Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Discuss the April 2021 Philosophy Book of the Month, Wilderness Cry: A Scientific and Philosophical Approach to Understanding God and the Universe by Dr. Hilary L Hunt M.D.
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Leontiskos
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Leontiskos »

LuckyR wrote: February 26th, 2022, 3:11 am
superkayko wrote: February 25th, 2022, 9:24 pmI think sin is something we instinctually understand, not some agreement we make about how to act
Originating from instinctual understanding and being man made are not mutually exclusive.
But originating from instinctual understanding and being based on an agreement are mutually exclusive, and that is the claim he made. He is right in doubting the idea that sin or morality is based in agreement. That idea doesn't seem to hold any water at all.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by LuckyR »

Leontiskos wrote: February 26th, 2022, 12:36 pm
LuckyR wrote: February 26th, 2022, 3:11 am
superkayko wrote: February 25th, 2022, 9:24 pmI think sin is something we instinctually understand, not some agreement we make about how to act
Originating from instinctual understanding and being man made are not mutually exclusive.
But originating from instinctual understanding and being based on an agreement are mutually exclusive, and that is the claim he made. He is right in doubting the idea that sin or morality is based in agreement. That idea doesn't seem to hold any water at all.
Well if 90% of humans genetically and structurally will develop the instincts that result in a certain basic moral sense, any grouping of such individuals will result in consensus.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Leontiskos »

LuckyR wrote: February 26th, 2022, 1:45 pm
Leontiskos wrote: February 26th, 2022, 12:36 pmBut originating from instinctual understanding and being based on an agreement are mutually exclusive, and that is the claim he made. He is right in doubting the idea that sin or morality is based in agreement. That idea doesn't seem to hold any water at all.
Well if 90% of humans genetically and structurally will develop the instincts that result in a certain basic moral sense, any grouping of such individuals will result in consensus.
This is invalid. The history of human development might make it such that both you and I value water. We might even meet each other, happen upon the subject of water, and agree that water is good. That doesn't mean that the fact that we value water is based on a man-made agreement. It isn't based on agreement. The value is based in our evaluations, which are in turn based on the development of human nature. The value is not based on any implicit or explicit agreement that we may or may not have made.

The key point is that instinctual realities are not based on agreements, even if some agreements are rooted in instinctual realities.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Good_Egg »

LuckyR wrote: February 26th, 2022, 3:11 am Originating from instinctual understanding and being man made are not mutually exclusive.
Maybe you could expand on that ?

Seems to me that when people say that morals are man-made they mean that we can get together and make them differently if we choose to. So that anything becomes moral if enough people vote for it.

What sort of man-made is constrained to be consistent with what we instinctively understand?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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I have no idea what "instinct" means. I think it means "behavior which is common and seems natural". But we know (as one example) that monkeys who were not mothered themselves are lousy mothers. So caring for children (which is about as "instinctual" as it gets for female mammals) is largely "learned behavior", according to these experiments.

IN addition, the notion that morality is similar in all different cultures is incorrect. The Greeks thought trade was wimpy -- why not just raid and take the stuff? Slavery has been common throughout the history of civilization. Killing people is often accepted, if they are not members of one's own group. If we look at the Ten Commandments, I suppose "Honor your father and mother" is the only one that is close to universal, but that's only because fathers and mothers teach morality to their children. It has nothing to do with instinct.

IN addition, if moral precepts were "instinctive", we wouldn't need to write them down and enforce them. Laws and moral sanctions are necessary only because morality is NOT instinctive; it must be learned, defined and regulated.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by LuckyR »

Good_Egg wrote: February 27th, 2022, 11:04 am
LuckyR wrote: February 26th, 2022, 3:11 am Originating from instinctual understanding and being man made are not mutually exclusive.
Maybe you could expand on that ?

Seems to me that when people say that morals are man-made they mean that we can get together and make them differently if we choose to. So that anything becomes moral if enough people vote for it.

What sort of man-made is constrained to be consistent with what we instinctively understand?
I apologize for being difficult to understand. I took "man made" to specifically exclude devine or "Natural" origins of morality.

As to groups coming to different moral (usually ethical) standards, that happens routinely, though over much longer time periods than the typical conference.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Good_Egg »

Presumably you'd count "instinctive understanding" as a phenomenon that is "natural" ?

So when that instinct is codified or formalised or systematised into a code of ethics, the result combines elements that are natural with elements that are devised by humans ?

So the result is partly one and partly the other ?

Sorry if I'm being overly pedantic here...
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by LuckyR »

Good_Egg wrote: March 1st, 2022, 3:45 pm Presumably you'd count "instinctive understanding" as a phenomenon that is "natural" ?

So when that instinct is codified or formalised or systematised into a code of ethics, the result combines elements that are natural with elements that are devised by humans ?

So the result is partly one and partly the other ?

Sorry if I'm being overly pedantic here...
No worries. It can be tedious to make small, but ultimately important points.

I used the word "Natural" specifically to describe non devinely inspired objective Laws of Nature, as opposed to devinely inspired objecive rules vs man-made (and therefore) subjective opinions.

The fact that these man-made subjective opinions may or may not originate from a person's instinctual understanding, is of secondary importance.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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I just mean that any kind of instinctual understanding of ethics implies its not just a societal agreement at least not entirely. If an instinctual understanding of ethics does exist then it could mean that sin is somewhat biological or possibly just a natural requirement for complex human societies. The latter reason could arguably be considered a form of man made agreement but if most societies come to the same conclusion on what is right and wrong behavior its not necessarily an "agreement", more of a necessary requirement for the function of civilization.

There is also an argument to be made that there isn't an instinctual understanding of ethics, however that assumption implies that either the ethical foundations of society were formed much earlier in human evolution and carried on for thousands of years regardless of other viable alternatives or that you view different cultures ethical beliefs to be more different, rather than similar. Which I personally don't believe to be the case but still I wouldn't rule it out.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Ecurb »

superkayko wrote: March 3rd, 2022, 4:29 pm I just mean that any kind of instinctual understanding of ethics implies its not just a societal agreement at least not entirely. If an instinctual understanding of ethics does exist then it could mean that sin is somewhat biological or possibly just a natural requirement for complex human societies. The latter reason could arguably be considered a form of man made agreement but if most societies come to the same conclusion on what is right and wrong behavior its not necessarily an "agreement", more of a necessary requirement for the function of civilization.

There is also an argument to be made that there isn't an instinctual understanding of ethics, however that assumption implies that either the ethical foundations of society were formed much earlier in human evolution and carried on for thousands of years regardless of other viable alternatives or that you view different cultures ethical beliefs to be more different, rather than similar. Which I personally don't believe to be the case but still I wouldn't rule it out.
If we "instinctively" know what is sinful, then why do we have laws, and police, and armies? If "sin" is a transgression against God (per the normal definition), then is belief in God "instinctive". All the "instinct" talk in this thread defies common sense and data about differing ethical norms. Also, "instinct" is an almost meaningless concept. If a behavior is called "instinctive", it generally means, "We have no idea what's causing this." We humans may have an "instinct" for learning language, but it nobody teaches it to us, we never learn it.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by superkayko »

Ecurb wrote: March 3rd, 2022, 9:26 pm
superkayko wrote: March 3rd, 2022, 4:29 pm I just mean that any kind of instinctual understanding of ethics implies its not just a societal agreement at least not entirely. If an instinctual understanding of ethics does exist then it could mean that sin is somewhat biological or possibly just a natural requirement for complex human societies. The latter reason could arguably be considered a form of man made agreement but if most societies come to the same conclusion on what is right and wrong behavior its not necessarily an "agreement", more of a necessary requirement for the function of civilization.

There is also an argument to be made that there isn't an instinctual understanding of ethics, however that assumption implies that either the ethical foundations of society were formed much earlier in human evolution and carried on for thousands of years regardless of other viable alternatives or that you view different cultures ethical beliefs to be more different, rather than similar. Which I personally don't believe to be the case but still I wouldn't rule it out.
If we "instinctively" know what is sinful, then why do we have laws, and police, and armies? If "sin" is a transgression against God (per the normal definition), then is belief in God "instinctive". All the "instinct" talk in this thread defies common sense and data about differing ethical norms. Also, "instinct" is an almost meaningless concept. If a behavior is called "instinctive", it generally means, "We have no idea what's causing this." We humans may have an "instinct" for learning language, but it nobody teaches it to us, we never learn it.
I dont believe the idea of sin and of god are one and the same. Sin could also be viewed as any actions or behaviours an individual takes that are societally shunned or shamed. In the christian "7 deadly sins" they include laziness, anger, pridefulness, greed, lustfulness. All these are commonly looked down on by cultures around the world despite ties to christianity.

There is also the effect of guilt, even those who are atheist feel guilt as a consequence of sin. What is morality anyway if not an instinctual understanding of sin?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Ecurb »

superkayko wrote: March 4th, 2022, 8:39 am

I dont believe the idea of sin and of god are one and the same. Sin could also be viewed as any actions or behaviours an individual takes that are societally shunned or shamed. In the christian "7 deadly sins" they include laziness, anger, pridefulness, greed, lustfulness. All these are commonly looked down on by cultures around the world despite ties to christianity.

There is also the effect of guilt, even those who are atheist feel guilt as a consequence of sin. What is morality anyway if not an instinctual understanding of sin?
Morality is a culturally constituted (not "instinctual") understanding of ethics (if not sin). The seven deadly sins are NOT consistently looked down on by all cultures. In our own society, "greed" is often lauded; we admire rich people, even conspicuous consumption.

Of course it is normal that some "sins" are decried in many different cultures -- the regulation of society often demands a work ethic; respect for one's neighbors' spouses; prohibition of murder, etc. But why does that imply that these common rules must be "instinctive"? If they were instinctive, we wouldn't need to prohibit them in the bible or the law -- people would "instinctively" avoid sinning. The mighty walls people have built to prohibit and negatively sanction "sinning" suggest that culturally constituted rules and sanctions are necessary, as would not be the case if we "instinctively" avoided sinning.

(By the way, in general, "sin" is a religious word, but I'm glad to accept your notion for the sake of discussion.)
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Post by Good_Egg »

Ecurb wrote: March 4th, 2022, 3:52 pm But why does that imply that these common rules must be "instinctive"? If they were instinctive, we wouldn't need to prohibit them in the bible or the law -- people would "instinctively" avoid sinning. The mighty walls people have built to prohibit and negatively sanction "sinning" suggest that culturally constituted rules and sanctions are necessary, as would not be the case if we "instinctively" avoided sinning.
I think you're right in pointing out that morality being instinctive is a stronger claim than the usual one of morality being somehow objective.

It is possible to hold the view that morality is pretty much those rules that are required for a society of humans to flourish. Deriving from human nature and thus objective - we can't choose them to be anything we want - but not known except through cultural trial and error and cultural transmission.

But I think you're arguing that the only possible type of instinct is a strong instinct that needs no cultural reinforcement in order to dominate the behaviour of the individual. Whereas I see no contradiction in the idea of a weak instinct.

It seems to me that most people's sense of justice is much stronger when they (or someone they empathize with) are on the receiving end of the action. And what has to be learned, because it is not instinctive, is to see everybody else as a person whose desire to be treated morally is as valid as one's own.
"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" - James 1:20
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