I no longer think religion is essential for morality

(Mervin Bitikofer) #21

So it sounds like you’re saying: God called for it (Mosaic law); and it is bad. But it is still better to do it, then? Something isn’t clear here.

(Reggie O'Donoghue) #22

God doesn’t endorse it (at least not for gentiles, and maybe not even for modern day Jews), it was a concession to the time.

(Reggie O'Donoghue) #23

My Aristotlean ethics involves seeing God as a moral exemplar, since humans are the Imago Dei. We must have a character like God in order to achieve Eudaimonia, or Shalom, which is the Biblical equivalent.

(Richard Wright) #24

Hello Reggie,

  1. Do not worship idols. [Exodus 20:3]
  2. Do not curse God. [Exodus 20:7]
  3. Do not commit adultery or sexual immorality. [Exodus 20:14] [Matthew 5:32]
  4. Do not steal. [Exodus 20:15]

Also, according to above it seems that you believe in the God of the bible. So, how can you say that we don’t need God for morality when a basic biblical message is that everything good, including morality, is from God?

(Richard Wright) #25

Hello T

That work is really philosophy, about questioning the foundation of specious moral arguments. Socrates often referred to his inner, “divine voice” in guiding his moral thought.

How does not having the ability to determine morality question God’s morality? If God exists then His morality is morality. You can chose to have your own morality, God gives you that freedom. That, IMO anyway, displays God’s moral character, that the creator of the universe gives us free will.

(Reggie O'Donoghue) #26

They are not part of the Noachide law in the Bible


If God makes commandments because they are moral, then how does this lead to no morality? I don’t understand where that option came from.


The whole point is that you couldn’t question any morality because you have no way of knowing what is or isn’t moral. All you could do is be obedient.

I don’t think those are necessarily the same thing. A dog has free will, but we don’t think of them as being moral agents. We could also lack a sense of morality but also have the free will to obey the commands found in the Bible.

(Richard Wright) #29

Hello T,

Yes, we do have a way of knowing what is moral. That is humbly accepting that the creator of the universe is the one who decides what is moral, not his creations, even, and especially when, some moral commandments may not make sense to us. Your view only makes sense when God is not assumed but only hypothetically exists.

A bit of a false dichotomy here. We could be designed to understand a general sense of morality, but are told to trust God for all of the particulars.

(Richard Wright) #30

Can you give me a link to the laws, the sites I’ve looked at give 7 laws that are mostly from the 10 Commandments.


You are saying that we can’t know what is moral so we have to follow the orders that God gives. What you are saying is that something is moral if God commands it, no matter what we may think of it.

So if the particulars go against our general sense of morality, then what?

(Reggie O'Donoghue) #32

(Randy) #33

Yes. E.g. numbers 31


Would you consider a Muslim believer a moral person if they kill other people as they believe is commanded in the Koran?

(Randy) #35

Sorry, that’s what I meant–I agree with you–Numbers implies that God said to do an immoral act. I know I’ve opened a can of worms, but agree that we are given a standard of right and wrong that should be independent of what we read. O/w how can we judge among the world’s or people’s morality/religions? thanks.

(Richard Wright) #36

Hello T,

We can know what is moral, since, even outside the teachings and example of Christ, we are made in God’s image. That is different from a command of God, such as in Numbers 31. Without context, it seems immoral. However, from the Christian perspective, it’s not. The survival of Isreal was of vital importance to its messianic mission. Through war, idol worship and their women mixing with Israelite men the Midianites were a real threat to Isreal, and God ordered their destruction. There was no moral law taught, it was a death-penalty to the Midianites, (though not everyone was killed - the young women were taken as wives or servants and there are laws to protect them in different parts of the Pentateuch). Jesus taught us to treat others as ourselves, young women as sisters and enemies as friends. That’s God’s morality. I can also recognize that the Isrealites coming out of Egypt lived in a different context. Without Christ Numbers 31 would be unconscionable. But, because of Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross I trust that God only did it because Israel’s survival depended on it.

We also have to remember that God doesn’t magically change people’s hearts. The cross of Jesus Christ is supposed to inspire real change, as it has with myself. The Isrealites were a rough, tough, brutish people who were simply unable to bear the full teachings of God’s morality at that time. The laws that they did have, such as not to steal, murder or committ adultery, established a basic moral code that helped them survive as a nation up to the time of the coming of Christ.

Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross I would think should give everyone reason to rethink God,'s “immorality” and trust that God know’s what’s moral and what isn’t.


What makes “keeping order” a “moral good”?

What if you “keep order” over against ideals like justice and freedom (e.g., in the practice of Jim Crow laws)?

(Edward T Babinski) #38

When I think about moral decision making it appears like a sub-category of all human decision making, nor does it seem like God needs to develop/promote moral laws as much as humans do.

For instance, I have as much natural interest and concern in you not punching me in my nose at your whim, as you do in me not punching yours. We humans are also concerned with protecting ourselves from nature’s destructive whims. Which is why we developed both morality and insurance.

Hence, what we call morality and laws seems to have arisen as a compromise between the recklessness of selfishness and the benefits of sharing between family members, neighbors, tribes and nations.

Morality and agreed upon moral laws arose among and between humans, just as language arose, and the whole of human society and culture. It arose as humans Interacted with humans. Does God need laws for his health or safety? Does he need moral laws for his protection? Is God ever in danger of truly losing anything? No, but humans face the possibility of a variety of losses due to other humans or natural events every day, Including over time, loss of vigor, health, memory, and sliding toward decrepitude, death. Hence one could easily argue that the origin of agreements to try and diminish instances of such losses is a human concern, and, morality, as well as moral laws and even laws regarding health and safety and even life insurance all originate first and foremost with humans interacting with humans, since humans are aware that others are aware of such losses, and share the same basic likes, dislikes, and also are mutually aware of the benefits of peace and sharing.

On the flip side of morality and laws of course lie temptations such as egotism, one person trying to take advantage of all others, as well as tribalism, one tribe trying to take advantage of all other tribes.

But I think today we realize we can’t avoid seeing what we are doing to each other and to other tribes, along with what we are all doing to the world, the planet as a whole. There are cameras everywhere, like mirrors you can not avoid. There are even satellites taking pictures of what we are doing to the world as a whole.

We used to be able to project our shadowy fears onto other people, or other tribes, and banish them to some other places on earth (and even imagined banishing them to places beneath the earth). But the world is now known to be round, circling back on itself, and limited, and the population of our species keeps filling the most arable land or putting it to human use to produce more things for our species and leaving behind ever greater quantities of poisonous garbage and other byproducts. On this tiny rock flying through space there is no longer any elsewhere to project or banish our shadow side, or our own literally poisonous substances, and the cameras as I said are everywhere, so we can’t help but come into contact with pictures showing the shadow sides of our own lives and our own religious and political tribes. There are also cameras employed by dramatists and documentarians and their constant revelations via tales that captivate and teach us all far more than ancient Near Eastern tales (just as modern science likewise teaches us far more about the cosmos and even cognitive science, cognitive biases, and human psychology than ancient Near Eastern tales ever did).


Would you agree that there is a difference between being obedient and being moral?

I don’t follow. A single person is capable of acting immorally or morally, all within the span of a day or an hour. Doing one thing right does not mean that everything you do is right.

(Randy) #40

It is far from clear that killing all the men, women and children in a culture that sacrifices some of its children is appropriate. No, the ancient Israelites acted like others in their vicinity. I do not think that God ordered this. Greg Boyd noted that Jesus said He had a better revelation. (First sentence was a paraphrase of Randal Rauser)