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Ancient One 

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,923
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Member Since: Sun Jan 02, 2011
Posts: 3,786
Subj: Re: The difference between right and wrong, and drawing the line.
Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 at 04:12:18 pm EST (Viewed 800 times)
Reply Subj: The difference between right and wrong, and drawing the line.
Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 at 01:04:06 pm EST (Viewed 858 times)

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

There still are.

    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.

Is it? Always? In every case?

How about a small 'white lie' that harms no one, but saves someone emotional pain, for example?

    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.

Is it? Always? In every case?

Would you condemn someone who had no money, and stole food to keep their child alive for one more day? Say someone from a third world country ravaged by famine?

    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.

Yes. Agree with this.

    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.

Religion? What's religion got to do with it? Thankfully, we don't get our morals and ethics from religion. On the contrary, religion seems to warp morals and ethics out of shape.

    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.

Absolutely. It would be difficult NOT to come up with ten commandments that are better than those found in the bible. Which just goes to show how immoral a book the bible actually is.

    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?

I don't think it's as clear cut as simply saying 'stealing is bad', or 'lying is bad'. There are grey areas, areas where you have to have some moral give and take. Every case has to be judged on it's own merits.

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