Is Morality a Joke?

Let me address your last sentence, specifically:

There is a difference between thinking and feeling.

If you simply analyze logically without taking feeling into account, then you are missing a large part of life and interaction with others.

Your last sentence is TRUE if you only consider the consequences to yourself, but life on planet earth is more complex than that.

You may believe you can “get away” with a completely selfish imperative, but that is much too simplistic.
It is necessary to evaluate actions based on your AND others’ consequences and needs. Otherwise your actions and life become selfish and unbalanced.

You may not be able to SEE negative consequences from 1 action you take - but life is cumulative and negative actions add-up, whether you wish them to or not, and ultimately you WILL face some consequences!

There is nothing MAKING you choose “morale” acts and you can live as you wish.
I, however, believe you will ultimately be an enriched and happier person if you take others’ needs and feelings into account.

Nonsense. A society of people without morality would be lucky to build more than a collection of mud huts. Anything you couldn’t carry and defend would be destroyed or stolen the moment you left it unguarded. The moment you turned your back on someone they’d probably kill you, either to rob you or eat you. You couldn’t impose any sort of law, because all the enforcers and judges would be corrupt, and untrustworthy, even to each other. You couldn’t hope for a ruler to impose order, because even if he held power he’d just use it to loot and hurt the populace. You wouldn’t have a next generation, because children can’t protect themselves; people would casually kill their own children for being annoying, or eat them if hungry. And so on.

The reason morality exists is because a bunch of sociopathic predators would have trouble surviving at all, much less form a great civilization. Or ANY civilization.

Once you separate morality from religion, you see that different approaches can be discussed.
And once discussed, trends emerge and sweep the populace, only to be replaced by the next trend. The key elements are listed by the French revolution as Life, Liberty, and Property. The US of course substituted Pursuit of Happiness, presumably to avoid the sin of avarice. The Russian revolution brought the concept of “according to ability/need”. And then of course the feeling that people needed more control over their lives. Each wave replaces the last, and with it come people who win and those who lose. But there will never be a fixed determination of what’s fair/moral, because we all want our share, plus more than our share.

Yes. If it’s highly immoral, then someone or something will be harmed. Think of all life as a tapestry. Whoever intentionally and needlessly severs the interwoven threads of balance and accomodation, renders the fabric of earth’s society damaged.

We should try our best to do the loving thing. We’re going to mess up, but when we do, we should start again. Your idea of what’s right and my idea won’t always be the same. Follow the law or practice civil, non-violent disobedience.

Full Mental Lotus, interesting interpretation of St. Paul! Is that sarcasm, bitterness or a reminder that he didn’t always recognize the strengths of women?

Good posts, Chief Pedant! Go, thou, and have fun.

Really, I don’t know of any civilizations without morality, perhaps you could name one. I know Russia tried to stamp out the morality of religion, and, well, they flopped.

They did not try to stamp out the “morality of religion”, because religion has none ( or any other virtue, for that matter ). Religion is about obedience and license. Obey the dogma, obey your leaders, and absolute freedom to do whatever you feel like against anyone outside of the One True Way, or in the name of protecting and spreading that Way. This, of course, is the attitude that Communism also shared, which is the real reason Communism was hostile to theism : it’s competition.

Given it’s focus on hatred, unreason, dogmatism and obedience, religion is fundamentally hostile to morality; it’s amoral at best, and generally outright evil.

I often wonder when having these kinds of conversations whether or not we’re all talking past each other.

You’re certainly free to judge one morality above another. However, if you take the position of pool and Mosier, that there is no objective right and wrong and morality is a function of the individual and their awareness as a social animal, then I must ask you; on what basis do you judge one set of morals superior to another? Not only that, but what makes your moral judgments superior to the judgment of any other?


Do you understand what natural law is within a philosophical context?


How does one objectively define what is right and wrong?

I don’t know that I’ve ever claimed my morals to be superior than anyone else’s. Have I?

Natural law adherents typically have these key points.

#1. Human beings are by nature rational creatures. (Some say that God made us rational.)

#2. Using reason, we can discover the laws necessary for human beings to prosper.

#3. The natural laws are universal and they do not change.

We use reason to figure out what our morals should be.


Please explain to me what this statement means. In what manner can you judge another morality without declaring one to be superior to another? I am genuinely curious.


One can’t. All you can do is come to a “close enough” agreement. Whatever people decide is moral, is moral. Nothing is moral on its own accord, but only “because” of something else. Murder isn’t wrong objectively, but rather BECAUSE we have decided that it’s a detriment to society, and because we have decided that people ought to be able to feel safe. You can go even deeper, and say that murder goes against some kind of natural order, but then you’re still defining the natural order to be desirable.

There’s no way to objectively make a code of morals. That doesn’t mean that morality has no place in society. Art is immune to objective scrutiny, too, but it has a major place in our culture, and we wouldn’t be human beings without it.

Well, I believe in an objective morality - it is however a process rather than a particular code or set of results.

All truly objective morality is based on variants of the Golden Rule (“do unto others …”), combined with a genuine attempt to understand the other person’s point of view [of course this presupposes the ability to do so - the insane are not responsible and cannot be held accountable for morality].

A person actually acting on these precepts would be acting in a genuinely moral manner, irregardless of cultural differences. They may make mistakes, they may act wrongly, but never maliciously or immorally.

A cultural system in which acting on these precepts is approximated is objectively more moral than one that does not. So, for example, a culture in which religious liberty is guaranteed is better in this repect, and better objectively, than one in which everyone is forced to convert to a particular religion; a society that recognizes the equality of sexes and does not discriminate against homosexuality is objectively more moral in this respect than one in which women are chattel and gays are executed; etc.

There is one more underlying point, or at least an extension of point #3. Natural law adherents have traditionally considered natural law to be not only universal and immutable, but to also exist outside of (and prior to) this creation, in the same sense that the laws of physics existed prior to the earth’s creation. For an adherent of the concept of natural law, a correct morality is discoverable in the same sense that a correct concept about gravity is discoverable.

In general, religious adherents of natural law considered the principles to be revealed by God within his creation while others leaned toward reason alone as being sufficient to discover these “natural” laws governing behaviour and morality.

Der Trihs is spot on in arguing that a fundamental and pervasive morality is essential to creat great civilations. This statement however, should not pass unchallenged:

We should separate out what has been done by leaders in the name of religion with the broad average effect of those religions on their ordinary adherents. A failure to do so conflates the destructive behaviour of tyrants and zealots for whom religion is an ends to their personal means with the constructive behaviour of the masses who try to follow the standards of the religion.

Modern civilization, and indeed much of what is considered to be appropriate morality in today’s world, owes a substantial debt to the great religions of the world including Judaism, Christianity and the assorted Eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. (Perhaps in another few hundred years we will be able to add Islam to the list if it survives; in the time of Joshua Judaism was not so far from where Islam is today…)

This debt is not a result of crusades and invasions and expansions undertaken in the name of religion by individuals seeking to control populations. It is the result of the transformative effect of moral codes upon individual lives. Do not steal. Do not murder. Love one another. Be at peace. Value all life, even those forms weaker than you.

Not only has religion not been hostile to morality; absent the existence of actual Natural Law, religion has stepped into the gap and created order where chaos would have reigned. Within that order reason has been able to flourish, and by encouraging a benevolent morality toward one another–the central theme for the individual among nearly all successful religions–the cumulative behaviour has been steered toward a common good from an individual selfishness.

Those who are unable to find God and a benevolent Natural Law nevertheless owe a great debt to those who believe they have found them.

Objectively not true.


Well, that’s quite a sweeping assumption and I don’t see anything “objective” about it.

I just said that I hadn’t claimed my morals were superior. I didn’t say that other people might do so. But “superior” has to be in relation to some standard, so if you assume a standard (and that’s the key: “assume”), then you can try and rank various moral systems. But the standard is, by its nature, arbitrary. In your example you assume the standard to be “prosper”. Well, most of us probably want to prosper, but there isn’t anything objectively true about that-- it’s just a desire.

Quite a few didn’t have any such thing. Morality isn’t required; law and order are, but that’s not the same thing (although many people do confuse the two). Public standards of behavoir are often, but not always, moralized.

Politics and law all fall under the auspice of what is right and what is wrong. A law may or may not be moral but to disassociate our laws with ideas of right and wrong is pure folly. If quite a few societies have existed where there were no morals I would love to learn about them.


I am waiting for you to name them. So I can know also.

I don’t see how you can consider “public standards of behavior” to be anything other than morality. You can have an “evil morality”, too, you know.

You assume such a seperation exists. And you are pretending religion is all about kindness and morality and the people who do evil or stupid things in it’s name are perverting it, as opposed to doing what it tells them.

According to you. As I see it, morality exists in spite of religion, not because of it. Religion, by nature, undercuts morality. It teaches one to act on unreal things and to ignore the real consequences of one’s actions. It seperates people into mutually hostile groups for no other reason than religion, promotes tyranny, and serves as the perfect excuse for any evil. It twists and suppresses rational thought, and teaches that one should ignore facts.

As for Islam, the problem with Islam is not that it’s worse than other religions, just that more people actually try to follow it. Islamic societies will progress when they either give up Islam, or play lip service to it while largely ignoring it as the West does with Christianity.

They were “seeking to control populations” because their religion told them to. And religion does NOT teach those warm and fuzzy things; they are throwaway lines, sugar coating. An attempt by something utterly amoral to pretend it is moral. No different than the claims by Communism that it’s various evils were done for the People.

Garbage. When religion is ascendant in people’s lives, we don’t have morality; we have evil. Crusades and suicide bombers, burkhas and conversion by the sword, conquest and genocide. Society only became more moral, more enlightened when the grip of religion weakened.

We owe them hatred, for the millions they have killed and tyrannized, for the oppression and madness they champion, for they misery they spread and their endless war against rationality and facts.

Wrong. Law simply isn’t strong enough. If everyone is a murderer, a liar, corrupt, treasonous, and so on, how can anyone possibly maintain order ? Where would you even get your police ?

I can’t tell from your post what you believe, seem to be going back and forth with an extreme dislike for religion. Actually religion does a lot more good than bad, expecially these days when there are no more inquisitions and crusades.