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  #1  
Old 5th May 2012, 09:19 PM
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Default Arguments against absolute morality

OK don't shoot me, I am an atheist

Very commonly when debating Christians, an argument they put forth is that atheists do not have a framework to define morality.

Of course I think this is a load of bunk. But - for the sake of an interesting discussion, I am going to play God's advocate and try to argue for a position I disagree with I would also like to collect some good arguments to keep under my belt for when the need arises, which is why I am trying to pick a fight with some of you!

So, I will say: Christian morality is prescribed by God - therefore they are immovable, powerful, and everlasting. Good is defined by God - even if something appeared nonsensical or even immoral by our human standards, it has to be good by definition if it is proscribed by God. Who are you, with your limited human understanding, to question the mind of God? If you have to rely on understanding, which is movable and changeable, how do you come up with an understanding of morality? Doesn't that mean that our understanding of morality changes from century to century, and according to human fashion?

Discuss.
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Old 5th May 2012, 09:47 PM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

Oh, all right! Thanks anyway
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Old 5th May 2012, 10:59 PM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

My simple answer is that societies exist today without the influence of their (if it's Christians) Christian god.

Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, aboriginal spiritual, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman societies have existed, and (some) will continue to exist without ever needing a [Christian, Muslim, rainbow serpent] god to define their morality.

Should they persist, ask them if they know the story of Mithras aka the story Christians stole from the Greeks. It is the greatest plagiarised story ever told. ;)
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Old 6th May 2012, 04:23 AM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

"What is morality?"
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Old 6th May 2012, 07:27 AM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith_W View Post

So, I will say: Christian morality is prescribed by God - therefore they are immovable, powerful, and everlasting.
The bible says "Thou shall not kill" - is this an absolute position taken by god for ever under all circumstances?

Suppose you were on the island in Norway standing right behind Anders Behring Breivik and you just happened to have a gun in your hand. Do you follow the biblical commandment that you shouldn't kill? Or do you shoot him thereby potentially saving many lives?

This poses no moral problem for most atheists. For a christian though it requires the breaking of one of god's commandments. (Interestingly I wouldn't mind betting that most christians would agree it was morally okay to shoot, despite their god's commandment.)


PS While god issues the 'thou shall not kill' commandment it seems one it is happy to break on a pretty frequent basis, including drowning the entire population of the world except for Noah and his mates.
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Old 6th May 2012, 08:27 AM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

I wonder if Marc Hauser's work has been totally discredited? Certainly I'm not aware of improprieties relating to his morality work. He basically showed that people everywhere have the same basic moral framework, and we differ only in the details. For example, about 95% of humans in every culture he tested agreed that it is wrong to kill an innocent person; we just differ on what we define as "innocent." Religion tells us who isn't innocent, but we already know it's wrong to kill the ones who are.
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Old 6th May 2012, 08:56 AM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

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Originally Posted by Goldenmane View Post
"What is morality?"
To me morality is a personal thing that we decide what is good or bad for ourselves, our community up to everything. How we decide on what is good or bad is through experience and knowledge.

My morality changes alot.
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Old 6th May 2012, 10:16 AM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

Oskar Schindler was a liar who bore false witness.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_Schindler
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Old 6th May 2012, 11:13 AM
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@ simonecuttlefish- sure was, and good on him for it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiki
Schindler's enamel factory in 2009
List of Schindlerjuden

Main article: List of Schindlerjuden
In early April 2009, a second list was discovered at the State Library of New South Wales, Australia by workers combing through boxes of materials collected by author Thomas Keneally. The 13-page document, yellow and fragile, was filed between research notes and original newspaper clippings. This list, given to Keneally in 1980 by Leopold Pfefferberg, who was listed as worker number 173, differs slightly from the other list, but is nonetheless considered to be genuine and authentic. It is believed that several lists were made during the war as the protected population changed. This particular list, dated 18 April 1945, was given to Keneally by Pfefferberg when he was persuading Keneally to write Schindler's story. In the last months of the war, German Nazi camps stepped up their extermination efforts. This list is believed to have saved the lives of 801 people from death in the gas chambers. It was this list, taken with the surrounding events of the time, that inspired Keneally to write his novel.[23]
Added: Oi! How come that name went red?
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Old 6th May 2012, 12:32 PM
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Default Re: Arguments against absolute morality

Quick terminological point: the issue raised in the OP is objective morality, meaning morality that exists independently of people and their opinions. "Absolute" morality is something else, ie morality which has rules which must be obeyed and never broken.

Anyway, I am pretty sure I have said this (at greater length) in one of the threads that Mr Black linked to, but in short it seems to me that there are two simple killer points:

1. Objective morality handed down by god presupposes god(*). Where's the evidence for god? Saying that objective morality must exist otherwise we don't have an objective moral framework is just a tautology.

2. What is this objective morality and how do we know it? Certainly not the bible or theology; Christians have a multitude of opinions and those opinions keep changing over time (usually conforming at least partially, and late to the party, with secular trends).



(*) there are philosophical approaches which also try to construct objective morality, and some of those are picked up by theology - eg natural law theory - but from the OP I don't think they are germane to the present discussion.
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