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Member Since: Sun Jan 02, 2011
Posts: 3,786
Subj: The difference between right and wrong, and drawing the line.
Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 at 12:04:06 pm CST (Viewed 858 times)

There used to be minimum standards that most people agree on.

1) Deliberately lying is wrong. Lying to malign someone is worse. In the Bible, this is referred to as 'bearing false witness', and was worthy of its own spot on the Ten Commandments. However, even the most extreme atheist acknowledged the wisdom of this rule.

2) Stealing is wrong. If you borrow money and refuse to pay it back, that's stealing. If you refuse to pay someone for their services (e.g. contractors), that's stealing. If you defraud people out of their savings through deceptive business practices, that's stealing. It's not 'Gaming the System' if you get away with it -- you're an outright crook if you engage in this behavior.

3) Physical and sexual assault. If someone lays their hands on you for the purpose of sex or to inflict harm, against your wishes, that's assault. If you are accused of this behavior -- it's troubling. If three people accuse you of this, that's a pattern. If two dozen people accuse you of this, there's either a highly organized conspiracy (which is almost impossible to maintain), or we simply employ Occum's Razor. The simplest explanation is often the correct one.


When you get right down to religion, beyond the obligatory deference to God and the various rituals involved in maintaining faith -- the message is rather simple. Don't steal, don't harm, don't lie. If you look at the Ten Commandments, only about four of them refer to morality and ethics. The wisdom of simplicity. We know wrong when we see it.

These laws can be extrapolated further, of course. When Christopher Hitchens re-wrote the Commandments for Vanity Fair, he made a few valid additions to the Big Ten, such as forbidding violence against children. Or that slavery can never be condoned.

I don't approach morality or ethics from the angle of purity. Many situations call for nuance and understanding. Lots of grey areas. However, I think there should be a line in the sand regarding acceptable human behavior. If you fall below that line to such an egregious degree that it defies quantification (e.g. you regularly transgress ALL THREE rules of minimum human decency) -- we as a society, as a species, get to call you out. The onus is on you to redeem yourself -- not on us to 'understand' your differing ideology.

Where do you stand on this?

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