We are all limited by the information we have at any given time. Our actions are based on the knowledge we have at the time an action is taken. Our entire legal system, which you’d assert is founded on Christian ethics understands this perfectly. The law considers our intentions when it passes judgement for our actions. This is why we have degrees of different crimes. So when I say we should not cause actual or potential harm, the decision about harm caused will always be in relation to what a person knew (or should have known) and what their intentions were when they took actions that have come under scrutiny.
That’s a great question. This is the challenge of “moral calculus”. I don’t know the answer to that question, do you?
Would you intervene if it was in your power to do so to save 10 million lives if it cost 1 life? How about 10? How about 100? How about 1000 or 10,000?
I don’t know where to draw the line, but I do know that not killing one person to save 10 million would be immoral in my book and I’m wondering if you would do the same and if you would not, how you might justify that?
So long as we’re not talking about Primeval history in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Or much of Exodus.
Mainstream Biblical Scholarship has determined these stories to be allegorical, and likely intended not as history, but as purpose-built introductions for the Books that come after.
It’s pretty evident the Bible took many of the details of those stories from older Assuryian, Babylonian, and Egyptian sources anyhow.
Noah’s flood is two stories sewn together, which is why it has conflicting details. It also shares character names with the flood story in the Epic of Gligamesh, which was written more than a 1,000 years beforehand.
How? How do we objectively determine that causing pain is immoral?
I submit that this is circular logic. “Unjustified” is determined by morality, and you’re using it to determine morality.
Obviously, unverified. What range have they tested it at?
Goodness, I may have played more hours of video games than you have; I was a teen when they started becoming really popular around 1980. I don’t play them that much anymore, but I’ve played many thousands of hours on my computers over the years, and in video arcades (they used to have those), and on my old PS1 (which I still play from time to time). I also played a lot on RO’s arcade when we were still on vBulletin.
I think the line has to be drawn as a matter of “what,” not “how many.” Bottom line, I believe in reading my Bible, and praying and asking God what he wants me to do in a given situation. I’m not perfect about it, and I don’t always see the results when I do get it right (in fact, I doubt I see the results the vast majority of the time). But God does, and I’m learning more and more to trust Him; I’m sure not qualified to sort out 99.999999999+% of the decisions made in this world.
Can you think of an action or circumstance where something immoral doesn’t cause unwanted harm (physical mental or spiritual)?
Is it just a coincidence that virtually everything (in case you think of something) that’s immoral causes unwanted harm?
Do you need a god to tell you that being harmed is “bad”?
I don’t need god to tell me that someone punching me in the face (for no reason) is wrong. That is unjustified aggression. Retaliation would be justified. There’s nothing circular about that.
To date, the greatest distance achieved has been 7 miles apart. Far enough that devices can measure the speed of light and the test confirms that the particles are reacting faster than the speed of light. Keep in mind that we can track time extremely small…
0.000000000000000000001 is the smallest unit of time ever measured. This is less time it take light to travel the distance of a single atom.
IT was as if some ghostly bridge across the city of Geneva, Switzerland, had permitted two photons of light nearly seven miles apart to respond simultaneously to a stimulus applied to just one of them.
The twin-photon experiment by Dr. Nicolas Gisin of the University of Geneva and his colleagues last month was the most spectacular demonstration yet of the mysterious long-range connections that exist between quantum events, connections created from nothing at all, which in theory can reach instantaneously from one end of the universe to the other.
LOL…I didn’t intend that as an insult
I should just concede that you’ve wasted more time in unproductive activities than I have, but I can’t.
I’m also old enough to remember the days of BBS’ and text-based MUD’s. My step-dad worked in video teleconferencing (after being in the army as a communications tech). He was always bringing home stuff. Atari 800, Commodore 64. We had an IBM PC was a 386 (SX12?)…My first new purchase (on my own) was a P166 Intel-based PC, though I owned several 486’s that were used.
My first dedicated video game system was Magnavox Oddessy II. Should have waited for the Atari 2600…
I’ve been in IT all of my professional life and played more games than I care to admit. So, I won’t lay out how much, I’ll just say that until there is something significant at stake I’m not going to admit how much time I’ve wasted playing games
Indecently, I’ve been paid a significant sum as a consultant on this project, so it seems all those years weren’t entirely wasted.
I’m curious, does god ever answer? How can you tell the difference between what you hear in your mind as “yours” and “gods” voice (or whatever you’d call it)?
I don’t see how that’s in any way any different than what I believe.
I have only the information that I’ve been taught or taught myself. I’m aware of the consequences of my actions and I’m capable of caring how those actions affect others. Even if I don’t care about others, I still know that respecting other peoples desires to avoid harm is one of the best ways to avoid being harmed.
Furthermore, even if somehow I convince myself that it’s ok when I do harm, it’s not difficult to step back and realize that even a rapist who likes to violate the freedom of others knows that what he’s doing is wrong as the rapist would not want to be raped. Of course, there are outliers, but that’s what happens when you have free will. The choice to take actions that are counter to your own health and survival. Point is, the bible won’t help those sorts of people any more than an asserted secular morality.
It is accurate to say that God defines what is moral and what is not moral, it is not accurate to say that all Christians want all those “rules” applied by force of government to those in their society; Christianity cannot be imposed by force of law and every Christian who knows their scripture knows this.
Christ must be received on an individual basis, there are no “corporate Christians” or Christians who have inherited their Salvation via their bloodline.
As to the matter of abortion? Our “society” did not decide that it should be a legal Right to kill innocent babies; that was a small number of activists in black robes.
And also, there are no concepts of God that approve of killing the innocent for convenience sake, that is a “moral” that only the godless conceive of and embrace; which is also the perfect argument against your position that man should collectively define what is “moral” on his own.
That is in fact the “Original Sin”, the desire to reject the authority of God and assume the “God position” ourselves; while this has been tried by men for as long as there has been humans there is not one society that can be called a “success story” that has tried to reject the author of Morality and supplant themselves into His chair.
If you believed that and if that were true then Liberalism in the United States would be all but eradicated.
The fact is that “experience” condemns most all of the ways we have transformed our thinking on how to educate our youth, punish our criminals, assist our poor and care for our environment over the last half century.
What we have “experienced” as a result is a diminished education system, greater recidivism rates in criminals, poor which are more hopeless than before and many times the environmental destruction as a result of the “fixes” than we ever had as a result of just living free.
Oh, and we have killed over 60 million babies so we now have a crisis where we have more people becoming elderly than we have young to replace them.
Yet this “experience” has only convinced the godless to do more of the same, they are unteachable because Morality emanates from God not man.
Truth cannot be rejected in the pursuit of Moral wisdom, once truth is rejected what ensues will never be Moral.
I probably could not. However, it still doesn’t explain how prevention of harm equals morality.
A couple of side notes (one of which I’ve mentioned before):
How can “prevention of harm” be anything but temporal in a dying universe (which ours is)?
Bombing the Nazis in WWII caused harm. Who gets to (or is objectively qualified) to determine what harm is “unwanted?”
You said a thing is immoral “because it causes unjustified harm.” Since justice is a moral determination, yes, I submit that it is circular logic.
Wow, I played my C64 to death; Microprose F-15 Strike Eagle and Gunship, and SubLogic Flight Simulator II…
He does, although not it the direct manner to which Joy Behar assumed when she mocked Mike Pence (I think it was him). It’s more like spiritual nudges toward a particular action or lack thereof. Do I perceive it reliably and always know when it’s Him or me or Satan & cronies? No; I have plenty of growing to do to learn to listen well. I’ve prayed a good bit about that very issue.
This is an assumption, not an argument. Perhaps you’ll claim I’m doing the same thing, but I believe I can cite examples of where doing things God’s way works, and where “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” didn’t.
I don’t believe that’s what I said, I said (in different words), morality arises because we have a universal desire to avoid unwanted harm.
I’m just not sure how the fact that the universe may or may not at some distant point in the future, so distant that the atoms that make up body today may be spread past the limits of our galaxy, matters when discussing unwanted harm in the here and now.
That’s pretty obvious, Hitler caused a lot of unwanted harm without justification.
Now we can argue that he and perhaps others felt that they had justification, however, this is no different than every member of a soccer team believing they should be able to carry the ball despite what the rules say. As long as there are enough people willing (and able) to enforce agreed-upon rules they will do it.
Yeah, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. Primate monkeys understand fairness and when they are getting screwed. One need not understand morality to understand concepts of justice.
The games that I remember best were “Track and Feild” where you shook the joystick back and forth to death to run, River Raid and Ghost Busters…Those were the days!
I understand that is important to you and I wouldn’t mock it even if I don’t believe in it, thus I’ll just thank you for sharing.
That’s just it, it’s not what’s right “in everyone’s own eyes” any more than players in professional sports can “do whatever they want”. I mean they can, but why don’t they? For the few that do decide they don’t want to abide by the rules, what happens to them?
Morality is no different. It is a social convention similar to the rules of a game or standards of measurement. They are chosen subjectively and relate to experience or need. Then the group is made aware of the rules as they relate to the objectives and are enforced by the group. If, at some point it’s learned that the “rules” are contrary to the objective, they are changed.
In a game, the rules are there to create boundaries around certain challenges. They have to be fair and in physical games like football, often take harm into account.
Thus it’s not the rules that determine what’s right, but the experience of the people that place the game. If the rules fail to accomplish the objective (in games the objective is ususlaly competition, challenge etc).
In the case of morality, people agree to choose freedom from harm. Why, because people have a natural aversion to it and the best way to avoid unwanted harm is to join together and create a social system that enforces that desire.
The problem is, from where I sit, is that you think that morality----Values---->Actions---->Experience. Whereas I see things in a very different order. Experiences---->Values---->Morality----->Actions
Our experiences shape our values which leads to our morals which informs our actions.
You seem to believe that you are given morals which lead to you holding certain values which in turn informs your actions that you experience.
I’m saying that values independent of experience is a non-sequitur. It also means that god could command anything to be moral by defining fiat regardless of how much harm it caused, but I don’t believe for a single second that if god told you that harming another person was moral, that you would suddenly be ok with that. Because I don’t think that people really derive their morals from god, I think they just give a god the credit for the morals they hold instincually based on their expereinces of harm.
Nonsense. As I said earlier (perhaps on another thread), humans are NOT born with an empathetic sense. That’s a behavior that has to be LEARNED. NOTHING is more self-involved and less caring about the wants or needs of others than an infant. How do you think those Palestinian “mothers” convinced their small children to walk into a police station and blow themselves up? So just WHERE is your “universal desire” come from?
Empathy is learned behavior even though the capacity for it is inborn.
The best way to think about empathy is an innate capacity that needs to be developed, and to see it as a detail in a larger picture. Infants learn to identify and regulate their emotions through successful dyadic interactions with their caretakers, primarily their mothers. An attuned mother who’s receptive to her child’s needs and cues is one who permits her baby to thrive and develop emotionally. By having his or her emotional states recognized and responded to, the groundwork is laid not just for the child’s sense of self but sense of other. In time, that seed grows into empathy and the capacity for intimate connection. (This is called secure attachment.)
Children who don’t experience this kind of dyadic interaction have a diminished sense of self, difficulties managing and regulating emotions, and sometimes an impaired capacity for empathy. The avoidantly attached individual isn’t comfortable in intimate settings, and has trouble recognizing his or her own emotions, as well as those of others. The anxiously attached adult may lack the ability to moderate emotions and may end up being swept up in someone else’s emotions. That isn’t empathy.
There are other phycological forces at play here. Humans are capable of all sorts of strange behavior that run contrary to our own well-being. Religion has no shortage of examples of where people, believing that they are called to a higher power, or that their god is speaking to them, have done some insane things, but all of religion cannot be condemned for the acts of a few any more than all of secular morality can be condemned for the acts of a few.
Humans appear to have the greatest awareness of self, in an understanding of the consequences of their actions and the capacity to act against their own self-interest. I suspect that the latter is a consequence of the former.
And btw, even if empathy is learned doesn’t discredit anything I’ve said. It’s not the fact that we learn or are born with empathy, it’s our capacity to be empathetic that matters.
I suspect that’s evolved as a defense mechnisim. The harsher the environment the more an inborn and instilled empathy would be a weakness leading to the destruction of the group. As pressure to survive decreases empathy increases just as we might expect. Even in highly advanced societies, people with suppressed empathetic tendencies are probably necessary as “freedom” sometimes requires that people to some terrible things to preserve it.
Empathy is NOT an innate “instinct.” Skinnerists would be HORRIFIED even at the suggestion that humans HAVE “instincts.” Capacity for empathy does NOT mean that babies are BORN with empathy…just that they have the CAPACITY to learn to be empathetic.
Even that’s reasonably situational. What if your beloved wife, sibling, friend, child or parent were in that small town? If it were my small town versus the bigger towns in the area, one of them, preferably as far away as possible, is automatically catching that nuke.
Not really making any big point with that comment. Just an observation.
What if the person who was on the cusp of curing cancer were in that town or the company about to release nuclear fusion and free energy to the world?
This is the moral calculus I’ve been talking about. There are no one-size-fits-all answers to moral questions because they depend on how the goals of a good moral system are defined and I don’t think these are questions easily answered by either secular or divine sources of morality. At least as important is the fact that neither system lacks people using their respective systems as justification of commiting what you and I would probably agree are immoral acts. This is why we should all be trying to understand what objectives we want to achieve and how best they can be achieved. Many moral
Because if it all comes to nought, what good is it? For my Christian worldview, I know troubles and harm in this life; but I know that the harm is temporal, and the bliss eternal.
Actually, quite different, as I’ll illustrate in the point after next.
I’m not an expert on primates, but I know from observing animals in general in the wild (deer, mainly; our area is lousy with them) they don’t give a rip about “fair.” They take what they want at each other’s expense if they can; I’ve watched them do it time and time again. And instead of wasting effort on human-style angst over the unfairness, they spend their efforts looking for an alternative.
Ah, but it is different. Because unlike the players in the ballgame, practicianers of morality by your definition define it as they see fit as to what causes “harm” and “good” (“good in their own eyes”); thus, they do change the rules. I may have mentioned this once upon a time, but I once saw a book in which this guy interviewed convicted felons, and they frequently rationalized their crimes. One guy insisted: “I’m not a rapist; I’m a sodomizer.” You could bring up the numbers game again, but a majority could just as easily determine (and has done so) that freedom for blacks, Jews, women, etc. causes harm to society. The results are tragic. God, being God, is in a position to be objective. Man is not.
If God created reality (as I believe He did), who knows better what is moral? And there are things He said that I don’t understand the reasoning for. But again, He’s God, and I’m not. And again:
I agree, but I don’t believe man is capable of the calculus. The good news is that God did it already for us. Follow him, and:
That’s just it, there’s no issue. The system of measurement isn’t any less useful because it’s not determined objectively.
Think about it like this. From an objective point of view, what is the best food you can eat? Is there an objective best food? If there is no objective best food to eat, does that mean that we can’t figure out which foods are bad for us? Does not knowing which food is objectively the best prevent us from understanding what poison is?
Said a different way. If you compared two types of sickness, say MS and ALS, is one objective worse than the other? Do we need to know which is objectively worse in order to determine they are both bad? Without an objective standard, is it impossible for me to determine which is better, a bowl of ice cream or a bowl filled with broken glass?
Thus, I don’t need an objective standard to determine what is bad and what is good. Just like there are lots of good foods to eat, there can be more than one way to avoid harm or know well-being and I don’t need an objective standard to figure that out.
If god is the sole arbiter of morality, then what is moral is what god says. If that’s true, then that means right and wrong doesn’t mean “right and wrong”, it just means “what god says”. If that’s true morality becomes utterly meaningless (as most people understand it) because it has NOTHING to do with our experience it’s literally just “what god says”.
If you ask a person, even a Christian why torturing an innocent person is bad, I bet, overwhelmingly, the answer will relate to the objective sensation of harm and pain and suffering. Basically all answers you’d get relate to human experience. I bet not one person would say because it violates god’s morality and say that independent of human experience.
Again, god never, to my knowledge points out in the Bible that the morality that he commands is commanded because god values (for humans) freedom from harm because if god did that, we’d realize we don’t need a god to determine what is and is not harmful.
Furthermore, you can’t learn from god as an example of what freedom from harm by reading the Bible as god is responsible for the death of millions of people in the bible. The only point here is that we can’t look to god as an example because if we did then harm and suffering would be permissible.
That’s great and I’m genuinely happy for you that you feel that way. As long as that belief requires nothing of me, then I take no issue with it, I just happen to believe that your belief lacks sufficient evidence and until evidence is sufficient I remain agnostic about that claim.
Deer are much less developed socially than primates are.
Again, I cannot believe that we have to have this discussion. As in my soccer example, a player can, if he chooses to, pick up the ball and carry it, but what do you think others will do when he does that?
Now, an individual can choose to harm others and, from his point-of-view declare that it’s good, but there are several problems with this. First, in most cases where the person doing the harm is rational and sane, they understand harm. They know they don’t want to be harmed nor do they want people they care about to be harmed, so even from their perspective they know harm is an undesirable state, they simply choose to ignore it (free will is a pain in the but).
Since most people know what pain suffering and sickness is and they know they want to avoid it, they will value actions that avoid those states. However, as I keep saying, while humans may know what harm is, the values they hold don’t always achieve the objectives of avoiding it.
If you believe in a god based morality, you have nothing other than what god says as a way to determine the right and wrong of a situation. Again, if you had 10 seconds to decide the fate of 10 million people and all you had to do was press a button and to divert a nuke into a sparsely populated area where you’d kill a few thousand, would you do it?
For me, it’s easy to decide (not to actually do it), but I do the moral calculus and weigh the options. RWNJ points out that maybe my family is there, or I pointed out that maybe I kill the person designed to invent limitless food or energy or the cure for the worst desires known to man and that would have saved more lives than would be lost in a bomb.
All moral conundrums from a secular point-of-view are limited only by information and understanding. My actions will be judged based on my understanding (or lack thereof) at the time I made my decision.
And how are these words any more “objective” than say:
“The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter,” (Quran 5:33)…
While I admit that I generally perfer the teaching in Chrisianity over Islam, I would say that they equally lack jusitfication.
Where did I say you actually had to eat them to know the difference?
The question is, why is it bad, is it because of the harm eating glass would cause or is it because (assuming one puts their life at risk eating broken glass) that it’s immoral according to god to kill yourself?