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God and Good

Posted: May 14th, 2020, 1:36 pm
by Marvin_Edwards
We are born into a world of good, which we did not create. Not just material things, but ideals, like justice, liberty, and equality. And spiritual values, like courage, joy, and compassion.

We benefit from what others, in good faith, have left for us. In return, we sacrifice selfish interest when necessary to preserve this good for others. For the sake of our children, and our children’s children, we seek to understand, to serve, to protect, and perhaps, humbly, to enhance this greater good.

It is an act of faith to live by moral principle when the greedy prosper by dishonest means. It is an act of faith to stand up for right when the crowd is headed the wrong way. It is an act of faith to return good for evil.

We have seen Hell. We have seen gang cultures whose rite of passage is an act of mayhem or murder. We have seen racial slavery, persecution, and genocide. We have seen revenge spread violence through whole communities.

We envision Heaven, where people live in peace and every person is valued. It can only be reached when each person seeks good for himself only through means that are consistent with achieving good for all.

If God exists, then that is His command. If God does not exist, then that is what we must command of ourselves and of each other. Either way, whether we achieve Heaven or Hell is up to us.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 14th, 2020, 8:17 pm
by GregRogers
Marvin,

Your first sentence reveals a certain philosophical bias. Why do you assume we are born into a world instead of being born out of it? The first is platonic / Christian, the later Eastern.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 8:21 am
by Marvin_Edwards
GregRogers wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 8:17 pm
Marvin,

Your first sentence reveals a certain philosophical bias. Why do you assume we are born into a world instead of being born out of it? The first is platonic / Christian, the later Eastern.
No particular bias here. We're in the womb, then we're in the world.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 10:00 am
by Terrapin Station
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 1:36 pm
We are born into a world of good
"Good" is a value assessment that an individual makes about something. Nothing is good aside from any individual making that value assessment. Different individuals will judge the same thing to be good and bad/evil (and everything in between).

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 11:03 am
by Marvin_Edwards
Terrapin Station wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 10:00 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 1:36 pm
We are born into a world of good
"Good" is a value assessment that an individual makes about something. Nothing is good aside from any individual making that value assessment. Different individuals will judge the same thing to be good and bad/evil (and everything in between).
We call something "good" if it meets a real need we have as an individual, as a society, or as a species. This can, in theory, be objectively determined, and settled with scientific evidence.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 11:18 am
by GregRogers
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 8:21 am
GregRogers wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 8:17 pm
Marvin,

Your first sentence reveals a certain philosophical bias. Why do you assume we are born into a world instead of being born out of it? The first is platonic / Christian, the later Eastern.
No particular bias here. We're in the womb, then we're in the world.
Then I might phrase it differently, I would say: some of us become aware of a world of joy, etc. Awareness of these things is not a function of being born but of a certain conscious awareness.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 12:20 pm
by Terrapin Station
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 11:03 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 10:00 am


"Good" is a value assessment that an individual makes about something. Nothing is good aside from any individual making that value assessment. Different individuals will judge the same thing to be good and bad/evil (and everything in between).
We call something "good" if it meets a real need we have as an individual, as a society, or as a species. This can, in theory, be objectively determined, and settled with scientific evidence.
Holy crap re having to go over this like a broken record. There are no real needs. Needs always hinge on wants. You only need food if you want to live, If you want to satiate your hunger, etc. If you want to die from starvation, you need to NOT eat.

Either come up with an argument against the above--for which you need to be able to address objections to your argument, or stop repeating the same ignorant garbage.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 12:50 pm
by Skydude
I like to clasify morals as presumptions, they are learned patterns of behavior that we have grown to expect from people. good and evil is determined in A sort of democratic process by which the majority of people agree "I would/wouldn't want this to happen to me or to those I care for"

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 12:53 pm
by h_k_s
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 1:36 pm
We are born into a world of good, which we did not create. Not just material things, but ideals, like justice, liberty, and equality. And spiritual values, like courage, joy, and compassion.

We benefit from what others, in good faith, have left for us. In return, we sacrifice selfish interest when necessary to preserve this good for others. For the sake of our children, and our children’s children, we seek to understand, to serve, to protect, and perhaps, humbly, to enhance this greater good.

It is an act of faith to live by moral principle when the greedy prosper by dishonest means. It is an act of faith to stand up for right when the crowd is headed the wrong way. It is an act of faith to return good for evil.

We have seen Hell. We have seen gang cultures whose rite of passage is an act of mayhem or murder. We have seen racial slavery, persecution, and genocide. We have seen revenge spread violence through whole communities.

We envision Heaven, where people live in peace and every person is valued. It can only be reached when each person seeks good for himself only through means that are consistent with achieving good for all.

If God exists, then that is His command. If God does not exist, then that is what we must command of ourselves and of each other. Either way, whether we achieve Heaven or Hell is up to us.
Once again, you @Marvin_Edwards sound so very idealistic, and at the same time unrealistic.

The world (the population of people inhabiting the Earth) is a very dangerous and merciless place.

You would know that if you had been born and grown up in Africa, central South America, or Southeast Asia.

But you were born in a hospital with flowers and balloons and you grew up in a very opulent society.

So think again.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 1:45 pm
by Marvin_Edwards
Terrapin Station wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 12:20 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 11:03 am


We call something "good" if it meets a real need we have as an individual, as a society, or as a species. This can, in theory, be objectively determined, and settled with scientific evidence.
Holy crap re having to go over this like a broken record. There are no real needs. Needs always hinge on wants. You only need food if you want to live, If you want to satiate your hunger, etc. If you want to die from starvation, you need to NOT eat.

Either come up with an argument against the above--for which you need to be able to address objections to your argument, or stop repeating the same ignorant garbage.
Fascinating. Yes, here we are again. You claiming there are no real needs, and insisting that wants are the source of needs rather than vice versa. So, try not breathing. If that is what you want, then it should be no problem, right? I'll give you a couple of minutes. ... ... ... While you're doing that I should tell you what my father used to tell me when I said I wanted something, "You're old enough for your wants not to hurt you." ... ...

So, what did you discover? Is air something that you merely want? Or is air something that you really need?

Now, you also said that our real needs are only needs "if you want to live". No kidding. I had a friend in choir who suffered most of his life from depression. In the end he hung himself. So, from his perspective I guess he didn't want to live anymore. Regardless of his subjective opinion, anyone looking objectively would see that hanging himself was a harm that he did to himself. It was not good for him, as it unnecessarily ended his life.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 2:22 pm
by Skydude
You can't really tell what was good or bad for your friend from his perspective, only your ownimaginations.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 7:47 pm
by Terrapin Station
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 1:45 pm
Fascinating. Yes, here we are again. You claiming there are no real needs, and insisting that wants are the source of needs rather than vice versa. So, try not breathing. If that is what you want, then it should be no problem, right?
I wouldn't do that because I want to live, and to live one needs to breathe. That need only hinges on a want. If I wanted to die of suffocation, then I'd need to not breathe.

To argue against this, you'd have to argue that people need to breathe whether they want to or not. You'd have to try to support how/why that's the case. So do you have an argument for that?
Now, you also said that our real needs are only needs "if you want to live".
Sigh. No, that's not what I said. You're taking an example and "universalizing" it a la a hasty generalization. Most wants/needs have nothing to do with remaining alive.
I had a friend in choir who suffered most of his life from depression. In the end he hung himself. So, from his perspective I guess he didn't want to live anymore. Regardless of his subjective opinion, anyone looking objectively would see that hanging himself was a harm that he did to himself. It was not good for him, as it unnecessarily ended his life.
"It was a harm," "It was not good for him," etc. would simply be those other folks opinions. They probably weren't your friend's opinions. This isn't the sort of thing one can be correct or incorrect about.

Now, either argue where you support that it is the sort of thing that one can be correct or incorrect about, and be prepared to directly address objections to your argument so that you can support it against those objections, or stop spouting nonsense.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 8:58 pm
by Gertie
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 1:36 pm
We are born into a world of good, which we did not create. Not just material things, but ideals, like justice, liberty, and equality. And spiritual values, like courage, joy, and compassion.

We benefit from what others, in good faith, have left for us. In return, we sacrifice selfish interest when necessary to preserve this good for others. For the sake of our children, and our children’s children, we seek to understand, to serve, to protect, and perhaps, humbly, to enhance this greater good.

It is an act of faith to live by moral principle when the greedy prosper by dishonest means. It is an act of faith to stand up for right when the crowd is headed the wrong way. It is an act of faith to return good for evil.

We have seen Hell. We have seen gang cultures whose rite of passage is an act of mayhem or murder. We have seen racial slavery, persecution, and genocide. We have seen revenge spread violence through whole communities.

We envision Heaven, where people live in peace and every person is valued. It can only be reached when each person seeks good for himself only through means that are consistent with achieving good for all.

If God exists, then that is His command. If God does not exist, then that is what we must command of ourselves and of each other. Either way, whether we achieve Heaven or Hell is up to us.
That's a nice sentiment, but I see it differently.


We are born into this world with certain evolved pre-dispositions, which are then molded by our environment (nurture, culture). Self-care/homeostasis, and as a social species a pre-disposition towards caring for others. Our pro-social pre-dispositions are generally the basis for what we've come to call Morality - cooperation and care for others. But they evolved at a time when we lived in small, tribal groups where we were all probably related, and their neurological manifestations tend to be triggered by up-close-and-personal interaction, and favour those closest in terms of genetic similarity. Hence off-spring and close kin tend to be most favoured, then kith, and strangers are more likely to be treated as a potential threat.

Gods and religion come into the picture as binding belief systems for groups, along with other cultural practices, and provide an authoritative moral law giver.

But we live in a vastly more complex, heterogeneous and globalised world now, which our evolved neurological mechanisms for caring and cooperation weren't 'designed' for. And without a global binding belief system (like a shared religion), we're missing a shared axiomatic grounding for what is Good and Rght. The basics hold, don't kill, steal/cheat, etc, and people like Haidt are working on identifying how those underlying pre-dispositions can still be recognised as playing out in different cultures and ideologies (see Moral Foundations Theory).

But my view is we desperately need a new shared binding grounding for morality which works in our globalised world. I think the most promising work is being done by people like Harris with his niftily titled ''The Wellbeing of Conscious Creatures'', and I like Goldstein's thoughts on ''Mattering''. Because imo the basis for a new universal morality must lie in recognising that it's the qualiative nature of consciousness which brings meaning and mattering into the world, and therefore infers Oughts.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 9:48 pm
by Marvin_Edwards
Terrapin Station wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 7:47 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 1:45 pm
Fascinating. Yes, here we are again. You claiming there are no real needs, and insisting that wants are the source of needs rather than vice versa. So, try not breathing. If that is what you want, then it should be no problem, right?
I wouldn't do that because I want to live, and to live one needs to breathe. That need only hinges on a want. If I wanted to die of suffocation, then I'd need to not breathe.

To argue against this, you'd have to argue that people need to breathe whether they want to or not. You'd have to try to support how/why that's the case. So do you have an argument for that?
Now, you also said that our real needs are only needs "if you want to live".
Sigh. No, that's not what I said. You're taking an example and "universalizing" it a la a hasty generalization. Most wants/needs have nothing to do with remaining alive.
I had a friend in choir who suffered most of his life from depression. In the end he hung himself. So, from his perspective I guess he didn't want to live anymore. Regardless of his subjective opinion, anyone looking objectively would see that hanging himself was a harm that he did to himself. It was not good for him, as it unnecessarily ended his life.
"It was a harm," "It was not good for him," etc. would simply be those other folks opinions. They probably weren't your friend's opinions. This isn't the sort of thing one can be correct or incorrect about.

Now, either argue where you support that it is the sort of thing that one can be correct or incorrect about, and be prepared to directly address objections to your argument so that you can support it against those objections, or stop spouting nonsense.
Sure. It was better for him to live than it was for him to die. His opinion on this is irrelevant. His wants and desires were irrelevant to this question. His body demanded that he live, but his mind outsmarted his body and arranged things so that his body could not reverse his decision--which his body would have done if it could. Just like your body reversed your desire to hold your breath.

These are not matters of my opinion. These are biological facts. And you need to stop accusing people of "spouting nonsense", while doing so yourself.

Re: God and Good

Posted: May 15th, 2020, 10:03 pm
by Marvin_Edwards
Gertie wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 8:58 pm

That's a nice sentiment, but I see it differently.

We are born into this world with certain evolved pre-dispositions, which are then molded by our environment (nurture, culture). Self-care/homeostasis, and as a social species a pre-disposition towards caring for others. Our pro-social pre-dispositions are generally the basis for what we've come to call Morality - cooperation and care for others. But they evolved at a time when we lived in small, tribal groups where we were all probably related, and their neurological manifestations tend to be triggered by up-close-and-personal interaction, and favour those closest in terms of genetic similarity. Hence off-spring and close kin tend to be most favoured, then kith, and strangers are more likely to be treated as a potential threat.

Gods and religion come into the picture as binding belief systems for groups, along with other cultural practices, and provide an authoritative moral law giver.

But we live in a vastly more complex, heterogeneous and globalised world now, which our evolved neurological mechanisms for caring and cooperation weren't 'designed' for. And without a global binding belief system (like a shared religion), we're missing a shared axiomatic grounding for what is Good and Rght. The basics hold, don't kill, steal/cheat, etc, and people like Haidt are working on identifying how those underlying pre-dispositions can still be recognised as playing out in different cultures and ideologies (see Moral Foundations Theory).

But my view is we desperately need a new shared binding grounding for morality which works in our globalised world. I think the most promising work is being done by people like Harris with his niftily titled ''The Wellbeing of Conscious Creatures'', and I like Goldstein's thoughts on ''Mattering''. Because imo the basis for a new universal morality must lie in recognising that it's the qualiative nature of consciousness which brings meaning and mattering into the world, and therefore infers Oughts.
And with the corona virus we're once again stuck at home with our familial tribes. 🙂

I think the basis for universal morality is Matthew 22:35-40, which, as a Humanist, I paraphrase as "Love Good. And love Good for others as you love it for yourself. All other rules are derived from these two."

I don't understand what is meant by "the qualitative nature of consciousness".