on discussing god and religion

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:10 pm

As a human we don't know squat. We don't know what we can know, and within what we think we know we can know we know very little.
A part can not understand the whole. That much we might understand.

Religon is mankinds way of being honest about that.

So it is not going anywhere, ever.


As human beings we know lots and lots and lots and lots of things.

It's just that as human beings -- mere mortals -- we don't know why these things exist rather than nothing at all. And we don't know why they exist as they do and not some other way.

Also, we don't know what happens to us after we die. And, without access to a set of Commandments, we don't know how to differentiate vice from virtue on this side of the grave.

It might also be argued that Gods and religions are mankind's way of not being honest about all the things we don't know about. That, instead, Gods and religions are invented [historically and culturally] in order to assume that what we think the answers are must prevail over any and all who insist the answers are something else instead.

And, mostly, it is not going anywhere, ever, because it is likely that on into the future people will be afraid of death and need to be convinced that there is in fact a right way and a wrong way to obviate it beyond the grave.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:03 pm

What Is the Relationship Between Religion and Morality?
Thomas Swan at the Owlcation website

...humans have evolved to increase their pro-social behavior by increasing their susceptibility for belief in judgmental deities and spirits. Religious belief is inextricably linked with our sense of morality on an unconscious level. Religious belief intensifies our willingness to display moral behavior, and the need to follow a moral code reduces the scrutiny that we apply to supernatural propositions.


But this is accepted by and large only to the extent that the deities are said to be both omniscient and omnipotent. In fact, with respect to the relationship between morality and religion, that is the whole point of God.

Unlike all the rest of us, there is nothing that He doesn't know. And, so, there is no question of behaving immorally and it not being known. And, in being all powerful, there is absolutely no question of behaving immorally and not being punished for it.

It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to recognize that even if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors, what good is that if someone can run rampant committing vice after vice, and no one knows it. Or some do know it but are unable to apprehend the miscreants? To punish them.

God [and only God] guarantees both the knowledge of and a just punishment for any and all immoral behavior.

And then God [and only god] can connect the dots between moral behavior here and now and immortality there and then.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:22 pm

It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to recognize that even if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors, what good is that if someone can run rampant committing vice after vice, and no one knows it. Or some do know it but are unable to apprehend the miscreants? To punish them.
The ones who follow the "most rational, most virtuous behaviors" have a better life and a better society than those who do not. That's "what good" it is.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:42 pm

phyllo wrote:
It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to recognize that even if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors, what good is that if someone can run rampant committing vice after vice, and no one knows it. Or some do know it but are unable to apprehend the miscreants? To punish them.
The ones who follow the "most rational, most virtuous behaviors" have a better life and a better society than those who do not. That's "what good" it is.


Right, like all the moral and political objectivists out there aren't insisting that the "most rational, most virtuous" behaviors aren't embodied in their very own moral narratives and political agendas.

It's just that, say, historically, some have gone on in turn to insist that those who refuse to abide by their own normative prescriptions/proscriptions ought to be punished.

Then it becomes a matter of how severe the punishment is rationalized to be as justifiable for the "infidels".

Still, for those objectivists who choose the No God rendition of this, they are still faced with the "for all practical purposes" consequences of possessing neither omniscience nor omnipotence.

But at least they are comforted and consoled by the knowledge that they [and only they] are still on the side of all that is good, right?

Only, in a manner I have never been able to apprehend, you're sticking with God in all this.

The Christian God?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:06 pm

Right, like all the moral and political objectivists out there aren't insisting that the "most rational, most virtuous" behaviors aren't embodied in their very own moral narratives and political agendas.

It's just that, say, historically, some have gone on in turn to insist that those who refuse to abide by their own normative prescriptions/proscriptions ought to be punished.

Then it becomes a matter of how severe the punishment is rationalized to be as justifiable for the "infidels".

Still, for those objectivists who choose the No God rendition of this, they are still faced with the "for all practical purposes" consequences of possessing neither omniscience nor omnipotence.

But at least they are comforted and consoled by the knowledge that they [and only they] are still on the side of all that is good, right?

Only, in a manner I have never been able to apprehend, you're sticking with God in all this.

The Christian God?
What does that have to do with it?

Moral virtuous behavior is more beneficial than immoral non-virtuous behavior, both for the group and the individual. That's why morality exists. Without God, there is an evolutionary advantage. With God, there is a reward in this life and/or the afterlife. It works in both cases.

Why don't you just acknowledge that and move on from there.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:38 pm

phyllo wrote:Moral virtuous behavior is more beneficial than immoral non-virtuous behavior, both for the group and the individual. That's why morality exists. Without God, there is an evolutionary advantage. With God, there is a reward in this life and/or the afterlife. It works in both cases.
I think one can hold this position without believing in objective morals. IOW it benefits - in evolutionary terms - a group to have a common set of interpersonal rules - they can think of these as morals, and most tend to - so that they work together smoothly or at least more smoothly than they would otherwise.

If people have no idea what others will do, even just in social interaction, and how the rest of the community will react to breaches, there will be, I would guess, more distrust, more hesitation, more avoidance, less support and other things that make people head out of the house with some degree of secure feelings and shop, date, have kids, apply for jobs, barter......................

If parents raised their kids by saying anything goes or we think any action or pattern of interaction cannot be seen as better or worse, it's like playing the lottery out there, I think you will have an even more violent society and one that will be vulnerable to other societies that use morals or at least customs (which are also value based) to create cohesion.

Again this doesn't mean we know what society A should have as social heuristics (morals), just that they have something probably promotes more physical health and better protection from other groups. If you have no idea what others will do, you are not a society. This doesn't mean we know exactly which will work best, though we can probably rule out some. Like everyone should kill their kids would inhibit societal survival.

This doesn't mean it is good for societies to survive (in some objective way), but does explain why these things occur, since we do want our groups to do well in relation to other groups - like not being taken over - and to be able to deal with catastrophies ( survival).
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:34 am

phyllo wrote:Moral virtuous behavior is more beneficial than immoral non-virtuous behavior, both for the group and the individual.


Okay, pick your own moral narrative regarding a set of conflicting goods that all of us here are likely to be familiar with. Note how that which you construe to be beneficial outweighs the things that those who take the opposite point of view deem to be more benefical instead.

phyllo wrote:That's why morality exists. Without God, there is an evolutionary advantage. With God, there is a reward in this life and/or the afterlife. It works in both cases.


Indeed, we can take this into account when you name the conflict and demonstrate how your own moral narrative assures the greater "evolutionary advantage".

Or once again is it just to be assumed that those who don't share your own political prejudices flush the species down the toilet.

As for God, let's assume that a God, the God, your God is the one. So, in regard to an issue we are likely to be familiar with, who gets rewarded on Judgment Day?

And why?

phyllo wrote:Why don't you just acknowledge that and move on from there.


Why don't you actually respond to the points I raised above and maybe we can.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:56 pm

Okay, pick your own moral narrative regarding a set of conflicting goods that all of us here are likely to be familiar with. Note how that which you construe to be beneficial outweighs the things that those who take the opposite point of view deem to be more benefical instead.
I'm not talking about my "own moral narratives", "a set of conflicting goods" or that others will not take an "opposite point of view".

I'm saying that there is a benefit to morality which is separate from any particular context and any particular individual.

It's analogous to traffic lights. It's beneficial to have a system of traffic lights and for people to obey traffic lights. I'm not saying that running a red light would not be beneficial to a specific person who is late for work or to someone who is going to the hospital with a medical emergency. I can see those benefits. And I don't claim that those benefits "go away" when I make an argument in favor of traffic lights.

If one looks only at individuals on particular journeys, one can argue that traffic lights slow down that individual in every case. But if there were no traffic lights, the journeys would be much slower and more dangerous, in most cases. If people routinely disobeyed the traffic lights, then the journeys would be much slower and more dangerous.

Therefore, there is a benefit to traffic lights when a large number of people are involved. It's a result that only appears when there are interactions among many people.
Indeed, we can take this into account when you name the conflict and demonstrate how your own moral narrative assures the greater "evolutionary advantage".
Again, it's not about me.

And it's not about any specific individual, any specific conflict or any specific moral narrative. Evolution deals with large groups over long periods of time.

If there was no advantage to morality, then social animals would not be using it. It would have been abandoned if it didn't work. Moral social animals are more fit to survive. That's it.
Or once again is it just to be assumed that those who don't share your own political prejudices flush the species down the toilet.
Once again, it's not about me.
As for God, let's assume that a God, the God, your God is the one.
So you want to talk about my God.
So, in regard to an issue we are likely to be familiar with, who gets rewarded on Judgment Day?
But here you impose your own ideas about reward and judgement day on me. Who says that there is a judgement day? You. That's how you want to approach it. It's like you can't imagine anyone thinking about it in any other way.
Why don't you actually respond to the points I raised above and maybe we can.
Okay, I responded. Your turn.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:19 pm

phyllo wrote:
Okay, pick your own moral narrative regarding a set of conflicting goods that all of us here are likely to be familiar with. Note how that which you construe to be beneficial outweighs the things that those who take the opposite point of view deem to be more benefical instead.


I'm not talking about my "own moral narratives", "a set of conflicting goods" or that others will not take an "opposite point of view".

I'm saying that there is a benefit to morality which is separate from any particular context and any particular individual.


Okay, but this thread focuses clearly on the benefits derived from embracing a particular moral agenda as that precipitates particular behaviors on this side of the grave as that precipitates what one imagines their fate to be on the other side of the grave.

Within any given community, sure, social, political and economic interactions are facilitated when rules of behavior are in place. Instead of, say, anarchy or a might makes right agenda.

But sooner or later this "general description" of morality is going to be tested in particular contexts in which conflicting goods confront us with the need to resolve them. This thread merely takes us beyond the here and now and confronts us with the there and then.

phyllo wrote: It's analogous to traffic lights. It's beneficial to have a system of traffic lights and for people to obey traffic lights. I'm not saying that running a red light would not be beneficial to a specific person who is late for work or to someone who is going to the hospital with a medical emergency. I can see those benefits. And I don't claim that those benefits "go away" when I make an argument in favor of traffic lights.

If one looks only at individuals on particular journeys, one can argue that traffic lights slow down that individual in every case. But if there were no traffic lights, the journeys would be much slower and more dangerous, in most cases. If people routinely disobeyed the traffic lights, then the journeys would be much slower and more dangerous.

Therefore, there is a benefit to traffic lights when a large number of people are involved. It's a result that only appears when there are interactions among many people.


Still, even something as concrete [and clearly necessary] as traffic laws are open to dispute given particular contexts. But rarely do these disputes reach the point where God and religion are invoked.

I suppose if someone was a selfish bastard and chose to completely ignore red lights and stop sign and speed limits, resulting in numerous accidents, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths to others, it might come up on Judgment Day.

But how to compare traffic laws with laws revolving around abortion or gun ownership or homosexuality or animal rights? There are some things in common, yes, but in other ways [re God and religion] things become considerably more problematic and consequential.

Indeed, we can take this into account when you name the conflict and demonstrate how your own moral narrative assures the greater "evolutionary advantage".


phyllo wrote: Again, it's not about me.

And it's not about any specific individual, any specific conflict or any specific moral narrative. Evolution deals with large groups over long periods of time.

If there was no advantage to morality, then social animals would not be using it. It would have been abandoned if it didn't work. Moral social animals are more fit to survive. That's it.


No one is arguing that there is no advantage to having "rules of behaviors" -- morality, laws -- in any given human community. Instead, this thread was created specifically to explore this in regard to value judgments that come into conflict precipitating behaviors that then carry over into any particular individual's belief regarding his or her fate on the other side of the grave.

As for God, let's assume that a God, the God, your God is the one.


phyllo wrote: So you want to talk about my God.


How on earth can an exchange that revolves around the behaviors religious folks chose on this side of the grave derived from what they perceive their fate to be on the other side of it, not involve an understanding of what they believe about God?

My own conclusion that moral nihilism seems reasonable on this side of the grave resulting in oblivion on the other side of it, revolves precisely around my belief [here and now] that God does not exist.

But: I have no illusion that this is not in turn just another existential contraption derived from the manner in which I construe the meaning of "I" here as dasein.

Thus I am not "imposing" my own narrative on you. I am suggesting instead that your own narrative may well in turn be but an existential contraption derived from dasein.

You choose behaviors here and now. You have reasons for doing so. Those reason are connected to what you believe about God and religion insofar as "I" is sustained beyond the grave.

Here and now. There and then.

You'll either discuss that in some detail regarding the behaviors that you do choose or you won't.

And nothing could possibly be more absurd [to me] than someone accusing me of not being able to "imagine anyone thinking about it in any other way."

That's all I ever think about!

In fact, it is the existential implications of this that keeps shoving me back down into the hole I'm in.

And all you have to do is to keep clinging to the God that keeps you up out of it. Or, rather, so it seems to me.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:16 pm

No one is arguing that there is no advantage to having "rules of behaviors" -- morality, laws -- in any given human community.
In fact, you seemed to be saying that there is no difference between virtue and vice and no advantage to virtuous behavior.

Right here:
It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to recognize that even if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors, what good is that if someone can run rampant committing vice after vice, and no one knows it. Or some do know it but are unable to apprehend the miscreants? To punish them.

That's the quote I took issue with and I responded to it specifically. That's the only quote I care about at this point in the thread.

Now you act is if you never wrote it and never meant it. #-o
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:43 pm

phyllo wrote:
No one is arguing that there is no advantage to having "rules of behaviors" -- morality, laws -- in any given human community.
In fact, you seemed to be saying that there is no difference between virtue and vice and no advantage to virtuous behavior.


No, I seem to be saying that in any particular human community, moral conflicts revolve around those objectivists on one side of a moral and political divide who insist not only is there a profound difference between virtue and vice, but that they have in fact already discovered what that is. And if others want all the advantages bestowed on those deemed to be "one of us", they had best become one of them too.

Right?

It doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to recognize that even if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors, what good is that if someone can run rampant committing vice after vice, and no one knows it. Or some do know it but are unable to apprehend the miscreants? To punish them.


phyllo wrote: That's the quote I took issue with and I responded to it specifically. That's the only quote I care about at this point in the thread.

Now you act is if you never wrote it and never meant it. #-o


Huh?!

That part of my argument revolves around a human community that does have access to a demonstrable set of right and wrong behaviors. Philosophically, say, or scientific. They are able to prove that rational men and women are obligated to behave in a certain manner if they wish to be thought of as men and women of vice or virtue.

BUT:

They have no capacity to link this to a God that is in turn able to be demonstrated as in fact existing objectively.

See the problem?

Yes, they have, in fact, figured out what objective morality is. But, sans God, they have no capacity to ensure that those who choose vice over virtue are either caught or punished.

Let alone that if they choose virtue over vice they are assured immortality and salvation on the other side of grave.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:25 am

Huh?!

That part of my argument revolves around a human community that does have access to a demonstrable set of right and wrong behaviors. Philosophically, say, or scientific. They are able to prove that rational men and women are obligated to behave in a certain manner if they wish to be thought of as men and women of vice or virtue.
Sure. They know which behavior is virtuous. You already said that by using this phrase : "if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors".
BUT:

They have no capacity to link this to a God that is in turn able to be demonstrated as in fact existing objectively.

See the problem?
No, I don't see the problem. If they know and practice the virtuous behaviors then they are reaping the benefits. The existence of God is irrelevant to them. Or if you prefer, the demonstration of the existence of God is irrelevant.
Yes, they have, in fact, figured out what objective morality is. But, sans God, they have no capacity to ensure that those who choose vice over virtue are either caught or punished.
"Those who choose vice over virtue" do not need to be caught and punished by God. They are punishing themselves by choosing vice. And those who choose virtue are rewarding themselves.

It must work that way if virtue and vice are different and therefore produce objectively different results in life. But if virtue and vice are the same, then God's reward or punishment at Judgement Day constitute the entire difference between virtue and vice - producing different results only in an afterlife . IOW, the idea that vice is bad only because God will catch you and punish you. That looks like what you are thinking.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:50 pm

That part of my argument revolves around a human community that does have access to a demonstrable set of right and wrong behaviors. Philosophically, say, or scientific. They are able to prove that rational men and women are obligated to behave in a certain manner if they wish to be thought of as men and women of vice or virtue.


phyllo wrote: Sure. They know which behavior is virtuous. You already said that by using this phrase : "if mere mortals did have access to an understanding of the most rational, most virtuous behaviors".


Which then just begs the question: what might be the actual existential implications of this if...

They have no capacity to link this to a God that is in turn able to be demonstrated as in fact existing objectively.

See the problem?


phyllo wrote: No, I don't see the problem. If they know and practice the virtuous behaviors then they are reaping the benefits. The existence of God is irrelevant to them. Or if you prefer, the demonstration of the existence of God is irrelevant.


All I can do here is to [once again] relate that to the reason I created this thread: to allow those [like zinnat] who do believe in God to connect the dots between behaviors they choose here and now and through their faith in God in imagining the consequences of that in the there and then.

In other words, I speculate that a fundamental reason Gods are invented is that the benefits of knowing [philosophically, scientifically etc] that which is virtuous is just not enough. Not when folks know that those who choose vice instead may well not get caught. Not when folks know that those who choose vice instead may well not be punished.

And then the behaviors of the nihilists, the sociopaths, the narcissists, the psychopaths. What care they of the benefits reaped by those who do practice virtue? Instead, their intentions are often to take advantage of that.

Besides, this hypothetical community of those who are able to grasp virtuous behaviors in regard to conflicting goods, exist here just for the sake of argument.

As for this...

phyllo wrote: "Those who choose vice over virtue" do not need to be caught and punished by God. They are punishing themselves by choosing vice. And those who choose virtue are rewarding themselves.


Sure, if you can actually think yourself into believing this, that's one way to make the real world go away.

On the other hand, as though the tiny percentage of folks who own and operate the global economy while literally hundreds of millions of men, women and child barely sustain an existence from day to day, are punishing themselves for it. Hell, many of them have concocted philosophies that simply rationalize these grotesque disparities. And, besides, at least they're not communists, right?

Ah, but the virtuous can still seek solace in knowing that they are virtuous, right?

But: Virtuous in regard to what? What does it mean to be virtuous [in a No God World] in regard to abortion, gun control, homosexuality, the use of drugs, social and economic justice, gender roles, animal rights, capital punishment, separation of church and state, just wars, immigration...and on and on and on.

phyllo wrote: It must work that way if virtue and vice are different and therefore produce objectively different results in life. But if virtue and vice are the same, then God's reward or punishment at Judgement Day constitute the entire difference between virtue and vice - producing different results only in an afterlife . IOW, the idea that vice is bad only because God will catch you and punish you. That looks like what you are thinking.


What objectively different results in regards to issues like those above? Leaving aside our la la land hypothetical community that for the sake of argument we both agree have discovered the objective distinction between vice and virtue, what might that be in the real world here and now?

Sure, any number of folks might choose virtue over vice because they now know it is the right thing to do. And because they perceive clear benefits for themselves in doing the right thing.

But that does not make the points I raise above go away.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:19 pm

All I can do here is to [once again] relate that to the reason I created this thread: to allow those [like zinnat] who do believe in God to connect the dots between behaviors they choose here and now and through their faith in God in imagining the consequences of that in the there and then.

In other words, I speculate that a fundamental reason Gods are invented is that the benefits of knowing [philosophically, scientifically etc] that which is virtuous is just not enough. Not when folks know that those who choose vice instead may well not get caught. Not when folks know that those who choose vice instead may well not be punished.
Right. That's what you speculate. It's the speculation of a very negative nihilist. Most folks don't seem think that way. They don't invent God to punish immorality. They aren't driven by needs to punish the immoral. That's a small part, if any part at all, of God.
And then the behaviors of the nihilists, the sociopaths, the narcissists, the psychopaths. What care they of the benefits reaped by those who do practice virtue?
Why should folks care about what nihilists( and etc) care about or what nihilists (and etc) think of folks practicing virtue?
Instead, their intentions are often to take advantage of that.
Sure. Somebody may try to exploit you and your behavior but the advantages of virtue outweigh the disadvantages.
Besides, this hypothetical community of those who are able to grasp virtuous behaviors in regard to conflicting goods, exist here just for the sake of argument.
Yes, you proposed the hypothetical community but you won't discuss the consequences that come out of that community ... which is an objective benefit to virtue and no particular need for a punisher God.
Sure, if you can actually think yourself into believing this, that's one way to make the real world go away.
"Make the real world go away"???
Morality evolved to deal with the real world. Evolution is entirely about adapting to the real world. All social animals have some sort of morality.
On the other hand, as though the tiny percentage of folks who own and operate the global economy while literally hundreds of millions of men, women and child barely sustain an existence from day to day, are punishing themselves for it. Hell, many of them have concocted philosophies that simply rationalize these grotesque disparities. And, besides, at least they're not communists, right?
What does that have to do with it?
Ah, but the virtuous can still seek solace in knowing that they are virtuous, right?
I'm saying that there is a tangible benefit to virtue. I didn't say anything about solace. But sure, being virtuous will make a person feel good. Which produces more benefits.
But: Virtuous in regard to what? What does it mean to be virtuous [in a No God World] in regard to abortion, gun control, homosexuality, the use of drugs, social and economic justice, gender roles, animal rights, capital punishment, separation of church and state, just wars, immigration...and on and on and on.
Well, you used the words first as part of your post ... virtue, vice, virtuous behavior ... what did you mean back in the original post? What do you mean when you use them now?
What objectively different results in regards to issues like those above? Leaving aside our la la land hypothetical community that for the sake of argument we both agree have discovered the objective distinction between vice and virtue, what might that be in the real world here and now?

Sure, any number of folks might choose virtue over vice because they now know it is the right thing to do. And because they perceive clear benefits for themselves in doing the right thing.
So now you want to drop the hypothetical community.

If there is a difference between virtue and vice in that community, there is probably a difference in a "real" community. If you know what the next card is in an upside down deck then you can use the best strategy in a game of cards. If you don't know but you know the probabilities associated with a deck of cards, then you can use that to improve your results compared to knowing nothing about a deck of cards.
From thousands/millions of years of experience we know something about virtue and vice.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:09 pm

"Can We Be Good without God?"
William Lane Craig from the Reasonable Faith website

Can we be good without God? At first the answer to this question may seem so obvious that even to pose it arouses indignation. For while those of us who are Christian theists undoubtedly find in God a source of moral strength and resolve which enables us to live lives that are better than those we should live without Him, nevertheless it would seem arrogant and ignorant to claim that those who do not share a belief in God do not often live good moral lives—indeed, embarrassingly, lives that sometimes put our own to shame.


Here of course everything revolves around your understanding of God. As that relates specifically to the behaviors you choose here and now; as that relates specifically to your "sense of self" on the other side of the grave.

For some, with so much at stake --- immortality, salvation, divine justice -- it is not arrogant at all to inisist that those ignorant of the existence of the one true God [their own God] behave only in accordance with their own rendition of Judgment Day.

But wait! It would, indeed, be arrogant and ignorant to claim that people cannot be good without belief in God. But that was not the question. The question was: can we be good without God? When we ask that question, we are posing in a provocative way the meta-ethical question of the objectivity of moral values. Are the values we hold dear and guide our lives by mere social conventions akin to driving on the left versus right side of the road or mere expressions of personal preference akin to having a taste for certain foods or not? Or are they valid independently of our apprehension of them, and if so, what is their foundation? Moreover, if morality is just a human convention, then why should we act morally, especially when it conflicts with self-interest? Or are we in some way held accountable for our moral decisions and actions?


Bingo!

This has always been the reason I surmised for the existence of God and religion. If you are faced with the option of choosing one behavior with one set of consequences over another behavior and another set of consequences, what can you rely on as a final arbiter with immortality and salvation and divine justice at stake?

How can ethics realistically be construed as "meta" unless there is a font that transcends the considerably less than omniscient/omnipotent capacities of mere mortals?

It has to be a God, the God, my God it would seem. Then we can get down [historically] to the question of whose God it is.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:49 pm

But wait! It would, indeed, be arrogant and ignorant to claim that people cannot be good without belief in God. But that was not the question. The question was: can we be good without God? When we ask that question, we are posing in a provocative way the meta-ethical question of the objectivity of moral values.
:icon-rolleyes:
Are the values we hold dear and guide our lives by mere social conventions akin to driving on the left versus right side of the road
A group can choose to drive on either the left or right but once the choice is made, it becomes objectively correct to drive on that side. That's how you get where you want to go without crashing or getting blocked.
or mere expressions of personal preference akin to having a taste for certain foods or not?
Of course preference is part of it. Humans prefer not to be killed or to have friends and family killed and that's why killing is immoral. If people didn't care then 'killing' would not be a moral issue.

If you personally don't care about 'killing', it's still a moral issue for you when you live in a society where most people do care.
Or are they valid independently of our apprehension of them, and if so, what is their foundation?
The foundation is the structure of the universe, the structure of humans.

And yeah, you can say that God created the universe so therefore morality comes from God.
Moreover, if morality is just a human convention, then why should we act morally, especially when it conflicts with self-interest?
You can act in your self-interest and against a society's moral rules at any time, if you are prepared to take the consequences : disapproval and punishments. And there are the non-social consequences ... for example, inbreeding producing genetically damaged children.
You can act in your self-interest even if God exists and even if it God will thrust you into eternal damnation at Judgement Day.

But what really is "your self-interest"? Is it to go outside "the rules" or to live within them? Do I eat my marshmallow now or delay and get more in the long run?
Or are we in some way held accountable for our moral decisions and actions?
There are consequences embedded in the structure of the universe - feedback coming at you from objects, plants, animals, and people.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:04 pm

The irony is that a morality based on "God says so" is less objective than a morality based on looking around at the consequences of actions. :D
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:58 pm

phyllo wrote:The irony is that a morality based on "God says so" is less objective than a morality based on looking around at the consequences of actions. :D
It is also not particularly good. Let alone Good. I've brought this up before. If God tells you do this or I will be angry or you won't get into Heaven or you are not a good person, you may follow the rules, but then who are you in essence. We all know people who act well, but don't feel good to be in a room with. I suppose God's rules could be pointing in a direction so you learn to calibrate yourself, divine parenting. Of course I never liked Abraham's choice to follow God's order. I would have said not, I will not kill my son. It's funny what can pass for moral. But then perhaps God was testing Abraham and he failed. Even the existence of God, for me, does not make morals objective. And from a gnostic point of view, perhaps you are just dealing with a demiurge, which is what a lot of theists seem to be following.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Sat Jun 29, 2019 7:59 pm

I speculate that a fundamental reason Gods are invented is that the benefits of knowing [philosophically, scientifically etc] that which is virtuous is just not enough. Not when folks know that those who choose vice instead may well not get caught. Not when folks know that those who choose vice instead may well not be punished.


phyllo wrote: Right. That's what you speculate. It's the speculation of a very negative nihilist. Most folks don't seem think that way. They don't invent God to punish immorality. They aren't driven by needs to punish the immoral. That's a small part, if any part at all, of God.


Then they wouldn't have much use for this thread, right? Because this thread was created specifically to address the question of someone's belief in God as that relates to the behaviors they choose on this side of the grave, as that relates to their imagined fate on the other side of it.

And then the behaviors of the nihilists, the sociopaths, the narcissists, the psychopaths. What care they of the benefits reaped by those who do practice virtue?


Why should folks care about what nihilists( and etc) care about or what nihilists (and etc) think of folks practicing virtue?


Partly because we live in a world where they clearly exist. Though, sure, if you never come across one, if you never have to deal with the consequences of their existence, why care about them?

Sure, if you can actually think yourself into believing this, that's one way to make the real world go away.


phyllo wrote: "Make the real world go away"???
Morality evolved to deal with the real world. Evolution is entirely about adapting to the real world. All social animals have some sort of morality.


And over and again I have discussed why I believe this to be the case. And in the real world there are those who fall back on one or another God to bend that real world in the general direction of "one of us". Here and now...there and then.

But: How does that make the impetus behind the OP go away?

Ah, but the virtuous can still seek solace in knowing that they are virtuous, right?


phyllo wrote: I'm saying that there is a tangible benefit to virtue. I didn't say anything about solace. But sure, being virtuous will make a person feel good. Which produces more benefits.


And I'm saying that the tangible benefit that you ascribe to your virtue that you ascribe to your God prompts you to choose particular behaviors based on the manner in which you then connect the dots between here and now and there and then.

The solace for most believers is derived precisely from their faith in God.

But: they bump into others who ascribe different virtues to different Gods commanding different behaviors. Or to No God communities. Or to the sociopaths and nihilists.

Then what? If not the complex and convoluted consequences of the "real world" that we do live in?

But for those who do chose a God world here, I created this thread. Let's bring their belief in God down to earth in regard to those behaviors that they do choose.

Or, for that matter, the behaviors that you choose.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:02 pm

First, one must keep in mind that Pascal was writing to people that thought Christianity could be true. He wasn't addressing dedicated atheists but rather people that could be considered agnostic. For someone that was sitting on the fence, Pascal argued that living a Christian life had huge upsides that were potentially infinite with limited downsides.

According to Pascal, if Christianity is true and you live a Christian life, you go to Heaven forever. That's an infinite benefit. If Christianity is false and after death everything goes black, you still live a moral and virtuous life if you obey Christian teachings. You're still better off being a Christian even if it turns out to be false.


In my view, this sort of thing would seem to come back to the manner in which you have come to construe the meaning of God; and in relationship to the manner in which you have come to construe the meaning of Judgment Day.

Or, in other words, is there a way in which a true believer is obligated to construe both on the day of their own death?

Different believers will tell you different things. Some are clearly more fierce in their conviction that all others must toe the line of their own scripture...or risk Damnation.

There never seems to be a list of behaviors that all denominations can agree are not negotiable. Even "thou shalt not kill" can become tangled up in all manner of conflicting assessments given different contexts.

A lot depends on the nature of the wager itself. You might not be sure if God does exist. In all sincerity in other words. So you take that Kierkegaardian leap to one or another God, and hope for the best.

But what of those who are less sincere? Or their wager is more cynical? They bet on God figuring what have they got to lose. As though God won't see right through that.

Still, if you do choose to bet in all sincerity then you are obligating yourself to behave in whatever manner you imagine this God expects you to behave. Sure, it can be comforting when morality is able to be reduced down to either/or, but it can also become very restrictive. You see others choosing to behave in a more purely selfish manner and you note all of the things that they get to do that you can't.

It does work both ways, right?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:04 pm

William Lane Craig wrote:Are the values we hold dear and guide our lives by mere social conventions akin to driving on the left versus right side of the road


phyllo wrote:A group can choose to drive on either the left or right but once the choice is made, it becomes objectively correct to drive on that side. That's how you get where you want to go without crashing or getting blocked.


But situating this in the context of the OP, what if, hypothetically, England and the United States agreed to merge. And what if driving on the left or right side of the road was a factor in whether or not one was favored by God.

Then what? Different Gods have different scriptures relating to any number of conflicting goods. Given that immortality, salvation and divine justice are still at stake, what then should be the objective law?

And what is driving on one or another side of the road compared to conflicting value judgments that revolve around things like abortion or sexuality or social and economic justice or the separation of church and state?

You either believe in a God that expects you to choice salvation over sin here or you don't.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:14 pm

phyllo wrote:The irony is that a morality based on "God says so" is less objective than a morality based on looking around at the consequences of actions. :D


Not sure exactly what you mean by this but, in my view, the reason the "God says so" moralities can be construed as less objective is that, ironically enough, they basically revolve around conflicting Gods!

Objectivist religious dogmas all claiming that their God and their God alone embodies the difference between one or another rendition of Heaven and Hell.

It's just that, sans God, the consequences of one's actions are predicated first and foremost on getting caught. And, if not caught, on not being punished.

Why on earth do you suppose [as Kant noted] that a "transcending font" here is an utterly crucial component of any deontological moral philosophy.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:12 pm

Not sure exactly what you mean by this but, in my view, the reason the "God says so" moralities can be construed as less objective is that, ironically enough, they basically revolve around conflicting Gods!
Objective morality would be tied to the structure of the universe. Observed actions and results is how you discover it. "God says so" is just words, whether spoken by one God or many. Those words would have to be linked to observable actions and results in order for them to be considered objective at all.
It's just that, sans God, the consequences of one's actions are predicated first and foremost on getting caught. And, if not caught, on not being punished.
I already said that there is more to it than being caught and punished. But you ignored it. :confusion-shrug:
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby phyllo » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:31 pm

But situating this in the context of the OP, what if, hypothetically, England and the United States agreed to merge. And what if driving on the left or right side of the road was a factor in whether or not one was favored by God.
His point was that there is something 'wrong" with a morality if people decide on a convention and abide by it. As if there is something inherently wrong with agreeing to drive either on the left or the right. As if we need God to decide which side to drive on. #-o

That was the point that I was addressing. I don't see anything 'wrong' or unobjective about such conventions whether in traffic control or morality. Seems perfectly reasonable with or without God.

Maybe God is not such a control freak that He has to decide everything. He gave us brains and the ability to reason. Maybe He wants us to use them.
Then what?
Use your brains.
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Re: on discussing god and religion

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:03 pm

Not sure exactly what you mean by this but, in my view, the reason the "God says so" moralities can be construed as less objective is that, ironically enough, they basically revolve around conflicting Gods!

phyllo wrote:Objective morality would be tied to the structure of the universe. Observed actions and results is how you discover it. "God says so" is just words, whether spoken by one God or many. Those words would have to be linked to observable actions and results in order for them to be considered objective at all.

There's also the issue of whether God is moral. Let's assume a God for the moment and one is in some form of contact either via texts, intermediaries or direct contact. God says Kill your kid. 1) do you do it? 2) must it be right just because God says it? I wouldn't, terrifying as that might be. I mean, I have been given paternal feelings, empathy and so on by this deity, or something anyway, in this scenario. And now I must put aside the very values of my body and heart because God must be moral? I understand how in a sense a God's morals are objective. This God made things and can potentially judge how we act. But to me this doesn't let me off the hook behaviorally. Iambiguous loves the phrase 'sans God' as if 'avec God' settles everything. I don't think it does. And even many traditional Abrahamists certainly think they must follow God's rules, but the devil is in the application also, the details, not just a set of rules. Real life is complicated (and by this I am tying this part of the argument to your response above.)

But beyond that even if one presumes of demonstrates the presence of a deity, this to me still is not an end to what people call moral decisions. We are still creatures with built in urges as social mammals, God given if God made us. I can't how we suddenly must assume that God is moral. A whole argument line is missing there.



It's just that, sans God, the consequences of one's actions are predicated first and foremost on getting caught. And, if not caught, on not being punished.


phyllo wrote:I already said that there is more to it than being caught and punished. But you ignored it. :confusion-shrug:
Strange that he an atheist would echo theist arguments that once there is no God or belief in God people can do anything. 1) like we cannot shape our rules either claiming they are objective or claiming that we do this to facilitate the running of society. 2) atheist parents manage to raise children to adulthood who do not kill whenever they can get away with it.

We can always catch ourselves. We can always, however inconvenient, feel empathy. We can always notice what we dislike and agree to conventions.
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