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Pat~
08-04-2006, 03:08 AM
MODERATOR NOTE: This thread was split from another discussion. --Roger

Maybe even if your brothers and sisters in Christ don’t see things your way and thank you for correcting them, you can still extend them grace. Everyone is in need of that, no?


Ephesians 4

Unity in the Body of Christ

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 03:13 AM
Maybe even if your brothers and sisters in Christ don’t see things your way and thank you for correcting them, you can still extend them grace. Everyone is in need of that, no?



Grace is an admirable quality whether one is a brother/sister in Christ or not.

Not that grace plays a large part in relentlessly banging on that door all night because of the alleged bomb in the basement.

Pat~
08-04-2006, 03:28 AM
No, it doesn't :-). But the beauty of it is that those who would follow Christ extend grace regardless of whether someone deserves it or not--because that's what Christ does.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 03:38 AM
No, it doesn't :-). But the beauty of it is that those who would follow Christ extend grace regardless of whether someone deserves it or not--because that's what Christ does.

I'm more impressed by people who extend grace (or perform any moral action) because it's the right thing to do - and for no other reason whatsoever.

Pat~
08-04-2006, 03:42 AM
What would make it the 'right thing to do?'

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 03:45 AM
What would make it the 'right thing to do?'

It's right if it's fair.

Pat~
08-04-2006, 03:46 AM
It's right if it's fair.

Well, fair would mean I extend you grace, if you extend me grace. Is that what you mean?

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 03:52 AM
Well, fair would mean I extend you grace, if you extend me grace. Is that what you mean?

No - that's "do unto others as they do unto you."

Fair is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Pat~
08-04-2006, 03:56 AM
No - that's "do unto others as they do unto you."

Fair is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

No, I think fair is the first one. An eye for an eye.

So doing the right thing isn't necessarily doing the fair thing.

davids
08-04-2006, 03:57 AM
Fair Grace extended her hand to them-some received the peace and the joy freely offered to them-some spat on her-some live with Grace-some do not

Pat~
08-04-2006, 04:09 AM
Fair Grace extended her hand to them-some received the peace and the joy freely offered to them-some spat on her-some live with Grace-some do not

Hmm. A new kind of fair. It's right because it's beautiful. And what makes Fair Grace so beautiful?

davids
08-04-2006, 04:14 AM
If you ask the still-small voice sitting in the softness of your soul-God will answer

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 04:18 AM
No, I think fair is the first one. An eye for an eye.

So doing the right thing isn't necessarily doing the fair thing.

Your definition of "fair" is the same as "revenge", and I disagree with it.

Fairness is the basis of morality. If we lived by "an eye for an eye" (the opposite of grace), we'd have gone extinct a very long time ago. Furthermore, "an eye for an eye" mentality degrades humanity IMO. Poking out your eye because you poked out mine makes both of us poorer.

What's "moral" is whatever behavior is the most effective, and therefore the best, at ensuring our survival as social beings. The most effective behavior for the survival of social beings is treating others as you want to be treated.

In my experience religious people of all persuasions (especially fundamentalists, since that's the topic of the thread) tend to define morality otherwise. They define morality as arbitrary rules that come from the supernatural realm, ie. from on high. Some of those arbitrary rules happen to be quite sensible, of course, but still - following rules because they are rules, instead of because they are right, is not moral behavior. It's like being accidentally moral as long as the rule happens to be moral.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 04:20 AM
If you ask the still-small voice sitting in the softness of your soul-God will answer

I'm interested to know how you tell the difference between God's answer and some random answer your mind came up with?

Pat~
08-04-2006, 04:28 AM
Your definition of "fair" is the same as "revenge", and I disagree with it.

Fairness is the basis of morality. If we lived by "an eye for an eye" (the opposite of grace), we'd have gone extinct a very long time ago. Furthermore, "an eye for an eye" mentality degrades humanity IMO. Poking out your eye because you poked out mine makes both of us poorer.

What's "moral" is whatever behavior is the most effective, and therefore the best, at ensuring our survival as social beings. The most effective behavior for the survival of social beings is treating others as you want to be treated.

In my experience religious people of all persuasions (especially fundamentalists, since that's the topic of the thread) tend to define morality otherwise. They define morality as arbitrary rules that come from the supernatural realm, ie. from on high. Some of those arbitrary rules happen to be quite sensible, of course, but still - following rules because they are rules, instead of because they are right, is not moral behavior. It's like being accidentally moral as long as the rule happens to be moral.

I think I'd agree with you that rules should always be followed because they are 'right'--not because they are rules. The first is true morality, the second is legalism. I'm just wondering where you get your definition for 'right'. Now it seems like you're saying that 'right' is whatever ensures the survival of the species?

davids
08-04-2006, 04:31 AM
It does not matter a witches tit-for some it is God-if you don't want to believe it simply does not matter except to God-the heart and the mind live in the same place-perhaps for pb10220 and definately for myself it is the still-small-voice of God-for SonoranWriter perhaps it is not God it is whatever SonoranWriter wants-for some fear always outwits the intellect of the soul and for some fear is not necessary-so the soul is often not outwitted.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 05:04 AM
I think I'd agree with you that rules should always be followed because they are 'right'--not because they are rules. The first is true morality, the second is legalism. I'm just wondering where you get your definition for 'right'. Now it seems like you're saying that 'right' is whatever ensures the survival of the species?

Yes - I think morality is biologically determined.

What are the other options? That morality is a philosophical thing, or a supernaturally dictated thing. The first seems irrelevant (because morality relates to actions, not philosophical theory) and the second equates to "God is right, therefore what is right is what God says is right" which is a tautology that begs the question: How do you know God is right? It doesn't really get us anywhere.

What is your definition of "right"? Does your definition include the concept of God?

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 05:10 AM
It does not matter a witches tit-for some it is God-if you don't want to believe it simply does not matter except to God-the heart and the mind live in the same place-perhaps for pb10220 and definately for myself it is the still-small-voice of God-for SonoranWriter perhaps it is not God it is whatever SonoranWriter wants-for some fear always outwits the intellect of the soul and for some fear is not necessary-so the soul is often not outwitted.

Hi davids. Your answer is quite confusing to me. When I asked "how do you tell the difference between God's answer and some random answer your mind came up with?" perhaps I should have emphasized "you". I really did mean, how do you tell the difference?

Can you tell the difference, and if so, how do you tell the difference?

Pat~
08-04-2006, 05:17 AM
Yes - I think morality is biologically determined.

What are the other options? That morality is a philosophical thing, or a supernaturally dictated thing. The first seems irrelevant (because morality relates to actions, not philosophical theory) and the second equates to "God is right, therefore what is right is what God says is right" which is a tautology that begs the question: How do you know God is right? It doesn't really get us anywhere.

What is your definition of "right"? Does your definition include the concept of God?

Yes, my definition includes the concept of God. But let me explore your thoughts just a bit further, if that's all right. This is interesting to me. If "right" is defined by whatever contributes to the survival of the species, then it raises another question in my mind...what about Hitler's actions? He was trying to contribute to the survival of what he considered 'the cream' of the species. Do you mean the survival of just the 'good' people, or the survival of all people?

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 05:30 AM
Yes, my definition includes the concept of God. But let me explore your thoughts just a bit further, if that's all right. This is interesting to me. If "right" is defined by whatever contributes to the survival of the species, then it raises another question in my mind...what about Hitler's actions? He was trying to contribute to the survival of what he considered 'the cream' of the species. Do you mean the survival of just the 'good' people, or the survival of all people?

It's not a biologically good thing that only the cream of the crop survive, because species require biodiversity to survive.

Also, had Hitler been a Jew, he would have had a very different view of what should be done with Jews. In fact, any rational person who isn't a Jew understands that it's wrong (unfair) to kill Jews. That Hitler didn't understand this proves that he wasn't able to empathize, ie. he was a sociopath.

When deciding what actions are right and wrong, the actions of a sociopath don't bear much weight.

Pat~
08-04-2006, 05:50 AM
It's not a biologically good thing that only the cream of the crop survive, because species require biodiversity to survive.

Also, had Hitler been a Jew, he would have had a very different view of what should be done with Jews. In fact, any rational person who isn't a Jew understands that it's wrong (unfair) to kill Jews. That Hitler didn't understand this proves that he wasn't able to empathize, ie. he was a sociopath.

When deciding what actions are right and wrong, the actions of a sociopath don't bear much weight.

But he was only a sociopath because we deemed his actions "wrong"...but that gets us back to the question of what constitutes "right."

Looking at your first statement, biodiversity is a physical trait. But what I was talking about was that Hitler placed a moral value on the people he chose to eliminate--that of "bad." Hitler was a member of the human species. Was Hitler's concept of morality biologically inborn in him--and if so, why did he have a different concept than you or me?

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 06:41 AM
But he was only a sociopath because we deemed his actions "wrong"...but that gets us back to the question of what constitutes "right."

He was a sociopath because he couldn't empathize - just like blind people are blind because they can't see. That isn't an opinion that we "deemed" to be true - it's a fact: someone who can't empathize with other humans is not capable of moral judgment.



Looking at your first statement, biodiversity is a physical trait. But what I was talking about was that Hitler placed a moral value on the people he chose to eliminate--that of "bad." Hitler was a member of the human species. Was Hitler's concept of morality biologically inborn in him--and if so, why did he have a different concept than you or me?

To generalize your argument, I think you're asking: how do we know whose moral judgments are correct, since we're all humans with the same basic biology? ("How do we know..." is my favorite question.)

If morality is biologically determined, then there is an "objective morality": what's good for the species is right. This doesn't mean that individuals will all agree on what's right in any specific circumstance, and it certainly doesn't mean they will act according to what's right, because people are motivated by many things other than survival of the species.

Most animals act on instinct and don't have this problem. They don't understand, or need to understand, what's "right" and "wrong" (ie. they are amoral; they are not moral beings). Everything they do is by definition "right" because their instincts evolved to perpetuate the species.

Hitler judged certain people to be "bad" based on faulty logic, and his faulty logic arose because he was devoid of empathy. The clearest proof that he was wrong to judge people "bad" based on race is that his system failed. Moral systems, decisions and actions work because they're best for the species. Immoral systems die.

(Would a blind man's opinion on whether the Mona Lisa was a good picture mean anything? His eyes are broken. Hitler's moral compass was broken.)

Religious morality, on the other hand, is entirely relative. "What God says is right, is right." If tomorrow God says killing babies is right, does that mean suddenly it's right to kill babies?

Pat~
08-04-2006, 07:18 AM
He was a sociopath because he couldn't empathize - just like blind people are blind because they can't see. That isn't an opinion that we "deemed" to be true - it's a fact: someone who can't empathize with other humans is not capable of moral judgment.




To generalize your argument, I think you're asking: how do we know whose moral judgments are correct, since we're all humans with the same basic biology? ("How do we know..." is my favorite question.)

If morality is biologically determined, then there is an "objective morality": what's good for the species is right. This doesn't mean that individuals will all agree on what's right in any specific circumstance, and it certainly doesn't mean they will act according to what's right, because people are motivated by many things other than survival of the species.

Most animals act on instinct and don't have this problem. They don't understand, or need to understand, what's "right" and "wrong" (ie. they are amoral; they are not moral beings). Everything they do is by definition "right" because their instincts evolved to perpetuate the species.

Hitler judged certain people to be "bad" based on faulty logic, and his faulty logic arose because he was devoid of empathy. The clearest proof that he was wrong to judge people "bad" based on race is that his system failed. Moral systems, decisions and actions work because they're best for the species. Immoral systems die.

(Would a blind man's opinion on whether the Mona Lisa was a good picture mean anything? His eyes are broken. Hitler's moral compass was broken.)

Religious morality, on the other hand, is entirely relative. "What God says is right, is right." If tomorrow God says killing babies is right, does that mean suddenly it's right to kill babies?

But you're deducing he was devoid of moral empathy--because he didn't have the same morals as other people. Just like you're deducing his moral compass was "broken" because he had different standards about what was "good" and "bad". You are starting with the assumption that he was bad. Why was his logic 'faulty'? I guess the key thing is still, why do we say he was evil (nonempathetic, morally broken, etc.) rather than good? He was into creating a super-race, and according to your definition of good, that which promotes the strength of the species is "good."


If morality is biologically determined, then there is an "objective morality": what's good for the species is right.

But that precludes a subjective basis: who gets to be the judge of what's good for the species? Hitler thought what was good for the species was the extinction of Jews, and certain other people. So your objective morality is actually very subjective.



Religious morality, on the other hand, is entirely relative. "What God says is right, is right." If tomorrow God says killing babies is right, does that mean suddenly it's right to kill babies?


If one believes in God, then religious morality can't be relative, because it's based upon a God who is absolute, and unchanging in His standards. That's because God's standard for Good is Himself. And He cannot deny Himself, or deny His own character, or He would cease to be.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 08:18 AM
But you're deducing he was devoid of moral empathy--because he didn't have the same morals as other people. Just like you're deducing his moral compass was "broken" because he had different standards about what was "good" and "bad". You are starting with the assumption that he was bad.

Not at all. I'm starting with the assumption that "good" means "best for the species". He did things that were bad for the species, therefore he was bad.

Why do you think Hitler was bad? Because he broke the commandment "Thou shalt not murder"? Why is that commandment good? Because God says so? Or is there something inherently bad about murder?



Why was his logic 'faulty'? I guess the key thing is still, why do we say he was evil (nonempathetic, morally broken, etc.) rather than good? He was into creating a super-race, and according to your definition of good, that which promotes the strength of the species is "good."

Assuming he was right that Jews are genetically inferior, his goal of a super-race doesn't promote the strength of the species - reducing biodiversity is bad for the species. His conclusion was wrong. Since Jews are not in fact genetically inferior, his premise was wrong. Faulty logic either way.




But that precludes a subjective basis: who gets to be the judge of what's good for the species? Hitler thought what was good for the species was the extinction of Jews, and certain other people. So your objective morality is actually very subjective.

There is no subjective basis for morality. What's good for the species is biologically determined - it's not determined by our opinions. How do we know what's good for the species? We devise experiments and find out. You can't beat empirical data for illuminating the truth.



If one believes in God, then religious morality can't be relative, because it's based upon a God who is absolute, and unchanging in His standards. That's because God's standard for Good is Himself. And He cannot deny Himself, or deny His own character, or He would cease to be.

He can't...? I thought God could to anything. ;) (Okay, I know the answer to that: he can't do anything that goes against his nature.)

I see no evidence at all that God is absolute and unchanging. He changes his mind all the time in the bible. He changed his mind about the very creation of mankind. God-given "morality" changes vastly from the Old to the New Testament.

"God's standard for Good is Himself" doesn't make sense to me. Are you defining God as good? On what do you base that assumption? ("Because God said so" is not a logical answer.)

reph
08-04-2006, 08:37 AM
If morality is biologically determined, then there is an "objective morality": what's good for the species is right.And if morality isn't biologically determined, what's good for other species may be right, too.


Most animals act on instinct.... They don't understand, or need to understand, what's "right" and "wrong".... Everything they do is by definition "right" because their instincts evolved to perpetuate the species.Do you assume that evolution is finished and animals' behavior is now perfectly attuned to what their species needs? Many species now living will go extinct someday. Perhaps the instinctual behavior of some will hasten that event.


Hitler judged certain people to be "bad" based on faulty logic, and his faulty logic arose because he was devoid of empathy.I have to disagree. I think logic had nothing to do with it. It was emotional, not logical. Hitler judged certain people to be "bad" because the defense mechanisms he used, chiefly splitting and projection, warped his judgment. They were part of his mental illness.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 08:50 AM
And if morality isn't biologically determined, what's good for other species may be right, too.

I don't follow you there.



Do you assume that evolution is finished and animals' behavior is now perfectly attuned to what their species needs? Many species now living will go extinct someday. Perhaps the instinctual behavior of some will hasten that event.

Evolution is an ongoing process. No animal is perfectly attuned to its environment and almost all animals die in infancy - I mentioned instincts only to show that humans behave in ways that go beyond survival instinct.

The environment is always one step ahead of the animal kingdom. A species goes extinct because a change in the environment is too great or too sudden for it to cope with.


I have to disagree. I think logic had nothing to do with it. It was emotional, not logical. Hitler judged certain people to be "bad" because the defense mechanisms he used, chiefly splitting and projection, warped his judgment. They were part of his mental illness.

I'mn not sure we disagree. Hitler had faulty logic or no logic - makes no difference to my argument. The point is that his actions were objectively immoral because they were detrimental to humankind.

Pat~
08-04-2006, 09:07 AM
Why do you think Hitler was bad? Because he broke the commandment "Thou shalt not murder"? Why is that commandment good? Because God says so? Or is there something inherently bad about murder? I think Hitler was evil because he didn't value what God values...human life. I think evil comes from the absence of good. I think I would think he was evil even if I'd never read the 10 commandments. I also think that man is born with Moral Law; I just don't think it's genetic--physical. I think it's a spiritual legacy.


Assuming he was right that Jews are genetically inferior, his goal of a super-race doesn't promote the strength of the species - reducing biodiversity is bad for the species. His conclusion was wrong. Since Jews are not in fact genetically inferior, his premise was wrong. Faulty logic either way.

Although reducing biodiversity may be bad for the species, reducing the 'faulty' gene pool wouldn't be seen that way. Of course, what was deemed 'faulty' would be subjective, too.





There is no subjective basis for morality. What's good for the species is biologically determined - it's not determined by our opinions. How do we know what's good for the species? We devise experiments and find out. You can't beat empirical data for illuminating the truth.

So, based on this we can assume that smoking, for example, is morally wrong?



He can't...? I thought God could to anything. ;) (Okay, I know the answer to that: he can't do anything that goes against his nature.)

I see no evidence at all that God is absolute and unchanging. He changes his mind all the time in the bible. He changed his mind about the very creation of mankind. God-given "morality" changes vastly from the Old to the New Testament.

Changing ones mind is not the same thing as changing one's moral standards or morality. If you've read the Bible, you'll see that He does lament at one point the creation of man because of the sin they've fallen into--but that's not because His moral standards have changed. Man's moral standards changed...they became progressively more evil.



"God's standard for Good is Himself" doesn't make sense to me. Are you defining God as good? On what do you base that assumption? ("Because God said so" is not a logical answer.)


But I'm not necessarily depending on logic--you are ;) . My belief system is based ultimately on reasoned faith. I believe in a God who is defined as good, and my sense of morality builds upon this. You also believe in an inborn 'morality' but you're not telling me where it comes from; you say it's based on whatever is good for mankind's survival, but you don't explain why some people's sense of 'good' clashes with other people's sense of 'good.' If morality is an inborn trait for the survival of the species, then why throughout the ages have there been so many different 'moralities?'

For example: in China, there has long been a law that families could not have more than one child. This was 'for the good of the population'--the country is overcrowded, and resources stretched. So, for them, is it 'good' to abort all subsequent pregnancies? And would it be good or not good in America? This would be an example of how such a morality is subjective, IMHO.

reph
08-04-2006, 09:47 AM
And if morality isn't biologically determined, what's good for other species may be right, too.I don't follow you there.Treating animals well is an item in many people's bags of moral principles, and it isn't grounded in "what's good for my species." More generally, I'm not convinced that all of morality can be referred to a biological basis. One might want to say that altruism is biologically determined because, looking from a sociobiologist's exalted perch, one observes that altruistic acts promote a group's survival. But all that's biologically determined is the possibility of altruism. Humans inherit big brains that enable us to have complex emotional lives and to figure out what's good for our companions, and so forth. Each individual still has to develop into a moral adult. This doesn't happen automatically. Hitler escaped it, and he had the same evolved brain as anyone else.

I also have reservations about the idea that all of morality is reducible to helping one's species, or even to helping any species.


I'mn not sure we disagree. Hitler had faulty logic or no logic.... The point is that his actions were objectively immoral because they were detrimental to humankind.Only if one accepts as a premise that "objectively immoral" means "detrimental to humankind." I hold a value of not hurting people, but I don't claim that it's objective. Defining "good" as "beneficial to humankind" looks like anchoring your moral system to something solid and absolute, but it really isn't. That definition would have to be shown to be right, just like a religious person's definition of "good" as "consistent with God's commands."

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 10:27 AM
Although reducing biodiversity may be bad for the species, reducing the 'faulty' gene pool wouldn't be seen that way. Of course, what was deemed 'faulty' would be subjective, too.
For the sake of argument, we're assuming Jews have faulty genes or Hitler genuinely believed they did. Reducing a faulty gene pool in that manner is bad for humans. There are more subtle ways of enabling the human species' survival as a social animal than just passing on "good" genes. (We are not like other animals, as I've pointed out - we are moral beings, ie. capable of moral decisions.) A society that routinely murders a large proportion of its population is not a healthy society. See my "eye for an eye" comment, or any African nation currently suffering under a murderous dictator.

Consider this: suppose humans had evolved to reproduce like invertebrates, giving birth to a thousand tiny "babies", from which two or three survived to maturity. Our attitudes towards infant mortality (and just about everything else) would be vastly different. It would clearly be detrimental to the species to allow all thousand babies to mature every time a woman gave birth. The right thing to do would be to allow most of them to die "as nature intended".

I give the example to show how our morality is dictated by our biology. I realize that since you don't think morality is biological, you won't agree, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from.


So, based on this we can assume that smoking, for example, is morally wrong?
Smoking is a bad example because it can drastically affect people other than the smoker. However, in principle, doing unhealthy things to your body is morally wrong. Society invests resources in raising a person to adulthood, and we owe society something back - abusing our bodies to the point that it makes us sick is detrimental to society.

If a 60-year-old takes up smoking for the first time in the privacy of his home - well, he's paid his dues to society.


Changing ones mind is not the same thing as changing one's moral standards or morality. If you've read the Bible, you'll see that He does lament at one point the creation of man because of the sin they've fallen into--but that's not because His moral standards have changed. Man's moral standards changed...they became progressively more evil.
God has changed his mind and therefore is not unchanging. If he can change his mind, presumably he can change other things about himself. If you make a distinction between God's various actions (whimsical) and God's fundamental nature (unchanging, ie. always whimsical) then we can debate which category his morality falls into...

A Christian's morality is relative to God. To a Christian it doesn't matter where God got his morality or why he picked those morals - all that matters is that he accepts God's morality. His moral values are relative to God's will: God says this is good, therefore it's good.

Morality as evidenced in biology is a brute fact of reality, and is not subordinate to any being's will.


But I'm not necessarily depending on logic--you are . My belief system is based ultimately on reasoned faith.
If your reasoned faith isn't logical, wouldn't that make it illogical? What does illogical but reasoned faith look like?


I believe in a God who is defined as good, and my sense of morality builds upon this. You also believe in an inborn 'morality' but you're not telling me where it comes from;
I've said where it comes from: it evolved, the same way the five fingers on my hand evolved. It was useful for my ancestors' survival.


you say it's based on whatever is good for mankind's survival, but you don't explain why some people's sense of 'good' clashes with other people's sense of 'good.'
I've said why this is so: people have motivations other than survival when they act.


If morality is an inborn trait for the survival of the species, then why throughout the ages have there been so many different 'moralities?'
Because in the past, people have had very different motivations for their actions. Our lives today, particularly concerning the essentials of survival, are nothing like our ancestors' lives. The correct moral decision is, and always has been, whichever decision is best for humankind.


For example: in
China, there has long been a law that families could not have more than one child. This was 'for the good of the population'--the country is overcrowded, and resources stretched. So, for them, is it 'good' to abort all subsequent pregnancies? And would it be good or not good in America? This would be an example of how such a morality is subjective, IMHO.
What would be "good" would be providing easily available free birth control to anyone who wants it. A consequence of the one-child policy has been female infanticide, which is an objectively bad thing. Changing the culture so that male and female children are equally valued would be another "good" thing.

Reducing the birth rate in America, a very different culture, would require a different approach for it to work (and what works is what’s moral). Changing the culture to eliminate the attitude of entitlement that Americans have to reproducing at will would be a start.

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 10:59 AM
Treating animals well is an item in many people's bags of moral principles, and it isn't grounded in "what's good for my species."

This comes down to "do unto others..." again, only this time the others are animals.

Morality is an interaction between moral agents. We can infer that some animals have limited morality (eg. an experiment showed primates understand the concept of “equal pay for equal work”) and we can interact with them on a moral level. Since we don’t know the actual moral capabilities of animals, it’s best to err on the side of caution and treat them as moral agents, too. I wouldn’t give one of my dogs two treats and the other one, for example, because I’m pretty sure they know that’s not fair.

But there are lots of animals that we can be fairly sure are not moral agents, are not even remotely self-aware. Many of these animals we kill and mistreat without a second thought when we have sufficient reason (when it's good for humankind; eg. pest control). Hurting or killing animals such as these without reason (eg. pulling the wings off flies) is immoral not so much because the animal suffers; it’s immoral because it’s harmful to the person doing the killing. It changes their attitude towards life in a negative direction, and that’s harmful to society.

I do actually think there's more to the "wrongness" of hurting non-aware animals than the damage it does to humans, but since I can't express it beyond "feelings", and I'm trying to be logical, I can't say more yet.


I also have reservations about the idea that all of morality is reducible to helping one's species, or even to helping any species.

If morality is doing the right thing, when is helping ever not the right thing?


Defining "good" as "beneficial to humankind" looks like anchoring your moral system to something solid and absolute, but it really isn't. That definition would have to be shown to be right, just like a religious person's definition of "good" as "consistent with God's commands."

Good=beneficial by definition. Beneficial to humans, animals, plants, environment, whatever - but humans should top the list because humans are the highest moral agents, therefore at crunch-time we owe other humans sound moral decisions more than we owe them to animals.

When is “harmful to humankind” ever a good thing?

Pat~
08-04-2006, 11:10 AM
When is “harmful to humankind” ever a good thing?

The Chinese think something that's harmful to baby humans is a 'good' thing, and your logic of morality would seem to agree with that.

SeanDSchaffer
08-04-2006, 11:31 AM
If morality is doing the right thing, when is helping ever not the right thing?


If you're helping someone else do the wrong thing, then you're not doing the right thing.

For example, if you give aid to a criminal or a traitor to your country, you yourself become a criminal or a traitor to your country. Helping others is not always doing the right thing.

Pat~
08-04-2006, 11:57 AM
For the sake of argument, we're assuming Jews have faulty genes or Hitler genuinely believed they did. Reducing a faulty gene pool in that manner is bad for humans. There are more subtle ways of enabling the human species' survival as a social animal than just passing on "good" genes. (We are not like other animals, as I've pointed out - we are moral beings, ie. capable of moral decisions.) A society that routinely murders a large proportion of its population is not a healthy society. See my "eye for an eye" comment, or any African nation currently suffering under a murderous dictator.

There might be more SUBTLE ways, but if the not-so-subtle way produced the same desired effect--strengthening the survival of the species--then, according to your moral logic, it would still be 'good'.



Consider this: suppose humans had evolved to reproduce like invertebrates, giving birth to a thousand tiny "babies", from which two or three survived to maturity. Our attitudes towards infant mortality (and just about everything else) would be vastly different. It would clearly be detrimental to the species to allow all thousand babies to mature every time a woman gave birth. The right thing to do would be to allow most of them to die "as nature intended".

I give the example to show how our morality is dictated by our biology. I realize that since you don't think morality is biological, you won't agree, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from.

You're trying to prove something with a hypothetical situation here...the fact is, that is not the human situation, so your illustration fails to prove your point in any way that I can see.



Smoking is a bad example because it can drastically affect people other than the smoker.
All the more reason why it should be morally 'wrong' by your definition.


However, in principle, doing unhealthy things to your body is morally wrong. Society invests resources in raising a person to adulthood, and we owe society something back - abusing our bodies to the point that it makes us sick is detrimental to society.
I would agree with this. But why did you say "in principle?" Do you mean that theoretically it's wrong, but in practice it's not morally wrong?



If a 60-year-old takes up smoking for the first time in the privacy of his home - well, he's paid his dues to society.

So if the person is old, (and therefore expendable?) it'd not be morally wrong for him to smoke, even though it did not 'strengthen the species?'


God has changed his mind and therefore is not unchanging. If he can change his mind, presumably he can change other things about himself. If you make a distinction between God's various actions (whimsical) and God's fundamental nature (unchanging, ie. always whimsical) then we can debate which category his morality falls into...God can change His mind about what actions He decides to take without changing His immutable nature. When theologians say God is 'unchanging' they are referring to His nature, not His actions. Though His actions may vary, they are always consistent with His nature.



A Christian's morality is relative to God. To a Christian it doesn't matter where God got his morality or why he picked those morals - all that matters is that he accepts God's morality. His moral values are relative to God's will: God says this is good, therefore it's good.


A Christian's morality relates to his God--but his sense of Truth, Goodness, and Right are not 'relative', because they line up (hopefully) with God's unchanging standards.


If your reasoned faith isn't logical, wouldn't that make it illogical? What does illogical but reasoned faith look like?

I said it wasn't based on a system of logic; my beliefs are based on reasoned faith. The concept of God defies logic--just as the concept of infinity does--yet is it 'illogical' of you to believe in it?


I've said where it comes from: it evolved, the same way the five fingers on my hand evolved. It was useful for my ancestors' survival.


So you are saying it is like an inherited 'instinct.' But that raises a few questions. First, an instinct is a strong desire to act in a certain way. And yet with morality, there's NOT always the same strong desire to act in a right way. Suppose you saw a truck bearing down on a person in the road. Many would have a strong instinct to grab that person out of harm's way. But that instinct would also be tempered in many of us with a conflicting instinct--our own survival. Morality then comes into play--it's a separate, third thing altogether. It can't be an instinct itself; it's the thing that helps us choose which instinct for survival to obey. Morality directs the instincts.

Secondly, if morality was an instinct or impulse basic for survival, it would then stand that the particular moral instinct was always good, or always bad...so should always be expressed or repressed. But if you think about it, our moral instincts are impulses which sometimes are repressed for the good, and then sometimes expressed for the good.


What would be "good" would be providing easily available free birth control to anyone who wants it.
But according to your premise, if birth control is unavailable, then the abortion or infanticide is 'good,' as it is the only available means for the 'good of the society.'

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 01:45 PM
There might be more SUBTLE ways, but if the not-so-subtle way produced the same desired effect--strengthening the survival of the species--then, according to your moral logic, it would still be
'good'.
I keep using the term "social animal" and it's not by accident. Human morality relates to the survival of humans as a social animal. By that I mean the survival of societies, because our species can't survive without societies. A society doesn't have to have the "best" genes and eliminate bad ones in order to be stronger. A society full of genetically perfect people could easily fall apart if other human needs are ignored.


You're trying to prove something with a hypothetical situation here...the fact is, that is not the human situation, so your illustration fails to prove your point in any way that I can see.
Exactly. That's not the human situation, so that's not our morality. Our morality is to value every child highly because they're rare.


"Smoking is a bad example because it can drastically affect people other than the smoker."
All the more reason why it should be morally 'wrong' by your definition.
I was assuming that what you meant to ask was "Is doing something harmful to your body morally wrong?" Clearly smoking that affects others is morally wrong.


I would agree with this. But why did you say "in principle?" Do you mean that theoretically it's wrong, but in practice it's not morally wrong?
No. "In principle" because I was extending the "smoking" example to cover any unhealthy activity, ie. the principle of deliberately doing anything unhealthy to your body (to the point where it affects your ability to be useful to society) is immoral.


So if the person is old, (and therefore expendable?) it'd not be morally wrong for him to smoke, even though it did not 'strengthen the species?'
I said "If a 60-year-old takes up smoking for the first time in the privacy of his home - well, he's paid his dues to society." The reason I don't think it's morally wrong was clearly given, especially in light of my previous statement in that post, so I have no idea where you came up with this interpretation.


A Christian's morality relates to his God--but his sense of Truth, Goodness, and Right are not 'relative', because they line up (hopefully) with God's unchanging standards.
Even if you claim God's morality is absolute, a Christian's morality is relative to that. A recently converted Christian, for example, has to realign all his morality relative to God's. Or, if you came across a bible passage you'd forgotten about, that expressed a morality you hadn't considered before, you'd have to change your morality to match it. It doesn't matter what it is or whether you agree with it - you have to adjust your morality, and you adjust it relative to God's.


I said it wasn't based on a system of logic; my beliefs are based on reasoned faith. The concept of God defies logic--just as the concept of infinity does--yet is it 'illogical' of you to believe in it?
Infinity doesn't defy logic, it defies intuition. There's an entire mathematical system devoted to infinity.

What do you mean by "system of logic"? Logic is logic. You said "But I'm not necessarily depending on logic". If you don't depend on logic to form an opinion or belief, what method do you use to determine its truth? (I'm pretty sure reason and logic amount to the same thing, since reason can't be illogical and logic is reasoned.)

Regarding faith (in God), I don't think it's logical (reasonable) to believe in something for which there's no empirical evidence (because what stops you from believing or disbelieving anything at random if you don't use logic to determine what's true?). This is why I was confused by your term "reasoned faith".


So you are saying it is like an inherited 'instinct.' But that raises a few questions. First, an instinct is a strong desire to act in a certain way. And yet with morality, there's NOT always the same strong desire to act in a right way.
I think I've already covered this. Animals are the ones that rely exclusively on instinct. Morality is a set of behaviors that strengthens human societies. Everyone except sociopaths has that innate moral compass (knows right from wrong), just like we have an innate language center in the brain just waiting to develop. Any 2-year-old knows in essence what's unfair (even if their reaction is an immature emotional outburst rather than a reasoned explanation).

Whether we exercise "good" morals is a more complicated issue because humans are complicated beings under all kinds of influences, and they have all kinds of motivations that are often selfish instead of benefitting society. As with any biological imperative, we frequently ignore it. Each individual decides by reason or habit whether to take the moral course of action in a situation. The point is they do possess the innate mental tools to be able to figure out what the "right" action is - if they bother to put themselves in the other person's shoes. Many people don't bother.



But according to your premise, if birth control is unavailable, then the abortion or infanticide is 'good,' as it is the only available means for the 'good of the society.'
Isn't this a hypothetical situation that is not the human situation? ;) It seems unlikely that birth control would vanish, that abortion and infanticide would be the only alternatives. Teach women to read and they suddenly stop having babies. Change the culture to help people realize we can't expand exponentially. Tax babies or reward small families.

We keep talking about "good" but in practise there are moral choices, and then there are better or worse moral choices. If the options are millions of children starving to death because of overpopulation, or abortion, then abortion seems preferable. It would have a less devastating effect on society, so logically it's the "better" option. What would Jesus do?

SonoranWriter
08-04-2006, 02:01 PM
I also have reservations about the idea that all of morality is reducible to helping one's species, or even to helping any species.

If morality is doing the right thing, when is helping ever not the right thing?

If you're helping someone else do the wrong thing, then you're not doing the right thing.
For example, if you give aid to a criminal or a traitor to your country, you yourself become a criminal or a traitor to your country. Helping others is not always doing the right thing.
"Helping" (not my word, I just reused it) in this context refers to "benefitting the survival of humans as social animals". Obviously most of our day-to-day actions have only a very small impact on this, but the principle is the same. Joining with someone in a criminal act isn't benefitting society.

I was refuting the first statement above, that morality isn't "benefitting the survival of humans as social animals". If it's not that, then what is it?

reph
08-04-2006, 10:26 PM
This comes down to "do unto others..." again, only this time the others are animals.

Morality is an interaction between moral agents. We can infer that some animals have limited morality (eg. an experiment showed primates understand the concept of “equal pay for equal work”) and we can interact with them on a moral level. Since we don’t know the actual moral capabilities of animals, it’s best to err on the side of caution and treat them as moral agents, too....

Hurting or killing animals such as these without reason (eg. pulling the wings off flies) is immoral not so much because the animal suffers; it’s immoral because it’s harmful to the person doing the killing. It changes their attitude towards life in a negative direction, and that’s harmful to society.
Forgive me if I sound argumentative, but I don't accept all your reasoning. An animal doesn't have to be a moral agent for me to believe that helping it is the right thing to do. I posted recently in Office Party about having helped a trapped honeybee regain her mobility, and I have no illusions that bees are moral agents.

In my view, torturing flies is immoral precisely because it hurts the flies. I'm not sure it causes an attitude change in the person who does it. The person had a bad attitude to begin with. If continuing to torture flies does worsen his attitude, that's only because it's wrong on other grounds – namely, because it hurts the flies.


I do actually think there's more to the "wrongness" of hurting non-aware animals than the damage it does to humans, but since I can't express it beyond "feelings", and I'm trying to be logical, I can't say more yet.I think it's a mistake to try to derive morality from logic alone. Feelings have a place. Why are you trying so hard to exclude them?


If morality is doing the right thing, when is helping ever not the right thing?Helping a student cheat on a test is the wrong thing. Okay, the student benefits in the short term, but the academic system suffers in the long term because students cheat in general, so that may not be the kind of example you asked for.

It isn't that helping is sometimes not the right thing. It's that although acts that are the right thing to do and acts of helping overlap, the two sets of acts aren't identical. As one example, we consider it right to show respect for the dead. We give them decent burials (or cremations), we don't play with corpses, we arrange for grave markers even if the deceased was a terrible person and had no friends or relatives to visit the grave. All this seems to follow from a moral position. Violations of these practices inspire moral horror, not some other kind of horror. However, the dead are beyond being helped. So what's the basis for this moral position? Why does society divert resources toward providing dignity for people who can no longer appreciate it instead of using those resources to help its living members?

Less dramatic examples of the opposite case, behavior that is helpful but not morally obligatory, are easy to find. Smiling and joking with colleagues on breaks makes their workday more pleasant. This is a form of helping. It may, in fact, help the economy roll along by reducing turnover. (Workers will quit sooner if the office environment is grim.) But the decision to do it or not do it doesn't qualify as a moral issue.

I could write pages and pages about ethics, but it might not be the "right" thing to do. Other tasks compete for my time.

reph
08-04-2006, 11:04 PM
Society invests resources in raising a person to adulthood, and we owe society something back - abusing our bodies to the point that it makes us sick is detrimental to society.

If a 60-year-old takes up smoking for the first time in the privacy of his home - well, he's paid his dues to society.If the 60-year-old was always a slacker who exploited society and did nothing for it, is he therefore less entitled to smoke than a 60-year-old who was a good citizen?

Somehow it doesn't seem like good reasoning to get this much mileage out of an economic model and the balancing of ledgers in order to construct or explain a moral system.

Dan A Lewis
08-04-2006, 11:39 PM
I was refuting the first statement above, that morality isn't "benefitting the survival of humans as social animals". If it's not that, then what is it?

Well, Heidegger made a useful distinction between vorhanden-sein and da-sein, being-to-hand and true-being. It is the idea that although we are subjective, in the sense that we have a self and make decisions, there are powerful forces which pull us away from our subjectivity and cause us to act like objects. A central force is the fear of death: we fear the unknowable abyss at the end of our subjectivity, so we attempt to live forever by concentrating our efforts on things that don't die, the trophies of merely human success and acclaim. We pretend that we are the objects of success and live unconsciously.

Morality is a subset of living da-sein; obviously, in attempting to live up to your true self, it makes an enormous difference whether you believe you are a social animal mechanically following the dictates of an evolutionary path that asks no questions and provides no answers, or whether you believe, for instance, that you are created to an end for a specific, unique purpose.

In that case, morality might be closer to "living with integrity, seeking your purpose, bending your efforts toward the moments for which you were made." But then it's not clear at all how your purpose might coincide or conflict with "aiding the survival of the human race as social animals." You might do things that hurt the human race somehow because you believe they're the right things to do.

There are lots of ways to dissect the human condition, and social animal is not the only one. Why is the survival of the human race good or bad? I don't grant that the question is obvious either way.

Pat~
08-05-2006, 03:18 AM
I keep using the term "social animal" and it's not by accident. Human morality relates to the survival of humans as a social animal. By that I mean the survival of societies, because our species can't survive without societies. A society doesn't have to have the "best" genes and eliminate bad ones in order to be stronger. A society full of genetically perfect people could easily fall apart if other human needs are ignored.

It may or may not be that our species can't survive without societies, but for sure societies can't survive without the species. So how can a moral decision be made for the good of a society that is not for the good of the species?



I was assuming that what you meant to ask was "Is doing something harmful to your body morally wrong?" Clearly smoking that affects others is morally wrong.

Yes, I meant morally wrong for both reasons--for harm to self as well as harm to others.



No. "In principle" because I was extending the "smoking" example to cover any unhealthy activity, ie. the principle of deliberately doing anything unhealthy to your body (to the point where it affects your ability to be useful to society) is immoral.


So I think what you are saying is that smoking is a morally wrong thing to do in that it is unhealthy for the individual so that it impairs (or eventually impairs) his ability to be useful to society? Just trying to get a fix on your position, here. Because I'm trying to understand the next thing you said...that the 60-yr. old's smoking would not be morally wrong--presumably because he has nothing left to contribute to society? (See below):



I said "If a 60-year-old takes up smoking for the first time in the privacy of his home - well, he's paid his dues to society." The reason I don't think it's morally wrong was clearly given, especially in light of my previous statement in that post, so I have no idea where you came up with this interpretation.




Even if you claim God's morality is absolute, a Christian's morality is relative to that. A recently converted Christian, for example, has to realign all his morality relative to God's. Or, if you came across a bible passage you'd forgotten about, that expressed a morality you hadn't considered before, you'd have to change your morality to match it. It doesn't matter what it is or whether you agree with it - you have to adjust your morality, and you adjust it relative to God's.

Well, here you are using the word 'relative' meaning it relates to God--not as in relative meaning 'changeable'. Because if the new morality relates to God's morality, it's unchangeable. Certainly a converted Christian's old 'morality' undergoes change, but the new moral code ascribed to is one based on absolutes.



Infinity doesn't defy logic, it defies intuition. There's an entire mathematical system devoted to infinity.


LOL, well maybe it doesn't defy your logic, but it does mine. Would you care to explain it to me, then?


What do you mean by "system of logic"? Logic is logic. You said "But I'm not necessarily depending on logic". If you don't depend on logic to form an opinion or belief, what method do you use to determine its truth? (I'm pretty sure reason and logic amount to the same thing, since reason can't be illogical and logic is reasoned.)

When I think of logic, I think of systematically going from one point to the next with complete understanding. Like A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. Reasoning plays a big part in logic--except I can also 'reason' that I'm of finite mind and therefore might not be able to comprehend completely things of an infinite nature. Hence the term 'reasoned faith.' Faith is the necessary ingredient of my religious belief. It's interesting to contemplate that certainly God could have made 'religion' scientifically provable. He could've revealed Himself to humanity in a scientifically verifiable way. But He didn't; in fact, He tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him." I wonder if maybe He didn't just want to make sure that, although we were created 'in His image,' we would know the chasm of difference between Him and us. Faith requires humility, and an admission of the limits of human reasoning. But to believe in faith is not to have 'blind' faith. My faith is augmented by revealed truth--things I can observe in nature, and in history, and truth I can observe in the Bible (eg. fulfilled prophecy). That's what I mean by 'reasoned faith.'



I think I've already covered this. Animals are the ones that rely exclusively on instinct. Morality is a set of behaviors that strengthens human societies. Everyone except sociopaths has that innate moral compass (knows right from wrong), just like we have an innate language center in the brain just waiting to develop. Any 2-year-old knows in essence what's unfair (even if their reaction is an immature emotional outburst rather than a reasoned explanation).


I think we're in complete agreement that there is an innate Moral Law. We just disagree on how it got there. You have said it is a biologic trait for the preservation of the species (or broader, society). If it's biologically imperative to have, you haven't answered why the sociopath doesn't have it. (The religious person would say that it is hampered to varying degrees by the sin nature.)



Whether we exercise "good" morals is a more complicated issue because humans are complicated beings under all kinds of influences, and they have all kinds of motivations that are often selfish instead of benefitting society. As with any biological imperative, we frequently ignore it. Each individual decides by reason or habit whether to take the moral course of action in a situation. The point is they do possess the innate mental tools to be able to figure out what the "right" action is - if they bother to put themselves in the other person's shoes. Many people don't bother.


It seems a contradiction to say that all people get their moral compass biologically, and that this has evolved over time for the preservation of the species (or society)--and yet, historically we don't see people becoming more and more moral as this trait strengthens. And again, you haven't explained about two competing moral instincts--how to explain that third thing that causes one to decide on instinct #1 or #2.



Isn't this a hypothetical situation that is not the human situation? It seems unlikely that birth control would vanish, that abortion and infanticide would be the only alternatives. Teach women to read and they suddenly stop having babies. Change the culture to help people realize we can't expand exponentially. Tax babies or reward small families.


Unfortunately, no, this is not a hypothetical situation unknown to the human situation. And there is infanticide going on today in such situations. There are plenty of women who have no access to birth control. And I've never seen anything to substantiate that the underlined above has solved the problem of abortion or infanticide.


We keep talking about "good" but in practise there are moral choices, and then there are better or worse moral choices. If the options are millions of children starving to death because of overpopulation, or abortion, then abortion seems preferable. It would have a less devastating effect on society, so logically it's the "better" option. What would Jesus do?
If both of those options result in the death of children, how is either one 'less devastating for society?' I don't follow your logic here--especially in light of the premise that the morally 'good' choice is that which supports the preservation of the species (or society). I think, too, that this is overly simplistic. Millions of children are aborted or killed in China, but not due simply to the alternative threat of starvation. There are political and economic issues driving their law as well.

SonoranWriter
08-05-2006, 10:44 PM
Forgive me if I sound argumentative, but I don't accept all your reasoning. An animal doesn't have to be a moral agent for me to believe that helping it is the right thing to do. I posted recently in Office Party about having helped a trapped honeybee regain her mobility, and I have no illusions that bees are moral agents.

I don't understand your example. You say an animal doesn't have to be a moral agent, but your example is a bee, which you say is a moral agent. (Bees know right from wrong?)

However, I agree that it's still the right thing to do to help animals (more precisely, to not harm them) - we just have different reasons why it's right. An earthworm is a machine (biological), same as a leaf (biological) or an egg timer (mechanical). You can't have a moral encounter with any of these things. But because we have empathy, it affects us negatively to harm things that do or may feel pain. Most of us can empathize even with an ant, but stepping on an ant makes no more difference to the ant colony, the ecosystem, the world, or even the ant (since it wasn't self-aware) than crushing a leaf. The only thing it affects is the person who stepped on the ant.


In my view, torturing flies is immoral precisely because it hurts the flies.

What about torturing bacteria? (eg. putting them in a nutrient-poor culture where they slowly starve to death)


I think it's a mistake to try to derive morality from logic alone. Feelings have a place. Why are you trying so hard to exclude them?

Because feelings are subjective. They have their place as part of the human experience, but it's irrational to base decisions on them.


Helping a student cheat on a test is the wrong thing. Okay, the student benefits in the short term, but the academic system suffers in the long term because students cheat in general, so that may not be the kind of example you asked for.

Helping someone do something wrong is never right - it just magnifies the wrong.


It isn't that helping is sometimes not the right thing. It's that although acts that are the right thing to do and acts of helping overlap, the two sets of acts aren't identical.
...
However, the dead are beyond being helped. So what's the basis for this moral position? Why does society divert resources toward providing dignity for people who can no longer appreciate it instead of using those resources to help its living members?

When someone dies, all they leave behind are the memories in others' minds and their contributions to society. It's morally right to respect those contributions (if we didn't, living people might stop contributing) and the only concrete way we can do that is by physical rituals and markers - eg. a funeral and a grave we consider "sacred", or whatever marker is culturally appropriate.

I would see helping as a subset of "doing right", not an overlap. I don't see where helping is doing wrong, because by definition helping makes things better. (Of course, many people believe they're helping when they're not, and usually that's because of their own ignorance or self-centeredness.)



Less dramatic examples of the opposite case, behavior that is helpful but not morally obligatory, are easy to find. Smiling and joking with colleagues on breaks makes their workday more pleasant. This is a form of helping. It may, in fact, help the economy roll along by reducing turnover. (Workers will quit sooner if the office environment is grim.) But the decision to do it or not do it doesn't qualify as a moral issue.

I think it is a moral issue. You have a moral duty to not make other people feel worse just because you feel bad (when it's nothing to do with them). Smiling is one way. Of course, forcing a smile when everyone knows you're going through hell is going to make them feel worse, so it would be the wrong thing to do in that case.

SonoranWriter
08-05-2006, 10:45 PM
If the 60-year-old was always a slacker who exploited society and did nothing for it, is he therefore less entitled to smoke than a 60-year-old who was a good citizen?

Somehow it doesn't seem like good reasoning to get this much mileage out of an economic model and the balancing of ledgers in order to construct or explain a moral system.

Nothing to do with economics. I didn't mean to imply that "dues" were dollars.

A citizen who is a slacker is entitled to less of everything.

SonoranWriter
08-05-2006, 10:47 PM
There are lots of ways to dissect the human condition, and social animal is not the only one. Why is the survival of the human race good or bad? I don't grant that the question is obvious either way.

In an absolute sense it's not. This is why there's no such thing as absolute morality. Nothing is good or bad as far as the universe is concerned.

Good is a human concept. We made it up to describe our goals and needs. Why should it apply to anything not human?

The survival of the human race is quite clearly good for humans.

SeanDSchaffer
08-05-2006, 11:07 PM
Snipped....Good is a human concept. We made it up to describe our goals and needs.....Snipped.



SonoranWriter, you are forgetting that Good, in many cases, goes directly against human nature. Every one of the 'Thou Shalt Not's in the ten commandments, in the Bible, for example, are directly contradictory to human nature.

Human nature says to silence all opponents at all costs. Good, on the other hand, says that murder is wrong, as is slander. (Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor)

Human nature says to do whatever feels good. Good, on the other hand, says that stealing from others, having sexual relations with people you are not married to, etc. are wrong. (Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not commit adultery.)

The point I am making is that Good is not a human concept, because it goes directly against human nature. I noticed earlier that you said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Indeed, that is a statement of Good. (Interesting to note: Christ Himself used variations of that phrase in at least two of the four Gospels in the Bible.)

But the statement made above goes directly against what the average human wishes to do. When someone treats them like dung, they automatically want to treat the person who treat them badly, the same way.

It is hard for me to imagine, SonoranWriter, an ordinary human being coming up with what we call 'Good', because Good directly contradicts our human nature. It is not human nature to have mercy on someone, nor is it human nature to give grace. It is human nature to destroy everything that disagrees with us, and it is human nature to harm our species, not help it.

reph
08-06-2006, 12:08 AM
I don't understand your example. You say an animal doesn't have to be a moral agent, but your example is a bee, which you say is a moral agent.I said a bee was not a moral agent. "I have no illusions that bees are moral agents."

I'm not sure an earthworm is a machine. Worms certainly show signs of distress when disturbed by a gardener turning the soil or moving compost. Darwin found evidence of intelligence in earthworms.


What about torturing bacteria? (eg. putting them in a nutrient-poor culture where they slowly starve to death)That doesn't bother me. I don't believe bacteria have any sort of consciousness. Washing my hands doesn't cause guilt.


Because feelings are subjective. They have their place as part of the human experience, but it's irrational to base decisions on them.It may be nonrational (a different thing), but it isn't crazy unless the person is crazy enough to have a warped moral sense. A normal person's feelings guide moral decisions all the time.


When someone dies, all they leave behind are the memories in others' minds and their contributions to society. It's morally right to respect those contributions (if we didn't, living people might stop contributing) and the only concrete way we can do that is by physical rituals and markers - eg. a funeral and a grave we consider "sacred", or whatever marker is culturally appropriate.So funerary customs are justified only by an incentive system? People who contributed nothing get memorials, too.

SonoranWriter
08-06-2006, 12:12 AM
It may or may not be that our species can't survive without societies, but for sure societies can't survive without the species. So how can a moral decision be made for the good of a society that is not for the good of the species?
I submit that it's impossible for the human species to survive without societies, just like it's impossible for the ant species to survive without colonies. We evolved as a social animal - it's part of our fundamental nature.


So I think what you are saying is that smoking is a morally wrong thing to do in that it is unhealthy for the individual so that it impairs (or eventually impairs) his ability to be useful to society? Just trying to get a fix on your position, here. Because I'm trying to understand the next thing you said...that the 60-yr. old's smoking would not be morally wrong--presumably because he has nothing left to contribute to society?
You misunderstood "paid his dues". It means "he's earned the right". Of course he still contributes to society.


Well, here you are using the word 'relative' meaning it relates to God--not as in relative meaning 'changeable'. Because if the new morality relates to God's morality, it's unchangeable. Certainly a converted Christian's old 'morality' undergoes change, but the new moral code ascribed to is one based on absolutes.
I haven't conceded that God's morality doesn't change (because to me it clearly does, as described in the Bible). I think we're agreed on "relative", it's just that I'm saying if God's morality did change tomorrow, as it has in the past IMO, a Christian would have to change theirs. You're saying that would never happen.


LOL, well maybe it doesn't defy your logic, but it does mine. Would you care to explain it to me, then?
Sorry, I'm not well versed in the mathematics of infinity.


It's interesting to contemplate that certainly God could have made 'religion' scientifically provable. He could've revealed Himself to humanity in a scientifically verifiable way. But He didn't; in fact, He tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him." I wonder if maybe He didn't just want to make sure that, although we were created 'in His image,' we would know the chasm of difference between Him and us.
You've skipped a key step in the reasoning process here: how do you know that God said "without faith it is impossible to please Him"? If you don't use rational means to assess what is true (eg. the Bible), why don't you accept other religious texts on faith, too?


Faith requires humility, and an admission of the limits of human reasoning. But to believe in faith is not to have 'blind' faith. My faith is augmented by revealed truth--things I can observe in nature, and in history, and truth I can observe in the Bible (eg. fulfilled prophecy). That's what I mean by 'reasoned faith.'
The evidence is that nature and history are explainable without supernatural interference. Fulfilled prophesies is probably the subject for another thread... But you're right, it does take faith to assume that these things are supernaturally influenced when IMO reason is sufficient to show they're not.


I think we're in complete agreement that there is an innate Moral Law. We just disagree on how it got there.
I suspect we would also disagree on some specifics of that Law, too.


You have said it is a biologic trait for the preservation of the species (or broader, society). If it's biologically imperative to have, you haven't answered why the sociopath doesn't have it. (The religious person would say that it is hampered to varying degrees by the sin nature.)
The sociopath is broken.


It seems a contradiction to say that all people get their moral compass biologically, and that this has evolved over time for the preservation of the species (or society)--and yet, historically we don't see people becoming more and more moral as this trait strengthens.
Individual humans have always had the choice to follow their moral compass or not - the problem is that most humans can be wildly irrational, due to possessing a level of intelligence and self-awareness that enables them to act beyond what their instincts tell them - and so take no notice of that compass, because their aim is far more selfish and short-sighted. When humans do (and did, historically) the "wrong" thing, their societies tend to crumble. But the general trend is that societies have matured and become more rational - that god for the Enlightenment.

The "biological moral compass" would not have changed much in thousands of generations, because humans haven't biologically evolved much in that time - but our basic needs, or "what's good for the species" is the same: humans have always wanted a safe place to raise their children. They just have irrational ways of achieving that goal sometimes.


And again, you haven't explained about two competing moral instincts--how to explain that third thing that causes one to decide on instinct #1 or #2.
Because I don't describe morality as an instinct. And there are never only two options to a decision. There are varying degrees of action based on a single moral principle - for example, should I give that bum money or not? If so, how much? If not, what should I do instead?


Unfortunately, no, this is not a hypothetical situation unknown to the human situation. And there is infanticide going on today in such situations. There are plenty of women who have no access to birth control.
Birth control is certainly available in China, which is the situation under discussion. Where it's not available, you offered abortion and infanticide as the options. The third option is doing nothing and allowing the population to starve to death once it exceeds the environment's capability to sustain it. Of these three options, the first is the best.


And I've never seen anything to substantiate that the underlined above has solved the problem of abortion or infanticide.
What those options do is get women to use contraceptives, which is the best moral choice of all.


If both of those options result in the death of children, how is either one 'less devastating for society?
Because watching children slowly starve to death is more traumatic for society (and more "expensive" in a situation with very limited resources) than aborting fetuses.

I think, too, that this is overly simplistic. Millions of children are not aborted or killed in China due to the alternative threat of starvation. There are political and economic issues driving their law as well.
Which is why millions of Chinese people need to shift their moral compass and start realizing they should be popping the Pill - then the laws wouldn't be necessary.

reph
08-06-2006, 12:14 AM
Good is not a human concept, because it goes directly against human nature.I believe human nature contains both the bad impulses and the good ones. People are often ambivalent. You might feel like having an affair with someone else's spouse but remind yourself that you value loyalty, too.

SonoranWriter
08-06-2006, 12:38 AM
Human nature says to silence all opponents at all costs. Good, on the other hand, says that murder is wrong, as is slander. (Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor)
I see no evidence that human nature is anything of the sort. There are plenty of people in the world who may act like this, but (1) they know it's wrong and destructive (because they would object if you did the same to them), and (2) if they don't know, then they're broken and irrelevant to any discussion of morality.

Every functioning culture we've ever found that never heard of Christianity's God has an innate moral compass - they know murder is wrong, they know stealing is wrong, they know lying is wrong.

Everybody knows what's right and wrong. Everybody also knows that you can profit when you cheat - immature humans act for selfish short-term gain, but you can bet that a society full of only these people would fall apart. It wouldn't function. What's good for humans is a society that functions. Actions that create a functioning society are morally good.


The point I am making is that Good is not a human concept, because it goes directly against human nature. I noticed earlier that you said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Indeed, that is a statement of Good. (Interesting to note: Christ Himself used variations of that phrase in at least two of the four Gospels in the Bible.)
Yes, the Golden Rule is a good one, although it didn't originate with Jesus.


But the statement made above goes directly against what the average human wishes to do. When someone treats them like dung, they automatically want to treat the person who treat them badly, the same way.
Mature rational people do not think this way because they know it's not best for society, and because they have enough empathy to understand why the other person is treating them like dung.

Unfortunately, it's true that a large percentage of adults are very immature. They ride on the backs of the mature ones who maintain a functioning society.


It is hard for me to imagine, SonoranWriter, an ordinary human being coming up with what we call 'Good', because Good directly contradicts our human nature. It is not human nature to have mercy on someone, nor is it human nature to give grace. It is human nature to destroy everything that disagrees with us, and it is human nature to harm our species, not help it.
I realize this is a very Christian perspective (humans are worthless scum incapable of doing good without God's guidance) but I simply don't agree that humans are like this.

Some questions for you:

If morality comes from God... how did mankind arrive to the point that we condemn slavery, when the bible doesn't condemn slavery?

If you'd never heard of God, would you be a murderer?

Why are our prisons not stuffed full of murdering, raping atheists?

SonoranWriter
08-06-2006, 12:52 AM
I said a bee was not a moral agent. "I have no illusions that bees are moral agents."
Sorry, I misunderstood.


I'm not sure an earthworm is a machine. Worms certainly show signs of distress when disturbed by a gardener turning the soil or moving compost. Darwin found evidence of intelligence in earthworms.
All animals show the "intelligence" to survive in the environment in which they evolved.


It may be nonrational (a different thing), but it isn't crazy unless the person is crazy enough to have a warped moral sense. A normal person's feelings guide moral decisions all the time.
And if that's the case, they will be led astray much of the time. Moral decisions are rational ones by definition (my definition). People may accidentally make a good decision guided only by feelings, of course. And because many feelings have a rational basis, this might happen quite often. If you ask people to justify their decision, they may start out with an emotional reason but you can usually get down to the rational one (or irrational, as the case may be) if you ask them.


So funerary customs are justified only by an incentive system? People who contributed nothing get memorials, too.
They don't get very big ones. And who's to judge that someone contributed nothing? There's nothing wrong in being generous by assuming they made unsung contributions. Generosity within a society is generally something that adds to its functioning, and is therefore morally good.

reph
08-06-2006, 02:43 AM
Sorry, I misunderstood.Okay. Then you recognize that people are sometimes moved to help animals that they don't consider moral agents?


All animals show the "intelligence" to survive in the environment in which they evolved.This says nothing about whether earthworms are or aren't conscious. If we're going to say that whatever an animal does to survive is intelligent behavior, we'll need a new definition of intelligence to accommodate creatures like sea anemones. They survive in their environment without doing anything that looks intelligent or even stupid but deliberate.


People may accidentally make a good decision guided only by feelings, of course. And because many feelings have a rational basis, this might happen quite often.Indeed. Maybe it happens so often because most people have good values, or pretty good values, so that their impulses are trustworthy. If a man sees a car bearing down on a child and pulls her out of harm's way without having time to think, he doesn't consider options and arrive at a decision through reasoning about what's good for the species. Emotion carries the day.


If you ask people to justify their decision, they may start out with an emotional reason but you can usually get down to the rational one (or irrational, as the case may be) if you ask them. If you aren't satisfied with their first answer because they gave an emotional reason, you'll keep asking until they give the kind of answer you're probing for. That doesn't show that their first answer was false or partial.


[On funerals and such:] There's nothing wrong in being generous by assuming they made unsung contributions. Generosity within a society is generally something that adds to its functioning, and is therefore morally good.The people who get the biggest funerals are generally the ones whose relatives have the most money. The family's beliefs about the importance or nonimportance of ritual also enter into it, as does the size of the deceased's social circle. These factors are independent of the magnitude of the deceased's contributions. I can't argue with generosity. Generosity is great. But I don't see that providing funerals and gravestones is based on an exchange with the deceased. Those things are simply provided, without conditions. It's not a transaction.

SonoranWriter
08-06-2006, 03:11 AM
Okay. Then you recognize that people are sometimes moved to help animals that they don't consider moral agents?

Yes, but I already said this a while ago.


This says nothing about whether earthworms are or aren't conscious. If we're going to say that whatever an animal does to survive is intelligent behavior, we'll need a new definition of intelligence to accommodate creatures like sea anemones. They survive in their environment without doing anything that looks intelligent or even stupid but deliberate.

This is why I put "intelligence" in quotes. You can't really meaningfully assess any other species' intelligence except in the context of that species' environment. Earthworms as a species don't do anything that doesn't relate to their survival, so it seems silly to call their behavior intelligent (as we understand human intelligence).


Indeed. Maybe it happens so often because most people have good values, or pretty good values, so that their impulses are trustworthy.
You said a person's feelings guide moral decisions, and now you're calling them "impulses". Those two things aren't the same at all.


If a man sees a car bearing down on a child and pulls her out of harm's way without having time to think, he doesn't consider options and arrive at a decision through reasoning about what's good for the species. Emotion carries the day.
If it was a stranger, or an old lady, or someone else's child, or the man who just shot a cop or raped our hero's daughter, his reactions might be different in each case. This is biologically determined impulsive behavior that leads people to preferentially favor their kin. And it's morally right to favor your kin, to a point, because that's beneficial to the functioning of society.


If you aren't satisfied with their first answer because they gave an emotional reason, you'll keep asking until they give the kind of answer you're probing for. That doesn't show that their first answer was false or partial.
My example assumed that people would give truthful answers. Or, if they are able to self-examine, they could find the answer themselves. The point is that some feelings are based on rational thought processes but have become habitual, so the underlying reasoning is unconscious. Some feelings are just irrational and lead to bad decisions.


The people who get the biggest funerals are generally the ones whose relatives have the most money. The family's beliefs about the importance or nonimportance of ritual also enter into it, as does the size of the deceased's social circle. These factors are independent of the magnitude of the deceased's contributions. I can't argue with generosity. Generosity is great. But I don't see that providing funerals and gravestones is based on an exchange with the deceased. Those things are simply provided, without conditions. It's not a transaction.
This is getting way off the point that was being made. It doesn't matter how big a funeral is - that's entirely up to the people involved. The question was why is it good for a society to spend resources and give any reverence at all to dead bodies, which I answered. Nothing is being "exchanged" with the deceased. Funerals are entirely for the living.

Whether people individually decide to spend money on funerals is up to them - but how much they spend is a moral decision. If it makes them happy, then great - happy people are good for society. If mom spends the kids' college funds on dad's funeral because she can't bear to not give him a huge send-off, then that's bad.

reph
08-06-2006, 04:55 AM
This is why I put "intelligence" in quotes. You can't really meaningfully assess any other species' intelligence except in the context of that species' environment. Earthworms as a species don't do anything that doesn't relate to their survival, so it seems silly to call their behavior intelligent (as we understand human intelligence).Well, Darwin called it that. I think the original question was whether earthworms were unconscious machines. It hasn't been settled.


You said a person's feelings guide moral decisions, and now you're calling them "impulses". Those two things aren't the same at all.They both stand opposite to reason/logic. The man who pulls the child out of traffic acts on an impulse to do so. His impulse sprang from a feeling of fear of what would happen if he didn't act. His action is motivated by a feeling. It isn't the product of a chain of cold reasoning.


If it was a stranger, or an old lady, or someone else's child, or the man who just shot a cop or raped our hero's daughter, his reactions might be different in each case. This is biologically determined impulsive behavior that leads people to preferentially favor their kin. And it's morally right to favor your kin, to a point, because that's beneficial to the functioning of society.Let's not complicate the example by introducing kin selection. The man saves a child, I said, not necessarily his child.


This is getting way off the point that was being made. It doesn't matter how big a funeral is - that's entirely up to the people involved. The question was why is it good for a society to spend resources and give any reverence at all to dead bodies, which I answered. Nothing is being "exchanged" with the deceased. Funerals are entirely for the living.Your earlier comments implied an economic basis (not necessarily involving cash) for funerals, as if one's memorial were proportional to one's contributions to society, so that an expectation of this posthumous reward would encourage the living to contribute more. Really. If you don't believe me, please reread what you wrote. The part about generosity fits in with that theme.

I have yet to see an explanation, proceeding from your premises about morality, of why using strangers' corpses as place markers in some outdoor sport would strike people as obscene and disgusting.

SeanDSchaffer
08-06-2006, 04:59 AM
I see no evidence that human nature is anything of the sort. There are plenty of people in the world who may act like this, but (1) they know it's wrong and destructive (because they would object if you did the same to them), and (2) if they don't know, then they're broken and irrelevant to any discussion of morality.

Every functioning culture we've ever found that never heard of Christianity's God has an innate moral compass - they know murder is wrong, they know stealing is wrong, they know lying is wrong.

Everybody knows what's right and wrong. Everybody also knows that you can profit when you cheat - immature humans act for selfish short-term gain, but you can bet that a society full of only these people would fall apart. It wouldn't function. What's good for humans is a society that functions. Actions that create a functioning society are morally good.


That's why a child innately knows how to lie, but has to be taught to be honest.


Yes, the Golden Rule is a good one, although it didn't originate with Jesus.

It might not have originated with Jesus, but He did teach it.

I.e. "All things therefore that ye would that men should do unto you, do ye therefore also unto them." -- Taken from the Gospel according to Luke.



Mature rational people do not think this way because they know it's not best for society, and because they have enough empathy to understand why the other person is treating them like dung.

And where do most mature, rational people learn to be mature and rational? They do not have it simply ingrained in their psyches. No, they have to learn how to be mature and rational. Most people, when they are born into this world, are interested in promoting self, not others.


Unfortunately, it's true that a large percentage of adults are very immature. They ride on the backs of the mature ones who maintain a functioning society.

You mean like dictators around the world who force their beliefs on their countrymen, and in some cases have them executed for having any sense of free will?



I realize this is a very Christian perspective (humans are worthless scum incapable of doing good without God's guidance) but I simply don't agree that humans are like this.

The idea that human beings are worthless is not a Christian perspective. If it were, Jesus Christ would never have died for all Humanity.

And whether you agree with it or not, human beings are innately devoid of understanding. We must be taught to be good; it is not our nature to do right and moral things.


Some questions for you:

If morality comes from God... how did mankind arrive to the point that we condemn slavery, when the bible doesn't condemn slavery?

This is true, the Bible does not condemn slavery. But it does not condone it either.


If you'd never heard of God, would you be a murderer?

If you knew some of the things I'd done in my past, you would not be asking me that question. Oh, and yes, I did know who God was when I did these things.


Why are our prisons not stuffed full of murdering, raping atheists?

Because our prisons are stuffed full of murdering, raping human beings of every background....atheists and Christians included.

SonoranWriter
08-06-2006, 05:25 AM
That's why a child innately knows how to lie, but has to be taught to be honest.

Absolutely unsupported by evidence Studies show a child develops the ability to lie around the age of three or four, when they learn the concept that not everyone has their point of view, and that therefore others' points of view can be manipulated.



And where do most mature, rational people learn to be mature and rational? They do not have it simply ingrained in their psyches. No, they have to learn how to be mature and rational. Most people, when they are born into this world, are interested in promoting self, not others.

You don't "learn" to be mature. You mature. And everyone beyond a certain young age is capable of being rational - it's just that self-interest can make people irrational.




Unfortunately, it's true that a large percentage of adults are very immature. They ride on the backs of the mature ones who maintain a functioning society. You mean like dictators around the world who force their beliefs on their countrymen, and in some cases have them executed for having any sense of free will?

No idea what you're getting at there. Sounds more like something God does with great frequency in the OT. I'm speaking of those in society who decide to profit off others by acting against the interests of society. Society survives, despite them, because there are enough rational mature people to keep things going.



The idea that human beings are worthless is not a Christian perspective. If it were, Jesus Christ would never have died for all Humanity.

According to the bible, humans were condemned to death because of inherited sin. The only way to become worthy again is through Jesus.


And whether you agree with it or not, human beings are innately devoid of understanding. We must be taught to be good; it is not our nature to do right and moral things.

Then why do cultures that never heard of God know right from wrong?


This is true, the Bible does not condemn slavery. But it does not condone it either.

That's not my point. How did humans figure out that it was wrong?



If you knew some of the things I'd done in my past, you would not be asking me that question. Oh, and yes, I did know who God was when I did these things.

Again, that's not what I asked. If you didn't know God, would you be a murderer? In general, are people who don't know God morally worse than those who do? If so, why are there so many Christians in jail? Why does the bible belt have the highest rates of divorce in the country?


Because our prisons are stuffed full of murdering, raping human beings of every background....atheists and Christians included.

Not so many atheists, actually.

SeanDSchaffer
08-06-2006, 05:56 AM
Absolutely unsupported by evidence Studies show a child develops the ability to lie around the age of three or four, when they learn the concept that not everyone has their point of view, and that therefore others' points of view can be manipulated.

How many of these studies included every human being on Earth? None. Generally, studies deal with maybe a few thousand individuals, but you cannot make a good study of the entire human race based upon a few thousand individuals.



You don't "learn" to be mature. You mature. And everyone beyond a certain young age is capable of being rational - it's just that self-interest can make people irrational.

I know fifty year old adults who are irrational and immature every day of the week. They have not learned to be mature. They have learned that through manipulation of others, they can get what they want, and therefore, do not feel as though they have to mature.


No idea what you're getting at there. Sounds more like something God does with great frequency in the OT. I'm speaking of those in society who decide to profit off others by acting against the interests of society. Society survives, despite them, because there are enough rational mature people to keep things going.

Society survives despite those people, because society believes in morals that originate not with Man, but with God.

And yes, God did punish people who decided to break His Commandments. As ancient Israel was a theocracy, (God is the King directly--pre-King Saul OT) and God was its King, then as its absolute ruler, He had the final say in what was right and what was wrong.

So if God's Laws were the Laws of the people of ancient Old Testament Israel, then the punishments prescribed by God would be the natural retribution for breaking God's Laws.


According to the bible, humans were condemned to death because of inherited sin. The only way to become worthy again is through Jesus.

According to the same Bible, God made Man in His Own Image. Worth is not based on how good we are, according to the Bible; rather, worth is based on the fact that God loves all Humanity....even the wicked, according the Book of Ezekiel, in which God Himself says: "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked."


Then why do cultures that never heard of God know right from wrong?

Good question. Why don't you ask them?


That's not my point. How did humans figure out that it was wrong?

You asked me why God does not condemn slavery. I answered that He does not condone it either. God might never have said "Thou shalt not have slaves" but He did not say "Go ahead and do it, either."

However, it should be pointed out that people who believed in a God that made all Humanity in His Image, figured out through simple common sense that, if God made us all in His Image, then He did not intend certain of us to be forced to serve other human beings.


Again, that's not what I asked. If you didn't know God, would you be a murderer? In general, are people who don't know God morally worse than those who do? If so, why are there so many Christians in jail? Why does the bible belt have the highest rates of divorce in the country?

Never been to the Bible Belt, so I would not know. What about the rest of the world, though? I assume you understand that Humanity is not only found in the United States. The majority of humans do not live in this country.

As for the answer you are seeking for the question you are referring to, I gave it. If you cannot accept what I said as an answer, tough. Just because you are not willing to accept my answer for what it is, does not mean that I did not answer your question in a satisfactory manner.


Not so many atheists, actually.

Only because the majority of human beings believe in some form of a God, whether it be the Christian one or not.

Soyarma
08-06-2006, 07:31 AM
Skimming through this a couple of things caught my eye.

I found the reference to fair interesting... fairness is not something I've ever encountered. Thank God for that. If someone every treated me fairly based on all my actions and/or inactions in life I'd be in for a rough time. Thank God he's not fair. Fairness would be cooking the lot of us for nixing his son.

The ole eye for an eye references always rears its head... makes me want to gouge mine out. It's a legal statement defying the maximum punishment dispensable. No killing people for bumping into you, the punishment must fit the crime. Eye for an eye. The original wording also lists it as a maximum, not a requirement. Not really anything special there other than its impending nomination to the Guinness book of world records for being the second most misused/incorrect statement ever (right behind people saying 'I could care less').

I also believe that what is right is right and that we shouldn't do what is right for some reward, but simply because it's right. What is right is defined by God's actions. Were he to change his actions so that what is right changed I doubt that he'd cease to exist. We'd all stand a pretty good chance of doing a disappearing act though.

CS Lewis does a pretty good job of proving the existence of absolute right and wrong and humanity's innate knowledge of it in the first chapter of Mere Christianity. A couple of highlights are things like the fact that there is no nation on earth where cowardice is held in higher value than courage, that when someone takes something from another person both appeal to order of possession or validity of possession. Neither claim that those things have no bearing on possession. There is a natural law of right and wrong that people all know and abide or attempt to appear to abide by. Even people with no apparent connection to this knowledge will present the fiction that they do.

Without knowledge of an absolute write and wrong we wouldn't have come up with words like legitimacy. Can you imagine people an amorphous view on right and wrong even creating words like that?

Soyarma
08-06-2006, 07:45 AM
In regards to the proposed sample size of children viewed to determine when they learned to lie, a couple of thousand of children may or may not be a statistically significant population.

Much of it depends on the randomness of the sample, the controls and the results. For naturally occurring events a random sample of data can be taken, and if you hit 33 random samples that all concur on the point in question (provided there is only 1 variable) you can toss the rest of the data points; you've got your answer. In manufacturing when testing for a negative if you pull two random samples from the same batch and get a negative on both (even if the batch is in the thousands) you have a statistically significant population of data points to tell you that the whole batch is bad.

In reference to the kids, if you took a sample of a thousand kids from the US and every single one of them showed the exact same data, that being that they didn't learn to lie until a certain level of self awareness hits, then you have a statistically significant sample to extrapolate across all of humanity.

I haven't seen the data so I don't know if there are variances in it that would indicate that only certain percentage showed the ability lie occurred at this point or not. If there was any variance in the data it would throw the whole hypothesis out the window as just one negative would mean it’s not true.

reph
08-06-2006, 08:17 AM
That's why a child innately knows how to lie, but has to be taught to be honest.Wow, that's a pretty depressing view of kids. Don't you think most things they say are true? I didn't have to be taught to tell the truth. I did it spontaneously.


We must be taught to be good; it is not our nature to do right and moral things.A similarly grim view. Do you feel as if you're going against your nature, forcing yourself, every time you do something good?


Society survives despite those people, because society believes in morals that originate not with Man, but with God.Most members of society have some morals, yes. Where those morals originate hasn't been established to everyone's satisfaction.

SeanDSchaffer
08-06-2006, 07:01 PM
Wow, that's a pretty depressing view of kids. Don't you think most things they say are true? I didn't have to be taught to tell the truth. I did it spontaneously.

I have found that kids generally say things that are true when it benefits them. Their nature is not so much to lie, (which I admittedly should have been more clear about) as it is to benefit themselves.

My idea of human nature is based on what we are like when we come into this world, not what we become as we grow up. This is why I refer to children.

If a child sees it as beneficial to themselves to lie....in other words, if lying gets them their way....then they'll lie to get their way. If, on the other hand, telling the truth gets them their way, then they'll tell the truth. The point is that they're doing whatever it takes to get their way.

Morality, on the other hand, tells us that getting our way is not the most important thing in the world. It tells us rather that respecting our neighbor is more important than getting what we personally want.


A similarly grim view. Do you feel as if you're going against your nature, forcing yourself, every time you do something good?

Any more, I don't feel that way. But when I was a child, yes, I thought I was going against my nature to do something good. I did good because I thought it would please God or my parents, but it rarely ever pleased me to do good.


Most members of society have some morals, yes. Where those morals originate hasn't been established to everyone's satisfaction.

I agree. It has not been established to everyone's satisfaction. The problem is that many people have different views of what or who God is, or if He even exists. There's actually a Scripture that deals with that in the New Testament. It says:

For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to we that are saved it is the power of God.

I'll find the reference to where that is located in a little while and post it for you.

The point is, just because my God says He gave us morality, does not mean that everyone is going to believe He did. Finding out whether He did or not is a personal endeavor that cannot be studied by modern science, because in many cases, modern science demands that God not be a factor in the origin of whatever it is studying.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 12:18 AM
How many of these studies included every human being on Earth? None. Generally, studies deal with maybe a few thousand individuals, but you cannot make a good study of the entire human race based upon a few thousand individuals.

To obtain a statistically significant result, you don't need to study every human on earth.


Society survives despite those people, because society believes in morals that originate not with Man, but with God.

It survives because most people innately know what's best for society, and do it because a stable functioning society benefits them in the long-term.


Good question. Why don't you ask them?

I don't need to. The fact that cultures exist who have the same basic morals as us, but have never heard of "God", entirely disproves your point about humans having to learn morality from God.




You asked me why God does not condemn slavery. I answered that He does not condone it either. God might never have said "Thou shalt not have slaves" but He did not say "Go ahead and do it, either."

No, I didn't ask you why God doesn't condemn slavery. I asked you: If morality comes from God... how did mankind arrive to the point that we condemn slavery, when the bible doesn't condemn slavery?



However, it should be pointed out that people who believed in a God that made all Humanity in His Image, figured out through simple common sense that, if God made us all in His Image, then He did not intend certain of us to be forced to serve other human beings.

Then how come the people living at the time didn't figure this out? God was right there, influencing their everyday lives back in the OT, frequently talking directly to prophets, commanding entire armies to slaughter babies, warning men to stay away from menstruating women, even giving precise blueprints for the construction of holy containers - all the things that were apparently vitally important to his children - yet not once did he nudge them in the right direction regarding "thou shalt not own another person."

Maybe, just maybe, the views expressed in the bible regarding slavery (and slaughtering babies), not to mention the obsession with making sacrifices and holy containers just so, were in fact, the views of socially immature stone-age goat-herders and not of God. It sure reads that way.


What about the rest of the world, though? I assume you understand that Humanity is not only found in the United States. The majority of humans do not live in this country.

Until last year, neither did I, by the way. America is the most Christian nation in the world. The fact that it has higher rates of abortion, murder and other violent crimes, divorce, drug abuse and STDs indicates that people who claim to believe morality comes from God don't do a bang-up job of following that moral code. Whereas secular countries that aren't hampered by a pervasive religious doctrine have better functioning societies - they figured things out without God's help.


As for the answer you are seeking for the question you are referring to, I gave it. If you cannot accept what I said as an answer, tough. Just because you are not willing to accept my answer for what it is, does not mean that I did not answer your question in a satisfactory manner.

From what you've said I infer that your personal experience of life colors your attitude towards children's development of morality. While the experience is meaningful for you, it doesn't mean anything in terms of how children actually do develop. We have controlled studies to determine that.


Only because the majority of human beings believe in some form of a God, whether it be the Christian one or not.

Yes, but if atheists don't get their morality from God, you'd expect them to be represented in jails at a much higher percentage than found in the general population.

Unless, of course, morals not derived from God are in fact as effective for leading a socially constructive life as those derived from God.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 12:46 AM
They both stand opposite to reason/logic. The man who pulls the child out of traffic acts on an impulse to do so. His impulse sprang from a feeling of fear of what would happen if he didn't act. His action is motivated by a feeling. It isn't the product of a chain of cold reasoning.

I think that it is. The feelings are a short-hand bodily response to what the brain already reasoned (from previous knowledge) is a dangerous situation.

And kin selection is relevant. It shows that the decision to act on impulse in a situation like this does involve a biological factor, and is a moral decision. We "feel" more for our children (and would risk our lives for them) than for strangers because it's biologically better for our social species that we do. It's therefore morally right to feel that way.



Your earlier comments implied an economic basis (not necessarily involving cash) for funerals, as if one's memorial were proportional to one's contributions to society, so that an expectation of this posthumous reward would encourage the living to contribute more. Really. If you don't believe me, please reread what you wrote. The part about generosity fits in with that theme.

One's memorial generally is proportional to one's contributions - that's just the way it is according to human nature - because the more you contributed, the more people loved you and miss you. The question here is whether it's morally right that that's the case.

If the law forced everyone to give dead people exactly the same memorial and respect, would that strengthen society? I don't think it would, because of the human needs outlined above. I want to point out that it doesn't actually matter whether these human needs are rationally derived or emotional. If they are necessary for a functioning society, then we can derive a morality from them.

Another question is whether it's okay to disrespect a body if that person contributed nothing. It should be self-evident that abusing dead bodies is bad for society because it desensitizes people to the feelings of others (again, bad for a functioning society). You may have no emotional connection to the body you're abusing, but you have no way of knowing if that body reminds someone else of their dear Uncle Frank, and that your abuse is therefore emotionally harming them. Even if no one knows you're abusing the body (so it has no effect on anyone else) it's hard to see how it would have no effect on you, if only unconsciously. The most likely effect would be that you'd assume people will treat your body like that when you die - a disturbing thought for most people.

Dan A Lewis
08-07-2006, 02:14 AM
SonoranWriter, I don't understand what is at stake for you in this discussion. If morality is biologically determined, and good and evil are fictional constructs that don't actually exist, why do you care about whether people disagree with you about that fact? For example, if Christianity is just one more wellspring of the diversity of evolving human morality, neither better or worse than any other (because natural selection doesn't actually evolve toward anything), what do you care if people believe that right and wrong come from an old man in the sky? From what ground can you criticize it?

From my perspective, being wrong about these kinds of things might be important. At least, there is a potential in my good-and-evil universe for this discussion itself to tend toward good or evil. What does this discussion mean in your universe?

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 02:39 AM
SonoranWriter, I don't understand what is at stake for you in this discussion. If morality is biologically determined, and good and evil are fictional constructs that don't actually exist, why do you care about whether people disagree with you about that fact? For example, if Christianity is just one more wellspring of the diversity of evolving human morality, neither better or worse than any other (because natural selection doesn't actually evolve toward anything), what do you care if people believe that right and wrong come from an old man in the sky? From what ground can you criticize it?

Good does exist objectively IMO: it's whatever strengthens human society.

Christians would say: good is whatever God says is good.

These are two fundamentally different perspectives, and it's worth examining them.


From my perspective, being wrong about these kinds of things might be important. At least, there is a potential in my good-and-evil universe for this discussion itself to tend toward good or evil. What does this discussion mean in your universe?

I'm not sure how the first sentence above leads to the second. I agree emphatically with the first. I don't see how this discussion could be evil. It's good because it's spreading ideas, and asking people to examine their beliefs. I've examined mine even while having the discussion - for example, I hadn't before considered in depth the moral question of whether it's good to respect dead bodies.

A Christian would presumably find a bible verse to decide that it's good or bad. Unfortunately, another Christian might find a different verse and come to the opposite view, or might interpret the same verse differently. This seems a rather haphazard way of doing things, and it also presupposes that God is good and the bible is God's Word.

I prefer to work it out logically from first principles. So I start with "good is whatever works for human society and the species", which seems to be a first principle (self-evident), biologically speaking. And from there I should be able to work out rationally the morally right answer for a situation.

On a more personal level: I'm an atheist, and I'd rather not be prejudged as an amoral or immoral monster just because I don't unquestioningly follow the dictates of an ancient book, and find no evidence morality comes from a supernatural so-called higher being. Before any Christians pipe up that they'd never dream of prejudging me, I'll say that it's implicit in every statement premised upon "God is good".

reph
08-07-2006, 03:02 AM
If a child sees it as beneficial to themselves to lie....in other words, if lying gets them their way....then they'll lie to get their way. If, on the other hand, telling the truth gets them their way, then they'll tell the truth. The point is that they're doing whatever it takes to get their way.

Morality, on the other hand, tells us that getting our way is not the most important thing in the world. It tells us rather that respecting our neighbor is more important than getting what we personally want.Well, sure, there are delinquent kids. As a kid, I knew kids who'd lie to get their way or to avoid punishment, but I didn't make friends with them. Where I disagree is with your assessment of children as basically bad. I remember resenting a stereotype that adults had about children – that we were all dishonest because we were little. It seems unfounded and unfair now, too.

One part of morality that's acquired largely from other children during play is "distributive justice," the fair division of resources. (I'm not making this up. It's a research finding.) If one kid grabs too many pieces of the group's pizza or violates the rule for turntaking in a game, the others don't like it. They'll train him out of it or expel him from their circle. And this part of moral education is entirely secular.


I did good because I thought it would please God or my parents, but it rarely ever pleased me to do good.That's too bad. I thought pleasing my parents was good.


The point is, just because my God says He gave us morality, does not mean that everyone is going to believe He did. Finding out whether He did or not is a personal endeavor that cannot be studied by modern science, because in many cases, modern science demands that God not be a factor in the origin of whatever it is studying.As I understand it, the reason isn't that science makes that demand. It's that there aren't any scientific observations that would answer the question.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 03:12 AM
The point is, just because my God says He gave us morality, does not mean that everyone is going to believe He did. Finding out whether He did or not is a personal endeavor that cannot be studied by modern science, because in many cases, modern science demands that God not be a factor in the origin of whatever it is studying.

In all cases science doesn't factor in God, because God is supernatural, and science is about the natural world.

Science has no need to inject God into a world that can already be described by observation. If God were included in our explanations "just because" of a belief that a god exists, why not include two Gods, or three Gods and an invisible pixie? Where do you stop? That's why God has no place in science.

reph
08-07-2006, 03:38 AM
The feelings are a short-hand bodily response to what the brain already reasoned (from previous knowledge) is a dangerous situation.Feelings are bodily responses? I'd say, rather, that the act of pulling a child out of traffic is a bodily response to a feeling. The feeling is emotional. It doesn't have to be explained as reasonable. People perform rescues because they care.


And kin selection is relevant.Only if we're talking about a selfish man who'd save his own child's life but wouldn't trouble to save the life of another's child.


One's memorial generally is proportional to one's contributions - that's just the way it is according to human nature - because the more you contributed, the more people loved you and miss you.Famous people have bigger memorials, with press coverage to boot, because more people knew them or knew about them. Among ordinary people, funerals tend to be bigger if the deceased had a big family, though having a big family doesn't mean the person contributed more. Are we going to say that the attendance of hundreds of "family" members at a Mafia don's funeral, the fact that they arrived in limousines, the great number of bouquets at the church, mean the guy did a great job for society?


If the law forced everyone to give dead people exactly the same memorial and respect, would that strengthen society? I don't think it would, because of the human needs outlined above.I don't think so, either, but the question was why showing respect to dead people is a moral issue at all.


I want to point out that it doesn't actually matter whether these human needs are rationally derived or emotional. If they are necessary for a functioning society, then we can derive a morality from them.You can derive one by exercising your intellect to think of a way a moral norm supports the functioning of society, but you don't thereby prove that the functioning of society is the reason for the norm. Murder is wrong? Maybe it's because people just don't want to be murdered.


Another question is whether it's okay to disrespect a body if that person contributed nothing. It should be self-evident that abusing dead bodies is bad for society because it desensitizes people to the feelings of others (again, bad for a functioning society).Bad for the abuser, too. But why do we feel horror at the idea? Surely because it hits us in an emotional way, apart from any effect on society.


...it's hard to see how it would have no effect on you, if only unconsciously. The most likely effect would be that you'd assume people will treat your body like that when you die - a disturbing thought for most people.I won't have any use for my body then. I won't mind if they harvest my organs. What, exactly, is the difference?

Explanations of that kind don't do it for me. I don't believe that people are deterred from abusing bodies because doing so would make them think the same thing would happen to them later. Most likely, their act would not be reciprocated. I think your analysis leaves out the emotional, nonrational component that's the real deterrent.

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 04:06 AM
To obtain a statistically significant result, you don't need to study every human on earth.

Statistics always have an error factor.


It survives because most people innately know what's best for society, and do it because a stable functioning society benefits them in the long-term.

I disagree. Most people innately know what is best for self. They have to be taught what is best for society.


I don't need to. The fact that cultures exist who have the same basic morals as us, but have never heard of "God", entirely disproves your point about humans having to learn morality from God.

But you see, here's the thing. You forget that every society has some form of God. Those who might not have heard of the Christian God, still have some form of God that they worship, from which they claim their morals came.


No, I didn't ask you why God doesn't condemn slavery. I asked you: If morality comes from God... how did mankind arrive to the point that we condemn slavery, when the bible doesn't condemn slavery?

I answered your question in the paragraph below the one you quoted.


Then how come the people living at the time didn't figure this out? God was right there, influencing their everyday lives back in the OT, frequently talking directly to prophets, commanding entire armies to slaughter babies, warning men to stay away from menstruating women, even giving precise blueprints for the construction of holy containers - all the things that were apparently vitally important to his children - yet not once did he nudge them in the right direction regarding "thou shalt not own another person."

Such as the time that God delivered Israel from four hundred years in slavery to Egypt? SonoranWriter, forgive me for being blunt, but you do not know what the Bible says; you only know what you think it ought to say.


Maybe, just maybe, the views expressed in the bible regarding slavery (and slaughtering babies), not to mention the obsession with making sacrifices and holy containers just so, were in fact, the views of socially immature stone-age goat-herders and not of God. It sure reads that way.

But wait a minute! You said that if it benefits a society, it's okay. Therefore, according to your logic, slaughtering babies, if it is deemed beneficial to a society, is okay.

This is where your logic begins to crumble.


Until last year, neither did I, by the way. America is the most Christian nation in the world. The fact that it has higher rates of abortion, murder and other violent crimes, divorce, drug abuse and STDs indicates that people who claim to believe morality comes from God don't do a bang-up job of following that moral code. Whereas secular countries that aren't hampered by a pervasive religious doctrine have better functioning societies - they figured things out without God's help.

Your logic sounds good, until you realize that most of the things that are illegal in the United States, are not illegal in other countries. This is why the crimes you mentioned are not listed as crimes in those countries.


From what you've said I infer that your personal experience of life colors your attitude towards children's development of morality. While the experience is meaningful for you, it doesn't mean anything in terms of how children actually do develop. We have controlled studies to determine that.

Actually, it means a lot more than you think. I am not the only person in the world who holds to the belief that children do wrong by nature. The writer of the Proverbs said, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."


Yes, but if atheists don't get their morality from God, you'd expect them to be represented in jails at a much higher percentage than found in the general population.

Please understand, SonoranWriter, that according to what I believe, ALL human beings are sinners, not just atheists. This includes every preacher, priest, nun, or other religious person who has ever lived. It is not limited to the Hitlers or the Neros of the world. Everyone, great or small, rich or poor, male or female, is innately interested only in self. It is correction that brings them to become model citizens, not their instincts.


Unless, of course, morals not derived from God are in fact as effective for leading a socially constructive life as those derived from God.

If morals not derived from God are as effective in leading a socially constructive life as those derived from God are, then more power to you.

But remember, morals derived from God give a person accountability to someone higher than themselves. Morals not derived from God do not. This is where morals derived from God are far superior to morals not derived from God, because if you're accountable to a God, Whose laws are unchanging, Who is able to send your eternal soul to damnation if He needs to, there is all that much more incentive to follow those morals to the letter, than if you just are accountable to another human being.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 04:31 AM
Feelings are bodily responses? I'd say, rather, that the act of pulling a child out of traffic is a bodily response to a feeling. The feeling is emotional. It doesn't have to be explained as reasonable. People perform rescues because they care.

Unless feelings are something spiritual or supernatural... yes, they're bodily responses. Most emotions have specific chemical releases attached to them.

Yes, they care - humans evolved to care because caring is like a social glue.



Famous people have bigger memorials, with press coverage to boot, because more people knew them or knew about them. Among ordinary people, funerals tend to be bigger if the deceased had a big family, though having a big family doesn't mean the person contributed more. Are we going to say that the attendance of hundreds of "family" members at a Mafia don's funeral, the fact that they arrived in limousines, the great number of bouquets at the church, mean the guy did a great job for society?

The Mafia don presumably did a great deal to strengthen his society. Of course, if we all behaved like a stereotypical mafia family, society would fall apart. Which is why we can say that mafia behavior is "bad".


I don't think so, either, but the question was why showing respect to dead people is a moral issue at all.

Just about everything is a moral issue.


You can derive one by exercising your intellect to think of a way a moral norm supports the functioning of society, but you don't thereby prove that the functioning of society is the reason for the norm. Murder is wrong? Maybe it's because people just don't want to be murdered.

I don't know what you mean by moral norm.


Bad for the abuser, too. But why do we feel horror at the idea? Surely because it hits us in an emotional way, apart from any effect on society.

We feel horror because we have an innate moral compass that tells us right from wrong. Just like we feel guilt when we do the wrong thing.


I won't have any use for my body then. I won't mind if they harvest my organs. What, exactly, is the difference?

The difference is, as you said, that abusing bodies for no reason affects the abuser. It turns him into something that is bad for society.


Explanations of that kind don't do it for me. I don't believe that people are deterred from abusing bodies because doing so would make them think the same thing would happen to them later. Most likely, their act would not be reciprocated. I think your analysis leaves out the emotional, nonrational component that's the real deterrent.

I think I do include that. (And I said the deterrent could be unconscious.) Animals don't care about abusing dead bodies. At some point we evolved a taboo against it. That taboo is for the most part silly, because it really doesn't matter what happens to dead bodies. But as social beings we value the dead for their contributions (including of course the emotional impact they had on people who knew them) and most of us work to have contributions to be remembered (eg. we create things that will outlast us and hope someone notices). If disrespecting the dead causes trauma to people, then that's not good for a cohesive society - this is the emotional aspect of it.

reph
08-07-2006, 04:33 AM
You forget that every society has some form of God. Those who might not have heard of the Christian God, still have some form of God that they worship, from which they claim their morals came.But not every member of a society has some form of God. Naturally, the believers in a society will claim their morals came from God, and the nonbelievers will claim something different. (I'm not sure all religions give God credit for providing morals, but let's assume they do.) Our society has believers and nonbelievers who have the same morals (well, not the one about keeping the Sabbath holy, but they do share most of the items in the package). Must we conclude that believers are right about where their morals came from, but they're wrong about the origin of their nonbelieving neighbors' morals?


But remember, morals derived from God give a person accountability to someone higher than themselves. Morals not derived from God do not. This is where morals derived from God are far superior to morals not derived from God, because if you're accountable to a God, Whose laws are unchanging, Who is able to send your eternal soul to damnation if He needs to, there is all that much more incentive to follow those morals to the letter, than if you just are accountable to another human being.Let's see, now. This version of religion turns people born selfish into people who are moral. It enforces their morality by threatening a punishment for moral offenses. But fear of punishment is a selfish reason to act morally. What kind of system have we got here, anyway?

You'll act morally if you're conscientious and you're accountable to yourself. Another human being isn't even necessary.

reph
08-07-2006, 04:57 AM
Unless feelings are something spiritual or supernatural... yes, they're bodily responses. Most emotions have specific chemical releases attached to them.Agreed, but if feelings weren't subjective experiences, we'd be automata governed by reflexes.


I don't know what you mean by moral norm.Any of the "rules" that people subscribe to who aren't morally deficient: don't murder, don't steal, do help in emergencies, and on and on.


We feel horror because we have an innate moral compass that tells us right from wrong. Just like we feel guilt when we do the wrong thing.I think you and I agree on that. We disagree on how the compass came about and on whether everyone's needle points to the same north. You seem to say right and wrong are hard-wired: we got them in evolution. However, people differ on whether lying is ever justified and when. They differ on whether sexual infidelity is all right. They differ on whether atheism is all right. A behavior will cause guilt in one person and not in another. If the moral compass comes with being human, shouldn't we all have the same set of rules? And how to explain people who have no rules for themselves?

Pat~
08-07-2006, 05:45 AM
Let's see, now. This version of religion turns people born selfish into people who are moral. It enforces their morality by threatening a punishment for moral offenses. But fear of punishment is a selfish reason to act morally. What kind of system have we got here, anyway?


You've got a misunderstood system :) .

Reph, your point is so well-taken; a fear-based system is actually legalism, and the farthest thing from what Christ came to accomplish. A fear-based or reward-based system is one that not only caters to our self-serving nature, but to our pride as well. It focuses all the attention on on what we can do to attain a wanted goal.

Christ came to establish a 'grace'-based system. Christian means 'Christ-like'...the idea being that when one becomes a Christian (ie. asks Christ to enter their life), their nature is 'born again'--it undergoes a change. Our moral nature changes not because we fear punishment (that was taken care of at the cross)--nor for reward (heaven is already our destiny, regardless). Our moral nature changes as we grow to love Christ the way He loves us (and loving others is one way to express that love). The love itself becomes an outpouring of His nature which is living within us. It is not anything we "try" to do, but in the Christian belief system this moral behavior is actually Christ living His life out through us. So WE can't take any credit--it's all His grace. And anything that we 'do' is just a product of our love for Christ--it's not a trade for heavenly reward. There's no place for fear in this relationship; in fact, "perfect love casts out fear." That's the whole basis of finding peace and joy in this life.

The best way I can think of to describe it is by comparing it to earthly marital love. When you are marry someone (become 'one with' someone), your behavior isn't determined by rewards and punishments. It's governed by your emphatic love for that person and your desire to please and honor them. It's not governed by fear, or something is very wrong in the relationship. And if it's a mature relationship, it's not governed by hope for reward or 'pay back,' either.

Does that make any sense?

reph
08-07-2006, 07:21 AM
Does that make any sense?Yes, it does. It describes a different understanding of the effect of Christianity on behavior than Sean's post did.

What I believe – not that anyone asked – is that one can be the kind of person who, when a cashier gives too much change, spontaneously returns it without having a relationship with a deity who loves or a deity who rewards and punishes.

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 08:08 AM
I've been thinking about this, and have started some three different posts before I came to this one.


I am an angry, bitter man. I was abused through most of my life, and still am, by people in authority over me. People who think it is their prerogative to order me to break God's laws to please them, all in the Name of Jesus.

I was raised in a poor family; I barely graduated from High School because everyone there told me I was gay, when in fact I was not; I do not have any college education, and I do not plan on getting any. By many standards, this makes me stupid and unable to do anything worthy of note.

I have found that the ONLY person who has ever accepted me for who I am, regardless of how profitable/unprofitable I might be to that person, is Christ Himself. He did not ask me how rich I was, or how good my educational background was. He asked me if I wanted Him as my Savior, and I said 'Yes'.

I'm not saying this so much as a rant, but I have NEVER been allowed to be myself, the real Sean Schaffer. If you talked to me on the street, you would think I was a totally different person than I am on these boards. I am not an eloquent man; I stutter and stammer, and I have a speech impediment (did I spell that right?). I forget what I'm saying half-way through a sentence, constantly.


I came to this part of the board because I wanted to add to the conversation about Christ. I love Christ, that's why I serve Him. But no matter what I do, it is never good enough for my fellow man to be satisfied with. I became a writer because I know I have something to say; I just don't know what it is.

Now I feel like an idiot again, just like everyone in my childhood exclaimed to me every single day that I was. I can't cry about it, because Men Don't Cry has been ingrained in my system from day one. I can't go back to my childhood and repair what hurts have happened to me over the years, because I Am A Man Now has been forced on me from the day I turned 18.


If there was any way to turn back the clock and fix the problems that I have encountered in my life, that were made to my detriment, I guarantee you I would!


But you see, I can't. As much as I would like to be something good and important to the benefit of this world, it is not possible for me.

So I'm going to go back to where I belong now. Obviously, it is not among the intelligent people of this world. Intelligent people never believe that there is a loving God Who gives a rat's @ss about the human race or its members. That much I have learned over the last 35 years of my life.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 08:19 AM
Yes, it does. It describes a different understanding of the effect of Christianity on behavior than Sean's post did.

What I believe – not that anyone asked – is that one can be the kind of person who, when a cashier gives too much change, spontaneously returns it without having a relationship with a deity who loves or a deity who rewards and punishes.

Yes, I think there are some people who value certain moral standards without having a personal relationship with a deity. I think it's because humans were created in the image of God, and have a 'spark' or a knowledge of that moral code within them. A blending of temperament, personality, and life experiences also contribute to the way they react in any given situation. I think it is God's way of expressing His graciousness through human relationships, regardless of whether or not that person is in personal relationship with Him.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 08:29 AM
I've been thinking about this, and have started some three different posts before I came to this one.


I am an angry, bitter man. I was abused through most of my life, and still am, by people in authority over me. People who think it is their prerogative to order me to break God's laws to please them, all in the Name of Jesus.

I was raised in a poor family; I barely graduated from High School because everyone there told me I was gay, when in fact I was not; I do not have any college education, and I do not plan on getting any. By many standards, this makes me stupid and unable to do anything worthy of note.

I have found that the ONLY person who has ever accepted me for who I am, regardless of how profitable/unprofitable I might be to that person, is Christ Himself. He did not ask me how rich I was, or how good my educational background was. He asked me if I wanted Him as my Savior, and I said 'Yes'.

I'm not saying this so much as a rant, but I have NEVER been allowed to be myself, the real Sean Schaffer. If you talked to me on the street, you would think I was a totally different person than I am on these boards. I am not an eloquent man; I stutter and stammer, and I have a speech impediment (did I spell that right?). I forget what I'm saying half-way through a sentence, constantly.


I came to this part of the board because I wanted to add to the conversation about Christ. I love Christ, that's why I serve Him. But no matter what I do, it is never good enough for my fellow man to be satisfied with. I became a writer because I know I have something to say; I just don't know what it is.

Now I feel like an idiot again, just like everyone in my childhood exclaimed to me every single day that I was. I can't cry about it, because Men Don't Cry has been ingrained in my system from day one. I can't go back to my childhood and repair what hurts have happened to me over the years, because I Am A Man Now has been forced on me from the day I turned 18.


If there was any way to turn back the clock and fix the problems that I have encountered in my life, that were made to my detriment, I guarantee you I would!


But you see, I can't. As much as I would like to be something good and important to the benefit of this world, it is not possible for me.

So I'm going to go back to where I belong now. Obviously, it is not among the intelligent people of this world. Intelligent people never believe that there is a loving God Who gives a rat's @ss about the human race or its members. That much I have learned over the last 35 years of my life.

Oh, Sean, I am so sorry for your life experience! And I'm so confused. Did I say something that has made you feel you must leave? If so, please forgive me, and please reconsider your decision to leave. You are SO eloquent and wise; this forum needs you! Every person in the body is needed in this Christian forum--each member of the body needs another, and each has their own function and ministry.

Please reconsider. And tell me how I can be more sensitive to your needs. :(

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 08:34 AM
Statistics always have an error factor.

Sean, I really hope you don't take this wrong way but I can see you're not a man of science. Fair enough. But my arguments tend to stem from a rational scientific basis, and that makes it rather difficult to have a discussion with someone who doesn't agree with that basis, or doesn't understand it.

Not that I expect it'll make any difference, but any scientific analysis of data involves a hypothesis, and the results are analyzed so that we know within a certain level of probability how well the hypothesis is supported. So, if a researcher wants to generalize his results to a population, his sample needs to be a certain size. You don't need to evaluate every person on the planet.

More to the point, it doesn't matter for your purposes whether we can extrapolate from a study that all children develop the ability to lie at age 4. If we study 1000 children and discover they all learn to lie at that age, but you maintain that most children out there lie by default and have to be taught to tell the truth, it begs the question: why weren't those 1000 children given the ability to lie by God? How come the scientists happened to pick 1000 children who can't lie, while you persist in saying that all other children are born knowing how to lie?



I disagree. Most people innately know what is best for self. They have to be taught what is best for society.

Watch a toddler hand a crying baby its favorite toy. That's society at work, and no one taught the toddler to behave that way.



But you see, here's the thing. You forget that every society has some form of God. Those who might not have heard of the Christian God, still have some form of God that they worship, from which they claim their morals came.

So your argument is that some concept of "god" is important, not Jesus or the 10 Commandments.

I find it more likely that humans have found a certain set of behaviors work best to create a functioning society, and at some point ascribe those morals to a god, just like they ascribe healthy babies or withering crops to a happy/angry god.

You've made an unsupported claim, too, that all cultures claim their morals came from a god.


Such as the time that God delivered Israel from four hundred years in slavery to Egypt? SonoranWriter, forgive me for being blunt, but you do not know what the Bible says; you only know what you think it ought to say.

Every person who reads the bible knows what the bible ought to say. That's why no one agrees what the bible says.

What I do know is that God thought the length and breadth of some holy casket was more important than basic human rights. Please read the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and see how humans managed to figure this out without the help of the Bible and without mentioning God.

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/25.htm

What a wonderful place the world would be if only God had put that into very specific writing a few thousand years ago.


But wait a minute! You said that if it benefits a society, it's okay. Therefore, according to your logic, slaughtering babies, if it is deemed beneficial to a society, is okay.

What's "deemed" beneficial to society is not necessarily what benefits society. We've already gone over this with the Hitler argument. I don't think you understand my argument at all, because you can't for the sake of argument accept my premises. The others in this thread have done so.


Your logic sounds good, until you realize that most of the things that are illegal in the United States, are not illegal in other countries. This is why the crimes you mentioned are not listed as crimes in those countries.

Divorce and STDs are illegal in the USA? Murder is legal in other countries? Sorry, but this is nonsense. The rates for these things, when compared to similar Western nations, shows that America, despite being "God's country", has a big problem with "morality" when it comes to the things the bible says are bad.


Actually, it means a lot more than you think. I am not the only person in the world who holds to the belief that children do wrong by nature. The writer of the Proverbs said, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."

This is a prime example of why discussion between us is not going to proceed well. You're basing your arguments on belief, and that's not rational, at least not until you prove that God exists and is morally good, and that the Bible is the word of God. Anything I say that goes against your beliefs, you can counter with "God says otherwise, end of argument." It's impossible to have a discussion on that basis.


Please understand, SonoranWriter, that according to what I believe, ALL human beings are sinners, not just atheists. This includes every preacher, priest, nun, or other religious person who has ever lived. It is not limited to the Hitlers or the Neros of the world. Everyone, great or small, rich or poor, male or female, is innately interested only in self. It is correction that brings them to become model citizens, not their instincts.

See above.

A discussion of human beings as sinners belongs in a theology thread, not a thread about biology.



But remember, morals derived from God give a person accountability to someone higher than themselves. Morals not derived from God do not. This is where morals derived from God are far superior to morals not derived from God,

I'm afraid your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises. Morals are whatever works to create a functioning society. God not required.


because if you're accountable to a God, Whose laws are unchanging, Who is able to send your eternal soul to damnation if He needs to,

Uh-oh. Godly blackmail.


there is all that much more incentive to follow those morals to the letter, than if you just are accountable to another human being.

Doing the right thing because there's an incentive? That's not morality, that's commercialism. Doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do is true moral behavior.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 08:41 AM
A discussion of human beings as sinners belongs in a theology thread, not a thread about biology.


Acutally, this is a thread in the Christian forum, so probably this is the best place to discuss that.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 08:55 AM
Acutally, this is a thread in the Christian forum, so probably this is the best place to discuss that.

But this thread was split off because it's about the biology of morality.

I'm only saying that there's no point in preaching (using the bible along to justify your argument) because there's no rational response to that.

Edit: fixed typo

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:07 AM
I think you and I agree on that. We disagree on how the compass came about and on whether everyone's needle points to the same north. You seem to say right and wrong are hard-wired: we got them in evolution. However, people differ on whether lying is ever justified and when. They differ on whether sexual infidelity is all right. They differ on whether atheism is all right.

Rational people can come to agreement on these things - see Rawl's Original Position, which ultimately shows in theory how reasonable people can come up with rules for a fair society. In practice, not everyone is rational all the time, or even much of the time, which is where we fall down.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_position

When I say "rational", I mean making a decision about right on wrong based on reason, not the Bible or any doctrine or belief. I mean making a decision based on what's best for society.

Thus "sexual infidelity" isn't wrong "because God says so". Its wrongness or rightness is determined by whether sexual infidelity is a behavior that benefits the human species in society.



A behavior will cause guilt in one person and not in another. If the moral compass comes with being human, shouldn't we all have the same set of rules?

We do all have the same set of rules. You can tell you have the same moral compass as the thief nextdoor who steals your garden gnome, because he gets pissed off when you steal his. In other words, he knows he did the wrong thing by stealing yours, regardless of the fact that he stole it anyway.

Give cake to two-year-olds. The one who gets the smaller slice knows it's not fair. At a slightly older age, children quickly figure out that the way to ensure fairness with cake is "You cut, I choose." (This is the basis of the Original Position - when you don't know which slice you're going to get, how will you cut the cake?)



And how to explain people who have no rules for themselves?

I'm not sure who you mean here.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:19 AM
I have found that the ONLY person who has ever accepted me for who I am, regardless of how profitable/unprofitable I might be to that person, is Christ Himself. He did not ask me how rich I was, or how good my educational background was. He asked me if I wanted Him as my Savior, and I said 'Yes'.

I'm not saying this so much as a rant, but I have NEVER been allowed to be myself, the real Sean Schaffer.

Sean, I'm glad that despite your background you've found something of value in your faith.

In addition, bear in mind that you can be yourself and you can accept yourself for who you are - by being yourself and accepting who you are.

No, you can't change the past, but you can take steps to control your future instead of worrying right now about being profitable or acceptable to your "fellow man". And once you're in control you can change your corner of the world. Writing is a great way to do that.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 09:20 AM
But this thread was split off because it's about the biology of morality.

I'm only saying that there's no point in preaching (using the bible along to justify your argument) because there's no rational respose to that.

This thread is not only about the biology of morality; it's also about grace, which is how some of us see that morality as being acquired. It's also a thread about opinions, not proofs or theorems. Discussion does not require 'rational' proofs--many times people are only sharing their viewpoint, but not necessarily trying to 'prove' it to someone.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:27 AM
This thread is not only about the biology of morality; it's also about grace, which is how some of us see that morality as being acquired. It's also a thread about opinions, not proofs or theorems. Discussion does not require 'rational' proofs--many times people are only sharing their viewpoint, but not necessarily trying to 'prove' it to someone.

Sean's theories on morality weren't about biology or grace. I was simply saying that his line of thought might be better suited to a new thread.

It's not possible for you discuss my biological theories without accepting my premise for the sake of argument (which you have generally done). Similarly, I can't engage in a discussion with you about God's grace without accepting for the sake of argument that God exists (we haven't really discussed this so much). This isn't about proving anything, especially when my standard of proof and yours are so vastly different. It's about helping each other understand different perspectives, and I don't think we're doing too badly.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 09:30 AM
Rational people can come to agreement on these things - see Rawl's Original Position, which ultimately shows in theory how reasonable people can come up with rules for a fair society. In practice, not everyone is rational all the time, or even much of the time, which is where we fall down.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_position

When I say "rational", I mean making a decision about right on wrong based on reason, not the Bible or any doctrine or belief. I mean making a decision based on what's best for society.

Thus "sexual infidelity" isn't wrong "because God says so". Its wrongness or rightness is determined by whether sexual infidelity is a behavior that benefits the human species in society.

I think I would disagree that reason is all that is needed in order to have complete agreement about morality. Sure 'reasonable' people can come up with rules for society--but not necessarily agree on what the best rules are. Also, people can 'rationalize' their behavior, and come up with all kinds of convoluted reasons about how it is beneficial to society, whether it is or isn't. In other words, people can deceive themselves. A 'rational' mind is not foolproof. And if rules and rationality were all we needed, then why the underlined sentence?

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 09:34 AM
Rational people can come to agreement on these things - ....Snipped....

When I say "rational", I mean making a decision about right on wrong based on reason, not the Bible or any doctrine or belief. I mean making a decision based on what's best for society.


So let me get this straight. Rational people do not believe in God or that He is the author and finisher of our faith. If this is the case, why are you coming onto a Christian portion of this forum and telling everyone else that they are irrational people? Would not a rational person be willing to tolerate what other people believe?


No, your idea of 'rational' is wrong. And yes, since this is a Christian forum, using the Bible as reference is very much appropriate, whether you think it is or not.


I'll not be answering any more of your questions, SonoranWriter, because you have decided within yourself to come here with a closed mind and that you will refuse to so much as listen to what other people are saying with any hint of objectivity. No, you are not a rational person. If you were, you would be willing to be objective. But you are not being objective here. Therefore, you are not acting in the rational manner you so hope everyone here will think you are.



---


Now, I made a post on the previous page in which I said some things that were, perhaps, hard for you all to understand. I was not offended with any one person here; rather, I was offended by an attitude that so many people have when it comes to both Christianity, and when it comes to an average person such as myself.

I basically had to vent. 35 years of abuse in the Name of God, and at the same time the belief that the God I love cannot possibly exist because we cannot see Him, has worn me rather thin. Jesus said 'You cannot see the wind, yet you know it is there, because you feel it.' It's the same way with God. I can no more tell you where He is right now than you can. Only He knows where exactly He is, because He is an invisible God. Yet, you can feel His Presence, much like you can feel the presence of the wind.

I really had no point to my previous post; however, one can be seen in it. Some people have seen Christianity the way I have, as a backstabbing society where everyone is interested in getting more power for themselves. But Christ did not command the kind of atrocities that people have committed in His Name. He commanded us to love our enemies, and pray for them which despitefully use us, and persecute us, because we love Him.

It is interesting to note, however, that Jesus gave a commandment concerning those who refuse to listen to the Gospel. He said to walk away from that person (that city, in the Bible passage) and shake off the dust from your feet as you do so. What most people in the West do not understand, is that this was an insult and the extent to which we as Christians were to retaliate against those who would not hear us.

The point I'm making here is, that many Christians--myself included--have not followed this commandment that Christ gave, because we insist we are right (and we are right, if we follow what Christ commanded....regardless of what the rest of the world believes) and therefore have to have others approve of our being right. Such is the nature of Humanity, the old nature. Christ gave me a new nature when I accepted Him. It fights constantly with the old. But now I'm going to let the new nature win, and simply shake the dust off my feet, and go talk to someone who will listen.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 09:36 AM
Sean's theories on morality weren't about biology or grace. I was simply saying that his line of thought might be better suited to a new thread.

It's not possible for you discuss my biological theories without accepting my premise for the sake of argument (which you have generally done). Similarly, I can't engage in a discussion with you about God's grace without accepting for the sake of argument that God exists (we haven't really discussed this so much). This isn't about proving anything, especially when my standard of proof and yours are so vastly different. It's about helping each other understand different perspectives, and I don't think we're doing too badly.

No, I don't think we're doing too badly, either. But you haven't addressed all my questions.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:37 AM
I think I would disagree that reason is all that is needed in order to have complete agreement about morality. Sure 'reasonable' people can come up with rules for society--but not necessarily agree on what the best rules are. Also, people can 'rationalize' their behavior, and come up with all kinds of convoluted reasons about how it is beneficial to society, whether it is or isn't. In other words, people can deceive themselves. A 'rational' mind is not foolproof. And if rules and rationality were all we needed, then why the underlined sentence?

Unless you've read and understood Rawl's Original Position, I don't really see the point of commenting further on this. It's not a long article.

As for the underlined sentence, surely I've explained that enough times already. You're bringing up points that I've addressed. If you want to discuss them further, please address my answers instead of just repeating the question.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:38 AM
No, I don't think we're doing too badly, either. But you haven't addressed all my questions.

I've tried to cut and paste quotes, answering as I go. Which questions?

Pat~
08-07-2006, 09:46 AM
This one got lost in the cut-and-paste shuffle. :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by SonoranWriter
I keep using the term "social animal" and it's not by accident. Human morality relates to the survival of humans as a social animal. By that I mean the survival of societies, because our species can't survive without societies. A society doesn't have to have the "best" genes and eliminate bad ones in order to be stronger. A society full of genetically perfect people could easily fall apart if other human needs are ignored.


It may or may not be that our species can't survive without societies, but for sure societies can't survive without the species. So how can a moral decision be made for the good of a society that is not for the good of the species?


Quote:
I was assuming that what you meant to ask was "Is doing something harmful to your body morally wrong?" Clearly smoking that affects others is morally wrong.
Yes, I meant morally wrong for both reasons--for harm to self as well as harm to others.


Quote:
No. "In principle" because I was extending the "smoking" example to cover any unhealthy activity, ie. the principle of deliberately doing anything unhealthy to your body (to the point where it affects your ability to be useful to society) is immoral.


So I think what you are saying is that smoking is a morally wrong thing to do in that it is unhealthy for the individual so that it impairs (or eventually impairs) his ability to be useful to society? Just trying to get a fix on your position, here. Because I'm trying to understand the next thing you said...that the 60-yr. old's smoking would not be morally wrong--presumably because he has nothing left to contribute to society? (See below):


Quote:
I said "If a 60-year-old takes up smoking for the first time in the privacy of his home - well, he's paid his dues to society." The reason I don't think it's morally wrong was clearly given, especially in light of my previous statement in that post, so I have no idea where you came up with this interpretation.



Quote:
Even if you claim God's morality is absolute, a Christian's morality is relative to that. A recently converted Christian, for example, has to realign all his morality relative to God's. Or, if you came across a bible passage you'd forgotten about, that expressed a morality you hadn't considered before, you'd have to change your morality to match it. It doesn't matter what it is or whether you agree with it - you have to adjust your morality, and you adjust it relative to God's.
Well, here you are using the word 'relative' meaning it relates to God--not as in relative meaning 'changeable'. Because if the new morality relates to God's morality, it's unchangeable. Certainly a converted Christian's old 'morality' undergoes change, but the new moral code ascribed to is one based on absolutes.


Quote:
Infinity doesn't defy logic, it defies intuition. There's an entire mathematical system devoted to infinity.


LOL, well maybe it doesn't defy your logic, but it does mine. Would you care to explain it to me, then?
Quote:

What do you mean by "system of logic"? Logic is logic. You said "But I'm not necessarily depending on logic". If you don't depend on logic to form an opinion or belief, what method do you use to determine its truth? (I'm pretty sure reason and logic amount to the same thing, since reason can't be illogical and logic is reasoned.)
When I think of logic, I think of systematically going from one point to the next with complete understanding. Like A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. Reasoning plays a big part in logic--except I can also 'reason' that I'm of finite mind and therefore might not be able to comprehend completely things of an infinite nature. Hence the term 'reasoned faith.' Faith is the necessary ingredient of my religious belief. It's interesting to contemplate that certainly God could have made 'religion' scientifically provable. He could've revealed Himself to humanity in a scientifically verifiable way. But He didn't; in fact, He tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him." I wonder if maybe He didn't just want to make sure that, although we were created 'in His image,' we would know the chasm of difference between Him and us. Faith requires humility, and an admission of the limits of human reasoning. But to believe in faith is not to have 'blind' faith. My faith is augmented by revealed truth--things I can observe in nature, and in history, and truth I can observe in the Bible (eg. fulfilled prophecy). That's what I mean by 'reasoned faith.'


Quote:
I think I've already covered this. Animals are the ones that rely exclusively on instinct. Morality is a set of behaviors that strengthens human societies. Everyone except sociopaths has that innate moral compass (knows right from wrong), just like we have an innate language center in the brain just waiting to develop. Any 2-year-old knows in essence what's unfair (even if their reaction is an immature emotional outburst rather than a reasoned explanation).

I think we're in complete agreement that there is an innate Moral Law. We just disagree on how it got there. You have said it is a biologic trait for the preservation of the species (or broader, society). If it's biologically imperative to have, you haven't answered why the sociopath doesn't have it. (The religious person would say that it is hampered to varying degrees by the sin nature.)


Quote:
Whether we exercise "good" morals is a more complicated issue because humans are complicated beings under all kinds of influences, and they have all kinds of motivations that are often selfish instead of benefitting society. As with any biological imperative, we frequently ignore it. Each individual decides by reason or habit whether to take the moral course of action in a situation. The point is they do possess the innate mental tools to be able to figure out what the "right" action is - if they bother to put themselves in the other person's shoes. Many people don't bother.


It seems a contradiction to say that all people get their moral compass biologically, and that this has evolved over time for the preservation of the species (or society)--and yet, historically we don't see people becoming more and more moral as this trait strengthens. And again, you haven't explained about two competing moral instincts--how to explain that third thing that causes one to decide on instinct #1 or #2.


Quote:
Isn't this a hypothetical situation that is not the human situation? It seems unlikely that birth control would vanish, that abortion and infanticide would be the only alternatives. Teach women to read and they suddenly stop having babies. Change the culture to help people realize we can't expand exponentially. Tax babies or reward small families.


Unfortunately, no, this is not a hypothetical situation unknown to the human situation. And there is infanticide going on today in such situations. There are plenty of women who have no access to birth control. And I've never seen anything to substantiate that the underlined above has solved the problem of abortion or infanticide.


Quote:
We keep talking about "good" but in practise there are moral choices, and then there are better or worse moral choices. If the options are millions of children starving to death because of overpopulation, or abortion, then abortion seems preferable. It would have a less devastating effect on society, so logically it's the "better" option. What would Jesus do?
If both of those options result in the death of children, how is either one 'less devastating for society?' I don't follow your logic here--especially in light of the premise that the morally 'good' choice is that which supports the preservation of the species (or society). I think, too, that this is overly simplistic. Millions of children are aborted or killed in China, but not due simply to the alternative threat of starvation. There are political and economic issues driving their law as well.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:47 AM
So let me get this straight. Rational people do not believe in God or that He is the author and finisher of our faith. If this is the case, why are you coming onto a Christian portion of this forum and telling everyone else that they are irrational people? Would not a rational person be willing to tolerate what other people believe?

Since you're not answering any more of my questions, I'll address this to the others in the forum. No, I'm not saying everyone in this forum is irrational. I'm saying that it's not possible to refute Biblical justifications in a rational debate.

You can interpret that in an ungenerous way if you wish, but that's not how I intended my statement to be read.


No, your idea of 'rational' is wrong. And yes, since this is a Christian forum, using the Bible as reference is very much appropriate, whether you think it is or not.

Fine, but it would end any rational discussion of biology-derived morality.


I'll not be answering any more of your questions, SonoranWriter, because you have decided within yourself to come here with a closed mind and that you will refuse to so much as listen to what other people are saying with any hint of objectivity. No, you are not a rational person. If you were, you would be willing to be objective. But you are not being objective here. Therefore, you are not acting in the rational manner you so hope everyone here will think you are.

Do you consider the others in this forum who disagree with you on certain points (uh, that would be everyone) to also have a closed mind? Why pick on me?

I sincerely don't believe that reph and Pat consider me to have a closed mind with no hint of objectivity (they can correct me if I'm wrong). Please provide evidence that I haven't been objective, because I consider that a serious accusation in the context of this thread. Just stating it doesn't make it so.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 09:49 AM
This one got lost in the cut-and-paste shuffle. :)


I think(?) post #45 was my response to that post of yours.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 09:55 AM
Thank you! That one completely escaped me. I'll go read it and get back to you.

SonoranWriter
08-07-2006, 10:08 AM
Thank you! That one completely escaped me. I'll go read it and get back to you.

Okay, but I'm going to bed.

Much as I enjoy and benefit from this discussion, I may take a break from it tomorrow. An agent has asked me for a partial (not time for fireworks and champagne yet, but it's the first request - along with two rejections - from a dozen or so query letters, so it's a Big Deal for me) and I need to polish my ms. so I can mail it by mid-week.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 10:30 AM
You misunderstood "paid his dues". It means "he's earned the right". Of course he still contributes to society.
But if so, then why is smoking not morally wrong for him?



I haven't conceded that God's morality doesn't change (because to me it clearly does, as described in the Bible). I think we're agreed on "relative", it's just that I'm saying if God's morality did change tomorrow, as it has in the past IMO, a Christian would have to change theirs. You're saying that would never happen.

Well, in order to have a rational discussion about this, I'd need you to show me where in the Bible His morality changed. Could you do that?


Sorry, I'm not well versed in the mathematics of infinity.

But even those 'well versed' in it, can't entirely wrap their minds around it--which was my point.


You've skipped a key step in the reasoning process here: how do you know that God said "without faith it is impossible to please Him"? If you don't use rational means to assess what is true (eg. the Bible), why don't you accept other religious texts on faith, too?
I 'know' it the way I 'know' infinity is true. It has passed the tests of my reason, as far as my reason can go. And then I go from there on faith. I do use reason to assess what I believe is true--that's why I've rejected other religious texts, and depend on the Bible. It's internal integrity is unmatched, in my opinion.




The evidence is that nature and history are explainable without supernatural interference. Fulfilled prophesies is probably the subject for another thread... But you're right, it does take faith to assume that these things are supernaturally influenced when IMO reason is sufficient to show they're not.

But I don't think that fulfilled prophecy, for example, is explainable without supernatural interference. Nor do I agree that nature and history is explainable without supernatural interference. The 'evidence' does not satisfy my questions.




The sociopath is broken.

Why? How did he get that way?


Individual humans have always had the choice to follow their moral compass or not - the problem is that most humans can be wildly irrational, due to possessing a level of intelligence and self-awareness that enables them to act beyond what their instincts tell them - and so take no notice of that compass, because their aim is far more selfish and short-sighted. When humans do (and did, historically) the "wrong" thing, their societies tend to crumble. But the general trend is that societies have matured and become more rational - that god for the Enlightenment.
The underlined are assumptions, not facts, and I disagree with them. I agree that most humans do not act solely rationally, but I ascribe a different cause to it--that of sin, which is, in essence, the selfishness you mention.




The "biological moral compass" would not have changed much in thousands of generations, because humans haven't biologically evolved much in that time - but our basic needs, or "what's good for the species" is the same: humans have always wanted a safe place to raise their children. They just have irrational ways of achieving that goal sometimes.

How about the ones that don't have that goal? Or, are they also 'broken?' If so, I see a trend here; whoever doesn't want a certain something that has been arbitrarily defined as 'best for society' is broken. Sounds a lot like sin to me.


Because I don't describe morality as an instinct. And there are never only two options to a decision. There are varying degrees of action based on a single moral principle - for example, should I give that bum money or not? If so, how much? If not, what should I do instead?

You've described morality as an inherited trait that supports the preservation of the species. Sounds like an instinct to me.


Birth control is certainly available in China, which is the situation under discussion. Where it's not available, you offered abortion and infanticide as the options. The third option is doing nothing and allowing the population to starve to death once it exceeds the environment's capability to sustain it. Of these three options, the first is the best.
The best according to whose morality?



What those options do is get women to use contraceptives, which is the best moral choice of all.
The best according to whose moral position?




Because watching children slowly starve to death is more traumatic for society (and more "expensive" in a situation with very limited resources) than aborting fetuses.
So morality is always that which is the more expedient of 2 options?



Which is why millions of Chinese people need to shift their moral compass and start realizing they should be popping the Pill - then the laws wouldn't be necessary.

And again, this opinion is based on whose moral preference?

Pat~
08-07-2006, 10:37 AM
Okay, but I'm going to bed.

Much as I enjoy and benefit from this discussion, I may take a break from it tomorrow. An agent has asked me for a partial (not time for fireworks and champagne yet, but it's the first request - along with two rejections - from a dozen or so query letters, so it's a Big Deal for me) and I need to polish my ms. so I can mail it by mid-week.

Good luck with it!

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 10:41 AM
Hi everyone.


I've been thinking about how I've been acting on this thread, and it is disturbing to me that I have been so blatantly belligerent toward a particular poster on this thread. I'm thinking I might be becoming mentally unstable and that some rest, possibly some checking in on my meds, might be the more expedient thing to do in this case.

So I'm going to logoff now, and leave this conversation to those more suited to it. I might come back, when I feel better mentally, and try to add to the conversation again. But right now, I'm thinking something is more wrong with me than just some simple argument with a poster on this thread.


To SonoranWriter:

I want you to know that I have been rather unlike my normal self these last few hours. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive my brashness, as this is not the normal man that I am.

Also, I want you to know that I wish you all the best with your partial. You and I might not agree on certain things, but I am always happy to see another writer succeed. Good luck to you.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 10:46 AM
Have a good R&R, Sean. Look forward to seeing you back here. :-)

reph
08-07-2006, 11:54 AM
When I say "rational", I mean making a decision about right on wrong based on reason, not the Bible or any doctrine or belief. I mean making a decision based on what's best for society.

Thus "sexual infidelity" isn't wrong "because God says so". Its wrongness or rightness is determined by whether sexual infidelity is a behavior that benefits the human species in society.An individual's decision to pursue or avoid an adulterous affair probably won't have any effects on society unless the individual is a public figure (Bill Clinton comes to mind). It will have effects on that person and his or her family – a much smaller group than society.

You've defined "right" as meaning "good for society" without supporting that definition with a convincing argument. How is this less arbitrary than defining "right" as meaning "pleasing to God"? True, not everyone believes God exists, and everyone believes society exists. But the existence of society isn't all it takes to validate your definition.


We do all have the same set of rules. You can tell you have the same moral compass as the thief nextdoor who steals your garden gnome, because he gets pissed off when you steal his. In other words, he knows he did the wrong thing by stealing yours, regardless of the fact that he stole it anyway.Some people approve of sneaking office supplies home from work; some don't. Different rules. Muslim men can have four wives without feeling guilty; Christian men believe it's wrong to have even two. Different rules. (Is polygamy good for Muslim societies and bad for Christian societies? Are Muslims and Christians so different biologically that their Darwinian heritages give them different moral rules about marriage?)


Give cake to two-year-olds. The one who gets the smaller slice knows it's not fair.Nevertheless, judgments about what's fair sometimes do differ. My grandmother had one son and two daughters. At meals, she'd serve the best piece of meat to her son "because he's the boy."

reph
08-07-2006, 12:05 PM
I have found that the ONLY person who has ever accepted me for who I am, regardless of how profitable/unprofitable I might be to that person, is Christ Himself.Sean, we on this board don't think you're worthless or stupid. Most of the time, you're about the kindest person here. I've never seen an angry post from you until tonight. It seems that people accept you but you don't recognize it. I hope you'll find a way to feel better about these discussions. I'm sorry if any of my posts set you off. Just because I don't share your religious beliefs doesn't mean I'm attacking you as a person.

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 03:00 PM
Reph,


I don't know what came over me. I think I just became overly frustrated with the stressful situations--this discussion included--that have surrounded me for the last several months. I have always striven to be kind and gentle in my posts and in real life, but I am finding that this goes against my very nature. Part of the reason for this is the fact that I was always admonished, as a child, with insults accompanying them. I have been conditioned to think that every rebuke, and every correction, is a personal insult. It is hard for me to handle, because every insult I received as a child had to do with my intelligence.

So I became angry when SonoranWriter began to tell me that I was not being rational, or that my personal experience was not to be taken seriously when talking about human nature. I look at things like this as insults against my intelligence, whether it be because I do not have a college education, or whether it be because I have a mental illness, because this is how I am treated in the real world. People find out I'm mentally ill, or that I do not have a college education, and one of the first things they do is dismiss me as being 'Uninformed'.

When I made my statement that SonoranWriter was being closed-minded, I spoke of the fact that he or she refused to consider what I had to say to be serious discussion. He or she decided that, because I spoke about the Bible, he or she would not listen. It had nothing to do with agreeing with me or the Bible; it had everything to do with tolerating what I had to say.

When I took oral communications in High School, one thing I was taught was that, in a discussion such as this, differing viewpoints are to be given equal treatment. Not "Oh, you believe this, so you cannot be part of this conversation." Yet, I feel as though that is exactly what SonoranWriter did to me. I felt it was an insult, because he or she was (IMO) trying to show the world that I was stupid for what I believed.


So how did this get me to my original rant?


I began to focus not on the single discussion of this thread, but upon every single time I have been insulted and treated like I was less than intelligent. Whether it be by my parents or peers, my Sunday School teachers or my School teachers, every insult that I ever suffered, came flooding into my soul with what was being said on this thread. I could not stop the thoughts from tormenting me, so I went ballistic.


I have since decided that I am going to do some soul-searching tonight. I plan on looking in to the man I am and why I am that man; and how I can change myself, while using what I have experienced throughout my life as a learning experience that can bring healing to my hurting soul. I cannot go on like I've been doing; it's too much for my body to take.


So with that, I'll go ahead and get off here. But I wanted you to know why I did what I did last night, and to maybe give myself an incentive to figure out how to make myself into the man I want to be.


I'll talk to you later, and I hope you have a good night.


Sean

HoosierCowgirl
08-07-2006, 06:18 PM
See ya later, Sean. Hope you are back up to speed soon :)

Ann

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 10:15 PM
While I was doing my soul-searching last night, I came across something that might actually have something to do with this thread. Seriously.

You know that attitude I've had that morality comes from God? I am beginning to wonder if that might not be a misunderstanding of my Bible on my own part.

The reason I say this is that, when God made Adam and Eve, He made them with tremendous intellectual knowledge, but they did not know the difference between Good and Evil. In fact, the tree they were forbidden to eat from, was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I am not fully convinced yet that God intended for us not to have morals, but at the same time, I do wonder if God, perhaps, did not want us to know the difference between Good and Evil. There is an old saying, 'Ignorance is Bliss'. My thought is, could it be that God intended us to be neither sinful nor moral? Could it be that God intended us to be what we were in the Garden of Eden?

You see, in the Garden of Eden, the first human beings had complete fellowship with God, up until the point that they acquired their knowledge of Good and Evil. When they received that knowledge, through the forbidden fruit, their fellowship with God became strained. This has me thinking that maybe morality was intended for sinful people, not for perfect people. If a person has no concept of right and wrong, then there would be no reason for morality.

Even in our day, there is an 'Age of Innocence' that many people believe children live within for the first few years of their lives. It is believed, by some, that a child is not held responsible for their sins during that period of time.

So my beliefs on morality, though they are not fully developed as of yet, have begun to change. I am thinking that Morality might indeed come from Man, not from God, because God made us without a sense of right versus wrong, and therefore, He made us with no need for morality.


Just a few thoughts I have been pondering.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 10:40 PM
I've played with that thought, too, Sean. But then, God did create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil--so even if that was the source of moral knowledge, He was the ultimate source. He also gave A & E a command to obey. To choose to not obey was a sin which separated them from God and they were held responsible for that choice. So they must have had that Moral Compass within, presenting the 2 options: choose what self wanted, or choose what God wanted.

reph
08-07-2006, 10:48 PM
Sean, welcome back.

I think the predominant Christian view is that God knew what was going to happen when he put that tree there.

One non-Christian and liberal-Christian view is that the Garden of Eden story isn't to be taken literally. The pre-Fall part represents what you said: early childhood before a sense of right and wrong develops and the child becomes responsible.

In response to your post before that: Everyone in this thread is intelligent, and each person has a different idea of what's rational and what isn't. These differences have nothing to do with education. We all disagree on certain things because we have different values.

I had a terrible childhood, too. My mother always treated me like a bad seed. (She did a lot of projecting, and I was her favorite target.) However, I knew what unconditional love felt like because I'd received it from my sister before she died. Having had at least one relationship like that makes it easier to learn to love yourself when you're grown. Then people can't knock you over by calling you stupid, sinful, or anything.

SeanDSchaffer
08-07-2006, 10:59 PM
I've played with that thought, too, Sean. But then, God did create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil--so even if that was the source of moral knowledge, He was the ultimate source. He also gave A & E a command to obey. To choose to not obey was a sin which separated them from God and they were held responsible for that choice. So they must have had that Moral Compass within, presenting the 2 options: choose what self wanted, or choose what God wanted.


Like I said, Pat, my beliefs are still undeveloped when it comes to a lot of things. I've just been toying with some different ideas.

Your statement that they must had had a Moral Compass within intrigues me, because it is something I had not considered before. Choosing between self and God would be considered a moral decision, even if Adam and Eve were in a childhood stage of life.

Interesting idea.

Pat~
08-07-2006, 11:09 PM
What gets really interesting is thinking about that Tree of Life, and what would've happened if they'd eaten of that one, too, before being expelled from the garden.

reph
08-08-2006, 12:03 AM
God ... gave A & E a command to obey. To choose to not obey was a sin which separated them from God and they were held responsible for that choice.If they didn't yet know good and evil, how could they be held responsible for knowing that disobedience was a sin?

Pat~
08-08-2006, 02:22 AM
If they didn't yet know good and evil, how could they be held responsible for knowing that disobedience was a sin?Well, the Bible doesn't say they didn't know good and evil--that was a conjecture on this thread. I think, being created in the image of God, that they did have an innate moral compass from the outset. Genesis also tells us that they walked with God--an expression of initimate fellowship. They got to know Him, knew experientially that He was Good, and knew that His will therefore was good. Once God told them what His will was, the moral choice was before them; it also says that God told them that the day that they ate of the tree, they would surely die (spiritual death, separation from God). I think God laid out pretty clearly what was good (obedience)and what was evil (disobedience).

Lolly
08-20-2006, 02:14 AM
Well, the Bible doesn't say they didn't know good and evil--that was a conjecture on this thread. I think, being created in the image of God, that they did have an innate moral compass from the outset. Genesis also tells us that they walked with God--an expression of initimate fellowship. They got to know Him, knew experientially that He was Good, and knew that His will therefore was good. Once God told them what His will was, the moral choice was before them; it also says that God told them that the day that they ate of the tree, they would surely die (spiritual death, separation from God). I think God laid out pretty clearly what was good (obedience)and what was evil (disobedience).


That's pretty much how I feel. God clearly told them what to do and what would happen if they didn't. Therefore, they knew that if they didn't do what He said, then it was wrong. It's pretty much like when a parent tells a child to do something but the child refuses.

SonoranWriter
08-20-2006, 09:28 PM
Genesis is pretty clear that eating from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" turned Adam and Eve into moral agents. Before that, they didn't know right from wrong.

Therefore, they coludn't have known that eating the fruit was wrong. They couldn't have known that obedience to God was "good" and following the serpent was "wrong". They couldn't even have known that dying was a bad thing.

The serpent, in fact, told the truth while God lied: they ate the fruit and didn't die (Genesis says nothing about "spiritual death") and they then knew good from evil (they realized they were naked and were ashamed).

Christianity reinterpreted this story with the label "original sin", because they needed to "sell" salvation. If the story was intended that way, Jews would believe in the doctrine of original sin, but they don't.

Sorry (if anyone cares!) for vanishing. I've had three agent requests for partials and one for the full. The last was unexpected so I've been frantically doing a final rewrite.

SeanDSchaffer
08-20-2006, 10:03 PM
Christianity reinterpreted this story with the label "original sin", because they needed to "sell" salvation. If the story was intended that way, Jews would believe in the doctrine of original sin, but they don't.



My Emphasis.


I don't think painting all Jews as believing exactly the same thing is all that wise, SonoranWriter. There are many sects of Judaeism (sp?), not just one. They do not all believe exactly the same thing as every other Jew in the whole wide world.

The same is true for Christians. And in the New Testament, I find no reference to the words "Original Sin". What I do find reference to is that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". Salvation was not something that needed to be sold, because most people of the day believed that they had to attain to greater things to get to God (or gods, as the case may be). Most people knew they had done wrong, at some point in time, and that if their gods were supposedly better than they were, they would have to work to get to the same place as the gods.

Salvation was such a simple concept, that many people did not believe that it could be real. The idea that asking God to save your soul from sin, was considered, by many, a ludicrous idea. The reason for this was that people looked at their gods as unapproachable. So to be able to approach an Almighty and say "Save me from my sins" seemed impossible.

This is why the Bible tells us that "The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us that are saved it is the Power of God." It made no sense to the average person of the day to approach a God and ask for forgiveness. But at the same time, those who did approach the Almighty and ask for forgiveness, got it, and in many cases were forever grateful to that God for saving their souls.

SonoranWriter
08-20-2006, 10:52 PM
I don't think painting all Jews as believing exactly the same thing is all that wise, SonoranWriter. There are many sects of Judaeism (sp?), not just one. They do not all believe exactly the same thing as every other Jew in the whole wide world.

Find me one OT bible verse that teaches the doctrine of Original Sin. It's alien to Jews.



The same is true for Christians. And in the New Testament, I find no reference to the words "Original Sin". What I do find reference to is that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God".

The purpose of the recent posts, though, was to establish what the Adam and Eve story means. Christianity teaches the doctrine of Original Sin - we inherited Adam's sin and need to be saved through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. This entire concept is missing in Jesus' preaching. He never taught it. He was very clear that he came to forgive personal sins if one repented (or even if one did not, if he was feeling merciful) not inherited Original Sin. Even the Lord's Prayer is about "our sins", not inherited sins.

Furthermore, the bible says that children are not responsible for the sins of their fathers.

To pull the topic around to the previous discussion, I was asked to provide examples of God acting against his own morality. This is a good example. God kills Daniel's bastard child because it was born from adultery. This goes directly against his moral code - that children aren't responsible for the sins of their parents. (Which again relates to everyone being punished by death for Adam's sin.)

Deut. 24:16 (http://www.gospelcom.net/bible?version=NIV&passage=deuteronomy+24:16) The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin


Salvation was such a simple concept, that many people did not believe that it could be real. The idea that asking God to save your soul from sin, was considered, by many, a ludicrous idea. The reason for this was that people looked at their gods as unapproachable. So to be able to approach an Almighty and say "Save me from my sins" seemed impossible.

I disagree. Jews have a very personal relationship with God - they speak directly to him to ask for forgiveness. Christians began to teach that this wasn't good enough, that Adam's sin put a distance between humans and God that could only be bridged by Jesus' sacrifice.

During Jesus' time, many people were horrified at Jesus handing out forgiveness willy-nilly. Asking God for forgiveness was perfectly normal for them.

Luk 5:21 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Luk/Luk005.html#21) And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

SeanDSchaffer
08-20-2006, 11:34 PM
I disagree. Jews have a very personal relationship with God - they speak directly to him to ask for forgiveness. Christians began to teach that this wasn't good enough, that Adam's sin put a distance between humans and God that could only be bridged by Jesus' sacrifice.


You apparently do not know Christianity half as well as you claim to know it. Maybe a little refresher course in the Bible will help you know what Christianity actually believes.

1. Christians believe that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". You're right in that the Bible does not mention an 'Original Sin', however It does mention that Sin is in our nature. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of the child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him", is a good example of what the OT teaches concerning a sinful nature.

2. Christians believe that human sin has separated us from God. Using an OT Scripture to back what I'm saying up, I will go to Isaiah 1:18, which says, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". OT, not NT. The OT specifically states that our sins ARE NOW as scarlet, and red like crimson. After reasoning together with God, they BECOME white as snow, and they BECOME as wool.

3. Christians believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, that we cannot of our own selves save our souls from sin. (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Christ came to this earth as God in the flesh, and He had every right as God to forgive whom He would. That includes, according to Scripture, all who call upon His Name. (Romans 10:13)

4. Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, prophesied by several OT prophets including Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible and, to my knowledge, at least ten of the Psalms. Christians believe Jesus is God in the flesh, as explained in detail in Philippians 2:5-11. As God in the flesh, He has every right and power to forgive the sins of whomever He will.

5. Christians believe that the OT and NT are equally inspired by God, and are both "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works". (II Timothy 3:16, 17)

6. Christians believe that the OT Law of purification before entering the Temple was inspired by God, as was the OT Law of animal sacrifices and complete perfection being the only thing that can approach a completely perfect God. It might be interesting to point out, that God was indeed less approachable by the people of the OT times than He was in NT times, because people cannot, in and of themselves, become perfect enough to stand before God Almighty. If Jesus was God, as the Bible says He was, then by His sacrifice on the Cross, and by His resurrection from the dead, we are now able to approach God the Father and stand before Him as righteous, and not be cast out of His presence because of a single flaw in our own selves.


To answer the question of Original Sin, as a Christian I am indifferent to the notion. What matters is that all human beings have sinned, and in that they have fallen short of the glory of God Almighty. If you want to approach God, you have to do it in perfection, which is something that no amount of religion can do. Only God can give perfection to a person, through His own means. We as human beings cannot make ourselves perfect according to God's laws. As a Christian, I believe that Christ was the bridge between Man and God that the OT prescribed. Like the Lord Himself said, "I have not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it." He came to fulfill the Law, because He knew we as human beings could not.

If you want to argue an Original Sin, do it with someone who gives a care about one. What I care about is that I have sinned, and that you have sinned, and that everyone on this Earth has sinned. This makes us all unable to approach God without some sort of Mediator (the OT backs this up as much as the NT does; I can give you some OT scriptures to prove it, if you'd like). Christ is the Mediator that the OT demanded, at least by Christians' estimation.

But to say that any ordinary human being is able to approach God Almighty without a mediator, goes entirely against both OT and NT writings. That's the real issue, not whether or not the Bible teaches an original sin.

Pat~
08-21-2006, 12:08 AM
Genesis is pretty clear that eating from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" turned Adam and Eve into moral agents. Before that, they didn't know right from wrong.
Would you be able to supply the reference from Genesis that supports this position? Because I don't see how God's instructions to them could be interpreted as anything else but instruction about what was right versus wrong.

The serpent, in fact, told the truth while God lied: they ate the fruit and didn't die (Genesis says nothing about "spiritual death") and they then knew good from evil (they realized they were naked and were ashamed).
Again, how can you support your interpretation of "death" in this statement as being the only correct one, esp. in light of the fact that all throughout the Bible the word 'death' is taken to mean either physical OR spiritual death? And your second sentence doesn't even make sense; since when is nakedness 'evil?' It certainly wasn't in God's eyes.


Christianity reinterpreted this story with the label "original sin", because they needed to "sell" salvation. If the story was intended that way, Jews would believe in the doctrine of original sin, but they don't. Pretty broad assumption, here. The idea of humans being born in sin was around for centuries before the official Catholic Church doctrine on "original sin." Paul speaks of it all throughout Romans (written in the first century A.D.).

Pat~
08-21-2006, 12:42 AM
Find me one OT bible verse that teaches the doctrine of Original Sin. It's alien to Jews. Psalm 51:6 "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (King David).


The purpose of the recent posts, though, was to establish what the Adam and Eve story means. Christianity teaches the doctrine of Original Sin - we inherited Adam's sin and need to be saved through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. This entire concept is missing in Jesus' preaching. He never taught it. He was very clear that he came to forgive personal sins if one repented (or even if one did not, if he was feeling merciful) not inherited Original Sin. Even the Lord's Prayer is about "our sins", not inherited sins.

In John 3, Jesus told a law-abiding Pharisee, Nicodemus, that no one could enter the kingdom of God without being 'born again' (John 3:3) When Nicodemus questioned Him on that, He said that He was referring to spiritual rebirth, and explained it further, drawing on Nicodemus' knowledge of Old Testament history:

14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[a (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=john%203:14-18;&version=31;&interface=print#fen-NIV-26126a)] 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[b (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=john%203:14-18;&version=31;&interface=print#fen-NIV-26127b)] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.[c (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=john%203:14-18;&version=31;&interface=print#fen-NIV-26129c)]


Furthermore, the bible says that children are not responsible for the sins of their fathers.
True, but the Bible also says that all have sinned, so isn't the whole topic of "original sin" rather a moot point? Fact is, our own sin in enough to separate us from God...even the smallest sin of the most law-abiding Pharisee.


To pull the topic around to the previous discussion, I was asked to provide examples of God acting against his own morality. This is a good example. God kills Daniel's bastard child because it was born from adultery. This goes directly against his moral code - that children aren't responsible for the sins of their parents. (Which again relates to everyone being punished by death for Adam's sin.)
I think you're referring to David's child born from his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. (There is no record that Daniel ever had one.) The Bible (Old Testament) says, "All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be..." (King David, Psalm 139). The child was not held responsible for his father's sin, though he was allowed to get sick and die. Those were the days ordained for that child before his conception.


During Jesus' time, many people were horrified at Jesus handing out forgiveness willy-nilly. Asking God for forgiveness was perfectly normal for them.
The people, Jewish leaders in particular, were horrified at His forgiveness precisely because it was His claim to be one with God.
Luke 5:21 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Luk/Luk005.html#21) And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

SonoranWriter
08-21-2006, 03:11 AM
You apparently do not know Christianity half as well as you claim to know it. Maybe a little refresher course in the Bible will help you know what Christianity actually believes.

Yet you said the same as I said:


As a Christian, I believe that Christ was the bridge between Man and God that the OT prescribed.

But, again, the discussion was about original sin and whether Adam and Eve were moral agents before eating the fruit. Your comment


If you want to argue an Original Sin, do it with someone who gives a care about one.

makes little sense. The topic of this thread is morality, so original sin is relevant.

SonoranWriter
08-21-2006, 03:26 AM
Psalm 51:6 "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (King David).

Well, I actually meant a verse that shows God mentioning original sin. David had just committed adultery and was feeling particularly loathesome. This doesn't refer to inherited sin.

If Jesus' sacrifice was necessary to pay for Adam's sin that we inherited (which is the way I was taught it), Jesus was mighty coy in saying so.


In John 3, Jesus told a law-abiding Pharisee, Nicodemus, that no one could enter the kingdom of God without being 'born again' (John 3:3) When Nicodemus questioned Him on that, He said that He was referring to spiritual rebirth, and explained it further, drawing on Nicodemus' knowledge of Old Testament history:

14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[a (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=john%203:14-18;&version=31;&interface=print#fen-NIV-26126a)] 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[b (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=john%203:14-18;&version=31;&interface=print#fen-NIV-26127b)] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.[c (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=john%203:14-18;&version=31;&interface=print#fen-NIV-26129c)]

Again, no mention of Adam's sin.


True, but the Bible also says that all have sinned, so isn't the whole topic of "original sin" rather a moot point? Fact is, our own sin in enough to separate us from God...even the smallest sin of the most law-abiding Pharisee.

I think there's a huge difference. Personal sin is doing things you know are wrong. Original sin is inherited and doesn't require any act on your part. Jesus says to fix the first kind of sin, you just need to repent. To fix the second kind of sin is impossible, so he died in our stead.



I think you're referring to David's child born from his adulterous affair with Bathsheba.

Sorry, yes - two D names.


The child was not held responsible for his father's sin, though he was allowed to get sick and die.

The child was not "allowed" to get sick and die. God struck him dead.



The people, Jewish leaders in particular, were horrified at His forgiveness precisely because it was His claim to be one with God.

The point is that they were perfectly used to asking God for forgiveness. (I was refuting Dean's comment "The idea that asking God to save your soul from sin, was considered, by many, a ludicrous idea.")

SonoranWriter
08-21-2006, 04:04 AM
Would you be able to supply the reference from Genesis that supports this position? Because I don't see how God's instructions to them could be interpreted as anything else but instruction about what was right versus wrong.

God's instructions were about obedience, not right vs. wrong. Clearly they didn't know right from wrong because that was the whole point of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They ate the fruit, causing God to say "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil".

Thus Adam and Eve didn't know obedience to God was "right" and listening to the serpent was "wrong".

It's hard to imagine what it's like to not know right from wrong because as humans we all have that moral compass. But they didn't have it. (This is all Genesis 2-3.)



Again, how can you support your interpretation of "death" in this statement as being the only correct one, esp. in light of the fact that all throughout the Bible the word 'death' is taken to mean either physical OR spiritual death?

Where in the OT is the same word used to mean either? (I'm referring to what the Genesis story actually meant to people at the time it was written, not NT and Christian reinterpretations of it.)



And your second sentence doesn't even make sense; since when is nakedness 'evil?' It certainly wasn't in God's eyes.

The very first consequence of eating the fruit was that their eyes were opened to their nakedness, so they covered themselves. Then Adam hides from God because he was afraid of having been naked. The two events are clearly linked - Adam realizing his nakedness needed covering up clued God in to the fact that they'd discovered right from wrong:

Gen 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou [wast] naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?



Pretty broad assumption, here. The idea of humans being born in sin was around for centuries before the official Catholic Church doctrine on "original sin." Paul speaks of it all throughout Romans (written in the first century A.D.).

I'm far more interested in what Jesus spoke about - given that he was God. "Paulanity" and "Christianity" aren't really the same thing.

SeanDSchaffer
08-21-2006, 09:17 AM
Well, I actually meant a verse that shows God mentioning original sin. David had just committed adultery and was feeling particularly loathesome. This doesn't refer to inherited sin.

Yes, it does refer to original sin. Just because you want it not to, does not mean it doesn't.


If Jesus' sacrifice was necessary to pay for Adam's sin that we inherited (which is the way I was taught it), Jesus was mighty coy in saying so.

Whether Jesus Himself said it or no, the Bible does say this is the way it is. Just because The evil Apostle Paul said it, does not make it wrong.


Again, no mention of Adam's sin.

Again, ignoring the fact that original sin is implied, even if "Adam's Original Sin" is not part of the wording.


I think there's a huge difference. Personal sin is doing things you know are wrong. Original sin is inherited and doesn't require any act on your part. Jesus says to fix the first kind of sin, you just need to repent. To fix the second kind of sin is impossible, so he died in our stead.

Jesus died on the Cross to save us from 'Sin', not 'Inherited' or 'Personal' sin. Any sin we possess, inherited or not, is enough to send us to Hell.


The child was not "allowed" to get sick and die. God struck him dead.

You sure like to judge God, don't you? I might remind you that you are in no position to do so.


The point is that they were perfectly used to asking God for forgiveness. (I was refuting Dean's comment "The idea that asking God to save your soul from sin, was considered, by many, a ludicrous idea.")

The point is that you had to approach God in perfection, which Mankind does not possess in and of himself. In the OT, you could not simply approach God. You had to make yourself perfect in His sight before you could approach Him. This runs contrary to what you have been saying. The OT does not say you can approach God with sin in your life.


(By the way, my name is Sean, not Dean. Please quit calling me Dean.)

SeanDSchaffer
08-21-2006, 09:22 AM
*Plonk*

Pat~
08-21-2006, 10:09 AM
God's instructions were about obedience, not right vs. wrong. Clearly they didn't know right from wrong because that was the whole point of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They ate the fruit, causing God to say "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil"."Know" in this verse is the Hebrew word "yada" which means to know in an experiential way, to know intimately through experience. What this verse means is that they now knew good vs. evil experientially, as they were now intimately acquainted with it.


Thus Adam and Eve didn't know obedience to God was "right" and listening to the serpent was "wrong".
Again, they knew God intimately. In so knowing, they knew Good. They knew what God said and commanded was good. So when the serpent said something contrary, they knew that it could not also be "good". They also could not have been 'warned' about the bad consequences to disobeying God without Him explaining that that was not a 'good' thing to have happen.



Where in the OT is the same word used to mean either? (I'm referring to what the Genesis story actually meant to people at the time it was written, not NT and Christian reinterpretations of it.)
In my Strong's concordance, the Hebrew word for "die" in that Genesis verse is "muwth" which means "to die, literally or figuratively." In Deut. 30:15, 19 (for one example) there is also used this word "maveth" for "death"--which is derived from the same word, "muwth". "Maveth" means not only death, but can also mean the figurative, "pestilence or ruin." When you look at the passage in Deuteronomy, it's obvious, in fact, that it does mean simply 'ruin.' In that passage Moses is telling the Israelites what will happen if they choose to disobey God and worship idols after entering Canaan. He was fortelling the 'ruin' of the nation--not that everyone who worshipped an idol would suddenly be struck dead.



The very first consequence of eating the fruit was that their eyes were opened to their nakedness, so they covered themselves. Then Adam hides from God because he was afraid of having been naked. The two events are clearly linked - Adam realizing his nakedness needed covering up clued God in to the fact that they'd discovered right from wrong:

Gen 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou [wast] naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
The consequence of eating the fruit was not that nakedness was now sinful; it was that Adam and Eve now had a sense of shame. "Who told you you were naked?" is like God asking them "who told you this was shameful?" Adam and Eve had shame because they had disobeyed--and this shame was the overriding cause of their hiding from God. The fact that they wanted to 'hide' from God by putting on clothes is highly symbolic.



I'm far more interested in what Jesus spoke about - given that he was God. "Paulanity" and "Christianity" aren't really the same thing.
Sorry, but there is no such thing as "Paulianity." Paul's writings were based on the foundation of Christ's teachings; nowhere does he contradict Him. (Ephesians 1:22, 2:20, 5:23-24).

SonoranWriter
08-21-2006, 10:19 AM
Yes, it does refer to original sin. Just because you want it not to, does not mean it doesn't.

Original sin is the sin we inherited from Adam. No mention of it there. The Jews did/do not believe in this doctrine of hereditary sinfulness or the necessity of "salvation" to overcome it. Jews believe and have always believed that you get right with God by offering sincere repentance and living according to his laws.



Whether Jesus Himself said it or no, the Bible does say this is the way it is. Just because The evil Apostle Paul said it, does not make it wrong.

The contrast between Paul's and Jesus' teachings is big enough to make Paul's writings suspicious as a means of determining Jesus' intentions or purpose. He never even quotes Jesus, and appears unaware of any biographical details about Jesus' life.

As I said, Jesus was mighty coy on such an important doctrinal point (that we're condemned because of Adam's sin, and redeemed by atonement). These ideas came from Paul and the early Christian church.



Jesus died on the Cross to save us from 'Sin', not 'Inherited' or 'Personal' sin. Any sin we possess, inherited or not, is enough to send us to Hell.

Then why does he say that our sins are forgiven if we merely repent? He goes around forgiving all over the place in the NT, and that was before he died.




The child was not "allowed" to get sick and die. God struck him dead.
You sure like to judge God, don't you? I might remind you that you are in no position to do so.

Nothing to do with judging God - just the facts: he lays down the law and then he breaks it. God's changing morality.



The point is that you had to approach God in perfection, which Mankind does not possess in and of himself.

No, the point was creating a "problem" so that the church could sell salvation. The problem they created was original sin, unknown to the Jews, who were perfectly fine with repenting in prayer and making their blood sacrifices to please God.



(By the way, my name is Sean, not Dean. Please quit calling me Dean.)

Since you asked so nicely. My apologies, Sean.

Pat~
08-21-2006, 11:01 AM
The contrast between Paul's and Jesus' teachings is big enough to make Paul's writings suspicious as a means of determining Jesus' intentions or purpose. He never even quotes Jesus, and appears unaware of any biographical details about Jesus' life.Being as how the gospels weren't yet written, and Paul was not an eye-witness of the life and ministry of Christ, it would seem reasonable that he would not be quoting Him or His parables. (The gospels were written roughly between 50 and 70 A.D., and Paul's writings were written between 50 and 60 A.D.)

SonoranWriter
08-21-2006, 08:03 PM
Most scholars date the gospels to much later than that.

How could Paul have known what Jesus taught, to the point of writing endlessly on the subject, if he didn't know what he said?

Roger J Carlson
08-21-2006, 08:54 PM
I am closing this thread for the time being. Thank you.