QuantumTroll wrote:I've just skimmed this discussion, and I take issue with Sgttomas' position that atheists don't have an objective or universal basis for morality. The Dalai Lama's book "Ethics for the New Millenium" describes an atheist moral framework that is based on the objective fact that people universally don't want to suffer. I think that most definitions of "good" and "evil" are related to the presence of, the cause of, and relief from suffering. Suffering is a subjective experience in that it is experienced subjectively, but it can be determined objectively to a high degree of accuracy whether someone is suffering. I hold that morality can be (is really) objective in an atheistic worldview.
Thanks for taking the time to read it and add to the discussion.
Yes, I agree that what you said applies to a particular worldview. I was explicit about that. Morality is just making stuff up and then following it and being a hypocrite. So anyone can be moral. Having an objective principle for morality is not possible for an atheistic culture, therefore the aggregate is not immorality, but amorality. Morality is a cultural creation with no a priori
knowledge derived from On High (this is integral to Metacrock's notion of Godhood in the Fount of Being, sense and also to the theistic fatalism of anthropic reasoning - we are hopelessly stuck on thinking of a way to achieve immortality). Any move towards On High necessarily invokes what I have identified as religious principles. So universal, objective morality is a religious pursuit, while individual morality and cultural amorality is an atheistic endeavour. Your choice of suffering has no universal moral application because equally valid moral systems appreciate suffering, while abhorring, say, going into the afterlife without one's spouse (requiring the "timely" deaths of both partners). How can we say one is better than another except to appeal to our own reasonable perspective
. The only thing required of humanity in terms of morality is survival because without survival morality has no context, because no one exists to be moral. There is no way to be more specific than that about who survives, why and in what capacity.
Because of this variety of moral experience, I only use "atheist" and "theist" as archetypes of behaviour. Real people occupy both categories, because pragmatism is favourable over consistency when it comes to forming beliefs about life. So there need not be a grand synthesis of knowledge (that necessarily leads to On High) for there to be morality. But any characteristically human effort to propagate as a species (a move towards immorTALity) is a religious one. This is the only consistent way to keep the notions of atheism and theism distinct from one another. Any other resolution makes such a distinction entirely subjective (i.e. atheism only in the specific sense, not the absolute sense).
This is critical to resolve the circular logic of negation, "I don't believe in *that* god" that is the lone necessary characteristic of atheism. Since anything can be defined as "god", for us to be able to use these words in an intersubjective sense...and not in the private language sense necessitated by the inner experience of divinity that cannot be duplicated in speech or writing...this is the only consistent framework to apply.
Of course, this only applies in the very limited context of describing absolutes. When discussing non-absolutes we can be a lot more flexible and personal in how we think and speak. So while you think of using "atheism" in both the general and specific sense, I have clearly and consistently defined the two differently as atheism (the general sense) and an Atheist (with correlate to the specific atheism).
Now, I will allow that my logic could be wrong about how to deal with absolutes, but it doesn't falter from the objection you raise here. As Fleetmouse pointed out, I have a tendency to abuse the english language - or as I prefer; teaching it a lesson to make it behave. lol. I wish I knew another language that corresponds better to how my inner grammar works!