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.
I really think the largest determinant of when our personal morals gets usurped by a larger concern is attributable to social norms.
Immediately after 9/11, it took time for the doves to appear among the hawks. Around the water cooler, in bars and parties, the country beat the drums of war with a clearly distinct unison. The social norm? Patriotism in response to attack. Even the doves, for a while, sang the same song.
I agree that personal morality does fair badly against social norms. I think that these norms are what serve our interests e.g. slavery, sexism. So, it's difficult to break through self-interest on the basis of morality because it suits us not do do so. If we have no ethical code to live by and aspire to, it makes it all the more difficult.
Wretched Saint, you ask,"if the two major consensus groups come into conflict" what do we do. Well we usually choose a place to meet. Each combatant chooses a second to hold his weapons, and then we face off. One asks for his copy of Darwins' Origin of the Species, the other asks his second to produce his copy of St.Thomas Aquinas, and the battle is on! No holds barred, except ad-hominum attacks, of course. We have never been known to resort to the sword.
We already have "consensus groups" who "come into conflict with one another". They're called countries. As I stated earlier, there are definitely things that are morally AND legally acceptable in other countries that we would find morally, ethically, and legally reprehensible here. My previous example was:
"There are Middle-Eastern countries where stoning an adulterer, or even a woman who is raped, is considered a morally "good" thing. Here it is morally, ethically, and legally abhorrent."
If countries "come into conflict with each other" they are condemned, embargoed, sanctioned in the UN, and sometimes attacked. Unfortunately this usually does not change either entity's mind.
So, I stand by my belief that mores are society-based in combination with personal ones.
And, on a more local level, they are called "courts". When two "morals" collide in such a way that the only outcome is hostility, in a civil society, we allow the courts, based on rule of law, to determine who is right and who is wrong.
There is a reason we don't accept the plea of "innocent by virtue of 'god told me to do it'".
RE: "One must stop believing in fairies"
Last night's episode of "House" featured a man who was in love with a life-sized doll. House said, "So he loves an imaginary being that can never love him back - that could be said of millions of churchgoers --"
All morality is local. To a person. To a community. To a culture.
There is no cosmic good and bad without a god to say "Because I said so" and then enforce his standards through reward and punishment.
Unfortunately, as Sartre observed, we are flung into a universe lacking a God (believing in one is an act of "bad faith" as any belief in a fairly obvious wish or lie would be).
So, yeah, from my perspective you got things pretty right, but I get the feeling you're engaging in some bad faith.
There are a couple of aspects of most discussions about morality that I feel are too often missing or underrated. I see both aspects now (as @Unseen suggested) in the context of various cultural contexts, e.g. from personal and local to state-wide and global.
One aspect is civil law, i.e. the written rules in the community that formally define proper behavior and the enforcement of and penalties for breaking those rules. Another aspect is the less formal version of community rules, ala morality, with enforcement and penalty more at the personal, peer pressure level. State authority vs. religious/divine or peer level authority.
There are different degrees of civil and religious freedom, depending on the locale/culture; to what degree should a particular set of rules be forced on others? This has always been one of the most important discussions in human history. Yes, the shoulds and shouldn'ts are debatable and relative, depending on locale and culture, but it's impossible to conduct successful civilization without some level of these agreements.
The ideal world might be one where everyone could just choose which sets of rules they want to live by and tolerate, so no one in a community feels tread upon.
However, we have to assume that it may never be possible for everyone in the world to agree on the same sets of rules. So the challenge we have is to live within our chosen rule sets, without imposing them on others who have chosen different rule sets.
Meanwhile, the more skepticism and vetting we have of all kinds of authority, the better we'll be at making informed, rational decisions. (This is weird. I have no idea now if I'm really helping this discussion.)
I'm of the "everything just 'is'" crowd. I see no need to tie myself in knots contemplating if some act is "good", "bad", "moral" or "immoral". I only consider if I can live with the consequences of my actions. I evaluate consequence based on logic and personal experience. Occam's Razor applied to morality :)
But on what basis do you decide whether you can live with the consequences? When you are contemplating an action where you have a choiuce, on what basis do you weigh consequences?
Sadly, by asking this type of question, you show that you are incapable of understanding the rather simple answers.
Even though you are completely closed to any of the answers, I will indicate several in the hope that any of your friends who have not completely abdicated their humanity and sanity, as you clearly have, will benefit.
By the way "there criteria" should be "their criteria". I have often noticed this type of error in religious posts. Ignorance and religious thought are always highly correlated.
The criteria is reason based discussions. This is where is how our constitution, the best document in the history of the world, was formed.
Also, I refer you to Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together"
If this "type of question" is "incapable of understanding the rather simple answers", please give us your insights into what the proper "type of question" should be.
Sam asks some fundamental questions that you didn't even approach (with or without the grammar lesson). Whether or not this is a religious post, you offered no real response: no answer.
There might not be any such thing as a dumb question but as for answers . . .