What is morality?

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For discussions about religion, but not specifically Christianity. Christians and members of any faith or of no faith are welcome, provided they treat others with respect at all times. Remember that detailed discussion about the beliefs of a particular faith will be difficult if no member of that faith is available to take part.

What is morality?

Postby CheshireCat » September 7th, 2010, 2:38 pm

I'm making a spontaneous flying visit to the board. It seems not much has changed in the last 2 years.

There is a lot of talk about the decline of morality in society, which is ironic given that much of the British media seems to lean towards atheism these days. There seems to be a general belief that a real morality exists, that some things are naturally right or wrong, and yet there is a contradiction. If you don't believe in a transcendental morality then how can something be considered definitely right or wrong?

Morality in such a scenario becomes a matter of opinion, in a sense arguments become what one human thinks against what another human thinks. People have used the argument that what the majority of people think is morally right, must be what is morally right. But what if most of a country believes that a minority within that country should be exterminated? Following that logic, you could argue that it was allright for the Nazis to persecute the Jews because most of the country actually supported it. (Even if they didn't support the Holocaust, the majority supported getting the Jews out of Germany).

If you take out God, then this means you either believe in the contents of the human brain creating a transcendental morality (which isn't transcendental because some break the basics) or not believing in a transcendetal morality. Therefore, you cannot judge another person's morals because either morality doesn't exist, or different people have different natural levels of morality.
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Bev » September 7th, 2010, 6:22 pm

I do think about this a lot, how one might define morality even if one does not bring God into the equation (even though I believe there is a transcendental morality all are subject to, and I believe it is designed by God.)

Perhaps one can define moral issues not based on what one thinks or feels but on the consequences of an action. Is it possible to define morality based on negative consequences that result from ones actions? For instance, many of the ten commandments focus on behaviors such as murder, lying, bearing false witness, adultery, etc. . . Jesus takes it even further adding such things as gossip and self defense as perpetuating painful consequences for ourselves and others.

If we used this as our basis for morality, then regardless of what the majority felt, the Holocaust was immoral because of the massive pain and suffering it caused, a suffering that has reverberated down through the generations.
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Pondero » September 7th, 2010, 6:40 pm

The morality we have in the Western world, the post-Christian world is like CMB ( Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation) in Cosmology, it is everywhere, but unlike CMB it is rapidly diminishing as each generation passes on to their eternal reward ( or otherwise). When Christianity is forgotten then watch out - the state will define morality for us - with disastrous consequences, some of which are evident today. e.g. there is a move afoot in Quebec Province ( today, its on TV) to legalize euthanasia by asking the people what they think about it. Unfortunately, some of the most irreligious people in Canada live in Quebec. They threw out Catholicism - in the main - back in the nineteen sixties and are now worse than the rest of us.
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Sprocket » September 8th, 2010, 8:32 am

Pondero wrote:When Christianity is forgotten then watch out - the state will define morality for us - with disastrous consequences, some of which are evident today. e.g. there is a move afoot in Quebec Province ( today, its on TV) to legalize euthanasia by asking the people what they think about it..

I should bloody well think so too - good for the Quebecoise (and I write as a Christian).
Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Pondero » September 8th, 2010, 10:20 am

Sprocket wrote:
Pondero wrote:When Christianity is forgotten then watch out - the state will define morality for us - with disastrous consequences, some of which are evident today. e.g. there is a move afoot in Quebec Province ( today, its on TV) to legalize euthanasia by asking the people what they think about it..

I should bloody well think so too - good for the Quebecoise (and I write as a Christian).



Then you are way off base Sprocket, you have obviously little idea what Christianity is all about. Thou Shalt not kill, includes suicide.
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Bev » September 8th, 2010, 7:51 pm

Pondero wrote:Then you are way off base Sprocket, you have obviously little idea what Christianity is all about. Thou Shalt not kill, includes suicide.


What about war?
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Pondero » September 8th, 2010, 9:30 pm

Bev wrote:
Pondero wrote:Then you are way off base Sprocket, you have obviously little idea what Christianity is all about. Thou Shalt not kill, includes suicide.


What about war?


You can't be serious as to suggest you cannot distinguish between murder /(euthanasia) suicide and legitimate warfare which is an act of self-defence. Now Sprocket can defend himself as we all know. I think sometimes he is just pulling my leg with his comments designed to bring out the worst in people.
Be that as it may, I have to respond as if he were serious, as it is a serious topic.

Hitchens ( the atheist) argues in similar fashion without thinking, without making important distinctions by lumping all religions together and condemning them all. Failure to make distinctions between religions shows a lack of clear thought on his part - not surprising- when he has such a weak case for atheism.

G.K.Chesterton summed it up nicely when he said that neither religion or reason can be proved. "In so far as religion is gone, reason is going. For they are both methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved. And in the act of destroying the idea of Divine authority we have largely destroyed the idea of that human authority by which we do a long-division sum. With a long and sustained tug we have attempted to pull the mitre off pontificial man; and his head has come off with it."Othodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, page 34. paperback Doubleday Image Book edition)
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Bev » September 8th, 2010, 9:41 pm

Pondero wrote:You can't be serious as to suggest you cannot distinguish between murder /(euthanasia) suicide and legitimate warfare which is an act of self-defence.


Yes, but only because we're talking specifically "Christian" morality now. And in such a case, how does one square Jesus' commands to love ones enemy, to turn the other cheek, and to forgive seventy times seven with a justification for war?
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Theophilus » September 8th, 2010, 10:38 pm

I think "self-defence" is the wrong term. Defence of what we love is not so much "justified" as entirely natural, and that defence will sometimes be physical. Christ says where our treasure is so our heart is also, and so defence of "self", or "wealth", or "ideology", or any other number of things will just bring condemnation upon ourselves. But defence of our family and the ones we love? Those who depend upon us we would defend with a heavy heart, knowing that nothing good comes from war, yet also recognizing that no defence would be the worse of two evils, a sin of inaction.

Warfare - specifically an action of nations rather than individuals - goes along much the same lines. It is done out of love for various things: self, money, land, and worst of all: ideology. These are all "bad reasons" for going to war. Yet war has also been waged in defence of "family", bearing in mind that for centuries upon centuries, nations have been seen as extended families, with their rulers as the "head of the household". The word "King" and the word "Kin" have the same root, because that is how a king was seen: the head of a people who shared the same blood. And so yes, these heads were expected to defend their families, and like-minded people who wished to defend their own personal families would join them. For Christians this has always been done with a heavy heart, for the reasons I gave above: it is not "good" to go to war, yet inaction would lead to the greater evil. This is why a number of churches in the east have been built after a successful defensive war -- it is not an act of "celebration", but an act of pennance on the part of the King; he realizes that what he did was wrong: the spilling of blood - of his own people and the enemy's, but also realizes that without such action the land he is building a church upon may have become the graveyard for his entire nation.

Today... well, very few (but still some) nations do not see themselves as extended families who share the same blood, history, culture, religion and language. Many nations seem to build themselves upon ideals: democracy, freedom, capitalism, or what have you. As ideals, this means these nations are literally built on "nothing". Yet the concept of "extended family" which was once embodied in nation-states still exists:

Jesus answered and said, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother."
Last edited by Theophilus on September 8th, 2010, 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is morality?

Postby Bev » September 8th, 2010, 10:44 pm

It still does not answer why Jesus gave us such commands. He seems to be saying we have no excuse. We have only to trust God with our future (in which, as was exemplified by Jesus and his apostles does not preclude defenseless persecution.)
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