I read posts here that call different things, "harmful to humanity." Others call something, "good" or "bad" or "evil."
A very simple question, who gets to decide the definition of "harmful to humanity" and what is there critieria? The same for "good," "bad," and "evil?" These are not material terms. If everything is material isn't there just "is" and not these moral declarations if one is being thoroughly atheist?
Help me understand your position so I am fair and honest about the views. Thanks.
My guess is, Don Meares is laughing all the way to the bank.
I'll take that bet in spades..
Certain times I just copy and paste something I already wrote before because it is the same argument. I have this one saved in my Atheism folder because it is a common misunderstanding of the theist argument. Once you understand it, you can respond to it more effectively, and I see a lot of arguments that aren't dealing with the real argument here. I have made a few modifications to it this time.
This is an articulate version of the argument so that you can more effectively respond to it:
Being a good person is the right thing to do because right and wrong are tied to some ultimate spiritual truth. It doesn't matter what our individual religions teach. All of us adhere to a very similar archetype and this archetype justifies our acceptance of the very concept of morality. We see no justification for your present acceptance of the very concept of morality in the first place. Morality can't be justified because it is natural. It can be accepted, it can have utility, but no logical justification can be provided to justify any case where morality is no longer advantageous to an individual.
If you do not believe in the supernatural, you need to pull a Descartes, and throw out all morality. Then you need to find out whether it can be justified in the first place before reclaiming it. Before you start saying why the bible is immoral, first you need to prove that morality is a rationally justifiable concept to accept in the first place. Without an archetypal justification, morality is logically good only as long as it is advantageous. This is because without an archetype, morality is reduced to personal benefit, rather than being adherence to something bigger. Neitzsche wrote in The Antichrist that the problem with Christianity was that it falsely elevated compassion and pity as virtues. He suggested as an alternative that it should not be wrong for the superior man to oppress and use the weaker inferior man. While history has shown this method that it is impractical, what justifies moving beyond calling it impractical to calling it evil?
This is the actual argument. It is independent of the bible, of a specific religion, ect. It solely has to do with justifying why someone accepts morality in the first place.
@John Kelly - "It is independent of the bible, of a specific religion, ect." This is a fallacious statement, at best, and a flat out lie at worst as is the entire premise of the argument. It pre-supposes that the only possible source of morals is some sort of "spiritual truth". Your statement "If you do not believe in the supernatural, you need to pull a Descartes, and throw out all morality. Then you need to find out whether it can be justified in the first place before reclaiming it." is so far off the mark, it's laughable.
"Before you start saying why the bible is immoral, first you need to prove that morality is a rationally justifiable concept to accept in the first place." This statement puts the concept that morality comes the bible on the offensive so that one must "justify" not believing that it is the source of all morality and belies the last statement of the post. It makes the assumption that, unless *proven* otherwise, the bible must, indeed, be the source of morality, rather than starting from a neutral position and following the evidence, as you falsely try to claim. Basically, this is a "god of the gaps" argument. We must *assume* that the bible is right, unless otherwise debunked. Well, debunked it has been, many times over. it is proven to be untrustworthy for any source of ethics or morality, or any valuable knowledge of any kind. So, if we were being truthful, we can only start out with the assumption that the bible is nothing but a bunch of ancient nonsensical fables and if we are looking for any sort ot "truth" we must look elsewhere.
Bringing up Nietzsche is tantamount to bringing up Stalin and Mao as examples of how oppressive atheism is. You assume, in this post, that Nietzsche is somehow the "spokesman" of an atheistic morality system, or at least that his perception of morality represent atheism is some way. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and therefore it, again, is simply a straw man argument, meant to distract from the real issue being addressed.
The entire argument completely discount the psychology of morality, that morality is (or even has the possibility of being) based in sociological development rather than being "imposed" on us from some supernatural source. The fact is that there is no EVIDENCE that morality comes from any source other than our sociological development, which all EVIDENCE points to.
"We see no justification for your present acceptance of the very concept of morality in the first place. Morality can't be justified because it is natural. It can be accepted, it can have utility, but no logical justification can be provided" - This fallacy assumes that atheists somehow lack any empathy, emotions, or feelings of any kind. We are somehow earthly versions of Vulcans that are only allowed to evaluate and "justify" things through logic and reason and are never allowed to express opinions such as "performing a generous act makes me feel better about myself and makes me happy". Because we are not "godly", we are somehow incapable of feelings. That is such an egotistical, distorted view of humanity that I actually feel pity for anyone who actually believes this. But the problem is, I don't think people actually believe this. I think that it is a straw man fallacy; a dishonest assertion that is made is such a way so as to try to slide in an invalid foundation to base arguments like this on.
Just because some people can't conceive of having a conscience without their delusional superstition, doesn't give any weight to that assertion. If people bother to follow the evidence, they can clearly see answers to these questions and those answers are nowhere near the assertions proposed by this post.
Keith your analysis is flawed on account that you are so eager to refute that you didn't process the information accurately. In the past when dealing with hasty people who have done what you have done, I have seen them adamantly stick to their assumptions. I hope you are not going to be as stubborn as the rest when told they completely misunderstood everything and you will just accept your error. The only way to get through to people when this happens is condescension, so I apologize in advance for the tone as it is tactical.
Failed analysis is failed analysis. Slow down. Think about the argument and quit jumping to hasty conclusions.
First of all what part of this isn't clear:
"Once you understand it, you can respond to it more effectively, and I see a lot of arguments that aren't dealing with the real argument here."
Your lack of comprehension that I was clarifying an argument rather than making a statement should tip you off to the notion that you were so dismissive that you were unfortunately erring in judgement and lacking in analytical success as a result.. Please consider that you also made other errors as well in your haste.
Neitzsche is appropriate in this context as Nietzsche is a contrarian philosopher. His positions in "The Antichrist" are relevant to the content of the discussion as they concern moral behavior that contrasts with what is normally valued. People are not forbidden from bringing up Nietzsche anymore just because the use of Nietzsche in arguments is often misused. Your dismissal was out of line because it was not logical. Nobody said that Atheists are Nietzscheans. Quit making things up, quit making assumptions, because you aren't good at assumptions. If you were, it would be okay because they would be useful. But because you missed two big points here that you shouldn't, you should just deal with what the text of posts actually say rather than trying to dig into what you think they imply. You don't have the data to accurately figure that out.
Why people practice this irrational form of reading posts on the internet is beyond me, but it is seriously an epidemic. Just read what is written. Seriously. Don't try to read into what things imply because hardly anyone is good at it, because textual cues are supposed to tip you off to those things, and most people tend to miss them.
But above all, the big point is this, that of course the argument is flawed! It is from the standpoint of a religious person! But you need to know what the argument is in the first place in order to refute it. And even the response you gave does not refute it well enough. Sociological and evolutionary development is a good start, but it falls short of providing any justification. For most religious people, that will satisfy them. But there are flaws you simply can not see with the sociological and evolutionary development arguments concerning moral relativism. But then it gets too complex to explain further without knowing you are even reading carefully enough, so I will wait to see.
Forgive me for the lengthy reply in advance.
If I woke up this morning, and my PS3 was gone, along with my TV and laptop, it would be a pretty shitty feeling. It's just a messed up thing to do to someone. I care about my fellow human beings, therefore I'm not going to steal from any of you. I don't want to inflict that shitty feeling.
I didn't need god or a written guideline to tell me not to steal. The same goes for killing or lying. There is only one commandment everyone should follow at all times. God cannot be credited with this one rule. You can credit me if you like, I don't really care, but here it is.
Don't be an asshole.
If you think about it, you don't need anymore than that to live a "moral" life.
I know it seems oversimplified, and I'm sorry. Just don't be an asshole about it. :)
@Justin - I belong to the Church of Jerry Springer, whose only commandmentg is, "Be good to yourselves and each other." I can live with that.
But if I had stolen it and rocking out Team Fortress two on it, I could claim it's been a pretty awesome day for me, no? And if I let my friends who were poor come over and play on it on my dime for electricity, that'd make me very not an asshole to them.
I can see it now....fifty years from now when people are allowed to marry their dogs, the same sex marriage people will be screaming..this violates the sanctity of marriage..
what's wrong Blaine you don't understand sarcasm?
@Shabaka - This statement really shows the ignorance and bigotry of religion. First, people (whether they are gay or not) are not dogs. Second, dogs are not allowed to enter into contractual agreements. Only sound-minded adult humans are allowed to do that.
This argument just goes to show the length of lunacy that the religious will go to in order to justify their bigoted, self-righteous, hatred for freedom. If you hate the United States and personal liberties so much, why are you living here? Why don't you move to a country that believes in stoning people because they are left-handed, especially of they refuse to write with their right hand?
"Sanctity of marriage" my ass. You don't even know what that means. It's a buzz word that the religiots use to try to deny other people freedom.
What did you expect, really. We shouldn't even entertain these people and their disgusting comments.