Hey there, glad you could participate. Out of the 200+ posts so far, I think yours is the closest anyone has come to sharing my perspective.
But I'm not sure how much I want the government supervising religious stuff. Rather than "bending" religion for good, I think we should encourage
I like your list of book references. I'm jotting them down for one day when I have time to read them. Thanks!
Let me make two quick comments on sin:
1. I do think sin is about poor decision making. Ultimately I think behavior is what matters, and the quality of the decision making seems to me like a good way to rate behavior. However, not all poor decision making is sin, since I believe morality is only one slice of the decision-making pie. Christians see this through a different lense, but they see lots of stuff through different lenses. But ultimately if we could set up an objective way to study this stuff, I think this is how we'd do it.
2. Speed limits are a good analogy for our sinful pressure toward self (i.e. bad decision making). If the speed limit was raised, we'd all likely go faster. And this would continue until we felt some bad consequence for our actions, i.e. more accidents. Our internal pressure to go ever faster on the roads is based on our self-interest to get to where we want to go sooner. And if we could each decide for ourselves what speed to go (i.e. no enforced limit), I don't think we'd have a more optimal solution. I think an external rule provides balance by apply the opposite pressure. (Imagine roads by elementary schools if you think we shouldn't have speed limits on the highways.)
Zcorp wrote:I see little benefit in valuing something simply because it is old and wide spread.
I agree. I don't think it's anywhere near that simple. I started my comparison of Christianity to other philosophies by saying that I didn't know a good way to compare them. I do think there's information in the age and proliferation. Namely it's that we have really no other way to evaluate a moral system other than observing it in the wild, so to speak. This line of thinking is what initially made me think of the comparisons between morality and DNA. Something newly created is much less likely to be as effective as something that has demonstrated a high degree of fitness. But just because some old bacteria covered the earth for millions of years doesn't mean it's better than us. It's a much more sophisticated problem. And I think it's the same framework that we would use to evaluate morality if we could since it came about through a natural selection process. (Besides old and widespread, not extinct is probably another important quality.)
And by the way, I do consider Buddhism a religion. (I don't know much about Taoism). I left my definition of religion vague because I don't know how to define it. I did provide some suggestions of what a religion should do, like provide guidelines for behavior. And my claim of utility includes the notion of beliefs that are not grounded in observations of the natural world.
Zcorp wrote:The hatred I've mentioned is strictly according to Christian teachings, according to the people that teach them, thus the whole flaw I'm pointing out in Christianity. Its ambiguity in meaning. Which leads to hatred and ignorance.
The Bible does have ambiguity, but it's call for us to love not hate is far from ambiguous. And I'd say that the fact that some Christians preach hate is a result of our human nature. I agree that ambiguity creates problems. But in a system where we get to define our own morality, this problem seems even worse.
My favorite quality of Christianity is to love one another, even when you directly oppose them in conflict. And my church is doing a sermon series now on the Fruits of the Spirit
, which I like a lot.@General_Norris:
You and I have a very different take on morality, but I like your handshake perspective. This is something I could do more of.@Mindor:
I'm very impressed you read the whole thing. I don't think I could do that.
Let me ask you a few questions. Do you have a complete and robust understanding of morality? If so, can you share it? And how do you know others won't question the moral authority of what you describe?
Mindor wrote:A member of society that gained his moral center through this process, as opposed to being told what his moral responsibilities were, would be much more capable of fulfilling his moral obligations and applying his moral code in new environments and situations because he understands it, not just knows what it is.
How do you know this is true? Is it simply your best guess?
I agree with you on the hammer analogy. I think it can be damaging to lose faith. But I don't think this faith is as fragile as you indicate. Religion has been losing ground to science for hundreds of years now . But how much has that hurt people's ability to maintain their faith? I'd say not much since the vast majority of the world is still religious. My best guess is that our lives are full of faith, or more generally belief without evidence. (I see faith as an explicit belief without evidence, but we could also mistakenly think we have enough evidence when we don't.) The whole notion that goodness matters in some fundamental way can't be substantiated by science any more than the notion of God. I think the hook that religion uses to grab hold of so many people is a part of us as fundamental as our emotions.
Also, your school-like discovery method for learning morals can work within the framework of religion. I think what's important is that we own the responsibility to act according to a certain moral code, and that we know how to effectively apply it to our lives. Our ability to align our behavior with a moral code is separate from whether the moral code comes from old religious texts or an enlightened scholar. (The quality of the wisdom does depend more on the source of the text, but that's a separate issue.)
Mindor wrote:Regarding the Golden Rule: You've said that it is not enough. I challenge you to present to me one moral tenant that cannot be expressed using the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you).
The Golden Rule only equates what behavior I expect to receive with how I behave to others. It doesn't specify how
we should behave to each other. Mathematically it says A==B without actually saying what A or B should be.
So one could write "Love your neighbor as yourself" using the Golden Rule. But then someone else could say that they expect no such love from neighbors, rather they simply want to be left alone. Therefore their moral responsibility is merely to leave others alone. So A==B is not enough, we need some indication of what A and B are.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.