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JEROME DA GNOME
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Posted - 06/19/2007 :  22:48:20  Show Profile Send JEROME DA GNOME a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How does an atheist determine a moral code?


What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. - Bertrand Russell

Trish
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USA
2102 Posts

Posted - 06/19/2007 :  23:38:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Trish a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would suppose in much the same way as anyone. Based in part on their upbringing, what they've learned over the years, social pressure, reason. Much in the same fashion as those raised with religion, except lacking in the area of a dogmatic set of objective rules.

Can I ask you Jerome, how do you determine a moral code, are you willing to accept one that has been determined for you. Or would you rather consider the consequences of your action or inaction each time you make an ethically based decision?

...no one has ever found a 4.5 billion year old stone artifact (at the right geological stratum) with the words "Made by God."
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"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying and vile!"
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They (Women Marines) don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.
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JEROME DA GNOME
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Posted - 06/19/2007 :  23:57:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send JEROME DA GNOME a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.

If one bases their code on "the consequences of your action", one will eventually find themselves far from their origin. Much like all things from man, the pendulum swings.



What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. - Bertrand Russell
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filthy
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14408 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  03:02:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Very simple; we are members of a social species and as such have the "code" wired in. All social species have one, be they horses or wolves or baboons or gorillas or parrots. Religious writings have nothing to do with it beyond giving the preachers another talking point.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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and Crypto-Communist!

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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  04:37:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.
But given that they were written in Hebrew, perhaps as many as 3000 years ago, and based on even earlier legal systems, how can you possibly really know "the actual meanings of the words"?
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moakley
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USA
1888 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  04:38:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.
I fail to see how the top 5 can be useful for moral behavior. Especially since the existence of this God is evidenced by testimonials of faith, alone.
I am the Lord thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol
Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
Perhaps you could elucidate on the actual meaning of these words.

Or were you just talking about the big three?
Thou shalt not murder
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
But not killing, stealing, and lying are not unique to, or originate with, the bible.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
Edited by - moakley on 06/20/2007 04:40:23
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leoofno
Skeptic Friend

USA
346 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  04:42:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The "Golden Rule" works for me. Even Jesus (if he existed) stated it as the basis of "all the Law" (well, that and loving God).

The Ten Commandments? Sheeesh. The first four have nothing to do with how to treat one another, and the rest is so obvious I'm surprised the Israelites didn't respond to Moses with a collective "... well DUH!!" when he presented it to them.

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
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BigPapaSmurf
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3192 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  05:11:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.

If one bases their code on "the consequences of your action", one will eventually find themselves far from their origin. Much like all things from man, the pendulum swings.





Strange then, how do you stop yourself from molesting children Jerome? I mean its not on the list, you should be out burning down orphanages since theres no stone that tells you not to.

Sorry Jerome, you only think your morals come from TTC, Christians are just as likely to kill, steal and cheat on their wifes as anybody else.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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pleco
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USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  06:19:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

How does an atheist determine a moral code?




I always use the "Golden Rule" even though it has existed long before someone wrote that Jesus said it.

I find that a lot better than following the rantings of power hungry Bronze Age goat herders.


by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  07:00:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How does an atheist determine a moral code?

All people learn to distinguish right from wrong through both conscious reasoning and intuitive gut feelings.

Both the core values that we use for our reasoning and our intuition are the result of cultural conditioning and individual experience and personality tendencies.

Cultural standards for morality as well as individual tendencies and preferences fall within a scope of norms that are part of human nature.

Human nature is the result of millions of years of evolution within particular environments.


"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  07:22:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Jerome wrote:
I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.
The actual words must be interpreted. How do you derive your interpretations? For instance, if I were to read the Ten Commandements in a purely literal way, I could not derive a moral code from them because they are explicitly directed toward the male gender. In order to make them useful to myself, I must go beyond literal meaning to a broader interpretation of the spirit of the messages, so that I can assume that not coveting my neighbor's wife ALSO means not coveting my coworker's husband.

A literal interpretation of the actual words also isn't helpful when one is faced with shades of moral grey in real life. To give an example, after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, women were not allowed on the streets unescorted by a man. Women who were widows with no male children were stuck in their houses starving to death. If they dress up as men in order to go out and get food, they are lying, but is that wrong? If they steal food because they aren't allowed to work for money and have no one in the household who can work, and there are no safe charities to get food from, is that wrong? Obviously one must interpret to find some “spirit” of the commandments in order to make them useful in real life.

So how do you interpret the Ten Commandments in a manner which is objective and universal? Oh, wait, you can't. So obviously you don't only derive your moral code from the Ten Commandments. You are also influenced by culture. Also, the Ten Commandments might work as sort of vague guidelines, but obviously they are painfully insufficient when it comes to day to day ethical decisions about countless little things. For that one must develop a broader sense of ethics and morality, and that comes from cultural conditioning and personal tendencies based on your natural personality and personal experiences.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 06/20/2007 07:24:41
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marfknox
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USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  07:25:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
BPSmurf wrote:
Christians are just as likely to kill, steal and cheat on their wifes as anybody else.
This is an excellent point for this conversation. Our culture (modern, Western I mean) does have many basic norms of right and wrong (don't steal, lie, physically hurt people without good reason, etc.), and atheists aren't any more likely to defy those norms than anyone else.

The following idea is not mine, it was developed – as far as I know – by Marc Hauser, and I read about it in his book The Moral Animal, which I highly recommend: Morality parallels language. All languages have some basic components and similar structures even though the words are not the same. And all languages slowly change over time. Morality is the same. All cultures have a sense of right and wrong, and there are some basic consistencies which make sense when we look at the condition of human existence (for instance, societies must develop moral guidelines for sharing limited resources because they are often faced with that problem.) But each culture develops different specific hierarchies of values, and those values change slowly over time.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 06/20/2007 07:26:20
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  07:28:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf
Christians are just as likely to kill, steal and cheat on their wifes as anybody else.
Even more so, or so I've heard. I've read statistics someone posted, but I don't recall where I saw it, and I'm currently too busy to find it.

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H. Humbert
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USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  07:34:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.
Ah, so then you find raping underage children morally acceptable? There's no commandment against it, so you must.

Of course, if that isn't the case, then maybe the claim that you get your morals from the 10 commandments is untrue, and you actually get you morals from the same place the rest of us do.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Robb
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USA
1223 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  08:09:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Robb a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.

If one bases their code on "the consequences of your action", one will eventually find themselves far from their origin. Much like all things from man, the pendulum swings.
Actually there were 15 original commandments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CB1ruv1n8U

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. - George Washington
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Fripp
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USA
727 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  08:17:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Fripp a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JEROME DA GNOME

I derive my moral code from the Ten Commandments, although not as religion teaches. I look to the actual meanings of the words.


The following are the only "commandants" specifically labeled as the "ten commandments" in the Bible ("And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments." [Exodus 34:28]):

1) Thou shalt worship no other God.

2) Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

3) The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.

4) Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.

5) Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.

6) Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the Lord God.

7) Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.

8) Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.

9) The first of the firstfruits of thy land shalt thou bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.

(This last one's a whopper...)

10) Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. (Keep this one in mind next time you are tempted to boil a goat.)

This list differs, obviously, from the one in Exodus 20 which begs the question, is God's memory faulty?.

Sources: The Bible and http://ffrf.org/quiz/banswers.php


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