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The Argument From Morality


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If the only way to have an objective moral compass is if you believe in an objective moral law giver, why is it that Christians can't agree with each other on what is moral and what is immoral? There are some Christians who believe homosexuality is immoral and there are some Christians who don't believe it is immoral. They're both reading the exact same bible but they both have widely different interpretations of the exact same verses. If belief in God is the only way to have an objective moral value system, then surely all Christians should be able to come away with the exact same book with the exact same moral value system, so why are they so different?

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i was checking out a book called 'the bible made impossible' by christian smith. i havent read it, but his premise is that religious people (of which he seems to be one) need to shed 'biblicism' ie the belief that the bible is the ultimate authority and infallible, as the bible cant live up to this expectation, and the result is thousands of different interpretations - each believing they are ultimate truth. i suppose this is similar to the themes of spong etc.

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It seems to me that there doesn't exist a person including Jesus that can write a complete list of moral values to be taken literally that are black and white and will be valid for every person regardless of occupation or position in life under all circumstances. Of couse , i could be wrong...but i don't think so.

 

Joseph

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There are different ethics and morals and I respect people who honor their code. In India my money and belongings were separated from my physical being by thieves many times. They followed a code so I wasn't harmed and they stole my money in very artistic ways. I am grateful that no harm was done. I think as we progress in the spiritual absolute our morals and ethics change with our evolution so I think helping someone find their path, their dharma helps them with their ethics, morality and life. It doesn't have to be Christian.

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If the only way to have an objective moral compass is if you believe in an objective moral law giver, why is it that Christians can't agree with each other on what is moral and what is immoral? There are some Christians who believe homosexuality is immoral and there are some Christians who don't believe it is immoral. They're both reading the exact same bible but they both have widely different interpretations of the exact same verses. If belief in God is the only way to have an objective moral value system, then surely all Christians should be able to come away with the exact same book with the exact same moral value system, so why are they so different?

 

A long time ago, some people saw fit to drive a wedge between 'objective' and 'subjective'. It was a mistake. We have paid too high a price for that mistake and need to move on.

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...why is it that Christians can't agree with each other on what is moral and what is immoral? ...They're both reading the exact same bible but they both have widely different interpretations of the exact same verses... why are they so different?

 

I think that the answer to your question lies in what I think the nature of religion is to the human mind. We seek that which confirms what we already believe to be true.

 

There is no greater confirmation for the rightness of our views than that the Creator of the Universe agrees with us!

 

NORM

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A long time ago, some people saw fit to drive a wedge between 'objective' and 'subjective'. It was a mistake. We have paid too high a price for that mistake and need to move on.

 

A fascinating point and one I'd be very interested to discuss further. I've been thinking about the points of difference and similarity between my own science-based atheism and Christianity which is understood in a non-theistic way. From what I've read here and in other places I suspect this point might be the key difference.

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Dusk you make a very good arguement. I agree....................

 

The experiments performed in a laboratory take physical observation with the 5 senses of an objective experience without any internal forces.

 

The experiments performed in the mind for example, testing a mathematical formula is beyond the senses or external forces. One takes the formula and plugs in different numbers to see if the results are the same. It is performed in the mind, not the physical world. Pythagorean Theorem

 

In metaphysics one applies the disciplines from personal research in the laboratory of the mind to get a subjective experience, which I sometimes call a spiritual experience then one observes the effect and analyzes the results to make a conclusion. They are then published or passed on and if replicated with similar results by others it can be considered metaphysics.

Some of the common subjective results are:

- The sense of a deep reality beyond what appears in the world

- Clues to unity, a parting the veil of duality

- one steps out of separateness to wholeness

- New eyes see love, beauty and wisdom everywhere

 

The subjective spiritual experience should arouse one from immaturity and prejudice to a higher morality or ethics.

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Thanks for that soma.

 

It seems to me that the results you identify are all themselves subjective states - only the most pedantic of materialists would dispute that one subjective experience could give rise to another. I too have experienced a sense of deep reality and oneness, but I don't associate the experience with anything external to myself. The reason I find this topic confusing might well be that I don't know whether you would consider that last step to be important.

 

"The laboratory of the mind" is a good metaphor but I can't help thinking that more would be needed than finding that some other people report similar experiences. The same could be said, after all, for experiences of alien abduction which seem to be similar for a number of people.

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"The laboratory of the mind" is a good metaphor but I can't help thinking that more would be needed than finding that some other people report similar experiences. The same could be said, after all, for experiences of alien abduction which seem to be similar for a number of people.

 

Having the experience is subjective. Not being sure of what happened and finding a narrative to explain it is not. That is the left brain that always has to have an explanation even if it appears irrational to others. We do find people who agree with us if we must to feel affirmed.

 

Materialistically one can say that it is in the right brain that we have "unitive" experiences of feeling one with (the universe). Panexperientialists feel that entities are related externally (a materialistic concern) and internally (often labelled subjective). It is this internal relationship that we recognize when we have a unitive experience.

 

 

 

... There are no substances. What exist are relations and these relations involve subjectivity-that is, some form of sentience-at the heart of all entities from protons to people.* The individual entities of the universe are occasions of experience.

 

Radical indeed is the proposition that when you pursue your feelings down the evolutionary line you come to the conclusion that a feeling is a feeling of a feeling. Mind cannot arise from no mind. Subjectivity cannot emerge from something that is not subjective. Freedom and self-determination cannot arise from something that has no freedom.

 

 

Process Thought: Its Value and Meaning To Me by Charles Birch

http://www.ctr4process.org/about/process/MeansToMe.shtml

 

* This does not mean that we are related to rocks. We are internally related to the atoms that make up the rocks.

 

A long article about materialism, dualism and panexperientialism.

 

 

Why I became a Panexperientialist by Charles Birch

http://www.ctr4process.org/publications/Biblio/Papers/Charles%20Birch%20-%20Why%20I%20became%20a%20Panexperientialist.html

 

This is too brief of an introduction to panexperientialism which is difficult for me to fully grasp but maybe it will help.

 

Dutch

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I would agree that ethics are our own choice. It's how we rise some levels, spiritually speaking.

 

It's also the reason why Jesus Christ always worked with faith. First there is an experience, an observation, getting an idea, getting persuaded by something, and then you need to "keep" what you have arrived at. Sometimes this seems easy, but it also has been hard for me. The thing for me is, I do not have a simple moral rulebook. I try to go by the 10 commandments and by the 2 love commandments because they seem pure and noble and only seem a light and reasonable burden to me. But many times I find myself in a state of confusion by the world and by my internal life (I have schizophrenia), and at that point I know I can't simply march forward but instead must sit at the fireplace of the past once more, so again I'm going to the 10 commandments and the 2 love commandments. And I'm trying to approach Jesus about these things to know He's with me. But I know I can't turn this into a blueprint for another small theocratic group or church. I've just decided at some point there's got to be enough lest I'd become rabbinical and invent rules to keep my Torah pure and untouched.

 

Ethics have to do, for me, with "know thyself" and "know God". In my view, a homosexual should find out if he's really homosexual or if he's just following some momentary excitement. I don't believe that God makes any forbiddance of homosexuality, so the homosexual is free, but again going from my own experience (I've had autogynephilia and got rid of it because it wasn't what I thought it was, it was just a kink thing), sometimes it can be a lifesaver to really know yourself and to find yourself in God. For example, I've studied transsexuality, and there are not only those transgendered people who feel happy in the new gender, there are also those who feel great misery after surgery, and that could have been avoided. I don't mean any wrath of God, just a sincere knowing and understanding yourself.

 

But know thyself doesn't seem to be acknowledged in many churches. You're just supposed to satisfy a standard in the fear of God. This can work for some people but it has broken hearts and meant pointless suffering for others.

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Why I became a Panexperientialist by Charles Birch

http://www.ctr4proce...ientialist.html

 

This is too brief of an introduction to panexperientialism which is difficult for me to fully grasp but maybe it will help.

 

Dutch

 

Thanks - an interesting read. I must admit that I found Birch's arguments as to why mental events can't arise from the physical to be full of a number of basic conceptual errors that really should be cleared up in Philosophy 101 - errors standard enough that they have names: the division fallacy, argument from incredulity, Sorites etc. His misrepresentation of mainstream science is odd as well - he depicts "classical scientists" who think atoms are like billiard balls, reject quantum theory and hold views on mental phenomena allegedly summed up in an obscure quasi-mystical book published in 1923.

 

Now obviously none of this means there's no merit in panexperientialism, but in my view this article completely fails to make the case.

 

At the root of many rejections of materialism, including this one, is an instinctive commitment to dualism often called the hard problem of consciousness - the physical is like this and the mental is like that. Yet this kind of thing doesn't trouble us in other areas - we're comfortable that e=mc2 gives us equivalence of mass and energy even though energy is like this and mass is like that.

 

Another reason for rejecting materialism is that matter is seen as being dead, inert and basically a bit dull - not special enough to account for consciousness. If it really was the collection of billiard balls Birch thinks physics treats it as there might be some merit in the claim. You, however, are made of 7 trillion cells, each an intricate structure in its own right, made of elements that were created in the heart of stars. Look into the night sky and you can experience light that, even though it travels fast enough to circumnavigate the equator nearly 4 times a second, has traveled for millions of years just to fall on your retina, across a space in which, we now speculate, every infinitesimal point might contain a tiny 7-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold. I can't help thinking that to look at all this and to say that it isn't special enough betrays a very great sense of our own importance.

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There are different ethics and morals and I respect people who honor their code. In India my money and belongings were separated from my physical being by thieves many times. They followed a code so I wasn't harmed and they stole my money in very artistic ways. I am grateful that no harm was done. I think as we progress in the spiritual absolute our morals and ethics change with our evolution so I think helping someone find their path, their dharma helps them with their ethics, morality and life. It doesn't have to be Christian.

 

The reference to thievery in a culture reminded me of Sam Harris' FAQ on Violence rebuttal to criticism of his gun control stance. He quoted an interview of a couple of UK hooligans. The interview is worth reading. The difference in personal codes is pointed out in this part of the interview. -

 

I: If you are such a good fighter why didn’t you have a fair fight with him?

 

Steve: It was a fair fight. Where we come from that was fair an’ square. Just because we don’t follow Queensbury don’t mean that what we do ain’t fair. You know wot I’m sayin’. The only person at fault was the d**k I stabbed, he should ’ave know the rules. I mean, what the f***** ’e doin’ in Wood End and not knowin’ the crack. Maybe now he’ll learn.

Edited by Vridar
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You, however, are made of 7 trillion cells, each an intricate structure in its own right, made of elements that were created in the heart of stars. Look into the night sky and you can experience light that, even though it travels fast enough to circumnavigate the equator nearly 4 times a second, has traveled for millions of years just to fall on your retina, across a space in which, we now speculate, every infinitesimal point might contain a tiny 7-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold. I can't help thinking that to look at all this and to say that it isn't special enough betrays a very great sense of our own importance.

dusktildawn,

 

I couldn't agree more that the result of evolution is wondrous beyond understanding but the story I choose to tell about my personal relationship with ultimate reality is one of entities and internal and external relationships. If there is a logical fallacy that is important in my post it is mine: that of adding importance to my story by offering Birch's article and vocabulary. I would also reference Jakob Boehme who points to a yearning for relationship as the beginning and cause of all that is.I don't concur with Boehme that God's nature is fully developed shortly after one (static) becoming two (dynamic). (Do not be mis-lead by my using "God". God is not anything.) To the extent that we can speak of God at all I will say that God is evolving as creation is evolving. In the beginning there was no God and no universe, there was only the yearning for relationship. It is from this desire for relationship, that our sense of morality evolves.

 

Dutch

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