RE: [asa] morals/ethics (was: Francis Collins shows mild signs of dementia, NA snark)

From: <>
Date: Tue Oct 20 2009 - 18:39:28 EDT

Quoting "Dehler, Bernie" <>:

> If I asked Stalin to justify himself, he may say "the ends justify the means"
> in order to create his perfect government. (This seems to be what Cheney is
> saying in justifying waterboard torture, "it worked!", with the seeming
> approval of the Christian GOP TV network called FOX ;-)
> Today, one of the basic secular morality guiding principles seems to be "do
> what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else." Jesus said "do to
> others what you want them to do to you" and he wasn't the first to say it, I
> heard. Before Jesus, it was said "don't do to others what you don't want
> them to do to you." How are those principles discovered? It should be
> obvious, in the same way that 2+2 is obvious (without having to try to
> explain where numbers come from).
> So to Stalin I would argue that it is most noble and righteous to not harm
> others, and to cherish humanity, and to work for peace and prosperity. (Yes,
> working for peace may involve waging a war.) The logic is very simple- don't
> do anything that you wouldn't want to be on the receiving end for. Killing
> others to get power is fine for you; but not fine when others do it to you;
> therefore, don't do it, as it is bad for all.

Of course Stalin wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of his own methods!
In fact could have been his main motivation for making sure he inflicted it on
others around him first, before they might do it to him. And why shouldn't he?
 He could have heaped a ton of other justifications on (like preserving the
unity & power of the state) that might have sounded more noble to some ears than
his selfish motives. But, hey! Why would atheists object to even the selfish
sounding ones? Something tells me that Stalin wouldn't have bought into any of
your objections (which wouldn't make you wrong, of course.)

The fact that not all of Jesus' ethical teachings were new is true --in fact
Jesus quotes and uses the O.T. quite a bit. And many others here can show how
even the O.T. writers probably didn't freshly conceive of all these things
independently from their surrounding cultures. But regardless of the sources,
Christians do claim it either as a fresh revelation or a revealed sanction of
other pre-existing sensibilities. Either way, it's a basis that Christians
claim has its ultimate root in God --whether it arrived by Scripture or was
adopted and endorsed by Scripture, or even was adopted by the church as
supplemental (and not contrary) to Scripture.

Do you see the solidity of this basis as varying only in degree in its history
and scope from any "basis" that a few people coming together can throw together
and agree on?


> Merv wrote:
> I'll use the example I already brought up, only this time I'll be specific:
> Stalin "purges" his leaders whom he suspects may not be loyal to him.
> Christians say that political leaders shouldn't murder their opposition. If
> we do, you can call us hypocrites. But Stalin was an atheist. What would
> YOU have said to Stalin that could be a basis for "correcting" his behavior?
> --Merv
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Received on Tue Oct 20 18:39:56 2009

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