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

Mitch Miller mitchmiller at entertainmenttax.com
Mon Sep 12 08:33:30 BST 2011

From: Elizabeth Holden azurite at rogers.com

--- On Sun, 9/11/11, Mitch Miller <mitchmiller at entertainmenttax.com> wrote:

> 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.?

That's all the more reasons to have ethics, and a strong sense of morality.

The only difference is that non-believers choose morality based on their own value system and what they believe to be good, not what their church decrees.

If you are really seriously interested in this, I suggest reading one of many recent well-explained books on atheism, or read up on the subject online.  Otherwise your confusion and curiosity sounds rather offensive.

> 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

Why not?  Many religions have not had a component of moral doctrine (cf. classical religions).  Other religions are not based on the decrees of a deity (e.g., Buddhism).

> Perhaps I'm philosophy-disabled, but please believe me that
> I'm not trying to offend you

I believe you, but it certainly sounds offensive - as if you are saying that I must be a corrupt, vicious and self-serving person if I do not believe in a certain deity.

> but am really trying to understand you, when I ask you
> to explain to me
> why, under your view of the world, they should act
> differently, because I don't see it.

Because in my philosophy, the greatest good is to minimize suffering and to foster happiness, love of life, and moral enlightenment; and for each of us to do what we can to make others happier; and for us to leave the world better than we found it if it is at all in our power to do so.

This seems rational to me.

Is that so different from your beliefs?


If I'm understanding you correctly, what you are saying is that your personal philosophy is to minimize suffering and foster happiness, and all other "good" things.  With you so far.

What I'm asking is, how did you determine those things are "good?"  Is there anything in atheism which compels that belief?  Can one be a "good" atheist and believe that one should steal, kill, and do whatever else one wants to, to get what one wants? 

Again, just to be clear, I am not asking about YOUR personal philosophy.

Because I do share your beliefs -- but because God has told me (to be more precise, my ancestors, who passed it down to me) they are "good," not because I was able to derive them myself.  I don't see anything in human history which tells me human beings are able to derive what is good from their own reason, starting from square one.  My experience is that people rationalize that whatever they're doing is "good," rather than reasoning out what is "good" and trying to do it.  As I said before, we humans are generally pretty awful even WITH religion.  Without it, all I see is Lord of the Flies.

Mitch Miller

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