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Where does your morals/ethics come from?

Started by tdh26, July 13, 2008, 06:05:34 PM

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QuoteWhere does your morals/ethics come from?

I won it in a sweepstakes. I don't know where everyone else got theirs.


Thanks guys! Truly entertaining! You've answered my question, although it's all rather naive to me. Funny how each camp normally spends time in their own forums and pat each other on the back.

A man convinced against his will, is of the same persuasion still.


Quote from: "tdh26"Thanks guys! Truly entertaining! You've answered my question, although it's all rather naive to me.
Any time. Although to me it seems that looking for moral guidance in a 2000 year old book is naive.

Quote from: "tdh26"Funny how each camp normally spends time in their own forums...
It's natural.

Quote from: "tdh26"...and pat each other on the back.
Oh, we do disagree sometimes. Some debates between atheists can get as heated as some debates between people from different "camps" as you put it.
Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on July 25, 2013, 08:18:52 PM
In Asmo's grey lump,
wrath and dark clouds gather force.
Luxembourg trembles.


Quote from: "tdh26"Thanks guys! Truly entertaining! You've answered my question, although it's all rather naive to me.
We're naive to think we have morals without religion? So we don't even have the morals we claim to have? Is that what you're saying?

You behave as though atheism is a hypothetical situation that doesn't actually exist in the real world. We're sitting here telling you right now that we're atheists and we don't use the Bible for morality.
QuoteFunny how each camp normally spends time in their own forums and pat each other on the back.
I spend far more time posting on other forums than on this one, debating people who disagree with me.


Quote from: "tdh26"Social Contract? What an arbitrary term. And who makes-up this contract? Can I just make-up one and call it “My binding civil rules”? (I may not agree to yours!)
The 10 Commandments have some social contract rules in them (killing, stealing, bearing false witness). What's arbitrary about this exactly? Or maybe this is more accurately called a religious contract.
QuoteAgain; If I get by with it and don’t get caught, I’m scot-free (guilt-free)
Correct. If you commit a crime and don't get caught, you are scot-free.
QuoteHow do you feel about what Hitler did in Germany? That was just their Social Contract they put together.
How do you feel about what Islam has done to the Middle East? That's just another religion they put together.
QuoteI think it’s cute you associate yourself as no better then a reptile or insect.
We think it's cute that you're admitting that wishful thinking is proof enough in God for you. You want there to be a divine moral-giver, therefore you believe in a divine moral-giver. Your cherished beliefs are adorable.
QuoteYou have no binding reason for anyone to go along with this except through force or coercion,
Neither do you.
QuoteAdded note to this is, the other comments so far have nothing referenced to a “Social Contract” You all need to get together and agree to something.
You're not going to get atheists to agree on very much, since we're not a religion. Sorry.
QuoteA reasonable answer would be that most of you (atheists) would have a similar foundational belief that can be applied to life as a whole that’s not completely subjective to each situation in life.
Again, sorry, but atheism doesn't have foundational beliefs because atheism is not an ethical position, it is a metaphysical position. Ethics is a separate branch of philosophy from metaphysics.
QuoteI’ve noticed it’s very hard not to become overly defensive in this dialogue. Forgive me if I come across that way. That’s not my intention. I’d rather have a verbal dialogue and not hide behind this forum. Anyway, I’m sure I’m not going to change anyone’s mind.
I don't see why not. Convincing and persuasive writers change minds every day. Or did you mean you personally won't change anyone's mind?


Please all... a reminder: to tdh26...If you want to simply have a discourse, then do so. Do not start to insult the people with whom you wish to discuss this. Saying, "I think it’s cute you associate yourself as no better then a reptile or insect." is childishly sarcastic and an attempt at condescension that won't fly here.

Replying to tdh26 in kind isn't going to fly either. Please refer to him as a person, not an "it". He hasn't become a troll. At least not yet. Thanks!
Elvis didn't do no drugs!
--Penn Jillette



*Asmodean goes over to his dark corner and plays with his T-Rex toy, looking as well-behaved as they get*

*Disclaimer: (I seem to be writing a lot of those lately) I tend to refer to anyone whos sex I am unsure of as "it". Usually, no offence intended. But I'll try to break that habbit, I guess.
Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on July 25, 2013, 08:18:52 PM
In Asmo's grey lump,
wrath and dark clouds gather force.
Luxembourg trembles.


Umm, empathy? Why don't we go and kill people for no reason? Well, how would you like it if someone came and did that to you? If you really don't like someone, chances are they don't like you either...we don't kill each other because we don't want to be killed.... Think about it. If you could get away with a crime and face no punishment, would it be okay to do it? No. Because then it would be okay for anyone to do the same thing to you. So, a loose definition of crime is anything you wouldn't want someone to do to you....
Look, and you will See. Listen, and you will Hear. Think, and you will Understand
Learn first to Look and Listen. Thinking and Understanding do not come before observation.


"Naive" is the worst thing someone can call me. Condescension and trolling seem to be walking hand in hand in this thread.
I want bad people to look forward to and celebrate the day I die, because if they don't, I'm not living up to my potential.


Although the arguments have been covered quite thorougly, the answers have been somewhat oblique.  I'd like to try a somewhat different wording.

Some animals are solitary, e.g., wolverines, and some are social, e.g., wolves and humans.  Solitary animals have no rules other than immediate self-interest and survival.  Social animals are also driven by self-interest, but it's mediated in a number of ways.  First, it can be delayed or long-term, second, the group agrees unconsciously to certain behaviors, and punishes infractions.  For example, a Benobo adult male that purposely injures a young monkey will be set upon and killed by all of the adult females acting as a team.  Conversely, social species protect each other against intruders, and often protect and assist disabled or elderly members.  Humans fit this same pattern.

Second, I believe we learn almost all of our morals and ethical behavior from our parents in our first three or four years by watching and inculcating into ourselves their behavior patterns.  By the time we are first exposed to religious philosophy, we've already got our morality thoroughly set.  All the religion does is give some a reason to justify their beliefs.

We know of many "good" Christians who have affairs on their spouses, cheat on their taxes, steal, rape, are pedophiles, etc.  I'm certain there are atheists who fit the same descriptions.  In other words, our morality is set by our early training, not by whether or not we have later Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, etc. exposure.  

To my mind, the question asked by a Christian of how an atheist can have morals, demonstrates either a complete lack of understanding of where his/her own morals came from or a desire to denigrate another person, which, in itself, is an indication of weak morals of the questioner.



I'd be happy to try to explain and answer your question, but let me start by asking you a question.

Where do god's morals come from? Did he invent them? If he did, were they logical, or were they random?

Could god have made standing on your head immoral rather than murder?
There is nothing quite like an argument from analogy. Except maybe a duck.


Quote from: "tdh26"I’ve had a few atheistic friends over the years, although I could never grasp their reasoning. (I’ll let you label me an idiot up front just to save you time) A question I’ve always had is, if I were an atheist, and we were having a discussion and you pissed me off enough to kill you, and I did, why would that be wrong? Actually, the scenario doesn’t really matter. If I kill you for any reason, what’s the problem?
You may have moral reasons, although I don’t know why. The only difference between humans and the animal kingdom is we have an intelligence they don’t. So what? If you say that intelligence gives us a moral reasoning or some sort, Who cares. That would be your opinion, not mine. If I get by with it and don’t get caught, I’m scot-free, right? If you say in killing you I may have taken you away from family and friends who love you. Again, so what? Why would I care?

I admit, to me an atheist would be someone who believes in evolution or something other than a creator. We are just random chance little better than the animal kingdom, or no better. Doesn’t that mean we can just makeup our own rules? Do what ever we want as long as we can get by with it and not get caught by our own collective man made rules? What would limit us? Civility and laws are just a collective thought (rule) that maybe I in particular may not agree with. What would stop me from killing you? And why would that be bad?

I’m just curious what would be your reasoning from an atheistic point of view. I haven’t received a “reasonable” answer so far.

Do you think god ever talked directly to a human being? Do really believe that the universe operates this way?

If you do, then I have nothing more to say to you, because nothing I have to say would change your mind.

If not, then isn’t god just another idea, among many, that tries to explain how the universe works?
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs


“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” â€"Ephesians 6:5-6.

“When you buy a Hebrew slave, six years shall he serve; and in the seventh shall he go out free, for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and the children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the slave shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto God, and he shall bring him to the door or unto the door-post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.” â€"Exodus 21:2-6.

Soooooo, we base our ethics and morality on this?

or how about....

"6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people." Deuteronomy 13:6-9

Sooooo, we should all be killing people that don't follow our god, well at least we have that going for us in the middle east.

I could continue but the point is made. The bible has some good points to it, that doesn't mean it represents our moral foundation. We have continued to change what is lawful, ethical, and moral based on what we experience as a society.


Wow, you leave the forum for two days and a juicy debate forms...
tdh26, this is a typical theist question to atheists: "Where do your morals come from?" It was the first question my dad asked me when I told him I was an atheist (soon followed by "What's your reason for living", which is a whole other topic...) My dad used the Hitler example as well-though he added Stalin to the equation.

My answer is short and simple: empathy and just plain common sense. I don't think there is one set of right and wrong that we all must follow. I would feel horrible if I killed a person because I took their life and caused their family and friends pain. It's wrong. No need for "thou shalt not murder" IMO.

Quote from: "tdh26How"do you feel about what Hitler did in Germany?

Yes, Hitler thought he was doing right (right by God I might mention: "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.." ~Hitler). That doesn't mean every atheist condones what he did. I certainly don't. What he did was horrible beyond words. You can't compare all non-theist morals to Hitler's morals.
There are many things done in the Bible (I believe mrwynd posted good examples) that I'm sure many Christians wouldn't condone today (Excuse me, I'm assuming you're a Christian, please correct me if I'm wrong). But Christians still get their morals from the Bible despite this.

* * *

One thing I have to mention is that not every atheist is the same (just as I'm sure not every theist is the same). Your posts on this thread seem to me like you're clumping us all together as if we are all immoral and anarchists. We are people that happen to not believe in a god. That doesn't we are all the same and that we feel the same about everything.

That being said, sweet! This thread was fun to read over.
Look forward to future discussions!
When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and let the world wonder how you did it.


Quote from: "tdh26"Thanks guys! Truly entertaining! You've answered my question, although it's all rather naive to me. Funny how each camp normally spends time in their own forums and pat each other on the back.

Social Contract theory is considered credible by many philosophers.  We only scratched the surface of explaining it in this thread; frankly, I assumed you didn't care to approach this question with any depth.  

If your only response is to call us naive and imply that we might not feel comfortable speaking around a largely theistic audience; then you have wasted both our time and  yours.