Good for the sake of Good

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Socrastein, Jun 30, 2006.

  1. Socrastein

    Socrastein The Boxing Philosopher

    I didn't want to derail the thread that Aiki said this in, but I thought it'd make interesting discussion, so I'm turning it into a new thread.

    This isn't necessarily aimed at Aiki, but rather anyone who shares his sentiments or has an opinion on what he's saying.

    Are all Christians really only good out of fear? Is there no reason whatsoever to be good if you can get away with being bad? Was Glaucon right, can nobody resist the ring of Gyges?

    I think that morality that stems from fear of punishment is not morality at all. There is nothing virtuous or honorable in being good only to avoid harm. It's easy to be good if you're in threat of retribution for being bad. But as we all know, the easy way is never really one to be praised. :rolleyes:

    From this it follows that theists who are good because they're too scared to be bad are not admirable or to be honored/respected/praised/etc. in any way.

    Nobody talks about what a sweet, good little boy Johnny is because he cleans his room so that his momma doesn't beat him.

    On the other hand, if little Johnny cleans his room without ever being threatened, or even told at all, well then Johnny is the greatest little example of a good boy you ever did see.

    I know a lot of atheists, and the vast majority of them, myself included, are very well behaved, kind, compassionate people.... and not a single one of them believe that they must act this way lest they be judged by an all powerful being. :confused: Why oh why would anyone actually believe that you have to fear punishment in order to be good? Why would anyone possibly volunteer to help homeless people? Or send money to help fight AIDS in Africa? Or do any number of selfless acts when surely nobody, not even God, would punish them if they didn't?

    I think Aiki, and everyone who shares his mentality, is wrong, and has a very undeveloped conception of morality. The simple fact is, there are millions of moral atheists. There are millions of Christians who don't believe in hell or divine punishment, and most if not all of them are very moral as well.

    If you remove the threat of punishment and people continue to act moral, then quite obviously there is more to the moral equation than "Will I or will I not get in trouble for this?"
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
  2. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    i am a christian and i believe in God and Judgement day. i follow the commandments and the 'man-made' laws as best as i can, this was the way i was brought up.

    however saying that i believe people are confined to what is acceptable in society. even though it is wrong to murder, rape or steal, if it was legal and one could do these acts without fear of punishment by society, im sure there will be a lot more acts of these kind. im not saying that if these acts were legal i will be committing them, but that is because i was brought up in an environment were i was raised as them being unacceptable.

    in the old days it was acceptable to kill women just because they thought they were witches. these were people who followed God. one cannot say they will not commit act of crimes if one has not been exposed to a society where it was acceptable.
  3. elektro

    elektro Valued Member

    I agree basically but I wonder what is it that makes these people commit these acts? I know people rape people for power etc. but why? Why do they need the power and the next person doesn't?

    Suggesting that if you were brought up in an environment where they were acceptable, you would do them? Don't take offence to me saying that, I'm sure you wouldn't I'm just logically following the point.

    Well maybe to some people, but not to others. I lot of the "legal" things in society I find personally unacceptable, and a lot of the illegal things I find perfectly acceptable.
    Also, "legal" does not always mean morally acceptable IMHO , and vice versa.

    Having said this, you need some kind of system, because people naturally have different moral values from each other as individuals. Without a system all you get is people arguing for the next 1000 years. Wait - we alrady have a system, and guess what. People have been arguing for the last 1000 years. :confused:
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
  4. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    i guess its mental stablity and personal background. i believe every person has it in them to kill if presented in the right situation.

    of course i will not take offence. if everyone in the world was topless and it was perfectly acceptable in society, would u do that? i kno rape/murder is taking it to the extreme but the basis principle is the same, right?

    of course, people may not agree with what society dictates, but nonetheless it still governs our daily lives. a lot of laws are stupid but most (not all) are to protect the majority.

    i totally agree. morals and ethics are what seperate one person from the next. is the death penalty morally acceptable for a criminal?
  5. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Hmm... I find it funny that non Christians seem to spend a lot of their time thinking about what Christians do and don't do. :D

    I'd say the vast majority of the people that I know that are Christian don't walk a straight line because they fear the punishment of God.

    This sounds more like something that's been taken and twisted in the extreme to give a platform for Christian bashing.

    I don't think that being Christian excludes you from being moral in the non-Christian sense of the word.

    Why is that atheists and non-Christians tend to assume that Christians walk around planning their every move by exat word of God. What sillyness. Most people regardless of their religious decisions just tend to get on with life and live it day by day.
  6. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I couldn't agree more.

    I'm sure that the majority of people of any religion are motivated to do what they believe to be 'good' because it's what they have been brought up to believe is the right thing to do, rather than because they think it will give them Brownie Points with the Big Fella upstairs.

    So no real difference there with someone who was brought up as an athiest and taught to follow a moral code based on treating other people with consideration.

    Whether you are religious or not, doing what you believe to be good provides it's own reward in this life, because it makes you feel happy and worthwhile. Doing what you know to be wrong reduces your self-esteem - even if you don't acknowledge it.
  7. elektro

    elektro Valued Member

    And the other way round, surely?

    I don't think it was the idea of any of the posters here, refer to the first post from where it came from.

    Of course not.Agreed .

    What if this entails performing an act that is against their religous beliefs? Like driving a car and contributing towards pollution for example?
  8. elektro

    elektro Valued Member

    True. It's maybe because they had those moral codes in the first place that they became part of that religion?

    Whatever the reason for people doing good, I don't care, so long as they do it TBH.Theend result would seem to be the same.

    Yes I agree totally. Thisis how some people can sleep at night after doing wrong. Becasue they lie to themselves.
  9. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    i do agree, however who decides what is right and wrong? a suicide bomber acting in the name of God, to him his act is good, but to others it is bad. who is right?
  10. CKava

    CKava Just one more thing... Supporter

    I agree with your sentiments Johnno & slip but I have to say I also see Socrasteins point. He's not talking about all Christians as he did say, "There are millions of Christians who don't believe in hell or divine punishment, and most if not all of them are very moral as well", he is talking about Christians who agree that without punishement there is no motivation to do good.

    Socrastein does have the common (and understandable) habit of creating an atheist vs. theist dichotomy... in this instance though I'd say its quite justified and its a dichotomy that aiki created in his statement by suggesting that if there is no "ultimate judgement" then you might as well be bad- which does seem to me like saying any morality bereft of an ultimate punishment isn't up to scratch.
  11. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Basic morality is the same with pretty much all religions and with 'humanism' too. The basic principles come come from the fact that we are social animals, and it is in our interests as a species to be socially cohesive in groups. So even if Moses did come down the mountain with the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets, there had to be some kind of moral code in place before that.


    Which leads to psychological problems.
  12. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    All sorts of evil acts have been carried out by misguided individuals claiming to be acting in the name of God.

    But the fundamental principles of most religions show these actions to be anathema.
  13. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    but surely the person carrying out these acts will believe that they are doing good. is the bombing of iraq any different?
  14. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I'm not saying that they don't believe it, but that they are misguided in their belief that what they are doing can be justified by their religion - let alone that it is what God would want them to do.
  15. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    I'm flattered.

    I take that back. I'm not flattered.
    I'm disturbed that through all of your studies in philosophy you haven't studied ethical systems compatibile with theistics beliefs. Natural Law? Virtue/character ethics? Divine Command ethics? Kant? These are what different Christians will act on, and these are not based on fear.

    ^^^ That.
    Dude, this is, like, freaking me out. That's twice I can remember that you've said something really brilliant! Well said dude. :eek: :D

    'Course not. You don't have to be a Christian to follow Natural Law ethics, for example.

    No, it's a recognition that nihilism is the only rational alternative once one has removed God and ultimate justice (which was the assumption back in that other thread). That's not to say that a nihilist must necessarily be an anarchist. For example, I would think that a nihilist could embrace the ethics of egoism.
  16. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    Something that says the world, and in particular human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or value. We die, and that's that. There is nothing after we die.

    Is that not a good definition?
    If it's a good definition, and if we remove the possibility of God and ultimate justice, do we not arrive there? It sure looks to me as though we do.

    Well, now that you deleted and then replaced your post I'm quoting something that comes after me! :p
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
  17. CKava

    CKava Just one more thing... Supporter

    aiki which form of nihilism are you arguing is the only choice if you don't believe in God because these seem to be the common defintiions and I really don't see how you have arrived at the conclusion that nihilism is the only alternative available to non-belivers...

    ni·hil·ism Audio pronunciation of "nihilism" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (n-lzm, n-)
    n.1. Philosophy.
    A. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.
    B. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.
    2. Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.
    3. The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.
    4. also Nihilism A diffuse, revolutionary movement of mid 19th-century Russia that scorned authority and tradition and believed in reason, materialism, and radical change in society and government through terrorism and assassination.

    I'll explain how each definition doens't apply to me and since I myself don't believe in God, have morals and don't call myself a nihlist...

    1 (a). I don't deny existence.
    (b). I don't argue this.

    2. I don't repudiate 'all distinctions in morality' in fact I'd say I have quite a decent sense for the distinction. Religious values I actually think can be beneficial but the 'beliefs' that accompany them I think are frequently wrong.

    3. Emmm... nope don't think this is a good idea either.

    4. Terrorism and Assasination... again nope, don't remember becoming a member of a mid nineteenth century russian movement.

    So Im at a loss as to how I am a nihilist? And equally lost as to how this is the only option to atheists?

    EDIT: I posted this twice so thats why your reply is above this... sorry!
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
  18. CKava

    CKava Just one more thing... Supporter

    I don't see why there being nothing after we die must rob life of its value (if anything doesn't it dramatically increase the value of THIS life) or deny us from deciding on a purpose to our life? I also don't think that there is no 'comprehensible truth' we can discover while we are alive... when did atheism become akin to relativisim? Atheists don't deny life or at least this athestic fellow doesn't.
  19. elektro

    elektro Valued Member

    That assumes that the possibilty of God and ultimate Justice is the only thing filling the gap in the first place does it not? What about non-believers, does this make them nihilists?
    What about 70's punk rock fans? Does this make them nihilists? (That was a joke that one....)

    Nihilism could be a point though - perhaps if God is disgusted with us, he not so much "punishes" us as leaves us alone to rot. That in itself may be worse than any punishment he could dish out IMHO.

    It also depends on your definition of "God" - perhaps God is really meant to be a concept rather than an actual entity? Depending on your viewpoint....

    Or - according to Joe Frazier - Muhammed Ali reckoned he was "God" in one of their fights. :p
  20. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    That's a happy view, and I'm glad you have it, but it doesn't make up for the fact that you're here a very short time, and when you're gone you're gone, and few names get recorded in history books.

    Well, okay, F=ma and all that. But there's a lot of questions out there that people disagree on, including whether nihilism is right. :p :D Who is the judge, eh? We removed the possibility of any God, so we're stuck with ourselves, and collectively our smartest people can't agree. Even people who adhere to Natural Law ethics (I am one of them) or one of several other ethical system built upon "reason" can't agree on all of the particulars! We don't even know what "reason" is and what conclusions reason leads to, but yet somehow we think that we can figure out truth in this world? I don't think so.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006

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