Saturday, April 21, 2007

morality

This is a carry-over from the comments for "if there is evil then there is a god. WHAT???? "

It has swung around to now discussing morality and its application.

Dani, your post seems to address several different issues...
1- What standard do YOU go by to determine what's morally right or wrong?
I'm assuming you mean in my daily life.

2- Because what's right for me may not be right for you
This goes back to moral relativity which I believe is not a solid basis for morality.

3- and Hitler thought what he was doing was right - So do we just let society decide what is good or evil?
This sounds like you are asking how morality should be used to govern society.

4- All throughout history man's nature has been proven to be wicked
This is actually 2 subjects original sin and human nature

5- and the reason why he needs values is often irrelevant because each man defines the values he must reach and the virtues he must practice to reach them by his own standards.
I'm not sure how you mean this. I have really tried to give this one a lot of thought and break down what you are trying to say.... Man uses individual standards to choose what he values in life and the virtues he must practice to achieve these values.

6- Without an Ultimate Authority to determine justice, how do we ever agree on what is right?
Without using god, are you asking how you and I as individuals would come to an agreement as to what is right and wrong or does this go back to laws and government?

17 comments:

look_an_atheist said...

Human Nature
Man is a rational being. Reason, as man's only means of knowledge, is his basic means of survival. But the exercise of reason depends on each individual's choice. "Man is a being of volitional consciousness." "That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call 'free will' is your mind's freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom. This is the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and character."Thus Objectivism rejects any form of determinism, the belief that man is a victim of forces beyond his control (such as God, fate, upbringing, genes, or economic conditions).

Ethics
"Reason is man's only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man's survival qua man—i.e., that which is required by man's nature for his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival as a mindless brute). Rationality is man's basic virtue, and his three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life." Thus Objectivism rejects any form of altruism—the claim that morality consists in living for others or for society.

Politics
"The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that no man has the right to seek values from others by means of physical force—i.e., no man or group has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. Men have the right to use force only in self-defense and only against those who initiate its use. Men must deal with one another as traders, giving value for value, by free, mutual consent to mutual benefit. The only social system that bars physical force from human relationships is laissez-faire capitalism. Capitalism is a system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which the only function of the government is to protect individual rights, i.e., to protect men from those who initiate the use of physical force." Thus Objectivism rejects any form of collectivism, such as fascism or socialism. It also rejects the current "mixed economy" notion that the government should regulate the economy and redistribute wealth.

look_an_atheist said...

I forgot the link to my "sources"...

Objectivism Essentials

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_essentials


Also for a book on objectivist values see description here

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CS58B

And for a 5 page summary of objectivism click here

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_pobs

Dani said...

Hi - Thanks for taking the time to continue this discussion with me. I usually don’t get involved debates on other blogs, but I find that your questions are worth investing time into and I appreciate you giving me a forum to share my thoughts and opinions.

1- I'm assuming you mean in my daily life.

Yes, as well as the culture/society around you.

2- This goes back to moral relativity which I believe is not a solid basis for morality.

That's good. It was my understanding that all self-proclaimed atheists believe in moral relativity, at least the majority that I have come across.

3- This sounds like you are asking how morality should be used to govern society.

Yes. A society should have a standard for morality, otherwise wicked dictators like Hitler can rule and murder based on their own standards. Hitler lived for his own sake and worked for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life. Are those the kind of "ethics" we should follow?

4- This is actually 2 subjects original sin and human nature

Actually, human nature is a result of original sin. I completely agree with the fact that we all have a free will to make our own choices and none of us is a victim of forces beyond our control.

Where do you think our conscience or ability to know right from wrong came from, if not from God?

5- I'm not sure how you mean this. I have really tried to give this one a lot of thought and break down what you are trying to say.... Man uses individual standards to choose what he values in life and the virtues he must practice to achieve these values.

Yes. For example, some Catholic priests practice their values by sodomizing young boys. Rapists value sexually assaulting women, and drug dealers value making money at the expense of other’s addictions. Pro-choice activists value their “right” to kill their unborn baby all the way up to nine months through partial birth abortion. The psycho killer at VA Tech valued shooting 32 people to death before taking his own life. In each of their own minds, what they were doing was right because it satisfied their own selfish desires and made them happy. If everybody practices the virtues and values they choose, then we have utter chaos which is exactly what we are seeing in today’s culture.

This also goes even further when people don’t believe in a Creator God, that we are made in His image, and instead they believe we all evolved from animals. Why then, should we be surprised when people act like animals without any regard for human life whatsoever?

As our friend, Brian Rohrbough said after his son Danny was shot and killed at the Columbine High School massacre:

“This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value.

We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children.

Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. And we are seeing an epidemic increase in murder-suicide attacks on our children.

Sadly, our schools are not safe. In fact, we now witness that within our schools. Our children have become a target of terrorists from within the United States.”


That sums it up pretty good. Without God, there are no consequences for wrong behavior and there is no real value for human life.

6- Without using god, are you asking how you and I as individuals would come to an agreement as to what is right and wrong or does this go back to laws and government?

Yes - how do you and I as individuals come to an agreement as to what is right and wrong if you don't believe there is an Ultimate Authority governing our lives?

Hopefully we can agree that most governments are corrupt. The laws we have in America were based upon Christian principles and US law was originally modeled after Biblical Law, such as "Do not murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, ect." which come from the Ten Commandments. But our government has abandoned God's Law and now we have nothing but lawlessness and no just punishment for crimes.

Christianity agrees with Objectivism as it also rejects any form of collectivism, such as fascism or socialism. It also rejects the current "mixed economy" notion that the government should regulate the economy and redistribute wealth.

Christianity rejects modern psychology and Objectivism because it leads to a self-centered society much like evolution, which is survival of the fittest. Christian principals and ethics say to put the needs of others before yourself without being selfish, and to love one another as you would love yourself.

------------------------

BTW - On a side note, I've been meaning to applaud you for homeschooling your children. No matter what your beliefs, I think keeping them out of the government schools and at home is the wisest thing you can do for your kids.

(sorry this is so long, I'll try to keep in shorter in the future)

look_an_atheist said...

Hi Dani- thanks for being such a faithful reader to this blog. I had intended it as a wait to meet other homeschooling folks of similar mindset. But being completely ignorant of how to advertise myself, I've only met you.

I really had no idea that this debate would go on so long. It certainly has been a challenge. Discussions like this are not my specialty and usually something I don't participate in.

Public school sucked when I went back in the 80's. It has gotten SO much worse. People who find out I homeschool often say- but what about "socialization". My response has now become, "Please, walk through any public school in America and tell me which of the behaviors you see that you would like my children to learn." I've yet to be able to use that particular gem as I haven't met anyone recently who didn't already know I homeschooled.

On a side note, I can't believe how long these posts have been. HA! Most blogs I've seen that comments are 5-9 lines long. We've been doing PARAGRAPHS!!!! Sheesh. :D

look_an_atheist said...

What it seems to boil down to is this. How do people live together without hurting each other whether that is through lying, cheating, murder, stealing, etc...

Man is capable of rational thought. It is the tool we have that seperates us from animals. We don't have protective fur or an exo-skeleton, we are not equipped with ferocious claws or the ability to fly from danger. What we have is our brains. The ability to perceive the world with our senses, to form mental constructs based on sensory input that lets us compare 1 thing with another. To say this block falls when I drop it, the feather floats gently to the ground. The ball rolls, the book does not.

As we grow we learn that some things are good for us- fruits, vegetables, and some things are bad for us- poison, public school (HA! Couldn't resisit but totally off topic) that sort of thing. The lessons get more complicated as we grow from infancy into adult hood.

The point is that throughout our day we know that there are actions we take that are life-affirming (getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, being kind to those around us).

There are choices we avoid making because they are NOT life affirming (actually taking a swing at somebody who makes us angry- we'd likely get our butts kicked, shooting the tires out from the car that cut us off on the interstate- we'd likely get into an accident just trying to avoid hitting them as they careen around).

The evil choices that people make are not in their best interests. They are not rational. Catholic priest that likes to diddle the altar boys. Leaving aside why he has decided to sexually deprive himself to the point that a prepubescent child becomes appealing, it is NOT in his best interest to pursue the relationship. If he gets caught he can face public humiliation, the censorship of his congregation, jail time etc... Being an active pedophile is not rational.

So for the NON extreme cases, but just us regular folk, how do we get through the day without god telling us we'll burn in hell?

Rational self-interest. Is this good for my life? Will my life and the life of my children be enhanced by my decisions?

Dani said...

HA! I just love the "what about socialization" question!

See, even an atheist and a Christian can still come to the logical conclusion together that we don't want our kids "socialized" in the Bureaucratic Daycare centers we call public school. Yeah, I learned how to smoke dope, pop pills, curse like a sailor, disrespect authority, screw around and I had my first baby at fifteen. So much for the "safe-sex" classes, right?

If you get a chance, I thought you might like to read this post from my other blog =>
So What About Socialization?

That blog is anti-public school mostly geared towards Christian parents, but I think you will find a lot of helpful homeschooling articles and links that we can agree on despite our differences in beliefs. Just scroll down along the sidebar for more info.

---------------------

Anyway - back to the topic of God and morality...

I'm glad you are enjoying our debate and I feel very privileged that you have devoted so much time to me and these discussions.

You seem like a really nice person with a lot of intelligence who has just had a lot of bad exposure to Christianity and a bunch of misinformation about the Bible, which is my guess as to why you reject God. Heck, you homeschool your kids so you have to be pretty cool!

You don't strike me as the typical atheist, more like a questioning agnostic. I was turned off to Christianity nearly my whole life so I can understand where you are coming from.

I guess what I am saying is don't give up all belief yet. If you can live life more abundantly, with the security of knowing that your eternal salvation is in good hands, would it be worth it to at least explore your options?

Is atheism really good for your life? Will your life and the lives of your children be enhanced by your decision to reject your Creator?

Dani said...

One more thing (and maybe this is a whole other topic), but you said this...

"Man is capable of rational thought. It is the tool we have that seperates us from animals."

What is your belief on the origins of life? Do you think we evolved from animals over billions of years? Why is it that humans are capable of rational thought and we have a conscience, but animals don't? In your opinion, what really sets us apart from all the other species on the planet?

look_an_atheist said...

Dani recommended
http://bureaucraticdaycare.blogspot.com/2006/02/so-what-about-socialization.html

Connie hinted that she had a link for Goddess..... and yet never posted the link. Connie's a TEASE!!!!! HA!

So- do you have a link with more info about this Matt guy? I love finding new tips and ideas on homeschooling.

Dani said...

Hey, thanks for reminding me -

I found a link for you => One-Hour-A-Day Homeschooling

This kind of method is very popular and works for many families, including ours. It's funny how public school kids go for 8 hours a day, yet they are still dumber than rocks.

BigTex71 said...

"It's funny how public school kids go for 8 hours a day, yet they are still dumber than rocks.

Wow, nice. No stereotyping here, huh?
I am offended by that remark (not that you care.)

look_an_atheist said...

Dani said "It's funny how public school kids go for 8 hours a day, yet they are still dumber than rocks.

and Bigtex71 replied "Wow, nice. No stereotyping here, huh?
I am offended by that remark (not that you care.)


I just had to shake my head and smile. Homeschoolers have a lot of stereotypes about public school kids, probably in reaction to why we choose to homeschool in the first place and the criticism we get from mainstreamers for that choice.

Same with stereotypes about atheists, what was it over at PossumMamma's? Something like all atheists are Rapists, murders and ....oh I don't know liars, cheats etc...

Stereotypes sometimes help groups feel superior to other groups, there is often a grain of truth in them but sometimes even that is just a perceived truth. I think atheists = rapists comes from the perceived truth that atheists are all moral relativists and we can do what we want when we want with no conscience.

Public school students being idiots comes from the devestating results of No Child Left Behind and New Math and a host of other evils visited upon students by the government. A grain of truth, but not 100% accurate.

I took the original comment about rocks as a joke, harsh but with a grain of truth. Of course, I like that kind of humor. Were you truly offended Bigtex71 or just pointing out the irony of a christian using a stereotype?

And NO I am not trying to pick a fight or referee a fight, just having a conversation.

BigTex71 said...

I initially took offense to it, then I considered the source. :)

I wish I could homeschool my children, but due to financial responsibilities we cannot. But we do reinforce and teach alongside what our children are learning in public schools. When we recently moved to our current location, the school systems were our #1 decision maker.

Not all public schools are bad. And not all homeschoolers are 'smart'.

But Fundamentalist Christians are a bunch of mentally challenged idiots. (Right back atcha, Dani!) :)

look_an_atheist said...

Bigtex71 said...."
I wish I could homeschool my children, but due to financial responsibilities we cannot.


I totally hear you on the financial side. Homeschooling ALMOST invariably means single income. So for us, single income with 4 family members sucks a little bit of @$$. That's not true it sucks a whole lot of @$$.

Bixtex71 said, "But we do reinforce and teach alongside what our children are learning in public schools.

I think that is so fantastic!!!!! May I ask what resources you use? (I just want some ideas for my own homeschooling, and NOT looking for ANY opportunity to criticize or adviser. Seriously, just an idea snatcher!!)

Thanks for coming back Bixtex71!!!

BigTex71 said...

I think that is so fantastic!!!!! May I ask what resources you use? (I just want some ideas for my own homeschooling, and NOT looking for ANY opportunity to criticize or adviser. Seriously, just an idea snatcher!!)

Well, my son is only six years old. So we use the Hooked on Phonics books at home, as well as other level 2 and 3 beginner reading books (I forget which series.)

Also, I look over the work they did in school (they usually bring the work home in their folders every day) and go over it again, or elaborate on the subject.

No set guidelines or anything. But we are open to suggestions. :)

look_an_atheist said...

Hi BigTex! I've heard good things about Hooked on Phonics, if you ever need other phonics sources (depending on your son's reading) to supplement HoP-

Phonics Pathways by Hiskes has come highly recommended.

I didn't hear about it until after my 2 were reading and wish I had used it with them. Very thorough grounding in the different sounds, blends, etc...

Have you thought about doing things during the summer to boost his education? (I know, nosy nosy)

BigTex71 said...

Have you thought about doing things during the summer to boost his education? (I know, nosy nosy)

We are thinking about enrolling him in a program like Kumon

look_an_atheist said...

We are thinking about enrolling him in a program like Kumon

Wow- I am REALLY impressed. I checked the Find A Center and got inconclusive results for a center near me. From what I've seen on the website, I would definitely get a tour. Reasonably priced, foundational/systematic learning. WOW!!!!! Very impressive. I would love to hear how this works out, whether on this blog or your own.