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Old 07-11-2010, 10:03 PM   #1
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Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

"The inspiration for this debate topic comes from several sources, and is not meant to be an attack on religion. The main inspiration was contemplation about the novel The Lord of the Flies. Is it the basic nature of man to devolve into savagery without moral guidance, or, given enough time, would man develop a moral framework to live by because of the inherent benefits to society? If so, could this happen without religion to frame the moral values against?

The related question is that if one assumes that religion is required for man to live a moral life, then what are the essential characteristics that religion must have in order for its adherents to live a moral life. Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Muslims follow different tenets of faith, but it would be wrong to call someone immoral simply because they are devout in one faith and not another. That implies that there's a common baseline of morality to certain faiths, and that a person who follows those aspects of that faith would be leading a moral life.

The purpose of this debate is not to come up with simplistic yes/no or right/wrong answers, but to use a thoughtful question to allow members of the NL community to express their views on the subject so that others can develop new insights from reading them."-Conservepedia

Id like whoever is challenging me to go first.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Well? Get to it then, if you're going first.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:25 PM   #3
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Since i know both you and miburo arent religious I believe you are going to plead the argument that Yes, it is possible for men to lead moral lives without religion. Although i also agree with this it is to a certain extent.

Where i believe it is possible for man to live Moral lives without the aid of religion I believe now in current times that it is the fact that BECAUSE we have had so much contact with religion and we are taught what is right and wrong mostly based of these religious ideals is why men arent easily able to do so in this current age.

Also when people think religion they usually dont think past the big three. Judiasim, islam, and christianity. But these are definitely not the only religions in this world. And some of these other religions require "immoral" activities to take place in their religious practicings. What it really comes down to is who decides what is moral or immoral. Even in the Science of ethics is the term "morally acceptable" debated. For example in Deontology a morally acceptable action is based of its adherence to the laws or sets of rules that have been established by the higher order in a hierarchy. An example of this would be not taking a cookie from the cookie jar because your mother said not to. Others however believe that a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence, this way of thinking is called teleology and an example of this would be taking a cookie from the cookie jar to feed your hungry sister, even though your mother told u not to.

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Old 07-11-2010, 10:41 PM   #4
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Darn, I have a stance in this but I don't want to interfere with this battle of wills.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:41 PM   #5
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

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Originally Posted by TrueUCHIHA View Post
Yes, it is possible for men to lead savage lives without religion.
don't you mean non-savage lives in this context? just asking, but i'll stay out of this. another question though. isn't it a bit rash to call judaism, christianity and islam the big three? counting members, judaism sure is pretty small. and counting age, all of these religions are not that big.....etc...

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Darn, I have a stance in this but I don't want to interfere with this battle of wills.
me too, but let's see where it goes. i'll get a morning beer.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:44 PM   #6
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

I shouldve said Judiasim Christianty and Islam are the biggest Monothestic religions. And yes that was a typo. Thanks for pointing it out
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:44 PM   #7
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

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Originally Posted by TrueUCHIHA View Post
Where i believe it is possible for man to live Moral lives without the aid of religion I believe now in current times that it is the fact that BECAUSE we have had so much contact with religion and we are taught what is right and wrong mostly based of these religious ideals is why men are able to do so in this current age.
Doesn't matter. As human beings, we're capable of reason. We can separate one from the other. And there are tons of moral theories that do just that. Like virtue ethics of aristotle, for example. You can base your morality around logic. You don't need to rely on religion at all to do so.

Note that this is a debate. Your beliefs don't mean anything if you can't back them up with evidence. If you believe that religion is the root of all morality, and people can not base their morality on anything else, then you have to prove that. With evidence. Have fun with that.
Quote:
Also when people think religion they usually dont think past the big three. Judiasim, islam, and christianity. But these are definitely not the only religions in this world. And some of these other religions require "immoral" activities to take place in their religious practicings. What it really comes down to is who decides what is moral or immoral. Even in the Science of ethics is the term "morally acceptable" debated. For example in Deontology a morally acceptable action is based of its adherence to the laws or sets of rules that have been established by the higher order in a hierarchy. An example of this would be not taking a cookie from the cookie jar because your mother said not to. Others however believe that a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence, this way of thinking is called teleology and an example of this would be taking a cookie from the cookie jar to feed your hungry sister, even though your mother told u not to.
Yeah, religions have moral guidelines in them. That doesn't mean they're inseparable.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:46 PM   #8
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

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Originally Posted by TrueUCHIHA View Post
Where i believe it is possible for man to live Moral lives without the aid of religion I believe now in current times that it is the fact that BECAUSE we have had so much contact with religion and we are taught what is right and wrong mostly based of these religious ideals is why men are able to do so in this current age.
Your sentence structure is confusing, so before I answer your argument, let me make sure I'm getting the right idea about what you're saying.
You mean to say that, regardless of whether an individual follows or believes in a certain religious faith, the fact that he or she has been exposed to the morals and values of said faith makes it an inevitability that he or she's personal morals are influenced by it. Am I right in assuming that this is the point you were trying to get across?

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Also when people think religion they usually dont think past the big three. Judiasim, islam, and christianity. But these are definitely not the only religions in this world. And some of these other religions require "immoral" activities to take place in their religious practicings.
By referring to "immoral" practices, would I also be right in assuming you are taking cues from, say, pagan and neo-pagan beliefs and rituals, which may or may not include rites that others would find immoral?

In that case, however, your argument is circling around on itself. Who is it that decides that these certain religious practices are immoral? If we're talking about the moral influences of religion on individuals, then wouldn't the idea that those rituals are "immoral" only boil down to the very same argument: Whether it is actually immoral, or if it is simply one's religious beliefs or influences that makes them believe the acts are immoral?
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What it really comes down to is who decides what is moral or immoral.
This is true, and this is what I was addressing above. Something that is considered taboo in one country, society, civilization, religious sect, etc. may be considered acceptable or even righteous in another. Just who is it that decides that an act or belief is universally immoral?

An example: There is a tribe in Africa whose rite of passage involves jumping off of an unsteady wooden "cliff", stories high, suspended only by a vine wrapped around their ankles. A boy is not considered a man in his tribe unti he has made the jump and survived it, and these boys will perform these rituals at extremely young ages - even prior to the onset of puberty. And this rite is certainly not without its dangers: If the vine snaps, the boy will plummet to his death. Even if the boy survives the jump, the force of the vine stopping his fall so suddenly could dislocate anything from his ankles to his hips. Even the whiplash could easily snap his neck in two.

In "civilized" society, a ritual as dangerous as this one would be considered highly immoral and completely unacceptable. And this is actually one of the more tame rituals that some tribes in Africa go through to acquire their "manhood".

We may find such a thing immoral or unacceptable - not even because of religious beliefs or faith, but because of the danger it puts children in - but who are we to judge them? Who are we to say their rites of passage are wrong? They believe in their way, we believe in ours. But there is no universal figure or factor that can say whether something is moral or immoral.
Quote:
Even in the Science of ethics is the term "morally acceptable" debated. For example in Deontology a morally acceptable action is based of its adherence to the laws or sets of rules that have been established by the higher order in a hierarchy. An example of this would be not taking a cookie from the cookie jar because your mother said not to. Others however believe that a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence, this way of thinking is called teleology and an example of this would be taking a cookie from the cookie jar to feed your hungry sister, even though your mother told u not to.
Now, this selection is another wherein I don't understand what point you're trying to make exactly. Was it simply an example of the differences in beliefs of morality, or was there a more concise point that you were trying to articulate?
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Originally Posted by Nerox511
don't you mean non-savage lives in this context? just asking, but i'll stay out of this. another question though. isn't it a bit rash to call judaism, christianity and islam the big three? counting members, judaism sure is pretty small. and counting age, all of these religions are not that big.....etc...
Ignoring the semantics of his statement, I don't think it was to point out that those three religions were larger in followers than others. Rather, I think he was referring to the fact that in discussions of religion, you will sooner see references to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, than you would other religions, such as Buddhism, Shinto, etc. It's not the fact that any religion aside from the three he listed is obscure and insignificant, but rather that those three are not only more recognized in society, but that the general public are more familiar with them than they are with others.

This is speaking from a Western standpoint, of course - "The Big Three" here only applies to countries in which these are the most prevalent religions. You'll hardly see people in East Asia, for example, to find Islam or Judaism more recognizable than their own national religions. Japan, for example, would identify more readily with Buddhism, Shinto, and in recent years, Christianity. So in that case, it's also an issue of one's environment and societal background.

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Old 07-11-2010, 10:50 PM   #9
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

The only thing that's truly surprising me here is that True is actually being serious.

Round 1 goes to OH, I'd say, but True is at least putting forth positive effort toward making the "TrueCREW" seem less dumb.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:55 PM   #10
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

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Originally Posted by Tsuna View Post

Ignoring the semantics of his statement, I don't think it was to point out that those three religions were larger in followers than others. Rather, I think he was referring to the fact that in discussions of religion, you will sooner see references to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, than you would other religions, such as Buddhism, Shinto, etc. It's not the fact that any religion aside from the three he listed is obscure and insignificant, but rather that those three are not only more recognized in society, but that the general public are more familiar with them than they are with others.

This is speaking from a Western standpoint, of course - "The Big Three" here only applies to countries in which these are the most prevalent religions. You'll hardly see people in East Asia, for example, to find Islam or Judaism more recognizable than their own national religions. Japan, for example, would identify more readily with Buddhism, Shinto, and in recent years, Christianity. So in that case, it's also an issue of one's environment and societal background.
hehe you edited the last paragraph ^^ was about to answer with the point of view too. and yes, i know TU meant that, i was just pointing out some weaknessess in his argument, but didn't put all into it, cause it is your discussion. thanks though
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:57 PM   #11
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Making it seem less dumb isn't really too hard though. = )
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:05 PM   #12
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SenninKorby
The only thing that's truly surprising me here is that True is actually being serious.
This. I'll admit I was surprised too, and he's actually gained a little bit of respect for that. I thought he would bullshit it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerox511
hehe you edited the last paragraph ^^ was about to answer with the point of view too. and yes, i know TU meant that, i was just pointing out some weaknessess in his argument, but didn't put all into it, cause it is your discussion. thanks though
You'll notice I do that sometimes in my debate posts. That paragraph was fine on its own before, but I realized that it would be a more sound point if I included a valid example. There's a lot of times where I'll make an argument, post it, then after rereading said argument, realize that something needs a bit more elaboration, and tack on a few more sentences. And that's not counting the proofreads I do before posting.

Usually I catch everything before I post it, but it's been almost 3 years since I'd debated like, hardcore, so I'll admit I'm a little rusty.
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:13 PM   #13
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Tsuna, I apoligize for my weird sentence structure. however you have been able grasp what i was trying to articulate quite well.
But at Miburo u said the following

Quote:
Doesn't matter. As human beings, we're capable of reason. We can separate one from the other. And there are tons of moral theories that do just that. Like virtue ethics of aristotle, for example. You can base your morality around logic. You don't need to rely on religion at all to do so.
Lets assume for this situation by moral i am talking about positive morality by todays standards. As i said before morality and religion have become so intertwined that if a man was to lead a moral life by todays standards and didnt believe in or profess a god dos not mean that he is living a moral life absent of religion. He is simply living a moral life in which the belief and/or fear God is not the reason for his morality, however the man is still influnced by religion wether it be based of the law or some thing else which is ultimatley linked to religion.

A perfect example is this

"There was a billboard in NYC subway station from an atheist group:
“A Million New Yorkers Are Good Without God. Are You?” -This illustratres that Athiest can not believe in God and still be "good" yet it also illustrates that so many assoscitate That the sense of Good is tied to religion. And not just religon now. All religion from Zoroastrianism to Shinto.

Quote:
Note that this is a debate. Your beliefs don't mean anything if you can't back them up with evidence. If you believe that religion is the root of all morality, and people can not base their morality on anything else, then you have to prove that. With evidence. Have fun with that.
And as for this of course i will not be able to thouroughly prove that Men have been non savage with out religion, mostly because humans have had beliefs in an after world/God system since the dawn of time.I dont know what the quality of life was without religion but for a clue we can only look to the animals.
(lets keep it down to just 3 rebutles...i dont wanna be here all night...this is numbah 2 for me)

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Old 07-11-2010, 11:13 PM   #14
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

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Originally Posted by Tsuna View Post

You'll notice I do that sometimes in my debate posts. That paragraph was fine on its own before, but I realized that it would be a more sound point if I included a valid example. There's a lot of times where I'll make an argument, post it, then after rereading said argument, realize that something needs a bit more elaboration, and tack on a few more sentences. And that's not counting the proofreads I do before posting.

Usually I catch everything before I post it, but it's been almost 3 years since I'd debated like, hardcore, so I'll admit I'm a little rusty.
hey no problem, your argument was rock solid. if i wouldn't have the same oppinion, the view point was the only "weak" spot.

i last debated i don't know 4 years ago. also very rusty.
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:41 PM   #15
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Re: Is it possible for man to live a moral life without religion?

Just out of curiosity, is English not your first language, dude?

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Lets assume for this situation by moral i am talking about positive morality by todays standards. As i said before morality and religion have become so intertwined that if a man was to lead a moral life by todays standards and didnt believe in or profess a god dos not mean that he is living a moral life absent of religion. He is simply living a moral life in which the belief and/or fear God is not the reason for his morality, however the man is still influnced by religion wether it be based of the law or some thing else which is ultimatley linked to religion.
How are they intertwined if you can easily and rationally separate morality from religion? For example:

Quote:
A perfect example is this

"There was a billboard in NYC subway station from an atheist group:
“A Million New Yorkers Are Good Without God. Are You?” -This illustratres that Athiest can not believe in God and still be "good" yet it also illustrates that so many assoscitate That the sense of Good is tied to religion. And not just religon now. All religion from Zoroastrianism to Shinto.
This is a simple bandwagon fallacy. You're saying that many people associate morality with religion, therefore that means something. It doesn't. That's a logically fallacious claim.

What other people believe is irrelevant, since that doesn't make it true. Yes, many people erroneously link morality to religion. That simply isn't the case. I lead a relatively moral life by today's standards without any religious belief whatsoever. None of my actions or beliefs are influenced by a faith in religion.

Religion isn't some magical concept. They are just like any other philosophical belief system. Their existence doesn't monopolize other ideals. And me being aware of them doesn't mean I am magically influenced by them in some way either. Societal values may be influenced by them, but that also doesn't effect my personal beliefs. I can simply adhere to particular moral guidelines because I find them rational, or because they are what I would like to strive to adhere to, or whatever. Without any religious influence.

For fuck's sake, there are philosophies on virtue and morality that are based on reasoning that has no influence by religion. If I lived on an island by myself my entire life, with only a book describing virtue theories of aristotle, and then adhered to them. Then bam, no religious influences on me at all. And I'm still pretty damn moral. You might bullshit and say that ancient greeks had religion and therefore aristotle was influenced by it, or whatever. But that wouldn't matter since I wouldn't know anything about their religion, and his virtue theory doesn't reference religion at all. I'd have no clue as to religions existence. I'd only be exposed to a rational morality. There you go. Morality without religion.



Quote:
And as for this of course i will not be able to thouroughly prove that Men have been non savage with out religion, mostly because humans have had beliefs in an after world/God system since the dawn of time.I dont know what the quality of life was without religion but for a clue we can only look to the animals.
No, we can't. Animals don't have anywhere near the same capacity to reason as we do. That probably has just a bit more to do with their 'quality of life' than the lack of religion...
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