Tuesday, June 27, 2006

murder...hmmm, let me look that one up...

taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias; "a subjective judgment"

undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena; "an objective appraisal"; "objective evidence"

I think that if I read one more blog post about how all of morality is subjective without a deistic super-truth, I'm going to just plain scream.


And these are the skeptical bloggers.

Okay, I know that I'm stepping out of my hyper-intellectualizing persona here. But tell me, how is it that in every kindergarten class in the world, kids know right from wrong, but give them advanced degrees in metaphysics, or send them to yeshiva, and it all becomes very blurry and complicated.

I'm trying.

I'm really trying to remain positive about religion.

But don't you get it. Us non-believers are NOT the ones with the morality hangups. We aren't the ones killing the infidels, discriminating against gays, or women, or against those who believe differently.

Godol recently pointed out that all of the major word religions have pretty much eliminated all of the realy objectionable practices, from their list of things which are 'okay'. Well, who do you think established the moral standards to MAKE these practices immoral in the first place. It wasn't the bible thumping fundamentalists, that's for darn sure.

I'm trying, really trying, so help me out here, ye faithful friends.


Blogger e-kvetcher said...

This is what I posted on GH's blog:

Without God all morality is subjective.

I guess nobody else is bothered by this...

I think it is disingenuous to imply that with G-d, morality is non subjective. Just look at the disagreements on this blog between frum people about what is moral/not moral. The same is true if you look at the evolution of Judaic morality over time, e.g. ban on polygamy, views on suicide, etc...
I guess if you have a really narrow definition of what you mean by morality, I could see someone making that statement...
e-kvetcher | Homepage | 06.27.06 - 3:49 pm | #

June 28, 2006 12:14 PM  
Blogger jewish philosopher said...

Well, if you want to talk about morality, I think atheists have had a couple of bloopers too. Anyone heard of Mao and Stalin?

June 28, 2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I don't think that the question is whether one can create a moral set of standards without a God. Plenty of atheists and atheistic societies have done exactly that. But in absence of a God, how can you be certain that your morality is actually the right morality? Even if I make up my own personal morality more or less as I go along, I believe that there is some absolute morality out there. I may not have found it, I may not even be close, but I stumble towards it blindfolded. Without a belief in God, can one believe the same thing?

June 28, 2006 11:01 PM  
Blogger dbs said...


If you're talking strictly about 'morality' - i.e. knowing right from wrong, then I think that the answers are both absolute AND based upon the facts of the human condition. This isn't a contradiction, nor does it lend itself to bad behaviours based on a reletivistic rational.

If you're talikng about finding the ultimate good to do with your life, then I think that is very subjective and individual. Though you may stumble blindly towards it, that is the process which will get you there. (Rather than looking for it outside of yourself.)

Hmmm, I'm pretty dogmatic myself.

June 29, 2006 11:12 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

How exactly can you believe in an absolute morality without some external referant? Isn't the code of morals that you compose, no matter how wonderful, necessary predicated on your own opinions? Can you offer any sort of objective proof that they really are moral? God provides an external framework that I don't think you can achieve atheistically.

June 29, 2006 11:46 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I don't see how there is any objective morality either when people believe in G-d or don't. I think that morality is defined by society and it changes. Many of the societies whose morality we have discarded as outdated or 'wrong' have been thoroughly religious.

June 29, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger dbs said...

Tobie, EK,

I think that the governing principals of human ethics are pretty objective. How those ideas are translated into specific practices is reletive to society.

Reciprical morality, for example, is based on the objective fact that we all live together.

I wrote a post about this a while ago:


June 29, 2006 1:09 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I think it's immoral not to put links to your previous posts as hyperlinks. Make me cut-n-paste!


June 29, 2006 1:46 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I read your morality post when you posted it and I agree that it is a good standard, but I still don't understand from where it derives any authority. Even if humans happen to consistantly come up with the same criteria for morality, I'm still not quite understanding how it can have any objective validity. I think that the issue is that for true objective validity, I require something external or independant. Human morality can't have any external checks if you don't believe in anything external. This may not actually be such an issue- it's really more of a tautology- but I do think that it means that nothing atheistic can really be objectively absolute.

June 29, 2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


I think you allude to this in your morality post, but I will state it again...

Your morality seems to be more constrained than what I would think it should be. For example, is allowing someone to starve while you have food moral or immoral?

June 29, 2006 2:40 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Another thought...

Doesn't morality also imply an understanding of what is moral when dealing with a party that may not be moral. For example, someone rapes your wife and kills your children. That act is clearly immoral (by your rules) However, how does one respond to this situation?

Especially apropos wrt the Israel situation now...

June 29, 2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger dbs said...


The point is that the 'authority' is, in fact, not external, it is inhearant in the human community.

You can say "I want to act immorally", just as you can under any system. But that does not lessen the authority. God may not be there to punish you, and, in fact, you may get away with it. But that does not make the idea any less compulsory or objective.

And, now that I've looked up 'tautology', counsler, sure, you can head down the old wormhole of whether any of the human experiance is objective - existance, choice, etc.

Our observations of these things define our experiance of being alive (if we are), so to me, those are just the rules of the game which we've been given. (umm, I mean, evolved with.)

June 29, 2006 7:33 PM  
Blogger dbs said...


Sorry, next time I won't be so lazy with html :)

I take your point, but I'm just still working on this one. I've been coming up with stuff like "sure, it's immoral to let someone starve if you have food, but it's not OBJECTIVELY immoral." Pretty weak.

It just seems like a tricky line to walk. Is it immoral to send your own kids to college and let other kids flip burgers? Is it immoral to sit and blog about things when we should all be working to end the war in Iraq?

I'm still of the mind that altruism is very individual (and subjective). We each contribute in the way that makes us feel good. It's not ideal, and hasn't led us to utopia, but neither has communism or religion.

As to your second point, there are moral quandries under every system - divine or not. Obviously, one has a right to self defence and mankind has the right (and obligation) to enforce moral law. How far you carry this and how you proceed is a tough question.

June 29, 2006 7:46 PM  

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