Building Objective Morality

How to create a system of morality on objective truth

People can be reasoned out of a position they weren’t reasoned in to—Sam Harris

It has been said that those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. Research actually shows that those who do focus on history, are as just likely to repeat it too. Clinging to the past is certainly not helping mold a better future, but only stirs reenactment of an ingrained way of life. Improvement will demand boldness and belief that there is a better way…an easier way. “There’s no easy way out” is the slogan of fools. Occam would surely agree.

What if I told you it was entirely possible to form a universal morality based on reason? One that would trump any religious book or dogma, one that would take into consideration each individuals personal happiness and the right to fulfill the measure of their existence and have their own particular brand of joy? Would it be possible to draft one basic moral guideline that would benefit all life equally, leaving the freedom to act on their own concepts of happiness?

Individual well being of our own design has to be the benchmark of human contentment—Jim

There are hurdles, traditions to overcome—cultural norms. These are deeply ingrained traditions based on the purported “rights” to choose at the expense of another being.

Traditional behaviors are ones of great un-reasons. Religious and cultural traditions both, are behaviors and positions few were reasoned into, therefore can be reasoned out of. Billions born into faith and traditions, not of their choosing, can accept reason as opportunity to just consider there might be a better way.

Medical students are sworn to Primum non nocere, or first, do no harm. How much more encompassing and thorough can we be? The first step to understanding a better way is to realize that old ways can be done away—by reason. We can do better than an evolved, archaic morality based on a violent time. We can live better, more fulfilled, and less contentious if we are kind to all creatures. That is the starting line of reason, not by way of religion or governments, but through science, reason, and tolerance—through us.

No god belief has ever come close to stopping the classes of the world. Continuous epic failures after another, splitting hairs of moral superiority through faith and a scripture riddled with morally divisive contradiction is a conundrum, an excuse to justify cruelty, even to the most helpless of all creatures and exclusion based on individuality. Many talk of ushering in the kingdom of god where the lion will lay with the lamb, then proceed as though it is never going to happen. It can through science, and so can contentment—through truth and simplicity. Do no harm.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a charge to Christians to act now, not as some end-game trophy. Start behaving like that matters.

Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves”

–Lord Byron

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

185 thoughts on “Building Objective Morality”

    1. Thanks for your stellar input. Morality has to be individual within a secular framework. Christian morality is really reproductive control anyway. Not surprised you had nothing to share.

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      1. Fair enough I was a bit short. But it does remind me of the cultural revolution. Get rid of religion on cultural traditions and replace it with what? Whatever we want to construct?

        Reason? The thing is reason can not get us from an is to an ought. I mean sure some people are illogical and have contradictory views but nazis, communists, and other evil people may not have actually had any contradictions in their moral drives. Rather they were just starting off wrong. They claimed it was based on science but science neither supported or rejected their views. Here is is a blog I did about several smart and reasonable atheists discussing moral progress. It highlights some of the problems of thinking reason can resolve these disputes.

        https://trueandreasonable.co/2015/05/14/naturalism-and-moral-progress/

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        1. I would offer this Joe. We start from scratch and agree on one truth. Let’s say, physical pain and bodily autonomy. Can we all agree that we don’t like having our finger smashed? From this simple agreement we can agree on a thousand things and then create a simple law to benefit every individual. Some issues like sex are tougher to get through because Christians believe this is some gift from god, but it’s a natural phenomenon with consequences. Teaching consequences is much more fair and also more effective btw, than making it a right or wrong. So either way you get less carelessness with it and that should make you all happy. It doesn’t give religion the control it desires, but don’t overthink it. We could easily, you and I, over a few discussions construct a morality that would do quite nicely for civility and fairness. Throw god of the Bible to the sidelines for a moment. You really don’t have to overthink this. It’s not complicated at all. You pick a topic. It’s easy.

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          1. “I would offer this Joe. We start from scratch and agree on one truth. Let’s say, physical pain and bodily autonomy.”

            That is so vague it is not even a complete sentence. Whose pain? My pain everyone’s pain? Animal’s pain? And the same with autonomy?

            So I should only have to bake a cake when I want and not have to when I don’t? I should be able to put my body in your house when I want? Or are we going to start talking about property rights too? Or are those the old cultural norms we should abandon. That’s what they thought in the culture revolution. And really we have not even scratched the surface.

            Do I have to pay to save another persons life? How much? Do I have to pay to save a deer’s life? Why either? Is it morally ok for me to leave a person dying of a heart attack? If he is going to have the pain of the heart attack either way does it matter if he dies? Is it worse if he has family that will be sad and suffer? Then we should save him but if not its not so immoral?

            I mean we have many moral views that clearly are not just based on avoiding suffering. Emotional Empathy itself involves the same sort of suffering in our brain as if we are experiencing the suffering directly. Should empathy be avoided?
            I discuss that here:
            https://trueandreasonable.co/2019/04/09/love-versus-selfish-emotional-empathy/

            To suggest a few simple ideas and we can then reason to all we need is very naive. Lots of reasonable people disagree in substantial ways.

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            1. How many years of philosophy has failed? This is a prime example of where it has taken us. Nowhere. Your rights don’t include usurping mine. Whatever you may think, a simple approach in a new way is not out of the question. If you believe it’s difficult it’s because you are—difficult.
              Back to the rock Joey. Can we agree on that?

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            2. Philosophy failed? You mean it raises questions you and John can’t answer by looking at monkeys?

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            3. Not sure what you mean by that, but you have nothing to offer but asshole remarks? Actually many things are answered by animal studies. You don’t like those answers because it loosens the god position on morality even further. I get the feeling you are afraid there may be some simple solution. And there is but you’d rather argue. Welcome to Christian inanity. Go to, you faith hath made you— a hole. Lol.

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            4. Jim I said you proposed a very vague notion of morality and asked many questions. Like many atheists who are more focused on science than philosophy you seem to have very limited grasp of moral questions – saying things like well if we can agree its bad to smash our fingers we are on our way! Yeah, no.

              If you want to actually engage with Christians who believe due to the moral argument then you might want to actually answer the questions I asked. They are not rhetorical they are actually there so I can understand your views and where we may disagree leading me to be a Christian and you to be atheist.

              I would also add that I always think of the allegory of the cave when I see anyone saying oh well philosophy is useless. If you haven’t read I highly recommend it.

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            5. You mean it raises questions you and John can’t answer by looking at monkeys?

              Curious. Why does it appear to bother you so much that moral behaviour (an awareness of good and bad behaviour, of fair play) is evident in non-human animals?

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            6. It doesn’t bother me. We talked before and like I said before I find it interesting. I posted moral behavior of Lions.
              Here it is again:

              Here is another:

              It’s pretty interesting is it not?

              But we are not going to solve our vast and diverse moral disputes by watching videos of monkeys. If you think differently then I guess we will agree to disagree.

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            7. OK, just so we’re clear:

              You accept that evolution is true. You accept that humans are a part of the evolutionary paradigm and are still evolving. You accept that moral behaviour is evident as an emergent phenomena, a product of natural, unguided evolutionary processes. Critically, you also believe there exists some objective moral core. Demonstrably, awareness of this is revealed through evolutionary processes; while similar, a monkeys concept of something like fair play is not as complex as ours, the differences being neural processing power/language/more complex capacity for memetic evolution.

              So, if your concept of some objective moral core is revealed through evolutionary processes is true, then the question left for you is: Why evolution? What possible rational reason could the Creator have had to invent—literally invent—that slow, messy, painful, error-rich process? What purpose does it serve?

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            8. John:
              “OK, just so we’re clear:
              You accept that evolution is true. You accept that humans are a part of the evolutionary paradigm and are still evolving.”

              Joe:
              Yes as long as you do not say that this beliefs excludes the possibility that God has had any hand in creating us. If so obviously I disagree.

              John:
              “You accept that moral behaviour is evident as an emergent phenomena, a product of natural, unguided evolutionary processes. Critically, you also believe there exists some objective moral core.

              Joe:
              I am not sure what you mean. I agree monkeys seem to get pissed when they do not get the same food as others. I think lions act in a way that seems morally abysmal. But I do not think of either as moral agents. I do not think lions are morally evil as they do not have that moral capacity. For example I do not think we should punish non-human animals for what we would call moral evil. Do you?

              Nor do I think they see morality in anything close to the way we understand it.

              Nor do I understand what you mean when you say there “exists some objective moral core.”

              I think moral oughts exist in reality in that there are things we really ought not do like kill a million people because they are Jewish. Or kill babies because their crying is aggravating. Do you agree with that? Or do you think that really is not the case it is just stuff we make up?

              John:
              “Demonstrably, awareness of this is revealed through evolutionary processes;”

              Joe:
              Awareness of what an “objectively existing moral core”? By this do you mean objective morality is revealed through evolutionary processes? If so I think that is not the case. Moral oughts are not physical things that impact our senses. Evolution is concerned at best with getting physical things right- Reproduction and survival. It is not concerned with getting to moral truths. If you think it does I would ask for the science book that makes that claim. That is to the extent there are objectively moral oughts out there, we have no reason to think evolution would track them. Sure it might want us to think we are tracking them in order for us to engage in behaviors that support our fitness. But that undercuts our trust in the system providing us with true beliefs about morality it does not enhance it.

              Once we understand that evolution is not geared toward achieving morally true beliefs then we have to say any overlap is just coincidence.

              I did a blog on it here:
              https://trueandreasonable.co/2014/02/24/a-problem-with-the-reliability-of-moral-beliefs/
              John:
              “while similar, a monkeys concept of something like fair play is not as complex as ours, the differences being neural processing power/language/more complex capacity for memetic evolution.”

              I am not committed to this view but I am not against it either.

              “So, if your concept of some objective moral core is revealed through evolutionary processes is true, then the question left for you is: Why evolution? What possible rational reason could the Creator have had to invent—literally invent—that slow, messy, painful, error-rich process? What purpose does it serve?”

              you mean why didn’t he pop everyone into the world at once? Or create like a matrix where we can experience everything as though it was over time so we had the same experiences of people coming and going over time but that really didn’t happen?

              Or are you saying why did he make us think anything happened over time? Or are you saying he should have done it over a shorter time?

              I don’t know. It is, of course, not logically impossible that God did/is doing something like the matrix. But how he did it doesn’t really matter too much does it? Should I act differently based on these other possibilities?

              Painful well there have been plenty of arguments dealing with the problem of evil. Here is a blog I did based off of scripture:
              https://trueandreasonable.co/2019/05/01/problem-of-evil-answered-with-logic-and-scripture/

              Error rich? Well that depends on the purposes. What purpose would God have to let us have this experience? It seems to me there could be many purposes. For example, it seems we are here to understand some things about ourselves. So that when we are placed in an eternal state we understand that placement is just.

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            9. I think lions act in a way that seems morally abysmal.

              Would you like me to start posting videos of humans killing humans… for fun? What about humans killing animals… for fun?

              Nor do I think they see morality in anything close to the way we understand it.

              Of course not, for reasons I’ve already given. The core, though, is the same.

              Once we understand that evolution is not geared toward achieving morally true beliefs then we have to say any overlap is just coincidence.

              No, we don’t have to say that. In fact, the opposite demonstrably correct.

              Error rich? Well that depends on the purposes.

              Evolution is not adaptively directed, not goal-orientated. Mutations are random, selection is dictated by environment. And 80% of all mutations are believed to be harmful to an organism’s fitness. So, yes, *error-rich.*

              But how he did it doesn’t really matter too much does it?

              Actually, yes, it does matter quite a lot. I want to get to your base ontology. Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you concerned about some obvious flaws in your worldview? You have 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution to explain/3.8 billion years of terrestrial evolution to explain. In fact, if you can’t explain why evolution, then you’re not in possession of an explanatory model, rather a pantomime.

              So, again: if your concept of some objective moral core is true, and these truths are revealed through evolutionary processes (as can be demonstrated through the evolutionary paradigm), then the question left for you is: Why evolution? What possible rational reason could the Creator have had to invent—literally invent—that slow, messy, painful, error-rich process? What purpose does it serve?

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            10. Joe:
              So here we go again discussing meta-ethics with an scientist. You will refuse to answer any questions I put to you and I will give you answers and you will be ungrateful.

              Joe:
              I think lions act in a way that seems morally abysmal.

              John:
              Would you like me to start posting videos of humans killing humans… for fun? What about humans killing animals… for fun?

              Joe:
              Why would you do that? What would that show? That we are not so morally acute? That our brains aren’t really helping us morally? Or should we take the opposite view that well since these creatures with many neurons in the right places engage in this conduct it must be the right thing to act that way?

              Remember you are the one who is saying we can learn morality by watching videos of animals. I am saying that is not a good way. You seem less than coherent.

              Joe:
              Nor do I think they see morality in anything close to the way we understand it.

              John:
              “Of course not, for reasons I’ve already given. The core, though, is the same.”

              Joe:
              Again you keep using this “objectively existing moral core” term but I have no idea what you are talking about. Is this a term you made up? or is there literature explaining this core?

              Joe:
              Once we understand that evolution is not geared toward achieving morally true beliefs then we have to say any overlap is just coincidence.
              John:
              No, we don’t have to say that. In fact, the opposite demonstrably correct.

              Joe:
              So the question is not whether we *think* our beliefs about morality accurately track morality. Of course we *think* they do or we wouldn’t believe them. But what do you think demonstrates that in fact our beliefs track objectively true moral oughts? We have some objective moral reality that is out there. It is not out there like the moon or other tangible things we see feel hear touch or smell right? Are you with me so far? Rather these oughts are properties of reality that we do not directly see. So how have you demonstrated that evolution tracks them?

              You can show videos of monkeys getting upset or people killing eachother. I mean it is bizarre to think that showing actions of animals demonstrates that what they are doing tracks with objectively real moral oughts. The videos just show the actions they do not pick up the oughts because the oughts do not reflect light back at the camera.

              Joe:
              Error rich? Well that depends on the purposes.
              Evolution is not adaptively directed, not goal-orientated. Mutations are random, selection is dictated by environment. And 80% of all mutations are believed to be harmful to an organism’s fitness. So, yes, *error-rich.*

              Joe:
              All of this is random to us yes. But it is not necessarily random to entities infinitely wiser than we are. Just like certain animals may not understand processes we understand.

              And as I said there have been plenty of counter arguments to the problem of evil. I just published one on my own blog. If you want to argue it fine. But don’t pretend there is no response when there have have been many.

              Joe:
              But how he did it doesn’t really matter too much does it?
              John:
              “Actually, yes, it does matter quite a lot. I want to get to your base ontology. Does that make you uncomfortable?”

              Joe:
              No not at all.

              Joe:
              “Are you concerned about some obvious flaws in your worldview?”
              Joe
              I guess I have to notice them first.

              John:
              You have 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution to explain/3.8 billion years of terrestrial evolution to explain. In fact, if you can’t explain why evolution, then you’re not in possession of an explanatory model, rather a pantomime.”
              Joe:
              Evolution explains some things but not everything. I am not sure what you even want me to explain. Do you want me to explain Why God did not take 50 billion years instead of 13 billion years? Why would that be important to how I lived my life? I mean there are many questions I can not answer that is just a fact of our experience here. Why did God make it so there are about 24 hours in a day? I don’t know.

              Should I act differently if God took 50 billion years instead of 13.8 billion years? I really do not understand your point. What do you think the fact that God did not take a longer time proves?

              John:
              “So, again: if your concept of some objective moral core is true, and these truths are revealed through evolutionary processes (as can be demonstrated through the evolutionary paradigm), ”

              Joe:
              Again please show this. I agree many people share many similar beliefs about what actions are moral. But I do not see how anyone scientifically demonstrated those beliefs track with objectively real oughts. Please do tell about this demonstration it will surely be big news that will finally settle our moral questions!!

              Or maybe, you are confused about what science can and can not show us, and so the experiments you think show so much in fact aren’t that helpful. Neat and interesting sure.

              If you are saying different animals seem to have different views and I agree with many such views ok. But that just shows agreement. That is not showing those beliefs track with anything objectively real. People may have agreed the sun orbited the earth for a long time. But in reality they were just wrong.

              John:
              “then the question left for you is: Why evolution? What possible rational reason could the Creator have had to invent—literally invent—that slow, messy, painful, error-rich process? What purpose does it serve?”

              Joe:
              I answered this in my last response. You have not addressed anything I said but just repeat the same question. Why not copy paste my last response and engage with what I am saying instead of trying to block out what I am saying?

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            11. Why would you do that?

              Because you seem somewhat preoccupied with lions cleaning the pride’s genetic line.

              Rather these oughts are properties of reality that we do not directly see. So how have you demonstrated that evolution tracks them?

              It is you who is claiming the truths are there, complete, lying in the background, fixed, and they’re revealed. If they’re revealed, then the single mechanism driving this revelation is evolution; biological, and later, memetic. Human lineage is over 7 million years.

              Why would that be important to how I lived my life?

              Because this seems to be central to your worldview, and if your worldview can’t explain reality, then your worldview is fundamentally incoherent. If , however,you’re happy having an incoherent ontological base to your worldview, then fine.

              I answered this in my last response.

              No, you didn’t.

              So, again: if your concept of some objective moral core is true, and these truths are revealed through evolutionary processes (as can be demonstrated through the evolutionary paradigm; the greater neurological/cultural complexity the greater our understanding of right and wrong behaviour), then the question left for you is: Why evolution? What possible rational reason could the Creator have had to invent—literally invent—that slow, messy, painful, error-rich process? What purpose does it serve?

              And again, if you can’t explain “why evolution” then you’re not in possession of an explanatory model, rather a pantomime.

              Liked by 1 person

            12. Joe:
              Why would you do that?
              John:
              Because you seem somewhat preoccupied with lions cleaning the pride’s genetic line.
              Joe:
              But don’t you see you are just trying to be contrarian instead of understanding each of our positions and trying to see the evidence for or against them.
              My position is that we really can’t learn much at all about how to act morally by watching videos of animals. You seem to claim we can learn lots. But then you talk about videos that undercut what you are saying.
              Joe:
              Rather these oughts are properties of reality that we do not directly see. So how have you demonstrated that evolution tracks them?
              John:
              It is you who is claiming the truths are there, complete, lying in the background, fixed, and they’re revealed. If they’re revealed, then the single mechanism driving this revelation is evolution; biological, and later, memetic. Human lineage is over 7 million years.
              Joe:
              Despite my asking you repeatedly you never explained what you even meant by an objective existent moral core. Are you now just going to drop it and pretend you never used that term for several responses?
              This is what I mean when I say scientists are less than coherent when discussing the moral argument.

              And no I wrote a blog giving good reasons why theists and atheists agree evolution is not likely to reveal an objective moral code.
              Joe:
              Why would that be important to how I lived my life?
              John:
              Because this seems to be central to your worldview, and if your worldview can’t explain reality, then your worldview is fundamentally incoherent. If , however,you’re happy having an incoherent ontological base to your worldview, then fine.

              Joe:
              It is not actually important to my world view (let alone central) whether God created people over 50 billion years or 13 billion. It is harder to imagine facts that are less important.

              Joe:
              I answered this in my last response.
              John:
              No, you didn’t.
              Joe:
              Your refusal to quote or address my response does not mean I did not give one.
              John:
              So, again: if your concept of some objective moral core is true,
              Joe:

              LOL now it is “my” concept of an “objective moral core”?
              I never even heard of any such thing until you asked me if I believed certain things you seemed to claim to believe in. Here is where I first even heard of the term from you:
              John:
              “You accept that evolution is true. You accept that humans are a part of the evolutionary paradigm and are still evolving. You accept that moral behaviour is evident as an emergent phenomena, a product of natural, unguided evolutionary processes. Critically, you also believe there exists some objective moral core. Demonstrably, awareness of this is revealed through evolutionary processes; while similar, a monkeys concept of something like fair play is not as complex as ours, the differences being neural processing power/language/more complex capacity for memetic evolution.”
              Joe:
              So do you believe any of this? Or do you believe everything except the “objective moral core” bit that you never explained? I told you what I agree with but now you are saying you are backing away from this? Ok what parts do you believe? And yes I suppose you did make up that whole bit about “some objective moral core” that “exists.”

              John:
              and these truths are revealed through evolutionary processes (as can be demonstrated through the evolutionary paradigm; the greater neurological/cultural complexity the greater our understanding of right and wrong behaviour),
              Joe:
              You seem to be trying to put words in my mouth. I said I believe that some things are objectively moral or immoral. And by that I mean that it is really wrong to kill millions of people because they are jewish and it really is morally wrong to kill babies because they are crying. And it is objectively wrong because the wrongness does not depend on our believing it is wrong. Even if you or I or everyone else thought it was morally good to do these killings it wouldn’t make it right. That’s my understanding. What you mean by that other gibberish is anyone’s guess and you refuse to explain it despite many requests.

              John:
              then the question left for you is: Why evolution? What possible rational reason could the Creator have had to invent—literally invent—that slow, messy, painful, error-rich process? What purpose does it serve?
              And again, if you can’t explain “why evolution” then you’re not in possession of an explanatory model, rather a pantomime.
              Joe:
              I don’t need to even assume there was a purpose in creating us this way as opposed to another. I don’t see why it matters.
              Evolution is an explanatory model that explains some things but not everything. As to those purposes that go beyond evolution neither of us has any explanation. You seem to think I need to have one or my worldview fails but yours is fine without these explanations.

              Lets say we see someone put French Dressing on a salad. And you say demand I explain why they put French dressing on the salad! And I say I don’t know or care why they put French Dressing on the salad. And you say well then you have no explanatory model! Ok yes I don’t have an explanatory model as to why a person put French dressing on a salad as opposed to Italian. Likewise I don’t have an explanataion of why God took 13.8 billion years as opposed to a second faster or slower. Or why he didn’t take 50.8 billion years. That is true. But none of this matters to me in the least. Do you think it really does matter and I am lying? Do you think I lay awake at night thinking “gee if I could only prove it took God 50.8 years then everything would fall into place!”

              Why did God use evolution as opposed to a matrix where we pop into existence having the same experience we do but it was much shorter? Well I don’t know he didn’t do that. But it doesn’t matter to me either. I would still try to figure out how I should live my life.

              It just seems odd to me that you would even think I find these questions important when nothing about how I will live my life hinges on the answers to these questions.

              Lets say you found out evolution or the big bang took substantially longer or shorter. Would that change how you live your life?

              At this point since you almost never answer any of my questions I again wonder why I ask questions of scientists.

              John:
              I am happy to have a thoughtful discussion about the moral argument with you. But you should understand some of the basics of meta-ethics first. Here is a blog I did that I believe offers some of the basics.
              https://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/20/what-do-you-mean-im-wrong/
              There is also the Stanford encyclopedia and books like whatever happened to good and evil by Russ Shaefer Landau.

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            13. Despite my asking you repeatedly you never explained what you even meant by an objective existent moral core.

              Your “oughts.”

              I don’t need to even assume there was a purpose in creating us this way as opposed to another. I don’t see why it matters.

              Creating us? So you don’t actually believe in evolution. You’re a Creationist, and humans are not evolving. Is that correct?

              So, you can demonstrate then that no genetic mutations at all are occurring in humans?

              If you can’t, then I’m afraid to inform we, we’re an evolved ape, and we’re still evolving.

              Now, you seem to be really struggling here, which is odd considering the size of the claims you’re throwing about. It’s not, however, at all complicated.

              Given what you believe (the fixed presence of your “oughts”), I’m asking you to explain Why this world exists, in the manner that it exists. In other words: Why evolution?

              Either you can explain it in the context of your worldview, or you can’t.

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            14. No John I’m not a creationist. And there can be several causes for something coming to be. For example atheists might realize the big bang also was a cause for our coming into existence not *just* evolution. Theists just think God is a key part of that chain.

              I am perfectly ok with the idea we are still evolving. So none of that applies.

              And no I am not struggling here. You are. That is why it is easy for me to answer all of your questions about my views but you have tried to ignore so many of mine. And are now trying to change the topic away from morality.

              And John there is no inconsistency in believing in objectively real morality and believing in evolution. Neither atheists nor Christians can explain why we came to be through evolution as opposed to some other method, and this does not conflict with the world having real morality. Plenty of atheists accept objective moral realism.

              As to why God created us through the big bang, or evolution, or with DNA etc etc etc as opposed to some other way I don’t pretend to know, nor do I care. Believing we have purposes does not mean we must know every purpose of God.

              Many of your posts on these issues are so full of non-sequiturs and incoherence it is astounding. John I have been told you are well read and smart and I have no reason to think differently. So I am not saying you are irrational or intellectually incapable. These meta-ethical issues are not easy to get our head around. So it is ok to admit you need to get a handle on the terminology and concepts. You don’t need to be an expert on everything. It has taken the dumb ass typing this right now decades to get the basics and there are still some articles that I read and have no clue what they are saying. But I am trying my best to act rationally.

              My advise is to stop caring so much about trying to prove God doesn’t exist. I can honestly say that not caring about proving God or convincing others (or myself) has been very helpful for me. Relaxing my grip allowed my brain will work better.

              Here is the thing: Even if the Christian God does exist he is loving and cares about you. You don’t need to be fearful if you are honestly doing your best to figure out what you should do/believe. If God is going to judge us for things beyond our control then – ok, by definition they are beyond our control. And rational people don’t worry about things beyond their control.

              So lets understand we are all in the same boat trying to do our best. There is no reason to be against people who see things differently.

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            15. These meta-ethical issues are not easy to get our head around.

              You’re speaking to a person with a degree in philosophy.

              But OK. So you can’t explain Why this world exists, in the manner that it exists. You can’t explain 13.8 billion years of evolutionary history. You have no idea Why the Creator created, or even Why man is still evolving. If you’re happy with this comprehensively incoherent worldview, then fine. Good for you. Feel free, however, to waste your next 10,000 words saying absolutely nothing on someone else, because I’m afraid I’m thoroughly bored with this intellectually barren, studiously ignorant, evidence-less pantomime of yours.

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            16. Nothing at all works when you insist on throwing the god hypothesis on top of everything. We could actually make some progress if everyone would get their head out of Jesus or any other God as a creator. If the search led to that, that would be just fine, but it doesn’t and it never has. Only if you want it to

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            17. Starting with the massive presupposition that ours is an artificial world, but not being able to explain why it was created in the first place, is never going to produce anything but pantomimes… As Joe has so effectively demonstrated.

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            18. Maybe it’s not a pantomime, but maybe Joe is a mime. Touching and wandering his way across the wall that is not there. Shaping and molding this existence in his own mind.

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            19. That’s fine, as long as he has no contact with children.

              His problem is he can’t even establish his first premise, that his particular god, the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, is a competent agent in the evolutionary processes… Necessary by his own reckoning to reveal these fixed “oughts,” as he puts it. Does the fact that 80% of all mutations being harmful to an organism’s fitness speak to competent guidance, or randomness? There have been 11 major extinction events, so is he attributing these to the supposedly mindful, caring Yhwh? From a historical perspective, does ‘competent’ and ‘caring’ translate to, for example, the Great Oxygen Catastrophe 2.5 billion years ago which killed off virtually all life on earth, but created an oxygen-rich atmosphere which enabled multicellular life to take root? Any rational person would conclude, No; having to kill off virtually all life because you stupidly got the atmosphere wrong does not indicate competence or mindfulness.

              When applied to the actual world, you cannot help but see just how incoherent his worldview is. It does not explain the world that is, has been, and will be, and without that, he does not have an explanatory model, just a pantomime that collapses under even the gentlest of enquiries.

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            20. It would be very interesting to learn something new, fresh look for a brute insight of some type, but it seems these guys all go to the same school. How many years have we been hearing the same things and it has never improved?

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            21. I think we have to remember John that we’re arguing reason against physiology. The hardwired neurons are pretty soldered after so much repetition.

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            22. John that’s great you have a degree in philosophy. It may be helpful if you ever want to learn about meta-ethics. That way you can learn some of the terminology and wont keep talking about “objective moral cores” whatever you mean by that. You will actually be able to express your views using terms used in the field.

              As for you being “bored” well yeah that is how our last discussion ended. Maybe because I have a bachelors in philosophy and have spent time studying these issues makes you less enthused to continue a conversation you cant bs your way through. Just like last time I answered all the questions you put to me, you just ignored mine, and now you are again pompous, full of insults and ungrateful.

              You identified nothing incoherent in my world view. Saying I “can’t explain 13.8 billion years of evolutionary history” is so obtuse a charge I am not even sure what you are asking of me. As I repeatedly said it doesn’t matter to me if the universe existed 13.8 billion years or 50.8 billion years before I arrived on the scene. And you offered no reason why it should.

              Go ahead and try to peddle your nonsense to people who don’t know any better because it won’t work with me.

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            23. If you can’t decipher three little words “objective moral cores” I think we’re going to have a problem observing morality in nature, thereby bypassing a chance to learn another way of actually seeing things.
              What’s bothersome really is you have this overthinked and underexplained so much that it hard to know if you have a point.

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            24. Jim

              My point is to share my views and learn what others think if they are willing to answer questions I have. That is why I answer questions put to me and ask people what they think. I answer questions because I am fine with people examining my views. People like John will not answer questions because he does not want his views examined.

              And no I have no idea what an “existing objective moral core” is. (or “cores” plural) It is likely a term he invented. It is fine to invent new words (with in limits) but when people ask you what you mean by them you might answer, so that you both understand what your even talking about.

              As far as overthinking I’m sorry I didn’t turn off my brain as soon as I had doubts about God. There were still questions about how I should live my life that I think are important so I took them seriously. I learned what I could from wise philosophers in this field as well as history and thought for myself.

              As far as underexplaining. I have learned that we can’t explain everything and spending time on certain explanations are more important than others. Explaining why the universe took 13.8 billion years instead of 50.8 billion years is an interesting question. And I admit I don’t know the answer, but it is not going to change how I live day to day. Would it for you?

              Hopefully you will not be so afraid of sharing your views as John is and answer that question.

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            25. I am not going to waste more time with you copying pasting the questions over and over. Anyone can look back and see you ignored almost all the questions I asked you, while I tried to answer all the questions you put to me. (even if my honest answer was I don’t know.)

              If you do think about some of those questions you might understand that moral questions are complex. Your failure to recognize or grasp the complexity does not change that reality.

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            26. As far as I could see, you didn’t ask any actual questions, just line after line of rhetorical questions, which should be ignored for obvious (rhetorical) reasons.

              So again, if you have an *actual* question, then by all means ask it.

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            27. John

              Time to call out your lying again. Time and again I have called you out for refusing to answer questions. Even in this discussion 48 hours ago after you refused to answer many questions I put to you in a prior post I start my post by saying:

              “So here we go again discussing meta-ethics with an scientist. You will refuse to answer any questions I put to you and I will give you answers and you will be ungrateful.”

              And you are still trying to claim “oh I didn’t think I wanted you to answer the questions I thought they were rhetorical.” You may be used to talking with fools, but I won’t buy it.

              I said that because that is how it always goes with you. And I have commented on that other times in this discussion and other discussion before this. You never answer the questions put to you because you don’t want to examine your own views. You are uncomfortable with it. That’s fine but don’t lie. (Maybe lying is fine for you as you likely think morality is just something we made up – who knows you will never say)

              And John, if you think I find your views so important that I am going to go back to the posts and recopy and paste them so *maybe,* this time, the wise man will answer … well you are insane in your sense of self importance.

              All my posts are still up full of questions for you to answer if you want. But by and large you just dance around in your incoherence and that is why you ended up changing the topic.

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            28. So Joey, how do you determine if something is right or wrong? You’ve had days to explain and still said nothing. Use your meta-ethic prowess right here to enlighten us. What is the meaning of your moral terms or judgments?What do you rely on for these judgements and how will those judgements affect me?
              Btw, meta ethics is not the end all, be all of moral philosophy though you act like it’s got all the answers.

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            29. Jim

              I admit to being pretty naive in thinking people have good intentions when the vast majority of people will have long ago seen otherwise. But even I see bad faith here.

              I’m happy to talk to people who want to have a discussion. I think anyone can read these comments and see that I have spent time answering questions you and john put to me but you two spent no time answering questions put to you. Now you are asking even more questions before answering any of mine.

              Why don’t you guys show some good faith and answer those questions I put to you and then I will be happy to continue discussing this with you.

              In the mean time yes obviously meta-ethics is not the end all and be all of philosophy. It does however deal with the foundational beliefs of how and why we would live one way or another. And that is pretty important to me. Maybe having a coherent answer to how you should live is not important to everyone but it is to me.

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            30. Why are you wasting words (and time) *not* asking your supposed question?

              If you have an *actual* question (not just the sea of rhetorical ones) then ask it…

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            31. I have a question! Ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me!!
              Do you think if we put mere belief/faith in it’s proper perspective (as conviction of baseless thoughts) that we could construct a civil morality using our own ideas instead of the archaism of the murderous goat herding vagabond of the ancient near east?
              The really the only pertinent questions here. Can we or can’t we? Or (will we or won’t we) put away traditional division and feud of religious belief?

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            32. Sounds promising. If we follow that path I’m sure we can end slavery, animal sacrifice, the death penalty for virtually every perceived transgression, and usher in a world people are excited to live in 😉

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            33. A good avenue to pursue this would be using children under 10 years old. Observing the natural cohesion of mere babes strips religion of all its purported mystery. I think as reasonable un religious people this new morality could be on the shelves in about two months.

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            34. First of all, I offered an idea (of my own) possibly not of established terminology but to see if we could agree on one simple truth (remember the rock) and you fired back with an anthology of objections. This is not going to accomplish anything if we can’t start with one thing. That would be an interesting exercise to get to diametrically different people to agree at all. You seem unwilling to concede to true discussion. The foundations will be built on one brute fact. Whether you like it or not the style of apologists run the same flavor. You answered with a barrage of bullshit points (look up Gish Gallup) I don’t have the time or desire to address. This is my blog and I try to be open and fair and present my own thoughts. That is disrespected when you criticize every point but offer no reason why.
              You referred to my post as a handbook for anarchy, or something like that. That sounds all well and good, but why it would lead to that would be more productive.
              I am quite willing to adjust my views or even construct a civil morality line by line with an opposing stranger because I know it is simple if we avoid the miles and miles of useless commentary that has brought men to this point. Think of it like the gospel. The simplicity of the Christian idea is now lost in volumes no lay person has time to address or read. It now falls back to the preachers who made them. I have my own power and don’t care for their attempts to control. First with force, now with confusion.

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            35. Jim this is what you said:

              “I would offer this Joe. We start from scratch and agree on one truth. Let’s say, physical pain and bodily autonomy.”

              It is not a complete sentence. What about pain and bodily autonomy do you want me to agree to?

              Now you went on to say we don’t like having our finger smashed. On that I agree. If you think you can build a moral system on that ok, I gave it to you.

              I did not hit you with a barrage of objections so much as a barrage of questions. When I think about those questions it seems to me morality is not so simple. So I did want to see how you would answer them, since you do seem to again claim it is so simple.

              I did not say your view was anarchy I said it reminded me of the Cultural revolution.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution

              ” There are hurdles, traditions to overcome—cultural norms.”

              Things like that in particular. There was also the cult of reason during the French revolution that came to mind as well.

              I do see you clearly say you do not intend this morality to work through government. But I do think all laws are based on morality.

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            36. I knew from the beginning what you were talking about, and if you’d ever bothered to actually engage another person’s thoughts, then you would have understood from the very first comment that I rejected your claims as a substanceless attempt to complicate something that really isn’t complicated at all. And that’s your problem, Joe: you’re not interested in learning anything. Instead, you appear quite pleased being wrapped inside an uncritical, evangelical bible school understanding of philosophy, pretending you can ignore the real world; the world where facts, evidence, and history matter. That might work well for you in small-town Missouri, but it doesn’t make it in the big world.

              Now, I understand, you’re insanely desperate for there to *be* a mystery, but there is no mystery. This subject is not sophisticated. Read that sentence over and over and over again until it begins to register. This subject is not sophisticated.

              You want mysticism, I get that, but it’s biology, neurology, and culture. And by ignoring the presented evidence (while offering absolutely nothing by way of counterargument) you were showing yourself to be little more than a “studiously ignorant” interlocutor.

              If you could actually engage the real world, the world where facts and evidence and history matter—as I gave you plenty of opportunities to do so—then you would have been able to address the critical questions put to you regarding evolution (as the mechanism necessary to reveal the fixed moral truths you say exist, but remain hidden until a certain level of biological complexity is achieved) while still retaining the core of your belief system.

              You failed dismally on this front, and the sad thing here is I don’t think you even understand what that failure means to you, personally, and more broadly, your worldview… and that is why I called this exchange “intellectually barren,” and your worldview thoroughly incoherent. You throw boatloads of words out, but you say nothing.

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          2. Don’t have the time or energy to go on at length on this though I’d love to so, for what it’s worth I totally agree with Jim on this one. A lifetime of experience deeply in, then completely out, of religion backs my comment.

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            1. Thank you. I have found over the last two years here that Christians are literally unable to connect the dots to even understand a different argument. They resort to petty put downs and never address a point. After years of repetition the problem is hardwired in the neurons and your now arguing reason against their physiology. How long has religion been arguing these same points and there has never been a moment of peace due to this imagined emergency to save souls by coercion.

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    1. Long ago a wise Israelite thought it wise to mitigate menstruation and grew the moral code into what we have today. It was a beautiful combination of butting into everyone’s business, to controlling the food and the number of steps one could take on a sabbath. I know it might be hard, but I think we can outdo it.

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      1. By way of a question, I like this one: If I met myself would I like myself? It’s not universally applicable, assholes might like other assholes (*See Trump), but for most functionally human types it can work to straighten out bad behaviour.

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        1. There has to be some mediation. I was following your conversation with Mel. How can gods energy be felt, when the one that emits the energy can’t be felt or seen? It’s like feeing the fm radio waves from a radio you can’t see, from a song you can’t hear. I think Mel blow-dried his hair in a microwave too long at this point. Along with Loy.

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            1. Would it do any good to say anything about it? That’s why I didn’t. Your argument is so spot on! He knows it too. At this point he is just as Hoffer said “the man of words cared little how the vulgar herd was befitted to their superstitious darkness” He’ll pile it on so fast no one has time to sift through it. Wow, our pastor is so smart!

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            2. Do any good? It would if Mel cared about contradictions and absurdities. That’s the question: does he care? One second he says God is only revealed through spirit energy, then says Jesus physically revealed himself… which a second before was, apparently, impossible.

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            3. Guys … here’s my take (for what it’s worth). Wild Mel is totally and completely indoctrinated like all Christians. He has his mind made up that his god is real and all that’s written about him/her/it in the holy babble is true, accurate, and can’t be disputed. So no matter how much evidence or how much reasoning or how much logic (along with erudite references and quotes) you put forth on his blog, nothing you offer is going to change his mind. (Remember, he’s felt “His” presence … and “His” love … and “His” forgiveness.)

              I know some of you think he’s actually “on the edge,” but I tend to disagree. Besides, even if he’s been swayed at all by any of your arguments, he’s never going to admit it on his blog. Instead, he’ll continue to dance and sashay around everything you put in front of him.

              Anyway … that’s my take on the whole thing. Right or wrong.

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            4. Completely agree, he’s in it. Doubly so because it’s his livlihood. I figured, though, after calling everyone of us “incoherent” hundreds of times over the last 2 years it’d be somewhat poetic to return the favour in his (supposedly) last apologetics post… repeatedly… 🙂

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            5. He’s a deist with a Christian congregation. His transformation is complete. Now he can rule the universe with his son Darth Brainyawn

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            6. Deist or Pantheist, absolutely agree. They’d both be happier if they had the courage to actually admit it.

              So, what happened to your comment? Where is it?

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  1. Bravo, Jim! I’ve been advocating for an objective alternative to religious morality for a long time. It is so badly needed. The quote from Lord Byron is spot-on:

    “Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves”

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  2. Absolutely! I wish more credit were given to the word “traditional” being used as a euphemism for “the way we have always done it,” with “always” being defined as “that I can remember.” At one point in time tradition was a viable mode of transmission of culture. This was before people could read or had anything to read, we were taught how to do things as we were taught to do them. By doing that, we survived in a better state than if we had not. Now I am not sure what “tradition” is or what value it has to our society.

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    1. My house is an interesting paradox of conflicting tradition. The wife, from panama, me, the gringo, and the kids are citizens of both countries. Wow! Panama has some hocus pocus going on, while I always look for a reasonable explanation. We have some great opportunities to Reason out some of the old ways with the kids. While some of it is funny, a lot of it has serious implications that can literally stunt your critical thinking and create fear where none should exist. My wife saw both growing up in the Canal Zone, but even with good skills, her first instinct is of Latin American origin. She swims out of it every time, but it’s a conscious effort. And she’s not as ingrained as most.

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      1. Well said, Loy! Mindlessly rejecting tradition is not inherently better than mindlessly accepting it. They’re equally mindless.

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      2. You may be in error there, friend. Tradition means refusing to admit that the wheel has been invented and that it is superior to tying two sticks on the old woman’s back and making her drag the vegetables to the market.

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        1. In two months Loy has failed to say or add anything relevant. He swallowed some Hecklers Coch and its has stunted his growth.

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            1. I think you’re quite able. Your comment about love was quite good today. I’ll give you 1 Point for that. It would be worth two if it didn’t get conflated with your god. Now you’re hitting .048 which is pretty good for a Catholic. In would suggest instead of being contrary to everything, just state the catholic version. At least maybe we’d learn something.

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  3. Your starting quote with Sam Harris is that from the TED podcast he did? That’s where I just heard it, although I’m sure it’s something he’s said before. It’s a great quote and I completely agree. Interestingly in that interview I thought the interviewer was fabulous and asked a lot of questions to Sam Harris that I would like to ask regarding how he packages his message. While I think we need some people with this blunt force approach and I have no doubt that it works for some people, I feel that it probably sends far too many people in the opposite direction as well. Sometimes you just can’t subscribe to someone’s good ideas when you just think he’s an asshole. Don’t get me wrong, I like to listen to Sam Harris a lot, but often times you just see him heading towards the cliff and all you can do is just shake your head. As Fareed Zakaria said to him during Sam’s podcast interview “You’re right, but you’re not helping.” I think that’s a great philosophical point. Sometimes being right just isn’t the entire answer. We’re social, and we still need to be able to connect with people, especially if we feel our message is important enough. Sam Harris has a lot of important messages. Sorry for the tangent!

    Traditional behaviors are ones of great un-reasons.

    I think I know what you meant here, but I think this statement requires some unpacking because I don’t entirely agree. I think there is a reason we have traditions . I also think that reason is used when traditions begin. I mean most cultural practices, at least when they began were unlikely to have manifested arbitrarily. If a culture develops a rain dance, it’s probably because they’ve lived through drought and starvation. If a culture enforces modesty over sexual overtness, perhaps this culture at one point had a serious over population problem. I think it’s difficult to make the argument than any particular tradition arose without the people using reason. They of course didn’t probably understand what actually was going on and their best solution for dealing with the problem might make no sense given the knowledge we have today, but people in the past were working with a lot less information.

    There is a great youtube video that I often share called Good Without Gods where they use an example of a culture suddenly banning the use of green paint. Because in this society the only way to make green paint is with the leaves from a specific plant, but this leaf can also be used to make a life saving medicine for a disease that suddenly gets into the society. If such a thing happened well in the past we might well find that they still ban the use of green paint. Those of us on the outside would think this was arbitrary and silly, especially since green paint can now be made from a variety of methods. But we can say, at least at some point the reason for banning green paint.

    That being said, why traditions persist when they no longer have any practical value I think is when reason becomes important. For something as benign as green paint we might argue well who really cares even if it’s a bit silly not to use green paint, but there are many practices which are harmful in our world today, even if at one time there might have been some collective good that came out of it.

    Sam Harris’ moral landscape makes perfect sense to me, and I do think that we can objectively evaluate moral claims. Maybe at most we can say is moral practice A is better than moral practice B, and as Sam Harris says maybe there is a moral practice C that is even better than B but we don’t know what it is yet, or we think we’ve reached some peak and our unaware of better states of human flourishing. There is definitely the possibility that there is a different moral system that is no worse or better between cultures and I think we should really try to understand other practices, because this may lead to a system that combines elements of both, but I think it’s simply untrue to argue that all morality is relative. That one culture’s practice of female circumcision, is just as morally valid as another culture’s decision to let women decide what happens to their own bodies. I think we can objectively evaluate the morality of both practice and come up with a winner.

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    1. We have to be open to try. I already have a Loy comment that invokes his god, which has been a failure to even themselves. Removing the ambiguity would be a start (of the Bible) and a simple start is better than none. We have evolved past the green paint, and I think we can do better. Great comment!

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      1. Indeed. I think everybody needs to watch Fiddler on the Roof to first see why people would struggle letting go of traditions and also how traditions cause problems when they are not allowed to be critiqued or reviewed!

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          1. It also makes me wonder how many times people have pretended some anscestor or religious figure came to them in a dream to convince somebody to do something. I think I would shudder to hear such a number!

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            1. I never saw that version. I have the version with Topol who I also thought was very good. I’ve seen it live a couple of times…my alma mater for Ph.D., University of Wyoming, had a really great theater program and they did an amazing job actually.

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            2. It was topol. I’m up too early. I fixed it right after I sent it. I was up at 2:30 with a free will dream. I think you’ll find it intriguing.

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        1. I feel shame. Thanks for your keen-eye for those details. Bill found another one too. I should get an editor pre-publish. My midnight brain ain no good no more.

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            1. Lol. Yes, thank you. I’ve read a lot of Christian material, so I’m familiar with the rubbish. And of course, I’ve read your too. I don’t miss steaks.

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  4. Taking a copy of Byron quote. Love it. Since IMO objective morality has been so subjective in history, then repeated, I will have to stick with a ‘we shall see’ attitude. During the 90s, when I went through a big change of being me, my mantra was ‘do no harm.’ I was learning that when I tried to make things better, I made them worse, often quite a mess. I then changed to ‘sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.’ My single truth: ‘there are no gods.’ Now what?

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    1. Thanks. Doing nothing is often the best way. Judicious help is difficult when compassion can be so strong. I only help if it’s helping, not enabling. It can get dicey when you get into it. I learned that in Panama. Thanks for the free tip, too.

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        1. And I thought I slept in! Forgot all about that. We used to have to move the clocks. That was an immoral time. This going backwards once a year must have christians celebrating!

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          1. My twice a year ritual that serves only to mess with my sleep pattern for a few days. This one was a bigger move when we lived in PNW. Darkness early.

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        1. Most of my neighbors there, minus a few, of course, take pride in their resilience. We were discussing politics near the Varella election, and one man was telling me he didn’t care who won. “We have seen dictators, communists, democracy, socialism, more dictators, yet here we are”. Very resourceful people that can sometimes be crippled by temporary fixes. Many of them know better than to accept help. Sometimes being left alone to operate out of the system is all they really want. Country folks can do that a little easier, and that’s were the help tends to show up. Weird.

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          1. Perhaps not so weird, but part of a sinister agenda. “Help” people who don’t need help, make them dependent, or their kids, and disempower them forever. Independent people are a thorn in the side of the system, of any system. On a less sinister tangent, it may be that country people appear to need more help because they “look” poor, or another possibility, there are way less of them so helping them will appear much more “efficient” than tackling an overcrowded favela.

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            1. They are definitely poor, but happier than anyone I know in the states. And very close to nature. Literally they all know every plant, what parts to eat, what to use for medicines, and so on. It’s a step back in time. I love the people in my junglehood.

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    1. Exactly. When Christians talk about morality, they don’t always say it but sexual purity is the big control issue. Their piety drives them crazy. And there’s no actual innate morality there, but consensus could easily be reached through reason. There are consequences, and open dialog with kids is more effective than abstinence anyway.

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      1. I think abstinence is good though as it is the only 100% effective birth control 😉 Open dialogue is key about all the detriments of promiscuity. Best to stay off sex until you’re ready to handle the consequences, like smoking or drinking… Don’t start if you don’t want to get addicted and have health issues! Or for sex get pregnant or an STD or risk your safety with strangers!

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        1. Interesting little joke there!! You an ex baptist or AoG? Lol. We’ve had very frank discussions with all our kids, adopted and steps too, and it was very effective. We went through all the scenarios we could think of with them. They actually had to think about “if” they got someone pregnant or got pregnant how it would affect their life and dreams, and our lives as well. Never once said it was bad, evil, or invoked guilt from god. It was very effective.

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          1. No… I never truly believed in a religion… I became secular in middle school, but I never actually believed in a god beyond what wider society told me so it was quite easy to let go of any notions of a god… I just think abstinence is a good idea as I stated above. You get none of the risks of sex if you don’t actually do it! No divine reasoning or guilt required…

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            1. The why of your brand of abstinence is important. Why because it’s bad, or why because there are consequences? Typically, as soon as something is outlawed it becomes more valuable, desired, creating intrigue. Knowledge is power.
              Knowing the “why” solves a lot of mystery. The right doesn’t want sex-ed in schools around here, but they won’t teach their kids at home either. It’s not working.

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            2. I do have reservations though about schools teaching though, not because it should be censored by any means, no! But because they can push their own narrative and impose their own morality on what should be a family decision to teach…

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    1. Discovery is wonderful, isn’t it. I would be in favor of reason prior to sex. We wait too long to talk to our kids about it because it’s difficult and dirty in this culture. Puritanism has turned sex into this huge traditional secret that few can talk openly about. Abstinence education is another epic failure. Frank, open dialog with kids does work.

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      1. My parents talked quite frankly with me about all the ins and outs of risk regarding sex, without any divine guilt trip. Their reasons are exactly the “why” of why I advocate for not having sex before you’re in a committed relationship, such as marriage. Unwanted pregnancy, STD’s and risking one’s safety with strangers in hook ups are the “whys” of abstinence, just as lung cancer and dental decay is a “why” of not smoking or addiction is a “why” of abstaining from drugs and alcohol! The abstinence I’m talking about is the literal act of not having sex, even with protection as protection is not 100% effective, NOT the Catholic or fundie divine guilt trip because God said “no”… Abstinence is not just telling your kids “don’t have sex m’kay?”, it’s telling them abstinence is the best way because of A. B. and C…. I knew all the dirty details about sex and hook ups including sexual assault/rape since grade school!

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    1. We would have to start somewhere, right? Christian morality needs an update towards reality. The big moral button is sex, and hiding it and making it dirty has done nothing to curb anything. Just makes sneaky liars out of everyone. Frank and open discussion and education is actually quite effective from my own experience.

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      1. Christian morality is love of God and neighbor. As far as I am able to discern, our God-given reason validates it.

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        1. Your god given reason has historically allowed believers to split enough hairs to kill whatever they want. Including people that had land they were interested in. We just went through hunting season here on the mountain. Your people with this higher law, will do whatever they have to do to kill a deer. Even trespass, shoot near the house, even shot my juvy buck out of the yard. Poor dumb deer had the Gaul to grow an early set of antlers.

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            1. Why don’t we try adding a new idea to the conversation. Every system needs an upgrade, but there’s always someone that wants to stick with the old one. Sure, there are bugs in any improvement, but it’s time to dump out your old RCA vacuum tubes Loy, we’re going new-tech here. An actual idea might help.

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            2. @jim: Of course the whole point is to grow in virtue, but as far as as first principles go, if you can improve on love of neighbor, let’s hear it.

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            3. That is a great start Loy. I take issue that is buried deep in the text. It should be in the first and last sentence. One has to scour through 31,102 verses to get to a few words of kindness. We can to better.

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            4. @jim: So you’re really just quibbling over the editing of some source documents? Okay, then, that’s a lot less drastic than it sounded at first.

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            5. Do you have any improvements to add? I quit watching the muppets quite a while back. The critics were funny, but that all.

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            6. @raw: Obviously I mean everyone. Have I suggested otherwise? I’m curious why the question would occur to you.

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        2. There is nothing moral about proscribed morality from a dictator who is capricious, jealous, and emotionally unstable. There is nothing remotely benevolent about the abrahamic construct you refer to as a god. God lite was a god fraud with a propaganda motive not a message. It’s all in the book if you care to look.

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          1. Quote: “There is nothing remotely malevolent about the abrahamic construct …” I think you meant to write: “benevolent” instead of “malevolent” because Yahweh is utterly malevolent in its constructed biblical nature.

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            1. Oh contrare Sha’Tara.

              From the printed pages of the the book you glean your notion of goodness comes arguably the most despicable character you can imagine. Jealous and proud of it. A petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak. This thing is a vindictive, bloodthirsty perp of ethnic cleansing and is a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Kinda roles of the tong.

              If you would like the literal chapter and verse, as they appear in your handy dandy knowledge quide, they have been categorized by the attributes just mentioned. All can be found in the 306 page book of just bible verse categorized in the book by the noted and respected Biblical Scholar, Dan Baker, titled “God: The Most Unpleasant Character In All Fiction.

              I recommend you share it with your friends when they get extra smug about your gods nature. It is truly illuminating.

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            2. I think you have your comment mixed up. Sha actually agrees with you. You has a small typo that put your comment out of context. I fixed it sir

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            3. Ah… hum… nationofhope, we need to realize we are on the same page here. I totally AGREE with you, there is no “au contraire” at all. I read your comment and agreed with it except, pardon me for being forward here, but you used the opposite term you obviously meant to use. Benevolent means good; malevolent means evil, correct? Jim corrected the typo and all’s well in the engine room again. ‘Ready to dive, captain!’

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        3. History has played that one out well. lol Seriously man, you have to be one the most selective bible readers ever to believe that. I’m sure all the bad parts are metaphors written by people who couldn’t grasp that unknowable deity that all Christians pretend to know.

          And I am sure there is no other reason why we would want to be loving to one another, other than God saying we should.

          I don’t know about your God-given reason, but your God-given biases are finely tuned.

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            1. Lol… I’d love for you to reveal my biases with an evidence based discussion. We both know that isn’t going to happen unless you invent what evidence means as you are apt to do.

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            2. Ah yes, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle… behold your god, people! What I mean by that is, I think the principle of indeterminacy, to the tiny bit I comprehend it, is exquisite! As long as it holds its own, we will never ‘know it all’ and as long as we must function within this limitation we will not entirely succumb to hubris.

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            3. I’m sure all the bad parts are metaphors written by people who couldn’t grasp that unknowable deity that all Christians pretend to know.

              On the second thought, I’m not sure biased is the right word, since I have no idea what it’s trying to say. Let’s just say it’s sophomoric.

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    1. Probably not all, but the traditions that are harmful to others. I am trying to be realistic here, but take Utah for instance ; nearly 700,000 hunters hit the mountains for the opening day of hunting season. Schools are closed the Friday before, and the killing begins. That is a bad tradition. It’s not our inherent right to harm. You have one from Kenya as well?

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      1. Can’t wait for the day they decide shooting helpless animals isn’t fun anymore and they’ll have “Hunt the Hunters’ Hunt Clubs” and when they hit those hills it will be to kill each other. Sweet!

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      2. On a side note, I was at Canadian Tire yesterday, a place I do try to avoid, and when I walked past the hunting and camo gear section – I want to puke but that’s me – I saw… ready for this? A bright pink rifle. That’s right, just for the little woman, eh?

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        1. Both food and sport. The us government has waged war on the coyote for a hundred years. There is still a bounty on them. Funny thing is coyotes have a colonization gene they turn on and off quickly. When pressured, they have bigger litters. When left alone, they stabilize in one generation. The ultimate blood sport—Self propagating and regulating targets for the sport hunters. It’s tradition. Hunting for food is a sport too. People are well fed here, and the cost of a license and hunting trips are way more than the cost of food.

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        1. Well, all babies who are truly saved are baptized Christian. Surely you know this fact. So, I only eats ’em after they’ve been dipped in agua. They taste MUCH better for some reason after baptism. Proof Jesus is real, I’d say, eh. Truth comes from strange sources.

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      1. You make a very good point here. In my opinion, if we believe ourselves to be capable of evolving on other than a physical plane, i.e., as intelligent, sentient and self aware beings, we should as of first importance search out our traditions and declare them all persona non grata. We need reason, common sense and these guided by compassion. Traditions can only stop us from moving forward: it’s like time change, we think we’ve moved ahead an hour and it pulls us back exactly where we came from. In the vernacular, all traditions suck, literally.

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  5. My radar picked up on that one, and quote: “the path to contentment starts with a single truth that can be proven beyond all doubt.” (Bear with me, this is quite convoluted here…)
    Since contentment, or a state of contentment, has to be totally individual, not a collective thing,does that mean each individual seeking contentment must discover her/his personal “single truth that can be proven beyond all doubt” which would mean, there is an infinite number of single truth…? One single truth that can be proven beyond all doubt for each individual seeking personal contentment, being fully aware of the fact that what constitutes contentment for one person could be a great source of irritation for another? What, for example, would give me contentment? It would be the absolute knowledge that today, not a single child would die of a preventable cause. That would be a beginning of contentment. What single truth that can be proven beyond all doubt… could give me that contentment? I know, yet I don’t know. It there were but me and that child in the world, nothing/no one else to come between us, I would know what that truth is, it would be that my life belongs of primary importance, to that child, but given the conditions extant on this world today, it simply isn’t possible. My compassion: a proven beyond all doubt truth. My empathy, a close second, I suppose. But do they bring me contentment? No, because they will not, by themselves, prevent that unjust death. I need… all of you… and I thank Swarn Gill for making me see this, even if I don’t know how he did it… yet. I – need – you! Imagine that, huh? I’m having a hard time with this. Thanks Jim for helping me open another window.

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    1. Thank you. You as well Sha’ Tara. In the simplest respect, building block upon block of obvious truth. A known source of pain, for instance, could be the beginning. So much of legislated morals is based on group preferences that don’t hold any natural morality.
      This starting point, through reason, we can agree on fundamental precepts that give every creature the goal, or benefit to be free from pain. I am certainly not all knowing nor have I all the answers, but stepping into a new or better effort I can do.
      “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”
      — Immanuel Kant,
      From this step, Kant concludes that a moral proposition that is true must be one that is not tied to any particular conditions, including the identity and desires of the person making the moral deliberation.
      There is a lot to think about. Good to hear from you.

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      1. The essay and your comment about Kant brought back memories of my philosophy classes in college. We spent hours arguing about Kant’s “universalizability” and the categorical imperative and wrote page after page of convoluted and bizarre arguments. I recall one gal in the class became a devotee of Søren Kierkegaard more because the name made her giggle than for any other reason. The one professor I had my 2nd semester was a great guy, but had a horrible problem with stuttering, and for whatever reason the classroom they assigned us to was the lecture hall that could seat about 200 people and we had 6 students in the class. Very odd situation but we had enormous fun. Drank a lot, too. Us, not the professor. Apparently that was required for philosophy students, drinking. Think it was actually in the syllabus.

        Kant’s concept of universalizability was debated hotly and I jumped in with both feet at the time and cranked out a paper that was way, way too long, filled with the usual convoluted arguments and twists of logic that one finds in papers written by students who don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about. I was astonished to come out of that class with an “A”. I suspect he never actually read any of our papers but instead graded on the paper’s weight. If I were able to re-read that paper today I’d probably think my 17 yr old self was a complete idiot. I don’t know how the poor professor put up with us.

        But I’ll be honest. I wrote that paper because I had to, not because I actually liked Kant all that much. Personally I gravitated towards the absurdists like Camus, and a bit towards their wayward and depressing goth stepchildren with their funeral clothes and black lipstick, metaphorically speaking, the existentialists like Sartre. Mostly, though, the absurdists attracted me. Being a 17 yr old kid in a world of adults where most of my fellow students were at least 20 or older, the Myth of Sisyphus was a fairly apt description of what I was feeling at the time; frustration, helplessness, no control over my life. There were a lot of days when I could relate to poor Sisyphus rolling that damned rock up that hill. Or poor Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis.

        Now, I had a point here when I started this and I suppose I should get around to it because this is already longer than Jim’s original essay. Sheesh, this is what happens when I start writing at 4 in the morning.

        The problem with pretty much all of these philosophical systems is that they will *all* ultimately fail because a significant number of human beings are, to be completely blunt, greedy little weasels who will sacrifice the good of the group for personal gain. I don’t know how we can get around that, either, because it is a left over survival instinct that we evolved with from a time when having more stuff, i.e. food, clothing, weapons, whatever, could mean the difference between dying and survival. Unless we can somehow change the fundamental nature of the human race, I really don’t see how we can ever adopt any kind of universal system of morality that applies to everyone, because there will always been the weasels lurking in the woodwork to take advantage of others, to use them to satisfy their greed for for whatever it is they’re lusting after.

        Now, excuse me, I have to go help Sisyphus push that bloody rock up the hill again…

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        1. The simplicity of any system of thought gets convoluted when people get involved. Dam them! I could picture the pastors lining the street with objection hurdles. Sex before marriage comes to mind.

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        2. Yes human nature is the fundamental stumbling block and it is inside us and all around us. Religion , politics , philosophy and all those most learned arts cannot take the place of central heating or motorised transport. We are indulgers of all that we like and we have a might big team of experts to keep our mobiles up to date.

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        3. Willfully do unto others only that which you would willfully allow others to do unto you. Think about what you are about to do, and if you would not allow others to do it to you, do not do it to others.

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          1. Powerful. No excuses—raw. Thank you. This is the type of simple, effective, and clear statement one would expect from a god. Then no preachers needed.

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            1. Actually, Jim, I stated it a bit wrong. To correct it, I need to change the subject.
              “I will wilfully do unto others only that which I would wilfully allow others to do unto me.”
              This removes it from the realm of rule or command, and moves it into the realm of person promise, or personal action. I literally hate telling others how to live their lives, even though I often fall into that trap. I prefer to put the onus on me, and what I believe. If others choose to make me their role-model, it is them making their own choice for themself.

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      2. 2nd reply and quote: “Kant concludes that a moral proposition that is true must be one that is not tied to any particular conditions, including the identity and desires of the person making the moral deliberation.” THAT is a lot to think about. I’m particularly impressed by the statement, “not tied to any particular conditions” – it’s the ‘not tied to’ I am focusing on, as to me it means detachment. Whatever I think, say or do, I must learn to do from total personal freedom of choice. Therein lies our future as an evolved species.

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