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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You're totally right. I got frustrated with my mom all the time growing up because she would get me birthday or Giftmas presents that she would like, ignoring what I had actually asked for. I always try to get people what I think they would like. And I try to pay attention to their personality so I know how to engage them in a way that makes them comfortable.

Different strokes for different folks, eh?

I like it, but I would not consider it a hard and fast rule.  Many people have unreasonable expectations.  Others have the incapacity to understand what others expect. 

I think that we need to have the golden rule, while trying to apply the platinum rule if at all possible.  Sometimes what we want for ourselves isn't what another person wants.  I see a lot of value in that and it needs to be factored in.

I stand corrected. The words "golden rule" are not in the Bible but the other part is (do unto others...).

I don't understand... Those two phrases have identical meaning to me. They both mean "Hey, Jack, if you don't wanna get socked in the jaw, don't sock the other guy in the jaw!"

By George, I think he's got it!

But seriously, if you want to turn the sock inside out, then yeah, that's what it means, but that doesn't mean the sock no longer fits.

We come from tribes that killed strangers for no other reason than fear - to go from that to, "Let's agree not to hit each other," is really quite a leap! Some entire nations still haven't figured that one out. And then there's "W" --

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

A much better rule would be NOT to do something to someone that you would not like done to yourself. Most people agree on what is nasty.  They do not, however, agree on what is nice.  What you want for yourself may be something different than what the other person wants.  IOW, the Jesus of the Bible did not come up with the best formulation of this almost universal rule.

But presumably the Golden Rule does not apply to other animals as we are special, not really animals?
But we eat animals! I would not want to suffer pain involved in factory farming and then the ultimate harm of the slaughterhouse. So animals must be excluded from the Golden Rule on some basis?
I don't think we could describe it as a 'need', more a preference. The fact that they would eat us given the opportunity is a good point. If they don't have any moral considerations for us, why should we have them for other animals. Might is right!

Still not sure what you mean by 'need'. "Evolutionarily it is a need." You mean we couldn't survive without eating animals? What about those cultures that don't eat meat? How do they survive? Seems as though avoiding meat is one way to increase the chances of a longer life here.

@Wooly. Ok. So I think I am following you. As some people need to eat meat, none of the rest of us need concern ourselves with it as an ethical issue, part of the Golden Rule? Do you think you could spell it out for me, show me how meaT eating fits in with the Golden Rule?
That's what I thought. We are more intelligent than them so it's ok to eat them. That's why we don't really have any moral obligations to senile or insane people. It's harsh, but there just not as smart as we are. Intelligence makes us different, better than the animals, right?

I mean, you have to be consistent when applying ethics, I believe in that much at least.

http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/consistency.html

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