What about those who do not follow a religious code? Do they get to stand out in the hall while the religious folk determine the absolutes and write the laws?"

No, they can make up whatever laws they wish. Whether or not those rules really exist and/or whether they can give a sensible justification for those rules is another matter.

DMC
Mr. Heat Miser
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#50 Posted on 9.5.03 1450.49
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1453.15

    Originally posted by DMC
    Mr. Heat Miser: "The line for a moral code could go like this: If an act does not harm another individual or their property, there's nothing wrong with it."

    The problem here is the definition of harm, which, as others agree, is not absolute. With a religious code, although there are "sects" with disagree with certain intricacies of particular religious doctrines, there is still an agreement that God does declare at least *certain* things absolutely right and absolutely wrong, and that He is the ultimate justification given for why we should follow these laws. One person's or one group's definition of the word harm does not stack up, and does not explain the existence of moral absolutes at all.


    DMC




This is very disingenuous. The disagreements between religions are not over "certain intricacies" of "particular religious doctrines". You use language well, but are prone to making sweeping assertions with no backup. So do tell which 'certain' things all religions agree on as being absolutely right and absolutely wrong. Put it on the line, man.
DMC
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#51 Posted on 9.5.03 1503.49
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1507.46
I'll "put it on the line, man" by explaining that I was referring to *my* particular religious faith specifically, Christianity. Now that I go back and read your post, I had mistakenly understood it to as singling out Christianity and its denominations in this regard. (Going over it too quickly made me leave out reference to Judaism and Islam.)

Second, the general point I have been trying to make is that, like Bill Bennett, I agree that there are objective virtues for humanity and that they ultimately rest in the Person of a divine being. *Who* that divine being is, and which particular religious books we need to follow for our moral actions with our fellow man and our relationship with God *is* another issue. The moral argument for the existence of God simply sets us on our way to find out more about who specifically He is.

DMC
Corajudo
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#52 Posted on 9.5.03 1512.15
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1519.48
Even if they are equally rational, wouldn't the atheist want to at least consider the implications of their beliefs if they are *actually* false?

I've been waiting for Pascal's wager to rear its head in this discussion.

Also, DMC had pointed out that there is one perfect moral example. I just want to point out belatedly that there are TWO perfect examples (at least if you're Catholic). As a further hint, Mother's Day is coming up Sunday!
DMC
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#53 Posted on 9.5.03 1518.37
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1519.49
What the hell, since we're already somewhat wading in philosophy of religion, I'll make one other point before CRZ and Guru destroy us with their divine power.

I never use Pascal's wager as a *proof* of anything. All the argument does is demonstrate that *if someone is wavering on the rationality of accepting God's existence versus not accepting it*, then it makes more sense to go with theism. In and of itself, the idea that spending an eternity in punishment is a nasty thing doesn't say much to someone who legitimally sees no basis whatsoever for believing in a divine being.

DMC

(edited by DMC on 9.5.03 1319)
MoeGates
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#54 Posted on 9.5.03 1520.59
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1521.03
The moral argument for the existence of God simply sets us on our way to find out more about who specifically He is.

Well, until you find this out, I don't understand how you can base worldy laws on him.
DMC
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#55 Posted on 9.5.03 1523.13
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1523.40
"Well, until you find this out, I don't understand how you can base worldy laws on him"

Your beef then is with the Founders of this country, not me.

DMC
vsp
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#56 Posted on 9.5.03 1532.04
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1535.52

    Originally posted by DMC
    "You can make all the arguments you want against atheism; I can throw just as many back promoting it. If neither side is provable, we are both in the realm of "belief" and "theory," and there is indeed no hard-and-fast "truth" to be found."

    Not necessarily...we may never be able to grasp "100% totally proven truth" on this issue of God, spirits, souls, etc., but who is to say that one side cannot be more rational than the other? Even if they are equally rational, wouldn't the atheist want to at least consider the implications of their beliefs if they are *actually* false?

    Obviously, this may get us father off topic than I wished to go.



That's the problem with rationality -- from my point of view, I'm a dozen times more rational than someone with your beliefs. I'm sure you feel the same about mine. Rationality is sometimes as ephemeral a concept as morality or spirituality.

This isn't entirely off-topic. The religion tangent started as a discussion of moral absolutes (which you accept and I reject) regarding Clinton's behavior/perjury. I still hold Clinton's Monica-related perjury as a lesser offense than it could have been strictly because the offense was concerning something inconsequential, while absolutists hold that an offense is an offense is an offense.

Certainly, if a non-believer loses Pascal's Wager, he's got problems. The reason I reject Pascal's Wager is that I can accept the "if I'm wrong, I burn" odds, because I view the probability of my being wrong as infintessimal, not a 50/50 proposition. We'll all find out soon enough.



    "What about those who do not follow a religious code? Do they get to stand out in the hall while the religious folk determine the absolutes and write the laws?"

    No, they can make up whatever laws they wish. Whether or not those rules really exist and/or whether they can give a sensible justification for those rules is another matter.



"Whether or not those rules really exist?"

I have no idea just what in the world you mean by this. You're not suggesting that laws are only valid or meaningful if they are based on religious codes, are you?
Corajudo
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#57 Posted on 9.5.03 1540.13
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1545.56
Editing to start over again:

I have to admit that I am loving the beauty of the moral relativist and moral absolutist having a debate about the source of morality. There is no resolution because the parties cannot even define the framework of their argument because each party's underlying assumptions (or ontological presuppositions, to be more precise) are too different. In short, we have a couple of dozen posts, but we have not even established what it is we are debating!

(edited by Corajudo on 9.5.03 1546)
vsp
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#58 Posted on 9.5.03 1606.34
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1610.50

    Originally posted by Corajudo
    Editing to start over again:

    I have to admit that I am loving the beauty of the moral relativist and moral absolutist having a debate about the source of morality. There is no resolution because the parties cannot even define the framework of their argument because each party's underlying assumptions (or ontological presuppositions, to be more precise) are too different. In short, we have a couple of dozen posts, but we have not even established what it is we are debating!



That's half the FUN of debating philosophy and theology.

DMC
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#59 Posted on 9.5.03 1702.41
Reposted on: 9.5.10 1702.46
Well, then let me help out one more time:

"I have no idea just what in the world you mean by this. You're not suggesting that laws are only valid or meaningful if they are based on religious codes, are you?"

That is *precisely* what I'm saying, VSP. Ultimately the source for objective moral laws is a divine being who gives the laws and holds us accountable if we do not follow them. Simple human agreement is not the *foundation* for moral truths (but the agreements can key us in toward the fact that the truths are there). Ultimately, what makes certain things "right" and other things "wrong" in the fullest senses of those words is because they either violate or are in accordance with the very nature of the Supreme being who created us.

But since you reject the notion of a Supreme being and of any objective moral laws, then none of this should concern you, correct? I would then take you to square one in order to demonstrate that there really *are* certain things that are objectively wrong, that do not depend on time, place, or human beliefs and circumstances. This is what I tried to accomplish with my first post on this issue, in a roundabout way.

DMC
OlFuzzyBastard
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#60 Posted on 10.5.03 1328.12
Reposted on: 10.5.10 1329.01
Can you prove, definitively, that you aren't merely a brain in some mad scientist's laboratory somewhere and that all the experiences you're having, ever had or ever will have aren't the result of a series of electrical stimuli triggering pre-planned responses creating a false reality? Can you prove "The Matrix" isn't "real"?

No, you can't. But that's still no reason to believe it.

Just something to think about.
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