I had a debate with my friends earlier today where we all agreed that if religion died suddenly for whatever reason and a good number of charities disbanded because they found their religion to not be true (by extension they found being "good" meaningless since there is no "god" watching them) - that the world would be a much better place without these charities. It's not like you can feed a starving third world kid with a bible anyway. I think this subject is truly dead and tired though. I wish more people would start addressing the complete non connection between the hypothetical existence of a God and 'religion' itself.
I believe our morals should come from our actions and what we believe is better for not just ourselves, but for the people around us. I for one have no interest in religion. That said, I'm not atheist. I just don't care if there is a god or not. What I do care about is how my actions effect the people around me, and how I can change those reactions to better ones.
I may not be religious, but that doesn't mean I don't have morals. People these days seem to think, like they did back in the day, that you need an incentive in order to be nice. My thought on that is this, why not just be nice? Why not just do it out of the kindness of your heart, rather than some misplaced sense of obligation?
At first we need to establish that morality has always been and always will be subjective based on what time, country and/or culture you live in. Back when the bible was being pieced together it was totally cool and moral to own slaves. It was totally cool and moral to kill people in the name of a certain deity and in some countries it's still totally cool and moral to consider women as property.
I think its scary how some people talk and think about the after life....they dont even care if their loved ones die, its crazy! O.o ...we should enjoy our life on earth to the fullest, you never know what will come afterwards...no one knows
Considering heaven is guaranteed upon conversion in my book, I think that would be a rather pointless aspiration. Granted, in my book, conversion also initiates transformation, so the part of you that wanted to be a selfish dickhead is no longer at the forefront of your reasoning.
I think the question some religious people ask is how can morality be defined in the absence of a god...rather than claiming all non-believers are incapable of doing things that are moral. What is it to be 'moral'? Is it selflessness? Or is it selfishness (in disguise)? Then is every selfless/selfish act 'moral'? Why?
In any case, the association of moral code and segregation in the afterlife too often comes down to two conclusions: A finite existence is meaningless, and acting like a morally upstanding person is meaningless unless there is viable threat of punishment or a promise of reward for it.
Hmm...This finite existence, if it is the basis of an eternal afterlife, would be infinitely meaningful, no? With the second point, I think most religious people see morality/piety/upright character as means of drawing near to their notions of the divine - which I suppose could be a way of avoiding hell, but it's not the same as acting one way rather than another to avoid an angry father...the intentions are quite different.
I think, if you really look at it. Morality is what is seen as actions by an individual which are beneficial toward a community as a whole. Essentially contributing to your society rather than just yourself. And as social creatures, this can clearly be seen as a keystone in our evolutionary dominance.
If you're defining morality as that which is most beneficial to all - then, if the suffering of one child guarantees the happiness of the majority, is it moral to inflict that child with suffering? Would it be immoral for the child to reject the suffering? Or is it immoral for an individual to shirk away from responsibilities that benefit others but not him/herself?
And what mechanism is used to say a certain action is 'beneficial' for the community? Who defines 'beneficial'?
I guess it depends on the scope of what is being given vs what is being gained. If a child suffering equals to 10 people being cured from a fatal disease, then the kid's suffering is morally justified. If the kid's suffering means that 10 people get the day off, then it is not morally justified. It is entirely subjective and not something that can be summed up in a simple "this is right, this is wrong" analogy. One of my arguments against Biblical morality is that it paints morality as a list of clear rules literally set in stone given to us by upper management. Morality changes based on the situation and the desires of the populous.
I don't think traditional/"biblical" morality is about simple rules set in stone - but rather axioms to live by, their simplicity makes the task of 'morality' quite a bit easier. One only has to look at the Jewish legal tradition and the varying opinions within it to see how rich /non-uniform the 'biblical' moral system is.
It is entirely subjective
I think that's the problem most have...a sociopath's definition of right/wrong would be just as valid as the Dalai Lama's in that case, no?
I have looked into sociology in the past. I often saw books on it when I used to frequent the library back when I lived in Ottawa. I just never had the time to really get into it any more than a curious indulgence.
Not quite the same as sociology. Sociology is certainly not psychology, whereas social psychology essentially is. Some would say that it is an individual explanation of sociological phenomenon, but mostly it is the study of the everything social on an individual/inter-individual level.
"If your only reason for not being a selfish dickhead to everyone around you is because you expect to be rewarded for it with immortality in paradise when you die, are you really a good person?"
No. If someone claims to be a Christian and is only doing good things to get rewarded, that person missed the point. But in the Christian worldview, nobody is really a "good person"--everyone is broken and capable of doing evil.
Perhaps it is that we are taught to believe that we are broken that we feel there is nothing we can do to help each other and better society. To which the only worth while goal a person can achieve is to deny their own humanity under the promise of entering heaven. I often feel deeply disturbed when I hear people say that they are looking forward to the Biblical rapture. As if they are so disgusted by the world around them that seeing it bathed in fire would fill them with glee.
Yes, humans are flawed. If we weren't flawed then we'd be nothing but mindless computers. If the idea is that humanity is broken and therefor capable of doing evil. Then I have to ask you... what is evil? Chances are that anything you would consider to be evil the God of the Old Testament has either done it or ordered his followers to do it. But the God of Bible isn't supposed to be broken or flawed. The argument is often that God is simply better than us and understands more, so whatever God does that may seem like an act of evil, must be good. It's a convoluted double standard.
But evil only exists as a subjective social construct, not as a set of inflexible rules set in stone by a deity on high. What is evil for our culture and era is not the same for another. Prime example, what is your opinion on slavery? The God of the Bible condones it, in fact, he gives instructions on how to go about doing it including selling your daughter into slavery. But, by the influence of your culture, is slavery good or bad?