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dm
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Post by dm » Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:17 pm

Lee Gib wrote:
dm wrote:Cook Pass - would you know better than for example: Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa, ML King, William Booth, Thomas Barnado, Florence Nightingale or William Wilberforce who would insist their morality, which they all took from the bible, guided them to do what they did?

You might choose to draw your morality from yourself, others choose to draw it from elsewhere. And that, as you might say, is simple fact.
I think the point he's making is that no one takes their morals from the bible. Not you, the pope or any of the people you mentioned, despite their beliefs. I think he's spot on and it's very easily provable.
If the point is: no one takes on board all the the bible's moral teachings, I would agree. Or if the point is: nobody's total moral framework is 100% from the bible, I'd also agree.

However, billions of people would say that the bible, and of course other religious texts, have significantly shaped their morality to such an extent that they've not only changed they way they live, they've also worked to change what they consider as immoral in the world around them - those I mentioned being some outstanding examples.

What 'proof' could 'disprove' those personal stories and what kind of superior morality would another have to make such a judgement?

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Post by Der Blauweissengel » Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:53 pm

dm wrote:Cook Pass - would you know better than for example: Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa, ML King, William Booth, Thomas Barnado, Florence Nightingale or William Wilberforce who would insist their morality, which they all took from the bible, guided them to do what they did?

You might choose to draw your morality from yourself, others choose to draw it from elsewhere. And that, as you might say, is simple fact.
They might know best. They might not. Let's suppose that they do.

If they do it's because they've got brains and can use them. What we call common sense comes from our brains' natural methods of processing the information fed to them.

What definitely doesn't happen, is that they study a number of books, or just a single book and as a result of hard work understanding it all, committing it to memory and lots of practice of applying it to various everyday situations they achieve really high moral standards.

No. What they do, is they study those texts to death, take examples from them, put them in the context of the way their brains work and how they decide on what's morally right and wrong. It doesn't matter whether you're brought up on the Bible, the Greek Myths, Lord of the Rings, or Star Trek, you will decide what good and evil is and you will put it into practice.

It doesn't take Einstein to decide that most of Leviticus is morally repugnant. And that's a good thing because if you needed to be a genius to filter out the good from the bad and relied on a piece of ancient literature to decide how to live your life without causing a lot of trouble then society would have a problem. Oh, hang on...
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Post by Lee Gib » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:15 pm

dm wrote:
Lee Gib wrote:
dm wrote:Cook Pass - would you know better than for example: Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa, ML King, William Booth, Thomas Barnado, Florence Nightingale or William Wilberforce who would insist their morality, which they all took from the bible, guided them to do what they did?

You might choose to draw your morality from yourself, others choose to draw it from elsewhere. And that, as you might say, is simple fact.
I think the point he's making is that no one takes their morals from the bible. Not you, the pope or any of the people you mentioned, despite their beliefs. I think he's spot on and it's very easily provable.
If the point is: no one takes on board all the the bible's moral teachings, I would agree. Or if the point is: nobody's total moral framework is 100% from the bible, I'd also agree.

However, billions of people would say that the bible, and of course other religious texts, have significantly shaped their morality to such an extent that they've not only changed they way they live, they've also worked to change what they consider as immoral in the world around them - those I mentioned being some outstanding examples.

What 'proof' could 'disprove' those personal stories and what kind of superior morality would another have to make such a judgement?
If my post sounded like a judgement, then I apologise. That’s not how it was supposed to sound, in fact I actually think your views are doing yourself and those you have mentioned a huge disservice.

Your first sentence above is basically the point I’m trying to make. No one takes on board all the bible’s moral teachings, but why? Of course the bible will have many good teachings but there is also a mountain of evil teachings in there as you probably know. The bible will teach you both but it is you that has decided to ignore god endorsed savagery such as killing unruly children and slavery because by your own moral standards such things are unpalatable. You do not need to be told not to kill anyone, or not to steal or not to shag your mates missus. Our own morals can decided what is right and what is not. We don’t need a book to tell us these things are wrong.

I’m not doubting the sincerity of the people you mention who say that they have been positively influenced by the bible, but that doesn’t make it the truth. Billions of people can still be wrong (in fact Christianity numbers 2 billion people the largest religion, therefore at least 4.5 billion people are wrong).

BTW Mother Teresa was in serious doubt about her Christianity towards the end of her life.

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Post by dm » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:58 pm

Cook Pass - of course people use decision making powers, and in that sense morality is from within us. However, you seem to dismiss out of hand people being significantly changed 'within' by an external influence - the bible, God, experience etc. - to the extent that personal morality is changed. Because you may not have experienced something like this does not negate the reality of it in others lives.

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Post by dm » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:14 pm

Lee Gib wrote:
dm wrote:
Lee Gib wrote: I think the point he's making is that no one takes their morals from the bible. Not you, the pope or any of the people you mentioned, despite their beliefs. I think he's spot on and it's very easily provable.
If the point is: no one takes on board all the the bible's moral teachings, I would agree. Or if the point is: nobody's total moral framework is 100% from the bible, I'd also agree.

However, billions of people would say that the bible, and of course other religious texts, have significantly shaped their morality to such an extent that they've not only changed they way they live, they've also worked to change what they consider as immoral in the world around them - those I mentioned being some outstanding examples.

What 'proof' could 'disprove' those personal stories and what kind of superior morality would another have to make such a judgement?
If my post sounded like a judgement, then I apologise. That’s not how it was supposed to sound, in fact I actually think your views are doing yourself and those you have mentioned a huge disservice.

Your first sentence above is basically the point I’m trying to make. No one takes on board all the bible’s moral teachings, but why? Of course the bible will have many good teachings but there is also a mountain of evil teachings in there as you probably know. The bible will teach you both but it is you that has decided to ignore god endorsed savagery such as killing unruly children and slavery because by your own moral standards such things are unpalatable. You do not need to be told not to kill anyone, or not to steal or not to shag your mates missus. Our own morals can decided what is right and what is not. We don’t need a book to tell us these things are wrong.

I’m not doubting the sincerity of the people you mention who say that they have been positively influenced by the bible, but that doesn’t make it the truth. Billions of people can still be wrong (in fact Christianity numbers 2 billion people the largest religion, therefore at least 4.5 billion people are wrong).

BTW Mother Teresa was in serious doubt about her Christianity towards the end of her life.
Lee - your post wasn't judgemental at all - sorry for inferring it was.

I take your point, of course. No one can ever claim to live completely by the bible's moral teaching. Besides it being far too complex and seemingly contradictory at times, no one could ever achieve it. As you pointed out, even someone as saintly as Mother Theresa had her weakness.

However, how people see what is good and what is bad obviously differs from person to person. There are some who do kill, steal and shag their mates mates missus. Some will admit it's wrong, others don't. In other cultures and times people have done truly horrible things - you've alluded to that by describing some things in the bible as evil. That's why societies have always had a moral code and laws. As imperfect as they are we need them if society is to live in relative peace and harmony.

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Post by Der Blauweissengel » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:41 pm

dm wrote:Cook Pass - of course people use decision making powers, and in that sense morality is from within us. However, you seem to dismiss out of hand people being significantly changed 'within' by an external influence - the bible, God, experience etc. - to the extent that personal morality is changed. Because you may not have experienced something like this does not negate the reality of it in others lives.
Their personal morality isn't changed, though, is it? They just think it is. If they're going from being immoral people to reading the Bible and suddenly acting more morally, their morals haven't changed at all. They're just pretending that they have because they think it'll get them a reward or avoid a punishment. There's nothing that special about what's in the Bible. It just gets its gravitas from huge numbers of people bigging it up over centuries. Like a larger scale version of John Terry really. Emperor's New Clothes syndrome.
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Post by WestCountryRanger » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:05 pm

Cook Pass wrote:
dm wrote:Cook Pass - of course people use decision making powers, and in that sense morality is from within us. However, you seem to dismiss out of hand people being significantly changed 'within' by an external influence - the bible, God, experience etc. - to the extent that personal morality is changed. Because you may not have experienced something like this does not negate the reality of it in others lives.
Their personal morality isn't changed, though, is it? They just think it is. If they're going from being immoral people to reading the Bible and suddenly acting more morally, their morals haven't changed at all. They're just pretending that they have because they think it'll get them a reward or avoid a punishment. There's nothing that special about what's in the Bible. It just gets its gravitas from huge numbers of people bigging it up over centuries. Like a larger scale version of John Terry really. Emperor's New Clothes syndrome.
I haven't necessarily got the impression that DM is pushing the bible as the be all and end all though, CP. I've read what you've written and on one level I agree with you but it's also important to consider where individuals actually get their moral codes from? What part of someone's thought process makes them consider right from wrong? I think in large part we have a natural predisposition to want to help each other, as opposed the idea that says we are all out to get what we can get because we are all essentially animals etc etc. But is there not also a degree of learnt behaviour? Where does this come from?

I'm not suggesting that it's all come from the bible, far from it, but to say that the moral code of an individual essentially rides roughshod over any text that may give moral instruction begs the question as to where such moral thought/behaviour springs from in the first place? Those who use the bible like a bad christian would a confession, agreed - they're kidding themselves, but where do those who genuinely reap something from stories with a moral meaning attribute the affirmation of their own ideas? You say that the ultimate navigator of this process in the human mind is your own moral code, but as mentioned, where does that come from?

I'm generally interested in didactic texts - The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, Queen Mab by Percy Bysshe Shelley and others; all of which have a part to play in delivering knowledge, allegory and example to the reader. Add to that Aesop's Fables and any number of the ancient Greek writers who, knowing full well that the audience they delivered their plays too, knew the story gave their own twist and in turn brought about a series of moral dilemma for the audience to consider.

I'm not so sure that's so different to the Bible, though I'd personally prefer the above.
oo' R

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Post by DAVEf » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:44 pm

Our personal morals are surely partly shaped by our upbringing (by acceptance of or rebellion against influences) and then honed by our own experiences and judgement?

And then is always a religion (or cause) close enough to latch onto for those that have the need.

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Post by dm » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:19 am

WCR - you've made the point far better than I did. My reference to the bible was due to the original point of this thread and personal experience. Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (one of the few books that has genuinely moved me to tears) could also be a powerful external influence.

Of course, as Davef puts it, nurture is also a factor and reminded me of the following example: An alcoholic father had two sons - one grew up to be an alcoholic the other teetotaler but both cited their father as the reason for their adult status.

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Post by WestCountryRanger » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:01 pm

DAVEf wrote:Our personal morals are surely partly shaped by our upbringing (by acceptance of or rebellion against influences) and then honed by our own experiences and judgement?

And then is always a religion (or cause) close enough to latch onto for those that have the need.
Absolutely Davef - more of a rhetorical question really designed to ponder where originally our moral codes come from, if not in part from stories/fables handed down?

Glad you think so highly of The Grapes of Wrath, DM - so many important texts out there in my opinion.
oo' R

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Post by Don » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:51 pm

I'm interested in what some people say about drawing morality from within with no outside influence. Wow! No-one teaches you right from wrong yet you can still make up your own mind? Fantastic.

You might 'know' slavery is wrong but if you'd lived a few centuries ago, no matter how decent a person you were, you might have 'known' differently. Peter Sutcliffe, Fred West and the like seem to have formed their own moral codes. Thanks goodness there is a codified norm to tell us what is right and wrong.

There's been a lot of humility shown in most of the posts in this thread. And some truly world-class arrogance too. God bless balance.
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Post by Budgie's Hat-Trick » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:58 pm

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Post by dm » Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:57 pm

Don wrote:You might 'know' slavery is wrong but if you'd lived a few centuries ago, no matter how decent a person you were, you might have 'known' differently.
If I might indulge a little.....

I've mentioned Wilberforce as an example of one who took his moral compass from the bible, but as you've pointed out, Don, during his time there were plenty of Christians who did not think slavery immoral. He, together with others in the Clapham Sect, read the bible differently on this issue and used that 'new' moral teaching as a basis for their brilliant and succesful anti-slavery campaign. However, their understanding wasn't really new but, as they argued, part of the both old and new testaments' developing moral code.

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Post by RLHOOP » Wed Sep 08, 2010 5:13 pm

Lee Gib wrote:BTW Mother Teresa was in serious doubt about her Christianity towards the end of her life.
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Post by Lee Gib » Wed Sep 08, 2010 5:43 pm

dm wrote:
Don wrote:You might 'know' slavery is wrong but if you'd lived a few centuries ago, no matter how decent a person you were, you might have 'known' differently.
If I might indulge a little.....

I've mentioned Wilberforce as an example of one who took his moral compass from the bible, but as you've pointed out, Don, during his time there were plenty of Christians who did not think slavery immoral. He, together with others in the Clapham Sect, read the bible differently on this issue and used that 'new' moral teaching as a basis for their brilliant and succesful anti-slavery campaign. However, their understanding wasn't really new but, as they argued, part of the both old and new testaments' developing moral code.
If you're saying that Wilberforce believed slavery to be a moral evil, then selectively used certain bible passages to support abolition (because let's face it, the bible is a mine field of contradiction) then I'd probably agree. That's my point though, all believers do that to a certain degree. But please do not credit the bible and it's teachings for the abolition of slavery, for it was very specifically endorsed by the good book and as such probably the reason it went on for so long. This endorsement was not just confined to the old testament either

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