Has western social morality improved or declined recently?

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OntheWindowStand
 
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2008 11:53 am
@paulhanke,
It doesn't have to be those 2 choices say what you think the right answer is
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2008 12:49 pm
@OntheWindowStand,
OntheWindowStand wrote:
It doesn't have to be those 2 choices say what you think the right answer is


... at this point in my life, I see morality as the conscious balancing of (the often conflicting) selfish and social instincts within an individual ... this conscious balancing can be achieved in a number of ways: seeing the situation for what it is, setting personal goals, and behaving in ways to achieve those goals (e.g., "I need to control selfish desire X in order to achieve social goal Y"); reliance on a religious belief system and its implicit social goals ("If I don't obey the Bible, I'm going to Hell!"); and so on ...
 
Farthender
 
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2008 07:56 pm
@paulhanke,
The way I see it, asking if morality has improved or declined indicates a certain value scale. I, however, don't think that a given moral system is better than any other moral system.

But you probably mean how has western morality changed in the context of my views. I, personally, think that it has improved. My opinion is that clean language and sexual innocence, etc. are not necessarily virtues, an these are the possible moral values that I would say have declined recently. I find these rather (in my opinion, of course) superficial issues to be overshadowed by the great advances we have made for civil rights, such as the gay rights movement, racial equality, etc.
 
averroes
 
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 12:28 pm
@Pythagorean,
Yes, there have been vast civil improvements in the past century (women's rights, colored rights, etc.) However, on a personal scale, morality has done a nose dive. Think about the issues of respecting others. Hardly anyone wants to bother with the manners and respect in order to be a gentleman anymore. All that anyone cares about is how they can get the maximum amount of pleasure. Yes, laws have changed for the better, but laws can't change how humans treat one another. Take how women are treated. By law, they are equal in every sense to men, but many are treated as objects, victims of abuse and rape in a percentage that would be unheard of in the past.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 05:40 pm
@Afallucco,
I think that our society's standard of ethics and law have improved, but morality is always relative to the subject. Some Christians would say that things have gotten worse, simply because people are less homophobic, and people are also more open about sexual desires and behavior.

Some actions are morally justified only by the fact that the actions are not as much a matter of right or wrong, in the sense that the actions are good or bad, but because the actions/behaviors are more a matter of personal preference. But does that mean that personal preference in what actions one chooses to do or not do is a matter of ethics, or is a matter aesthetic values?

The question we should ask is: if an action fails to cause harm or violate the non-coercive actions of a person, does that make the action moral? Can immoral actions only be defined as actions that cause suffering or harm to an agent by another?
 
averroes
 
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 10:02 pm
@hue-man,
"I think that our society's standard of ethics and law have improved, but morality is always relative to the subject. Some Christians would say that things have gotten worse, simply because people are less homophobic, and people are also more open about sexual desires and behavior."

Excuse me, but I do take a certain amount of offense at that statement. I am a Christian, and along with a drastic percentage of my fellow Christians, I embrace homosexuals as equal beings. I also find nothing wrong with sex, at least as long as it is done with some matter of consiousness and responsibility. I would apreciate it if the next time you attempted to jab a religion, you at least take some time to make a point that doesn't seem quite so closed-minded:Not-Impressed:
 
ACWaller
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 10:25 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
Can immoral actions only be defined as actions that cause suffering or harm to an agent by another?
:sarcastic:
Yeah, I find that the interesting bit of ethics, and also the question of inaction. Is that ever wrong, and is it judged right or wrong in the same way action is?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 12:58 pm
@averroes,
averroes wrote:
"I think that our society's standard of ethics and law have improved, but morality is always relative to the subject. Some Christians would say that things have gotten worse, simply because people are less homophobic, and people are also more open about sexual desires and behavior."

Excuse me, but I do take a certain amount of offense at that statement. I am a Christian, and along with a drastic percentage of my fellow Christians, I embrace homosexuals as equal beings. I also find nothing wrong with sex, at least as long as it is done with some matter of consiousness and responsibility. I would apreciate it if the next time you attempted to jab a religion, you at least take some time to make a point that doesn't seem quite so closed-minded:Not-Impressed:


I'm sorry if I offended you, but if you don't hold such prejudice then you shouldn't be offended. I would be the first to admit that not all Christians hold this self-righteousness and prejudice, but a lot of them do. We see it on the news all of the time, homophobia and self-righteousness from the Christian right. The bible itself contains homophobia, moral self-righteousness, and prejudice, so it shouldn't be surprising to see that many Christians actually believe what the bible tells them. Even most Christians that don't hold personal prejudice against homosexuals believe that they're going to hell, because of the bible.

Do you believe that homosexual unions should be equally recognized by the state?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 01:01 pm
@ACWaller,
ACWaller wrote:
:sarcastic:
Yeah, I find that the interesting bit of ethics, and also the question of inaction. Is that ever wrong, and is it judged right or wrong in the same way action is?


That's a good question. Can some intentional inaction that can end suffering or harm be considered to be immoral? Off the top of my head, I don't think so.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 06:24 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
The bible itself contains homophobia, moral self-righteousness, and prejudice, so it shouldn't be surprising to see that many Christians actually believe what the bible tells them.


Sure, the Bible contains these things if the reader cannot comprehend 1) figurative speech, and, 2) the teachings of Jesus.
Recall: when asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus replied:
"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God' and second if I may 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'. Upon these two commandments lie all of the laws and the prophets."

Thus, regardless of what the Old Testament says in some places, a Christian is to love God and love his neighbor: regardless of his neighbor's sexual preferences, hobbies, habits, hair style, favorite sport, musical tastes or anything else.

You shouldn't be surprised when a Christian takes seriously the Bible: nor should you be surprised when your knowledge of the Bible is woefully inadequate for criticizing the notions contained within.

hue-man wrote:
Even most Christians that don't hold personal prejudice against homosexuals believe that they're going to hell, because of the bible.


Again, a knowledge of the text in question would be useful: even if homosexuality is a sin, all men are sinners. Now, not all men go to Hell, despite the fact that all men are sinners. Therefore, even if homosexuality is a sin, being a homosexual does not necessarily mean that the homosexual will "go to Hell".
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 07:56 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Sure, the Bible contains these things if the reader cannot comprehend 1) figurative speech, and, 2) the teachings of Jesus.
Recall: when asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus replied:
"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God' and second if I may 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'. Upon these two commandments lie all of the laws and the prophets."

Thus, regardless of what the Old Testament says in some places, a Christian is to love God and love his neighbor: regardless of his neighbor's sexual preferences, hobbies, habits, hair style, favorite sport, musical tastes or anything else.

You shouldn't be surprised when a Christian takes seriously the Bible: nor should you be surprised when your knowledge of the Bible is woefully inadequate for criticizing the notions contained within.



Again, a knowledge of the text in question would be useful: even if homosexuality is a sin, all men are sinners. Now, not all men go to Hell, despite the fact that all men are sinners. Therefore, even if homosexuality is a sin, being a homosexual does not necessarily mean that the homosexual will "go to Hell".


After my debates with you and several other people in this forum I have learned how to distinguish between different inquirers. There are those who don't have an attachment to the religion that is being examined and those who do. It is clear that you are of the latter.

If someone commands someone else to kill, how in the hell is that figurative language? Only a believer could say such a thing, because it is convenient to do so.

The bible contradicts itself over and over again. This is a classical hallmark of the work of men, and philosophically primitive men to be exact. Not to mention that these books are not all written by the same author. The bible contains some good things and some bad things, just admit it. As an atheist I can say that there are some good things in the bible, even though they rest upon an unjustified foundation (the belief in the existence of an unverifiable claim); and as a non-christian I can say that there is some really bad, barbaric stuff in there as well. You can't admit the latter because of your emotional attachment to the religion.

"Again, a knowledge of the text in question would be useful: even if"

homosexuality is a sin, all men are sinners. Now, not all men go to Hell, despite the fact that all men are sinners. Therefore, even if homosexuality is a sin, being a homosexual does not necessarily mean that the homosexual will "go to Hell".

The unjustified claims just keep on rolling in. You have no evidence for the existence of a heaven or hell, nor do you have evidence in the actual existence of such a God that has revealed what is or isn't a sin.

The bible equates murderers with homosexuals, so if go by that "logic" if homosexuals don't go to hell then no one does.

Lev 18:22-23, Lev 20:13, 1 Cor 6:9, Rom 1:26-27, 1 Tim 1:9-10, Gen 19:5-8.

NET Bible : The Biblical Studies Foundation
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 09:06 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
After my debates with you and several other people in this forum I have learned how to distinguish between different inquirers. There are those who don't have an attachment to the religion that is being examined and those who do. It is clear that you are of the latter.


I hate to suggest that you might be mistaken... well, actually, I don't hate to make the suggestion. But I will ask: what's your point? Is it worth saying that I think you are attached to your beliefs? I don't think so. Let's keep things relevant, huh?

hue-man wrote:
If someone commands someone else to kill, how in the hell is that figurative language? Only a believer could say such a thing, because it is convenient to do so.


Well, I didn't do such a thing: this is the first mention of killing in our discussion. We were talking about homophobia, self-righteousness and prejudice.

hue-man wrote:
The bible contradicts itself over and over again. This is a classical hallmark of the work of men, and philosophically primitive men to be exact.


Sure the Bible contradicts itself: it isn't one book, but a collection of different books. As for being philosophically primitive due to contradistinctions, this is a bit silly: JS Mill contradicts himself and he was anything but philosophically primitive.

hue-man wrote:
Not to mention that these books are not all written by the same author. The bible contains some good things and some bad things, just admit it.


Did I ever say anything to contradict this? Seriously, friend, enough with the strawmen. You don't have to make things up about what I believe and argue in order to have a conversation with me.

hue-man wrote:
As an atheist I can say that there are some good things in the bible, even though they rest upon an unjustified foundation (the belief in the existence of an unverifiable claim); and as a non-christian I can say that there is some really bad, barbaric stuff in there as well. You can't admit the latter because of your emotional attachment to the religion.


I can't admit what? That the Bible contains passages which describe barbaric acts? Heh, guess what fella: the Bible contains passages which depict barbaric acts. Wow.... what a shocker.

hue-man wrote:
The unjustified claims just keep on rolling in. You have no evidence for the existence of a heaven or hell, nor do you have evidence in the actual existence of such a God that has revealed what is or isn't a sin.


We were talking about the hypothetical Christian position regarding the fate of homosexuals. Now, would like to actually address my argument?

You said that Christians, because of the bible, believe that homosexuals are going to Hell. I showed you how this is untrue based on the Bible. Sorry, but reading the book is probably best if you want to make arguments based on the book.

hue-man wrote:
The bible equates murderers with homosexuals, so if go by that "logic" if homosexuals don't go to hell then no one does.


Ah, now you are willing to engage in hypothetical again. I guess you do so when the exercise is convenient?

And, no, if you'd read the books in question you would know that your claim is false. Redemption is a matter of seeking forgiveness for sins. Thus, even if homosexuality is a sin, should the sinner honestly seek forgiveness (repent), they will escape Hell. Similarly, the same is true of the murderer.

And that's all without even discussing what Heaven and Hell are. But, in the meantime, I'll give you a hint: they are not the afterlife.
 
rambo phil
 
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 12:35 am
@Pythagorean,
People are messed up these days period. You hear about more scams, murders, and what nots these days.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 02:13 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I hate to suggest that you might be mistaken... well, actually, I don't hate to make the suggestion. But I will ask: what's your point? Is it worth saying that I think you are attached to your beliefs? I don't think so. Let's keep things relevant, huh?



Well, I didn't do such a thing: this is the first mention of killing in our discussion. We were talking about homophobia, self-righteousness and prejudice.



Sure the Bible contradicts itself: it isn't one book, but a collection of different books. As for being philosophically primitive due to contradistinctions, this is a bit silly: JS Mill contradicts himself and he was anything but philosophically primitive.



Did I ever say anything to contradict this? Seriously, friend, enough with the strawmen. You don't have to make things up about what I believe and argue in order to have a conversation with me.



I can't admit what? That the Bible contains passages which describe barbaric acts? Heh, guess what fella: the Bible contains passages which depict barbaric acts. Wow.... what a shocker.



We were talking about the hypothetical Christian position regarding the fate of homosexuals. Now, would like to actually address my argument?

You said that Christians, because of the bible, believe that homosexuals are going to Hell. I showed you how this is untrue based on the Bible. Sorry, but reading the book is probably best if you want to make arguments based on the book.



Ah, now you are willing to engage in hypothetical again. I guess you do so when the exercise is convenient?

And, no, if you'd read the books in question you would know that your claim is false. Redemption is a matter of seeking forgiveness for sins. Thus, even if homosexuality is a sin, should the sinner honestly seek forgiveness (repent), they will escape Hell. Similarly, the same is true of the murderer.

And that's all without even discussing what Heaven and Hell are. But, in the meantime, I'll give you a hint: they are not the afterlife.


"Well, I didn't do such a thing: this is the first mention of killing in our discussion. We were talking about homophobia, self-righteousness and prejudice."


I brought up the violence advocated in the bible to make the point that when the bible endorses immoral things like violence, homophobia, and prejudice it is not being figurative. There is no hidden message in Lev 20:13 when it says "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death."

It doesn't stop with the Old Testament either. The New Testament continues these statements. There is no hidden, mystical message when 1 Tim 1:9-10 equates homosexuals with those who kill their fathers and mothers. There is no hidden message in Rom 1:26-27 when it says men with men shall receive a due penalty for their error.

"I hate to suggest that you might be mistaken... well, actually, I don't hate to make the suggestion. But I will ask: what's your point? Is it worth saying that I think you are attached to your beliefs? I don't think so. Let's keep things relevant, huh?"

My point is that you have an uncanny inability to see the other side of the coin when it comes to religious doctrine, specifically the Judeo-Christian tradition, and that affects our debate. You arguments in denial of the bible's moral inadequecies are the most apologetic things I've ever heard.

"Sure the Bible contradicts itself: it isn't one book, but a collection of different books. As for being philosophically primitive due to contradistinctions, this is a bit silly: JS Mill contradicts himself and he was anything but philosophically primitive."

It is philosophically primitive because of its endorsement of supernaturalism, its unverified claims, it's ethical inferiority, and because of its archaism. I call it primitive because its claims are an expression of the intellectual infancy of our species.Depending on the context in which it is used, primitive is not always a derogatory word, but in this case it is.

"You said that Christians, because of the bible, believe that homosexuals are going to Hell. I showed you how this is untrue based on the Bible. Sorry, but reading the book is probably best if you want to make arguments based on the book."

My point is that many Christians believe that homosexuals are going to hell because of their religious doctrine! The bible condemns homosexuals right alongside murderers. Stop with the apologetics! I gave you verse after verse of the bible condemning homosexuality as a sin.

"And, no, if you'd read the books in question you would know that your claim is false. Redemption is a matter of seeking forgiveness for sins. Thus, even if homosexuality is a sin, should the sinner honestly seek forgiveness (repent), they will escape Hell. Similarly, the same is true of the murderer.

I didn't say anything about redemption. Redemption comes after condemnation, not the other way around. The idea of redemption does not invalidate my statement about homosexuals being condemned to hell.
This is the first of my comments on this topic that you responded to:

The bible itself contains homophobia, moral self-righteousness, and prejudice, so it shouldn't be surprising to see that many Christians actually believe what the bible tells them.

This is your apologetic response:

"Sure, the Bible contains these things if the reader cannot comprehend 1) figurative speech, and, 2) the teachings of Jesus"

You are missing sight of the whole point of discussion. My point that the bible contains the three things I stated is true, and I gave you the damn verses as reference. Why can't you just admit that the bible condemns homosexuality as a sin, and even claims that such an offense is punishable by death?

"And that's all without even discussing what Heaven and Hell are. But, in the meantime, I'll give you a hint: they are not the afterlife."

Didymos, your mystical, metaphorical interpretation of the bible is the common tactic of that intellectual tapdance that we call theology. The bible makes direct references to the afterlife; a place where all are destined to go after death, not the spiritual peace of mind or spiritual chaos that you're going for. The last time a Jahovah's witness knocked on my door I told them that heaven and hell are not real, and that the only heaven and hell there was, was right here on earth; the chaos or peace that man makes for himself and his fellow man. That is not what she meant when she asked me about hell.

Afterlife in Abrahamic religions
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 07:16 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
I brought up the violence advocated in the bible to make the point that when the bible endorses immoral things like violence, homophobia, and prejudice it is not being figurative. There is no hidden message in Lev 20:13 when it says "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death."


So, you are suggesting that Leviticus, which is part of Jewish law for the people of Israel some thousands of years ago, is prescribed for all people, in all place, in all times? I don't recall that from the Bible.

hue-man wrote:
It doesn't stop with the Old Testament either. The New Testament continues these statements. There is no hidden, mystical message when 1 Tim 1:9-10 equates homosexuals with those who kill their fathers and mothers. There is no hidden message in Rom 1:26-27 when it says men with men shall receive a due penalty for their error.


Actually, 1 Timothy 1:9-10 does not equate homosexuals with people who murder their mothers and fathers: it says that the law is made for sinners, and not for the righteous.
Also, you may note the issue of translation in the passage.
And yes, the Romans passage says that homosexuals will receive their due penalty: so what? It does not say "go forth and hate homosexuals", and even if it did, the sayings of Jesus have a bit more bearing than the commentary of others and Jesus taught to love thy neighbor as thy self. Jesus did not qualify that statement with "except for gays."

Before you try to make arguments with minutiae, perhaps paying attention to the core teaching would be a good idea. If you cannot grasp the basics, the more complex issues will be out of reach.

hue-man wrote:
My point is that you have an uncanny inability to see the other side of the coin when it comes to religious doctrine, specifically the Judeo-Christian tradition, and that affects our debate. You arguments in denial of the bible's moral inadequecies are the most apologetic things I've ever heard.


So, in essence, you are saying you disagree with me. No offense, but that's pretty obvious. Restating the fact that we disagree does not contribute to our discussion. I could just as easily accuse you of not being able to "see the other side of the coin"; me doing so would accomplish nothing.
hue-man wrote:
It is philosophically primitive because of its endorsement of supernaturalism, its unverified claims, it's ethical inferiority, and because of its archaism. I call it primitive because its claims are an expression of the intellectual infancy of our species.Depending on the context in which it is used, primitive is not always a derogatory word, but in this case it is.


Ah, so now the Bible is philosophically primitive for some other reasons... interesting shifting premises, hue-man.


"You said that Christians, because of the bible, believe that homosexuals are going to Hell. I showed you how this is untrue based on the Bible. Sorry, but reading the book is probably best if you want to make arguments based on the book."

hue-man wrote:
My point is that many Christians believe that homosexuals are going to hell because of their religious doctrine! The bible condemns homosexuals right alongside murderers. Stop with the apologetics! I gave you verse after verse of the bible condemning homosexuality as a sin.


Did you skip the verse where it says all sins are equal in the eyes of God? Convenient, eh? Now recall: as all men are sinners, and as all sins are equally sinful (there is no hierarchy of sins), being a homosexual is no worse than coveting or any other sin that most of us commit on a daily basis.
So, even if homosexuality is a sin, homosexuals are, according to the Bible, no worse than anyone else alive.
hue-man wrote:
I didn't say anything about redemption. Redemption comes after condemnation, not the other way around. The idea of redemption does not invalidate my statement about homosexuals being condemned to hell.
This is the first of my comments on this topic that you responded to:


Right, I brought up redemption because it is relevant to the conversation. And yes, redemption does invalidate your statement: because of redemption, no one is condemned to Hell.

hue-man wrote:
You are missing sight of the whole point of discussion. My point that the bible contains the three things I stated is true, and I gave you the damn verses as reference. Why can't you just admit that the bible condemns homosexuality as a sin, and even claims that such an offense is punishable by death?


Except there is no homophobia, instead certain passages sight homosexuality as a sin. They two are not the same. Second, you said prejudice, and then provided no support. Then self-righteousness and again no support.

hue-man wrote:
Didymos, your mystical, metaphorical interpretation of the bible is the common tactic of that intellectual tapdance that we call theology. The bible makes direct references to the afterlife; a place where all are destined to go after death, not the spiritual peace of mind or spiritual chaos that you're going for. The last time a Jahovah's witness knocked on my door I told them that heaven and hell are not real, and that the only heaven and hell there was, was right here on earth; the chaos or peace that man makes for himself and his fellow man. That is not what she meant when she asked me about hell.


The Bible does mention an afterlife, but the afterlife mentioned is not Heaven and Hell. It's Sheol (my spelling is probably off). You were right when you said the only Heaven and Hell exist here on Earth: it's odd, don't you think, that Jesus said the same thing?
 
averroes
 
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 09:57 am
@Pythagorean,
If I may add in my own insight:
1. It is true that the bible has plenty of contradiction. That might be explained by the fact that these were men writing these passages. Men touched by God, yes, but still only men. I would not doubt that these men would sprinkle in some of their prejudices into the verses. That is why God gave us moral judgment. I do not believe in blind faith, I believe in personal faith guided by God.
2. The killing of homosexuals issue: That is mostly culture talking. Death was a very common punishment back in those days. For example, If you were to say the Lord's name in vain, you were stoned to death. Does that mean that there are many Christians who despise anyone who says "God damn" these days?

I think on the homosexual issue there is a difference between religions hating gays and religions not supporting homosexual ideals.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 11:17 am
@averroes,
well anyway, our morality sucks!:sarcastic:
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 11:21 am
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7 wrote:
well anyway, our morality sucks!:sarcastic:


Yep

On the other hand: This has the unique quality of being one of those statements that for the last, oh... about 50,000 years could have been spoken with the same accuracy as it has now.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 08:03 am
@Khethil,
I don't know, I think people were alot more moral in the 40's, at least in Britian and the US, but that was obviously helped by the circumstances. Still I don't really see why it had to go downhill.
 
averroes
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 11:04 am
@Pythagorean,
I think that it all comes down to the levels of respect. When respect for others becomes overwhelmed by respect for personal gain, morality becomes almost meaningless.
 
 

 
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