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Old 07-15-2011, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
4,609 posts, read 4,113,999 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendsley View Post
• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?
A 'moral value' is a pattern of neurons that is shared by most creatures within a species. For example, most of us share a neuron pattern that discourages us from killing members of our own species for no reason.

As our species evolved, we developed our moral values to help members of our species cooperate and prosper. If your group ignores these values, your group will not function well and you will probably not prosper.
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Old 07-15-2011, 11:22 AM
 
2,031 posts, read 2,410,393 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendsley View Post
• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?
Just to pick one of your well-worn assertions...

Oh, you can ignore it. Just like people in the Bible Belt can ignore the teachings of their religion. You know, that wonderful moral compass that we just can't all live without?

Ever examine violent crime rates by state? Guess which part of the country predominates the top of the list? Yep, the Bible Belt.
State Rankings--Statistical Abstract of the United States--Violent Crime Rate

1 - South Carolina
2 - Tennessee
3 - Nevada
4 - Florida
5 - Louisiana

See, some people ignore all moral/ethical codes, regardless of their origin. Your silly suggestion that a "code" from the superman in the sky just can't possibly be ignored is childishly naive.
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Old 07-15-2011, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
31,777 posts, read 24,898,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendsley View Post
• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?
:
I may not qualify as either that you pose the question(s) to but I do support science over a pure belief system. Having said that, you assumption that the group(s) you're imposing it on is invalid. If you must, I would say, "mathematics" is the universal truth.

Anyway, Science can recreate what you think and how you feel. Which demonstrates its ability to understand such things as morals which can't be quantized but are merely outcomes of elements that are (and they have mass, hold a charge...).
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Old 07-15-2011, 03:53 PM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
4,609 posts, read 4,113,999 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsGhost View Post
If you must, I would say, "mathematics" is the universal truth.
When I used to study math, we did not uncover any universal truths.

We proved a lot of theorems that said, "If we assume this, then we can prove that." Of course, we had no idea id 'this' were actually true. We were just interested in the logic of going from 'this' to 'that'.

For example, if we assumed the Euclidian axioms of geometry, we could prove the sum of the angles in a triangle was 180 degrees. However, we did not know if the Euclidian axioms were actually true in the real world, and we didn't care.

Studying math and proving theorems was fun, and the job I eventually had writing mathematical computer programs was fun, and now playing golf in retirement is fun as well. Life goes on.
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Old 07-16-2011, 10:59 AM
 
16,098 posts, read 17,895,645 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendsley View Post
• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?
Not everything is explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, but these laws are more likely to give you objective reality than religion.

Moral values are human values. Believe it or not, we as a species need to cooperate with each other to survive. Biology and evolution have something to say about those values.

Science can help identify unforseen consequences or causal relationships where ethical values or principles are relevant. Individuals need reliable knowledge for making informed decisions. Scientists can articulate where, how, and to what degree a risk exists, but other values are required to assess whether the risk is "acceptable" or not.

Sam Harris has a new book out on just this topic. Here's an article by him about it:

Sam Harris: Toward a Science of Morality

Quote:
To say that morality is arbitrary (or culturally constructed, or merely personal), because we must first assume that the well-being of conscious creatures is good, is exactly like saying that science is arbitrary (or culturally constructed, or merely personal), because we must first assume that a rational understanding of the universe is good. We need not enter either of these philosophical cul-de-sacs.
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Old 07-16-2011, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Golden, CO
2,108 posts, read 2,498,633 times
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Quote:
To say that morality is arbitrary (or culturally constructed, or merely personal), because we must first assume that the well-being of conscious creatures is good, is exactly like saying that science is arbitrary (or culturally constructed, or merely personal), because we must first assume that a rational understanding of the universe is good. We need not enter either of these philosophical cul-de-sacs.
I disagree with Sam Harris on this issue. Assuming that the well-being of conscious creatures is good, or that a rational understanding of the universe is good, are assumptions based on our values and that is ok. I think we should recognize that they are assumptions and not objective. I think that is part of being intellectually honest.
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Old 07-16-2011, 05:41 PM
 
Location: City-Data Forum
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Originally Posted by Hueffenhardt View Post
I disagree with Sam Harris on this issue. Assuming that the well-being of conscious creatures is good, or that a rational understanding of the universe is good, are assumptions based on our values and that is ok. I think we should recognize that they are assumptions and not objective. I think that is part of being intellectually honest.
Yes, I disagree with objective moralists. behaviors are neither good nor bad, but thinking makes them so. reasonable behavior is all we can ask for, but we'd have to agree on our goals and realities.
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Old 07-17-2011, 07:03 AM
 
3,703 posts, read 4,272,480 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendsley View Post
• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?
1) Just because something is not tangible does not mean it is not real. Is an idea a tangible object? Is there even anything in the brain that makes a specific thought or idea any different than any other? Not really. That however does not mean it does not exist.

2) Not all morals and ethics are completely objective. Even most religious scholars will tell you that. Don't believe me? Ask your local minister or priest or rabbi about the bits in the Bible about executing someone who works on the Sabbath. You'd probably end up getting a short speech on context.

3) While many moral standards are subjective, many or not. In fact, we are starting to see that people of radically different cultures and religions have relatively similar ethical beliefs. For example, murder is seen as wrong by virtually every culture and they all reserve the strongest punishments for it.

You see, in spite of what many religious people believe that without God, we might as well resort to the most barbaric and sadistic behavior, that is not exactly true. While were are basically animals (albeit one's with far superior logical ability), animals aren't as bad as some people think. After all, social animals generally don't tend to go around randomly killing or otherwise attacking other animals of the same species. Hell, animals are even capable of showing mercy in the sense that most territorial animals tend to spot attacking once an intruder leaves or submits, even when it is capable of killing the intruder with little effort.

My point is that in many respects, ethics is as much natural instinct as it is man-made justification (logical or otherwise).
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Old 07-23-2011, 03:02 AM
 
39,083 posts, read 10,842,814 times
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Originally Posted by Frank_Carbonni View Post
1) Just because something is not tangible does not mean it is not real. Is an idea a tangible object? Is there even anything in the brain that makes a specific thought or idea any different than any other? Not really. That however does not mean it does not exist.

2) Not all morals and ethics are completely objective. Even most religious scholars will tell you that. Don't believe me? Ask your local minister or priest or rabbi about the bits in the Bible about executing someone who works on the Sabbath. You'd probably end up getting a short speech on context.

3) While many moral standards are subjective, many or not. In fact, we are starting to see that people of radically different cultures and religions have relatively similar ethical beliefs. For example, murder is seen as wrong by virtually every culture and they all reserve the strongest punishments for it.

You see, in spite of what many religious people believe that without God, we might as well resort to the most barbaric and sadistic behavior, that is not exactly true. While were are basically animals (albeit one's with far superior logical ability), animals aren't as bad as some people think. After all, social animals generally don't tend to go around randomly killing or otherwise attacking other animals of the same species. Hell, animals are even capable of showing mercy in the sense that most territorial animals tend to spot attacking once an intruder leaves or submits, even when it is capable of killing the intruder with little effort.

My point is that in many respects, ethics is as much natural instinct as it is man-made justification (logical or otherwise).
Absolutely. What I see is that God - believers postulate a false dichotomy. Either one believed in a god - given moral code or we do not have a moral code. In fact, as you say, people who have never heard of 'God' have their own moral codes often remarkably similar to our own though often finding different ways of making it work.

Thus it is likely that there is a moral instinct in us and if an instinct likely to be evolved and as far as evidence goes, it is since similar instincts can be seen on other animals.

That being the case rather than postulating some God - given moral absolutes, we can recognize those instincts but do not have to pretend to be bound by them (in fact God -given morality has transpired to be very relative). That gives us a very necessary flexibility.

Relative morality is not only in accordance with our understanding of what we are, but is actually what we do, even those who pretend to believe in God - given moral laws and it is much better to recognize that.
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Old 07-27-2011, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Pflugerville
2,211 posts, read 4,126,265 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendsley View Post
• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?
The answers to these questions are no different when asked of an atheist or a theist. All social mores are personal and are informed/influenced by the mores of those around us. Whether you get them from abstract concepts like "god" or you get them thru some type of secular philosophy, they are mutable, changeable and non-obligatory.

Morals are not real things. They are social concepts, and are determined by the society you occupy. It's like Free Parking in Monopoly. Some people put money there, some don't. It depends on who you play the game with. In some societies, murder is never right. In some societies, murder is never right unless it is the state that is doing the murdering. In some societies murder is just an accepted norm.

A concept of god does not determine what is right or wrong. In fact, the concept of god often confuses what is right or wrong. Or gives wrong doers a ready excuse to commit more wrong, IE "jesus wants us to invade that country".
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