Morality without God | INFJ Forum

Morality without God

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by TinyBubbles, Aug 8, 2010.

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  1. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    Do you think it's possible for a person to be truly good and helpful to others without believing in God? And if so, from where would their sense of ethics derive?

    I think it's in a lot of ways, logical to be moral. Moral persons are culturally acceptable, and it would increase your own chances of survival if you help others and are good to them. Maybe one could say our need to help is based on survival instincts - our ancestors in the past who were more community-oriented rather than self-oriented would've probably had a better chance of living and propagating their genes.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. Matariki

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    I believe you don't need to believe in God to have morals. Just good ol' common sense and respect towards other people, animals etc.

    I know many people that are atheists and have a high set standard of morals.
     
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    #2 Matariki, Aug 8, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  3. Odyne

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    How about we can be moral and do good...because we can.

    I think it's enough of a reason. We do a lot of things in our lives because we can, then why not do good things, help others, and me morally responsible to others and ourselves, simply because we can?

    It is very possible for someone to act in a moral fashion without believing in God. It is a matter of choice, and at the end of the day you choose whether you want to do good or not.
     
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  4. OP
    TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    I agree, but then what exactly is common sense? And why respect others at all times and not just when it's convenient or beneficial to YOU? Religious persons supposedly do it to obtain some sort of reward in the afterlife; those without a belief in God would have no such incentive.
     
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  5. Matariki

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    Good question!
    I will defiantly get back to you on this one. At the moment my brain (my semi rotten brain) is generating an answer. :m083:
     
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    #5 Matariki, Aug 8, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  6. OP
    TinyBubbles

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    We can just as easily be immoral. What's holding us back (really?). If it's not the threat of punishment by God's hand, or even the consequences of breaking state law, what incentive is there to be 'good'?
     
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  7. OP
    TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    haha, ok, take your time darling :)
     
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  8. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Morality is evolutionarily selected for social animals. It exists in other primate species and it has existed long before man ever conceived of a God.
     
  9. Odyne

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    Wouldn't this also touch on the question "Why do we do evil?". If there is no fear of divine punishment, or legal persecution, doesn't it come down to "making a choice" in the end?

    Sorry I am throwing out more questions and giving no answers, lol.

    But to answer your question without stretching the topic, I would guess that some people do good because it makes them feel good about themselves and about their lives. It also validates their existence in a way; they feel as they are part of a whole, and that they are contributing to the world they are living in. Also, for some, it's a way to connect with others. You reach out to someone else by doing good to them. It makes others happy and it brings people together.

    I can see many reasons why someone would do good and be moral without believing in a god.
     
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  10. 894tt3h9

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    Well there are plenty of people who do believe in God who have a low standard of morals. Then there are a lot of atheist who seem to be do-gooders. I think most of us are brought up to do the "right thing" so it becomes ingrained in us from a very young age. It is definitely more socially accepted to do good things and it seems like the pros outweigh the cons in terms of having a high standard of morals.

    Who can say for sure though.
     
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  11. just me

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    I cannot discount those whose perception of good and moral things comes from learning about God, so please do not leave that aspect out.
     
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  12. Odyne

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    No no, that aspect is very valid as well. The OP's question was whether there are other incentives to do good OTHER than believing in a god; and my answer was, yes there are.
     
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  13. basic

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    If anything, I grew up with Buddhist ideas because of my mom. She somewhat practiced Buddhism when she was younger and studied Tibetan Buddhism, although she did/does not believe the mythology, per se.

    There is no God in Buddhism, although there are technically many "gods" in Buddhism, the ultimate goal of the religion is enlightenment, which means ultimate insight and awareness. To be perfectly honest I think Buddhism as a religion is more "moral" than any other. It's pure and simple: unconditional love, respect, and insight.

    I do not consider myself religious, and nobody was breathing down my neck telling me to be moral all throughout my life. I do not think Buddhism as changed me to be "more" moral...I simply like its ideas. I feel that the ideas of mortality come with culture. It comes with growing up. Religion may influence it, but I think one's own environment (from childhood) influences one's ideas about morals the most.


    On another note, my sister is an ESTJ who seems to need validation of her own internal intuition from her external world. She is a fairly religious Christian now, even though she did not grow up with it. It seems to me that she believes without religion she would become lost, internally. She needs the outside reference.
     
    #13 basic, Aug 8, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  14. just me

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    I knew that, but was impelled to state it anyway. However, it makes it quite difficult to answer otherwise when one was brought up like that.
     
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  15. KazeCraven

    KazeCraven Graduated from Typology : May 2011
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    I think we've mixed two issues here: how we can be good w/o God, and why we should be good without God.

    I think the first question makes the most sense if we ask how we are good with God. If we're being good because we know we'll get a reward in the afterlife (typical reason for believing in God), that seems to be the same amount of goodness as being good because we know it'll be beneficial to us. And if God is the source of ethics (or, more radically, if God is the ethics), all we've really done is assume that our methods of getting at these codes (stereotypically, the Bible) are reliable. So really I don't think bringing God into the equation is making the issue any easier. Godless ethics would come from a desire to be good or from a desire to be of service to others, and ultimately one could trace that idea of where the ethics is coming from back to their (psuedo) metaphysics and epistemology.

    Since I'm probably getting a little cryptic and abstract here, I'll try giving an example from my own life. I think that the way to be moral is to adhere to standards that bring the greatest benefit to others. What is the greatest benefit to others? I would argue that it is the nurturing of their own self-actualization and expression, because ultimately that will bring the greatest fulfillment to the individual. Now then, how did I come up with this answer? Simple, I used my reasoning capabilities and have looked at the issue in all the angles I can think of, and this is the code I came up with. How do I know that this is actually true? That's where we get into epistemology: in this case, I'd say "reason as supreme" in regards to knowing anything.

    Now, let's get to the second part. Why should I seek to benefit others? Why should I be good? This part sometimes is necessary to avoid if we want to actually be doing good (like if you adopt Kant's perspective in which all good comes purely out of duty). But let's ignore that issue, because I don't like it (I don't think that self-interest must be absent to do good; in fact, I lean in the opposite direction). The first answer is, well, because I actually will benefit from it purely out of enjoying the act. Let's consider altruism: is altruism a state in which we help others for the sake of helping others (i.e. we get our reward directly from it, presumably through feeling joy)? Or is it a state in which we help others and we get absolutely no benefit/pleasure from it (i.e. duty)? A case could be made for either, but I would actually say that the latter is a vice on grounds that it is degrading to the person who does it! Why is self-degradation evil? Because to measure the good of any action, I look at what happens if we universalize it. If everyone is using themselves for the good of society, we all are suffering needlessly. Rather, the only way we can create a net good is through the first version of altruism.

    I suppose to wrap up I'll have to add that actions that are immoral are acts that do not simultaneously respect the Self and others, in case my argument left you wondering what would or could possibly be immoral in that situation. Immorality stems from ignorance, shortsightedness, inability to overcome inertia (laziness), and failure to override basic inclinations (fear, rage, etc.). I should add that somewhere in the middle here I shifted from talking about ethical theory in general to my own ethical theory, which is why I'm saying what is and is not immoral. In short, I would say that it is logical to be moral, and that 'morality' coming from any other thing should be regarded with skepticism. And to finish up with what I said on altruism, I'd like to point out that people who are not naturally inclined to be altruistic must find their own ways to mediate between their own needs and the needs of others to be good, perhaps finding a unique way to contribute to the community at large. There should be a way for everyone, because we are all social animals and can derive joy from some type of helping people.

    Phew, okay. As you can see, I love thinking about ethical theory. What I wrote is probably still a mess, but do ask me to clarify anything that makes little to no sense.
     
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    #15 KazeCraven, Aug 8, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  16. Odyne

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    I understand. :smile:
     
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  17. IndigoSensor

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    Yes

    And to be honest, there is nothing to say or explain beyond that. At least in the way I see it.
     
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  18. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    Lets look at the arguments by turning it on its head.

    Can you be an immoral person with belief in god.

    According to the delusional, a God exists. For the sake of this argument we assume that God exists, we shall call the delusional the " Believers". Therefore a God exists regardless of which god a person believes in, worships, or denies the existence of. The question is whether morality can exist without god or not. The believers maintain that atheists cannot be moral because they don't believe in god, while at the same time stating that god exists.
     
  19. Bird

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    Let me ask you this, why is the stereotype that one is only truly moral if they believe in god so prevalent in today's society. Let alone how has this way of thinking persisted this long.


    There are morality faults everywhere because as a species the individual is selfish.
     
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  20. VH

    VH Variable Hybrid

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    Absolutely. A person's ability to be good or evil is entirely their own. Such is the nature of free will. It has to be independent of God, or free will is invalidated.

    Ethics can derive from a host of different sources... internally they can come from one's spiritual compass, or their own reasoning based on learning cause and effect, or even an instinct for social communal behavior. Externally, it can come from cultural expectations, it can be taught through a reward system, or it can even be enforced through fear of punishment.

    However, as a Christian minister, I also believe that God can instill directly into someone's spirit ethics, benevolence, and insight if that person uses their free will to request such, and uses their patience to wait until it happens... however, God can also use any of the methods mentioned above (or others) to do so. But, even if this happens, God will never remove free will, and therefore ethics are always a personal choice and act of free will. Just because someone knows and understands ethics doesn't mean that a person must act upon them.
     
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    #20 VH, Aug 8, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
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