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Monday, February 03, 2003                                                                                       View Comments

standard of morality?

Hello,

I must say you've done a nice job with your website, though I disagree with your conclusion.

I'd like to ask you a question I've been kicking around in my own head for a while. Simply put, on what do you base your standard of morality?

Thanks,
Josh




The Short Answer:

Dan Barker's Pages

Dave the WebMaster of ExChristian.Net




Dave,

I don't claim to know it all, I am seeking to understand myself and the world around me in an intellectually honest way. I suppose that makes me a "freethinker", unless part of the definition of "freethinker" is belief that God does not exist.

Webster's Dictionary, "Moral" : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior

This question of right and wrong is what is ultimately on my mind here. If something is moral it is right. Conversely, if something is immoral it is wrong. Or is it...................

Ok, so atheists can be moral--- "We atheists are just as likely as Christians to jump in that river--perhaps more likely."

And this morality is a decision I make based on my assessment of what is most beneficial for me--- "Morality is simply the avoidance of unnecessary harm."

And the way to be moral is "to learn what causes harm and how to avoid it"

Ok, so far this argument establishes the individual as morally autonomous. That is, whatever an individual deems to cause the least amount harm is right.

Now I, as a morally autonomous person, need to decide how to behave.

Dan Barker: "Why should I treat my neighbor nicely? Because we are all connected. We are part of the same species, genetically linked. Since I value myself and my species, and the other species to whom we are related, I recognize that when someone is hurting, my natural family is suffering"

1) Up till now, I have been following along the lines of Dan's own logic. But here he seems to make some wild assumptions. I will first assume that Dan expects his conclusion to be applicable to me. How does he conclude that I value myself, my species or other species to which I am related? What if I don't give a rat's patootie?

2) Suppose that I do care about myself. Maybe what causes me the least amount of suffering causes you to hurt like hell. But I made the moral decision because I didn't suffer. Suppose Bill and Ted are on a small hypothetical island. One day, Bill gets tired of looking at Ted and decides to kill him. Bill gets more food out of the deal. But Bill might not have Ted's help if he breaks his leg. There are definite advantages and possible disadvantages for Bill. You get the idea. Did Bill do the right thing, is Bill a moral person?

Interested in your response,
Josh