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Jan 15th, 2008 07:37 PM
kahljorn ya somebody brought up cultural/moral relativism and the entire search for morality ends. The entire problem with cultural relativism in any type of argument is that, just because cultures have differing meanings of good, doesn't mean that the good doesn't exist in some constant form which just hasn't been discovered yet (or has been and just isn't recognized as such).

Don't social philosophers usually ignore the concept of cultural relativism in any setting, except as a standard of objectivity for research purposes, because it's meaningless and pompous? You just end up whitewashing the world in something like nihilism, and not really discovering anything. WELL ITS ONLY GOOD BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE AT THESE TIMES DECLARED IT GOOD AND IT WORKED FOR THEM SO THE GOOD ISNT REALLY GOOD AT ALL SO WE CANT EVEN TALK ABOUT IT AT ALL.
"I WANT TO MAKE THIS LAW BUT I KNOW THAT IN 100 YEARS SOMEBODY WILL PROBABLY DISAGREE WITH IT." stuff like that happens or should happen logically (if you're consistent)! Eventually in order to make any sort of law you have to go out on a limb AND BE AFRAID THAT YOURE WRONG, completely ignoring cultural relativism. If you didn't, then things would be exactly the same in 1000 years.
Cultural relativism is a good argument ender but it's not really a good argument it's kind of like an appeal to ignorance or something like that, it's completely meaningless, but it sure sounds meaningful. Pointing out that there are different moralities and we don't know which one is REALLY right or maybe all of them are right! is pretty weightless. It doesn't mean that there isn't a "Right" morality just because we don't know it.

I don't think that noting cultural and moral relativism exist, and throwing in sociological utilitarian calculations of this relativism, really reconciles atheists with morality. All it really does is reinforce the problems with atheists and morality ;/ I mean maybe you could extend it as a critique of religious thought but that would be gay and pointless anyway.

the reason people say that atheists and cultural relativistic type people can't really be "Moral" is because they have no objective standard to look to, outside of law which isn't a good standard of morality AS ACHIMP BROUGHT UP because it reflects the standards of the time, so what is good is only temporally good because people believe it's good. With God giving us certain morals we have an objective moral standard to look to which supposedly persists throughout time; however, atheists and relativist type people can't or don't see this objective morality (unless they see what I was talking about).

Obviously there's millions of better ways to argue against this than bringing up relativism.

oh ya and finally the utilitarian benefit of an action is only one way to calculate if something is moral or immoral, and it's not like such calculations aren't without critique.
Jan 13th, 2008 11:01 AM
AChimp Seconded.
Jan 13th, 2008 09:13 AM
Big Papa Goat I don't know how this thread got this long, as far as I could tell, the last word was had by the Canadians on the first page.
Jan 8th, 2008 08:37 PM
Vanhelm13 I think that everyone creates their own moral code as they are raised by parents, and their community as a whole. I think that it's a matter of exposure. If someone was raised in a place where raping puppies was a cool thing to do, then that person would be like "Raping puppies is fine" while (for the most part) we would disagree.

I mean, being the moral less atheist I am, I think raping puppies is fucking awesome.
Jan 8th, 2008 07:53 PM
kahljorn last i checked the dumb stuff you said was dumb regardless of if you agree with me or not
Dec 27th, 2007 10:24 PM
Preechr Lmao... What we have yet to determine is whether or not YOU can read, lil buddy... Somewhere you invented the idea that I don't believe that atheists can be moral and that I sit around reading the Bible. Go back and read through what was actually written and you will see that all you've been doing is fighting strawmen and arguing with yourself... You have agreed with me all along, Kahl.

I thought the time off might have done you good.

...and now comes the time when I stop responding altogether and you start calling me a pedophile or something. Have fun!
Dec 27th, 2007 02:16 PM
kahljorn Ya? I don't care if you agree with me, I care that I read a post about you summarizing the thread and ending it with, THATS SOMETHING WE CAN ALL AGREE WITH, rather than actually responding to any thoughts in the thread.

We know how to read preechr, and what you said didn't even add to the discussion.
Dec 27th, 2007 12:09 AM
Preechr There you go again... arguing with somebody that agrees with you...

What are you, a woman? A badger?
Dec 26th, 2007 07:01 PM
kahljorn That was a long, pointless post. What are you, a politician?
Dec 26th, 2007 12:59 PM
Originally Posted by Emu View Post
One of the questions I get asked (well, they don't ask me, but I hear it pretty often) is "If you're an atheist, where does your morality come from?"
Originally Posted by kahljorn View Post
Blah, blah, blah... Also, even if God existed, just like he designed natural physical law, he designed moral law; atheists can understand physical laws, so they should be able to understand moral laws.
There we go... Allright, let's walk through this, using what we've learned in this discussion, Ok?

First, since Emu asked about a position on morality from an atheistic point of view, let's discard the stuff about God existing and designing out for now, as that is off topic, though fun to talk about in another context.

What we are left with is something like "There IS physical law, and there IS moral law, and if atheists can understand physical laws, so they should be able to understand moral laws."

Now, when it comes to "physical law," Sloth made the distinction between what he called "The Real" and the imperfect language we use to describe everything and how it all does what it does, which is perfectly acceptable. "The Real" can never be completely explained or understood by us as it is entirely too complex, but by scratching at the surface of understanding it all, we can see an underlying order to the universe and try our best to experimentally predict what will happen when we mix chemicals or drop things or shoot stuff into space.

Using what we have learned so far by scratching the surface of "The Real" has and will continue to produce tangible results that we call technology, which we find useful in medicine, communication, travel, cooking and blowing things up.

As you have stated, atheists can understand and use our understanding of "physical laws," or "The Real," just as well as any religious person can, all else being equal.

You have proposed that another "The Real" exists when it comes to morality, and it seems that you agree that it has a similar relationship to what we call the study of morality as the other "The Real" has to what we call the study of physics. For us to completely understand either, we would have to know everything there is to know about every reaction between everything from the beginning of time to it's end, all at once, which is impossible.

By scratching the surface of the underlying "The Real" of right and wrong, good and bad, though, we can gain at least a limited understanding of how the decisions we make affect the people and things around us and try to assign positive or negative values to them. Just like our study of physics has produced tangible results over the years, our study of morality has given us a clearer picture of right and wrong, good and bad, positive and negative.

No belief system, religious or secular, could possibly claim to fully understand "The Real" of morality completely... no more than any scientist will ever be able to completely explain the physical universe in more than an extremely general sense. Any given atheist is as able to comprehend this as was Jesus or Buddha, but we all benefit generally from trying to apply what we have figured out so far in such a way as to get the most positives out of our day to day decision making as we can.

As BPG noted, this is just a larger view of the kind of cost-benefit method Emu didn't feel right about, but I think it's a comprehensive enough theory to put us all on the same moral ground, which is what I think he was originally after.
Dec 25th, 2007 12:41 PM
theapportioner I'm not going to read all this... if some of what I say has already been discussed, I apologize.

First, I think we ought to disambiguate the problem into several distinct questions. This is one area where ambiguity creates confusion.

1. What is the origin of morality?

2. What is the justification for morality?

3. What is the best explanation for morality?

A theory that best explains the origins of morality may not provide the best justification of, or explanation for it.

For instance, evolutionary psychology may provide a sound account of the origins of morality but not the best explanation for it, perhaps because it fails to capture the richness of our moral life.
Dec 24th, 2007 04:56 PM
kahljorn I don't have to have an opinion or belief system in order to criticize you. Also, my responses in this thread are "Cogent" and fairly easy to understand. It's not all over the place and it's not undistilled. So quit trying to pussy out of responding. Here's a distillation of everything I said: Atheists, as far as morality goes, are equal to religious people; they are in no better position of understanding "net values" and "Objective" morality than atheists are. Also, even if God existed, just like he designed natural physical law, he designed moral law; atheists can understand physical laws, so they should be able to understand moral laws.

I usually criticize you on topic, you just have a problem with seeing weaknesses in your opinions and belief systems.

I'll distill your entire opinion in this thread down to a simple statement: you're begging the question -- on the moral front.

stuff like this kills me though:
If our decisions actually connect us so precisely within society, much like electrical bonds connecting atoms, isn't that just a little too perfect for happenstance?
So like if eveeryone is standing in the same backyard and the sprinklers come on everyone gets wet, isnt that just a little too perfect for happenstance? Thus god exists and athiests can't be moral!

also I would contest the notion that "Our decisions actually connect us so precisely within society" if I felt like it. I don't think there is any amount of precision. It's just a chaotic mass of crap that adds to (but doesn't cause) a causal chain and we all happen to be affected by it because we are proximate to this causal chain since we all live on the same planet.
Dec 24th, 2007 04:35 PM
Preechr Kahl, you're an intellectual trainwreck. I've told you before, you're a really smart guy, but you are impossible to respond to. I discussion is like putting together a part of a giant puzzle: we can argue about what pieces fit where, or if the pieces we are looking at even go in this part of the puzzle... You don't do that. Not only are you running around the house trying to find random objects that you can demand should be puzzle pieces... dried up old dog poo from the yard, the basket strainer out of the sink... you are also eating the puzzle pieces we have.

You are all over the map. That's why I love having you around but mostly don't like arguing with you. You consistently misread or refuse to read what I say, then argue with the things you made up. The more I try to re-explain myself, the more confused you get... How is that productive? Then, when I stop beating my head against the brick wall that is your mind, you start insulting me, hoping to bait me into talking with you more.

I've said it before: simply make a point, Kyle. Keep it short and pithy and on topic, and we can discuss it. Write a paragraph then distill it down to one sentence. If somebody responds... and this is important... try to understand what they really mean instead of assuming beforehand that whatever it is they are saying makes no sense. You have a really annoying habit of arguing with people that actually agree with you. The last step is even more important: Once you have stated an opinion, you can't go back later on and contradict it, so you have to mean what you say the first time.

That is why I sent you those books. What you lack is a fundamental set of core beliefs, and I thought maybe reading about someone else's core belief system, even you you were to disagree entirely with it, might inspire you to develop your own. Sometimes I get fleeting glimpses at various ideas I think you really do believe in, but you have yet to tie it all together in a way that makes sense. Before you can help with the other parts of the puzzle, first you have to put together the part of the puzzle that is your own mind.

Have a Merry Christmas and stuff.
Dec 24th, 2007 03:16 PM
kahljorn You're an intellectual pussy, preechr, you need to read some books besides Ayn Rand and the bible. Or maybe just think about things.

so are you going to respond to anything i said?
Dec 24th, 2007 02:50 AM
Preechr You are perfectly explicated at winning threads. Of this there is absomutibly lil doubt.
Dec 23rd, 2007 07:25 PM
AChimp I'm good at winning threads, and I'm glad you've recognized this, Preechr!
Dec 23rd, 2007 03:29 PM
kahljorn I'm perfectly cogent. I just throw out too many unexplicated reasons which criticize your reasons, which you usually ignore.
Dec 23rd, 2007 02:20 PM
Preechr Most Cogent Kahl Post Ever!
Dec 22nd, 2007 06:20 PM
Preechr: Face it: Nobody on this planet has been raised through childhood with an intact environmentally unaffected view of a universe absent a Deity. Atheists believe in an absense of God, which is a belief in God.
Or maybe atheists know that the universe doesn't require a god and the thiests just believe in the absence of the lack of requirement of a god, which is a belief in the lack of requirement of a God. So it's really religion that's fictional!

Your statement is riddled with the presumption that god exists and that all thought is an attempt to get away from God, when really, I think at least, all thought is designed to understand "God."

Anyway, the other thing I said is that perhaps what athiests believe in when it comes to the universe and morality can be similar to what a religion thinks because the notion of "God" is kind of a label that attaches some type of trait but maybe "God" isn't something all that special, and maybe athiests can just attach a seperate label to the same thing and have the same understanding as if they considered it "God." Maybe they call it "Todd."

as to your pm response which you sent I thought of a better example than balls rolling down hills. Is it possible that a complex organism could work better with it's insides outside and outside inside? The mouth, eyes and nose could be where the stomach is, and the mouth could be some gross tube shaped organ. Is it even theoretically possible that such a thing could exist and thrive, short of having the universe inside it or something?
Does it require a God to make it like that?

The basic fiber of existence, if that's the best you can do when you get around to coming up with names for things, brings into existence"
Well, what is the first and most essential thing that is required for anything to exist? Existence?

I see the world and the universe as a beautiful and wonderful thing, and I find it very difficult to summarily write that off to happenstance.
Me too, but do you think that God personally painted the shit or that the various forces of nature formed it through a long process? I think God might be that process and the possibility of a process. How else could God have the qualities of omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence?
But that's irrelevant. Whatever you're saying, the thing you're relying on the most is that things having a design, and being so beautiful, necessarily entails that there is a designer or artist behind everything. What I'm saying is that it's not necessary for there to be a designer, because there are certain things which likely could not be changed. It's just like you said, "If everything changed, then everything would change (or disappear)." But maybe, because of this, it is impossible to truly change.

Your basic fiber of existence is responsible for the perfection of the universe that contains us, as silly and self-destructive as we are.
I guess. Maybe that's just part of the design or something i dont know dude why don't you take it to the pastor. Oh wait here's an answer: I don't know maybe this is a contradictive statement! "SO PERFECT" "SO SILLY AND SELF-DESTRUCTIVE." Perfection is self-destructive and silly, apparantly. Maybe the notion of perfection is silly and smug.

but your basic fiber of existence decided for whatever reason to hand us the reigns, at least from what I perceive your point of view to be.
Decide? Decision making authority? I don't know what to say about this right now, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it necessitates this being a "Decision." Why does the universe have to be some fucking dialogue for you are you insane or something. "What will you have, Mr. God" "i think I'll have an entire race of thinking human beings which contemplate my existence all the time but they can never guess it right because they never guess that I'm just a regular guy in a tuxedo."

and why do you think humans have the "Reigns?" What type of gangelous cockfaced deranged monster are you? More like left the reigns fucking dangling while he ditched the cart on the side of the road and we've been stuggling to grab them but we're only 1 mm tall.
Dec 22nd, 2007 01:21 AM
Preechr KAHL:


Kahljorn: you said morality was the physics of human interaction or something didnt you so wouldnt killing the entire human race for the sake of the planet or something inhuman be "Immoral" in some sense? You see how complicated these calculations can be!

Preechr: No and yes.

Kahljorn: lol seriously though good things always have good consequences? that's so vague and ambiguous, and so useless for morality! How could you ever use that as the compass of your being unless you were omniscient and knew what would have the best result? You ascribe to a very deterministic view point. I think that there is some base "design" in which things can have good results, but it's not so concrete at all, and that doing bad things might have good results sometimes. But i don't think that's any reason to act badly. Do you?

Preechr: What I said was that there is, in my opinion, an underlying order to human interactions. Yes, these interactions are very messy and complicated, and No, we can never hope to fully figure out how they all interrelate, but the order still exists, and we can benefit from the search for patterns in our actions and the subsequent reactions caused by said actions.

To do this as efficiently as possible, we will have to factor in for an infinite number of possible impurities introduced into our experiments, just like chemists, and, just like chemists, we will ultimately fail in getting it "exactly right." In a general sense, if I lie to you, the net value of that action taken will likely be negative to me, you and everyone touched by that action. Sure, I can see a situation in which my decision to lie to you might actually stop you from killing a thousand innocent children (Yes, Kahl... I really do think you are sexually attractive dressed up in your mother's bathrobe and fuzzy Winnie-The-Pooh slippers...) yet that lie (value -1 in this theoretical "equation..." not to scale...) is morally insignificant when compared to the total value of the net positive moral decisions made by all those little kids you killed when I told you the truth.

Kahljorn: yeah, well wut if won of thos kidz wuz HITLER?!?!!!one one

Preechr: Yep. It's very complicated. So is particle physics, but I think it's generally good that particle physicists are getting evaporated in the ongoing attempt to make me a way to someday, hopefully soon, beam me out of this discussion just like in Star Trek.

AChimp: Looks like I win once again! Canada ROCKS!!!!

Kahljorn: lol ok ignore that what but seriously do you not see how what you're saying doesn't prove or even illustrate that atheists can't be moral, not even in theory?

Preechr: Did I say that? I don't think I did. What I believe, though I have not yet said it, is that atheists are fictional. They don't exist among those of us that possess enough cognitive ability to avoid drooling on our shoes. You know me... I don't look words up. I make up meanings to words, which is why I'm always right. Atheism is the belief that the belief in God does not exist, which is an obviously retarded thing to think.


Preechr: Yes, I know you never said that, but what did I tell you about letting me control a conversation?


Preechr: Face it: Nobody on this planet has been raised through childhood with an intact environmentally unaffected view of a universe absent a Deity. Atheists believe in an absense of God, which is a belief in God.

AChimp: I Win!! I Win!!

Preechr: Canadians and Atheist each make up about 6% of the world's population... about 9% combined... which is easy to discount from the 10,000 feet up view.
Dec 21st, 2007 11:27 PM
Preechr Ok... Now I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, since you sound very sincere and, unlike Kahl, not just "going with your gut" and arguing for arguments sake (and badly.) You seem to know what you are talking about, though I don't yet.

With your first post, it seemed to me that you were trying to dismiss my thoughts by talking around them. Now that you've clarified your position, I'm actually more confused. Where I give you the benefit of the doubt is where I will continue under the assumption that you are talking WAY over my head, and I ask the same of you in that I really am trying to grasp your point, of view at least.

Let's start over here: the "unbroken fabric of reality."

That hints to me that you believe that the thing that we refer to as light and the other things we discuss in our sloppy and ultimately meaningless linguistic musings on the nature of reality do actually exist in some form "outside language" though we can never hope to completely describe that one eternal thread in that fabric that stretches out in all directions to infinity plus one until we can adequately describe all the threads and all their weavings and their weaver and his shoe size.

That is, in this discussion, what I would refer to as a minor, though entirely appreciable, point. My point is that that fabric does exist in reality. Everything is, whether we get it or not. I'm Ok with the idea that our study of nature's infinite complexity will never, ever be complete. I'm a deist, which means that I believe in a God we have no hope of ever understanding completely on any level. Just as, though, I believe the study of bits and pieces of Physics, even with the extremely limited capacity we have to understand what we are seeing, does produce tangible positive results on the quality of our lives in general, I believe in a similar "unbroken fabric" of decisions that connects us all, throughout history to the end of time, that, though we'll never completely understand it nor really ever be able to make great use of it, we will benefit from studying and attempting to apply to our personal interactions whatever knowledge we might be able to glean from such study, as ultimately futile as it may be.
Dec 21st, 2007 04:06 PM
sloth preechr, i'd be happy for you to dismiss the relevance of linguistics if you at least grasped the point I was trying to make, but when you talk about the 'constants' and 'the way things really work' you are implicitly appealing to an order that exists outside language. the problem is, light acts in a stable manner because we symbolise it, or find words for it, such that its behaviour can be described in laws. strictly speaking there is no light outside language: it exists in the same unbroken fabric of reality as everything else. its a prejudice of language that the word should precede the object, which you see throughout the bible - "and god said let there be light; and there was light" - and philosophy like Plato's forms.

it sounds like you read me as making a weak claim to the effect that (the) language (of physics) does not adequately explain the structure of the universe, but what i am trying to explain is that the very notion of structure is a sleight of hand introduced by language. it throws these ideas in front of itself and spends forever trying to reach them, which is why we may continue to refine the sciences, but a final, satisfactory scientific theory is necessarily impossible. hopefully this might explain why (imo) it a mistake to refer to the so-called hard sciences to demonstrate that there might be similar absolute truths in morality.
Dec 20th, 2007 09:32 AM
AChimp I still think that I won this thread, but thanks kahl for backing me up!
Dec 19th, 2007 10:29 PM
kahljorn "If such an underlying order actually does exist, wouldn't it have had to have been designed to be that way?"

No, because, like I said, maybe existence is structured in such a way that it can never become anything else. You see how this refutes that? "Wouldn't it have had to have been?" Because there's no other option, right? but there is, and that option is that the world can only develop in certain types of ways because of some constants which are impossible no matter what to change, because it would be a contradiction.
Can god make things that are morally bad good and vice versa? Or are they morally bad because of the effect they have, regardless of the fact that god designed them to be bad?
i dont know i wish I had a better example maybe later.

The closest I've come to the traditional sort of spiritual fantasy, which is kinda fun... don't get me wrong... is to imagine God physically represented in the tiniest electrical bonds holding all matter together. Matter is what it is, but the bonds that hold the particles together into whatever fashion you sense them as matter why it is. This, I think, satisfies the traditional Western criteria for God: Omnipresent, Omnipowerful and Omniscient.
Once you've gotten to recognizing this, why does god have to be a person or consciousness that has a will? Why can't it just be the basic fiber of existence? Why do people jump from, "Thing at the base of all being which sustains being -- or you could just call it being" to, "Guy who has a plan and built everything with a plan and there's a plan for the universe and we're a part of that plan and that plan is a good plan which will make us feel good and that plan was planned by a planner who can think and has consciousness and he's a lot like us!"

I think once you get down to recognizing the characteristics god must have he is robbed of any significance and glory and becomes a figurehead in existence just like the sun or any other presence in the universe. He's not some superior being with a word we should follow but just another natural law. there's nothing about that which should be impossible to comprehend for an atheist, not anymore than a religious person.
Dec 19th, 2007 10:21 PM
kahljorn and you're my intellectual hot dog.
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