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Chavez

"I don't trust nobody who don't love Jesus"

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no, I'm not saying that at all

 

But I do have a hard time figuring out why an atheist would behave in an ethical fashion if they could get away with acting unethically.  (And I have a hard time figuring it out because for years I have been asking this question and no one has ever satisfactorily answered it.  Saying that people feel good when they act good doesn't explain why they might feel good about acting good.)

 

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but that's assuming that people of faith behave ethically only because of their believe in god. what about the notion that a business owner behaves ethically because, if he doesn't, he won't have any customers -- regardless of his belief in god? why is a belief in god -- or lack thereof -- the only motivating factor regarding whether a person can behave ethically?

 

to me, your question sounds as if you equate atheism with amorality. it also makes it sound as if a person of faith is automatically an ethical one.

 

here's a question: if a person of faith faces such bad punishment for acting unethically, why do so many of them do so anyway?

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Oh, and for the record. I'm not arguing that theists are "better" people than atheists. I'm just arguing that theists face greater constraints on their behavior than atheists do--and these constraints could cause them to behave "better" than atheists. (Theists could also behave much worse than atheists if they believe that their god wants them to behave in a way that is "bad"--such as murdering infidels, etc.)

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Chrisitanity has left it's footprints all over the ethics of western civilization. Atheists/agnostics are not immune. I intend to teach the golden rule to my children ... assuming of course I ever succeed in finding a woman who's not insane and is worthy of delivering them.

 

The golden rule just makes sense. I have to teach my kids ethics and right and wrong. Just because the story of creation is bogus and the book of Leviticus is evil doesn't mean I can't pick and choose the good parts of the Bible.

Edited by Voltaire

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Economics as a discipline does indeed have as its first assumption that people are self-interested and that they will choose the actions that give themselves the most utility (happiness)--and guess what, economic models based on this assumption work better than any other models of human behavior.

 

(note that "self-interested" is not quite the same as selfish, but the terms aren't completely dissimiliar)

 

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The models likely do work better than others but aren't they mostly concerned with business, where most of the subjects in the model are working as agents for a larger entity? Isn't it true that both sides in negotiations will attempt to screw as much as possible out of the other not for individualistic reasons, but for their larger entity (company) and therefore the bettterment of what could be seen as their own tribe?

 

Isn't it also true that the same person that just spent six hours extracting every last cent from a client / vendor may stop on the way home to change Puddy's tire for him at zero profit incentive? Therefore, don't the circumstances matter a lot when these models are considered?

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but that's assuming that people of faith behave ethically only because of their believe in god. what about the notion that a business owner behaves ethically because, if he doesn't, he won't have any customers -- regardless of his belief in god?

 

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I already brought that up and said that market sanctioning (such as you describe above) could indeed cause people to behave ethically regardless of their belief or non-belief in a deity.

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The models likely do work better than others but aren't they mostly concerned with business,

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nope--economics as a discipline is not limited at all to the study of businesses. "Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."

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I already brought that up and said that market sanctioning (such as you describe above) could indeed cause people to behave ethically regardless of their belief or non-belief in a deity.

 

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stop using economic lingo ... this is a religion discussion.... we don't wanna hear about 'market sanctioning' here even if the same logic overlaps. :D

Edited by Voltaire

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Chrisitanity has left it's footprints all over the ethics of western civilization. Atheists/agnostics are not immune.

 

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Well, "ethics" (or at least the study thereof) dates back to ancient Greece, predating Christianity.

 

But the point remains valid.

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this doesn't answer my question of what motivation does an atheist have to "do good just for the sake of doing good"?

 

you have to explain why atheists might feel good about acting good, or why they might have a social consciousness or be concerned about others' welfare

 

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some atheists "feel good" about contributing to what they'd like to see as an ideal society. they still might hold some beliefs in entities larger than themselves (that aren't related to god). their disbelief in god does not necesitate their disbelief in good or doing good.

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you have to explain why atheists might feel good about acting good, or why they might have a social consciousness or be concerned about others' welfare

 

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Why?

 

Do you think that those who believe in a supernatural being feel good about acting good because of that belief?

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nope--economics as a discipline is not limited at all to the study of businesses.  "Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."

 

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The fact remains, however, that the circumstances prevailing at the time are a hugh factor in the way people behave, whether theist or atheist. These circumstances include individual or group setting, agency for another entity or working for self, other immediate commitment or leisure time and so on.

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some atheists "feel good" about contributing to what they'd like to see as an ideal society.  they still might hold some beliefs in entities larger than themselves (that aren't related to god).  their disbelief in god does not necesitate their disbelief in good or doing good.

 

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Well stated.

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Why?

 

Do you think that those who believe in a supernatural being feel good about acting good because of that belief?

 

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Agreed. I treat people well and humane, return stuff I find because it'sthe right thing to do. I don't need an all knowing supernatural power threatinging me with hellfire or throwing lightning bolts at my ass to do the right thing.

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this doesn't answer my question of what motivation does an atheist have to "do good just for the sake of doing good"?

 

you have to explain why atheists might feel good about acting good, or why they might have a social consciousness or be concerned about others' welfare

 

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By your rationale though, every theist (Christian, Mulsim, Jew, etc. only does good deeds out of fear of religious reprisal? Your argument doesn't leave any room for a subjective sense of right and wrong.

 

Does the fear of condemnation to hell really motivate your every good intention wieg?

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Agreed.  I treat people well and humane, return stuff I find because it'sthe right thing to do. I don't need an all knowing supernatural power threatinging me with hellfire or throwing lightning bolts at my ass to do the right thing.

 

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That's another good example. I have had lots of opportunity to keep stuff I've found without any penalty at all, but I haven't, because I've thought about what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot.

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Let me ask the following question: Can anybody give me an example of a society that functioned well for more than a century in which the majority of the population was atheist?

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1) how many have there been? atheism has almost universally been a strong minority. i couldn't see a group gettign the numbers to get someone elected in a democracy, nor enough to take over more facist countries.

 

2) religion is a method of social control.

Edited by Bier Meister

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Let me ask the following question:  Can anybody give me an example of a society that functioned well for more than a century in which the majority of the population was atheist?

 

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No. Human society has not advanced sufficiently yet (no offense to the religious) or the people have chosen to retain their faith.

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Let me ask the following question:  Can anybody give me an example of a society that functioned well for more than a century in which the majority of the population was atheist?

 

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Well, China is about to overtake the US as THE global superpower.... :D

 

 

If Wikipedia isn't full of crap on this one, atheism as a movement with any sort of momentum didn't exist until the late 1700s, putting it pretty far behind the field in the belief rat-race out there.

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my point is that it might be impossible for a society composed of atheists to function well for a significant period of time as the society will be inclined to degrade towards a Hobbesian world of all against all.

 

Religion might very well be a method of social control, but it might be necessary for a society to actually function.

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Well, China is about to overtake the US as THE global superpower.... :D

If Wikipedia isn't full of crap on this one, atheism as a movement with any sort of momentum didn't exist until the late 1700s, putting it pretty far behind the field in the belief rat-race out there.

 

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Not surprising considering the penalties for overt non-belief before then. In Islam, those penalties still exist, of course.

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my point is that it might be impossible for a society composed of atheists to function well for a significant period of time as the society will be inclined to degrade towards a Hobbesian world of all against all.

 

Religion might very well be a method of social control, but it might be necessary for a society to actually function.

 

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It's pretty much an impossible theory to test - even know, when science CAN explain the bulk of relevant phenomena in the world, people cling to their dogma.

 

Until there is a country/culture/society in which atheism is a dominant majority, that cannot be tested. As I said, China is the closest thing the Earth has right now, and they seem to be truckin' along quite nicely, suggesting that the collapse of the "atheistic" Soviet Union was less due to its atheism and more due to poor/insane leadership.

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my point is that it might be impossible for a society composed of atheists to function well for a significant period of time as the society will be inclined to degrade towards a Hobbesian world of all against all.

 

Religion might very well be a method of social control, but it might be necessary for a society to actually function.

 

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In terms of NOW, then you may have a point. In terms of the future, if there is one, you most likely don't. If we advance (and don't self-immolate), atheism will become more prevalent, not less).

 

In any event, the Golden Rule as a brainwashing slogan could replace brainwashing religious instruction..... :D

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..... and blacks can't be head coaches.

 

numbers, politics, opportunity.

 

 

atheism doesn't equate to anarchy, but a lot of people falsely believe that atheists lack morality... that would be a teensy hang up that might prevent an atheist leader/country.....

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Not surprising considering the penalties for overt non-belief before then.  In Islam, those penalties still exist, of course.

 

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There have been thousands of societies that sprang up across the world over the course of human history--it is telling that none of them seem to have been organized under atheism.

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