Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lucia Can atheists be good?

Fr. Longenecker argues that an atheist can only be good for utilitarian reasons, but I think that they can be good and not know why. They can be irrationally good, even though it will not make sense to them.

Related link: Can You be Good Without God? ~ Standing on my head

14 comment(s):

taoist said...

I've seen atheists construct moral frameworks that are pretty reasonable and based on principles of enlightened self interest, but still entirely free of religion. So I think that atheists can also be good because it makes sense to be good.

taoist said...

Sorry, I mean entirely free from anything metaphysical. Atheism is itself of course a religion.

Thesauros said...

Interesting that this Red Herring of, "I can be good without God," has taken on such importance.

The issue is not, can an atheist be good. Of course they can be good people. The issue is, can someone who denies the existence of h/her Creator be forgiven? Can someone who rejects Jesus' offer of salvation be forgiven? The answer to that is of course, "No."

The degree of goodness is a non issue since no one can be good enough to be good enough for heaven.

James Stephenson said...

Humans have basic morals built into their DNA, it's a key part of our evolutionary success as a social species and we'd never have got the point of being able to invent religions if that hadn't been the case.

That's why we can all be good "and not know why". Treating others as we would wish to be treated, is a part of what makes humans, human.

@taoist (2.53) Bollocks.

@Thesauros - Whatever.

Ciaron said...

Humans have basic morals built into their DNA

Show me which genes are the DNA encoded morality genes, please.

LiberalLeftie said...

Ciaron - show me any speck of proof that shows that "God" actually exists

Ciaron said...

I haven't made that claim, so I don't have to prove anything. James made a claim and I am simply asking for evidence in support of that claim. Feel free to assist him if you desire.

ZenTiger said...

Humans have basic morals built into their DNA, it's a key part of our evolutionary success as a social species

I always thought the practice of live human sacrifice to be DNA based, and of course cannabilism is a product of eating too many X chromosomes :)

David Winter said...

5-HTTLPR and COMT certainly seem to be involved in moral decision making. Of course, you don't need to isolate a "gene to for x" to establish that variance in a trait is explained by genetic variance.

Folks noticed height ran in families a long time before they knew what a gene was...

Ciaron said...

Admittedly, wikipedia is not as definitive as it wishes it would be, but a cursory investigation suggests that those genes impact on behavior, which is different to my understanding of morals, in relation to which the explicit claim was made.

David Winter said...

I can't speak for James, but my reading was that he is saying that our moral compass is inbuilt, and arises from out genetic make up. That certainly gels with the finding that certain of our moral decisions and judgements are influenced by our genetic make up.

I probably wouldn't call that morality, so much as the appearance of morality. But I don't think the difference really matters.

Ciaron said...

I would agree that we have inbuilt moral compasses, but I dont think they reside in our DNA.

It seems to me that you are saying that you prescribe to your own personal set of moral values which may or may not be infuenced by your genetic make up, which does not constitute morality but it's near as damn it?

If this is correct then morals will differ from one person to the next and are all equally worthless and illusory

David Winter said...

"If this is correct then morals will differ from one person to the next"

Yes, that's certainly a prediction of that sort of model. How does that gel with reality, do you think?

(BTW, DNA is a chemical, nothing "resides in DNA" but atoms. The question is whether the products of particular DNA sequences end up making brains that make certain moral decisions).

Ciaron said...

How does that gel with reality, do you think?

I see what you are driving at but the phenomenon could also be adequately attributed to freedom of the will.

nothing "resides in DNA" but atoms.
Perhaps it was sloppy use of language, but it was James who said: Humans have basic morals built into their DNA.. But I do appreciate the gesture :)

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