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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Whose reason, your reason or people who share your world view?  Because we learn to "reason" from experiences. Such arrogance...it's what keeps white cultural supremacy alive and well..as an atheist I would expect more from other atheist because at least the have the common sense to question b.s., but I've been disappointed in life many times before.

I'm a Black man looking at the Black community and see the destruction. I offer my views on the cause and effect.  I express my concern that this is a societal problem and what elements of the society affect it, and how we may help to prevent it and you say I'm not a "humanist" (ie:) because I don't appreciate our young men acting like women seeking other men openly and with the approval of the larger community.  If you approved of Black genocide, then I could understand YOUR reasoning. 

In this case you are correct, there's no 'reasoning" with me.

I really like the tactic of implying I'm a theist on an atheist site to discredit me..typical..let people make up their own minds....

The sociological and evolutionary arguments for why morality is good do not demonstrate that morality is better than immorality.  What they demonstrate is only that there are good reasons why most humans value morality. It doesn't say why it is right.  

Instead it says why most humans believe immorality is wrong.  Just because you believe something is good doesn't make it true. Just because all humanity believes something doesn't make it true.  And history has taught us through religion that philosophy trumps morality.  This is why religion causes problems.  This is why Hitchens said religion is dangerous, because it makes people ignore morality or consider their system moral.  Philosophy is stronger than innate moral urges, and can bend them to it's whim, so philosophical justification is required for morality.

True enough.  I don't think the sociological and evolutionary arguments have ever tried to justify morality, have they?  I don't think I have ever seen anyone try to argue that point, except xians who use it as a straw man argument when trying to debate why morals must come from god. 

By saying that philosophy is "stronger" than moral urges, I'm assuming you mean that it is more valid in evaluating whether a particular action would be deemed "moral" by your current society, yes?  I'm sure we agree that moral urges unfortunately tend to be stronger to those that don't learn to stop and think before acting.

I know a lot of people are pretty moral without the thinking about it or understanding why they just gravitate to what most people would consider the "morally correct" choice, so I would re-word that last sentence to "philosophy is required to justify morality" rather than morality itself having the requirement of philosophy.  Does that make sense?  Maybe we are both saying the same thing, just in different ways.  LOL

Not quite.  The point I am making is that philosophy overrides morality on a regular basis.  Because philosophy does override morality, we need a philosophical justification for morality in order to keep it from being consistently overridden.  

This is even moreso the case when morality can not be justified.  I contend, however, that it can be justified without religious meaning attached.  I think many atheists oppose the necessity of justification due to the appearance that it is futile to try to justify morality.  I find this intellectually dishonest, and I know the same people would adopt the justification once they encountered it, but only deny the vital nature of justification due to not wanting to concede anything to the religious. 

As for people being pretty moral without ideology, I disagree.  There has been little evolution of the brain for thousands of years, so studying human nature ought to be done from more primitive situations such as the neolithic era, chalcholithic, ect, especially when considering human behavior sans ideology.  It was not pretty.

Also, if you look at the entire world, instead of just the west, you see a different situation in areas of the globe that have harsh living conditions. But even more important is that in the west, in areas of low socio-economic status crime rates are higher, and violent conflict with other humans is considered much more normative.  We are seeing a global trend of less conflict and suffering, but the recent global situations are lowering the stats on that as well.  It is western ideology that is causing those stats to be lowered. 

Interesting.  I would say that philosophy influences morality rather than overriding it.  I do, however, agree that morality can be without a religious meaning attached.  It happens all the time, so it is obviously possible.  I've read (both here and other blogs) many atheists applying philosophical justification to morality.  I don't think it's all that uncommon.

I definitely understand the comment about not wanting to concede anything to the religious.  I think that comes from them jumping into any "gap" they can find to try to create arguments and it's easier to not allow them a toehold than fight them back out.  Especially for those people who aren't really super-fast at thinking on their feet.  I had a couple of baptists show up at my door day before yesterday and we had a fairly lengthy discussion on my front porch.  In retrospect, I kick myself for a couple of comments that I allowed them to get past me.  I good example was Pascal's Wager.  I did get a good response in that if I have to answer to god, what if you have to answer to Oden?  But I was a little rattled because I couldn't think of the term ("Pascal's Wager"), so I didn't fight that point as well as I should have been able to.  So I can understand the desire to not allow something in that you know will cause them to think they might see a "crack in the armor" as it were, as invalid as that concept is in a purely intellectual debate.

As for people being moral without ideology, that isn't what I said. I think this goes back to my first point in that philosophy (or ideology) has the potential to influence morality.  True, if a person is never exposed to an ideology their morals might be pretty "harsh" by our modern standards, but if exposed to ideology, moral urges can be modified.  But I do concede that this is not always (or even mostly) the case.  After all the LA riots very much prove that high emotions can cause people to fly completely off the handle. 

I don't know how much "western ideology" has to do with it, though.  We have recently seen societies that devolve into chaos that have western ideology, for sure, but they were able to fall only because that same "western ideology" had raised them to the point where they could noticeably fall.  If you look at non-western ideological countries (like many in Africa), there isn't much farther they can devolve.  Many of those country have unstable or completely ineffective governments and are rules by warring warlords that keep the nation in perpetual poverty and chaos, so the economical devastation that has caused places like Greece to noticeably devolve doesn't effect them.  The other option is repressive governments like North Korea where the citizens can't devolve anyway, because they have no freedom to do so and, besides that, living conditions can't get much worse for the average citizen.  I'm not saying that "western ideology" is perfect, by any means.  It does have it's hazards.  I'm just saying that, in my opinion, it is the best we've come up with so far for the average person.

Okay I think I see what you originally meant now regarding social morals.  Do I understand it right that you are saying that people tend to fall in line with what their group believes without really putting a lot of thought into understanding the first principles behind it?

If that is the case, it does seem to match what has been uncovered in moral development studies. 

I agree with you about Western ideology being the best that is out there so far.  The notion of human rights does go a long way.  I am not against western ideology.  I just misunderstood what you said regarding ideology to mean that you thought that we had a stronger innate sense of morality than we do.

With the whole philosophy influencing morality thing, I agree that would be the better description of it. But I am not sure it would convey the same idea.  I guess I can re-write it to say philosophy overpowers what we can agree is decent morality, on a regular basis.

I also agree about western society. There is not much else left as a reasonable alternative to it.

With baptists I would go after their whole substitutionary atonement thing with this:

The substitutionary atonement seems to argue that God is all-just so it is wrong to show mercy without appeasing justice first. The wages of sin is death. Whoever sins must be sentenced for their sins. Jesus pays that penalty. In this sense, Jesus plays a role of a loophole to circumvent the system of justice. The circumvention of justice does not seem all-just by any means. So these are my thoughts about the logic of the substitutionary atonement. It seems to leave two options A, or B.

A. Sin not being criminal as it is portrayed:
If something is not severe enough of an issue that it can be circumvented by a loophole, it is clearly not as big of a deal as it is presented to be.

B. Although the right thing to do (justice) is to punish the criminal, the criminal is getting off on a technicality:
Not only is letting a criminal off on a technicality not justice, there is no way that orchestrating the technicality before the trial is any kind of justice.

In this sense, if a penalty must be paid, it does not seem that God would be all-just by any means to allow a substitutionary sacrifice and we all go to hell without salvation. If it isn’t as great of an offense, then there is no need for an intermediary form of salvation, we will just be forgiven.

OR, there's a third alternative to A and B - shove your rule book up your Holy hole and let us figure it out for ourselves - SURELY you have better things to do --

(Talking to god here John, not you!)

LOL  I just really enjoy engaging xians and backing them into corners and watching them squirm to get out.  Maybe it's just my way of relieving stress from work, or maybe it's just the sadist in me.  I'm a baaaaaaad man!  LOL 

ROFL...  Thanks that brightened my day right before I have to sit down and do a lot of homework.

Everyone should have a bright day. Good luck with the homework, stay in school, don't do drugs - did I leave anything out?

@John - Cool, so it appears that we do agree, we just came at it from slightly different angles. :-)

I would like to point out to the xians out there - THIS is how to have a conversation about positions that seem to disagree at first, but ends up being complimentary.  See how we both stayed calm and civil about discussing our positions?  And asked questions with open minds rather than trying to manipulate the discussion with fallacies and ad hominem attacks?  It's really not that hard.

As to how to address the baptists - that helps a lot, thanks!  I'm sure I'll run into more of them, since the reason these two showed up is because there is a baptist church close by and they were "hitting the neighborhoods".  They did bring up how jesus "died for our sins", I just didn't take the opportunity to point out the stupidity of that concept, but knowing it is a tenant that is forefront in their sect, I'll definitely prepare for the next time I get the chance.  Thanks!

Morality is good merely by the dictionary definition of the term. Likewise immorality is bad for the same reason. That leaves it for us to define what morality and immorality are in practical terms since the dictionary can't help us with matters of values.

For all practical purposes, if most everyone believes something is true, it would be true in a cultural sense. Just consider what people in various cultures believe that seem like madness to us. All social morality is local. And whatever other sense could there be without believing in morality in some cosmic or metaphysical sense? 

I don't think most atheists are going to buy into metaphysical morality. However, a non-metaphysical morality would be contingently true, not necessarily true. So, I think we're stuck with the morality around us as the prevailing morality OR whatever morality we conjure up for ourselves.


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