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Friday, September 19, 2008

What is your basis for morality? Part II

I made an earlier blog post just before I got too sick to even blog: What is your basis for morality?

I've reread all the comments. Only one commenter actually addressed the question and that was IAMB.

"To answer the original question, I've always been a fan of Kant's method for weighing moral rights and wrongs. The basic gist is that you examine an action or decision by imagining what kind of world you'd be living in if said action/decision were essentially a law of the universe in that everyone in the situation in question would always act the same without exception i.e. you imagine the act as if it were a universal law. If it turns out that the world would still be a decent place, you're pretty safe to say that the decision is morally decent as well."

I was surprised that no one else even tried to answer. One commenter who is hung up on two or three issues that have been answered but not to his satisfaction and another who joined him in trying to focus on how to define the word, "kill."

I went over the definition of the word used in the Bible for "kill" which translates as "murder." Common sense tells you what murder is and is not. If Nazis kill millions of Jews because they are Jews, that is murder. If both sides in WWII killed soldiers of the opposite side, that was warfare. If a convicted murderer is given the death sentence because of his crimes, that is a judicial death sentence not murder. Many of you would disagree, but this means that abortion is murder and thus against the Law given by God. But in most cases it is legal in this country.

Genocide for the sake of genocide is murder. Cannibalism requires that someone be killed in order to eat them, which would be murder. Is someone trying to manuver me into a "gotcha" here?

Creeper, I answered ice cores and I answered Christians in jail. I disagree with you and believe you are wrong. You are only arguing with yourself when you continue to bring those old bones back to life. Stay on topic, maybe?

So back to topic one. Kant's philosophy boils down to "figure out what you think is right and do it." In other words, YOU make the call based on the sum total of your knowledge and wisdom and experience.

In the immortal words of Dwight Shrute; "Whenever I’m about to do something, I think "would an idiot do that?" and if they would, I do not do that thing."

The problem here is that no absolutes are involved, no higher authority, no source of wisdom or knowledge other than one's self. But IAMB at age five would likely have a very different view of right and wrong than he would at age fifteen and then at twenty-five and then age fifty. Does that mean right and wrong is changing? In this viewpoint, yes, right and wrong are fluid and therefore actually indefinable. The concept of right and wrong then becomes a matter of opinion.

Taking on the philosophical viewpoint of a Kant, a LaVey, a Nietzsche involves integrating a worldview of another with your own but in the end you are still deciding with only your own intellect and judgment as resources.

Christians and Jews accept God as the authority and see God's Laws as being absolutes. Proverbs 3:5&6 states:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

And also as an example from Luke 10:27:

“ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

Simply speaking, having a belief in God and respect for his Laws means that you incorporate your best judgment and intentions along with your sure knowledge of what a higher authority has revealed as "right" and "wrong" so that you have a basis for your decisions. The most well-meaning of unbelievers miss out on the absolutes and therefore have no sure basis for their decisions beyond their own limitations. We all have limitations. Having absolutes helps us avoid be bound by those limitations in making the important decisions of life.

7 comments:

scohen said...

" If a convicted murderer is given the death sentence because of his crimes, that is a judicial death sentence not murder"

And what is it if the person in question was actually innocent of the crime?

Your logic is tragically deficient, as is your understanding of Kant's universality.

Anyways, this talk is boring --there are several detailed and scholarly refutations of "all morality comes from god" available on the web. I can only assume that you haven't read them.

radar said...

Your logic is tragically deficient, as is your understanding of Kant's universality.

Anyways, this talk is boring --there are several detailed and scholarly refutations of "all morality comes from god" available on the web. I can only assume that you haven't read them.


Tragically deficient is your opinion. I would reply that your logic is tragically bound by your worldview so that you cannot be free to consider all the alternatives.

There are several scholarly refutations of the Book of Genesis, that, when examined carefully are hogwash.

There are scholarly essays on evolution which are based on falsehoods, assumptions and fairy tales but they are generally believed.

Which refutations have you seen (for I have not) that provide an absolute basis for morality other than that given by God? Otherwise you have your own judgment as the outer limits of your ability to make decisions.

" If a convicted murderer is given the death sentence because of his crimes, that is a judicial death sentence not murder"

And what is it if the person in question was actually innocent of the crime?


Then authority would have been wrong. This is why the death penalty is dangerous to impose without overwhelming evidence of the danger, the depravity and the absolute guilt of the accused.

However, murder speaks to intent and the if the state intends to govern fairly and honestly and make such a mistake the criminal would be innocent of the crime but the death could not be erased. No one individual would be guilty of murder.

The caveat is when the state, such as Germany under Hitler, decided to execute people for the crime of being Jewish or Islamofascists in the Sudan execute people for the crime of being Christians and so on. The leaders and those who share responsibility for such deaths would be murderers.

scohen said...

Given: All morality comes from God.
Given: God wrote the bible.
Given: The institution of slavery is immoral.
Follows: The bible would contain an unambiguous message detailing the immorality of the institution of slavery.

Since: The bible does not contain an unambiguous message on the immorality of slavery, either:
a. The bible is not the work of god
b. God isn't the source of all morality.

You know this is all a broken record. Worldview schmorldview. You don't even *know* what my worldview is (and why is it that only fundamentalists use that word?), so how can you state that my logic is bound by it? How can logic be bound by anything? It's *logic*. Is my math bound by my worldview as well? If I was a YEC, would that integral make sense?
The fact remains that your reply has twisted Kant's universality into "if it feels good, do it" which is exactly the *opposite* of what Kant was saying. In fact, "if it feels good, do it" seems to be a strawman that you're fighting against, not Kant. Kant's philosophy makes for some extremely non-expedient decisions, but you wouldn't know that because you didn't bother to do any research.

Look, if you want to actually learn about the other side, search for "all morality comes from god" and read some of the results. Read about Kant and then demonstrate a flaw with his system while at the same time showing that you understand it. That's debate. This is just tedium and us doing your work for you (which seems to be a trend).

Oh, and if a state executes an innocent man, that's *murder*. You can't have the death penalty without actual murder occurring on occasion. Look at the innocence project, these people --many on death row, were completely, 100% innocent of the crimes of which they had been convicted. If they had been put to death, how could anyone that claims any morality not see that as murder by the state (accidental or not).

Where's that in the bible again?

Taxandrian said...

Genocide for the sake of genocide is murder.

Which makes your God, according to Genesis, a murderer, since he flooded the Earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it.

Also, could you give me an example of genocide not being done for the sake of genocide?

Cannibalism requires that someone be killed in order to eat them, which would be murder.

Please explain how cannibalism necessitates murder. Also: please demonstrate what the Bible teaches about cannibalism which does not necessitate murder. Is it right or wrong?

Is someone trying to manuver me into a "gotcha" here?

No, what I'm trying to find out here, is how consequent you are willing to be with your God-given morality. Is it really absolute, or are you prepared to make some subtle distinctions?
Morality is only worth something when it is universally applicable. What I've experienced over and over again is that Christians quite often are eager to call out other people on their 'sins', while closing an eye to the horrible crimes that their own God has committed, according to the Bible.

Point in case: child murder. Now, if your morality is as absolute as you say, I hope you agree with me that child murder is wrong. Same would go for those who order child murder.

So, what are your thoughts on Ezekiel 9:5-7?
Do you think there are cases where ordering the killing of children is allowed? If so, then you do not have an absolute here. If not, then you should call out God for what he is: a ruthless child murderer.

So, that's my question for you, Radar: are you willing to apply your 'God-given' morality to God, too?


P.S.: glad to see you're healthy enough to get back to blogging. However, I'd advise you do something about the Barack Obama-obsession, which doesn't seem good for your blood pressure at all.

Anonymous said...

There are several scholarly refutations of the Book of Genesis, that, when examined carefully are hogwash.

I wouldn't limit it to scholarly refutations of Genesis. I would call it science (ok, that is probably too broad).


lava

Anonymous said...

Radar,

Before you became to believe in what you believe now, did you murder, rob, and rape others? If so...jeez. If not, were laws and legal punishment your only reasons for not doing these things?

lava

radar said...

Before you became to believe in what you believe now, did you murder, rob, and rape others? If so...jeez. If not, were laws and legal punishment your only reasons for not doing these things?

Wanted to murder once or twice, maybe, but knew it was wrong and I would probably get caught.

Rob? Yes.

Rape? Not precisely, but take every advantage to break down resistance, yes.

My primary motivations were to preserve myself and stay out of jail. My parents taught me Biblical values without the foundation of Christianity, so I knew the right and wrong of things. However, I didn't necessarily always decide to pay attention to whether something was right or wrong. I looked at what was beneficial and expedient as being more important.