Hi All,

We had a discussion many moons ago about atheists and morality and a lot has happened since then. I reached some new conclusions (which I'll withhold for now so I don't poison the water) and at least one other poster here has some new ideas about it.

So, I was wondering what the prevailing opinion is out there on this topic. Do you believe that atheists can be "moral"? Is it impossible for an atheist to be truly moral? Is "morality" something to which adherents have a valid claim? The infamous Dawkins and Harris had a discussion at Oxford about this about a year or so ago that was very good and I would also be interested in what anyone thinks of what was discussed there.

Thanks and all are welcome.

- kk

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Hey - wait ... three s.d. s or 4? Or 2? Shouldn't it be an even number? Anyway, I'm seeing your point here as well as from some other things you showed me. There is something nicely realistic about this -  as opposed to the hypothetical hyperbola I sometimes get wrapped up in.

- kk

OK I'm still talking.  I feel that high-level values are not the way to go.  Those are a job for someone else.  They just don't apply to everyone and every situation.  Mine does.  Whatever you're doing, you can bring in this idea and its simple formula of application and within 30 seconds know, at least, what you should not do, and that in itself is a very worthwhile thing to know.  To know what you should do requires some skill and experience and we don't always have that. 

We can talk about making objectivity til we're blue in the face - but the average person isn't going to be convinced by clever arguments like that.  They need a principle and a formula which are quick, simple and correct to apply in every situation no matter what. 

Now, correctness is what needs to be identified satisfactorily.  Being quick and simple and general gives the formula its effectiveness. 

Hey Simon,

Keep talking. I agree they definitely need a formula. I know I do. I've got so much reading to do!

- kk

Check back to my document.  It should all be there in the first two pages.  This is something I'll be updating.  Eventually I hope to include contributions from certain people such as

  • a very nice young man I saw on TV who has brilliantly survived being brought up in care.
  • a schoolgirl I know who witnessed a fatal stabbing between her friends (it's common in London), on how she thinks that situation could be avoided in the future.
  • one of the people who run homeless hostel where I volunteer

etc.

In other words, people right at the sharp end of this stuff. 

A proper atheist Bible.  With time, energy, and help, it's not too difficult to pull off I don't think.  Also, though, it can never be finished, so that makes the task a bit less daunting. 

If you want to have a think about strategy, that would be good.  Personally I think we need to finish off the basics and then get some hefty people on our side.  We also need people to live this stuff out for a few months and then report back on their findings and the amazing beautiful changes it will hopefully have worked in their lives.  Also - it can never hope to do everything, to be an answer to everything.  It's really just a small part of human knowledge.  That's one reason why it draws heavily on religious stuff - they do a good job at that. 

I'm very much enamoured of this website, although I would hope that ours will be a bit more formal and organized; & I like the first few pages I've worked out.  Midori really has something to say, she speaks from experience with a fresh open mind. 

Why don't you have a look at one or two of the religious books I've listed?  These should illuminate what I'm talking about.  I recommend Richard Foster: “Life with God”, as it deals exclusively in living out the principle, without of course using the same terms. 

Richard Foster: “Life with God”

I also think we need something where a 5 year old child, a homeless mental patient, a grandma, can understand and contribute to it as well as any philosopher. 

Or at least, can work miracles. 

Kir -

"Its interesting you say that. Why do you think so? In some ways, very much so. In other ways, not really. I grew up too fast and was forced to know too much about the real world before I was ready. Sob, sob ;-)"

Of course, absolutely, I can't pretend to know what it's like for anyone else, no matter how it may look on the surface.  My point is that morals are like security procedures which try and ensure that good things happen and that bad things do not happen.  

"Interesting. I'd like to talk more about that. I never undestood the fear of death ... not the way adherents frame it. I don't fear the "unknown", I just want to be sure I do enough cool stuff before I'm pushing up daisies."

The afterlife remains a possibility, without needing a God.  It is very worthwhile to do thought experiments into how would things be, IF the possibility came true.  As atheists we have no way of proving it one way or another, and [to us] unlike God, the question is of immediate relevance to everyone, especially the de-converted.  Let them keep their afterlife.  Why not?  If there isn't one - so what?  If there is - then this is why it's necessary to live a moral and worthwhile life, otherwise we will end up in a hell of remorse and regret, hated by certain people.  

"Okay. I'm strangely comfortable with that ;-) But ;-) ... if you're willing to entertain this, do you want the world to be a better place? Do you think it would be if a greater percentage of people were atheist / anti-theist / whatever?"  

Very interesting point.  Now we're getting somewhere.  My personal view is that the world would be a better place if religious people could be informed in their spirituality by reason and science, and if logical scientific people could be informed in their spirituality by religion.  In other words, the same basis of rational religion for everybody. 

Peyton - RE: "if logical scientific people could be informed in their spirituality by religion"

Define "spirituality" and provide proof of its existence.

Arch - that's an interesting question.  To me, spirituality means having a guiding light, and trying to apply that light to every minute of every day. 

And that's an interesting response, but hardly evidential.

Hey,

Very interesting point.  Now we're getting somewhere.  My personal view is that the world would be a better place if religious people could be informed in their spirituality by reason and science, and if logical scientific people could be informed in their spirituality by religion.  In other words, the same basis of rational religion for everybody.

I'm with you here. How? How do we inform the parties to each other's insight?

- kk

"I'm with you here. How? How do we inform the parties to each other's insight?"

Kir - that's what we're working on right now.  Religion for everybody on their own terms, whether atheist, Moslem, Christian, Oprah Winfrey, Pagan, whatever people are into. 

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