Observations

No atheist has ever articulated an original moral tenet.

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17 Responses to Observations

  1. kenetiks says:

    That’s flat out, untrue and you know it Jack.

  2. James says:

    False.

    Although the abolitionist movement had some Christian supporters, the notion that kidnapping someone and/or forcing them to work against their will and keeping them in bondage is a rejection of that person’s dignity and humanity is really a secular humanist moral assessment.

    You cannot read either Scripture (Old Testament or New) or the Church Fathers and come to the conclusion that slavery is a moral evil, per se. To the contrary, Christ and St Paul recognized its legality, and it was incorporated of the only Constitution considered to have emanated from God.

    If you look at the writings of men like Thornton Stringfellow and the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention, they had Scripture, all of Christian history and the support of tradition to buttress their position that slavery was a God-ordained institution.

  3. jackhudson says:

    I don’t know why you think that is untrue Kenetics – can you think of anything? I don’t even think most of the morality Christians articulate is particularly original.

    And anti-slavery arguments began by Christians long before the American abolitionist movement.

  4. Mike D says:

    Since atheists are people who can understand their shared needs and responsibilities with their fellow humans rather than being reduced to sheep who have to have their behavioral codes spelled out by someone claiming to have access to an infallible divine authority, they don’t generally find it necessary to go around authoring moral tenets.

    And as soon as you can find me one Bible verse that explicitly condemns slavery, I’ll buy the notion that religion, rather than the shifting zeitgeist of secular modernity, had something to do with abolition.

  5. jackhudson says:

    Since atheists are people who can understand their shared needs and responsibilities with their fellow humans rather than being reduced to sheep who have to have their behavioral codes spelled out by someone claiming to have access to an infallible divine authority, they don’t generally find it necessary to go around authoring moral tenets.

    Which confirms my claim that atheists have never authored an original moral claim, spelled out or otherwise. 

    And as soon as you can find me one Bible verse that explicitly condemns slavery, I’ll buy the notion that religion, rather than the shifting zeitgeist of secular modernity, had something to do with abolition.

    Christian opposition to slavery is predicated an certain moral principles including humans being formed in the image of God, human moral equality before God, Christ’s commands to love our neighbors and love others as we love Him, and the notion of universal Christian brotherhood. Not all Christians have historically understood or applied those principles, but they form the basis for moral opposition to slavery.

    Obviously there is no atheistic principle against slavery.  

  6. James says:

    Jack, that is still a liberal and even secular sentiment of what it means to “love your neighbor” that you’re reading into Scripture when it just isn’t there.

    Exodus 21:20-21 clearly states that while a master must not beat his slave *to death*, there should be no penalty if the slave recovers after a day or two as the slave is that master’s property.
    Paul demanded that slaves obey their masters, not escape if they found living conditions intolerable. Apparently, he saw no contradiction between “loving your neighbor” and keeping them in bondage against their will.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad Christians came to the conclusion that slavery didn’t conform to the moral dictates of the Bible (although it took the SBC about 150 years to come to that conclusion) … it’s just that these notions crept into the Christian culture from outside of it, not from within.

  7. jackhudson says:

    Jack, that is still a liberal and even secular sentiment of what it means to “love your neighbor” that you’re reading into Scripture when it just isn’t there.

    How could slavery be compatible with any notion of loving one’s neighbor?

    Exodus 21:20-21 clearly states that while a master must not beat his slave *to death*, there should be no penalty if the slave recovers after a day or two as the slave is that master’s property.
    Paul demanded that slaves obey their masters, not escape if they found living conditions intolerable. Apparently, he saw no contradiction between “loving your neighbor” and keeping them in bondage against their will.

    Actually Paul did encourage slaves to free themselves if they could:

     Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so.
    1 Cor. 7:21

    And when Paul was actually able to deal with an escaped slave and his owner, he encouraged his owner to no longer consider him a slave:

     Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
    Philemon 1:15-16

    Obviously Paul didn’t overthrow the Roman system of slavery immediately.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad Christians came to the conclusion that slavery didn’t conform to the moral dictates of the Bible (although it took the SBC about 150 years to come to that conclusion) … it’s just that these notions crept into the Christian culture from outside of it, not from within.

    As seen above, Paul discouraged slavery – Christians obviously didn’t gain such notions from the Non-Christian world because that world was rife with slavery.

  8. The Judge says:

    Nietzsche. Camus. Sartre. Leopardi. Marx. Durkheim. Schopenhauer. Ibsen. Baudelaire. Rimbaud. Derrida. Crowley. De Andre. Brassens. Kafka. Mishima. Jerzy Lec. Umberto Eco. McCarthy. The Coen Brothers. Hemingway. I dunno, just off the top of my head.

  9. jackhudson says:

    And the original moral tenets they contributed were…?

  10. The Judge says:

    That power is legitimacy (Nietzsche). That the priority of the individual is to revolt against injustice (Camus). That at the heart of our taking responsibility there is the exercise of our freedom (Sartre). That to be moral one must reject nature and natural principles (Leopardi). That ethical progress is attained collectively and via revolution against class oppression (Marx). Honestly, do I have to continue? If you really can’t see how something like Nietzschean ethics were original, then I wonder what the term ever means to you.

  11. The Judge says:

    How could slavery be compatible with any notion of loving one’s neighbor?

    Because slaves wouldn’t necessarily be considered “neighbors,” much like today a gay partnership isn’t considered “marriage.”

  12. ' says:

    morality existed before religion.
    QED

  13. Tristan Vick says:

    “Fill your mind with compassion.” –The Buddha

    “”A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary.” –Albert Einstein

    “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” –Marcus Aurelius (attributed)

  14. jackhudson says:

    I guess I had in mind specific tenets like, don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t covet, love your neighbor, etc. That is rules which govern human action.

    So when one considers a statement like Nietzche’s, what actions does it suggest we take with regard to our treatment of another person?

  15. Tristan Vick says:

    “So when one considers a statement like Nietzche’s, what actions does it suggest we take with regard to our treatment of another person?”

    Well, then we would be talking about meta-ethics, not moral foundations, or moral ontology.

    These are all separate discussions.

    However, Nietzsche’s comment is about morality in the sense that without one’s mind, one could not distinguish right and wrong, and would be absent any moral sense. Relinquishing the mind, and so too one’s reason, was a moral evil for Nietzche’s time just as it is a moral evil for our time. Again, as I pointed out, this isn’t an issue of moral sources so much as recognizing morality–which is equally important if you are to declare there are such things as moral sources–which Nietzche recognized.

    The reason, I think would be obvious. Sociopaths and psychopaths have an impeded moral sense, which is to say they lack one, because their minds are without the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. That’s why sociopaths and psychopaths are a moral danger–not only to society–but themselves as well. This goes back to what Nietzche is saying.

    And he’s right. When reason is turned off, and we give up our minds, then we become mindless and dangerous, because we have allowed another force to take control and govern our moral responsibilities. Which is why many atheists have difficult with religious authority and prescribed morality.

    But it’s not just religion, since anything could seek to control or influence us when we are in a mindless state. For Neitzche, this was religion, which is why he called Christianity the ultimate form of Nihilism–because according to his theory of relinquishing the mind, Christianity destroyed one’s reason and took over the mind, and replaced it with Christian convictions and dogmas.

    I personally wouldn’t go as far as to claim Christianity is a form of Nihilism, but I do understand what Neitzche was trying to say about the moral dangers of becoming mindless and giving up our reason–because in so doing we would give up our moral sense.

  16. jackhudson says:

    Well, then we would be talking about meta-ethics, not moral foundations, or moral ontology.

    These are all separate discussions.

    Actually when I specified ‘moral tenets’ I was considering normative ethics. I know atheists generally claim that normative ethics can’t be derived from their beliefs (or lack thereof) which would seem to make my claim a given, but that would also be contrary to the notion that one can be ‘good without God’, given goodness is what we ought to do.

    However, Nietzsche’s comment is about morality in the sense that without one’s mind, one could not distinguish right and wrong, and would be absent any moral sense. Relinquishing the mind, and so too one’s reason, was a moral evil for Nietzche’s time just as it is a moral evil for our time. Again, as I pointed out, this isn’t an issue of moral sources so much as recognizing morality–which is equally important if you are to declare there are such things as moral sources–which Nietzche recognized.

    But this seems to avoid the question of normative ethics, i.e., what we ought to do.

    The reason, I think would be obvious. Sociopaths and psychopaths have an impeded moral sense, which is to say they lack one, because their minds are without the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. That’s why sociopaths and psychopaths are a moral danger–not only to society–but themselves as well. This goes back to what Nietzche is saying.

    But this doesn’t answer the question about which actions are right or wrong. Is dishonesty wrong? Is everyone who is dishonest a sociopath or psychopath? If not, then doen’t that suggest that one can willfully be dishonest?

    And he’s right. When reason is turned off, and we give up our minds, then we become mindless and dangerous, because we have allowed another force to take control and govern our moral responsibilities. Which is why many atheists have difficult with religious authority and prescribed morality.

    But wouldn’t a person who is controlled by a set of principles (like empathy, generosity, faithfulness and joy) be the opposite of what we expect a sociopath to be?

    But it’s not just religion, since anything could seek to control or influence us when we are in a mindless state. For Neitzche, this was religion, which is why he called Christianity the ultimate form of Nihilism–because according to his theory of relinquishing the mind, Christianity destroyed one’s reason and took over the mind, and replaced it with Christian convictions and dogmas.

    I think you still haven’t answered the question, how specifically would a person treat others if they followed Nietzsche’s philosophy?

    I personally wouldn’t go as far as to claim Christianity is a form of Nihilism, but I do understand what Neitzche was trying to say about the moral dangers of becoming mindless and giving up our reason–because in so doing we would give up our moral sense.

    Interestingly, if materialistic atheism is true, we have neither free will, nor ‘minds’ per se, just organs in our head acting according to electro-chemical impulses set in motion by events far beyond our control. Wouldn’t this be the epitome of mindlessness?

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