Of course we can have moral without religion. The Bible proves that we can.
Okay, let me explain!
Every group, organization, social structure has an ethical principle that there members are supposed to follow. It may be the ethics (Hippocratic oath) our physicians follow or it may be how a society makes it's formal laws.
A doctor is bound by his ethics, but will still follow his personal moral believes when it comes to a question about saving life thru blood transfusion (LDS). And you and I will follow the social accepted norm/moral when driving our car just over the speed limit. Not enough for a ticket but enough to break the law. If you still get a ticket for that you will most likely gain sympathy instead of a lecture, about how important it is to follow the letter of the law.

We have ethic norms in our society that differs from place to place depending on where in the world we are. In Sweden we do not have capital punishment and we do not allow corporal punishment against women/children in schools homes or anyplace, banned 1966.

Now in a society were capital punishment is a part of the overall ethical system a greater acceptance towards corporal punishment follows (not necessary always). "Nobody is going to tell me what I can or can't do in my own home!"
And if you then ad religion were you have a book that support your societies ethics then it's easy to say - It's okay to beat your wife/child as long as you do not break bones, makes marks on the face or leaves marks on the body.
(Disgusting, if I can't see it. It never happened!)

What I just stated is, that in the Bible you have the ethical principles for the believers but it's actual moral is based on the followers/believers upbringing and surroundings.
All believers demonstrate a personal non-religious moral when they "Cherry pick" the Bible by saying that it's "just a metaphor" or "Ohh! That's the Ooold Testament" when we talk about stoning or killing or whatever that we (atheist) think is morally wrong.
The Bible with all the "Thou shall not..." or "If a man..." or If a woman..." is so conflicting that you have only one way out of it's bad ethical norms and that is by following your own moral when it actually comes to "do-the-right-thing".

We all are moral regardless of the bible. Moral or immoral is just the answer to if we are following the groups code of conduct (ethic) or not.

You talk about Ethic (separate right from wrong, and agree that it's the right thing is to stone/flog your daughter) and you do the morally correct thing by not stone/flog your daughter.

The moral behavior is not a textual thing that you find in the Bible. It's what you find in peoples behavior regardless of ethic textual teaching.

Views: 250

Comment by Peter Norling on November 25, 2011 at 3:33pm

Very good comment. I have to put on the thinking cap once more :-)

1. I state that moral is something that only exist when there is someone else that can judge the action as moral or immoral. Therefore it's the groups/societies judgment of my deeds according to the groups/societies needs that will rule in favor of moral or immoral. That gives that for me to belong to a group I have to fulfill the groups needs otherwise I'm out!
At an early stage in our life it was necessary for survival to belong to a group and  the moral deeds came to be the groups collected moral and that become the ethics for the group.
For a new member in the group it's easy to fit in if you have some rules to follow. The conduct of the members becomes moral codes that becomes ethics understanding and finally that becomes different laws.

But most "one size fits all" fits badly on the majority and "like a glove" to some.
Hammurabis law was no a law in our meaning, it was just a bunch of court cases scribbled down for easy recollection. but it still can be summoned as the Ethics of that society at that time. But like I stated one size does not fit all and there bound to be "gaps" in the collected laws were interpretation had to be made. And if that interpretation was accepted inside the group - without the consent from the king  - it became a moral code. A way to behave without disturbing the group dynamics.

Objective morality in the form of mind-independent moral can never exist (imo). There has always to be a person whom decides if the action is beneficiary towards the group/person and therefore be morally correct. That person can of course be myself. If it's good for me then it's right for me!

Fait based objective morality does not exist because it's not mind-independent. It's purely dependent on a priest mindset towards the interpretation of the bibles text/ethic/moral.
Without people there is no moral.

2. Moral is a man made construction and will cease to exist if man cease to exist. The simple reason why a socially accepted moral behavior is preferably before immoral is group pressure.

3. Moral is a man made concept as an explanation of socially accepted behavior that is based on observation of the greater good for the society. Inherent moral codex has evolved from the basic need of feeding our young. Without the ability to raise our children we would not have made it! So the primary inherent moral code is to protect our children after reproducing.

I will not state that it's to reproduce our DNA, but by saying protect our children I can formulate the same thing in a more humanistic way :-)

To protect your family have to be able to have fell empathy and that we know from the caves found in Neandertal were they found burial places. If you arrange for the dead you are concerned with others wellbeing and for that you need empathy. With basic survival instinct, empathy and an urge to protect your offspring - you are on the way to become a moral person. Your family/group survival will depend on your behavior based on inherent moral code that has been beneficiary for you.

 

 

Comment by Unseen on November 26, 2011 at 12:21am

I'll play Devil's Advocate. I can do that. I have an advanced degree in Philosophy and it's something I do almost reflexively.

First off, let's distinguish morality from ethics. Religious people can be moral because being moral involves faithfully following precepts. Precepts like The 10 Commandments or The Golden Rule. In other words, you ask yourself "How is my behavior conforming to this rule which I accept as a paradigm of behavior?"

Ethics involves a deliberation over What is The Good in this situation? And then over how to best apply your behavior to realizing The Good.

So, the moral person accepts someone else's description of the good, the ethical person decides what is good on his/her own before doing it.

Now, almost all philosophers will agree with this: you can't have ethics without absolutes. Plato would say that The Good is an absolute, but his conception involves an ethical realm which is metaphysical in nature.

So, what is the absolute to which you refer when making your decisions.

(By "absolute" in this case I mean some sort of ethical reality apart from and yet perceivable by human beings.)

I would maintain that there is no such ethical reality apart from and yet perceivable by humans. Right and wrong have always been tied to the culture in which such questions are raised.

There are no universal answers to what is right and what is wrong that form any sort of constant applicable to all times and cultures.

Comment by John Kelly on November 26, 2011 at 4:19am

As atheists we need to stop arguing morality on the basis of personal benefit, and argue morality on the basis of it being a superior form of behavior.   If morality truly of merit, an emotionless sentient being ought to be able to realize it.  Otherwise if not, it is only a delusion.  I believe I have an argument for why any sentient being, emotional or not needs to be moral.

Comment by Dave Gibbs on November 26, 2011 at 8:54am

Morality is very simple in my view: does a behavior cause the suffering or pointless destruction of creatures capable of suffering, without a justification, such as to prevent other, much worse suffering.

 

There is no subjectivity in saying that causing pain, damage or death to another person is wrong, because almost nobody, (at least nobody that I've met), would take a stance against such a view against harming others if suddenly they are placed in the shoes of the victim.

Comment by Unseen on November 26, 2011 at 10:59pm

So, where does stealing something you're sure the other person won't miss fit in there? Not so simple now,  is it?

As for not harming others, suppose harming them or even eliminating them makes the world a better place (Hitler or Ted Bundy before they got going comes to mind)?

Comment by Dave Gibbs on November 27, 2011 at 12:54am

As for not harming others, suppose harming them or even eliminating them makes the world a better place (Hitler or Ted Bundy before they got going comes to mind)?

"without a justification, such as to prevent other, much worse suffering"

 

 

How are you sure they "won't miss it", and:

"almost nobody, (at least nobody that I've met), would take a stance against such a view against harming others if suddenly they are placed in the shoes of the victim."

Would you want others to take things that aren't yours simply because they believe "[you] won't miss it"? I would consider such a disrespectful way of treating other people damaging. Just because they don't realize they are being mistreated doesn't mean they would not find your treatment harmful if they did know, and I dare say most people who used "they won't miss it" as an excuse to steal wouldn't want to be treated that way themselves.

Comment by John Kelly on November 27, 2011 at 3:02am

Dave, that appeals to the rule of reciprocity.  But why does fairness matter?  Why should the strong not oppress the weak?  Of course the answer is that it is the natural order of things to not.  The bigger question, why is it bad to go against the natural order of things?

This is a work in progress, but here is what I have so far. The beginings of an argument for morality absent of personal benefit, but rather on the basis of superiority.  The idea is to find a moral code that a non-emotional being would be able to acknowledge and recognize its superiority.  That way we don't get ourselves a skynet problem...  It is a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.

 


Anything without order is literally nothing,

If something without order is literally nothing

then order is superior to disorder.

If Order is superior to disorder

then An orderly being is superior to a disorderly being

If order equals accurate

then disorder equals inaccurate

if inaccuracy is a disorganized state of existence

then means to hinder inaccuracy must be employed

(in progress)

If justifiability is the best means to hinder inaccuracy

then making only justifiable actions is necessary to avoid excess error.

If All actions must be subject to scrutiny and be justifiable

then priority of self over others must be justifiable

If priority of self over others must be justifiable

acting for personal benefit must be justifiable

If acting for personal benefit must be justifiable.

then personal benefit has to establish the justifiability of assuming priority

If acting for personal benefit can not establish the justifiability of assuming priority

then acting for personal benefit is not justifiable and is an inferior form of behavior.

 



Comment by Dave Gibbs on November 27, 2011 at 7:59am

Hi again John.

 

I consider a question as to why fairness matters as being more like asking "why are we here", rather than studying the here. Fairness is an external description of a morality like the one I describe, but not the logic behind it. The logic behind morality, (as I see it), is that almost nobody would argue that an act such as stabbing another person, stealing from them, using cruel and unusual punishments, etc., acceptable if it was their head placed on the chopping block... the age old golden rule, if you will. Likewise, we could define the same kind of morality with the sense that most people, if answering honestly (i.e. not living in terror of reprisal, or of their soul being cast into hell), would prefer not to live in a society where they were likely to be stolen from, murdered, raped, stoned, etc.

 

Regarding the logic chain you present:

The beginings of an argument for morality absent of personal benefit, but rather on the basis of superiority.  The idea is to find a moral code that a non-emotional being would be able to acknowledge and recognize its superiority.

...

Anything without order is literally nothing,

If something without order is literally nothing

then order is superior to disorder.

 

I am assuming that "anything without order is literally nothing" is some well documented physical principal I have not received an education about yet. That aside...

How do we determine the initial requirement? How do we establish that a non-emotional being considers nothing inferior to something? It's easy for humans to state, all humans having the standpoint of having attachments to this world and people/things in it. Also, we have never observed creature that has rationing skills but lacks emotion. We can observe creatures which lack emotion and still act to preserve a something (themselves), but this behavior can be chalked up to mechanistic features of their biology.

I guess what I'm asking is, what logic can we use, completely separable to any emotional consideration on our own part, to establish that nothing is inferior to something so we can say "order is superior to disorder."

Comment by Unseen on November 27, 2011 at 1:00pm

"How are you sure they 'won't miss it'"

People are sure about things they can't prove all the time. There needn't be a method, But let's take a clearer case. You go to the store and your coworker says, "Say, buy me a lottery ticket if you're buying one for yourself." You buy just before the winners are announced. This particular lottery pays a number of smaller prizes which receive no publicity in addition to the big $1M prize. Your coworker has given you permission to scratch both tickets. One is a dud but the other pays $500. You tell him that neither one of you won anything and pocket $500.

"I would consider such a disrespectful way of treating other people damaging." 

That's obviously your attitude. Prove it.

"Just because they don't realize they are being mistreated doesn't mean they would not find your treatment harmful if they did know, and I dare say most people who used 'they won't miss it' as an excuse to steal wouldn't want to be treated that way themselves."

If I were the sort of person who thought that way, I would probably accept that the world is a jungle and just be more vigilant and less trusting than most people.

Comment by Unseen on November 27, 2011 at 1:02pm

@John Kelly   There is a name for your system that cuts through the BS. It's "might makes right."

Comment

You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

Blog Posts

The tale of the twelve officers

Posted by Davis Goodman on August 27, 2014 at 3:04am 0 Comments

Birthday Present

Posted by Caila Rowe on August 26, 2014 at 1:29am 3 Comments

Services we love!

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

In need a of a professional web site? Check out the good folks at Clear Space Media

© 2014   Created by umar.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service