Morals and democracy

9 Mar

Driving home from the dentist today I happened on an interesting analogy. The religious often like to claim that without god we can’t have morals, and whatever morals we do come up with aren’t as absolute as they could be if god had made them.

Well, let me ask you this. Are our nation’s laws worth anything? Do you abide by them? Are they (for the most part) just? I assume you agree we don’t need a king to make the laws for us in order for them to have substance and carry weight. We are able to govern our selves, that’s the whole point of a democracy and breaking away from a monarchy. Our founding fathers recognized that you don’t need a king to give laws meaning. It’s rather existentialist…

The same holds true for our morals. We don’t need a king (god) to give us our morals, nor do they lack substance without him.

9 Responses to “Morals and democracy”

  1. xmasfish March 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    So you’re saying that what is moral is what the majority vote is moral?

  2. godlesspaladin March 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    I was merely making the existentialist comparison that we can give morals meanings ourselves. I’m not saying that if a billion people got together and said “murdering anyone you want was moral” that it would make it so. A billion people could get together and say lead floats, the sun is a marshmallow,or there is a god, and it wouldn’t make it true. (fallacy ad populum) But a billion people wouldn’t do that (unless under duress of some kind) because it would violate our natural sense of altruistic morals that we got from evolving from roving bands. (See here for a short vid explaining http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCL63d66frs )

  3. xmasfish March 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    So you’re saying that, when we individually make moral claims, we are referring to something beyond ourselves? Do moral propositions have truth values?

  4. godlesspaladin March 10, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    If by “beyond ourselves” you mean altruistic instinct then yes. Murder and stealing were wrong and un-altruistic long before the 10 commandments said they were. Do you feel slavery and stoning people to death is wrong, despite the fact that the bible condones both? If so then that’s evidence that you have the capacity to make moral decisions for your self, outside of what “god” says. And I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “truth values”

  5. xmasfish March 10, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    I feel I need to make two things clear before I move on:

    1. I, nor those who espous “divine command theory” when it comes to morality, do NOT hold to the notion that right and wrong were not known before any special revelation from God, nor do we believe that those without God can be generally good people.
    2. “Slavery” and “stoning” are issues that require a small study into ANE (ancient near east) cultures to understand properly. But I do hold God’s commands to be morally correct yes.

    My question is therefore, what exactly do you think of the phrase “murder is wrong?”

    Does this mean “I believe, due to ingrained instinct that murder is not beneficial for co-operation?” in which case you are merely offering your opinion, much like “Coke tastes better than Pepsi due to the way my tastebuds have evolved”. Or do you believe that “murder is wrong” is more than an opinion- it is an objective fact?

  6. xmasfish March 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    Whoops: allow me to correct myself:

    “nor do we believe that those without God can be generally good people.”

    I meant “nor do we believe that those without God are not capable of being generally good people”

  7. godlesspaladin March 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    Esh, you’re like a gadlfy…. anyways, as for your question, I’d have to go with the first answer, but ad that it is a deeply ingrained instinct, and one this society agrees to abide by as a collective. There are no absolute truths, and to claim that their are, and that one’s own religious group holds the only keys to them is not only arrogant but dangerous.

    But as for you holding “god’s commandments” as morally correct, despite the fact that many of them are abominable, I don’t know what to say to you. Kinda makes me think of this vid:

  8. xmasfish March 10, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    “There are no absolute truths, and to claim that their are, and that one’s own religious group holds the only keys to them is not only arrogant but dangerous.”

    Is that absolutley true? 🙂

    “But as for you holding “god’s commandments” as morally correct, despite the fact that many of them are abominable, I don’t know what to say to you. Kinda makes me think of this vid”

    All you are saying is that I hold to a position that goes against deeply ingrained instinctivly opinions that society in general agrees to abide by.

    This doesn’t bother me in the slightest, as you, being an atheist, are doing quite a similar thing.

    Besides, back then those ethics were cleary ingrained deeply into them and held by society. What makes OUR era more moral than theirs? And whose to say that WE are not highly immoral in condemning these actions by the standard of a hypotetical future civilisations?

    Needless to say, you are probably not in the knowledge that ANE slavery is completely different from “civil-war american” slavery, and you also probably fail to appreciate the tumultuous state of ANE nations that required “harsh” laws lest disaster be-falls them.

    But apparently, I’m like a “gladfly” (whatever that is)- I assume this means my commenting annoys you? If this is so, I will gracefully cease. I am only doing this as I have honestly nothing better to do at this moment in time.

  9. godlesspaladin March 10, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    Yes, but that gets into cultural relativism… And I’m not ignorant of ANE slavery and culture, despite being in the United States. Yes, I’m surrounded by the remnants of American style slavery, but my field of study in college is European history, including antiquity. As for the annoyance thing, had I wished you to stop I would have blocked your IP address long ago. I don’t because I honestly believe in freedom of speech, and plus, my beliefs should be able to stand on their own without me deleting anything that might question them. It’s part of being open minded I guess :-p

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