A common comment that will be thrown at you when debating or discussing with a theist will be that "if you don't get your morality from god, where do you get your morality" or "are atheists then immoral" or something else of that flavor. There are many way to address these comments such as discussing where morals come from and the definition of morals, which can be tricky, or that morality is intrinsic in each being and you don't need god to have them or that morals preceded religion and there are plenty of examples that can go along with that last point. These can all be very effective but I heard something the other day that I felt made a lot of sense.

When asked "were you a moral person", the person, who was an atheist said, "you're right I'm not moral because morals is a set of behavioral guidelines derived from authority whether real or imagined and I don't use morality in my day to day life to make decisions, however I'm a very ethical person, and I think that social ethics as they evolved out of social dynamics, are a better course to pursue then morality, because if you're being a moral person, and you are doing what the authority has instructed you to do,  that authority may not in itself be moral. So for me social ethics are the way to go."

Now I understand that by ethics are defined as moral behaviors. But the distinction is blurry to me. So I would like to hear your opinion on a) the differences between the two if there are any in your view and b) your preferred method to answer this question. How do you answer someone who comes at you with the "morality" argument?

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"Look back at the history of atheist governments, try telling me Stalin and Mao were moral people who lead moral governments."

"If I didn't believe in god, what is to prevent me from going out and raping and killing everyone?"

The gang rule of Somalia is not what anarchism means any more than Stalinism is what atheism means.

I just want to know how your logic is any different from the logic described above. 

Kyle, while I know Blaine to be perfectly capable of speaking for himself, what I think he means is not so much a "corporeal lawgiver," so much as a formal agreement, among relevant people, as to exactly what kind of behavior will, and will not be acceptable to the group concerned, whether it be a town, county, state, or country,as well as an agreement regarding the consequences of unacceptable behavior.

"a formal agreement, among relevant people"... "acceptable to the group concerned..."


But this is not how government actually works is it?  Government is obligatory, not optional.  In Canada, I can choose not to participate by not participating in health care but if I choose not to participate by not paying taxes, I will be sent to jail, eventually.  I don't have a choice to not accept the authority of the government (on issues that matter, anyway.)

Anarchism doesn't mean people wouldn't/couldn't enter formal agreements to cooperate to provide services.  The difference is these agreements would be contractual as opposed to obligatory.

Again, this isn't the place for a debate about anarchism.  I am merely pointing out that what you have written here isn't actually objecting to my point.

Not trying to object to your point Kyle - just trying to bring two great minds - (yours and Blaines, I just fell off a turnip truck) - together in some modicum of agreement.

"Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster."

Who would enforce these contractual agreements?

That definition of morality and ethics will prove too faulty to get you far in an argument of this depth. Ethics are things dealing with what we have a right to do, while morality deals with the right things to do within an ethical system. You have, for instance, a right to keep your spare money from those in need, but morally that makes you a jerk.

I derive my ethical system and morality largely from the work of Murray Rothbard, though with several adjustments. It helps to fully flesh-out your ideas before trying to defend them, which is, as I've seen it anyways, is the entire point of the atheist community - to help understand your own conceptions of reality, morality, and social interaction.

You must, in other words, know thyself before you can defend yourself. And if you are an ethical and moral person, you will be able to explain why.

Yes, we're terrible. We burn and drown people because we think they're witches, and we go to war with others because we claim they're living on our long-lost land.

I just use my brain when I come across a situation that requires moral judgement.

A friend suggested to me when I was younger that I had no ethics, I simply had aesthetics.  Meaning that I find within myself a sense of how the universe "should" be and act accordingly, in the same way that a painter has a sense of how a painting "should" look and paints accordingly.  I do not insist, or even expect, that others agree with me on any of that.  If they disagree with my actions, others may try and stop me from doing what I feel is right.  If I disagree with others' actions, then I may try and stop them from doing what I feel is wrong, if I feel it to be of sufficient importance.

I do believe in a sort of "karma"  -- though not the common Western notion.  Who I am is the product of my life experiences.  I am also the primary *cause* of many of my life experiences, by what I think, what I say, or what I do.  ("As a man thinks, so he is" or something like that.)  Just as I have a sense of how the universe ought to be, so I also have a sense of how I ought to be.  To a large extent, I make myself who I am by what I do/say/think.  There is no grace, there is no forgiveness, there is no absolution.  The more I lie, the more I become a liar.  The more I steal, the more I become a thief.  The more I kill, the more I become a killer.  I do not wish to become a killer, or a thief, or a liar, so I avoid doing those things.

For what it's worth, David, I like it!

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

That's "Davyd."  With a "y."  No biggie though.  I misspelled it the first twenty years or so of My life, and My mother still does!

BTW, checked out your blog there ... good stuff!

 Just cite this example of Christian "morality:"  Charles L. Worley, a Baptist minister in North Carolina just came out publicly with a call for all homosexuals to be executed.  I know of no atheist organizations, institutions, or publications that call for killing anybody; that's what sanctimonious Jesus freaks do.  Atheists revere life and living things.  Christians revere only their non-existent magic man in the sky.

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