"You cannot be moral without being religious"

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"You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby EnirehtacNI » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:22 pm

One day, my friend and I were discussing about this statement ("You cannot be moral without being religious") and concluded that we both have different points of view. She is interested in psychology and studied it for a while and is interested in peoples points of view. She is also curious with my belief in Buddhism and asks me regulary about what I think about things and this may be due to my different points of view.

So we discussed the statement for a while using all sorts of examples to justify whether we agree or disagree with it. I wholesomely disagree with the statement but she agrees with it. I know with these things you cannot be right or wrong but as long as you have something to back it up.

I used the example that humans are a social animal and that they would help each other out for the benefit of the group and for themselves. It might be a selfish concept but you can see that one human may help another out and be moral in the sense that they would be nice to the other and know not hurt them.

But she argues that early humans must of had their beliefs in some sort of god and therefore would be moral to satisfy this god and not themselves because humans are aggressive and predatorial.

So, what are your views on this statement? In what relation does the statement have with Buddhism?

Thanks for time,
:anjali:
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby octathlon » Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:30 pm

Just look at all the moral atheists and you have your answer.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Northernbuck » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:04 pm

If the argument is that you cannot be moral without being religious, then it also must be true that you cannot be religious without being moral. This part of the argument can be debunked simply by looking at televangelists or extremists; they all have religion, but without morality. If this part of the argument is true, then the first part is false; you can be moral without being religious.
But if this neutral feeling that has arisen is conditioned by the body which is impermanent, compounded and dependently arisen, how could such a neutral feeling be permanent? - SN 36.7
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby octathlon » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:37 pm

Northernbuck wrote:If the argument is that you cannot be moral without being religious, then it also must be true that you cannot be religious without being moral. This part of the argument can be debunked simply by looking at televangelists or extremists; they all have religion, but without morality. If this part of the argument is true, then the first part is false; you can be moral without being religious.

No, that logic doesn't work. That is like saying "if you can't be a square without being a rectangle, then you can't be a rectangle without being a square." [where rectangle = religious and square = moral]

The OP's friend is saying that religiosity is a necessary (but not necessarily a sufficient) condition for being moral. So to disprove it you only need to look at those moral people who aren't religious, and they are easy to find. Google "atheist charities" for example.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:31 pm

The statement is obviously wrong as there are counterexamples already pointed out. An interesting discussion is if people who are non-religious are more moral than people who are religious. It has to be divided into various cases acording to each religion. Acording to my experience, non-religious people tend to be more moral than christians, for example.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby octathlon » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:39 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:The statement is obviously wrong as there are counterexamples already pointed out. An interesting discussion is if people who are non-religious are more moral than people who are religious. It has to be divided into various cases acording to each religion. Acording to my experience, non-religious people tend to be more moral than christians, for example.

To go there, you have to start getting into wide generalizations and strict definitions of terms, and before you know it you have a meaningless debate that generates stress.

Suffice it to say, staying on the original topic, that of course you can be moral without being religious, and many are.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:43 pm

octathlon wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The statement is obviously wrong as there are counterexamples already pointed out. An interesting discussion is if people who are non-religious are more moral than people who are religious. It has to be divided into various cases acording to each religion. Acording to my experience, non-religious people tend to be more moral than christians, for example.

To go there, you have to start getting into wide generalizations and strict definitions of terms, and before you know it you have a meaningless debate that generates stress.


True. I was just trying to rephrase the OP's question to make the discussion possible and more in line with what I thought that s/he was asking.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Northernbuck » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:54 pm

octathlon wrote:
Northernbuck wrote:If the argument is that you cannot be moral without being religious, then it also must be true that you cannot be religious without being moral. This part of the argument can be debunked simply by looking at televangelists or extremists; they all have religion, but without morality. If this part of the argument is true, then the first part is false; you can be moral without being religious.

No, that logic doesn't work. That is like saying "if you can't be a square without being a rectangle, then you can't be a rectangle without being a square." [where rectangle = religious and square = moral]

The OP's friend is saying that religiosity is a necessary (but not necessarily a sufficient) condition for being moral. So to disprove it you only need to look at those moral people who aren't religious, and they are easy to find. Google "atheist charities" for example.


Dat what I says. If by using the same logic as the original statement (thesis) then the opposing statement (antithesis). I am not saying that the argument is true, just the opposite. The basis of my argument is that if the antithesis is false, which it is, then the thesis must also be false, which it is. Funny thing is that I just had the same question come up in my philosophy class.
But if this neutral feeling that has arisen is conditioned by the body which is impermanent, compounded and dependently arisen, how could such a neutral feeling be permanent? - SN 36.7
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:59 pm

For me, "religious" is a highly undefined qualification. In my experience some people equate moral with religious in a way that makes it virtually synonymous. I think it is not sufficiently defined to have a meaningful or helpful conversation about it.

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Euclid » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:57 pm

Definitely not true. I know that for a good period of my life I was anti-theist (and probably still am), wasn't interested / hadn't come across the Buddhadhamma, and I knew right from wrong, in the same way I do today.

Every person has an inbuilt moral compass, and that's why worldwide it's considered a bad thing to murder somebody. Something like that transcends geography or your religious flavour or (more or less) your culture.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby VeganLiz » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:16 pm

EnirehtacNI wrote:So, what are your views on this statement? In what relation does the statement have with Buddhism?



Despite what you friend said, morality has nothing to do with religion- with God or gods, spirituality and so on and so forth.

There are moral conclusions that we reach through reason and logic.

"It is wrong to beat my wife."

"It is wrong to abuse animals."

All moral statements which hold no religious weight to them...
"My actions are my only true belongings." Thich Nhat Hanh
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby octathlon » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:56 pm

Northernbuck wrote:
octathlon wrote:
Northernbuck wrote:If the argument is that you cannot be moral without being religious, then it also must be true that you cannot be religious without being moral. This part of the argument can be debunked simply by looking at televangelists or extremists; they all have religion, but without morality. If this part of the argument is true, then the first part is false; you can be moral without being religious.

No, that logic doesn't work. That is like saying "if you can't be a square without being a rectangle, then you can't be a rectangle without being a square." [where rectangle = religious and square = moral]

The OP's friend is saying that religiosity is a necessary (but not necessarily a sufficient) condition for being moral. So to disprove it you only need to look at those moral people who aren't religious, and they are easy to find. Google "atheist charities" for example.


Dat what I says. If by using the same logic as the original statement (thesis) then the opposing statement (antithesis). I am not saying that the argument is true, just the opposite. The basis of my argument is that if the antithesis is false, which it is, then the thesis must also be false, which it is. Funny thing is that I just had the same question come up in my philosophy class.


I agree that their claim was false. I just meant that the logic you used to refute it didn't hold up.

Here's an clearer example. "You can't give birth to a baby without being a woman". If I followed your logic, I could say, "it must also be true that you cannot be a woman without giving birth to a baby. I know women who didn't give birth, therefore your argument is false." See, that doesn't work. To disprove the original claim, you would have to find someone who gave birth without being a woman, such as a man or a child.

So, finding immoral religious people doesn't disprove their original claim. You have to find moral irreligious people to disprove their claim.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby VeganLiz » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:08 pm

Octathalon is correct, people can genuinely believe in God but do immoral things, things that are preached against their religion.

Striving towards their concept of perfection is one thing....being perfectly moral is another.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby EnirehtacNI » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:56 pm

Hi guys! Thanks for all the replies. It's been very insightful. By the way I'm a she. My username is my name backwards except the NI part. :)

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:19 pm

Greetings,

octathlon wrote:Just look at all the moral atheists and you have your answer.

Bang on.

Oh, the wonders of a little Venn diagram and a simple application of logic.

:ugeek:

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:27 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Oh, the wonders of a little Venn diagram


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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Northernbuck » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:24 pm

Dat what I says. If by using the same logic as the original statement (thesis) then the opposing statement (antithesis). I am not saying that the argument is true, just the opposite. The basis of my argument is that if the antithesis is false, which it is, then the thesis must also be false, which it is. Funny thing is that I just had the same question come up in my philosophy class.

I agree that their claim was false. I just meant that the logic you used to refute it didn't hold up.

Here's an clearer example. "You can't give birth to a baby without being a woman". If I followed your logic, I could say, "it must also be true that you cannot be a woman without giving birth to a baby. I know women who didn't give birth, therefore your argument is false." See, that doesn't work. To disprove the original claim, you would have to find someone who gave birth without being a woman, such as a man or a child.

So, finding immoral religious people doesn't disprove their original claim. You have to find moral irreligious people to disprove their claim.


I believe that the argument was about religion and morality (philosophy), not physics, geometry, biology, or any other science. In the context of the original statement, the argument stands.
But if this neutral feeling that has arisen is conditioned by the body which is impermanent, compounded and dependently arisen, how could such a neutral feeling be permanent? - SN 36.7
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:25 pm

For a really entertaining - but still insightful - discussion of the topic, read Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.
The fact that a book is fantasy doesn't mean that it's silly (yes, you can draw a Venn diagram to sort that out too :tongue: ).
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby andre9999 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:43 pm

Northernbuck wrote:If the argument is that you cannot be moral without being religious, then it also must be true that you cannot be religious without being moral. This part of the argument can be debunked simply by looking at televangelists or extremists; they all have religion, but without morality. If this part of the argument is true, then the first part is false; you can be moral without being religious.


It's completely off-topic, but that's not the antithesis of the thesis, which is why you're getting all the objections. I'm also correcting for the negative portions.

Thesis: All moral people are religious.
Antithesis: All immoral people are not religious.

Or if you wanted to nitpick but lose clarity:

Thesis: If you are moral you must be religious.
Antithesis: If you are immoral you must not be religious.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:14 am

octathlon wrote:
Northernbuck wrote:If the argument is that you cannot be moral without being religious, then it also must be true that you cannot be religious without being moral. This part of the argument can be debunked simply by looking at televangelists or extremists; they all have religion, but without morality. If this part of the argument is true, then the first part is false; you can be moral without being religious.

No, that logic doesn't work. That is like saying "if you can't be a square without being a rectangle, then you can't be a rectangle without being a square." [where rectangle = religious and square = moral]

The OP's friend is saying that religiosity is a necessary (but not necessarily a sufficient) condition for being moral. So to disprove it you only need to look at those moral people who aren't religious, and they are easy to find. Google "atheist charities" for example.


Hi Northernbuck

Your argument in red is falacious. You're saying that if p=>q then q=>p, where "=>" stands for "implies", which in general isn't true.
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