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JonnyBGoode
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22 May 2007, 2:53 pm

Believing in moral relativism doesn't necessarily make it true, or right.

So were we wrong for going to war with Germany, because for their culture, the killing of another entire race and experimenting on their bodies - and all of the other atrocities committed by the Axis during that war - were moral, relative to their culture? Sorry, I can't hang my hat on that one. Even if such things are condoned by a society, that does not make them right or moral. There is such a thing as a society that is morally bankrupt.


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Ragtime
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22 May 2007, 2:53 pm

Mitch8817 wrote:
Proving His existing doesn't force anyone to do anything. Further, I think God would be able to distinguish between those who would then choose Him out of selfishness or convenience, as opposed to those who are pure of heart and have lead a moral and great, albeit misguided life (such as me by religious reasoning). Let him judge me not on my beliefs, but on my deeds and the heart behind them - as a being of absolute fairness, that should make sense to Him.


Very good thoughts here. Regarding your first sentence, Deists believe in a creator god, who is nonetheless coldly removed from all earthly happenings. Indeed, as you say, they are forced to do nothing about their belief -- they simply hold it as true. Their belief is the probability kind of faith -- the same version you use in every single decision you make. In other words, they come to the existence of a creator god by intellect only, through the physical evidence around them.

Here's the Wiki on it:
"Deism is a religious philosophy and movement that became prominent in England, France, and the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries. Deists typically reject supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and divine revelation prominent in organized religion, along with holy books and revealed religions that assert the existence of such things. Instead, deists hold that religious beliefs must be founded on human reason and observed features of the natural world, and that these sources reveal the existence of one God or supreme being."

Regarding the rest of your paragraph, in principle, you are advocating being judged by Old Testament Law. In principle, meaning you advocate being judged by your works. Guess what? No one passes. One's bad deeds are not balanced out by one's good deeds, anymore than brushing your teeth every day keeps your apartment clean. If this common theory of good-evil balance was true, then if you murdered someone, then you could completely erase that crime by saving someone else from dying. Attonement -- an act for the sole purpose of paying for that wrong -- is necessary to erase past wrongs.

When stopped for speeding, you don't then say to the cop, "Well, it's okay that I sped, Officer, because you see, I went that much BELOW the speed limit across town! See?" Neither does obeying traffic laws erase your driving record. And besides that, the fact is, no one knows how many wrongs they've done (or good deeds, for that matter -- people forget lots of little ones).


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Last edited by Ragtime on 22 May 2007, 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Mitch8817
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22 May 2007, 2:55 pm

Kosmonaut wrote:
google is your friend


He used to be my friend until Universities got all this hi-tech plagiarism-detection software. Now I have to learn stuff :cry:


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Kosmonaut
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22 May 2007, 2:57 pm

Mitch8817 wrote:
Kosmonaut wrote:
google is your friend


He used to be my friend until Universities got all this hi-tech plagiarism-detection software. Now I have to learn stuff :cry:


Well i wouldnt notice, but don't worry im not marking :P



Ragtime
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22 May 2007, 3:00 pm

Mitch8817 wrote:
JonnyBGoode wrote:
Mitch8817 wrote:
The way I see it, what is 'good', 'right', 'fair', 'just' and 'true' are cultural phenomena. They change from place to place.

So you are saying that for some culture, somewhere, torturing babies for fun might be 'right'? Does an entire culture or population embracing something as 'right' - make it so? Or can it be wrong, regardless of what the culture believes?

Was Hitler's gassing of six million Jews and millions of others, right? Right for their culture, but perhaps not for ours? Or is genocide morally reprehensible regardless of culture?


I'm glad you asked. Some things humans will find naturally repugnant and aversive, I think it's ingrained - if you want to know why, ask me when it's not 5am :P. From an evolutionary perspective, it would be that species propagation is limited if you go around killing babies. Others would say that such things as kinship and maternal instinct would naturally dictate that such things are 'wrong'.

Again, everything depends on circumstances. Is killing someone always wrong?


Moral relativism. Hitler used it as one of his justifications, as well as Darwinism, naturally. Survival of the fittest adopted as a moral code justifies anyone who kills anyone for any reason, period. Simply put: "Might makes right." By moral relativism, the Nazis cannot be shown to have been wrong. They were wrong, therefore moral relativism is false.


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Mitch8817
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22 May 2007, 3:01 pm

JonnyBGoode wrote:
Believing in moral relativism doesn't necessarily make it true, or right.


Which is the exact nature of the relativity!

JonnyBGoode wrote:
So were we wrong for going to war with Germany, because for their culture, the killing of another entire race and experimenting on their bodies - and all of the other atrocities committed by the Axis during that war - were moral, relative to their culture? Sorry, I can't hang my hat on that one. Even if such things are condoned by a society, that does not make them right or moral. There is such a thing as a society that is morally bankrupt.


It's all about what you personally perceive and understand to be right and wrong, and acting accordingly. What matters is that the U.S, or Britain or whoever believed that what Germany was doing was wrong, judging them by their own beliefs and standards.

War is a tricky example though; it becomes a case of 'necessary evils', 'the lesser of two evils' and the 'ends justify the means'. Think of Hiroshima. What do you think about that?


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JonnyBGoode
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22 May 2007, 3:07 pm

So you actually believe that if a society understood that to be morally acceptable... that makes it acceptable?


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Mitch8817
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22 May 2007, 3:10 pm

JonnyBGoode wrote:
So you actually believe that if a society understood that to be morally acceptable... that makes it acceptable?


Relative to them, of course! I doubt you would get an entire society to believe the exact same thing though. Relativity is more of a personal thing (and not an excuse to do what you want - I have moral codes as 'right' and strong as any religion, just without some deity hanging over my head threatening divine retribution if I stray).

Think of why conflicts are started in the first place: differences in ideologies. Think of terrorism - their God asserts that what they are doing is right, and yet your God doesn't. Who is right there? (if I'm not making sense/straying in my ideas forgive me, it's early here).


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22 May 2007, 3:28 pm

Mitch8817 wrote:
JonnyBGoode wrote:
So you actually believe that if a society understood that to be morally acceptable... that makes it acceptable?


Relative to them, of course! I doubt you would get an entire society to believe the exact same thing though. Relativity is more of a personal thing (and not an excuse to do what you want - I have moral codes as 'right' and strong as any religion, just without some deity hanging over my head threatening divine retribution if I stray).


Well, the popular phrase "what's right for you" is a nonsense concept, and I'll tell you why. What you do does not stay in your realm -- it affects others, often making them do what's not right for them, i.e. causing someone else to have a car wreck by driving any way you damn well feel like. Or, in the much more extreme example above, dying to quell the personal insecurities of a mad Führer. Moral relativism works, as long as everyone has their own cosmos, seperate from everyone else's. It's a system based on a high ideal -- full honor for all -- but badly misguided from thence, as born out by Nazi Germany and the principle's other applications.

And if you believe in it, then I've got a magnet with one pole I'd like to sell you. :lol:


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JonnyBGoode
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22 May 2007, 4:01 pm

Mitch8817 wrote:
Think of terrorism - their God asserts that what they are doing is right, and yet your God doesn't. Who is right there?

Who is right? To me, it's simple. Any "god" that advocates the killing of innocent people to spread his message, isn't god at all. He's the other guy.

A question. Can you think, in your morally relativistic mind, that there would be any case, any society, wherein torturing babies, skinning them alive, then pouring salt and lemon in the wound, and reveling gleefully in their cries of agony as they died, purely for one's on personal enjoyment, could be considered moral behavior? And even if such a sick society existed, do you believe that their general consensus would make such horrendous acts moral? Or would you consider such a thing to be immoral, regardless of the general consensus of the society? At what point does sociopathic behavior become moral behavior?

Another point. Relativists can wax eloquent on moral relativism all they like. But they'll complain (and often be the first) when somebody cuts in front of them in a line. They'll object to the unfair treatment they get at work and denounce injustice in the legal system. They'll criticize crooked politicians who betray the public trust and condemn intolerant fundamentalists who force their moral views on others.

Each of these objections are completely meaningless concepts, if all morals are relative.

Incidentally, Sopho... this particular line of reasoning is a bit of a setup for one of the foundational reasons why I believe there is a God: the so-called "Law of Nature." (Which I may or may not get to here...)


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JakeG
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22 May 2007, 4:43 pm

Ragtime wrote:
One's bad deeds are not balanced out by one's good deeds, anymore than brushing your teeth every day keeps your apartment clean.


Dang; now you tell us...my gums are red raw and bleeding and yet the washing is still in a heap by the sink.



Ragtime
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22 May 2007, 5:49 pm

JakeG wrote:
Ragtime wrote:
One's bad deeds are not balanced out by one's good deeds, anymore than brushing your teeth every day keeps your apartment clean.


Dang; now you tell us...my gums are red raw and bleeding and yet the washing is still in a heap by the sink.


Haha! Such is the futility of trying to lead a morally perfect life. And I forgot to relate that Scripture mentions God's standard for behaviour: perfection. That sounds high, but that's the norm for Him, and for all who live in Heaven in His direct presence. As light supplants darkness, so would God's perfection remove any sinful person from Heaven. No one is sinless, even after salvation, except by proxy. Deserve? We all deserve to go to Hell -- that's certainly what my works have earned -- so, best not make a stand on what we "deserve", asking to be judged by our works.

But, ya know, what a wonderful fantasy it is to imagine we are judged by our works -- if we erroneously believe are good thorugh-and-through. What's fun about that belief is you get to say, "Look at me, look what I've done, and how I've saved myself by my righteousness!" If such a claim were true, then that person would have every right to feel like they had done something incredible. (Even though all they would have really accomplished is a return to zero from negative numbers they generated themselves. Cleaning up your own mess is hardly a trophy-winning occasion!)

But the truth is, I'm a bastard, and so I'm so glad Jesus wasn't.



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23 May 2007, 12:32 pm

Not to get off the subject - because this one isn't quite done and is going places - but this morning on my morning drive, I thought of another answer to Sopho's original question, "Why are religious people religious."

And that has to do with "the meaning of life." <Dun Dun DUNNNN!> Most people are uncomfortable with the idea that they are merely a collection of chromosomes that got here by millions of years of, basically, cosmic accidents, one building upon another. Like V'Ger in Star Trek, they yearn for an answer to the question, "is this all there is? is there not more?" It just doesn't sit well that here we are, with sentience, with dreams, hopes, aspirations, all of these gifts of intelligence... and our only real purpose here is to pass on our genes to the next generation. Am I, as an individual, truly insignificant in the great cosmic scheme of things? Does this wonderful self-awareness just snuff out when I die? That seems like a tragic and illogical waste to most people.

I think a lot more people are interested in religious things - even in what Christianity has to say - than non-religious (atheist/agnostic) people generally think. Here in the Los Angeles area, one of the most popular radio talk shows is a Sunday morning show called "The Jesus Christ Show," where the host - no pun intended - pretends he is Jesus for a couple of hours - and does quite a good job, theologically - and answers call-in questions. Los Angeles is hardly a Bible Belt bastion (well, except perhaps for parts of Orange County...), yet people are still fascinated with, and drawn to, the person and story and teachings of Jesus.


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skafather84
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23 May 2007, 12:52 pm

Ragtime wrote:
JakeG wrote:
Ragtime wrote:
One's bad deeds are not balanced out by one's good deeds, anymore than brushing your teeth every day keeps your apartment clean.


Dang; now you tell us...my gums are red raw and bleeding and yet the washing is still in a heap by the sink.


Haha! Such is the futility of trying to lead a morally perfect life. And I forgot to relate that Scripture mentions God's standard for behaviour: perfection. That sounds high, but that's the norm for Him, and for all who live in Heaven in His direct presence. As light supplants darkness, so would God's perfection remove any sinful person from Heaven. No one is sinless, even after salvation, except by proxy. Deserve? We all deserve to go to Hell -- that's certainly what my works have earned -- so, best not make a stand on what we "deserve", asking to be judged by our works.

But, ya know, what a wonderful fantasy it is to imagine we are judged by our works -- if we erroneously believe are good thorugh-and-through. What's fun about that belief is you get to say, "Look at me, look what I've done, and how I've saved myself by my righteousness!" If such a claim were true, then that person would have every right to feel like they had done something incredible. (Even though all they would have really accomplished is a return to zero from negative numbers they generated themselves. Cleaning up your own mess is hardly a trophy-winning occasion!)

But the truth is, I'm a bastard, and so I'm so glad Jesus wasn't.



^a good example for the other thread about if religion is needed or not. people such at this need a moral compass because they wouldn't have one on their own.

someone who doesn't truly comprehend morality so they adhere to what religion tells them.



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23 May 2007, 12:58 pm

But how can you have a moral compass of your own... or even comprehend morality... if all morality is relative anyway? It's like having a compass to show you which way is North... but "North" having no real meaning, everyone's "North" may be in a different direction.


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Ragtime
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24 May 2007, 10:34 am

skafather84 wrote:
Ragtime wrote:
JakeG wrote:
Ragtime wrote:
One's bad deeds are not balanced out by one's good deeds, anymore than brushing your teeth every day keeps your apartment clean.


Dang; now you tell us...my gums are red raw and bleeding and yet the washing is still in a heap by the sink.


Haha! Such is the futility of trying to lead a morally perfect life. And I forgot to relate that Scripture mentions God's standard for behaviour: perfection. That sounds high, but that's the norm for Him, and for all who live in Heaven in His direct presence. As light supplants darkness, so would God's perfection remove any sinful person from Heaven. No one is sinless, even after salvation, except by proxy. Deserve? We all deserve to go to Hell -- that's certainly what my works have earned -- so, best not make a stand on what we "deserve", asking to be judged by our works.

But, ya know, what a wonderful fantasy it is to imagine we are judged by our works -- if we erroneously believe are good thorugh-and-through. What's fun about that belief is you get to say, "Look at me, look what I've done, and how I've saved myself by my righteousness!" If such a claim were true, then that person would have every right to feel like they had done something incredible. (Even though all they would have really accomplished is a return to zero from negative numbers they generated themselves. Cleaning up your own mess is hardly a trophy-winning occasion!)

But the truth is, I'm a bastard, and so I'm so glad Jesus wasn't.



^a good example for the other thread about if religion is needed or not. people such at this need a moral compass because they wouldn't have one on their own.

someone who doesn't truly comprehend morality so they adhere to what religion tells them.


I definitely have a moral compass. How did you conclude that I did not? Well, lack of information on the subject could lead one to that conclusion. Aside from why religion is needed, your post is a good example of why knowledge is needed. For example, one's religion is not his moral compass. A religion is a set of beliefs, whereas a moral compass is an internal knowing of right from wrong, which for Christians is provided by the spirit of Christ indwelling us. But there is no possible way you can speak to matters of the spirit world without being spiritual -- sorry.


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