Morality in God's Absence

  1. ladyphoenix
    I first posed the question to Diakonos... Would you, having found out that god was completely false, engage in things previously forbidden by god? Like rape, murder, adultery, theft, etc.. His answer was probably. The following was a result of probably another hour or so of good productive convo... But I feel like additional minds would be very useful at this point...

    First, for brevity, we're only going to refer to the act of murder. Assume "murder" is the killing of someone who is not an active threat to your life. This is the act we will be referring to throught this dicussion. The act of murder.

    Someone on the road is literally incapable of defending himself and there are no immediate or apparent consequences (i.e. no witnesses) associated with killing them. Absent god, why is it immoral to do so? If you don't believe it is immoral to do so, I'm interested in hearing why as well.
  2. ladyphoenix
    I believe it's immoral for a couple of reasons. 1) I value my own integrity very highly. Doing something to someone which I would not want them to do to me hurts my heart (or my soul, for those of you who believe in such a thing). 2) There is no way to predict with any degree of accuracy what the consequences of such an act would be, and I am one to err on the side of caution. My life means more to me than taking that man's life does, and that could very well be the cost.

    I put forth several items for consideration, in addition to the original question...

    1) There are people who do in fact believe this behavior is not "immoral." Why? What are the implications of this?
    2) Why is it the case that regardless of religion or lack of religion, people throughout recent human history pretty much universally hold that the act is "immoral?"
  3. ladyphoenix
    3) Absent god, what justification is there that we "should" view the act as "immoral?" (This is a fundamentally different question than the first question I asked.)
    4) Is it possible to believe in god, follow his word, and still commit the act believing you are wholly justified (morally speaking)?

    I know what my answers are to these questions... But I want to be pushed beyond where I am on these issues currently.

    ***I know this super sucks, but feel free to multipost as much as you have to to get all of this in... Or maybe I could talk Apok into lengthening our group posts.***
  4. Talthas
    Even if God did not exist, there would still be a moral law stemming from the simple fact that we, as human beings, all share a common experience on the same planet with the same limited resources and constraints on our physical capabilities. You and I must both wait the same amount of time for a crop to grow to be harvested and wait the same 9 months (hopefully) for a baby to be born, etc, etc. The shared experiences and needs of humanity write the moral law without explicitly assuming God exists. As a theist, it is my belief that these things are the way they are *because* God created us in His image and because humanity chose a different path than the effortless giving and receiving that God had created humanity to participate in. That said, virtually any moral law that God enjoins us to fulfill has a good, intuitive reason that finds its origin in the commonalities of human experience. (more...)
  5. Talthas
    The Golden Rule is a codification of the desire of *every* person to be treated fairly, honestly, and well by other people and an affirmation that, in the end, the only thing we can truly control is how we choose to act.

    The injunctions against things like murder, theft, rape, and adultery are all means by which society maintains its cohesion and people maintain internal psychological integrity and health. It would still be a bad idea to rape someone even if God didn't exist because of the immense harm it does to the person and to that person's social group.. which, in turn, causes collateral damage to the community.

    Injunctions against covetousness aren't so much a matter of external requirement as internal psychological health. How is sitting around resenting someone for their good fortune a healthy lifestyle, when they could be expending that same emotional effort planning how to be successful themselves?
  6. Talthas
    The Ten Commandments, when viewed as a matter of good psychosocial "hygiene" and not simply arbitrary taboos, form the basis of just about every moral law we know of. I wrote a lengthy exposition on this in a thread about it last year. I'll dig it up.

    (addendum: too hard... I quit. apparently my archive of posts doesn't go back that far. Multiple searches with different parameters to find the relevant thread have failed, and I can't spare any more time looking. sorry. )
  7. ladyphoenix
    I totally just remembered to look at this... And you've answered my question the way I would answer my question. What's a girl to say?

    I think that it is the most basic human reason to recognize that behaving a certain way that produces negative results for others (no matter how positive the results are for you), increases the likelihood you're going to be the recipient of the same behavior at some point. You murder someone for whatever reason, it's going to increase the likelihood you get murdered. You steal, it's going to increase the likelihood you get stolen from. You lie, and it increases the likelihood you are going to be lied to. That, I think, goes a long way to make people behave "morally" even in the absence of law.
  8. Martyr
    I agree with the last post by ladyphoenix.

    Religious people try to be good because they think it will get them into heaven, but under that is a deeper instinct. If you steal, you are more likely to be stolen from, if you muder, you are more likely to be murdered. What keeps people from doing harm to eachother is the possibility of retaliation from victims. Also, having the emotions to feel bad if you commit a negative deed against another person probably occured through our evolution, as a socialabe race, as a way to reduce the amount of same race fighting. I think it is safe to say if a race killed eachother too excessively, that this race would have a harder time surviving, so it would be a good evolutional trait to feel bad emotionally when doing harm to others of the same race.
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