Superiority of Secular Morality over Religious Systems


Since everyone is invited to the table, all ideas are discussed, but not all ideas are taken seriously. So if there is a good idea presented, and everyone agrees it is a good idea in reference to the goal, then yes it will be implemented. Good ideas are fine to be adopted where ever they come from. But no idea is inherently good just because it comes from bob, jane, or a deity. We have to understand why it is a good idea and then review the outcome of that good idea with real world data when we implement it to see if the suggested strategy was successful and is to continue being implemented. However, we will throw out bad ideas regardless of how culturally important they are. So sorry, no genital mutilation to children, no child brides, no treating women, children, and minorities as property, no lying about the science of birth control, etc.

Secular moral system is just two things: everyone is invited to the table to discuss how to live the good life and internally referenced: the goal, strategies, and enforcement are all internally agreed upon by the participating people. We have to agree on a reference point of what the good life is. The most common overlapping reference point that we are aware of is, Human Well-Being since this is what we all experience regardless of the individual or the group or culture or time period. If you have a better reference point, then bring it to the table to discuss it. So it is globally since the reference point is the good for humanity. We can discuss the idea of expanding that goal to the good for all sentient creatures, but we haven’t agreed on that point of reference.


I think the disconnect is that you are trying to reinvent the wheel. Religion does what you’re proposing, and Catholicism does it the best. That’s my vote.

By the way, if morality is objective, it doesn’t change.


the goal of morality allows for objective good and bad assessments in the same way there are objective good and bad moves in chess. But the goal of chess and the moves of each piece are subjective when designing the game. Much like morality, when we decide to build a moral system, we decide on what the goal should be. Since we are human beings, we have built within us all the goal to live a good life. Using that as a reference point and the innate basic common drivers of all human beings, life is preferable to death, peace is preferable over chaos, socialization is preferable to isolation, etc. we can come up with objective good strategies to maximize the results of the goal to live a good life. When this concept is applied to everyone, we call it Human Well-Being as the goal. We can now make assessments like, it is objectively true that slavery is bad towards this goal.

How so?

Sounds good, but you have to convince the rest of the people participating in the discussion. If you can’t, then we will not adopt that position. We can adopt specific individual catholic practices and throw out individual catholic practices.



Catholicism has a set of moral principles which are inviolable. It recognizes truths about the nature of morality which are not subject to change, and therefore are not subject to the changing tide of public opinion. Secular moral systems lack this set of guiding principles, and will therefore settle on what is considered moral by the masses, regardless of whether or not that object is moral or not.


So your are suggesting that people can tell the difference between what they have been convinced to be true and what is actually true? How do we do that exactly other than asserting it because I can assert you are wrong for every assertion you say you are right without demonstrating why that is the case.


That is why we say that your morality is based on natural law.


By providing evidence to support our positions, just like you should do with pretty much every other logical discourse.


Examine results.


In religious speak it’s called evangelization. It’s the voluntary nature of religion that makes it work as well as it does. The Church promotes a way of life that seeks to bring people the greatest fulfillment, and you can either live it or not. In fact, the early Church was referred to as “The Way”.

What tends to happen when you throw out what you don’t think is relevant, is that you learn that it in fact was relevant. That’s a major theme of the Bible. It’s hard to compete with thousands of years of trial and error.

If you and other secularists want to throw your hat in the game, go for it. It’s been tried time and again with dismal results. I still don’t see how you’re going to logistically accomplish your goal.


I agree that evidence is what will support someone’s currently held belief that a moral system is better or not. But that was not what I asked. You pointed out that people, masses, will get it wrong for concluding what the reference point should be for their moral system because that reference point may not be moral or not. What makes something moral or not is the assessment of moral agents about the situation they are asked to evaluate. The situation may be amoral, immoral, or moral. Neutral, bad, or good. The reference point that the moral agent uses to assess that situation is what they use to make that conclusion. So based on situations that appear to be in reference to the benefit of humanity, then Human Well-Being is the reference point of Neutral, Bad, or Good. Different situations have different reference points though. But in the game of living the good life, the most universal reference point that we have concluded, as a group through dialog, debate, and evidence, this reference point is Human Well-Being. We came to this understanding through internal methods of the people involved in the game, not from some outside entity imposing this on us. The problem with the outside reference point, again, is that it’s goals may not actually be for the benefit of humanity, it can not be appealed to for changing its imposed reference point on us, and we can not appeal to it for it’s enforcement of how it punishes and rewards us for following this imposed moral path. That is the problem with nonsecular systems verse secular systems and why secular systems are better. Once we have evidence, as you point out is important, we will update our current reference point of our moral systems and the strategy for achieving that goal. You are still arguing for what I am exactly pointing out, that we need evidence, we will update the model, we will update how to enforce the methods, WE are creating the moral system. It is internal, so WE are responsible for it’s success or failure and WE can bring everyone back to the table to have this discussion. External references of deities, dictators, dead philosophers, etc. all can not do this. In those systems, you are forced to keep those imposed reference points and continue to paint the bulls eye around the arrow.


You are describing exactly the process that the secular moral system uses. You are missing the point of this thread, the difference between secular and nonsecular systems. Secular systems do two fundamental processes: allow everyone to the table to discuss the moral system and that the agreement for the reference point of what is good or bad is internal to the system since it comes from a consensus of agreement from everyone involved. We allow everyone to the table to discuss a topic that someone feels we need to address again based on new data, arguments, etc. We also reference the historical successes of the past so that we can see if the strategy we are using in contemporary times is wrong or if the goal of our moral system is now wrong or both.
We stand on the shoulders of the people of the past to see what they accomplished for us so that we can take the next step or understand that the people of the past got this idea wrong and we have to correct their mistakes. What you are inherently leaving out, I don’t know why, is that your reference point for what you believe is “good” or “bad” comes from an outside source of your holy texts, the ancient writers, and a deity that no one has access to. No one can go do your texts, writers, or deity and say, this idea is crap and you are wrong for suggesting this is the pathway to the good life for humanity. None of the religious groups are willing to do what Thomas Jefferson did to the bible and cut out all the bad ideas and leave the good ones.


I, for one, would love to see the example of an irreligious, completely secular nation. The relative merits of secular morality (a contradiction in terms) could then be observed. Look around the world: Man is, by nature and vocation, a religious being. (CCC44)

Those who try to out-smart the catechism are destined to fail.


I would as well sir love to see a secular nation. The Scandinavian countries and Japanese are a good places that it is getting closer to the mark more than any other nations in the world. So what are some of the road blocks that are getting in our way of this?
World institutions of religion that don’t want to give up their monopoly on polluting people’s minds with the idea that we can not do this ourselves. That we are, definitionally as humans going to fail, so don’t even bother trying it. Just look for a dear leader to save us in the form of god’s spokesMAN. That instantaneous local power over all their fellow brothers and sisters for control over their lives to the point of what goes on in millions and millions of people’s private lives and bedrooms. That must stop now.
Non religious groups that look for the same thing in the form of a dictator or unchallenged political group.
To bristle at all forms of tribalism and nationalism. Not to remove this, because as a people, we naturally grow towards creating our own tribal groups, but to look at tribal identity as something to be equal to bad taste in etiquette. We can have our groups based on common interests of course, but there needs to be an overarching identity of humanity, of we. Instead of this Us vs Them. To break down the barriers that are removing people from the table to even be allowed to discuss the reference points of the good.


It’s not working!


If after thoroughly and objectively examining Catholicism you still have moral objections, try something else. People have been breaking off from the Church since it started and tried their own thing. There are thousands of Protestant Churches who have modified Catholic teachings to no end. Some of the major Protestant churches have catered to current cultural norms and try to accommodate everyone.

If you’re sincere in actually finding the truth and not just trying to make others conform to what you want to be true, then you may be a little more sympathetic to the Catholic Church’s position. Or not. It’s entirely your choice.


It’s still just swapping the strategy to attempt to reach the same externally imposed reference point for morality. But the reference point of morality is the problem because it is still the same list of dictated rules for morality that can not be discussed with the author to explain itself to see if we agree with it’s goals for morality matches our understanding of the good and bad to be Human Well-Being. Swapping the strategy of changing one church with another is just picking a different color to paint the bulls eye around the arrow.


What do you think that is for Catholics? Please be specific.


Okay, I usually try to avoid comments like this, but I have to say something. Punctuation, or, rather, organization. You really need to learn how to break up your posts.

This, right here, is exactly why secular moral systems are doomed to failure. Let’s consider something that pretty much everyone alive today can agree is morally indefensible: murdering an infant. While there are a handful of nutjobs, most people would agree that it is wrong to murder an infant. Morally, it is completely indefensible.

But what if suddenly people decide that it is okay to murder infants? Does that mean that it is now morally permissible, and that the people who said it wasn’t were wrong before? Or, is it that it remains morally wrong to kill an infant, it’s just that enough people have been convinced otherwise that everyone has mutually agreed to ignore that fact in favor of the common consensus?

It doesn’t matter how much issue you might take with having an external source or how narrow you feel it makes the discussion, it is only through an external set of moral principles that is not subject to change that we can avoid situations where thing that are blatantly immoral are suddenly considered good.

And, just in case you feel like you can dismiss this as extreme hyperbole, this is literally what happened with the topic of abortion. Through an over-reaching court ruling, abortion was made legal, and people began to equate legality with morality. So, what had been considered immoral for more than a millennium was suddenly deemed to be moral by common consensus. This alone is more than enough evidence to show that secular systems are an irrational basis for determining what is moral or immoral, as they are based entirely on public opinion, which is itself not necessarily based on anything.


Yeah I’ve always struggled with that in blogs and forums.

No sir, this is why we don’t always get it right the first time. Have we failed to determine that slavery is wrong? that patriarchy is wrong? Fascism is wrong? that sexism is wrong? that mandated free education is wrong? Everything that we are getting right is doomed to failure then. That is the problem with the mindset of nonsecular systems. They are not skeptical of the process, they are cynical of the process. No amount of evidence will ever be enough for the nonsecular mentality to accept it. What we are still struggling with is the messiness of the human experience when two major identities of being human come into conflict, the right to life over the right of your body. But with an externally imposed dictator picking your morality for you, yes you may not run into this problem, but there is no guarantee that the dictator’s reference of morality is for the benefit of humanity. What happens when that dictator commands ideas that are not something we understand to be a moral commandment then? that is the problem. When secular systems have a problem like that, we can come back to the table and discuss it. No one can bring your dictator to the table. No one can ask it to explain itself. No one can talk with it about it’s enforcement methods of its dictations. All the adult responsibility of being human is passed off on to it instead of where it needs to be, on us. We are responsible for our success and failure. That may be scary, but that’s what it means to be an adult. To face those issues so our future generations only have to argue about what schools to go to or what diet to try out.


Then they are wrong, because in the reference point of Human Well-Being and to include everyone to the discussion of the morality, infants needs an advocate for them at that table. Everyone without a voice, needs an advocate for their voice. But the issue is in direct conflict with an equally important moral human aspect, autonomy of our own bodies. This is why we are still having a problem with this issue. If religions wanted to help out, then start promoting birth control. Make birth control soo easily accessible that it is annoying. Shoot we even have developed implants so that people don’t have to miss taking their daily birth control pills. How about making that mandatory for all 13 year old girls until they graduate college and get a job, just like how we mandate vaccines. But that would be in direct conflict with a cultural moral norm of right to start a family. These issues are not easy issues that everyone is just avoiding the obvious to solve. I don’t dismiss this as extreme hyperbole because it is an issue we are still struggling to solve. But I do dismiss your conclusion that the secular system is always going to fail. That is the problem. You are now of a mindset that is primed for the next Dear Leader to come in and take over all your problems that you don’t want to deal with.

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