If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

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LuckyR
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by LuckyR » May 5th, 2018, 1:13 am

CIN wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 7:43 pm
LuckyR wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 6:29 pm

While your green statement is my moral view, that was not my point rather that since we are all both individuals and members of communities (and some are also members of religions), regardless of our personal morality, we are all subject to community ethical standards and since basically all Modern communities have decreed that murder is "wrong", that everyone is at least subject to that ethical standard, regardless if their personal morality has decided that murder is wrong or not wrong.
It sounds to me as if you are simply saying that everyone in modern society is subjected to peer pressure to consider murder wrong. Well, of course that would depend on your definition of 'murder'. Is meat murder? I'm a vegetarian, so I tend to think it is; but if so, then there is little such pressure against this kind of murder in most modern societies, because most people in modern societies condone and collaborate with this particular kind of murder. Is abortion murder? I tend to think it is if the foetus has developed far enough to become conscious, but not if it hasn't, but some people think all abortion is murder. And so on. Murder to one person is not necessarily murder to another, and I think the whole issue is too complex to allow us to simply say, as you did, that murder is wrong for every modern human.
While peer pressure exists, I am not stressing the impact of community standards on personal morals, rather that the definition of "wrong" does not only exist within individuals. It exists in communities as well.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 5th, 2018, 2:15 am

Thinking critical wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 2:42 pm
The humane approach is much more complicated but is also more relevant in the sense it evolves as our species gains wisdom. Essentially most humans to a certain degree concur that pain, suffering and the act of intentionally killing someone who does not want to be killed is wrong. It is this common ground which we can build from which will inevitably demonstrate humane morality is far more superior than a gods.
Something is wrong because we feel and believe it's wrong, not because we're told its wrong.
This raises a few issues for me. 1) wouldn't this indicate it would be best in child-rearing for parents and others to never use moral terminology: iow to never say this or that behavior is wrong, evil, etc. So that the child develops wisdom. It would be good to explain the consequences of actions that the child might not be aware of. Such as, 'it is likely that the kid whose bike you took is upset about that now.' If one gets a sense consequences are being considered. (not easy to not be manipulative here, however) 2) why have morals at all? Humans are social mammals with limbic systems and mirror neurons and so on. Why speak about right and wrong at all? Why not simply have it all as preferences? In child-rearing it would be, your father and I dislike X and we run the house. Empathy could also be brought into this, but all moral/ethical talk would be avoided. Since we know there is a wide range of preferences out there, sans God, it seems more accurate to talk about preferences. Perhaps some are universal, but there is no need to introduce right and wrong at all, in any case.
Simply put, humans invent gods then decide what the god they invented commands to be right or wrong, then they argue that we can't know what is right or wrong without the God which they invented.
The argument makes no sense, if you delete the gods the morals are still there and nothing else changes.
But are they morals? It seems to me they are just preferences. One could argue as I think some here have, that if there is a God his or her rules are just God's preferences, but I think they gain a categorical difference since this deity made the universe - they gain an ontological status human preferences do not have, if nothing else than that they, everywhere in reality have regular defined consequences - one ends up in Hell or in some other way benefits from or is punished for and is considered as by a permeating entity. One's acts determine what one experiences - so they are part of causation, and they affect what one is. Human judgments or preferences do not have these qualities. One may not be caught, one may have no feelings of guilt. One's culture may allow X. Human preferences are not part of the fabric of REALITY. They are contingent.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Spiral » May 5th, 2018, 8:07 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 5th, 2018, 2:15 am
But are they morals? It seems to me they are just preferences. One could argue as I think some here have, that if there is a God his or her rules are just God's preferences, but I think they gain a categorical difference since this deity made the universe - they gain an ontological status human preferences do not have, if nothing else than that they, everywhere in reality have regular defined consequences - one ends up in Hell or in some other way benefits from or is punished for and is considered as by a permeating entity. One's acts determine what one experiences - so they are part of causation, and they affect what one is. Human judgments or preferences do not have these qualities. One may not be caught, one may have no feelings of guilt. One's culture may allow X. Human preferences are not part of the fabric of REALITY. They are contingent.
Let's go back to the Old Testament. This is from Number 15:32-36
Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.

And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.
Here's another quote, this time from Deuteronomy 25:11-12:
If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.
I remember when an aunt of mine was reading the Old Testament to her 12 year old son named Jack. At some point, Jack said to his mother,
God seems like the devil to me.
Was 12 year old Jack's response to hearing about the actions of God, saying he sounds like the devil, an indication that Jack lacks a moral compass because he dared criticize God? Of was Jack's response an indication that Jack has a moral compass strong enough to resist an authority figure advocating immoral actions?

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Gertie » May 5th, 2018, 10:04 am

Thinking critical wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 2:42 pm
Gods and devils are not necessary to the dichotomy of what is right or wrong, they are simply ontological projections of individuals own ideologies. When one wants to assert a higher ground such as "murder is wrong" the idea of a god becomes a useful tool to communities which all share a common belief in gods.
Why would one even need gods to decide what is right or wrong when humans are quite capable of deciding themselves? Furthermore people still do acts even though they themselves believe it is wrong. So we could just as easily ask would people still murder, if they believed in heaven or hell? The answer of course is "yes", demonstrating even in the presence of god based philosophies/ideaologies, acts which the believer asserts is objectively wrong are still carried out.
The difference between a religious approach and humane approach to morality gives us a clue as to which is the more reasonable; religion defines morality as objectively true under the dictatorship of god who uses punishment and reward, furthermore there is very little if any accountability of the origin of such morals - where did they come from, how were they communicated and do we know if the answer to those 2 questions is true?
The humane approach is much more complicated but is also more relevant in the sense it evolves as our species gains wisdom. Essentially most humans to a certain degree concur that pain, suffering and the act of intentionally killing someone who does not want to be killed is wrong. It is this common ground which we can build from which will inevitably demonstrate humane morality is far more superior than a gods.
Something is wrong because we feel and believe it's wrong, not because we're told its wrong.

Simply put, humans invent gods then decide what the god they invented commands to be right or wrong, then they argue that we can't know what is right or wrong without the God which they invented.
The argument makes no sense, if you delete the gods the morals are still there and nothing else changes.
Pretty much agree, but I think we can find a justifiable basis for common ground, a shared grounding for morality.

As you say 'humane' (nicely put!) morality doesn't obviously have this Objective grounding which God-given morality does. If god says murder is wrong, it is axiomatically wrong. The problem for humane morality is where to find some axiomatic grounding, otherwise we're vulnerable to relying on our evolved pre-dispositions (what feels right), which might no longer be a good fit with our modern world (our innate tribalism for example).

If we accept that our ideas of morality are rooted in us happening to be a social species with certain pre-dispositions, which evolved based on utility, there isn't an 'objectively 'true' grounding for why murder is bad. So this framing of Objective vs Subjective morality seems anachronistic to me, and no longer a useful way of addressing morality, or Oughts.

What I suggested earlier is that The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures still matters, regardless of whether we say that's an Objective Truth or not. That can be our axiomatic grounding for morality, a touchstone against which to test Oughts, moral duties, rules, etc. An axiom which we can use to test our evolved and culturally sculpted feelings about what is Right and Wrong.

The justification, simply put, being that conscious creatures have a quality of life which can be good or bad, better or worse, because of the inherently qualitative nature of consciousness. Hence it matters how we treat each other.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by CIN » May 5th, 2018, 3:56 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 5th, 2018, 10:04 am
If god says murder is wrong, it is axiomatically wrong.
Are you offering this as a theory about the meaning of the word 'wrong'? If not, what do you think the word 'wrong' means?

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Thinking critical » May 6th, 2018, 7:52 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 5th, 2018, 2:15 am
Thinking critical wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 2:42 pm
Something is wrong because we feel and believe it's wrong, not because we're told its wrong.
This raises a few issues for me. 1) wouldn't this indicate it would be best in child-rearing for parents and others to never use moral terminology: iow to never say this or that behavior is wrong, evil, etc. So that the child develops wisdom. It would be good to explain the consequences of actions that the child might not be aware of. Such as, 'it is likely that the kid whose bike you took is upset about that now.' If one gets a sense consequences are being considered. (not easy to not be manipulative here, however).
It's not that I am saying we ought to dispose of a moral framework, it is my opinion that we ought to be more transparent when we project morality onto society (our children included).
Transparent in the way of explaining why something is wrong an by explaining the potential consequences of such actions. By educating children "about" morals and by teaching them values,they will understand why certain actions are wrong as opposed to just being told.
2) why have morals at all? Humans are social mammals with limbic systems and mirror neurones and so on. Why speak about right and wrong at all? Why not simply have it all as preferences? In child-rearing it would be, your father and I dislike X and we run the house. Empathy could also be brought into this, but all moral/ethical talk would be avoided. Since we know there is a wide range of preferences out there, sans God, it seems more accurate to talk about preferences. Perhaps some are universal, but there is no need to introduce right and wrong at all, in any case.
I don't see how we can escape the construct of morality. The fact that we are self aware, are able to experience emotions an the have intellectual capacity to understand reality enough to make basic predictions......means we can decipher the difference between feeling negative and positive experiences, ascertain through language that other people experience similar feelings through similar causes and therefore act in a way which promotes negative and/or positive outcomes.
Morality is essentially an inescapable consequence forged by the nature of living beings which have the capacity to distinguish the difference between positive and negative behaviour.
But are they morals? It seems to me they are just preferences. One could argue as I think some here have, that if there is a God his or her rules are just God's preferences, but I think they gain a categorical difference since this deity made the universe
That is basically what I'm saying, morals enforced by gods are nothing more than preferences of and individual or a religion. Any claim that attempts to add extra value by introducing a god, is not valid until such a time they have proved the existence of the god.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Gertie » May 6th, 2018, 11:49 am

CIN wrote:
May 5th, 2018, 3:56 pm
Gertie wrote:
May 5th, 2018, 10:04 am
If god says murder is wrong, it is axiomatically wrong.
Are you offering this as a theory about the meaning of the word 'wrong'? If not, what do you think the word 'wrong' means?
You could say it is a theory about the meaning of the word 'wrong', but not one I agree with. I was referring to the argument people like Prager make in the OP, it's really the flip side of The Moral Argument for God. If Objective Morality exists independently of our evolved subjective intuitions and cultural bias, then we have to explain how it exists. The answer here being we have to invoke an outside source - a perfectly good god who created the world, and us, who wove Right-and-Wrongness into the fabric of reality, and our consciences/souls are a reflection of this (in his image). If you flip that argument you get - Objective Morality can't exist without the God who created it existing.

And if that's so, that a perfectly good and all-knowing god created the world, then if that God says something is Right or Wrong, it must be so. (Divine Command Theory). So if God says murder is wrong, immoral, it is axiomatically wrong, because God is the source of Good in the world, God is Good.

That's the argument of the OP. 'Without God, everything is permitted'. Because without God, you have no foundational source, no external objective reference, just subjective opinion.

The classic counter point to that position is Plato's Euthyphro Dilemma - “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?”. Which asks whether God is that objective source, or if God is just 'the messenger' so to speak. (Personally I don't find that a satisfactory response tho).

This argument is rooted in a time when our social and altruistic predispositions couldn't seemingly be explained any other way. So we developed the notion of Moraility, or Good and Evil, as existing independently of us (having its own objective ontology), personified in a Good God.

My own opinion is that's an anachronistic way to think about Right and Wrong. The whole Objective vs Subjective argument is missing what matters. But it does mean we have to think afresh about Hume's challenge - without God, how do we get an Ought from an Is? What can we ground Right and Wrong in, what axiomatic touchstone can we judge actions against?

I personally go with Harris - 'The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures', and I gave my argument earlier. So, finally (!) to answer your question, my foundation for judging if something is 'wrong', my foundation for moral rules/Oughts, is whether it's detrimental to the Well-Being of Conscious Creatures. Murder? Yup deffo!

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Felix » May 6th, 2018, 2:34 pm

"This argument is rooted in a time when our social and altruistic predispositions couldn't seemingly be explained any other way."

Or when people actually spoke to God - before he grew weary of all the sales calls and got an unlisted number.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Thinking critical » May 6th, 2018, 4:41 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:49 am
My own opinion is that's an anachronistic way to think about Right and Wrong. The whole Objective vs Subjective argument is missing what matters. But it does mean we have to think afresh about Hume's challenge - without God, how do we get an Ought from an Is? What can we ground Right and Wrong in, what axiomatic touchstone can we judge actions against?

I personally go with Harris - 'The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures', and I gave my argument earlier. So, finally (!) to answer your question, my foundation for judging if something is 'wrong', my foundation for moral rules/Oughts, is whether it's detrimental to the Well-Being of Conscious Creatures. Murder? Yup deffo!
Nicely stated, if it is conscious agents that are impacted by the actions of what we determine to be right or wrong, it makes sense that it should those same agents should therefore be capable of judging what is right or wrong. Sam Harris' moral land scape is definitely the best approach I have seen attempting to build morality objectively.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Eduk » May 6th, 2018, 6:01 pm

Not just current conscious agents though. Future conscious agents must be considered. As must potential conscious agents as must alien conscious agents.
And not just at the level of the agent. Groups must be considered as well as individual genes.
Plus careful consideration of alternatives to consciousness, or at least our form of consciousness.
Hard to escape our bias here of course.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Spiral » May 6th, 2018, 7:46 pm

What if God simply created the universe and disappeared? In that scenario, would murder be wrong? Would there be any objective morality?

What if God created the universe, declared murder perfectly acceptable and then disappeared? Would there be any objective morality?

It seems that objective morality only exists under some ideas about God but not others.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Thinking critical » May 6th, 2018, 9:17 pm

Spiral wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 7:46 pm
What if God simply created the universe and disappeared? In that scenario, would murder be wrong? Would there be any objective morality?
Then this would be the reality which we are currently faced with....tell me what would the difference be between the god who disappeared and the god who never existed in the first place?
What if God created the universe, declared murder perfectly acceptable and then disappeared? Would there be any objective morality?
That would change the nature of god, not the nature of morality.
It seems that objective morality only exists under some ideas about God but not others.
I would say objective reality is no more than an ideological statement which makes reference to subjective and social morality.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 7th, 2018, 3:47 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:49 am
I personally go with Harris - 'The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures', and I gave my argument earlier. So, finally (!) to answer your question, my foundation for judging if something is 'wrong', my foundation for moral rules/Oughts, is whether it's detrimental to the Well-Being of Conscious Creatures. Murder? Yup deffo!
Yet Harris manages to support all sorts of military actions, including ones leading to mass civilian deaths, for example in his justification of the Gulf Wars, Israel's actions in Gaza and Lebanon, and even lays the groundwork for not only judicial torture but pre-crime punishment of people for their beliefs. He denies some of this, but his books lay out the foundation for even the worst of this as intelligent readers have pointed out time and again. IOW he is just another moralist who takes sides and has biases.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 8th, 2018, 8:41 am

Spiral wrote:
April 29th, 2018, 6:16 pm
In this youtube video, Dennis Prager argues that if there is no God, murder isn't wrong.

If There Is No God, Murder Isn't Wrong

Prager goes on to say that without God, opposition to murder is just an opinion. But if God exists, isn't opposition to murder still just an opinion?

What if God endorsed murder? Would that automatically make murder right instead of wrong?

In my opinion, Prager's argument is weak. What do you think?
Murder is defined as unlawful killing. It has nothing to do with god.
Religion has endorsed many murders throughout history. Killing has been justified with god.
The video presenter is confused, and lacks historical perspective and lacks imagination; his views being parochial and uninformed.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Eduk » May 8th, 2018, 7:03 pm

Karpel when you say things like 'intelligent readers have pointed out' I don't think you do the point you are making any favours.
I'm also not a fan of Harris. I find him unsettling personally.
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