Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another Challenge To Atheists: Share & Defend Your Moral Code

Atheism comes with no moral code attached. So any moral code which an Atheist might have must come either from personal subjective invention, or it comes from the personal subjective invention of another Atheist and has been coopted. It is possible to coopt the Judeo-Christian moral code, while rejecting the moral authority which gives that code its teeth.

So the challenge here is for any or all Atheists to share your personal moral code, and then to defend it however you choose to do so.

How do you define “morals”?

What are your top ten principles for your own behaviors and attitudes?

What are your top ten principles for the behavior of others?

How many Atheists share your moral code in all aspects?

How do you define “good” and “bad”?

Is there an external, physical basis for your definitions of “good” and “bad”, and if so what is it?

Are “character” traits featured in your moral code? For yourself? For others?

What, if any, consequences attach to the failure to live to your moral code?

19 comments:

  1. A full day with no takers. Maybe this does mean that Atheists really don't have any moral code?

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  2. god less no moreJune 16, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Come now Stan. We both know atheists have no basis for a moral system. Any proclaimed morality is simply ungrounded personal opinion with ZERO moral authority.

    Right?

    Way back when I was an atheist, I had this vague idea that when I did nice things, I felt good. And when I did mean things, I felt bad.

    Hah, imagine using that as a basis for personal morality. "Good" and "bad" were just what I chose them to be! What unmitigated arrogance. Well thanks to you I know better now.

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  3. I don't usually bother with sites that require moderation but I'll give it a try this once as you seem to be desperate for comments.

    It is possible to coopt the Judeo-Christian moral code, while rejecting the moral authority which gives that code its teeth.

    Some points on the assumptions in this sentence:

    - I don't think there is a Judeo-Christian moral code. The moral codes of the Jewish people and of Christians are and were different.
    - The "teeth" in the Christian moral system "Hell" is subverted by simply asking their deity to forgive them and therefore is no real moral code. At its simplest, it is avoiding punishment, not a moral code. Moral codes begin with empathy. We can see this in the activity in the brains of higher apes like humans, etc.
    - The moral code of the Jewish people and the Christians was also coopted from earlier moral codes.
    - The moral codes of both peoples evolved with society and will continue to evolve. People are no longer killed for working on Saturday.

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  4. Aggie said,

    ”- I don't think there is a Judeo-Christian moral code. The moral codes of the Jewish people and of Christians are and were different.”

    Jesus claimed specifically not to remove one “jot or tittle” of the Torah code. The reason that there is no stoning for example is that the Sanhedrin was abolished by the diaspora in AD70; the judgments of the Sanhedrin were required before guilt was established and stoning was implemented. Sacrifices ended when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70; sacrifices were made only at the temple and by the Levite priests, both of which were not available after the diaspora.

    ”- The "teeth" in the Christian moral system "Hell" is subverted by simply asking their deity to forgive them and therefore is no real moral code."

    This is false due to its simplistic misunderstanding of Christianity. The necessity for repointing (repenting) one’s life under the personal submission to the moral authority of the deity is essential first and foremost. “Simply asking forgiveness” is too simplistic and misunderstands the process.

    "At its simplest, it is avoiding punishment, not a moral code. Moral codes begin with empathy. We can see this in the activity in the brains of higher apes like humans, etc."

    This is a dangerous premise for an Atheist to make: Atheists have been shown to be only trivially empathetic in actual studies.

    Moral codes are not seen in the brains of anything or anyone, nor is empathy. What is seen is elevated blood flow to certain processing areas under certain stimulation, while blood continues to flow to other areas of the brain as well. If Atheists experience empathy, an emotion, it has been shown that they rarely act on it, not only in non-religious charitable giving, but also in direct help to needy people. Atheists seem to believe strongly that other people should be much more empathetic, but that they themselves are already empathetic enough.

    ”- The moral code of the Jewish people and the Christians was also coopted from earlier moral codes.

    First, this has no bearing on whether there is a moral code, and it contains no refutation of the source of the moral code. Second, this is presumptive and without empirical proof; Christian holidays which had no specific date attached were chosen to coincide with some pagan festivals. The golden rule did show up in other cultures; this does not mean it was co-opted.

    The existence of some false [X] does not mean that all [X] is false: Guilt by Association Fallacy.

    ”- The moral codes of both peoples evolved with society and will continue to evolve.

    False. The moral codes remain the exact same as were originally provided, there is no change in either Christian or Jewish codes, which are common to both. What has changed is that certain cultural changes, such as the current cultural injunction against slavery, have rendered the indentured servitude rules trivial, for example. And the lack of a Sanhedrin or Temple has changed observances of certain rules. Other rules like observing Sabbath day on Saturday or Sunday are not important to the underlying spirit of the rule.

    ”People are no longer killed for working on Saturday.”

    These days people are killed for the offense of being a fetus. Especially a female fetus. And totally without due process of law.

    If Jews and Christians do not observe the rules, that has no bearing on whether the rules exist or whether the rules are backed by the moral authority of the same creating deity which is common to both. And both Christ and Paul emphasized that legalism is not the requirement made on humans: submission to moral authority and the spirit of the law is.

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  5. Aggie,
    I forgot to mention that your comment had no mention of any of your own moral code; you only kibbitzed a single point, and that had no bearing on the challenge itself. What is your moral code?

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  6. Besides the moderation, the other reason I'm reluctant to comment is because I don't think you are making honest inquiries. I think it's more a game of asking loaded questions based on unsupported assumptions so you can express your own prejudices with whatever answers you are given. It really doesn't matter what answers an atheist gives, you've made up your mind and you've ready to give me a reply that is only tangentially related to my original comments. I'm a deist myself so I can't answer for atheists. Reading the replies you gave me, I can't help but wonder if you are ignorant or dishonest. I'm not discounting it could be a little of both. There have been tens of thousands of studies into empathy and the brain. Your answer: "blood continues to flow to other areas of the brain as well" is worse than the teenage atheist talking about the old invisible magic man with the beard. It shows either an extreme ignorance or dishonesty. You have pretended to misunderstand my comments in order to give stock answers. If you were a teenager I'd call you a troll. I don't think it is worth my time talking to someone who is dishonest. Maybe someone else can give you the validation you so desperately crave.

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  7. ”Besides the moderation, the other reason I'm reluctant to comment is because I don't think you are making honest inquiries. I think it's more a game of asking loaded questions based on unsupported assumptions so you can express your own prejudices with whatever answers you are given.”

    On this blog, moderation is necessary to keep the conversation from becoming swamped with ridicule and obscenity. I don’t like it either, but that is the nature of some of the readers who pass through.

    So “how do you define morals?” is a loaded question?

    And “What are your top ten principles for your own behaviors and attitudes?” is a loaded question?

    It really doesn't matter what answers an atheist gives, you've made up your mind and you've ready to give me a reply that is only tangentially related to my original comments. It really doesn't matter what answers an atheist gives, you've made up your mind and you've ready to give me a reply that is only tangentially related to my original comments.


    ”There have been tens of thousands of studies into empathy and the brain.”

    Empty assertion. Name one, just one, that shows some empathy feature which you claim.

    ”Your answer: "blood continues to flow to other areas of the brain as well" is worse than the teenage atheist talking about the old invisible magic man with the beard. It shows either an extreme ignorance or dishonesty.”

    ”Your words are empty. Your charges are fatuous and without substance. Produce facts.”

    ”You have pretended to misunderstand my comments in order to give stock answers. If you were a teenager I'd call you a troll. I don't think it is worth my time talking to someone who is dishonest. Maybe someone else can give you the validation you so desperately crave.”

    If you have nothing to say, and you hate moderation, and you produce no facts, and you don’t answer the questions, then presumably you are here precisely to produce insults rather than rational discussion. Either produce answers to the questions, actual facts to support your assertions, or go somewhere else. You are wasting my time.

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  8. @ Aggie

    What happened to your empathy?

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  9. Storm,
    Your comment was inappropriate. I deleted it.
    Stan

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  10. "So the challenge here is for any or all Atheists to share your personal moral code, and then to defend it however you choose to do so."

    Please define "moral code," and I will see if I have one.

    "How do you define “morals”?"

    I don't really see the need to define it.

    "What are your top ten principles for your own behaviors and attitudes?"

    I don't really have any.

    "What are your top ten principles for the behavior of others?"

    I don't get to decide how other people behave.

    "How many Atheists share your moral code in all aspects?"

    Still need a definition of "moral code."

    "How do you define “good” and “bad”?"

    I use the common definitions of those words.

    "Is there an external, physical basis for your definitions of “good” and “bad”, and if so what is it?"

    Depends on what you mean by "an external, physical basis."

    "Are “character” traits featured in your moral code? For yourself? For others?"

    Still need a definition.

    "What, if any, consequences attach to the failure to live to your moral code? "

    Still need a definition.

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  11. David Allen,
    Thanks for your answers.

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  12. WOW!!! David Allen fell back on the Bill Clinton Defense!

    "I guess that depends on what your definition of 'is' is".

    A stall tactic if ever I saw one. And to be followed by more stall tactics as the path winds through argument after argument on the meaning of 'meaning' and other such tripe.

    Glad to have you back, Stan. Stick to your guns and don't follow these Moral Relativists down the rabbit hole and I think you will do just fine.

    Steve

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  13. Just wanted to let you know that I had a look at your Atheist Challenge II, and I am happy to answer your question:

    Atheism makes no claim about morality.

    But then, you knew that from our earlier conversation.

    If you have anything akin to a "10 questions for atheists," I've been answering lots of those lately. I'd be happy to have a look.

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  14. This argument doesn't make any sense whatsoever. How is doing good because you're promised a reward at the end, or threatened with punishment at the end, better than doing good JUST BECAUSE. In that same vein, I'd like someone to try and nam one good thing religion has accomplished... well, ever. Good luck with that.

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  15. Demaka,
    Having a moral code means that "good" has been defined, possibly by delineating that which is "bad".

    Atheism is totally without an attached moral code; it is merely a rejection of all external moral authority. So when you say "doing good JUST BECAUSE", that has no meaning under Atheism.

    The challenge here is for you to define and declare what your moral code consists of, since you - as an Atheist - are your own moral authority, and you authorize yourself to determine whether good and bad exist at all, and if they do, of what do they consist.

    Nietzsche is a prime example of an Atheist philosopher who gave himself the moral authority to declare that good and bad do not exist, that under materialism and evolution there exists only that which "is".

    It is for this reason that Atheists cannot generate any trust: their morality, if any, is personally defined and therefore subject to momentary change. Trust requires a consistent moral code, and even if one fails to meet it, at least he can admit his failure and try again to maintain consistency, morally.

    Finally, Atheists tend to generate moral codes for others rather than for themselves. Under these types of morals, others are considered the herd, which is to be manipulated top-down into consistent behaviors and outcomes - which, of course, are defined by the Atheist elites, but do not apply to the Atheist elites.

    This behavior also does not generate trust in Atheists, just as their lack of a coherent and consistent morality for themselves as Atheists.

    You wish to Red Herring the conversation into your opinion of "religion" - which I think is probably a reference to Christianity which you despise.

    Here's one thing Christians do consistently around here, and not because they have to for the obtuse reasons you give: After tornados or floods, Christian organizations are the first to arrive and the last to leave bringing help to the victims. Sometimes they are the only ones. FEMA just comes in to assert government. Food banks, blood drives, halfway houses, pregnancy mentoring, prisoner mentoring pre- and post-release, the list is extensive.

    I heard around a year ago that Christians from out of state were still in Louisiana and the coastal states that were hit by katrina, years after the Feds went back to DC. Christians still building and repairing for those abandoned by the "secular government" so beloved by Atheists.

    It is too bad that you are so blinkered by your personal hatred.

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  16. https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10410708_245194832270934_1060451808327771191_n.jpg

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Just been over to "Fundies Say The Darndest Things" and they have attacked the "First Principles of Atheism",not with logic but with the usual tu quoques,ad hominems and false analogies.
    I've invited them over to share their frustrations since they have so many to vent.Hope they take the bait,even though I know Atheists are infamous for their cowardness.Surely,there must be at least one brave Atheist among the pack.Let's wait and see.

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  19. How do you define “morals”?

    Maximizing well being of sentient creatures while minimizing suffering of sentient creatures.

    What are your top ten principles for your own behaviors and attitudes?

    1-5. Analyze a situation and attempt to maximize well being while minimizing suffering using the best evidence available to me.
    6-10. Learn about how I can be more effective in this endeavor.

    What are your top ten principles for the behavior of others?

    I don't understand "principles for the behavior of others".

    How many Atheists share your moral code in all aspects?

    This is a poorly constructed question. I haven't, nor can I, ask them in all aspects.

    How do you define “good” and “bad”?

    Good is a degree of increasing or maintaining well being. Bad is a degree of increasing or maintaining suffering.

    Is there an external, physical basis for your definitions of “good” and “bad”, and if so what is it?

    well being and suffering have physical artifacts (pain, pleasure, human expression, animal expression, etc.) These indicators can be (and in many cases, have been) studied to produce empirical values of well being and suffering. Furthermore, most of us are endowed with a sense of empathy which read naturally queues giving us clear indicators of well being vs suffering.

    Are “character” traits featured in your moral code? For yourself? For others?

    I don't understand this question. Can someone be "bad" if they are bald? or mean? If they are examples of what is meant by the question, then yes. and yes. Being bald may increase suffering is some stupid scenario where the glare of light hurts the eyes of someone suffering from light sensitivity. As such, it would be morally good to move the bald man out of the sunlight IF doing so increases the well being of everyone involved.

    If that is not what you meant, then my answer is maybe.

    What, if any, consequences attach to the failure to live to your moral code?

    a more miserable life. In many cases, laws are codified and enforced in order to maximize well-being. If we can better quantify suffering and well-being, and enforce its pursuit, we can have a happier life for all.


    As of now, well being and suffering are not exactly quantifiable, but are quantifiable to some degree. The more we learn about well being and suffering, the better our moral codes become.

    A clear example of this is slavery, which did offer well being to the slave owners (to some extent), but suffering to slaves. By freeing slaves, the well being increased for the slaves and virtually stayed the same for slave owners. It is clearly a maturation of our moral understanding. There is no God or moral authority in this system other than the observation of physical phenomena.

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