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November 23, 2004


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You could be wrong about this:

"Thus morality also is an individual affair. There are no absolute laws of right and wrong as there are absolute laws of physics. Subjectivity rules in ethics.""

Please see again the second half of this post:


Amba, I agree that cause and effect rules the roost. And what we call "morality" is part of the henhouse, along with everything else in the universe (aside, perhaps, from probabilistic quantum level phenomena that appear to defy conventional rules of cause and effect).

However, "morality" is an abstraction. When we get down to specifics, I'll stand by my statement that morality is an individual affair. For it is specifics that define the effects that a cause will have.

Thus any human action has to be examined on its own terms if we are to try to predict its "moral" consequences.

Drinking alcohol is bad according to some religious traditions. Well, it depends. Drink too much and you might crash your car. Drink too little and you might increase your risk of heart disease, and miss out on beneficial antioxidants.

Thou shalt not kill. Unless your life, or someone else's life, is threatened by an attacker. Or, many would say, unless it is retribution for a heinous crime. Or unless it is in war, when "collateral damage" is an almost inevitable concomitant of focused damage.

I could go on. And on. There simply aren't any rules, commandments, or moral codes that can be stated in such a fashion that they form a specific guide for everyday action.

Do good and shun evil. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Practice boundless compassion. Wonderful sentiments, but they don't do much to help me decide what I should do here and now, at this particular moment.

You wrote: "Embedded in the time-dated customs and myths of every tradition is a core of timeless truth about what works and what doesn’t...The point is to bring together the truest and most lifesaving information about reality. So spiritual nomads deliberately take their moral compass from all points of the compass."

My point exactly. Religious and spiritual traditions are all over the map when it comes to morality. Meat-eating is a big no-no in some faiths. In others, a non-issue.

Some native American sects get high on hallucinogenic drugs and seek God in that fashion. For other religions this would be a sin.

So you have to pick and choose in fashioning your own moral code. Like I said, I'd argue that "there are no absolute laws of right and wrong." Yes, there is cause and effect. That's part of the (large-scale) fabric of the cosmos.

But it's the specifics that matter in morality. Not generalities like cause and effect.

It is my observation that people spend most of their religious/spiritual lives attempting to prove to themselves and others that their morality is the absolute morality.

A colossal waste of time!

"Science is the surest means of finding truth."

"Truth"?! Science is the surest means of arriving at verifiable, plausible explanations. Who dares to say what truth is?!

I am inclined to agree with cc. Saying "Science is the surest means of finding truth" entails a tacit definition of "truth"as "what corresponds with the "facts".

The problem is that words like "truth"and "facts" are elusive when dealing with "metaphysical realities" rather than "physical realities"

It is probably "true" that Hitler was 1.73 m tall but who would be interested enough in that statement to want to dispute it or verify it?

Alternatively I can put up a formidable argument in support of a (ridiculous) statement like "Hitler was kind" or "Mother Theresa was evil".Rebutting such arguments does not entail discussing "matters of fact" but "matters of values, beliefs and ethics" Sure it is not "politically correct" to argue that "Hitler was kind" ( and I guess few people in their right senses would make such a statement). On the other hand I would guess there are many atheists out there who are not convinced that Mother Theresa was a "saint".

You're right about Mother Teresa. Christopher Hitchens called her "a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud," offering up some fairly persuasive reasons. See:

I found this through your longboarding blogs and was intrigued by the title. I like this positing a lot, except I find the word spirituality to carry a lot of baggage. Perhaps if I lived in Oregon instead of in the deep south - I'd connect 100%.

Yep your creed I can live with, except:

-Science is the surest means of finding “objective” truth.
More profound truths are found in a line of Shakespeare than any scientific law

- “Thus morality also is an individual affair.”
Kind of. But certain humanistic principles are uniform in virtually every culture (or ones that are sustainable and not psycho or sociopathic). Eg, Tho shall not kill or steal.

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