The Christianity Challenge

Manwë was known for many things, but wisdom and power are two that lead the rest of his attributes. Join the Councils and discuss the more weighty matters of Tolkien Fandom.

Postby Kelannar » Tue Sep 19, 2000 12:17 pm

Pestilence, the universality of social morality in people is in itself an argument that there is a fundamental Truth to follow. Even people who pretend that promises don't matter will undercut that reasoning by saying that a broken promise was UNFAIR. But if promises didn't matter, what difference does it make if one breaks them or not, why label one unfair? Anyway, the universality of morality in human nature, which is what I think you were speaking to, can itself be an indication of the structure of the universe and Truth. There has never been an entire society that admired people who ran away as cowards in battle, or who admired people for extreme selfishness.<BR><BR>Why can't anyone tell me why I shouldn't rule that toyroom?
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Postby Jester_RM » Tue Sep 19, 2000 12:45 pm

Kel: Maybe you just answered it yourself...maybe there IS a "universal truth" to follow. <BR><BR>I think the argument going on here is, is there sufficient evidence to believe that this "universal truth" is dependant on the "christian" religeon (catholic/baptist/anglican/etc.) or any other organized "religeous" system (i.e. kid's won't play nice in the toyroom without an outside controling factor)<BR><BR>or,<BR><BR>if this "truth" is INdependent of any organized "religeous" system, and it is truly "universal", then is there truly a benefit to an organized religeon of any type? (i.e. most kid's will play nice together whether or not there is an outside controling factor)<BR><BR>I'm not taking sides here, since I try to stay out of these types of discussions, but they are interesting nonetheless <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>
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Postby Kelannar » Tue Sep 19, 2000 2:20 pm

Universal morality points to God, and it is a nondenominational argument in favor of God. But it doesn't provide a reason why someone should not disregard his conscience, and it doesn't explain why someone is bad if one breaks a promise.<BR><BR>I want to know why I can't have those toys. I've got big plans for them, you know.<BR>
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Postby Gargoyle » Tue Sep 19, 2000 3:34 pm

Hehe,<BR><BR>I'm snickering at the vision of Kelannar sitting atop a pile of stuffed animals, nerf balls, matchbox cars, while his personal storm troopers (armed with squirt guns and water balloons) march about shouting "Halt who goes there!". Meanwhile, in the rest of the class, the discovery of a stray lego sparks heretical ideas in the minds of the children, becoming the symbol for the coming revolution...<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>
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Postby Jester_RM » Tue Sep 19, 2000 3:34 pm

Kel: “<i>Universal morality points to God, and it is a nondenominational argument in favor of God</i>”? How is that? Because it is “universal”? You’ll have to provide a little stronger evidence than that.<BR><BR>I think this is where the arguments begin. Your statement falls somewhat flat on at least two points.<BR><BR>1) Universal morality points to God – Ok, I’ll admit the possibility…let’s explore, shall we?. Which God does it point to exactly? Jesus? Krishna? Allah? Jehovah? Odin? The Transcendent Oneness of the Universe? From your perspective, I assume that you are speaking of the Judeo-Christian version of God. But if this morality is truly “universal”, would you then say that it pointed to the SAME God for all different religions? <BR><BR>In other words, most religions have some prohibition against killing, which could be considered as part of a “universal morality”. Does the presence of this prohibition in, for instance, the Buddhist religion point towards the existence of Jehovah?<BR><BR>If it is truly universal, than it would point towards the existence of something other than God, because the concept of God isn’t universal. It’s different for every religion. The only way it could point towards God would be if you were stating that it pointed towards the “one, true and only God”, or that all conceptions God were effectively the same. Of course, if all conceptions of God were valid, then all religions would be valid, and there would be nothing left to argue about!<BR><BR>2) Couldn’t a “universal morality” also point towards a genetic/evolutionary social adaptation of a species to allow large populations to live in close proximity without exterminating itself with internal conflicts?<BR><BR>For example (and I’m not a biologist here, so bear with me)…take a school of fish. How much internal conflict is there? Not much. They occupy the same general territory, in close proximity to each other. Granted, they’ll step over their neighbor at times for food or procreation, but in GENERAL you don’t see one fish going out of it’s way to chop up his neighbor for bait.<BR><BR>I think the same can reasonably be said for any social species, like humans. And before any one brings it up, I am also very sure that there are exceptions, like I said, I’m not a biologist <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>. Of course, there are circumstances of internal conflict (food and mating in particular), but GENERALLY, they get along together. I guess what I’m saying, is that when you look at it from a non-religious point of view, “playing nice” is a relatively good social adaptation, since it embodies creation and not destruction. I’m speaking on a species wide basis, not an individual one.<BR><BR><BR>I’m having a hard time finding the right terminology for a response to your question though. I guess an answer would be that nothing is preventing you, as an individual, from hoarding all the toys, but viewed from a species wide perspective that would be a “destructive” way to act, and would not be beneficial to the species as a whole, and would therefore be considered by the rest of the species as a “bad thing”. The more individuals that act that way (hoarding, selfishness, mass murder, etc.), the less coherent the species bond is, and therefore the less successful the species as a whole. How could ANY species survive if it was predisposed to exterminate itself?<BR><BR>On the other hand, a social adaptation that leads towards a more “constructive” environment (sharing when possible, creativeness, cooperation, etc.) like a “universal morality”, would increase the bonding between individuals, making the species stronger as a whole. Any group is stronger when it acts together towards a single goal, as opposed to working individually towards different goals.<BR>
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Postby Kelannar » Tue Sep 19, 2000 4:45 pm

Gargoyle, there'd be no revolution, because they'd be dumb enough to believe in turning the other cheek. Since I created my OWN morality, I have no such hindrances at all. I can do what I want, and no one can tell me otherwise.<BR><BR>Jester, I don't want to get off topic. But if the only thing you can possibly muster is that it'd be bad for the species to claim the toys for my own, then that's not going to prevent me at all. Humanity has survived countless dictators and powerful individuals. It will survive me. And besides, this hardly is a moral argument. How do you ultimately decide if your actions are good for the species as a whole? Would that allow me, as a dictator, to decide who should mate with who? That the rest of humanity suffers while I sit atop my pile of toys seems to be good for ME. I do not CARE what happens to anyone else - remember?<BR><BR>My pile of toys is growing larger and larger. None of you can stop me. I thought you athiests had everything figured out! You can't even stop me from getting all the toys! Where's all the "rationality" and "reason" that has allowed you to deduce moral concepts apart from religion? How will that stop me from getting what I want?<BR>
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Postby Jester_RM » Tue Sep 19, 2000 5:02 pm

Kel, read a bit more carefully...I didn't say that it would prevent you from doing anything. Only that someone taking those actions would be in the extreme minority.<BR><BR>Also, you are making the assumption that others would follow you out of fear of the toys that you aquired being used against them, or out of their own lust for the toys (eww, that sounds bad hehehe). You are leaving out other points of a "universal morality" and depending on "turn the other cheek". What about "defend the defenseless", or "down with evil dictators"?<BR><BR>But you made the rest of my (second) point yourself...humanity survives such atrocities as toy hoarding, dictators, mass murder and the like. If one were to take the point of view that you are expounding, then the only opposition to such an individual would be to begin another hoard in response, and eventually to attempt to take over your hoard.<BR><BR>And to some extent you have a point. Look at the Cold War, or other long term national conflicts. BUT...how many times to such conflicts prevent "humanitarian" agencies (religious or not) from lending aid to either side of a conflict?<BR><BR>For some reason, as many dictators, murderers, etc. pop up, there are always larger numbers of those that subscribe to a more "universal morality", whether that be based in religion or not.<BR><BR>By the way, you nicely avoided my first point. How does the existance of a universal morality point to the existance of God?
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Postby mandos » Tue Sep 19, 2000 5:35 pm

I would tell you to look up.<BR>Then get to the biggest telescope you can find and look up, again.<BR>See any places out there where any form of life exists?<BR>Then let's take it as a given that life, sunrises and sunsets, is something pretty special.<BR>And here on this planet there is an abundance of it.<BR>With a peticular species dominating the surface at this given point in time.<BR>Whole bunch of both cognitave and simi-cognitave.<BR>Each has a life.<BR>Something cherished in all the universe.<BR>Simply because it exists.<BR>If you anger enough of them, they will ride you down.<BR>And you personally, will have no more sunrises or sunsets.<BR>But others will.<BR>I want as many sunrises and sunsets as may be possible.<BR>So I don't go around angering the dominant species.<BR>Would oppulance be worth only half your days?<BR>Or a quarter?<BR>Is it necessary for you to have a god to grasp this?
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Postby finarfin » Tue Sep 19, 2000 7:58 pm

I haven't read any of this... But 20 freakin' pages!!!! WOW! <BR><BR>One thing about Jesus, he sure brings out the articulation in people.<BR><BR>Finarfin
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Postby Kelannar » Tue Sep 19, 2000 10:50 pm

You two, mandos and Jester, are obviously missing the point. I'm not going to argue with the fact that a big fish might attract other little fish who want to take him down for their own reasons, but I am saying that atheists cannot tell me what is right and wrong, because you have no basis for morality.<BR><BR>Suppose there was a button you could push, and it'd kill one innocent person in the world that you didn't know, and if you did it you'd get 100 billion dollars, and no one would ever know about it because it'd be fabricated to look like you won the lottery. Would you push it, murder that innocent person, and take the money?<BR><BR>You could do good deeds for the rest of your life, devote yourself to humanitarian causes, etc. But you'd be a murderer. As an athiest, what do you have to lose? Nothing!<BR><BR>Athieism is inept at explaining why I shouldn't do that. If all of athiest reasoning comes down to the fact that if you get TOO much power, people will get angry at you, that's easy enough to fix. I'll only be a SEMI-TERRORIST then, killing people who obviously are in no position to retaliate. Maybe in my spare time of earning money and philanthropy, I'd gather up the homeless and use them as target practice in my own private hunting range. You people forget that the better I am at being a terrorist, the less people will know about it.<BR><BR>Athiests can't tell me why I can't do that. Because it'll hurt the species? That can be avoided. Because people will get angry at me? That can be avoided too. Got anything else to try? So far, I can still do what I want.<BR><BR>Those toys will be mine forever.<BR>
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Postby Pestilence » Wed Sep 20, 2000 2:08 am

AAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!<BR><BR>KEL!!!!!<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Thats exctly what I've been trying to say all along!!!!! From an aetheist point of view (and I wouldn't call myself an aetheist) there is absolutely NOTHING to stop you from from becoming the worlds greatest terrorist or an invisible semi-terrorist. Indeed there are people like that and if there is no God then they may well get away with it. However, I pity these people as I honestly can't believe that the're happy, you speak as if the most inmportant thing in your life would be to get all the toys, does love and freindship not mean anything to you? as any love and friendship you would recieve as a super terrorist would most likely not be genuine but would be born out of fear or fellow sick minded terrorists attempting to get a foot in the door - this is not how one finds happiness. The point that I and others have been trying to make is that people like this are in the minority due to many factors that have already been mentioned countless times, otherwise we probably wouldn't still be around. But not once have I said that there is any specific reason why you couldn't become a ruthless super terrorist if that is what would make YOU happy, it's just that becoming something like that wouldn't make the majority of people happy.<BR><BR>PS. Please stick with religion, it's alot better than having you running around discreetly blowing homeless peoples faces off.<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby Pestilence » Wed Sep 20, 2000 2:56 am

The magic button question is a tricky one (although purely theoretical as nothing like that could really happen).<BR><BR>Would I push it? The answer is yes, I probably would (although until I was in the actual situation I couldn't be sure.)<BR><BR>Why would I push it? Because as you said in theory that money could be used to set the world to rights. I'd be a murderer? Yes, but I'd be a mass murderer if I didn't push it considering the amount of lives that could be saved by pushing it.<BR><BR>Also, if I were the innocent person that died, I'd be happy to if I knew that my death would make the world a better place. (and if I didn't know about it then it wouldn't make any difference because I'd be dead.) <BR><BR>Of course some other person may take the money and use it for evil but like I said, I believe this person would be unhappy and in the minority and since this question is an extreme example that couldn't possibly happen in reality I find it a slightly unfair line of argument considering the topic of conversation.<BR>
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Postby Beleg » Wed Sep 20, 2000 1:01 pm

Not at all, Pestilence, or have you never heard of hit men? It's a real, live industry and people make very good livings from it. They even make movies about them (Whole Nine Yards, Grosse Point Blank, just for starters). So the example isn't fantastic at all. Indeed, the example is almost modern warfare in a nutshell: what else was the US bombing of Serbia, but a long-distance, can'tseemewhileIblowyouaway cheat-fest, organized by the biggest coward and moral zero to run a major government since Alexander Borgia. <BR><BR>And that is precisely the kind of war you get from such people because without an Absolute Authority for morality, any kind of relativistic redefinition can happen, you just work at the margins of what people happen to remember this week and spin the data like crazy. After all, what else is Wagging the Dog about?<BR><BR>Of course, it is definitely possible for atheists to morally crib from religious authorities. It won't last very long and sooner or later the entire society will be so depraved morally that such distinctions won't matter much. I refer you to Germany between 1610 and 1650 for one of the clearest examples of what can happen in a highly civilized society when moral authority breaks down under the stress of competing systems. Brecht wrote a very nasty, very telling play about it called 'Mother Courage'. Surely you've heard of him?<BR><BR>Hmmm..well, even if you haven't, the issue is that humans are no source for morality. Period. We have no ethical authority over each other, except that which proceeds from the barrel of the latest assault weapon (because those we'd want to overcome have the next-latest ones, we're ingenious, we come up with new killer toys every day). Thus, no human system will last as a moral authority. The only credible source for moral authority is Someone sovereign over the entire Universe, and that's because as puny and finite as humans are, they're still number one within the Universe. Only Someone greater than every human (and all humans, taken together), is going to have the ability to promulgate a moral system that might well work in any situation. And the only One known to earthlings is the Living God, He whose Name the Jews will not speak (for reverence). All other gods are at best faint imitations or more or less well-informed guesses. The systems they promulgate have at least one major flaw that affects every last person in their societies negatively, hence aren't even Pareto efficient, much less morally superior.<BR><BR>Go ahead, have some fun with that stuff, gals, guys and otherwise. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Nerdanel » Wed Sep 20, 2000 1:16 pm

I'll add my 2 cents and talk about game theory.<BR><BR>Let's consider a situation where persons have a choice of helping and not helping each other. Both parties have the choice at the same time. The important thing here is that the help profits the receiving party more than it gives trouble to the giver of help, so this is not a zero-sum game. A person profits most if he receives help and doesn't give it back, but the overall profit is greatest if everyone helps each other.<BR><BR>There has been extensive computer simulations on different strategies that might be used here. The best strategy depends on the set of strategies it has against it. In most cases the best one is the simple strategy that starts helpful and after that helps if the opposing strategy had helped it the previous time.<BR><BR>In a set where there are the aforementioned successful strategies and strategies that never give help, the successful friedly strategies beat quickly the aggressive ones, because after the first turn no other strategy wants to help an aggressive one, particularly not another of its kind, while the friendly strategies help each other to gain vast sums of profit. This is a simple example, but all the complex computer simulations point that a successful strategy has to cope well with copies of itself. This is particularly true if the simulation is evolutionary and successful strategies reproduce, like genes and memes in the real world.<BR><BR>So that's it, my 2 cents. The winning principle here is certainly not "turn the other cheek" but neither it is an aggressively selfish one.
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Postby mandos » Wed Sep 20, 2000 2:29 pm

I utterly and completely reject your assumption that, because I have no superbeing, I have no basis for morality.<BR>Right and Wrong existed long before your little 'god dejour' and it's assimilated set of morals and holidays. You think any of the scripts or rites in the catholic religion are original or unique only to catholic religion? Guess again.<BR>Every single passage, rite, holy day, and ritual was stolen directly from what you would call pagans. So, where does that leave you?<BR>Second hand smoke and mirrors.<BR><BR>The magic button. I'll wager more christians would push it than pagans. They are far more eager to 'clense' the world of infidels than they are willing to turn the other cheek.<BR>I never cared as much for money as I have concern for life.<BR>Hence, my state of poverty...
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Postby asaris » Wed Sep 20, 2000 4:55 pm

Mandos -- you probably shouldn't generalize like that.<BR><BR>I'd like to get involved, but I'm not certain where people are standing. So I'll start a new thread.
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Postby Kelannar » Wed Sep 20, 2000 11:00 pm

mandos, again, you fail to explain WHY I shouldn't push that button. Indeed, what makes pushing it WRONG at all? Absolutely nothing, according to an athiest view! Does the murder itself make it wrong? Why? What if I used the money for evil instead of good? Does THAT make a difference?<BR><BR>You can't explain why. Go ahead - keep getting angry at religion for prosecuting a farce on humanity. But your anger is just a "smoke and mirrors" game of avoiding the question.<BR><BR>Pestilence, believe it or not, has it right. Athieism says nothing about why I shouldn't do it. And his answer should mortify all of you - that the innocent man, murdered purely out of greed, should feel THANKFUL if the money is subsequently used for benign purposes. Or better yet, that more people would have gained than would have lost. So morality becomes a balancing act. If I kill, let's say.... 6 million people, but give that money to the rest of the populace, I suppose that would be alright also, hmmmmm? And if I happened to decide to kill only.... Jews, let's say. Would that be ok too? After all, millions more would benefit. The Jews should be THANKFUL that I murdered them. Right? This is athiest morality.<BR><BR>mandos, you fervently assert that morality is black and white. Such rigid universal constructions usually don't come from athiests. But how can you possibly assert that morality is black and white? Who says so? Human reason? Logic? It's logical for me to kill the man using the button. So is it morally good? <BR>
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Postby mandos » Wed Sep 20, 2000 11:30 pm

Kel , basing any of your argument for a god on such absurd argument as this is exactly what Clinton did when ha asked what the definition of 'is' is.<BR>It is just as wrong for me to push the button and kill an unknown human as it would be for me to push the button and kill YOU.<BR>To deprive another of life, liberty or their pursuit of happiness, with out jsut cause is wrong.<BR>If it is still hard for you to grasp, then ask your self if you are willing to lose whatever it is you are about to take from another. If you are not willing to give it up then what you are about to do is probibly wrong.<BR>Push a button and kill?<BR>You stand under the hammer first.<BR>Get it?<BR>Yes, right and wrong exist, and they existed long before anyone dremt up the idea of superbeings.<BR>If you killed yourself a dinosaur and my tribe stole it from yours, leaving you starving...<BR>As I said, if you are not willing to stand under the hammer, then stay away from the button.<BR>To call ourselves civilized, we must learn.<BR>Those who don't learn remain barbarians.<BR>Society does it's best to weed them out.<BR>Why is it wrong?<BR>Because you have taken from another that which you have no right to.<BR>And you know it. It doesn't take a god to realize it, and yours is no where near thed first to say so.<BR>That is far more beliveable and concise than "...because god said so..."<BR>'What if's...' don't mean squat if you didn't rightfully earn it.<BR>Quite thinking like a typical lawyer and think like a human being for a while.<BR><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR>And I still utterly and completely reject your notion of 'no god=no morals'.<BR>You have nothing but this Clintonesque "What is the definition of 'is'? circularity type of argument without any basis in fact.<BR>For each pagan you can name who has become a maniac, I can name many christians. Don Carleone for one, very catholic.<BR>For each one you claim is 'not a true believer' I can say the same. <BR>For each killing done in the name of a 'satan' I can show you a thousand in the name of God or Allah, or Jehova, etc...<BR>Ya'll love to push buttons.
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Postby Pestilence » Thu Sep 21, 2000 2:37 am

Kel, you did a mighty fine job of twisting my words:<BR><BR>'murdered purely out of greed'<BR><BR>No, if I were to keep the money and spend it on myelf then you could apply the term greed. The fitting phrase would have been 'murdered purely out of selfishness', this sounds bad but if my selfish urge is to help alot of people then I think it is justified.<BR><BR>'that the innocent man...... should feel thankful'<BR><BR>No, I said that 'I' would be thankful. On this basis I then turn to mandos' way of thinking:<BR><BR>'ask yourself if you are willing to lose what you are about to take from another', yes I said that I would be willing to lose my life if that money was used to save contless more lives.<BR><BR>'So morality becomes a balancing act'<BR><BR>No, your original magic button question applied to killing one person and to ths I could apply mandos' way of thinking stated above, when it comes to killing more than one person I can no longer base my decision on what I would be willing to give up.<BR>Admittedly in certain situations it would come dowm to simple math:<BR>If there were a group of people slaughtering thousands of innocent people everyday and the only way I could stop this would be to kill that small group of people to save the thousands being slaughtered for no apparent reason then yes, I would do so - would that be wrong?<BR><BR>Actually Kel,disregard most of that last paragraph, the more I think about it... Yes moraity would become a balancing act. If by some magical method the only way that I could prevent say 10 million identical people from inevitable death is by killing 9 million identical people then yes I would. By not killing the 9 million I would be sentancing 10 million to death. It's cold hard logic, inhumane etc but it would be done out of a love for life not hatred of it. I would not expect them to be thankful for it and I would't do it for any other reason than to save more lives than I would be taking.<BR><BR>Once again it comes down to doing what would make me feel better about myself, if that means sacrificing the few to save the many then so be it.<BR><BR>As for belegs,'why not become a hitman and use the money you get to save people' question.<BR><BR>1) There are ways of making money which could then be used to save people other than killing people off.<BR><BR>2) There is no guarantee that I would be able to use that money to save people.<BR><BR>This brings me back to the magic button question which in retrospect, I answered fairly hastily. I would only press that button if there was:<BR><BR>1)Absolutely no other means by which I would ever be able to get that amount of money.<BR><BR>2)That only that amount of money would save the lives of more than one persons who would otherwise have inevitably died and that no one else was in a position to save these lives and that these persons were of equal worth (as defined by the majorities morality) to the person that died.<BR><BR>(This is getting silly, this is about the 10th time I've edited this post!!)<BR><BR>One last point Kel, I don't quite understand how your reasonig led you to believe that my morality in somewhat reminiscent of that of Hitler and the Nazi's, I find this extremely insulting.<BR><BR>.<BR><BR>
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Postby Beleg » Thu Sep 21, 2000 7:29 am

Hmm..so right and wrong existed before there were religions, eh, Mannie? How is that so? Where can I find empirical evidence for 'right' or 'wrong'? I would suggest you read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' if you think that this is so. Robert Pirsig drove himself literally insane trying to find out where 'right' and 'wrong' explicitly were. Why? Because they aren't. And that period is there intentionally. Right and wrong simply aren't, not in the world. They only exist because of humans perceiving. And so long as any particular human takes the arrogant stand to say that they have the personal lock on 'right' and 'wrong', there's going to be an awful lot wrong with what they come up with. <BR><BR>Now, I happen to firmly believe in God, but this is not an argument to motivate belief in Him in anyone else. That faith comes from a different source: the recognition that the cosmos exists, that it had a beginning and that nothing exists, including the cosmos itself, without a Cause. I do not understand the nature of what could Cause the cosmos. I also figure that I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so I check with what others have had to say. That's the road to faith, not arguing that 'right' and 'wrong' actually exist in the real world.<BR>
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Postby Gargoyle » Thu Sep 21, 2000 7:56 am

Whether 'right' or 'wrong' truly exist is a good question, and anything where a definition is dependent upon the perception of the individual, where the definition is relative, clearly (by definition <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> can't have an absolute clear universal meaning. It's all relative. Everyone here would agree with that.<BR><BR>So, let's remove the 'relative' aspect shall we? Let's give a definition of 'right' and 'wrong' and then argue of whether it exists or not.<BR><BR>right: any action that causes a clear net benefit to society.<BR>wrong: any action that causes a clear net harm to society.<BR><BR>There. Not so hard was it. Now, argue about whether I as an atheist (believing right and wrong exist per those above definitions) am capable of possessing morality.<BR><BR>Of course, "society" is also relative. Whose society, how large, is the individual a society? etc.<BR><BR>Arghhh...maybe I'm not helping here...<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby mandos » Thu Sep 21, 2000 2:08 pm

Right and Wrong came into being as soon as cognitive thought began.<BR>As soon as sentient(sp?) beings began to ponder and reason, the right and wrong aspect came forth.<BR>Is it right to take food from another tribe and let them starve?<BR>Is it wrong to offer shelter in our larger cave to, others?<BR>As soon as man and woman began to think, beyond animal instinct, to reason, to plan, to strive to better themselves, Right and Wrong began.<BR>Civilized society is the result of more Right choices being made even before gods came forth, otherwise we'd all be living in huts, wearing crude animal skins and eating Steak Tartar.<BR>How were the pyramids built if the engineer didn't know the Right formula for load bearing weights and such.<BR>Was it morally wrong to use slaves to build them?<BR>Did the end result justify the means?<BR>Did they care?<BR>Right and Wrong existed, some choose to ignore them.
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Postby Kelannar » Thu Sep 21, 2000 2:47 pm

This is what mandos says: "Why is it wrong? Because you have taken from another that which you have no right to."<BR><BR>This is a classic example of circular reasoning. It is wrong because it is not right.<BR><BR>Where do those rights originate? The right of the strong? Property rights? Does Might make Right? Why not? Who says that doing unto others is the right way?<BR><BR>mandos also says: 'What if's...' don't mean squat if you didn't rightfully earn it. Quite thinking like a typical lawyer and think like a human being for a while."<BR><BR>Again, what does it mean to RIGHTFULLY earn something? If I take something from you by force, and you are unable to get it back, I could very well say that I rightfully earned it by a contest of brute strength. You are assuming too much, and it's a shame that this lawyer has to expose that. But it's not my fault if you don't explain these things.<BR><BR>You realize that pushing that button to kill that man was entirely logical, based on a reasoned analysis of costs verses benefits. Simply because I wouldn't want it done to me doesn't mean it wasn't logical to kill him. Why should I consider if I would want something done to me? How does THAT play into anything? Might makes right seems pretty reasonable also, hmm?<BR><BR>Pestilence, you concluded that killing 9 million people is the morally RIGHT thing to do in order to save 10 million people. I knew you'd fall into that trap. Of course, Christian morality teaches that one murder is a very grave sin. But I find it curious that morality is whatever the majority thinks is best for them. Saving a majority isn't morally wrong if you condemn 9 million innocents to death? Who are you to say that Hitler's plan of extermination of the Jews to "save" the rest of Europe from their control was evil or not? You would kill more than he actually did. I don't mean to be insulting, but to explore moral decisions here.<BR><BR>Here's another hypothetical situation I had as an undergraduate in college, dealing with a "social" morality instead of individual morality: Aliens come down to America, and say that they will be able to provide is with technologies to clean up all pollution, the ozone layer problem, global warming, and every other environmental problem. Additionally, the aliens say they will give us uncalculable riches, and all the best technology to make every individual's lives exponentially better. The riches and technological innovations would be distributed to every individual, so that no one would want for any physical or emotional need. There is only one catch - that EVERY single African-American in the country must be sold into slavery for the aliens and taken off the Earth forever.<BR><BR>If America acts, passes a Constitutional amendment to make this action "legal", is that morally right? About 13\% of the population is black, but the other 87\% of the population would tremendously benefit. America could use this technology to put an end to its own problems for millennia to come, and also to solve much of the Earth's problems - maybe even creating a Global Peace for all time. Would this be moral?
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Postby Pallando » Thu Sep 21, 2000 2:56 pm

In response to your hypothetical question, Kel:<BR><BR>I don't think that this would be the right thing to do. Who is anyone to decide that their lives have more worth than someone else's. Even if the aliens did promise a better life for all humans, excluding the slaves of course. If this did happen, we would just circulate back to ancient times when people were enslaved to do work for the "more important" people. Anyway, I wouldn't trust any aliens. They probably would just gradually enslave more and more people.<BR><BR>Plus, for the people that believe in God: (or worship him maybe is a better phrase) If we were really Godly people, we wouldn't need technology and such to make our lives better. Material things wouldn't really matter, at least not from my point of view.<BR><BR>Overall, interesting situation within an even more interesting and entertaining debate. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Pallando
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Postby Orc#5063 » Thu Sep 21, 2000 5:02 pm

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Postby Forwen_Jevar » Thu Sep 21, 2000 5:13 pm

Faerie,<BR><BR> I'm a newbie here and a Christian at Marshall University. I just want to encourage you. I'm glad I found this thread. As you can see, this is only my third post. Thanks for being here. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby The_Grey_Pilgrim » Thu Sep 21, 2000 5:26 pm

Welcome to the Boards Forwen_Jevar!<BR><BR>I hope that you enjoy the discussions in here. Happy reading!
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Postby Pestilence » Fri Sep 22, 2000 2:50 am

Kellannar, firstly, sorry that my last post wandered a bit, it took me a long while to get my head around the issues.<BR>Secondly, I have not fallen into any trap. My reasoning made perfect sense in the (purely theoretical) example I cited. Notice how I said that all these people were identical (within reason of course) and that killing off 9 million would be the <u>only</u> way to save the 10 million. Just out if interest, what would your stance be on this situation, would you let the 9 million live thereby condeming 10 million to death? (I realise that this is an unfair line of quastioning as it is not really based in reality)<BR><BR>In the case of hitler, there was absolutely no evidence (that I'm aware of) that killing off the Jews and other ethnic minorities that he brutally slaughtered would as you say 'save' the rest of europe. And even if he was right (and I certainly don't think he was) there were other, less violent political paths he could have taken to achieve his goal. I cannot say that his morality was right or wrong, only that it opposes my own morality (and the majority of the other peoples upon this earth) and in that instance I would have to stand up for what I believe and fight, I would only kill if there were NO other means by which I could uphold my own morality as I imagine that the act of killing would be the most sickening and unatural act possible and as I've said, my morality is based upon what makes me feel good about myself (or in these circumstances what would make me feel less bad about myself). Which brings me to another question, would you have fought and killed in the 2nd world war? Does the bible allow for the killing of those who oppose it's teachings? If yes, where is the line that must be crossed?<BR><BR>I will admit that my reasoning breaks down when taken to extremes, for example, one could argue that Hitler and the Nazi's could have been stopped using a pascafist approach and no killing was neccassary.<BR>However, I feel that this apprach would be moving the debate away from the realms of reality.<BR><BR>In regards to your alien question, no this is most definately, according to my own personal morals, wrong. I agree with pallando in saying that no amount of riches and material possesions could make up for the loss of life, by accepting their offer I would be condemning a specific minority to a life of misery for no specific reason, this does most definately not feel good. The question would have been a much tougher one had you said that 13\% of the population had been taken at random but even then I would say that it was morally wrong, the enviromental problems that you speak of could be solved by ourselves without subjecting a small amount of the population to a life of misery. I would feel a huge amount of guilt at living a rich and happy life at the expense of others (although I confess that this is what I do everyday simply by living in a western country.) and this alone is enough to put me against the idea.<BR><BR>If the aliens could prove to me that by accepting their offer (the random selection one) I would be saving more lives than could otherwise be saved and that there was no other way to do this other than by accepting their offer and that the lives saved were of more worth than the well being of those being put into slavery then I would accept. Unfortunately it would never be possible for them to prove this to me as this is completely different from the balancing act required in the life and death example as to be quantitative in this case one would have to be able to measure happiness or sadness, something I believe you cannot and should not do. By sacrificing the few to save the many I could live with myself, but by subjecting the few to a life of misery to satisfy the material wants of the many, even if it would save more lives than could otherwise have been saved, I would feel that I would be doing wrong (whatever that is <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>).Because I cannot say whether or not saving the lives of many is worth the suffering of a few as I cannot quantify suffering whereas death is simply death. I'm not saying that suffering is worse than death, I simply don't know, and I wouldn't take any chances so therefore no, I wouldn't accept their offer.<BR><BR>Phew.<BR><BR>Welcome Forwen Javar<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> You want to encourage us?!?!?!<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0> That makes a refreshing change, you'll soon change your mind <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby Beleg » Fri Sep 22, 2000 6:22 am

Unless my mind wandered, I was under the impression that these hypothetical questions are being asked in order that somebody provide an atheist justification morally and philosophically that would prove that such actions would be either right or wrong. The questions were not being asked in order that somebody could say what they feel, one way or the other. That was not at all the point. <BR><BR>Certainly I have no quibble with your opinions, fellows, and it's not a tough call to side against the aliens (or Hitler, for that matter). However, the point remains that an atheist philosophy cannot conclude that murder is necessarily a bad thing, mostly because atheism has no basis to suggest that people are necessarily equal morally. And the conclusion is in fact being drawn today in real cases that people are in fact not equal morally and there is no moral reason not to eliminate them, for the greater good. I refer to the growing legal consensus for euthanasia, starting with infanticide. From reading the report of one of the lawyers who presented the case to the Supreme Court, it appears that in <i>Stenberg v. Carhart</i>, the Court ruled that partial-birth abortion couldn't be banned because the law under question only banned D&X abortions, not D&E ones. So the distinction was specious and therefore the 'health of the mother' issue once again reared its head and could be used as the reed upon which to hang this increasingly insane jurisprudence. And the result is a lot of dead babies, maybe even ones killed out of the womb, since in at least one case, the child survived being dismembered. These children now have less moral right to exist than any other human (and maybe a lot of animals), and you have the atheist thought process in action, causing death by action. This is usually called murder when the victim is defenseless, but is called 'a woman's choice' in this one particular case. So far.<BR><BR>This is the moral issue at question and no need for aliens or Hitler. Christianity is unique among world religions in that it is intentionally universal and that it proclaims that all humans are morally equal and moral operators. No one arguing from Christian principles could have even envisaged the argument put forward by O'Connor, Souter, et al, much less committed it to paper. And that's actually a peripheral reason for me. I truly believe that God is Triune and Sovereign and that belief is confirmed by my reason, which I truly believe would be incapable of deriving such a just Cause. I say that because no other world system has derived such a just Cause, and some cultures have had millenia to work on the problem. What I find is that the longer they work on it, the farther from the solution they get and the effort mostly gets stopped by the civilization being overrun by barbarians.<BR><BR>Try and find the justice in that.
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Postby Pestilence » Fri Sep 22, 2000 7:21 am

My reasoning over the past 5 pages has consisted of saying that my morality is based upon, for want of a better way to put it, what I feel. And I have also maintained all along that from an aetheist viewpoint you cannot say whether an action is right or wrong because there is no right and wrong. To put it simply yes, my feelings are the basis for my morality.<BR><BR>You disagree with abortion simply because it is against your religion and because it promotes murder. Fine, I cannot debate that.<BR><BR>'This is the moral issue at question and no need for aliens or Hitler'<BR><BR>Perhaps, but can you please lay off my moral position for a moment and answer the four questions in my previous thread concerning your own because this debate is all one way traffic at the moment.
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