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  #1  
Old Aug 18, '12, 8:15 pm
AdamPeter AdamPeter is offline
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Default Atheism and Morality

I have been looking at various views of prominent Atheist thinkers and it seems evident to me that what they have in common is a view of morality which is relativistic and basically allows for any activity to become moral if the boundaries are pushed enough.

Examples are Peter Singer, a prominent Bio-ethicist, while he advocates for animal rights he believes infanticide should be legal in the case of disabled babies and disabled adults.
He also would advocate for killing of disabled adults.

He has been known to express opinions on human-animal sexuality.

Another example is Richard Dawkins, who would agree with abortion.

Any thoughts on this?
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  #2  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:38 pm
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Q.What is the law or teaching of the Catholic Church on the right or otherwise of a doctor to perform an operation such as he admitted he carried out?

A.The Catholic Church teaches, and ever will teach, that no doctor has any right before God and in conscience to perform such an operation. The deliberate and direct destruction of innocent human life is forbidden by the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." Another principle insisted upon by the Catholic Church is that the end does not justify any morally evil means. And the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," forbids the direct killing of an innocent human being before birth as well as after birth.

Q.Now I submit that, if the extreme form of self-defense is justified, then abortion is justified.

A.That does not follow, for the child is not an unjust aggressor, is guilty of no crime in being in its natural place, and is actuated by no malevolence towards the mother. The cases are not parallel, and the transition from one to the other is illogical.

Q.Both involve the taking of life to preserve life, and are opposed to the fifth commandment.

A.That is not true. In abortion the doctor directly intends the killing of an innocent child as a means to the end he desires to attain. He does not merely permit the child to die. He definitely kills it. The child is not responsible for its own death, unjustifiably exposing its life to danger. But in self-defense against an unjust aggressor, the attacked person intends directly his own protection, opposing violence to violence. The aggressor unjustifiably exposes his own life to danger if he walks into the zone of protection his sinister intentions have forced the attacked person to set up. The attacked person does not intend his aggressor to be an aggressor, nor to be killed. He intends his own safety and permits the aggressor to kill himself should he be so evil as to render his death necessary and put himself in the way of it. If the aggressor chooses to throw his own life away, it is he who breaks the fifth commandment. But the unborn child is not an unjust aggressor; is not choosing to throw its own life away; and, in abortion, is killed deliberately as a means to an end.

Q. As to the uncertainty, the doctor performs abortion because he has both inductively and deductively reached the conclusion that if this course is not adopted, the mother's life will be lost; but in self-defense the decision to take another&

A.In self-defense the decision is to defend one's own life even by extreme measures, permitting the aggressor to encompass his own death if he persists in his murderous intentions. In the case of abortion, it is the doctor who is the unjust aggressor. It is he who is attacking an innocent life, and you are not making his case any better by saying that he is not doing it in the heat of the moment and in a disturbed state of mind, but with cool, calculating deliberation. As a matter of fact the human being he is going to kill has the right of self-defense. And if only that living child were big enough, and able to do it, the right would be there to defend itself by violence if necessary, even though the doctor met his death by persisting in his decision to kill the child. And surely you will not say that the defenselessness of the child makes the case of the would-be killer any better!
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  #3  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:42 pm
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Q.If it be agreed that "Thou shalt not kill" is not categorical, but means, "Thou shalt not kill except in certain circumstances," or, "Thou shalt not unlawfully kill" surely we could interpret the other commandments

A.I do not argue that the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," is not categorical. It categorically forbids man, on his own responsibility, to take his own life or that of anybody else. Therefore I have pointed out that an unjust aggressor has no right either to indulge in his criminal aggression, or to risk encompassing his own death by encountering the means of self-protection adopted by his intended victim.

Q.For example, why not say, "Thou shalt not commit adultery except in certain circumstances"?

A.Just as a man is categorically forbidden to kill, so he is categorically forbidden to commit adultery. Apart from that, there is no parity between the two cases. The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" vindicates the individual's right to life and to self-defense which others ignore to their cost. But it would be impossible to vindicate the law "Thou shalt not commit adultery" by committing or permitting adultery.

Q.The extreme form of self-defense is, I know, sanctioned by the law of the land; but so also is divorce which is granted on many grounds which you maintain are opposed to the law of God.

A.The State officially acknowledges neither God nor the laws of God. Nor would it for a moment claim that its own legislation is a necessary indication of the right interpretation to be imposed upon God's ordinances. It's no use quoting the decrees of human legislative bodies composed of men professing any religion or no religion.
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  #4  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:48 pm
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Q.A woman may not have known until too late that she cannot safely give birth to a child.

A.She may have certain fears, and they may be fostered by an accommodating doctor. But neither the woman nor the doctor has absolute certainty that both mother and child will not survive. Yet even if they had, will you admit the principle that the end justifies the means, and that it is lawful to do evil that good may result? The child is living, and it is a perfectly innocent human being so far as personal conduct is concerned. On what score has it forfeited its right to life? On what grounds do you think that the commandment no longer obliges—"Thou shalt not kill"?

Q.I am told that, if a Roman Catholic husband is informed by a doctor that it is a case of losing either the mother or the child, he "must" say that the mother is to be sacrificed no matter how many other little ones need her care.

A.You have been wrongly advised. No Catholic man, nor any other man, has any more right to say that the mother "is to be sacrificed" than to say that the child has "to be sacrificed." He must ask the doctor to do his utmost to save both lives without resorting to the direct killing of the child. In hundreds of cases, despite fears and conjectures, both lives have been saved. Should one life, or even both be lost, despite all morally lawful precautions, then death is due to unavoidable causes. No human being can be accused of having sacrificed either life. But if the living and innocent child is deliberately killed as a means towards saving the mother, then indeed one without any right to do so has chosen to sacrifice an innocent human life.
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  #5  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:50 pm
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Q.Good, loving, tolerant, God-fearing women who have to suffer the pangs of childbirth should make these laws, not men who have shirked the responsibilities of fatherhood and know nothing of what they are talking about, save in theory.

A.Neither women nor men may make any laws concerning this matter. It is for God to make the laws. You speak of "good, tolerant, God-fearing women." If they are God-fearing, they will respect His laws, and certainly will not tolerate the abortion you advocate, involving the murder of an innocent child as a means to some other end. As for priests not knowing what they are talking about, one does not have to be married in order to know the implications of the law, "Thou shalt not kill." If you think that priests do not understand the difficulties which the observance of God's law will cost in certain individual cases, you are very much mistaken. And if you think the priest devoid of sympathy you are still more mistaken. But the priest knows that, even as he did not make the law, so he cannot abrogate it. He knows that it is useless for him to give a permission he has no authority to give and which God will not ratify. God has given the law. The priest must declare that law. Men may not do evil that good may come. It is morally evil in itself to destroy an innocent child's life. One may not do it, therefore, even to save the life of another. Abortion is murder, forbidden by the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."
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  #6  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:52 pm
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Q.Who are you, may I inquire, who dares to make such a statement?

A.I am a Catholic priest giving the only statement possible so long as the law of God stands. "Thou shalt not kill"

Q.You are a priest of a Church whose very foundation is bathed in the blood of so-called "heretics" whom the Church ruthlessly put to death.

A.The Catholic Church has never put anyone to death for being a heretic. She has declared certain of her renegade subjects to be heretics or deniers of the faith; and in ages which differed from our own in social structure, the State put militant heretics to death as enemies to the general civic welfare. But what has all that to do with my declaration now that the killing of an innocent child is murder? Your vehement denunciation of what you regard as murder in the Middle Ages should make you grateful for our milder views now, and a staunch supporter of our doctrine that innocent children must not be killed.

Q.Has the priesthood killed all the human feeling you once possessed that you wouldn't say, "Save the mother"?

A.Not at all. I would beg the doctors to move heaven and earth to save both mother and child. But the law of God compels me to say that they may not resort to the deliberate murder of either in order to save the other.
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  #7  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:52 pm
George Stegmeir George Stegmeir is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamPeter View Post
I have been looking at various views of prominent Atheist thinkers and it seems evident to me that what they have in common is a view of morality which is relativistic and basically allows for any activity to become moral if the boundaries are pushed enough.

Examples are Peter Singer, a prominent Bio-ethicist, while he advocates for animal rights he believes infanticide should be legal in the case of disabled babies and disabled adults.
He also would advocate for killing of disabled adults.

He has been known to express opinions on human-animal sexuality.

Another example is Richard Dawkins, who would agree with abortion.

Any thoughts on this?
We should never forget that Adolf Hitler was an animal lover! There are numerous news reels of him romping with his German Shepherd while resting at his villa in Berchesgarten.
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  #8  
Old Aug 18, '12, 9:55 pm
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Q.Are you a mere dispenser of doctrine, a cog in the ruthless machinery of the Catholic Church, devoid of all human feelings, that you say, "Let the mother take her chance"?

A.You do not abolish the grave law of Almighty God, "Thou shalt not kill" by calling the man who repeats it a "mere dispenser of doctrine." Nor is this law, which the Catholic Church did not make, nor can unmake, an indication of her "ruthless character." God made the law, and God forbids ruthless murder. My human feelings do not really affect the matter; but still I am not devoid of them. And they do protest against the deliberate murder even of an unborn child. Will you tell me why your human feelings are indifferent to that? Also why the child should have certain death inflicted upon it rather than that the mother should "take her chance," facing only a possibility? Time and again doctors have expressed their opinion that a mother will not survive, yet care and skill have saved both lives.

Q.Perhaps in the future you may be man enough to have the courage of your real convictions and say, "Save the mother."

A.I go further. I say, "Save both." You say, "Murder the child." Think the whole matter over again. And don't imagine for a moment that I am simply refusing to understand your position. You mean well, but you have let your heart run away with your head. Concentrating on one aspect of the case you have lost sight of other aspects, and sentiment has obscured your vision of all the principles at stake. Owing to the limitations of the human mind absorption by one idea can blot out all advertence to others, as in the case of the man who laughed uproariously whilst being flogged, and gave as the reason for it, "You're flogging the wrong man." Concentration on the ludicrous aspect made him oblivious of physical pain. In your case thoughts only of pity for the mother (quite noble in themselves) have excluded from your mind all thoughts of the life of the child and its inalienable right to existence. And it is to that right I call your attention—a right vindicated by God's commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."
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  #9  
Old Aug 18, '12, 10:00 pm
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lerapt78 lerapt78 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Good posts, Bravo6.

OP, I would have to offer the opinion that relativism is the actual core of atheist morality. If atheists reject natural law, then the only possible alternative is that morality comes from within each individual, and is subject to change as the needs of people change. It would therefore be impossible from this standpoint to declare anything at all as truly moral or immoral because to do so would be to make the assumption that all peoples have the same needs.

This thought is off the top of my head, and I'm open to contradiction from any atheists on this board.
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  #10  
Old Aug 18, '12, 10:39 pm
ANewWorld ANewWorld is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

This is not a black and white world we live in. If God is not the source of morality, that does not automatically leave any particular view as the only view on morality. In fact, in theory, there could be infinite other views on it. Sam Harris is a noted atheist and still believes in an objective morality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMFnSTPsbFg
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  #11  
Old Aug 18, '12, 11:05 pm
Luis Miguel Luis Miguel is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

"Right is what is good for the German people"

One need look no further than the works of esteemed sociologist, and founder of Harvard's Department of Sociology, Pitirim Sorokin. His book "The Crisis of our Age" specifically the chapter titled "Tragic Dualism, Chaotic Syncretism, Quantitative Colossalism, and the Diminishing Creativeness of the Contemporary Sensate Culture" is a fascinating exposé into the state of modern society and thought.

Brief introduction to the aforementioned chapter:

"When any socio-cultural system enters the stage of its disintegration,
the following four symptoms of the disintegration appear and grow in it:
first, the inner self-contradictions of an irreconcilable dualism in
such a culture; second, its formlessness - a chaotic syncretism of
undigested elements taken from different cultures; third, a quantitative
colossalism - mere size and quantity at the cost of quality; and fourth,
a progressive exhaustion of its creativeness in the field of great and
perennial values. In addition to all the signs of disintegration
discussed previously, these four symptoms of disintegration have already
emerged and are rampant in this contemporary sensate culture of ours."


According to Sorokin, what you perceive as moral relativism amongst atheist thinkers is the result of "Sensate Culture" which has led to the acceptance, and appreciation of solely material and sensual things, subsequently the rejection of absolute truths and natural moral law, as well as the degradation of man from the Judeo-Christian belief of a unique being created in God's image, to what he bluntly states is the contemporary view "that man is a variety of electron-proton complex; or an animal closely related to the ape or monkey; or a reflex mechanism; or a variety of stimulus-response relationships; or a psychoanalytical bag filled either by libido or basic physiological drives; or a mechanism controlled mainly by digestive and economic needs." Interestingly enough he agrees with these assertions, however acknowledges that it does not explain "the essential nature of man".
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  #12  
Old Aug 18, '12, 11:17 pm
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lerapt78 lerapt78 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Quote:
Originally Posted by ANewWorld View Post
This is not a black and white world we live in. If God is not the source of morality, that does not automatically leave any particular view as the only view on morality. In fact, in theory, there could be infinite other views on it. Sam Harris is a noted atheist and still believes in an objective morality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMFnSTPsbFg
You're right, morality (in a loose sense of the word) is not black and white to everyone. Fortunately, those of us with faith have a lot of the "gray area" cleared up for us.

What's interesting is that Sam Harris' objective morality is really only objective to him, ie: in his opinion, and therefore it is not truly objective at all.
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Old Aug 18, '12, 11:24 pm
Luis Miguel Luis Miguel is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

Quote:
Originally Posted by ANewWorld View Post
This is not a black and white world we live in. If God is not the source of morality, that does not automatically leave any particular view as the only view on morality. In fact, in theory, there could be infinite other views on it. Sam Harris is a noted atheist and still believes in an objective morality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMFnSTPsbFg
I agree that it is fallacious to assume that all atheists are either moral relativists or nihilists. So quite predictably I will ask you what is the basis of Sam Harris' objective morality?
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  #14  
Old Aug 18, '12, 11:49 pm
Hokomai Hokomai is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

There are lots of atheists and lots of different views. I don't have any trouble in a morality based on 'what is good for people' and democracy and freedom as a process, long-term, or working that out. I note that while countries espousing a specific religion have often warred with one another, this has never happened between democracies. While religious people argue the morality of oral sex, non-religious people, seem to get on and do things about war. I am pretty sure I could find more posts on CAF about masturbation than about the morality of war. if that is the difference beteen objective and subjective morality, I think I'll take subjective.
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  #15  
Old Aug 19, '12, 12:02 am
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robwar robwar is offline
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Default Re: Atheism and Morality

I don't think that there is a one size fits all in atheism. There are as many reason people are atheists as there are reasons people believe in God. It is easy to look at the big mouths that the media focusses on or at an atheistic system like communism and think all non-believers are like that. I had a friend who was a pretty staunch atheist that was a member of the John Birch society, believed in morality and high standards.
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