Is morality based on standards set by God?

What is wickedness? And who are wicked people? What is sin in today’s world? Is sin and wickedness the same thing? Does what is considered sin change with time, culture, and society?

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That’s a great question, Patrick.
What is wickedness in the secular/humanist/naturalist world view? On what basis would we call someone wicked in the context of evolution and naturalism, if we are all just “dancing to our DNA?”

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Do you think somethings are wrong, regardless of culture or popularity within a society? I think the Aztec’s killed and ate children, it seemed to be a religious and cultural norm for their society. Could one condemn this practice with any authority? If so, how?

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So? I mean, this seems to be a non-answer. Either what they did was wrong or it wasn’t, which is it? And focus, if it was wrong, upon what authority do you base this claim? If it wasn’t then, then it isn’t wrong now.

I think it is wrong to kill and eat children. Society today thinks it is wrong to kill and eat children. It doesn’t really matter today what the Aztec people considered right or wrong then. With my 21st century morals, values and ethics, I consider them savages back then for thinking that you needed to cut open a human heart to make the sun rise.

So, your personal opinion and “21st century morals, values and ethics” think its naughty, fine… why were they wrong? I mean, you don’t want me imposing my moral values on you, surely… by what authority do you claim to assess them? To call them “savages”, to oppose those who think genocide is justified? Their opinion of right and wrong is just as authoritative (that is, not at all) as yours, or so it seems.

Again, by what authority do you assess naughty behavior of others?

My own authority.

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For instance, I watched a Prof claim that reduction of the human population would preserve the planet for life on this planet, including human life. If one accepts the highest moral good is the survival of 1) humanity and 2) life on this planet generally, one could plausible argue that killing 5-7 Billion people would be a moral good…

He could cite studies, science, statistics, massive environmental damage with the use of non-renewable fuel, deforestation, pollution, disease propagation, as evidence for this reduction, is this too wrong?

Would you accept “my” authority imposed on you?

This was the irony of Hitchen’s rant re God, his own condemnation was self refuting, that is, as he undermined God’s authority re the definition and assessment of good and evil, he merely utilized the same scheme in his refutation.

Never, nor any God.

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No. Not without basically assuming what you would be wanting to prove. You could declare it goes against this and that principle, but that would be all you’re doing.

Positing God doesn’t actually solve this problem either. From no property or action of God’s does it follow how we should behave.

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Then you’d have fought with the Southern Democrats to preserve Slavery? Or at the very least, you could understand their resistance to the Northern Republicans using violent means to impose their sense of morality on them? Might makes Right?

I mean, that was their Social norm, they had their opinion about morality and social construction, you have yours… and of course you’d never impose your moral assessments on others by force, right?

See, I think Atheists like to say this, like to believe they believe this, but in fact, in practice, they don’t and, with just a little more dialogue, I think this will become obvious, just my opinion.

I disagree, it elevates the construction and assessment of morality beyond subjective human whim, and it seems to have been beneficial to humanity’s existence, Atheistic social systems tend toward totalitarianism for good reason, they have no reason to warrant the sanctity of life or the Rule of Law and every reason to view its human population as cattle owned by the State.

Excellent. Let’s have this dialogue then. In my experience the opposite generally happens. The theist quickly discovers he has no basis for morality besides mere assertions and appeals to definitions, then loses interest in the conversation.

Well no, first of all because even if God exists, nothing he says about morality makes it an objective fact just because he says it. One could ask on what basis God determines what is right and what is wrong?

I’m sad to see the appeal to consequences fallacy right out of the gate. I could grant all of that (which I don’t) and yet nothing follows about it being objectively morally wrong to do X if God exists.


That’s not only deeply insulting, it’s also diametrically opposed to Patrick’s rejection of imposed moral authority, of which slavery is one form.



Or you could believe God has commanded you to take a piece of land from some other tribe, and to keep only the women alive for yourself, massacre the rest. And find support for that in some old texts.

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Oh, lets be clear on two points: 1) this discussion is about Atheism, as you practice it, and your notion of moral construction and application:

  1. We could discuss God if you like, but my point stands even if there isn’t a God (gods). Adherents who “believe” X God exists and has codified a moral code, will execute punishment for those who break it are FAR more trustworthy with power than the atheist, for with the zealot, you know what you got and more likely to know what you’re going to get. The atheist however, predicates his morals on his whim, which changes with the wind.

Not at all, in all moral models, outcome is relevant; the least pain for the most people, or the survival and thriving of humanity. Moreover, we are discussing the identification and assessment of “wicked”, we discussed outcomes of several real world examples where you have articulated your personal application of moral assessment; subjective preference, consensus of a given population, and resistance to any outside intrusion or limitation of the exercise of your model.

As such, X behavior believed by an individual to be “good” or “non-wicked” is as good, as authoritative as any other -including your own-, and should not be infringed, indeed should resist infringement. By your own model’s exampled application, the Democrat Slavers, the Aztec child eaters, the South African apartheid, all are perfectly as good, non-wicked, justified, reasonable as your own moral conclusions, and by your own model, they should have resisted the (dare I say “evil”) outside moral imposition, limitation, termination forced upon them, even as you do.

Oh, I fully accept Patrick’s probable objection to slavery, but to condemn them is self refuting, in that he would be condemning his own moral method. Beyond this, terminating that system by force is just as immoral, by Patrick’s model, as the Slavers; both employ “Might makes Right”. Somehow it’s wrong for others but right for you?

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And this is “wicked” in your opinion? Why should anyone believe you?

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Ahh, hello Dr Harshman,

Correct, is there an objective moral standard or not, if not then all are equally authoritative, to condemn another is to condemn oneself.

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Just so you know, I typically find your comments opaque, as with that one.

The point of Euthyphro is that your grounding of moral standards in God is incoherent. If there’s an objective standard, it can’t be that. Now I think there happens to be a sort-of objective-ish standard, but it’s grounded in humans as a social species, with innate rules and tendencies, some of them found in other monkeys too. Layered on top of that are various rules that make societies work better and people’s lives better. Eating babies is problematic from that perspective; I would modestly propose that this applies even to Irish babies.

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