[LMB] Bringing it back to LMB [Was:OT: verging on

phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Mon Sep 12 06:11:21 BST 2011

On Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 05:24:24PM -0700, Mitch Miller wrote:

> Neither.  It was a serious question.  I really do not understand how
> there can be, or why there should be, ethics if there's nothing other
> than our lives and ourselves.  I really do not see many signs in
> history that people are able to develop and act upon the concepts of
> "good" and "bad" in the absence of an external authority defining
> those concepts (and little evidence of that when they do believe in

"Justice is an agreement not to harm or be harmed." -- Epicurus, via

The Golden Rule.  Formulated as such by Hillel, an ancient Jewish
thinker, but makes no reference to God and resonantes with a lot of

Utilitarianism, come up with by Bentham, an atheist.

To me your argument comes across as a belief that all people are
basically sociopaths, and that Christians only act good out of fear of

And I'd grant that I don't see any convincing philosophical argument to
not be a sociopath; if you don't care about other people, nothing other
than the consequences of what they can do to you (or some hypothetical
god will do to you) will make you care.

But most people aren't sociopaths, and have a sense of empathy and moral
imagination, and do care about other people to varying degrees
influenceable by experience of others, upbringing, and personal security
(the safer one is, the more expansive one can be to others.)

Perhaps you are not one of these people, in which case I guess you
really should stay Christian, if that's all that keeps you in line.

Funnily enough, C. S. Lewis thought there was a universal moral sense
that couldn't evolve naturally, and thus that that was evidence for God.
Your argument (not unique to you) is that there's no moral sense, and so
people need a belief in God...

-xx- Damien X-) 

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