Atheists: Is stealing wrong? If so, explain why.

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Ragtime
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24 Dec 2008, 2:50 pm

As a Christian, I do believe stealing is wrong, but I also believe that, from an atheistic/evolutionary standpoint, stealing can be justified just as strongly as it can be attacked. What do you think?


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skafather84
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24 Dec 2008, 2:53 pm

atheists recognize a person's right to owning property...so i don't really get what you mean.

do you mean in the le miserables sense of stealing or do you mean someone jacking someone else for an xbox 360?


i think stealing food to survive is a different case but you'd probably be hard pressed to find someone who'd say otherwise short of absolutists who fail to see the world outside of black and white.


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Sand
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24 Dec 2008, 11:01 pm

Property is a communal concept instituted for communal purposes. It is somewhat derived from the territorial instincts possessed by most creatures including plants to claim and use the offerings of any territory and prevent their use by an invader. It has nothing to do with religion.



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24 Dec 2008, 11:40 pm

Agreed. The concept of property has nothing to do with faith. As an atheist I have always respected people's rights to ownership, not because of some divine right, but because I myself wish others to respect what is mine.



skafather84
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25 Dec 2008, 12:37 am

also believe in a day's work for a day's pay.


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Magnus
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25 Dec 2008, 2:34 am

Ragtime, your threads are always amusing. :lol:


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OrderAndChaos30
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25 Dec 2008, 4:56 am

Now this is really fascinating. Persons ascribing to a non-deist persuasion upholding the so called 'golden rule', or do unto others as you want done to you. It does have an undeniable logic and causality from the perspective of the the greater collective.

This raises a very provocative question. What is the more morally pure motive? A rational analysis of the greater good that indicates that ethical behavior is the best choice or fear of a grumpy god with an unpleasant place/state to stick you for all times for being bad?


Addendum:
I just realized that I have put myself into a real existential and religious crisis. I do hold that the Bible is God's wisdom BUT it says that "The fear of God is the start of wisdom" AND it speaks against the Epicurean philosophy, that the only reason for morality is avoiding punishment. So the Bible is teaching exactly what it condemns!?!?!?!?


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Magnus
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25 Dec 2008, 5:27 am

^ Rules are written in physical documents that they can see.


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DentArthurDent
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25 Dec 2008, 5:57 am

Raggy good to see you back (i think). You are making the horrible mistake that religion is the default receptacle of morality. ITS NOT


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anna-banana
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25 Dec 2008, 11:25 am

let me answer your question with a short summary of the tale Rashomon (in case you haven't read it):

Wikipedia wrote:
The man, a lowly servant recently fired, is contemplating whether to starve to death or to become a thief to survive in the barren times. When he goes upstairs - after noticing some firelight there, he encounters a woman, who is stealing hair from the dead bodies in the second floor. He is disgusted, and decides then that he would rather take the path of righteousness even if it meant starvation. He is furious with the woman.

But the old woman tells him that she steals hair to make wigs so she can survive. In addition, the woman whose body she is currently robbing cheated people in her life by selling snake meat and claiming it was fish. The old woman says that this was not wrong because it allowed the woman to survive -- and so in turn this entitles her to steal from the dead person, because if she doesn't, she too will starve. The man responds "You won't blame me, then, for taking your clothes. That's what I have to do to keep from starving to death." He then brutally robs the woman of her robe and disappears into the night.


I guess no further comment needed :wink:


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history_of_psychiatry
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25 Dec 2008, 12:03 pm

Stealing is a MORAL issue. Not a religious issue. There are atheists that have morals and atheists who don't. There are christians who have morals and christians who don't.


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25 Dec 2008, 12:43 pm

Well, "property rights" would be why stealing is not permissible. There are various theories on why and how property can come to exist.

Nozick wrote:
Seizing the result of someone's labor is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities. If people force you to do certain work, or unrewarded work, for a certain period of time, they decide what you are to do and what purposes your work is to serve apart from your decisions. This process whereby they take this decision from you makes them a part-owner of you; it gives them a property right in you.

Inasmuch as a person has by axiom a right to freedom, this is not a conscionable situation (the above quote is in reference to taxation/redistribution, but the moral case of stealing is pretty analogous I think.)

I favor overwhelmingly this kind of sort of Lockean approach to property rights (his original work on the subject is classic). See for example The Labor Theory of Property

Obviously, however, secular property theories have existed for centuries, and religion plays no part in it.


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pandabear
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25 Dec 2008, 8:25 pm

Hold on:

Luke 6:29-30: "...and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again."

Hence, Christians have an obligation to allow people to steal from them.



chamoisee
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25 Dec 2008, 8:29 pm

Stealing isn't sustainable. If everybody stole constantly, nobody would trust anyone at all, and human society would break down completely.



slowmutant
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25 Dec 2008, 8:35 pm

As Christians, I think we are allowed to defend ourselves and our property. There's nothing wrong with seeking justice for ourselves, is there?

Just my $.02



DentArthurDent
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25 Dec 2008, 9:11 pm

slowmutant wrote:
As Christians, I think we are allowed to defend ourselves and our property. There's nothing wrong with seeking justice for ourselves, is there?

Just my $.02


But this is not a religious issue


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