Moralists- Define your morals. Part B

Hi Joker,

In order to comply with Maytacera’s request I have started this new post.

You can skip this background info and go to Now we are live.

My original post was:

"Hi to all,

I am new to this morality crap. But here goes:

I believe in the morally relativistic Christian Ethic, which I believe to be genetically imprinted as a social herd instinct."

Your response was:

“Christian ethics? Provide evidence for your god.

The social herd instinct can be broken and is not unique or special that people must tie into it. It can be broken.”

My response was:

“Hi Joker,

In an effort to be more nearly certain that we are talking about the same thing, I would like to state the basis for the Christian Ethic.

It goes something like this:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind,


Love your neighbor as yourself.

Personally, I don’t care how others deal with their spirituality. However, how one deals with one’s neighbors (which I read as others) , is the basis, as I understand it, of all moralities.

The commandment to love your neighbor, despite the fact that love is not well defined in any conventional sense, appears to be much more strenuous than simply protecting ones’ herd. But, I suspect it springs from the same place.

The fact that people or animals frequently don’t behave in an appropriate manner is not surprising.

Thanks for your response.


P.S. If I were to attack my own position, I would do it on the basis of the vagueness of the word love.”

Then agincourt astutely pointed out:

[b]“The English word Love is vague, the koine greek term Agape which is what is used in this text is not.

Agape means to value the object with enough esteem and care that one would be willing to lay down one’s life to save said object.”[/b]

Your Response to me was:

"So the reason to be moral is because some mystical fantastic god in the sky says so.

Yeah that helps me out alot… "

Now we are live.

It is a subtle point, but if you follow the red bold text backwards from moralities, you should notice that I have not made recourse to a God as a requirement for this morality.

All my morality requires is that one should love one’s neighbor!!! (Though this is more difficult than you might think; and it turns out to be situationally dependent).

As to the genisis of this morality, as I pointed out in my initial post, I think that our moralities are based on a genetic link to a social herd instinct.

I do have a question for you.

Do you have a group that you might want to protect? Family, friends, this tolerant group at ILP? If so why would you do that?

I’d say my morality essentially boils down to “love thy neighbor” as well, despite me being a devout atheist.

I must say though that the values of some christians tend to oppose loving thy neighbor. Opposition to contracpetives in terms of disease prevention…capital punishment…As well, some suggest that loving thy neighbor involves imposing their beliefs on them (either by influence or institutional regulations(theocracy)) in attempts to save them, for their own good.

Do you come into conflict with any of these values?

Can you see the value in “love thy neighbor” without reference to a god?

So what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t kill people?

That’s unreasonable…

What if 2 of your neighbors are locked in mortal combat -Which one do you love? Which one do you let die? Or do you stay out and let them resolve the issue themselves? What would you want your neighbor to do if you were the one fighting and he were the one standing on the outside with the choice to intervene or to not intervene? The solution is not so simple as “love your neighbor”. It may work in many cases, but it is by no means universal

The tough choices (or spontaneous actions) which love gives rise to can show endless variety. It’s not necessarily not love to let someone die, even if it is unusual.

Damn your double negative Anon!!!

#-o =P~ :laughing:


I’m not sure in which way you mean universal. One can still approach the situation with love for thy neighbor (simple human emapthy), it’s just that all consequences are indistinctly negative, and may require a subset of values or an arbitrary decision to resolve. This is not a dilema of opposing values, but of circumstances. Situations such as this can occur in any morality.

What I was suggesting was a dilema of opposing values. That many in the religous realm claim primacy to the value of loving thy neighbor, but believe in other values which supercede it, and in some circumstances act to oppose it. If one’s primacy is to god before man, than if god can be interpretted as suggesting one go against thy neighbor (being asked to kill your own son, for example) than they are obliged to do so. I was asking if this ever occured with Ed3’s values.

For the record, [simple human empathy] does not necessarily equate to [love].

Well I can’t argue with you there. There is much hypocrisy in religious morality, and I can say from my own personal experience, as an atheist/skeptic/whatever, that religion certainly does not have corner on morality.

I just don’t buy into any objective set of morals

I’m confused, is this thread set up for my original intention, or so Joker’s derailment can continue…here instead of in my original thread?

Either do I in the sense of it existing inherently. However I am working on a proof for an ethics system being objective in the sense that it does two things:

1.) shows no internal subjective bias

2.) would have to be accepted by all people whose ethical position:
a.) does not self contradict
b.) wouldn’t prevent them from functioning in any objective system as outlined by the standards of this proof

To sum it up, if you did not accept this system you would either be self contradicting or unable to exist in any objective system


Ed3 Do you really expect me to take your religious psycho babble seriously in philosophical discourse?

Even my lunacy has limits you know… :laughing:

I’m not touching this thread with a 20 foot pole as many threads that I have already constructed illustrates what I believe on this issue.

Hi southcrossland,

Thanks for your response.

Yes, this morality frequently puts me at odds with fundamental or evangelical Christians. C’est la Vie.

As far as having this morality without a belief in God, I have no objection. In fact I am impressed by anyone that even tries to deal with these problems in a thoughtful manner.

Just a couple words of caution. I am not certain as to how to define love. If we use agape, I am afraid that the standard is too high – at least for me personally.

I am also afraid that love can be too mushy. I have a brother who is a recovering alcoholic, and it is clear to me that there are moments when love needs to be pretty tough.

Thanks again.


Hi realunoriginal,

I don’t know if you are into Augustine, but he had some interesting things to say about that.

Hi Maytacera,

I started this post to honour your request that Joker and I not correspond on your thread.

He and I have corresponded minimally, if at all, and I was interested in his point of view. I did not mean to usurp your thread. Sorry!!!

Hi Joker,

It’s OK. I will learn.

Thanks for the response Ed3,

Though I still wonder if you would kill your own son if you thought god was asking it of you.

I am afraid I only take moral arguements seriously if they are expressed in a philosophical manner.

If you shout out that everybody should be moral because of a god laying around in the sky somewhere that I have not expirienced I wouldn’t expect much of a reply from me.

Hi southcrossland,

It is interesting that you should ask that question. I friend of mine is taking a class in theology at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. The binding of Isaac was the topic being discussed this past week.

My position is that morality is instinctual and God’s command that Abraham sacrifice Isaac was an immoral command. (Personally, I think it was heinous). There is biblical evidence that God is bound by at least some human morality [Abraham’s protests about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah], and that man knew that some acts were immoral before they were codified by God.

The conclusion I reached was that either Abraham’s god was a false god, OR that Abraham failed God’s test.

Being unwilling to get a bad grade, my friend went in a different direction.

Thanks Ed

Very interesting, I can appreciating you questiong the position.

Though I do find it creates somewhat circular and contradictory logic.

The bible says that there are acts one knows to be immoral before being codified by god, but you only know this fact because it is already codified by god through the bible. If you accept the bible first, than it can give contradicting commands like killing your own son while following your internal morality. If you accept your internal morality first, then it may not lead you to accept the bible, and if it does then you are again susceptible to its contradicting commands.

But the bible claims that it is a true god and that abraham passed his test, how did you resolve your faith with your response above.