Moral Obligations: Reducing Faith, Increasing Understanding

Ever since I was very young I’ve felt an unexplainable drive to seek out , discover, and even defend truth, whatever that may be.  I think somehow this desire translated into a fervent religious belief through my teen years and a lengthy role in defending that belief.  That drive still exists, though my methods of determining exactly what is and is not true has changed entirely (from the view that truth was dictated by the Bible to the view that truth is dictated by the evidence is a pretty massive transition) and at this point I feel that the defense and propagation of that which is true transcends mere desire, but has moved into the realm of obligation.

For me,  it seems that the atheists, skeptics, Humanists, naturalists, rationalists,  and scientists of the world may even have a moral obligation to see that truth is not only spread (peaceably) but also defended in a world where the rational or empirical are often scoffed at – or worse.  When religious or otherwise irrational society largely dictates both social standards and the political environment there are some pretty severe consequences for virtually everyone that has to share space on this planet with them.  From homeopathy, to fundamentalists who refuse medical treatment for their children, to proponents of the Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell policy, and the denial of equal rights to homosexuals the majority largely decides what the rest of us can and cannot do, additionally these people will make victims of anyone and everyone in the name of their god.

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Arguments and Fallacies: Moral Relativity

Recently one of my Facebook statuses prompted another debate wherein one of the Christian participants made the argument that the good of Christianity outweighs the bad in reference to the fact that I am so passionate about fighting religion in general. I want to explore that idea from a reasoned and historical perspective as this discussion always leads to a debate about the origin of morality and supposed objective morality standards. Of course I find that this argument is old and played out since I’ve only dealt with it six times now on this blog, but I figure why not try one more time…seeing as I haven’t updated in over 30 days now.

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Atheists & Morality Rehashed

Russ, a Christian and Minister in the Missouri Synod of of the Lutheran Church, and I have been chatting with a certain frequency…for some reason it always lands on the subject of morality…we hit other subjects some times, but morality is one thing that we ALWAYS end up getting back to. Maybe I am not authoritative enough on the subject of morals (I don’t know why not), but I can’t seem to say things in a way that satisfy Russ…so we chat and I explain my side, challenge his side a tad, try to explain why god is not necessary in the moral dilemma that we face daily…and for some reason it just never gets across, I have no doubt that I am using some sort of logic that seems circular but I just don’t know any other way to put it. The thing is, Russ knows that I am not an immoral person, he admits that…He understands that a godless person like myself can still have morals but that they may not have a basis. Usually after going over this a few times we start to do a bit of name calling and then kiss and make up, because Russ is a really nice guy and I am too if I must say so myself (usually we only prod one another, I think he knows I am just picking with him). I guess I just want to know from the Atheists and the Christians (or anyone else for that matter) where I am messing up my explanation of this thing. So what follows is a portion of one of our more recent conversations (edited to make it easier to read, no other edits made) from Gtalk.  Afterward I am going to try to explain my view (which as far as I know is well accepted, but I base it entirely on my own understanding of history and my observations of the human race) Tell me what I can do to improve my understanding or explanation of this, is there a precedent on this argument that could help me?

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Morality and God

Are morality and god interdependent?

In other words, can morals exist outside of the spectrum of theism?

Or, in other other words, is god the originator and defining substance behind morality?

Recently myself and the Rev. Russ Troester had another long chat, this time we touched on the subject of belief in god essentially being the basis for morality (forgive me if I am putting words in your mouth Russ, this is the understanding I have). Since we often talk during the end of my work day I had to cut the conversation off kind of abruptly (always when it starts getting good eh?) in order to drive home.

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