Objective moral values may exist. A god doesn't.

115 posts / 0 new
Last post
Tin-Man's picture
@AB Re: "We must practice

@AB Re: "We must practice these moral codes if you want to be successful."

Oh-good-lord.... I've held my tongue as long as I can stand. AB, if I were to follow the moral codes of your bible, then I would currently be a slave owner who raped my neighbor's daughters and then bashed the heads of babies against rocks just for shits and giggles. If that is what you consider "successful", then I would much prefer to be a total heathen failure in life. You are kind of a babbling idiot, you know? (Offense intended.)

bigbill's picture
What I mean by moral codes is

What I mean by moral codes is stated in the letter to the Galatians chapter five and following which states the fruit of the Spirit of GOD like love joy peace kindness etc etc.self control gentleness. To live your life in the 7 virtues. love faith hope prudence justice temperance fortitude I promise you if more of us who live in this present age would adhere and practice these attributes on a regular basics we would have an utopian world to live in.

Sheldon's picture
agnostic believer "And tell

agnostic believer "And tell me where did the idea from democracy come from but of course the Judea-Christian teachings and doctrines if you study democracy it derives from these things I just listed."

Christ on a bike, a windup surely?


algebe's picture
So as an experiment, can we

So as an experiment, can we try to construct objective but non-theistic moral values that would apply universally in any time and place?

For example:
No human being should initiate force against another human being except in self-defense or the defense of other human beings.

CyberLN's picture
A human version of the three

A human version of the three laws of robotics?

algebe's picture
@CyberLN: "A human version of

@CyberLN: "A human version of the three laws of robotics?"

Right. But I wouldn't want the rule against allowing harm through inaction. That would require people to put themselves at risk.

CyberLN's picture
Algebe, that’s an interesting

Algebe, that’s an interesting thought to ponder. So it would be acceptable (moral?) for a person to walk away from a situation that will result in the deaths of, say, 100 people because that individual would be putting themselves at risk (risk is not certainty)? I don’t know the answer. Is there one?

algebe's picture
@Cyberln: "So it would be

@Cyberln: "So it would be acceptable (moral?) for a person to walk away"

I think I got my wires crossed and started thinking in terms of laws rather than morality. It would be immoral to make a law requiring anyone in that situation to take action even at the risk of their own life. But to walk away would certainly be immoral.

Perhaps morality must always be voluntary. If do something under duress, even if it's a good thing, it isn't moral.

jonthecatholic's picture
I actually like this

I actually like this discussion. Maybe it would be better if the situation was framed in a specific way. This is some complex stuff. I do agree with you. It should be voluntary. Heroism shouldn't be obligatory, otherwise it wouldn't be called heroism.

algebe's picture
@JoC: "Heroism shouldn't be

@JoC: "Heroism shouldn't be obligatory, otherwise it wouldn't be called heroism."

Similarly, compulsory charity should be called "taxation." There's no virtue in it, because you are forced to pay.

CyberLN's picture
Well, perhaps ‘moral’ choices

Well, perhaps ‘moral’ choices could be voluntary when one is sane. There are a lot of folks, probably more than we would like to imagine, who are sociopathic and view the whole notion of morality in a vastly different way. Consider the C-Suite in most big corporations, for example.

This is a fascinating subject. It’s one, I think, not discussed enough at all.

Aposteriori unum's picture
Indeed one of the

Indeed one of the prerequisites for something to be called moral or immoral is that there is a choice. In the trolley problem the bystander had a choice... But the trolley does not. Therefore what the trolley itself does is amoral.

fishy1's picture
Morals are SOOO

Morals are SOOO scientifically explainable by evolution !

How can it not make perfect sense, that the bad apples in the clan, were weeded out, and had so much less chance of propagating ? Being a good human being, made it so much more likely that one would make babies, which is why most people are inherantly good, even if they have no idea where that goodness comes from.
I am not a good person because of some invisible eye in the sky, but because it's part of my makeup, and so being good, makes me feel good. And I like to feel good.

jonthecatholic's picture
How do you know the certain

How do you know the certain actions are “good” as opposed to “bad”?

Aposteriori unum's picture
The same way you do. We

The same way you do. We reason it out.

algebe's picture
Getting back to the original

Getting back to the original topic, which was hijacked onto abortion/euthanasia, if a moral system is "objective", doesn't that imply that it can never change?

As soon as people start to tinker with such a moral system, it would cease to be objective. Theists claim the Bible as their source of objective morality, which would rule out any change for at least 2,000 years according to Bible narrative (not its publishing history). Yet I believe that morality is improving overall. We've stop burning herbalists and sacrificing children, and we've criminalized (though not yet eradicated) slavery.

My thinking is that an unchanging "objective" system of morality would be an excellent recipe for creating hell on Earth, since it would allow no room for evolution, improvement, learning, enlightenment. So subjective morality shaped by consensus in a continually evolving social environment gets my vote.

Aposteriori unum's picture
Thank you. Let's. Did you see

Thank you. Let's. Did you see my last relevant post on this?

algebe's picture
The one starting "I think I

The one starting "I think I know where Sam Harris supporters get caught up"?

Aposteriori unum's picture
Yes that one.

Yes that one.

algebe's picture
Yes. That's what I mean. We

Yes. That's what I mean. We each have our own morals, which evolve through interactions with other people. In that way our collective morality gradually evolves and improves.

The "objective morality" claimed by theists is in opposition to that process. It seeks to freeze our morality in the time of Moses, Jesus, or Mohamed. Instead of learning lessons from the past and moving forward, they become slaves to the past. So you get endless generations of a misogynistic, racist, homophobic patriarchal society. Which is great for the patriarchs and hell for everyone else.

Aposteriori unum's picture
Yes. Correct as usual. I have

Yes. Correct as usual. I have this idea that objective morality, the concept of it, was created by Christians to help subjugate non believers. Trolling people that atheists have no morals... no way to Gauge morality without god. And it stuck around. Think about how one of the first questions theists would ask an atheist is where do you get your morals?
The church wanted them to think that we were evil. Like they demonized paganism. They demonized atheism. They want god to be the only source so that we cannot be good people. And then we'd be killed and the church would reign supreme... Just an idea.

Aposteriori unum's picture
As far as I can tell you

As far as I can tell you understand that morality is subjective. Which I agree with.

If you might think... How can someone with Sam Harris as his picture disagree with Harris... Well, it's because I actually admire his work. He had proposed an excellent way in which were should approach morality. But saying that the nature of morality is objective is patently false. FYI I also disagree with him when it comes to spirituality.

But the core of what he says is brilliant. I agree we should all determine what's right and wrong in that way. The world would be a better place. Unfortunately people like him aren't in power in this world.

The main thing is that people take the ought and make it an is. But it is not so.

jonthecatholic's picture
How do you know that morality

How do you know that morality is “improving” at all if you’re not comparing it to a certain standard of morality?

When we say that objective morals exist, it’s not to say that certain cultures can’t apply different rules to meet the same moral value. What do I mean? Say we take the moral truth that we should take care of the elderly.

While in asian cultures, we tend to take care of them in our own houses, some western cultures will decide to send their elderly to a nursing home.

CyberLN's picture
JoC, you wrote, “Say we take

JoC, you wrote, “Say we take the moral truth that we should take care of the elderly.”

How did you derive that this is a ‘moral truth’?

And, is your last sentence meant to say that one action you mention is more moral than the other?

jonthecatholic's picture
"And, is your last sentence

"And, is your last sentence meant to say that one action you mention is more moral than the other?"

Not at all. My last sentence was meant to show that different cultures show care for their elderly differently. Both still care for the elderly but in different ways. In my culture however, if I were to send my parents to a nursing home, I'd actually be showing them disrespect. But such isn't the case for all cultures.

"How did you derive that this is a ‘moral truth’?"

Wouldn't you say that this is held to by everyone or al the very least should be held on to by everyone? How I came to this truth is this:
I know that all human beings have intrinsic value. (Human life is more precious than any other animal) Elderly people aren't able to earn for themselves a living when they become very old. As such they'll need to depend on other people. We therefore need to help them the best way we can.

Another way is that our parents took care of us when we were young. It would be good to return the favor when they're old.

CyberLN's picture
What you have described, JoC,

What you have described, JoC, as truth is actually opinion and conjecture. You have not demonstrated it to be an objective truth.

That it is common does not demonstrate it as true. That is a logical fallacy. That you think it ‘should’ happen does not demonstrate it as truth. That you think elderly (whatever that means) people aren’t able to earn for themselves is not demonstrable as truth.

jonthecatholic's picture
Fair enough. How about the

Fair enough. How about the fact that almost every culture holds their parents (elders) in high regard? The word wise is usually used for old men and women.

Can the idea that old men and women aren’t able to perform manual work as well as younger men and women be admissible? That can definitely be demonstrated. Employers would rather employ able bodied/minded individuals. That can be demonstrated. Younger individuals are more able bodied than older individuals (in manual labor). This can also be demonstrated.

CyberLN's picture
As to your first paragraph,

As to your first paragraph, It’s merely an argumentum ad populum.

As to your second paragraph, none of what you have said demonstrates anything other than your opinion.

When are you going to stop poking at this one and just throw in your gloves, JoC?

Aposteriori unum's picture
Yeah. And what you're

Yeah. And what you're describing is what? Objective or subjective? I've given you the definition of subjective. The way we use it. I'm not saying that anything ought to be one way or another... Simply stating what we observe. It sure ought to be objective... Right? We should all base out morality on Sam Harris's ruler... But we don't.

Why are you so close to agreeing... but you just won't say it... The argument from morality is flawed and morality is subjective. No big deal. Use another argument. No-one is going to to judge you poorly for being wrong and changing your mind... What we will do is congratulate you for changing your mind. You will then be more right then you were before. That is a commendable quality. Flamenca changed her mind... She started this thread... But now she understands the nature of morality. And she publicly admitted it. How awesome! You've got nothing to lose JOC, but you've got a while lot to gain.

jonthecatholic's picture
Because, AU. Once you say

Because, AU. Once you say that morality is subjective, you can’t ever say that anything is wrong. It would in effect even be unacceptable for us to say categorically that raping women is wrong all the time.

If I accept subjective morality, to be completely honest, if I hear about a woman who was raped, I would have to say, “Oh! Under what circumstances was she raped? Does the guy believe what he did was wrong?”. Or the most anyone could say is, “I don’t like that that happened but who am I to say that that action is wrong?”

If you reject objective morality, anything and everything including murder, rape and theft are permissible.


Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.