Can one be moral without being religious? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15090346
I suppose this is related to my thread earlier in the year. I am not religious, but it seems to me that it is not possible to form a comprehensive or wholly coherent moral code without basing it off of that of a religion. Sure, you can act in a 'moral' way without adhering to a religion, but why are you behaving in that way, other than for aesthetic or practical reasons? I do not believe that you can actually be moral without some kind of religious framework to justify it.
#15090359
An interesting question would be does a religion have to be moral? I am not sure that moralising was a big feature of the europe's old religions for example. Whether you were a Hellenic or a Germanic your gods were not moral teachers, more like potential business partners. You would try to bribe them with sacrifices in order to gain their help in business or battle but they had no commandments and no strictures for you. When you were not bargaining with them, you just enjoyed the stories of their adventures.

It is fairly debatable that Buddhism is very moralising either. The substance of the religion is the practice of a form of meditation that will induce a state of dispassion called "enlightenment". An enlightened person may incidentally become a highly blameless person but that is not the point of achieving enlightenment. The point is to alleviate one's own suffering, so from the perspective of a militant moralising altruist that is quite a selfish goal. It is hardly any more a moralising prospect than that of those self-help courses that are so popular now. Get ABS of steel with these 3 easy excercises = Be Happy by the Eight Fold Path ??

I do not know much about Hinduism but think there is some evidence that it is a distant cousin of the Germanic / Hellenic pantheon so perhaps it is follows the same general moral ambiguity.

I wonder if it is not fair to say that the Abrhamic religions are most busy body about pushy and exclusive moralising?
#15090363
Morality exists despite religion.

Human society teaches morality, as its necessary to follow the rules and mores of a society. That is, after all, the very definition of morality.

:eh: @SolarCross Your knowledge of Buddhism is very limited, I see. There are many principles within Buddhism(and there are many different types) and most of them, coincidentally enough, line up with other religions. i.e. Don't steal. Do not be unfaithful to your spouse. Do not kill or harm living creatures. Do not lie., etc.

I am exposed to Theravada Buddhism on a daily basis, and it is not as you say it is(at least this version). Perhaps for the monks it is different(as it is with most people who are closer to fundamentalism) but for most people, it's not like that.
#15090371
Godstud wrote:
:eh: @SolarCross Your knowledge of Buddhism is very limited, I see. There are many principles within Buddhism(and there are many different types) and most of them, coincidentally enough, line up with other religions. i.e. Don't steal. Do not be unfaithful to your spouse. Do not kill or harm living creatures. Do not lie., etc.

I am exposed to Theravada Buddhism on a daily basis, and it is not as you say it is(at least this version). Perhaps for the monks it is different(as it is with most people who are closer to fundamentalism) but for most people, it's not like that.

On the contrary I am quite knowledgeable of Buddhism, I am a practitioner of that very same meditation practice that Siddhartha Gautama used to achieve enlightenment, Vipassana meditation. I have read many books by prominent buddhist practitioners including the Dalai Lama too. I know very well the theology of real buddhism (the buddhism of the monks you reference).

What you are experiencing is folk buddhism. That basic moralising you experience from the common folk they would do without buddhism but because Buddhism is woven into their culture and you identify these common people as buddhists you assume it comes from the theology.
#15090373
@SolarCross Hmmm... OK. I'll buy that.

Still, as I mentioned, you don't need religion to have morality. All you need is a functional society.
#15090375
Local Localist wrote:I suppose this is related to my thread earlier in the year. I am not religious, but it seems to me that it is not possible to form a comprehensive or wholly coherent moral code without basing it off of that of a religion. Sure, you can act in a 'moral' way without adhering to a religion, but why are you behaving in that way, other than for aesthetic or practical reasons? I do not believe that you can actually be moral without some kind of religious framework to justify it.


Everybody has some sort of moral code hence the old saying: "Honor among thieves"

The primitive MAN formed tribes (probably an evolutionary advantage) and morality became a unifying theme in the group. And groups thought their morality was better than the morality of other groups. At the onset most morality was basically "honor among thieves" and they justified the slaughter of opposing tribe members. The tribe also needed a God to provide a formal element to the moral code. Some Gods were OK with violence as long as it was directed at other tribes or those that were different.

Christianity was a bit unique as it preached a more docile form of morality (turn the other cheek). It also promoted poverty as a virtue and the early Christians were ascetics. The Old Testament is full of violence and this is cleaned up in the New Testament. Islam was rooted in Muhammed who was not exactly a choir boy.

The issue is:

Is there such a thing as morality in a vacuum (ex nihilo) or does morality requires a point of reference such as a God. Atheists in the West are rooted on Judeo-Christian values whether they like it or not. When an Atheist says "I do not need religion to be a good person" they may simply ignore the fact they grew up with Western values which are rooted in Judeo Christian principles.

Is there such a thing as GOOD without a point of reference?
#15090376
Local Localist wrote:
I suppose this is related to my thread earlier in the year. I am not religious, but it seems to me that it is not possible to form a comprehensive or wholly coherent moral code without basing it off of that of a religion. Sure, you can act in a 'moral' way without adhering to a religion, but why are you behaving in that way, other than for aesthetic or practical reasons? I do not believe that you can actually be moral without some kind of religious framework to justify it.



Nope.

Morality is grounded in our biology. It's crude and incomplete, but that's where it starts.

Next level up is culture. Morality may be placed in a religious context, but it's usually coming out of the culture.

Third level is practical matters, things a society needs to do to hold itself together.

If you read ethics, you can see it's actually easier to do without religion. Start with medical ethicists writing about abortion.
#15090377
Godstud wrote:@SolarCross Hmmm... OK. I'll buy that.

Still, as I mentioned, you don't need religion to have morality. All you need is a functional society.

Says a Canadian that grew up with Western culture which is rooted in Judeo Christian values. I am agnostic, but I accept that a big chunk of my moral values are rooted in Christianity. Whether God is real or not is moot.
#15090385
@Julian658 My wife grew up with Buddhism and is a devout Buddhist. She has almost identical morality to mine. So please explain this.

I might remind you that Thailand was no colonized by any foreign power, so you can't explain this by mere "contact" with other religions.
#15090388
Godstud wrote:@Julian658 My wife grew up with Buddhism and is a devout Buddhist. She has almost identical morality to mine. So please explain this.

I might remind you that Thailand was no colonized by any foreign power, so you can't explain this by mere "contact" with other religions.

I was talking about people with Western values. Likewise those that grew up in other traditions have morality that is often rooted in other religions. This points to a common source, the human condition.
#15090401
Atheists are as moral or more moral than believers because of personality, not ethics. Atheists, at least in Western Europe and the U.S., have tended to be iconoclastic intellectuals who are less bent on aggressive behavior.

However, as the number of non-believers increases, the average atheist will be less intelligent as their ranks are joined by various libertines and hedonists whose rejection of religion is based on self-interest and not rigorous thinking. I have already encountered a couple of atheists on forums who were sloppy thinkers.
#15090415
Robert Urbanek wrote:Atheists are as moral or more moral than believers because of personality, not ethics. Atheists, at least in Western Europe and the U.S., have tended to be iconoclastic intellectuals who are less bent on aggressive behavior.

However, as the number of non-believers increases, the average atheist will be less intelligent as their ranks are joined by various libertines and hedonists whose rejection of religion is based on self-interest and not rigorous thinking. I have already encountered a couple of atheists on forums who were sloppy thinkers.


I fully agree. Some of the new atheists are merely folks that are embittered and looking to bully fundamentalist believers. They often behave like a child with a new toy that is out of control. I prefer the old atheism.
#15090488
Robert Urbanek wrote: I have already encountered a couple of atheists on forums who were sloppy thinkers.
:roll: It's very sloppy thinking to make a generalization like that based on belief, or lack thereof, in a deity. An ad hominem isn't an argument.

Julian658 wrote:Some of the new atheists are merely folks that are embittered and looking to bully fundamentalist believers. They often behave like a child with a new toy that is out of control. I prefer the old atheism.
Atheism is Atheism. You two, @Robert Urbanek and @Julian658 are making broad generalizations based on ignorance and/or personal bias.

I'd argue that neither of you know that Atheism isn't a single entity, much as Christianity isn't the sole religion.

As for morality, this definition is very good and illustrates that religion isn't a factor:

Morality

- descriptively to refer to certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or

- normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/
#15090528
http://www.bu.edu/cura/files/2016/04/Laidlaw-paper.pdf
MacIntyre is not the only great exponent of virtue ethics who has argued recently that moral philosophy ought to be an historical and anthropological enterprise. Two others have been Charles Taylor and Bernard Williams. There is a passage where Williams reflects on the fact that he was the odd one out in this trio, because the other two were practising Roman Catholics. Williams commented,

‘ I used to find this a disquieting fact but no longer do. All three of us, I could say, accept the significant role of Christianity in understanding modern moral consciousness, and adopt the three possible views about how to move in relation to that: backward in it, forward in it, and out of it.

By ‘forward in it’, Williams refers to Taylor, and his view that much in what we nowadays think of as secular values are directly descended from Christianity, including the value we place on sincerity, the individual, and the sanctity of everyday life. And Taylor thinks that our modern moral imaginaries will be deepened and enriched if we more fully reflect on and acknowledge that Christian inheritance. By ‘out of it’, Williams refers to his own contrary (but not strictly contradictory) view that persistent Christian ideas are among the more disabling features of modern morality: the idea that morality should be opposed to self-interest, the idea of the moral will, and an overemphasis on intention in our thinking about responsibility. Williams saw much of merit in Nietzsche’s injunction to accept that God is dead, and undertake the almost unbearably hard work of rethinking our values in light of that fact.
#15090533
I find that the people posting these threads are normally religious people trying imply that non-religious people lack morality. It is interesting that a non-religious person would bring this up. Is there a hidden agenda?
#15090541
Very interesting, @pugsville. I'd say that doing things without threat of Damnation hovering over your head, would be far more moral.
#15090589
Godstud wrote:I find that the people posting these threads are normally religious people trying imply that non-religious people lack morality. It is interesting that a non-religious person would bring this up. Is there a hidden agenda?

Not consciously. I have stated my position.

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