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Cogito ergo sum

Here in the Philosophy forum we will talk about all the "why" questions. We'll have conversations about the way in which philosophy and theology and religion interact with each other. Metaphysics, ontology, origins, truth? They're all fair game so jump right in and have some fun! But remember...play nice!

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Atheism And Moral Progress

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  • #46
    Originally posted by seer View Post
    Correct, but I don't think we are speaking witches in the sense we mean today
    Setting aside for a moment whether you think the Salem witch trials were justified or whether the modern-day witch-burnings in Indonesia are justified...

    You mentioned "drunkenness", and there's also been previous discussion on this site that the NT's condemnation of pharmacopoeia means a condemnation of drugs. So would you be fine with the US implementing the death penalty for getting drunk or for taking illegal drugs (opioids, marijuana etc)? Is that what your so-called "objective morality" () says would be fine?

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by Tassman View Post
      So God got it wrong when he said in Exodus 22:18 "You must not allow a sorceress to live". Because he certainly seemed to think that witches existed. Interesting that CS Lewis (and seer) knows better than God. Perhaps God has also got it wrong about homosexuals too.
      I thought you were about to say that God is wrong because gay people don't exist for a moment there.

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
        I thought you were about to say that God is wrong because gay people don't exist for a moment there.
        Not at all!

        Everyone knows that God made homosexuals. The non-canonical Gnostic text "The Secret Gospel of Mark" even suggests a homo-erotic relationship between Jesus and the young man referred to in the Gospel According to Mark (14:51–53).
        Last edited by Tassman; 07-31-2018, 06:20 AM.
        “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Tassman View Post
          So God got it wrong when he said in Exodus 22:18 "You must not allow a sorceress to live". Because he certainly seemed to think that witches existed. Interesting that CS Lewis (and seer) knows better than God. Perhaps God has also got it wrong about homosexuals too. Maybe God is ignorant enough to think that Homosexuality is a choice that warrants death, rather than, as we know today, the natural sexual orientation for some people.
          You missed his whole point, Lewis is not saying that they exist or don't exist. That was not what he was getting at!!!!!!
          Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by Starlight View Post
            Setting aside for a moment whether you think the Salem witch trials were justified or whether the modern-day witch-burnings in Indonesia are justified...

            You mentioned "drunkenness", and there's also been previous discussion on this site that the NT's condemnation of pharmacopoeia means a condemnation of drugs. So would you be fine with the US implementing the death penalty for getting drunk or for taking illegal drugs (opioids, marijuana etc)? Is that what your so-called "objective morality" () says would be fine?
            And what if we executed drunks or druggies? It is not like that would be immoral in your world where infanticide and the killing of the unborn by the millions are advocated for. BTW - all sins in the Old Testament did not incur a death sentence, actually only about 22 behaviors did. And drug or alcohol abuse are not included, so yes I would have a problem executing drunks or druggies.
            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by Starlight View Post

              You mentioned "drunkenness", and there's also been previous discussion on this site that the NT's condemnation of pharmacopoeia means a condemnation of drugs. So would you be fine with the US implementing the death penalty for getting drunk or for taking illegal drugs (opioids, marijuana etc)? Is that what your so-called "objective morality" () says would be fine?
              As an aside, Singapore is often applauded for the secular nature of their government and yet look at how they treat drug users and dealers.

              I'm always still in trouble again

              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                Well yes, according to the likes of Steven Pinker in ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ and Michael Shermer in ‘The Moral Arc ‘. Both make well-researched claims that we are living in the most moral period of our species’ history.
                I don't know who they are. I was asking you and the other atheists. Do you think we have made moral progress since the Roman era? Are morals better today? Or just different?

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                  As an aside, Singapore is often applauded for the secular nature of their government and yet look at how they treat drug users and dealers.
                  As an aside?!?

                  You are being rather to selective to justify an agenda.
                  Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                  Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                  But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                  go with the flow the river knows . . .

                  Frank

                  I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                    I was asking you and the other atheists. Do you think we have made moral progress since the Roman era? Are morals better today?
                    Personally I would say yes, and I would distinguish multiple types of moral progress I think we've made:

                    1. Deliberate self-improvement through open discussion. There's been a lot of very conscious and public discussion about morality and the public space and the nature of morality done by philosophers and political scientists alike. This has happened especially in the post-Reformation era and particularly in the Enlightenment era where the power of the Catholic Church to simply decree things was removed and where public intellectuals could have full and frank discussions without censorship by religious authorities. The "Western world" as we think of it today was really formed pretty directly from 200-400 years of this process of open discussion about morality and politics and culture. And through debate and discussion and argument, society "progressed" in the sense of changed fairly continually in certain directions, and the result was the development of the various moral ideas that now constitute modern Western civilization: Democracy, human rights, gender equality, rejections of slavery and racism, maximization of freedom and happiness and well-being, etc. And to my mind this multi-century era of self-conscious deliberate effort at making moral and cultural changes is what sets the West apart from Islam, which is still in the equivalent of the Catholic Church era where their religious authorities dictate the Moral Truths and their society hasn't been able to go through a deliberative naval-gazing process of self-improvement like the West has.

                    2. The expanding circle of concern. I think Singer does identify a very true idea in his work I cited earlier: Over time people's conceptions of who they need to be moral toward has been expanding outwards. Once upon a time there was the idea that it was one's moral duty to protect one's family, and thus the rest of society was the 'enemy' to defend against. This is known as ingroup-outgroup. Over time that expanded to also loving "thy neighbor", and there was the idea of it's "my tribe" against the world (e.g. Israel vs everyone else in the OT). Gradually the ideas of who was our "neighbor" in the sense of us having a moral duty to be nice to them and care about them spread ever outwards: To everyone in our city, to everyone in our country, to everyone of our race, to everyone on our planet, to all conscious life (including animals). So the endpoint of this moral progress is the modern vegan liberal who has an ingroup that includes all life and cares about the well-being of every living thing and has nobody at all in their 'outgroup'.

                    3. Learning about other cultures and human psychology. I think cross-cultural studies of morality, and psychological studies of moral decision making offer us useful data that allows us to go beyond being simply one more culture with one more moral code among many, and instead allows us to make informed decisions about why we as a culture should accept and reject things.

                    4. Progress away from religion-based morality and list-of-rules based morality. IMO the most simplistic and to-be-pitied kind of morality is the "my religion has a list of rules, so I follow them, but I don't really understand why the rules are the way they are, I just obey". Any culture or society can come up with a totally arbitrary list of rules, which The Gods Totally Dictated, and which the mindless plebs are taught to obey. Perhaps even you would agree that in the vast majority of cultures the world over they came up with dumb and arbitrary lists that were wrong but that they totally thought were gods-given lists which they obediently followed? So then there are two sub-types of progress that can be made here: (a) a move away from obediently following the rules with no understanding of why the rules are what they are, and toward actually understanding the abstract concepts behind the rules; (b) a move away from seeing the rules/concepts as gods-given and toward a secular understanding of why it is good for society/individuals to have rules and follow them. We've seen both those moves throughout our history. From the OT to the NT we can trace a movement away from listed rules without clear reasoning ("don't boil a lamb in its mother's milk") and toward general abstract concepts ("love one another"). In the Enlightenment era we saw the move away from religion-based morality to secular moral principles, especially in the Utilitarian movement. We've since seen a secular moral principles continue to flourish.

                    So those are some of the ways that as an atheist I would personally say there has been moral progress. I could also add that my own morality represents the paragon of moral truth and that the entirety of history can be seen leading towards the views I hold, but I'm perfectly modest, so I wouldn't say that...
                    Last edited by Starlight; 07-31-2018, 10:13 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                      Personally I would say yes, and I would distinguish multiple types of moral progress I think we've made:

                      1. Deliberate self-improvement through open discussion. There's been a lot of very conscious and public discussion about morality and the public space and the nature of morality done by philosophers and political scientists alike. This has happened especially in the post-Reformation era and particularly in the Enlightenment era where the power of the Catholic Church to simply decree things was removed and where public intellectuals could have full and frank discussions without censorship by religious authorities. The "Western world" as we think of it today was really formed pretty directly from 200-400 years of this process of open discussion about morality and politics and culture. And through debate and discussion and argument, society "progressed" in the sense of changed fairly continually in certain directions, and the result was the development of the various moral ideas that now constitute modern Western civilization: Democracy, human rights, gender equality, rejections of slavery and racism, maximization of freedom and happiness and well-being, etc. And to my mind this multi-century era of self-conscious deliberate effort at making moral and cultural changes is what sets the West apart from Islam, which is still in the equivalent of the Catholic Church era where their religious authorities dictate the Moral Truths and their society hasn't been able to go through a deliberative naval-gazing process of self-improvement like the West has.

                      2. The expanding circle of concern. I think Singer does identify a very true idea in his work I cited earlier: Over time people's conceptions of who they need to be moral toward has been expanding outwards. Once upon a time there was the idea that it was one's moral duty to protect one's family, and thus the rest of society was the 'enemy' to defend against. This is known as ingroup-outgroup. Over time that expanded to also loving "thy neighbor", and there was the idea of it's "my tribe" against the world (e.g. Israel vs everyone else in the OT). Gradually the ideas of who was our "neighbor" in the sense of us having a moral duty to be nice to them and care about them spread ever outwards: To everyone in our city, to everyone in our country, to everyone of our race, to everyone on our planet, to all conscious life (including animals). So the endpoint of this moral progress is the modern vegan liberal who has an ingroup that includes all life and cares about the well-being of every living thing and has nobody at all in their 'outgroup'.

                      3. Learning about other cultures and human psychology. I think cross-cultural studies of morality, and psychological studies of moral decision making offer us useful data that allows us to go beyond being simply one more culture with one more moral code among many, and instead allows us to make informed decisions about why we as a culture should accept and reject things.

                      4. Progress away from religion-based morality and list-of-rules based morality. IMO the most simplistic and to-be-pitied kind of morality is the "my religion has a list of rules, so I follow them, but I don't really understand why the rules are the way they are, I just obey". Any culture or society can come up with a totally arbitrary list of rules, which The Gods Totally Dictated, and which the mindless plebs are taught to obey. Perhaps even you would agree that in the vast majority of cultures the world over they came up with dumb and arbitrary lists that were wrong but that they totally thought were gods-given lists which they obediently followed? So then there are two sub-types of progress that can be made here: (a) a move away from obediently following the rules with no understanding of why the rules are what they are, and toward actually understanding the abstract concepts behind the rules; (b) a move away from seeing the rules/concepts as gods-given and toward a secular understanding of why it is good for society/individuals to have rules and follow them. We've seen both those moves throughout our history. From the OT to the NT we can trace a movement away from listed rules without clear reasoning ("don't boil a lamb in its mother's milk") and toward general abstract concepts ("love one another"). In the Enlightenment era we saw the move away from religion-based morality to secular moral principles, especially in the Utilitarian movement. We've since seen a secular moral principles continue to flourish.

                      So those are some of the ways that as an atheist I would personally say there has been moral progress. I could also add that my own morality represents the paragon of moral truth and that the entirety of history can be seen leading towards the views I hold, but I'm perfectly modest, so I wouldn't say that...
                      OK. But your personal view doesn't actually equate to "better" or moral progress if someone else's view says otherwise. It is just comparing preferences.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                        Personally I would say yes, and I would distinguish multiple types of moral progress I think we've made:

                        So those are some of the ways that as an atheist I would personally say there has been moral progress. I could also add that my own morality represents the paragon of moral truth and that the entirety of history can be seen leading towards the views I hold, but I'm perfectly modest, so I wouldn't say that...

                        So you offer a personal opinion on what moral progress could or should look like. How is that meaningful?
                        Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          So you offer a personal opinion on what moral progress could or should look like. How is that meaningful?
                          Sparko asked for the personal opinion of atheists and I told him my personal opinion. Sorry if you don't comprehend how such conversations work.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                            OK. But your personal view doesn't actually equate to "better" or moral progress if someone else's view says otherwise. It is just comparing preferences.
                            You asked if atheists thought we had made moral progress and why, and I gave my view and explained why.

                            If you're now asking about whether "moral progress" is objective, then I think the answer is no because as a term it can mean many different things - e.g. I gave 4 examples of things I personally take it to mean in the previous post.

                            You are totally free to say "I think our society has gone backward rather than forward in terms of morality" and give an explanation for why you think that.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                              Sparko asked for the personal opinion of atheists and I told him my personal opinion. Sorry if you don't comprehend how such conversations work.
                              That is true. But that doesn't negate Seer's question.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                                You asked if atheists thought we had made moral progress and why, and I gave my view and explained why.

                                If you're now asking about whether "moral progress" is objective, then I think the answer is no because as a term it can mean many different things - e.g. I gave 4 examples of things I personally take it to mean in the previous post.
                                That is the point Star, what if other atheists, let's say Communists, disagree with you on what constitutes moral progress? There isn't any right answer, nor can there be, even in principle.
                                Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                                Comment

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