Sunday, 20 September 2009

Discussing morals.

Please excuse my typos, I was rather tired while taking part in this discussion.

It all started with this:

When did practicing morals become a bad thing?
In today's society, it seems that morality has been thrown out the window (in my honest opinion.) Now I know we are not all perfect, but it just seems to me that out of being politically correct, under the guise of having an "open mind." So many things that many of us were raised with an entirely different set of morals, which was not accepting of what was deemed bad behavior. When did that stop being the case?

I responded with:

On the one hand, I agree that things are not going well at the moment - but it has little to with religion (as a lot of your responders have so far stated) - it is more to do with upbringing. Here in the UK, I am daily confronted with parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children, who do not set good examples or who simply just do not care. This results in generations who do not recognise authority, have emotional-development problems and so on.

On the other hand, morality is a fluid meme. Thing's we consider wrong now, have in the past been considered perfectly normal - and the same goes in reverse. For example, Pederasty - the ancient Greeks found it perfectly normal for an adolescent boy to apprentice to an older man and often they would share bodies. (Though it's all a bit more complicated than that: )

I find that those who prefer to foist responsibilities onto their chosen god/s are some of the least moral people around, as if, to them, they can do no wrong so long as they follow the letter of the law as written by their god/s. but of course, in a lot of instances, this is simply stupid.

As I said, morals themselves are fluid and always changing (mostly due to new circumstances and the group consensus) so I doubt they're actually being 'thrown out the window'. They're simply evolving and changing - though the very basics of morality (protection of self, family and 'tribe') will likely never change.

And the OPs response:

Well, I respect what you've said but I do disagree because as I've stated, those who were raised in the same era that I was know what I mean. We were raised with values that were accepted and reinforced by the community at large. Everyone knew what was expected and what was right and wrong and there was no "fluid" to it. I've discovered from a lot of answers on this poll so far that I'm too set in my ways to abandon the values I was raised with just to be on the side of political correctness. Thank you for participating in the poll.

I also responded to this response:

-- Right and Wrong
-- Good and Evil
-- Moral Obligation

These are concepts that have been mentally outlawed by those who identify themselves as Liberal/Progressive.

The reason is because these terms, spoken aloud, bring about thoughts of Courtesy, Self Control, Responsibility, Accountability,

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. and GOD.

Uh.... no.

Which probably wasn't the best way to start, but, well, that was my first reaction... but he responded, and it's turned into a bit of a discussion. Seriously, bear with me on the whole 'I'm knackered' thing.

You can claim "no," but you have a long way to go to convince anyone.

You see? Those who do not base their ethics on Concrete Moral Values can convince themselves that anything at all is morally acceptable.

I clinched an "A" in a College Ethics class with that position, under an Atheist Attorney Professor.

I am specifically disagreeing with this: 'The reason is because these terms, spoken aloud, bring about thoughts of Cou[r]tesy, Self Control, Responsibility, Accountability, and GOD.'

To put it bluntly, I disagree with your 'these terms are mentally outlawed' premise. Where is your proof that 'right, wrong, good, evil and moral obligation' have been 'mentally outlawed'? Also, where is your proof that they were specifally 'mentally outlawed' because of the specific reason you gave?

I am an atheist, as you may have guessed, and I have no problem with any of the so-called 'outlawed concepts'. I have absolutely no problem accepting my responsibilities and obligations as a member of the human race, and niether do any of my atheist aquaintances, friends and family. So your premise is proven false at the first step.

I certainly don't automatically think 'God' when I hear those concepts mentioned, by the way, and I seriously doubt many people do at all.

I and most, if not all, atheists, secular humanists and so on, DO have concrete morals and values - they just have nothing to do with the dictates handed down by various religions. I'm happy for you that you got that 'A', but it adds nothing to the conversation, except a jumped up feeling of superiority and authority on your part.

Okay, I corrected the typo.

My proof that 'right and wrong, good and evil, and moral obligation' have been 'mentally outlawed' is in the fact that so many Liberal/Progressives HIT THE CEILING when you bring them up, viciously attack, demean, denegrate .. .. .. and the vast majority of Liberal/Progressives are declared Atheists. They react in that manner because they take it as an attack on their religion.

The problem comes when your Ethics are self-defined. As I asssert, "Those who do not base their ethics on Concrete Moral Values can convince themselves that anything at all is morally acceptable."

Something being "acceptable" and/or "popular" in a society does not make it good or right. It simply means (if that which is made acceptable and/or popular is abberant) that society is corrupt.

First off, atheism is not a religion. (Why do I constantly find myself having to explain this to people?) Atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in a god/s/deity/higher power. That's it. There is nothing religious about it, because the very definition of being atheist is that you don't have a religion.

Secondly, that's not proof, it's annecdotal evidence, and as such it counts for very little. Also, just because a percentage of people you have spoken to have reacted in a certain way, does not mean every single member of that group will do so. (For example, I have met some truly despicable christians - should I now tarnish all christians with the same brush?)

However, I didn't talk about 'society' and 'popular'. I spoke about people, without the aid of religion, having concrete values.

There are certain morals that are, when you get right down to it, biological. The need to protect ones offspring and immediate family, for example, which translates into the wider 'tribe'* - thus, through this need to protect ones offspring, family and 'tribe', we all have the concrete view that killing each other is 'wrong', that rape, theft, violence towards one another is all 'wrong'. It's obviously a bit more complicated than that, but these things are - for want of a better term - 'built in'.

Of course, there are those amongst us who override these 'built in' morals, and do commit despicable acts towards other members of their 'tribe' and even immediate familes.

But yes, some morals - the less 'built in' and more simply 'I dislike this' or 'to keep control of you, this is outlawed' type - do change. For example, (as I mentioned in another comment further up the page) the way people view Pedarasty has changed a great deal since Ancient Greek times. Back then, it was perfectly normal, if not encouraged, that an adolescent boy would apprentice to an older man and often share his body with him.

These days, not only is homosexulaity itself frowned on by a large percentage of the world, the very idea of a young boy entering into a relationship with an older man is viewed as morally wrong for a number of reasons (not least of which, is the age issue.) I personally have no problem with it, so long as the 'boy' is old enough and mature enough to understand what he is doing. But there are plenty out there who do not even agree with that.

Another example is the way women are treated now. It wasn't so long ago that women were frowned upon as morally corrupt for expressing an interest in sex, or who were condemned if pregnant out of wedlock.

In some places, of course, these ways of thinking are still true (in the middle east and certain countries in Africa, for example) and even now, there are women who remember (and will live the rest of their lives with the memories hanging over them) of being sent away and locked up, having their babies taken forcibly away from them and so on, because those in power believed it morally wrong for them to have gotten pregnant - not caring, of course, about whether it was an consensual-accident, or if it was rape that lead to the pregnancy.

The simple act of having sex out of wedlock is what, for the most part, lead to these women leading miserable lives. Now, of course, we see the way those women were treated, for the morally bankrupt and certainly wrong and even evil thing it was. And this was within the last one-hundred years!

*By tribe, I mean both the immediate tribe, that of the family and friends, as well as the wider tribe of race or nation or religious group, and also the whole human race. There are many permutations of this.

P.S. please excuse my typos, it's rather late where I am, and I'm rather tired.

Of course, this may not make any sense at all, or be terribly wrong in palces, and if so, I take full responsibility, because I've been doing Math homework all day, which means my brain is basically in overload and probably about to blow up, or something. So, if I got anything wrong? Point it out, and I'll probably throw a hissy fit and then edit.

Anyway, I'll likely update with his response at some point. Maybe tomorrow, when my head isn't spinning and trying to eat the light anymore.


Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Not half bad for someone with a fried brain. Might also want to dig up that Socrates quote where he complains about the young and their sisrespect for the old ways

Hannah King said...

Thanks - if I'd been awake, I would have done that XD But it doesn't matter now, the blokes closed his mind off something chronic!