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A question for atheists

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Post #565332
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9:52 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 297

Good and bad do not exist. They are simply words invented by society in order to ensure that society does not collapse on itself.

Let's choose a non-criminal example, such as lying. A lot of people choose not to lie. It's not a criminal offense to lie, so why would they not do it? The answer is that, while there may be no legal consequences, there are certainly social consequences. Society deems lying as "bad" because if everyone lied regularly, then no one's words can be believed, and society as we currently know it would cease to exist. Thus, in order to maintain our current standards, we slap the labels of "good" and "bad" on things as we deem fit, and that's that.

Or, another example: why is it that killing someone on the battlefield is acceptable but it becomes reprehensible when said killing is closer to home? Why was it all right back in the days of imperialism for settlers to take the lands of the aboriginal tribes by force, while we now consider it unacceptable to occupy the lands of other countries with our soldiers? It all comes down to societal standards: it is society who decides morality, not the individual.

As such, I find this "question for atheists" moot, as everyone, not just a specific religious or nonreligious group, shares, essentially, the same code of ethics. Of course, whether one follows these ethics is another issue entirely. (Again, I find absolutely no difference between atheists and non-atheists in their codes of conduct. Nice people are nice, and mean people are mean. It has nothing to do with whatever God(s) they worship or whatever Book(s) they read.)

And, of course, having said that, I would like to emphasize that the above has nothing to do with my atheism. I am fairly certain that my friend, who is christian, would agree with me on my views.

Post #565334 - Reply to (#565329) by heretickirin
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Psycho. Cracked.

9:53 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 166

Quote from heretickirin
P.S. Read Terry Pratchett's books, they provide a great insight into why atheism is so terrifying to most people.


This is kind of like spamming, but my previous posts make up for it. ^ ^"

Man is more ape than many of the apes.
Post #565335
user avatar

9:57 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 35

How do I decide what my desires are? That's difficult to answer.

I feel like what you want (desire) is tied in with what you personally like and dislike, and I don't think people really choose those things, exactly. What you like could depend on personality, biology or a thousand other things. You can pretend to like something to convince other people, but you can't really control whether or not you enjoy something.

Post #565337 - Reply to (#565329) by heretickirin
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The queer

10:06 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 36

heretickirin, the layeredness of the question is meant to be fulfiled by multiple and seperate posts each dedicated to a single facet of my question. This makes it simpler for me. Anywho, thanks for the reply. You contribute an interesting perspective. I now ask that you give me a more personal reply. I don't want to know what "people" think. I want to know what you yourself think. I look foward to your reply.

Suxinn, I have a comment and a clarification. The comment is that I believe "society as we know it" exists because of lies. People lie much more than you give them credit for. I know because I ask people about their lying habits. It's nice to see someone as innocent as you seem to be. Stay truthful, friend. My clarification is that I am not asking about what people do. I am asking about why they do what they do.

Giinko, since it was seconded, I may have a look. P.S. I await your answer.

popetaffy, It's suposed to be a hard question. If I understand you, your answer is that you aren't sure, but you think that your likes and dislikes are things that you can't control. The other part of my question that you did not answer is how you become aware of what you like/want/enjoy.

Last edited by zimzimbadabim at 10:33 pm, Aug 10

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Post #565341
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10:34 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 278

The question is a layered one. How do you determine what is right and wrong?

I was learned by my parents how to behave. While you are young you will be able to be formed in whatever the parents want. Due to bad parenting there are a lot of unsavory elements in the society.
The parents will most likely learn their children what they should do and what they should not do (unless they are bad parents) But what they should do and what they shouldn't do depends on multiple factors. like time and place. During a war there are other things "good" and "bad" then during a time of peace.

Why do I act upon my notions of what I think is right and what I think is wrong.
That is just one word "Reciprocity" I treat people the same way I like them to treat me.
I treat society like how I would like society to treat me. It's all connected. If you hit someone you can expect to be hit back, if you do not hit anyone the chance to be hit is smaller.

There are two rules
1 treat another like you would like to be treated yourself. (golden rule)
2 don't treat another how you would not like to be treated yourself. (silver rule)

I would say everything between these two rules is good (acceptable) and if everything outside is bad (unacceptable)

The problem is however that people's standards are not always equal. Someone who needs absolute silence to be happy and someone who likes to play music have different opinions on what is an acceptable level of sound.

What I mean to say is that Good (acceptable) and Bad (unacceptable) are personal visions. There is no universal good and universal bad.

It sometimes might look like that but it's because almost all people don't like to be murdered. Therefore almost all people will see murder as bad.
However eating meat is something different. normally people would think eating meat is acceptable. However there might be vegetarians that disagree completely. and they see eating meat as bad and unacceptable.
So Murder will be seen as evil by so many people that it's seen by society as evil.
While eating meat has a long way to go before people (society) think eating meat is wrong

Post #565343
user avatar
The queer

10:49 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 36

Myum, thank you for your reply. You actually answered my question completely and directly. I feel like I understand your point of view. It is a surprisingly simple one, but it works (mostly). I have no further questions for you. Thanks.

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Post #565347 - Reply to (#565327) by zimzimbadabim

11:16 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 73

Quote from zimzimbadabim
iheartramen, I am not sure of what you mean. Did you understand the question because you didn't answer it?.

Yes, I understood the question. What I was pointing out in my previous post was that asking specifically atheists where they derive their morals from seems to presuppose some inaccurate assumptions about the role of religion in morals.

Post #565349 - Reply to (#565337) by zimzimbadabim
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11:29 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 297

Quote from zimzimbadabim
Suxinn, I have a comment and a clarification. The comment is that I believe "society as we know it" exists because of lies. People lie much more than you give them credit for. I know because I ask people about their lying habits. It's nice to see someone as innocent as you seem to be. Stay truthful, friend. My clarification is that I am not asking about what people do. I am asking about why they do what they do.

Hm, I suppose that is true. People do lie all the time, and I suppose I was referring only to those that do not lie (often), or those who choose not to lie depending on a specific circumstance. But, thinking on it now, that is too specific to be a generality.

And, as for the clarification, people do what they do because they are predisposed to certain instincts that will ensure their survival. If society enables their survival, they will be more prone to follow society's laws (good). If society does not enable their survival, they will be more prone to break society's laws (bad).

I'm pretty much just reiterating what other people have already said (and said better) at this point (also, I feel as if I'm losing the main point and going on an offtopic tangent), so I'm probably going to excuse myself from this conversation from hereon out.

Post #565351 - Reply to (#565327) by zimzimbadabim

11:49 pm, Aug 10 2012
Posts: 10

Quote from zimzimbadabim
Saons, why do you like to make others happy? Remember I am asking about personal opinions.

PandaGod19, my question for you is the same as for Saons

lol Cause it seems like the right thing to do. jk It just makes me happy to see others happy as well. Life can be such a downer when you're surrounded by negativity. So I suppose it's something like self-satisfaction?

Post #565361

12:43 am, Aug 11 2012
Posts: 272

if you call something "normal" you mean what the majority of people think is common. or the majority of a certain area and not the whole of mankind. it works just like that with good and bad. what most people deem to be thus is adapted by society. people teach the beliefs of their society to their children and so it goes on over time. during this process some sort of evolution is possible and relative words like above can change in their meaning. there is a theory called the meme-theory which states evolution from mind to mind which could help explain this. personally I didn't look into it (yet) but maybe it helps you.

the coleberg model gives an explanation as to how morals are learned and makes a connection between individuals and societies which might help you: _moral_development

morals are derivated from the aforementioned natural laws which can for example formulated by using the "golden rule" : what you yourself could't wish to be done to you, you should't want to inflict onto others (there are other formulations, too)
when societies develop the needs of its members grow more complex and natural laws might not be sufficient for all possible situations so positive laws are developed on the foundation of natural laws which give a new source for morals people can orientate oneself by.

the developement of natural laws is more or less driven by evolution. knowing how to blend in with your kind (society) helps you survive. like not randomly killing each other until no one remains. this mechanism can be seen for example in a pack of wolves where every member has its place and knows what is allowed and what not.
in extrapolation to this mechanism people teach their morals to their children because it is of advantage for them to istinctively know what is good or bad to do in their society.

if I left holes in the argumentation please tell me

now a question for zimzimbadabim: what drives you on?

your kind of asking is by far too systematical for something one does on a whim. did you wake up one day and realize you couldn't say what is right or wrong if asked suddenly? or do you have to write something about good and evil or the way people look onto their own morals?

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Post #565368
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The queer

1:38 am, Aug 11 2012
Posts: 36

You asked me a question that I believe I answered on page 2 of this thread. Rule #33 Lurk Moar!
If you have already read that and are asking for a better explanation, it is this. Human behavior and thought isn't just a fascination; it is an earnest passion of mine. I did not create this thread on a whim. I have been having these types of conversations IRL for quite some time now(Yes, I am this systematic in face-to-face conversation. Yes, people find it awkward and off-putting). I started a thread about it because I can glean a more varied set of views this way.

P.S. I am now pursuing another passion of mine: manga. Be back sometime! biggrin

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Post #565372
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2:20 am, Aug 11 2012
Posts: 35

Well the topic of good and bad isn't exactly black and white. For most actions are in the grey zone, bad but also good. I believe to have something be good it must 100% help everyone and hurt no one in any way. Therefore there is no good and bad vice-versa.

If I use actions as an example. Following the law is grey, but in the lighter grey zone because it helps people around you by preventing hurting them but it might hurt yourself, depending on what you are doing. Stealing is a dark grey because you are helping yourself making yourself happy but hurting the person you steal from, no? I don't see how murder can help anyone so it's a black for sure, I mean hurting someone by ending their life is really bad and you'd be affecting people who love them, it'd also hurt yourself because you'd live with the guilt.

In the end good or bad is really what you believe it but most people's view of good and bad are pretty similar as good helps people and bad hurts people.

Post #565375
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Eye See Me

2:54 am, Aug 11 2012
Posts: 50

I don't know how I differenciate right from wrong. I don't really think about it, I go with it. I sort of have some beliefs that I have created for myself. Though, I do follow the law of my country, even if I think they are wrong.

Live your life, don't just pass time in it.
Post #565377 - Reply to (#565305) by zimzimbadabim
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Mythical Creature

3:16 am, Aug 11 2012
Posts: 255

Quote from zimzimbadabim
Hanae, I totally understand. The only thing is that I don't want to hear it from you but from your friend. If your friend has a mangaupdates account, you can direct him/her to this thread. Otherwise, thank you for your contribution, but don't post anymore.

Popetaffy, could you give me an example of ...

I just need to say that this seems extremely rude.

Anyway, I don't exactly believe in god in the normal sense, I'm not an atheist but I'm not exactly not one. I suppose what is right and what is wrong to me came from where most people's came from, their parents. Although most of the time I hold animals with higher regard than humans, but that is a story for another thread. Yay rambling, I love rambling.

Post #565378 - Reply to (#565327) by zimzimbadabim
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Manga Eater

3:24 am, Aug 11 2012
Posts: 442

Quote from zimzimbadabim
Saons, why do you like to make others happy? Remember I am asking about personal opinions.

Fair enough! I suppose it could almost be considered selfish of me to want to make others happy, as in doing so I am made happy myself. Smiles and laughter are naturally contagious; I work at a coffee shop and when I say "good morning" to early-risers with an earnest smile on my face, people can tell, and more often than not I receive one in return.

Not everyone's the same, as I pointed out before. But I fear that the goodness (and I use this term ambiguously, not in the good vs. evil perspective) in people is forgotten when we read the newspapers every day; though I like to believe that the "good" far outweighs the "bad", and that we just naturally tend to focus on the bad more. In other words, my "faith" or belief system relies on the goodness of humanity. Humanism for the win!

Go to work, send your kids to school;
Follow fashion, act normal;
Walk on the pavement, watch T.V.;
Save for retirement, obey the law.
Repeat after me: I am free.
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