Butterfly wrote:Addressing the question of the title of this thread, “Morality without God?”, I find it quite easy to trace out the origins of morality without the need of a divine source.
Once consciousness arose in animals the next step was self-consciousness, the state of being aware of oneself...from the point that humans became aware they naturally connected the idea of right and wrong using themselves as the model for morality.
When one is aware of disliking something done to their own selves, one then projects that dislike onto others, hence the birth of the "Golden Rule" or "Morality". Self-consciousness is the state from which morality was born, that is what sets us apart from all the other animals...the ability to project our own feelings and desires onto another being and know that it is either right or wrong because of our own awareness.
Self-awareness also gave birth to the idea of purpose and beginnings. Naturally when one is aware of their own existence, the question emerges...where did I come from, and what is my purpose? Thus, the idea of a creator who formed us for a purpose naturally arose, since our origins are hidden from our understanding.
Hey thanks for the response. It's been a while since this thread has seen activity. I'll jump right in and see what I can comment on.
Your first argument is an interesting one. I have seen it before, so it doesn't quite convince me. The problem is that by explaining man's ability to discern right from wrong by bringing up man's self-awareness, you seem to only kick the can down the road. The next inevitable question is, "where did man get his self-awareness?" I do not see self-awareness as being properly explained by chemical reactions and atoms in motion. There is no conceivable way in which atoms in motion can combine to create a living consciousness, an independent identity, a self-aware mind. The existence of self-awareness, to me, is strong evidence against the idea that man has purely naturalistic origins.
I would also challenge the premise that self-awareness alone leads to the ability to make moral judgements. There doesn't seem to be any naturalistic or evolutionary reason why we even think of things in terms of right and wrong. Morality seems entirely arbitrary and meaningless in the evolutionary worldview. So, in a way, our ability to make moral judgements points to the fact that those judgements do mean something, that we were given this faculty in order to discern actual truths. And, of course, I hold that we were given it by God at the moment of Creation.
Sin, like morality is a concept, not an “objective fact”, which emerged out of the consciousness of man. Without the self-awareness of the human animal “sin”, like morality does not exist; it is not a law or principle upon which life is built. The concept of sin arose solely from the state of self-awareness of our own selves, and the idea that somehow the desires of our humanity are innately bad.
So now we're touching more on the original idea of my first post, which was not necessarily how we began to discern right from wrong but whether or not right and wrong actually exist. In other words, the debate over whether or not morality is objective and subjective, instead of the debate about where man got his moral sense from.
I always challenge those who say that morality is not real to think long and hard about what they are saying. I have never met or talked to anyone who believed what you just said through and through. On the surface, you can say that morality is meaningless all day. But we all innately know otherwise.
Would you, the person behind the username Butterfly, witness the rape and murder of a little girl, and then declare to investigators and news anchors, "Morality is a concept, not an objective fact! Morality emerged out of the consciousness of man. Without the self-awareness of the human animal, morality does not exist!" Think about it. I do not think you believe what you think you do.
If morality exists as a “truth” in the universe in the same way as say the Pythagorean Theorem does then why has mans concept of what is moral continued to change with time, and consciousness level?
The fact that morality is objective does not imply or require that man always agree on what is right or what is wrong. Where did this premise come from? I agree that there has been much moral debate over the millennia about human affairs. But it doesn't change that there ARE objective moral facts that apply to human affairs. Furthermore, most people do agree on the basic questions of morality, such as the evil of murder and thievery and the rightness of philanthropy and selflessness.
Take for instance the biblical passage in Numbers 31, where Moses orders the Hebrew soldiers by command from God to kill all the male children and women who are not virgins, and then proceeds to give the remaining 32,000 virgins girls to the Hebrew soldiers to keep for themselves…by today’s moral standards killing women and children and taking people as slaves is totally unacceptable and immoral, yet the Hebrew’s in biblical times seemed to think God allowed such behavior.
Num.31:1-2 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. Num. 31:18-19 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
You know what? You're right. It does sound cruel, it does sound brutal. And I'm not too proud to admit that I struggle with these verses from time to time. Sometimes I return to the fact that the environment that the Israelites lived in at the time was harsh and hostile, and sometimes survival depended on establishing psychological superiority over one's enemies. I'd also emphasize a difference between a killing sanctioned and directed by God and one committed by man because of his sinful nature. To God, death is meaningless, merely a phase through which we pass into eternity. But man does not hold the same authority over life as does God.
So those are my thoughts. I'd caution against going down this trail, however, because it might deter from the original topic.
There are countless other examples in the Bible where acts that are considered immoral by today’s standards are commanded and condoned by its God. Morality appears to come solely from the emergence of self-awareness and the ability to reason, there is no need of a “Divine Source” as the author of morality.
Well again I'd challenge the idea that morality comes from reason alone. This is very important, so read carefully: reason deals with things that are, the state of things. Morality deals with the way things should be. There is no connection between the two; they are entirely divorced from one another. You cannot reach the conclusion "killing is wrong" through logical syllogisms and proofs. There are some truths that we are all justified in recognizing, but which are not based in "reason" or rational thought process. And this applies to atheists as well as Christians.
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.