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.

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That command, in the religious ethos, does actually have a determining factor which ultimately attempts to promote ethical behavior for those who follow what is referred to on this site as superstition. This command has the effect of setting up the moral declaration of that particular God/god/myth as THE definer of the moral code vs. a polytheistic worldview in which there were competing gods with competing moral codes which could be picked and chosen by the followers under his or own free volition. In setting up a monotheist view, the corollary effect of this is that the God referred to in this command is declaring his definitions of good and evil, right and wrong to be absolute.

For this sake of argument I am not claiming that God/god/myth is right in this, just saying it logically has an effect upon personal behavior ultimately.

It has a few other positive elements beyond that. Mainly that of cherishing objects over personal relations. In that it supports the other areas of moral boundary. Of course any person who knows to think for themselves, and is able to overcome object attachment readily won't need such aids. As a atheist I'd rather deal with monotheism than polytheism if I had to make a choice. I hate overcomplication of things. :)

Wretched, you've said, essentially, that the commandment in question (above) "has the effect of setting up the moral declaration of that particular God/god/myth as THE definer of the moral code...." Then it must be safe to assume that another of those commandments, "Thou shalt not kill," has the same effect, i.e., a prohibition from THE definer of the moral code, against killing.

How then, do you equate the additional commandment, by THE same definer (Exodus 22:18) "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"?

Is "THE definer" sending mixed messages?

Oh wow. In my view, the command given to the Israelites against murder in the case of self-interest. You anger me--still my sheep-- and so I do not wait for the structural and organized judicial system to take effect under which this second command falls--as part of the organized judicial law given by God. Other OT scholars would agree with this view.

In modern times it would be like if someone killed your sister--God or random chance forbid--and you decided to go get your Glock and 'take care of business' rather than wait upon the justice system. If the justice system enacted a death penalty upon the perpetrator, it would not fall under the same category of murder. (Though I know many here would disagree with that judicial version of punitive justice and call it murder, but can we at least agree to categorical differences in punitive by consensus vs. crime of passion).

I believe it is possible to hold these two in logical tension without suspending on or the other.

The other option, btw, is to say God screwed up on the first one and we should all be able to kill whenever we feel substantially wronged. Without allowance of divine decree there is just as much logic as to the first being wrong as the second.

I ANGER you?!! Let me see if I can adequately express my concern --I-) sleepy

Yup, that pretty much says it all.

The commandment does not say, "Thou shalt not murder," nor does it say, "Thou shalt not legally execute." It says, "Thou shalt not kill." No qualifications, no excuses.

And then it later tells you to stone a virgin who is raped without screaming. Gotta love the hypocrisy --!

Gosh, I hope I haven't angered you --

pax vobiscum,

I, GOD, the moral arbiter, shall tell you who you can and who you must murder!  Your conscience may say that to kill some lady who makes herbal medicines is unjust, but I COMMAND IT!  I will punish you if you question my commands.  If you do not believe in me, I will torture you for eternity.  I AM A JEALOUS GOD!  

The god the Jews created, is a combination of the worst qualities of the human race.

If he wasn't imaginary, I would hate him.  Those willing to sacrifice their own sense of justice and morality to submit to this savage god, do not deserve respect for their choice. 

Since the Bible's god is merely an extension of the ones who created him, having done so in their own image, we must assume he and they were pretty much alike, which makes me ever so grateful we've evolved so much since then.

pax vobiscum,

For this sake of argument I am not claiming that God/god/myth is right in this, just saying it logically has an effect upon personal behavior ultimately.

@ Wretched Saint - I generally agree that many times, religion does help people better their lives and help them to behave better. Unfortunately those very people, in turn, may send out ripples that negatively effect other people.

An example would be Mr. Smith, an alcoholic, gets religion, stops drinking, and turns his life around. On the other hand, Mr. Smith does not understand that the reason religion
helped him to stop drinking was due to a type of placebo effect inside of his brain which is great in and of itself, but overall, large groups of the population feeling better because of a placebo but not understanding it is a placebo, causes huge problems in the big picture.

It's like leading a horse with a fake carrot. Many of those people feel the need so strongly to believe the carrot is real, they will stomp the neck of anyone who even questions the carrot, let alone those along their path they meet that try to get them to look at evidence that shows the carrot is a fake.

Yay for Mr. Smith. The fake carrot brought him out of a life of alcoholism but now he goes around holding the fake carrot up to others as the way to a better life. Placebos do not
work for everyone but many Mr. Smiths will judge the people that do not follow his fake carrot as somehow doing something wrong. What is the percentage of people in the world this fake carrot can work for?

If the people of the world would stop following this fake carrot, I believe the world would improve to the point where there would not be so many alcoholics.

God declared himself the first commandment . . . which isn't unreasonable, given that he's the perfect source of morality. But I do wonder -- if God is a jealous God, does that mean jealousy is good?

Also, in case you are interested, the proof that "morals" cannot possibly come from any single (supernatural or otherwise) source is that every person of every family of every community of every church or every sect of every cult or every religion of every country has a different set of "morals".  The fact that there are over 20,000 difference sects within xianity alone, and that they all disagree with specific interpretations of the bible proves that morals can't come from their singular supernatural source.  There is also the minor inconvenience of having to deal with pedophilia in the clergy.  I think that a lot of pedophiles join the clergy out of guilt and the desire to try to live a "pious" life.  It's not really their fault, and it really is a shame that there is no god to help them.  If there were, you would think that such a supernatural, "superior", "all-powerful", "loving" being would actually help the people that have dedicated their lives to it, but that is clearly not the case.

Just more reasons to doubt...

Keith, in pure logical equation, that argument that there are presently diverse interpretations of morality does not stand to disqualifying a single source of ethical origins (be they God given, alien given, or innate). A rock can be thrown into a pond and the ripples on different sides of the circle can look quite different because of conditions (wind direction, water temp, depth, etc) affecting the waves after initial impact. But the ripples still started with single rock. Not arguing in this case God was the original cause, just saying the argument diverse interpretation = multiple sources doesn't logically stand. Thanks.

@Wretched Saint,

From your comments, it's clear that you believe in the Bible and its God. When you originally asked:

"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?"

It's plain to see you're pursuing the false claim that, because human morality is relative and subjective, it is like a candle in the wind; changing direction with the wind. The unspoken point is that morality is actually absolute, objective, and unchanging.

And that can only be true if it's perfect . . . which means, from God Himself.

Dress it up any way you like but that's the Christian line you're toeing.

And you know what? You're right to think that an absolute, objective and unchanging morality can only come from a perfect God. That fact is the reason for one of the best arguments against God -- his morality is not only far from perfect: it's abhorrent.

There's so much Biblical confirmation of this fact that I would rather pursue another line of reasoning and leave it up to you to read the Bible with an open mind.

The most devastating reason (in my opinion) against God and the Bible is Christians themselves. ALL Christians are selective Christians. They cherry-pick what they do or don't favor: what they're willing to observe and practice. For instance, Christians are united with atheists against slavery despite the fact that it's wholeheartedly endorsed by God himself -- and NOT just in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well. Here's a list of citations in case you'd like to see for yourself:

  • Genesis chapter 17, verse 12:
  • Exodus chapter 12 verse 43:
  • Exodus Chapter 21, verse 1:
  • Exodus Chapter 21, verse 20:
  • Exodus Chapter 21, verse 32:
  • Leviticus Chapter 22, verse 10:
  • Leviticus Chapter 25, verse 44:
  • Luke, Chapter 7, verse 2:
  • Colossians, chapter 3, verse 22:

You can't have it both ways. Either Jesus is God or he isn't. Either God is perfect or he isn't. Either God is The Law-giver or he isn't.

Yet EVERYBODY knows slavery is immoral. Nobody but a sicko would want to be a slave. Nobody but a callous, heartless, person would own one.

Pay attention here, Wretched Saint . . . Christians are no different from atheists when it comes to obeying God. We do what is good because it is good. We avoid what is bad because it is bad. WE USE OUR OWN, PERSONAL, HUMAN, MORALITY TO OVERRULE THE MORALITY OF GOD. It's a fact. WE decide what is moral. WE decide what is religiously worthy. WE overrule God. SO WHY DO WE NEED HIM AT ALL?

If you REALLY believed God is perfect and the giver of the law, you would follow him. It's not just the negative stuff, like slavery, either. It's also the spiritually uplifting stuff like Jesus' message from the Sermon on the Mount. Do Christians give up their worldly goods and trust God to provide for them as He does for the birds of the sky? Do they really forgive 7 times 70 times? Do they really turn the other cheek?

In actual practice in the real world. God is MOST refuted by Christians themselves.

But don't worry, if the Biblical God really does exist, he's harmless and powerless. It seems he's not perfect after all.


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