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Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
#1

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?


I stumbled across this video, posted by the Muslim apologist featured therein and bearing one of those blatantly biased titles that make me groan.  In the interest of taking at least the occasional foray out of a potential echo chamber, I decided to watch it, and I just couldn't resist posting a rather verbose comment, especially since most or all of the other comments were from arguably smug theists (my username is TranslatorCarminum, in case anyone wants to read the whole thing).  I took the opportunity in the final paragraph (quoted below) to make an argument that I think should be made much more often than it has been so far in my experience.

Quote:Let's say you convinced me that God is real, that he has certain qualities and/or preferences, but not that I am obligated to act in accordance with those qualities and/or preferences. How would you convince me that I should in fact adhere to God's moral code? I highly doubt you could do so in a way that does not ultimately appeal to some form of divine reward and/or divine punishment. Now, any reward by definition entails some form of well-being, and likewise, any punishment by definition entails some form of suffering. I am a sentient creature, or at least my soul is. So your argument would inevitably rely on the presupposition that a sentient creature should experience well-being and/or be spared suffering. Even if you make it more about how God supposedly feels whenever I act against his will and/or nature, God is still a sentient creature for whom you are seeking to enhance well-being and/or reduce suffering. So even if Islam (or Christianity, etc) were correct, the deity in question would not be the ultimate basis of ethics. Instead, it would be at least one layer of reasoning beyond that ultimate basis.

Of course, my own rather Harrisian views on morality are by no means unanimous among non-believers, but I think it should be telling if theistic morality can indeed be reduced in this way to at least one popular formulation of secular ethics, even if it's not the only one.  Anyway, I'm curious about others' thoughts on this argument.  Have I missed a critical flaw or overstepped in any way?  Have any of you encountered a religious response that in fact doesn't reduce to an appeal to reward or punishment?  Have you ever made this or a similar argument yourself?  If you happen to like it as much as I do, why do you think it's not presented very often?  I think the last sentence or two may hint at the Euthyphro dilemma in a way, but from my perspective at least, the rest seems to come up quite rarely.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#2

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
When I Googled "Harrisian," to learn a bit more about where you are coming from, I found this:

Quote:NCBI

John Harris is one of the prominent philosophers and bioethicists of our time. He has published tens of books and hundreds of papers throughout his professional life. This paper aims to take a 'deep-look' at Harris' works to argue that it is possible to find some principles of Islamic ethics in Harrisian philosophy, namely in his major works, as well as in his personal life. This may be surprising, or thought of as a 'big' and 'groundless' claim, since John Harris has nothing to do with any religion in his intellectual works. The major features of Harrisian philosophy could be defined as consequentialism or utilitarianism with liberal overtones. Despite some significant and fundamental differences in the application of principles (ie, abortion, euthanasia), the similarities between the major principles in Harrisian philosophy and Islamic ethics are greater at some points than the similarities between Islamic ethics and some other religious ethics (ie, Christian, Judaism). In this study I compare Harrisian teachings with major Islamic principles on 'Responsibility', 'Side-effects and Double-effects', 'Equality', 'Vicious choice, guilt and innocence', 'Organ transplantation and property rights' and 'Advance directives'.

When I studied Islam, it was from a Sufi perspective, specifically Idries Shah's. He was a consequentialist who thought that the consequences of any given action could be foreseen by whether they were idolatrous or not -- I think that's the best way to express it. In other words, we should always aim beyond this world for the best results of our actions.

However, these days I'm personally satisfied by just trying to be accurate, regardless of any foreseen or unforeseen consequences.
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#3

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
(04-09-2020, 10:21 PM)Alan V Wrote: When I Googled "Harrisian," to learn a bit more about where you are coming from, I found this:

It seems an apology is in order, then, for using a misleading term of my own coinage.  In the sense that I'm using it, the Harris in question here is Sam, not John. I meant to convey that I align very closely with neuroscientist, author, and atheist spokesman Sam Harris on the topic of morality, or at least the ultimate basis thereof. In retrospect, I should've known better than to just assume sufficient familiarity, especially since "Harris" is such a common surname.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#4

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
(04-09-2020, 10:39 PM)Glossophile Wrote:
(04-09-2020, 10:21 PM)Alan V Wrote: When I Googled "Harrisian," to learn a bit more about where you are coming from, I found this:

It seems an apology is in order, then, for using a misleading term of my own coinage.  In the sense that I'm using it, the Harris in question here is Sam, not John.  I meant to convey that I align very closely with neuroscientist, author, and atheist spokesman Sam Harris on the topic of morality, or at least the ultimate basis thereof.  In retrospect, I should've known better than to just assume sufficient familiarity, especially since "Harris" is such a common surname.

Tell me about your "Harrisian views on morality."
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#5

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
I think appealing to a god is a cop out, asserting that god is the source of morality and goodness etc is simply kicking the can down the road, no one can show that defining a god as any of these things is other than a belief. So theists can seem to show an objective source, but they cannot show that source to be anything other than a product of their minds.

So unless a theist can show some moral principle to be impossible to come from a human mind, then why assume they don't.
Those who ask a lot of questions may seem stupid, but those who don't ask questions stay stupid.
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#6

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
All religious moral systems are originally secular systems which are appropriated by religion.
Religions get their moral systems from culture, not the other way around.
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#7

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
Does the fact that I don't give a shit impact the outcome of this debate?
One thing you never see: A guy in Boston Mass. with a Union flag yelling "The Nawth's gonna rise again!"
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#8

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
(04-10-2020, 02:08 AM)Alan V Wrote: Tell me about your "Harrisian views on morality."

Well, you asked for it! Big Grin

In a nutshell, Sam Harris holds that, once we acknowledge that morality boils down to "the well-being of conscious creatures" and start with that as our foundational assumption, morality becomes scientifically (or at least objectively) tractable.  Of course, there's no objective reason why we should prefer the well-being of conscious creatures, but as Harris points out, there's no objective reason why we should prefer physical health, and yet it would be absurd to argue that this undermines the entire point of medicine.

I've paraphrased and somewhat expanded that basic formulation to be a bit more explicit and comprehensive, but it's basically the same idea.  All moral reasoning is ultimately traceable to a single foundational axiom, which I'll call the Fundamental Axiom of Secular Morality, or FASM, of which the most complete statement may be as follows.

FASM: We ought to do that which has the net effect of increasing the well-being and/or decreasing the suffering of sentient entities.  Conversely, we ought not to do that which has the net effect of decreasing the well-being and/or increasing the suffering of sentient entities.

Like I said, this is not objective (at least not in the sense that, for instance, the law of universal gravitation is), but in its sheer universality, it may as well be for all practical purposes.  I believe that all humans and all cultures take the FASM as their irreducible ethical foundation, even if only implicitly and subconsciously (with the likely exception of those suffering from certain forms of mental illness).  For any particular moral decision or judgment, you can ask for the premises that led to that conclusion.  You can then inquire as to the justification of each premise, which will rely in turn on deeper premises which may themselves be justified.  As with any line of logic, if you keep following this chain of reasoning, you will inevitably reach a point where it becomes virtually if not totally impossible to peel back another layer without delving into tautology, circularity, or some other form of incoherence.  This is what I'll call the Point of Irreducibility, a kind of logical or epistemological singularity.  In the realm of general philosophy, that singularity of sorts is arguably comprised of the three classical laws of logic.  In the realm of ethics, it is the FASM.

Of course, much can happen along the logical path from the FASM to any moral decision or judgment made closer to the surface, and this is what creates ethical disagreements as well as many outright aberrations (whatever remains of the latter stemming from blatant disregard which we may confidently call "evil").  Moral persuasion, then, relies in principle on tracing the last common link in the chain and then identifying and amending whatever premise(s) caused the subsequent divergence.  In some extreme cases, the last common link may be the FASM itself, but crucially that is where the buck will always stop.  Even in the absence of any other shared premise(s), you can always rely on that if nothing else.  This means that any moral disagreement is corrigible, at least in principle.

In short, we all agree on the underlying goal, even if some of us have misguided ideas on how to achieve it, but it is precisely our agreement on the ultimate goal that renders the crucial escape from moral relativism possible.  Morality is not objective, but at its core, it is universal, and that's really all we need it to be.  Universal morality as encompassed by the FASM is like the primary algorithm in a computer program.  The input is our current best understanding of the world at large, including our local situation, and the output is a set of one or more morally optimal actions.  Now, if one's understanding of the world is sufficiently marred by misinformation, bias, etc, well,...garbage in, garbage out.  And in my opinion, religion is one of the most prolific sources of garbled input.

ISIS, for example, heinous though they may be, is not committing evil for its own sake.  Ultimately, if you dig down to the bedrock of their ideology, I would bet that you'll find precisely the same foundation that we all share (i.e. the FASM).  Their understanding of the world is simply so corrupted by doctrine that they consider abject theocratic subjugation to be the best means to the ends expressed by the FASM.  Now, does this make them simply misguided rather than evil?  Are they mere victims rather than perpetrators?  No, for one simple reason, and it's incidentally a phenomenon not strictly unique to religion but particularly concentrated therein.  In a word, it's dogma.  In my view, there are two principal ways a person or culture can become truly evil.  Either they know full well that their deeds are in conflict with the FASM and just proceed without caring, or they pursue the FASM in light of premises that they deliberately refuse to examine with any critical eye.  It is the latter of which ISIS is guilty.  Now, if you're curious as to how exactly such dogmatic thinking necessarily renders the proponents culpable, I've actually laid it out in a syllogism.

Premise 1: Good moral outcomes rely on sound moral judgment, which relies in turn on the accuracy of one's understanding of the world.
Premise 2: Ensuring that one's understanding of the world is as accurate as possible entails that it be perpetually subject to revision in light of new evidence.
Conclusion 1: Refusing to revise one's understanding of the world in light of new evidence undermines one's moral judgment and thus facilitates bad moral outcomes.
Premise 3: To deliberately undermine one's moral judgment and thus facilitate bad moral outcomes is evil.
Conclusion 2: Given Conclusion #1 and Premise #3, to refuse to revise one's understanding of the world in light of new evidence is evil.

Hence, in brief, dogmatic thinking of any kind is evil.

At some point during what has become something of an essay at this point, I'm quite sure I've ventured beyond what can be directly attributed to Sam Harris, but I think he remains the single biggest influence on my ethical framework.  That was probably much more than you expected, but I hope you at least find it interesting and welcome further discussion if you are so inclined.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#9

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
[Image: moralityis.jpg]
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#10

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
(04-09-2020, 10:02 PM)Glossophile Wrote: ...Let's say you convinced me that God is real, that he has certain qualities and/or preferences, but not that I am obligated to act in accordance with those qualities and/or preferences. How would you convince me that I should in fact adhere to God's moral code?

Interesting video.  I have to say first off that as an ignostic, I'd never put forward your proposition of "let's say
you convinced me god is real".  God and/or gods simply don't exist—in exactly the same way that leprechauns
don't exist—but we don't expend huge amounts of time and energy debating whether or not tiny old men with
beards, wearing green suits and pointy hats exist.  (Why is that?)

My outlook is that it's ultimately pointless having these sorts of philosophical debates with any/all religionists.  
And on that note, I'd have virtually no regard for the opinions of bioethicist and philosopher John Harris.  Like
all of his peers, he lives in an academic ivory tower, divorced from the world, and smugly pontificating about
things of little import in real life.  And as far as bioethics go, Harris was taken to task for saying that there was
little moral difference in aborting a foetus later on in a pregnancy, and not resuscitating a handicapped baby
that had just been born with a genetic disorder, such as Down Syndrome.  Isn't that infanticide?  

And as for Alex O'Connor, who says he "idolises" public intellectuals like Richard Dawkins and Christopher
Hitchens—he was caught short by an older, more experienced and worldly-wise opponent.  O'Connor is not a
good look for atheists.  Although he describes himself as something of a renowned raconteur, a peer of Dawkins,
Singer and Krauss, and expert on nearly everything, he doesn't rate a mention in Wikipedia.  Peewee Herman
does, as does Bozo the Clown, and even William Lane Craig.
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#11

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
(04-10-2020, 06:56 AM)SYZ Wrote: O'Connor is not a good look for atheists.  Although he describes himself as something of a renowned raconteur, a peer of Dawkins, Singer and Krauss, and expert on nearly everything, he doesn't rate a mention in Wikipedia.

This seems a bit unduly harsh.  Maybe I've missed something in his more recent work, but I don't recall Alex ever claiming or even clearly implying that he was the intellectual equal of Dawkins or that he was "an expert on nearly everything."  Also, whether or not someone is mentioned on Wikipedia seems like an overly simplistic way to measure influence.

Having said that, could he have done better in the above exchange?  Absolutely.  I personally have three main critiques of his response.

1)   That pause at the very beginning was unwarranted.  I would've immediately said, "Yes," and then either left it at that or clarified it with something like, "...in the sense that it objectively causes at least one sentient organism to suffer unnecessarily."

2)  The whole digression at the start about the need to at least occasionally re-evaluate even the most seemingly obvious of moral conclusions was also somewhat extraneous and did indeed seem a bit like "damage control," as one theist commenter called it.

3)   On the point of the rapist pursuing his own pleasure, I would've hastened to clarify that morality is much more about collective well-being than it is about individual well-being.

Elaborating briefly on #1, I suspect I understand why Alex paused.  He was most likely anticipating that Mohammed would equivocate the objectivity of the evaluation with the objectivity of the goal and thus trying to think of a way to preempt that equivocation.  In this context, though, I think the more effective tactic would've been to give a much more concise answer, let the opponent equivocate, and take the opportunity then to highlight the fallacy and remind him and the audience of why it's wrong.

As a more general note, I'm back and forth on whether Alex's color analogy really works, and more importantly, I wish he would've pointed out that God does nothing to solve the problem Mohammed seems to have been invoking at the end of the clip.  This is a point that I feel needs to be made much more often and strongly, and I think Alex missed a great opportunity to make it.  Like I said in my comment,...

Quote:Of course, maximal well-being and minimal suffering is an ultimately subjective goal, but here's what religious apologists consistently fail to understand. It is no less subjective than the presupposition that we ought to act in accordance with the will and/or nature of a deity. In fact, some brute assumption inevitably lies at the core of any ethical framework, theistic or not. The kind of self-contained and self-authenticating philosophical grounding that you and other theists seem to wish for simply does not exist. It can not exist. To whatever extent this is an actual problem (rather than just a hard reality of life), positing a deity does absolutely nothing to solve it. At best, it merely passes the buck.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#12

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
Well-being never crosses the is-ought boundary. It may be one of the most popular values. It may be the only thing humans value. That still wouldn't make it any less subjective. As long as the goal of morality is subjective, the problems of moral relativism enter into the framework. With a supernaturally based answer, this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. It could be argued that good is good and it just happens to coincidentally align with what is best for our well-being. In that case, it being good for our well being isn't why it is good, it's just a happy by-product of it being what it is, and a useful motivation for those who aren't moved by good for its own sake.
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#13

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
(04-10-2020, 08:42 PM)Dānu Wrote: Well-being never crosses the is-ought boundary.

I wouldn't claim that it did.

(04-10-2020, 08:42 PM)Dānu Wrote: It may be one of the most popular values.  It may be the only thing humans value.  That still wouldn't make it any less subjective.

I don't think it's just popular.  I think it's virtually unanimous, though not everyone is consciously aware that they agree, and many of those who aren't may mistake non-foundational premises for their foundations.  Does this make it any less subjective?  No, but like I said, it doesn't need to be objective to be universal.

(04-10-2020, 08:42 PM)Dānu Wrote: As long as the goal of morality is subjective, the problems of moral relativism enter into the framework.

This is where I disagree, at least in a pragmatic sense.  I suppose you could argue that moral relativism isn't technically ruled out, but it is rendered moot for all practical purposes.  

(04-10-2020, 08:42 PM)Dānu Wrote: With a supernaturally based answer, this doesn't necessarily have to be the case.

I'm skeptical of this too.  How could even a deity ever bridge the is-ought gap?  To amend Hume's famous aphorism, you can't get an ought from an is...even if the is happens to be about God. 

(04-10-2020, 08:42 PM)Dānu Wrote: It could be argued that good is good and it just happens to coincidentally align with what is best for our well-being.  In that case, it being good for our well being isn't why it is good, it's just a happy by-product of it being what it is, and a useful motivation for those who aren't moved by good for its own sake.

But functionally, what would be the difference between that and what I've said?
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#14

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
I have always held the view that the only morality that actually exists is explicable and definable in secular (if somewhat subjective) terms, specifically: moral actions, or goodness, is what most of us agree tends to sustainably produce the kind of society most of us want to live in. It is that which benefits this enterprise, and immorality is what tends to undermine it. The specifics for a particular social unit are the result of formal and (mostly) informal negotiations on the question of what constitutes boons or harms in this regard.

It then follows that claiming morality is externally bestowed from on high is simply asserting a claimed endorsement for your personal or group judgments of what is a benefit or a harm to an ideal society. In general religion claims that determining morality is a fool's errand if it is not "objectively" defined (e.g., written divine revelation) and has some sort of "backing authority" as an enforcer (god). Without that, it's claimed to be a case of "anything goes". While it's true that theoretically "anything goes", in practice, society quickly develops strong taboos and other social disincentives including legal sanction, against certain prohibited actions, so in a social unit of any size and complexity anything does NOT go, or people could not function. Morality is born the instant two individuals have to cooperate or coexist in some way. No god needed to foster OR explain it.

As such, all religion ever does is appropriate this moral mechanism that already exists, bolts on some extra requirements, claims divine mandate for it, and then imposes it on its followers. It is literally a variant of the containing society's moral code, for the religious subgroup. Think about it: if you are for example a theist in the US, your moral code can't diverge very much from the moral code held generally by Americans, or you would be sanctioned as ... wait for it ... immoral on the one hand, or having an overdetermined morality on the other. This is why as American social mores have gradually relaxed over the past hundred years -- things like more revealing clothing styles, more shared secular popular entertainments, freer access to and toleration of intoxicants, greater tolerance for premarital sex or casual profanity -- the tolerance of most religious groups has followed, albeit often on a somewhat delayed and sometimes unofficial basis. Any holdouts must suffer severe social limitations (the Amish and Mennonite communities, for example). The hypersocial nature of humans overrides even religious strictures. Few embrace being "weird" to any degree that would deny them more general social belonging and limit job opportunities and so forth. Any "weirdness" is compartmentalized away from how they present to the secular world.

If a religion is sufficiently authoritarian and/or promotes a belief in corporate guilt and punishment, then it will also try to impose it on people outside the religion, which is what we see, for example, in the theocratic wet dreams of American fundamentalist Christians.

Fundamentally, as with SO many other things, god is not necessary to explain morality, and religious morality is just so much bluster and empty claims, and fundamentally no different than any other social subgroup's take on broader societal mores.
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#15

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
In a word, no.

There are countless examples of religious practice that are abominable, and secular morality is based on fact not on the factless subject, theology.
Philosophy is about asking questions.
Science is about answering questions.
Theology is about avoiding questions.
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#16

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
Religions mythologize the origins of ethics. That being the case, they typically ossify any moral system, a tendency which itself militates against natural moral evolution as new information becomes available.

(04-10-2020, 04:55 AM)Glossophile Wrote: FASM: We ought to do that which has the net effect of increasing the well-being and/or decreasing the suffering of sentient entities. Conversely, we ought not to do that which has the net effect of decreasing the well-being and/or increasing the suffering of sentient entities.

In general, I think your critique is very good. I have offered my paraphrase of a part of what you wrote above.

(04-10-2020, 04:55 AM)Glossophile Wrote: In short, we all agree on the underlying goal, even if some of us have misguided ideas on how to achieve it, but it is precisely our agreement on the ultimate goal that renders the crucial escape from moral relativism possible. Morality is not objective, but at its core, it is universal, and that's really all we need it to be. Universal morality as encompassed by the FASM is like the primary algorithm in a computer program. The input is our current best understanding of the world at large, including our local situation, and the output is a set of one or more morally optimal actions. Now, if one's understanding of the world is sufficiently marred by misinformation, bias, etc, well,...garbage in, garbage out. And in my opinion, religion is one of the most prolific sources of garbled input.

I prefer to call morality objective (dependent on facts) but relative to human interests. We can even custom tailor morality to specific contingencies when we understand that it is relative to circumstances, since individual differences mean circumstances alter cases.

Religious people calling their own moral system objective begs the question for several reasons: A) They can't agree among themselves on exactly what they should be doing, so B) even if their system was objective, their own subjectivities prevent their employing it consistently, but C) it probably isn't objective (dependent on facts) to begin with, since it so often fails in application.

(04-10-2020, 04:55 AM)Glossophile Wrote: That was probably much more than you expected, but I hope you at least find it interesting and welcome further discussion if you are so inclined.

I only had the above few points to add.
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#17

Is Theistic Morality Reducible to Secular Morality?
Morality is based on evolution. As animals evolved with brains, to manage their inteligence, they evolved emotions. Humans have emotions. We react strongly when we are robbed, raped, assaulted etc. and we have emotions when good things happen to us also. Morality and ethics evolved to try to ensure we don't get robed assaulted etc by our fellow man. Greek phiolsophers developed the concept of Eudaimonia, what is the proper way to live for one's happiness or welfare. The Greek philosopher Socrates is usually given credit for turning philosophy towards the question of ethics, what is good, what is bad, and other questions.
A discussion still ongoing today. The rise of the concept of an all powerful omni-everything God merely gives us The Problem of Evil, not a sure route to ethics or morality. No understanding of the questions Socrates posed. Some of the prophets in the bible have some good and high claims God has high regard for justice, but the Bible breaks down into a war on idolatry and rival Gods to Yahweh, which has lead to religious attitudes that have drowned the world in cruelty and blood.

As far as I can see, the problem with many ivory tower ethicists is that they fall into the habit of blathering on and on about metaphysical debates about morality without much that helps the world at large. what matters more is understanding how modern, large scale cultures, nations, societies can devolve to evil, Nazi Germany, USSR's Stalinism, how masses of people can be lead into mass scale ammorality. Ethics then becomes a problem for sociology, anthropology, political science, not ivory tower ethicists arguing about this metaphysical ism or that ism. The issue is how our ability to think abstractly can lead us into mass evil and state mandated savagery. Why evil subcultures arise such as ISIL, or the M-13 gangs.

Sam Harris is right to the extent that religion, glomming onto the subject of ethics has not really helped with the basic problems of ethics.
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