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Without god there is no morality?
Posted: Posted March 25th
Edited March 25th by Louis De Pointe du Lac

I believe the issue between a god and the existence of morality can be summed up in an age old question asked by Socrates:

Is something good because god says its good, or does god say something is good because it is?

If you believe the former then morality is defined simply as the will of a god. So in this case it is indeed true that morality cannot exist without one. This can be called the transcendence perspective where morality comes from something higher than our world.

If you believe the latter then you see morality as a separate phenomenon from god. One that he may be attuned to but still does not need him to exist. This can be called the immanence perspective where morality is a set of principles inherent to the fabric of existence not unlike the laws of physics.

Now in order for morality to hold weight on either side there would have to be benefits to abiding by it. The source of these benefits in the transcendence view would obviously be god in the form of his rewards and punishments. In the immanence view the source would be nature in that good is naturally preferable to evil in much the same way intelligence is naturally preferable to stupidity.

In any case if your going to assume there is such a thing as objective morality, I think both sides have their interesting points. Also the fact that people are still asking Socrates's question today says something good about their standing power.

Now I myself am not an objective moralist, but even if I were this is why I would still find the assumption that there is no morality without god premature. The immanence belief seems to be every bit as arguable as the transcendence belief. It's just that immanence morality has a different kind of anatomy.

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There are 12 Replies

Morality runs against our nature as humans, so it's very unlikely to be something created by humans. One can practice moral principles without faith, but it's either hollow and ineffective, or ends up looking like faith anyway (ie doing things for a brighter future). Sometimes the faith precedes the actual belief in God.

Is something good because god says its good, or does god say something is good because it is?

That's really a false dichotomy. Something isn't good because God says it's good, it's good because God created it to be good. It has an inherent nature of goodness, but this is in no way separate from God unless you take a Deist approach or something equally half-assed. God is not separate from his creation in any way, it's some infinitely small piece of his will.

Posted March 25th by Xhin
Xhin
 

One can practice moral principles without faith, but it's either hollow and ineffective, or ends up looking like faith anyway (ie doing things for a brighter future). Sometimes the faith precedes the actual belief in God.

Yes I agree that either way what you're left with is a belief in something.

That's really a false dichotomy.

A false dichotomy gives an ultimatum when there are other options. Simplified, what Socrates essentially asked was: Is god's will the origin of good or not? which doesn't strike me as a false dichotomy.

Something isn't good because God says it's good, it's good because God created it to be good.

That still doesn't answer the question of where the good that god created "it" to be came from.

It has an inherent nature of goodness, but this is in no way separate from God

Are you saying something can be inherent and yet beholden to something else? Cause that sounds like a contradiction to me.

God is not separate from his creation in any way, it's some infinitely small piece of his will.

Under that assumption would not one just believe something is good because god says it's good?

Edited March 25th by Louis De Pointe du Lac
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

Morality runs against our nature as humans

In what way? Humans are social creatures, and certainly a society with some sense of morality runs better and contributes to longer lives and superior offspring than one without. So far as I can tell, that's the only reason we haven't all evolved to become sociopaths.

Posted March 27th by Pink Peruvian Flying Bear
Pink Peruvian Flying Bear

Morality runs against our nature as humans, so it's very unlikely to be something created by humans.

Immediately this is begging the question.

One can practice moral principles without faith, but it's either hollow and ineffective, or ends up looking like faith anyway (ie doing things for a brighter future).

Why and how are these irreligious/secular (will you also make a distinction between Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic faiths?) moral principles or systems either hollow or ineffective?

How is the fact that these principles/systems may superificially resemble in some fashion religious systems a valid argument that these latter systems ergo derive intrinsic morality from a deity?

Posted March 27th by Arch
Arch
 

It's not (just) that God is good. God IS goodness. God can't will something that goes against His nature. God is the ground of morality. Without God, there is no basis for (objective) morality; it would just be one person's preferences against another's. Atheists can do naturally good works without belief in God, but this doesn't prove that morality doesn't need/have a supernatural grounding.

Posted April 4th by *MMM*
*MMM*
 

Of COURSE there is morality without God! There is certainly logic without God, and emotion without God, and morality has been discussed outside of the context of God many times. Jesus' focus on morality was just his nature. God in the Old Testament certainly stopped at nothing to kill practically everyone on Earth... twice. Even when people pleaded with him all he did was wait, and then destroyed cities. Jesus was altogether different by preaching forgiveness as the path to eventual righteousness, even when it seemed there were no more good men left on Earth. Both are correct: God with the notion that mankind is in its current state more prone to sin than good and does not deserve life, and Jesus with the notion that good can come from men if they learn how to live their life in selflessness than in sin and help each other to become righteous.

Maybe both their underlying moral reasoning are correct, but their methods of dealing with the same problem are vastly different. Nevertheless, this goes to show that even God's morality does not have an unwavering singular monolithic formula. Like logic, morality exists to describe different mindsets and approaches to solving everyday problems. But unlike logic, there is no singular answer that can always be considered correct. Nevertheless, this system always exists with or without God because men can have different moral compasses with and without God.

In short: In most societies, killing someone is wrong. Some of these societies are largely atheist, and they still have morality.

Posted April 4th by mariomguy
mariomguy
What up, 1-up

Does morality even exist? When you hit a racoon and it's blood and guts fly all over the road is it consequential? In a week will you even remember?

Posted April 4th by Red Leaf
Red Leaf

Speaking of humans in particular, hitting another human in the face with a rock isn't immoral, its just subjectively negative for the person getting hit. Objectively though it's inconsequential. A dick move for that relationship, sure, but really meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Edited April 4th by Red Leaf
Red Leaf

<<Of COURSE there is morality without God!>>
On what ground?
<<There is certainly logic without God,>>
This is not obvious. Greg Bahnsen would argue strongly that God is needed to provide a foundation for the laws of logic.
<<God in the Old Testament certainly stopped at nothing to kill practically everyone on Earth... twice.>>
So what? You have nothing but personal preferences to condemn God.


Posted April 4th by *MMM*
*MMM*
 

In my philosophy class, my teacher asked the question: Is it holy because God likes it? Or does God like it because it is holy?

If it's the former, then God could come down at any time and declare that boiling babies is the new religious rite.

If it's the latter, then it's safe to assume that holiness(and by extension, morality) existed before God did.

I subscribe to the latter.

Posted April 14th by GC/MS
GC/MS
 

That's the old false dilemma. God is goodness. Things are good if they are in line with the divine nature, which is the supreme Good. Do you really think Catholic and Protestant theologians haven't dealt with this trite before?

Posted April 18th by *MMM*
*MMM*
 

If it's a false dilemma, then why is it being taught at a university?

I think the false dilemma is that atheists think all of their opinions are automatically true and they think that everything a religious person says must be dismissed out of hand before he's even said it.

Posted April 21st by GC/MS
GC/MS
 
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