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What is an atheists "moral" compass?


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Initial post: Mar 23, 2010 10:38:44 PM PDT
Ed Raton says:
A lot of people assume that because they have no fear of repercussions in the afterlife, that atheists are on the whole, lying, cheating, theiving, perhaps even violent sort who have no qualms about committing any and all things considered sinful or unlawful.

As an atheist, what keeps me walking the straight and narrow?
1) Fear of jail, and for those little things for which I would never get caught,
2) A sense of cosmic justice, karma or whatever you may call it. This is silly I know, but there is something in me (perhaps a remnant of my first 16 years of Catholic indoctrination) that stops me from being mean to people or committing petty theft for instance.

You can be an atheist and a good person.

Posted on Mar 24, 2010 1:46:14 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 3, 2014 8:03:56 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 3:47:26 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 5:18:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2013 2:58:37 AM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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Posted on Mar 24, 2010 7:57:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2010 5:56:52 AM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 9:21:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 24, 2010 9:23:07 AM PDT
Greg wrote: "It's the height of lunacy to think that atheists can't affirm that murder's wrong."

Nice segue to Bruce. Some people just can't understand the difference between reductionism and emergentism, and where each applies.

:-)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 9:48:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 15, 2011 3:48:48 AM PST
Bruce Bain says:
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Posted on Mar 24, 2010 10:21:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2011 3:49:06 PM PDT
cantankerous says:
There must be some kind of rule against what Bain does on these threads. I know there's no rule against posting moronic drivel, so he's safe there, but what about a rule against thread-cluttering? I have him on 'ignore' and his posts are still annoyingly intrusive.

Posted on Mar 24, 2010 10:27:48 AM PDT
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Posted on Mar 24, 2010 11:26:45 AM PDT
carriew says:
Greg
I'm with you --wish there was a way to be rid of his name popping up after nearly every other post. I think most of us have him on ignore ... not a cure, but at least we don't have to scroll through the detritus.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 12:14:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 9, 2011 9:02:53 AM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 12:59:19 PM PDT
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Posted on Mar 24, 2010 1:21:15 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 6:22:14 PM PDT
Greg,

Have patience while Bruce is composing his anti-atheist manifesto, to come out no doubt in a glossy paperback at a book store near you.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 10:45:50 PM PDT
You can be an atheist and a good person.

SURE. Not everyone wants to be a terminal Adam-Henry.

Can anyone be religious and be a good person?

Posted on Mar 24, 2010 10:50:39 PM PDT
What is an atheists "moral" compass?
for some---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxymwN7nYQQ

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 12:15:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2010 12:16:17 AM PDT
David A. says:
Greg: So you refrain from, say, committing murder because you fear jail and/or karma? Why not say that you refrain from committing murder because murder's wrong? It's the height of lunacy to think that atheists can't affirm that it's wrong.

David: It's also the height lunacy to assume that they can prove that affirmation with science any more than I can prove God's alleged existence with science.
Which would prove that... we are all believers in one thing or another, thank goodness.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 1:21:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2010 1:57:39 AM PDT
David wrote: "It's also the height lunacy to assume that they can prove that affirmation with science...."

Permitting murder is manifestly wrong for communities and our common human goal of peaceful cooperation. It is simply against our biological interests. This is explained adequately by evolutionary psychology without any recourse to supernaturalism at all. To deny this is a matter of belief, but to affirm it is a matter of evidence and probabilities. All human communities take a stand against murder within the boundaries of the community, no matter what their nominal beliefs. Why would that be so unless it was intrinsic to human nature?

It is one of the great achievements of the modern age to see humans as basically the same across national and cultural boundaries. The evidence to support this perspective comes from many fields of science -- sociology, psychology, biology and so on.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 6:53:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 8, 2015 4:04:22 AM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 7:04:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2010 7:15:01 AM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 10:35:06 AM PDT
JV,

All human communities take a stand against murder? Human communities can't even agree on what constitutes murder. In some parts of the world, the have a thing called 'honor killing'. Not only do they kill a woman, but argue that it is morally imperative that they do so. Even in our own society, we have a thing called 'collateral damage'. We sometimes condemn an individual for killing (but have trouble deciding whether it was some degree of murder, or manslaughter, or justifiable homicide, or criminal negligence, or an accident), but what about the state, or the military?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 12:17:47 PM PDT
David A. says:
JV: Permitting murder is manifestly wrong for communities and our common human goal of peaceful cooperation. It is simply against our biological interests.

David: So, it's the height of cynicism to refrain from murder out of fear of divine retribution, while it's the height of intellectual sophistication to do so out of mutual interest?

JV: This is explained adequately by evolutionary psychology without any recourse to supernaturalism at all.
David: Is evolutionary psychology an established branch of hard science in the same way evolution is?

All human communities take a stand against murder within the boundaries of the community, no matter what their nominal beliefs. Why would that be so unless it was intrinsic to human nature?

David: Because in the communities that do actually take such a stand (sorry, but not all do), the balance of power has made it in everyone's mutual interest to do so.
Of course, what you say is sometimes true. Bartering, specialization all demonstrate that cooperation CAN BE very bennificial when we all have something to offer that can't be taken from us by force.
But it says nothing about morals. For if, as is the case throughout different eras and places, the balance of power is not maintained, survival of the fittest soon rears its ugly head.

If the wrong people get into power, pass emergency measures, turn the country into a police state, and decide to do away with the 3% of the population who "are not worthy of life" are you saying that they would not dare to do so because the 3% and their families would pose a threat to the state? Not only is there no evidence to suggest that it would, but history seems to suggest quite the opposite.

But none of this even addresses a basic assumption you seem to be making: why should the individual capable of murder care (of all things) about evolutionary psychology or the future of his community?
If, for example, the one thing that would keep you out of jail were the *disappearance* of a troublesome wittness, would it really be so irrational to do away with her - or just highly immoral?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 12:18:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2010 4:59:03 PM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 12:39:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 17, 2014 7:04:58 AM PDT
Bruce Bain says:
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Discussion in:  The God Delusion forum
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Initial post:  Mar 23, 2010
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