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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

More like “guidelines”, really.

Posted by Eye4Cards on November 30, 2008

I found myself rereading a part of Richard Dawkins’ rather succinct book The God Delusion today; specifically, the chapter entitled The ‘Good’ Book and the Moral Zeitgeist, pages 263 and 264.  Dawkins briefly mentions a common list of “New Ten Commandments” he searched for on the internet.  He then goes on to add some personal recommendations for what he would consider an acceptable, revised edition.

I know there have been many sites that have done this before.  Most of them have made some really good lists too.  That is entirely Dawkins’ point in this section.  Your average person is capable of what would be considered ethics and morality whether they are religious or not.  Moreover, they are capable of vastly improving one of the cornerstones of Christianity to bring it up to current ethical standards.

I’ll save you the pain, boredom and irrelevance of the original “Ten Commandments” by just linking to the most popular list here (with the shortened second version later in Exodus 34:14, 17 and 21), and the second set here with another partial version (also with a few that didn’t make the cut) sprinkled in Leviticus 19:1, 3-4, 11-13, and the ‘didn’t quite make the list’ commandments such as Mark12:28-29.  Yes folks, not only do most of your Christians not know all of the commandments, they are unaware there is more than one list and more than ten, depending on what you consider qualifies as a commandment.  It’s a messy affair that ought to be airtight considering the importance Christians give them, but alas, ’tis one example of one-thousand, and yet another reason why religion is more of a sick joke nowadays than a serious belief.

My point here is not to point out the already absurd.  I think I’ll save that specifically for my next post about the Ten Commandments.  I just want to bring to light the obvious:  We all are capable of good and bad.  We all are capable of learning and modifying our own personal codes of conduct. It is evident in the following lists that I found just casually surfing the web.  The only people not capable of learning and maintaining a generally acceptable personal code of conduct are sociopaths and psychopaths; and this is because of different psychological disorders, not lack of morality or god.

This first set is from Dawkins’ book example, the popular ebonmusings.  They did a great job of elaborating on the list on their site as well:

1.  Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

2.  In all things, strive to cause no harm.

3.  Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

4.  Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

5.  Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

6.  Always seek to be learning something new.

7.  Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

8.  Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

9.  Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

10.  Question everything.

Here’s Dawkins’ “own amended Ten Commandments…[he] would also try to find room for”:

  • Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none of your business.
  • Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species.
  • Do not indoctrinate your children.  Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.
  • Value the future on a timescale longer than your own.

Here’s a decent Ten Commandments from the Ethical Atheist.  I thought atheists weren’t supposed to be ethical, but for some reason many of them keep espousing morality anyways.  Go figure.

Here’s a list from a site calling itself positive atheism.  It is no longer ironic when a stereotype is not only wrong, but the opposite of the truth.  This is in reference to the idea that atheists cannot be moral without god (who had He existed, still knowingly created atheists this way anyway).  Ah, the stuff preachers will put in atheists’ mouths and congregations’ heads.

Indeed, I see no reason why we should be limited to just ten.  In fact, it is obvious that as complicated as we are psychologically and emotionally, we need as many general guidelines as necessary to help keep our societies healthy and happy.  And that’s what they are- guidelines.  There are no hard and fast rules to existence, let alone how to exist.

The Bible fails on many fronts, but this is a big one.  The Ten Commandments are one of the few pillars of Christianity left that haven’t crumbled under the weight of scrutiny of any kind, be it scientific or just plain common sense.  The Ten Commandments still stand because of sheer dedication to a hollow tradition of equating morals with God in an attempt to keep an archaic concept viable in a modern world free of the necessity and burdon of an almighty, vengeful and somehow simultaneously all-loving and merciful god.

Because, really, what else is there to adhere to in Christianity once the jealous, loving Yahweh’s rules are found to be entirely lacking for His creations, let alone His perfection?

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Oil Prices, Climate Change, Objective Morality, and Evangelicals.

Posted by Andy D. on June 24, 2008

It certainly feels like fate when all of above have woven themselves together in my mind recently. That is how our pattern seeking minds work. I will talk more on personal relationships next week. I want to get these ideas into our zeitgeist while they are fresh.

Let’s start with crazy stuff. I shit you not. This appeared in the Journal Gazette:

Evangelicals question global warming
A coalition of conservative evangelical leaders wants to enlist 1 million Christians to sign a statement questioning whether human-caused global warming is a real threat and arguing that restrictive environmental policies harm poor people.
The “We Get It!” campaign is the latest development in an ongoing disagreement among evangelicals about climate change.The campaign’s materials argue that “recent, slight warming” is an unproven threat that could lead to restrictions in energy use and drive up the cost of energy and food for the world’s poor.

Can someone tell me what evangelicalism has to do with science? If some of those evangelical leaders are scientists or are economists, then they might have something helpful to contribute; clearly, they do not get it! If they have scientists then speak the science and not under the label evangelical and be open for criticism. Reality and evangelicals do not mix considering their hatred of biology, cosmology, geology and other sciences. Ironically, they will even enjoy the benefits of these sciences such as medical care and then credit God afterwards. These people may destroy the planet and it would be a big joke if it were not so common. The driving forces of this movement are the conservative think tanks. 90% of all books against the science of climate change have roots in conservative think tanks. (This reminds me of a bizarro world in which gay scientists isolate the Christian gene).

The topic of this weeks Enlightenment show is about ethics and morality. Ethics are derived from biological anthropology such as reciprocal altruism in animals. The Golden Rule and empathy are selected for and not against in evolution. Plus, we can overcome our urge to reproduce (selfish genes) and seek other pursuits such as learning and love. Stay tuned for more on that subject and watch the website for the show.

Apologists say non-theists have no objective moral code. Where do they pick and choose to follow the good bits of the Bible but ignore the nasty bits? (Is that still objective absolutism? There are Christians that are on both sides of abortion, capital punishment, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem cell research, etc).

Religion completely destroys any sense of objective morality. It gets the whole thing upside down. Look at the climate change mentality above. A naturalistic cosmic worldview sees the planet as an entire complicated ecosystem (Biosphere) and how vulnerable it is for us. (The planet will be fine without us). Religion says the entire universe was built for us. Can they be any more arrogant? Plus, all humans are wicked and sex is ugly. Yet, we are made like God. Come on, who designs a sewage system in the reproductive playground? Religions scapegoat their sins. Is that moral? Don’t get me started on the horrors of lying to kids about dinosaurs being on Noah’s Ark and calling that science and building a museum to ignorance tax-free.

This is exactly what Bill Cooke described about the lack of morality in religion in this very good debate with Wiliam Lane Craig. (Thanks to Debunking Christianity for the link and you will have to go to u-tube for the whole thing).

Back to global burning, I was listening to WOWO because I like to listen to them say silly things around lunchtime. Rush Limbaugh was going on and on about letting us drill on our coastline. I thought for once, we were going to let the market fix our problems like they preach so well. (I am a fan of Adam Smith) Yet, here is the right wing thinking short term by saying let’s just drill here in our coastlines. That is one way to handle it, but only short term. With oil being expensive we will have to change our ways, infrastructure and increase demand from alternative energy sources. That is good for the planet and good for energy independence. Isn’t that the market forces with that supply and demand stuff? This happened before in 1979 and 1983 with our power plants getting away from oil. However, OPEC now has demand from China and India so they do not have to respond to the US. I thought higher energy independence and climate changed were linked. Here is a very good article from The Economist saying that the two are now being separated politically. The right wing wants to reduce foreign dependence but doesn’t pay any attention to climate change. This explains Rush and the we get it campaign from above. Morality and good stewardship is thrown away by not paying attention to the total economic cost including the environment and only the nominal gain.

Let’s embrace this market change for both energy prices and environment. The right wing seems to count out American ingenuity and innovation. Even McCain said we should be thinking nuclear. I agree. (Richard Carrier just wrote a cool blog on McCain’s u-tube problem). Science and Technology are more important than ever and businesses are already thinking green and the trend will continue.

Here is an interesting take on oil prices and it really isn’t so bad. Green that isn’t economical such as biofuels is not the way to go until the scientists figure out a way to make it viable. It is driving up costs for no environmental or economical reasons currently. By the market keeping oil prices up compared to “normal”, we will see more R&D work done on alternatives, and decrease demand. Both are good for the environment and energy independence but apparently we have to fight for this.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »