why the bible is not needed for morality

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by IowaGuy, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    I wouldn't know.

    Do serial killers have a conscience, hence shame?
    Shame is a signal/prompt to do some soul searching, not necessarily a label as you have applied it.
    I would say that there are universal principles to be found in NML, but its application is personal to fit the circumstance.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.
    ~Chuck Reid​
     
  2. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I had to think about this before I spoke. I'm not fully familiar with these concepts, but what do you think about this thought:
    Can't there be absolute laws but knowing what they are is the grey area? Perhaps the law isn't a simple short sentence, "thou shalt not kill", perhaps that is the benefit for us, the ignorant masses? The grey area is also in our judgement of others. I think the intent can play a greater role than the action and I think we can both agree that the human mind is a complicated set of mechanism.
     
  3. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    I'll ask again: why does NML not imply nuances? :confused:
    Even our human codified laws allow for nuances--judges have leeway in each individual case to apply the nuances of the law in order to fit the given circumstances.
     
  4. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    SG and ACOT - when argued from the Christian standpoint for morality (which is what I'm trying to refute in this post if you look at the OP), "morality" implies an absolute; often times using a biblical standard.

    Here is a Catholic viewpoint on it, from a Catechism:

    Is there really such thing as absolute moral laws that apply for all men? Don’t we have the ability to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong? (CCC 1950-1953)

    Yes, there is an absolute law that applies for all man, and no we do not have the ability or right to determine it ourselves. In fact, this is the root of all human rebellion and sin – a desire to determine for ourselves what is good and what is evil. It is the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. They were told not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because only God determines what is good and evil. By eating of this tree, they rebelled against this fundamental truth. They wanted to make their own rules, be their own judge. Is this not reminiscent of every human sin? Each time we sin, we are saying to God, “I know better than you.” What a failure in reason. What makes us believe that the creature knows better than the Creator what is best for him? This is like the car saying to its auto-manufacturer that is going to run itself with soda instead of gasoline – and then actually doing so. We laugh at this silly example, but in essence that is what we say to God every time we sin – I know best. Why do we do this? Unfortunately, we have a distorted image of God in our minds. We do not trust that He is good and that He wants our best, that He wants us to be happy. So we take matters into our own hands. This is why Jesus came to the earth – to show us that the Father can be trusted no matter what. He showed us that God is Love, and that this Love is willing to die to prove itself to us.


    IG's comments: Let's consider "sin" as an example. Do you believe "sin" involves nuances? Or do you think "sin" is black and white?

    Do you think the 10 Commandments involve nuances? Or are they black and white?

    Most Christians that I know don't like the idea of nuances with God's Law. It introduces Man's discretion. Or as the Catholic Church says, moral relativism (nuances) is dangerous to society as there is no standard for "truth" or "right".

    My own personal non-theistic opinion is that, of course there are nuances. We are all of different genetics, from different cultures, different religions, different socioeconomic backgrounds. We humans are going to interpret different situations differently and come to different moral decisions. But this is not the Christian standpoint.

    One problem I've always had with the Christian argument of an absolute is, who is the judge? Ultimately God is the judge, no? And how do we know he judges in terms of absolutes (according to Christians) and not nuances (per SG and ACOT's suggestions).

    The Christian argument to how God judges is that He gave us His Word, the Bible. Therefore the Bible is RIGHT, and secularism is WRONG. Therefore the intransigent stance against homosexuality, which is established as WRONG per the bible (and punished by death).

    Thus my OP against the biblical standard for morality.

    Thoughts?
     
  5. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    I note this is a "neutral discussion area for topics that cross-over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam"...and before ohh what around 2005 the Baha'i Faith was considered here on this forum under Abrahamic Religion so I would like to post a comment on this issue regarding the Bible as a source of morality..

    We Baha'is accept the Bible as follows:

    "God sent His Prophets into the world to teach and enlighten man, to explain to him the mystery of the Power of the Holy Spirit, to enable him to reflect the light, and so in his turn, to be the source of guidance to others. The Heavenly Books, the Bible, the Qur'án, and the other Holy Writings have been given by God as guides into the paths of Divine virtue, love, justice and peace."

    ~ Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 61

    Within the Bible you actually have a record of a series of divine revelations from Noah to Abraham to Moses to Jesus..each One of these gave laws and ordinances for the time of Their dispensation as well as spiritual principles to guide humanity. In the Baha'i belief the ordinances change from dispensation to dispensation..but some are more immutable than others:

    "The second function of the divine religion deals with material conditions, the laws of human intercourse and social regulation. These are subject to change and transformation in accordance with the time, place and conditions. The essential ordinances of religion were the same during the time of Abraham, the day of Moses and the cycle of Jesus, but the accidental or material laws were abrogated and superseded according to the exigency and requirement of each succeeding age. For example, in the law of Moses there were ten distinct commandments in regard to murder, which were revealed according to the requirement and capacity of the people, but in the day of Jesus these were abrogated and superseded in conformity with the changed and advanced human conditions."

    ~ Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 97

    In the Bible you also have a series of Covenants that were made over time and these involved laws and so forth on moral issues as well as spiritual principles.

    So the Bible continues to have an influence and has been an influence on society whether certain aspects of it have been changed or abrogated is less important in my view than the more essential spiritual requirements.

    Conscience in my view is often the internalization of laws and morals having religious origins..:)
     
  6. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    IG, I think you are arguing from a too narrow perspective. Even saying that this is the thoughts of Christianity is driving the point to hard in my opinion. Of course some believe a god said "Thou shalt not be a homosexual" and that is the end of it. And many of them are even Christian. But far from all. And here we come to another nuance, there are ten thousand ways to view this between me and [insert Christian fundamentalist].

    What I can't do is argue from the very narrow perspective you presented, but I can argue from some of the criteria. Like how there can be immutable laws and then give examples how that could figure into my understanding of the world.

    You often debate like this don't you? Is it to prove that perspective wrong?
     
  7. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Hi ACOT, I indeed am arguing from a narrow perspective. I'm trying to establish the "spectrum" and the rationale for those positions, i.e. morality is absolute (one extreme of the morality spectrum) and OTOH, morality is entirely relative (the other extreme of the spectrum).

    You are right that there is a spectrum of Christian beliefs, but the "Conservative Christians" that I know don't agree with relative/subjective morality, so it is not unreasonable to argue this particular point narrowly. If you know of any Christian literature that supports relative/subjective morality or moral relativism please post the links. The Bible certainly doesn't embrace subjective morality that I can see, if the Old Testament says homosexuality is wrong; it's wrong for believers of the bible.

    I often debate like this because I find it beneficial to understand the full spectrum of the topic being debated. In philosophy there is no "right" answer, so I'm definitely not trying to prove another perspective wrong (although it might be "wrong" for me personally). I view philosophy as a full understanding of both sides of an issue (and everywhere in between), and then an individual chooses where their personal views fall on that spectrum. So I try to define the ends of that spectrum with my debates.

    One of my goals in starting this thread was to explore the idea of absolute vs relative morality. I actually emailed the OP to my sister, we are currently debating the "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" book; she from the Christian side and myself from the agnostic perspective. So thought I'd throw it out to the group and see what everyone else thought. I appreciate the comments so far, I am learning a lot from this thread!
     
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand why YOU take every passage of the Bible literally. I don't know the bible very well but I do know that if I put my mind to it I could probably find passages and interpret them to the opposite of what you're saying.
    I say we CAN follow the bible and still sustain our basic beliefs. I hope you can find a way to look at the Bible with new eyes because your current interpretations won't lead you anywhere. Listen to Thomas, he is a traditionalist but probably liberal compared to the perspective you argued from. And banbanabrain has wonderful interpretations of the old testament.
    Go out into the light and find some new ammunition in your battle of wits with your sister! May the divine go with you!
     
  9. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    In my experience both recent and not so recent, the primary reason people convert to 'Conservative Christianity' is from experiencing moral chaos in their lives. They then see benefit to following God's way, partly because it creates a moral society. If you review in your mind the old testimonies you used to hear, you may find that in most of them. When a person finds themselves acting against their consciences or else finds themselves (or others) being harmed by society's norms then they, sensing themselves to be in moral chaos will seek a high ground. This is the story of the ex-athiest Russian, the 'Saved' thief attending Bible studies in prison and the killer turned minister/evangelist. Its the mother making her kids go to church on sunday morning.

    Its lucky you have a sister who'll debate with you. The bottom line is that for you to have successful dialogue you must recognize a moral high ground with her, including a set of social standards that will allow you and others to get along with each other. It it isn't the Bible then you must present something else. How are homosexuals going to fit into her version of the future? How are her children going to thrive in your version of the world?
     
  10. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Good points ACOT, and I don't personally take the bible literally. I think of it more as a history book. Sometimes I present a counter-argument of literal interpretation to illustrate a point.

    I don't want to put words into Thomas' mouth, but one point of Tradition is to correctly interpret scripture. I don't think he or other Traditionalists would agree with you that we can all find passages and correctly interpret them differently. Traditionalists (at least the ones I know) believe there is a true interpretation of the bible. For example, look at the divisions that have occured with the Church over the years, some over very simple misunderstandings of scripture (can women be pastors, can gays be pastors, etc). Why would these cause divisons and splits of denominations if they thought multiple inerpretations of the bible were acceptable?


    I agree, but both you & I don't think the bible is the LITERAL word of God and this shapes our interpretation. Many Christians view the bible as divine word or at a minimum divine inspiration. I personally think it was written by humans without divine intervention; but it does contain some excellent spiritual guidance that I do use as a part of my personal belief system; in particular to forgive our enemies, treat others as we would like to be treated, and finding happiness through service to others.

    Peace,
    IG
     
  11. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Neither would I, I simply meant that the argument can be made. And we are free to choose, if we so wish, which tradition to follow.

    This was a good discussion, I learned a lot by following your arguments and also by making up counter arguments as I went along.
     
  12. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    I agree 100%, good point Dream. My family was all born into Conservative Christianity so no conversion, but I agree the conversion/faith stories tend to line up as you describe.


    Good food for thought, thanks for that perspective. It's tough sometimes when someone you love and care about always falls back on an "inerrant bible" as their reasoning for all of life's tough questions. Luckily we all get along pretty well, she & I have been periodically debating various angles of agnosticism/Chrisitanity for over 20 years now!

    I'm usually the only agnostic at any sort of family reunion or family party, and I'm very open with my viewpoints; so my relatives regularly bounce their theories off me, such as the ideas from the "Not Enough Faith" book. It's all good :)
     
  13. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    IG,

    Do they really believe God has put a curse on all women because they are women?
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I was talking of the prevailing secular moral attitude here in the UK.

    God bless

    Thomas
     
  15. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Oh, got you! I have reread what you wrote with "your" eyes.
     
  16. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    Perhaps there was some kind of morality for 197,000 years but based on spiritual chaos. Tell me IowaGuy, do you have any idea about that light which was created, as, metaphorically, God said, "Let there be light" on the first day of creation, when the sun and stars were created only on the 4th day? Never mind the order of the days. The whole thing was just an allegory.

    So, that light on the first day was the first prophecy put out by God Himself about the rising of Israel in the future from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into a world of "tohu vavohu." A world of spiritual chaos. Hence, the reason why Isaiah was inspired to declare later that Israel had been assigned as light unto the Gentiles. Also, what Jesus himself said to the Jews in his Sermon on the Mount, "You are the light of the world." (Mat. 5:14) And last but not least, to explain the Essene doctrine of the struggle between the children of darkness against the children of light.

    There was, as I said above, some kind of morality, but of the kind without form and void of spiritual meaning, when darkness would reign upon the face of the deep. (Gen. 1:2) Then, God saw that the light He prophesied was good, although it would remain divided from the darkness, which explains the Essene's point for the struggle between the two. (Gen. 1:4)
    Ben
     
  17. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Point in fact. If there is one non-Abrahamic person who is or was moral, the decision (if it is consistent) must be "the bible is not needed for morality".

    Mahavir, Buddah, Gandiji, Black Elk, Fools Crow, Handsome Lake, Suzuki roshi, Ueshiba roshi all come to mind. Let us go back to scripture... if someone (as all of these do) meet the Noahide rules they are moral (per the scripture).

    Pax et amore vincunt omnia!
     
  18. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Hi Ben, so you don't believe in Natural Moral Law as Thomas is arguing for?


    I have no idea, other than I consider the Jewish/Christain creation story in the same "light" as other creation stories from across the world and the history of time - as just a story. I have no evidence that the Jewish/Christian creation story is any more valid than, say, the Maya creation story.

    But your reference to the Old Testament begs the question: Why, if the Bible is a moral guide and scripture can be quoted as God's word, do modern-day Jews not follow God's same laws of morality as biblical Jews did? Do you think morality is absolute or relative?
     
  19. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Matt 3:9 9 And don't presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father. ' For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!
     

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