Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Morality" "Good" "Sin"


    My dear friend RT,
    Morality is an elusive concept. I am not sure what is the Hebrew equivalent of the English term. We need to agree on a Hebrew term to compare and contrast "Torah morality" to "secular morality." Suggestions?
    Judaism's great contribution to the world is the concept of טוב ורע. The Torah itself tells us, it is not enough to observe My laws. You must be good. And if I don't state explicitly what is good, you figure it out, ועשית הישר והטוב.
    I would love for you to provide sources indicating the sense and pursuit of Tov prior to the Torah - if you can.
    Even if Western society can be seen as moral - whatever that means - it is not intrinsically good. Capitalism is not a system based on the pursuit of good. It is much more based on greed. If Western society is lacking in morality, I would venture that the shortcoming emanates from the self-centered greediness that underlies our system. Our Judeo-Christian mores are the major mitigating forces. As they erode, consequences follow...
    • robert
      1. "...a Hebrew term to compare and contrast "Torah morality" to "secular morality." Suggestions?"
      how about the word found in the torah "Mussar"?
      2. I think it is highly unfair to say that capitalism is based on greed. It's like saying my desire to perform a professional service to another human is based on my love of money or based on greed. Neither is necessarily true. Capitalism is an economic system for the proper functioning of society. It is a tool. That a hammer (also a tool) can be used for murder does not make it an instrument based on evil. Same with Capitalism.
      Western society is not moral or immoral. Some of its adherents are among the most moral people in the world. It can be intrinsically good, based on the behavior of the people involved with it.
      some religions, otoh, are intrinsically immoral.
        I am comfortable with the word Mussar. I don't think RT would accept it.
        I do not believe economic systems are necessarily value-neutral. But that is only my perception based on history.
      I have more than one way to ascertain whether a given action is moral. The least complicated is to evaluate whether said action violates "don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you." Now I'd like to hear your definition exclusive of the torah.
      Most of judaisms core morality is either self-evident -supported by their presence in nearly every society prior to the torah- or is copied from pre-existing law codes I'm sure you're aware of.
      The torah itself acknowledges that there is morality which has nothing to do with its teachings. Many were punished for 'bad' long before the torah was given. So how to be 'good' is not something the torah can take cr for having originated.
      Do you not think that there were plenty of good people who helped their friends, relatives, the sick, elderly and offered guests food and shelter prior to the torah?
      I don't want to get sidetracked with capitalism though i have much to say on it.
      But to continue a discussion of morality you must define it.
        Slick! ;-)
        I threw the ball into your court and you just threw it back...
        Your means of evaluating "morality" (which we still have not defined) is glib. It can preclude abortion (don't abort others because you wouldn't want to be aborted [harmed] yourself) on the one hand, yet allow for unfettered caveat emptor (don't restrain other people's shady busines,v because you wouldn't want to be restrained yourself).
        As to the other comment you make: We only know they were punished for not being good from the Torah itself...
        As to the definition of "morality," your turn...
          In abortion, somethings rights are being abridged. A fetus can't live on its own therefore its rights are secondary to the mother it requires for life. Furthermore, we can't know what the fetus 'desires' since its brain is not developed enough and even if it were, it might not want to be born. We DO know that we would not want to be forced to carry another potential being in our bodies against our will and ergo its immoral to force a woman to carry a potential baby against her will.
          Since i and you wouldn't want to be cheated its immoral to cheat others. Nothing complicated here.
          "We only know they were punished for not being good from the Torah itself..."
          So? this proves that the torah and its author had a definition of morality which didnt come from the torah.
            You mean that people who oppose abortion, on the one hand, and people who advocate minimal governmental regulation on the other hand, are, objectively, immoral?
              People who oppose abortion are mostly just religiously deluded. They have never been able to develop their moral compass. As a jew i know you're in favor of abortion as halacha requires, so you should be pro-choice. The repub. party platform is against abortion EVEN when moms life is in danger . That is an immoral position.
              • That is the position of the Catholic Church. Are you saying that, ergo, Catholicism is immoral?
              • Yes. And abortion is the least of it.
              • Ah ha. And you are the one and only right and true arbiter of morality - even against billions of Catholics, including serious theologians and philosophers - because?
              • Wait, is it now the sheer number of adherents that determines the truth of a moral standard? In that case, Orthodoxy doesn't even get to be the Jewish morality, much less morality for the world.
              • Why should you be the authority? What are your credentials or mesorah? Why is your position that you are a superior arbiter to everyone else nothing other than hubris?
              • Because I am the only one responsible for my actions. And therefore I am the one who must be responsible for my judgement. I cannot kick the can down the road, or resort to the notion that an ancient text or a political or religious leader said that what I did was ok to justify it.
                I have to be the authority for the morality of my actions because anything else is to abdicate responsibility to someone or something else. And the only means I have for making that judgement is what I can learn, and what I can reason.
              • Then you must respect every one else's own taking of their responsibility. And if they feel an ancient text is authentic, who are you to take issue? If anything, people who make themselves their own authorities are far more prone to poor judgment...
                Your lack of respect for others and their conclusions is very far from moral, in any sense of the term.
              • It is not a matter of respecting someone's taking of responsibility. Everyone is responsible for their actions (even if they choose to allow someone else to determine right and wrong for them).
                To put it in blunt terms, someone who straps a bomb onto their chest and goes and kills civilians in a suicide attack has clearly taken responsibility for their actions. That does not mean I am somehow compelled to honor their actions, or to consider that they were moral.
                As I said before, I am not a moral relativist, no matter how much you seem to want to try to make me one.
              • moshe
              • Interesting how you stipulate "civilians," implying that targeting soldiers is acceptable...
              • That is certainly more dependent on context.
                During a war, I would be hard pressed to call a suicide attack against enemy soldiers immoral.
              • I would say that that position of the Catholic Church is immoral.
              • Just to confirm: Dave is a moral person; Mother Teresa was an immoral person. Right?
              • I don't know, actually. If Mother Teresa believed that it was immoral to terminate a pregnancy even at the cost of the mother's life, then I believe that she held an immoral belief. I don't know if she agreed with that particular teaching or not.
                If holding an immoral belief or taking an immoral action is all that it takes to declare that someone is an immoral person, then we can wrap up now, because everyone is immoral.
              • Is Mother Teresa "wrong" if she maintains that if Dave believes it is moral to terminate a pregnancy under any circumstances then Dave holds am immoral belief?
              • Mother Theresa was an incredibly immoral person on many levels. The mythological hagiography surrounding her is worse than what I've read about some g'dolim on artscroll. And that's saying something. She loved suffering as it brings people closer to jesus so she wanted those under her care to suffer as much as possible. She diverted many millions given for the care of these unfortunate and decided instead to give it to the church to build more nunneries. She was despicable.
              • Yes. I am not a moral relativist.
              • But rather the supreme authority.
              • See below.
          Nice try. I offered a definition. i will explain how it fits with each of your questions. You haven't provided one. Let's hear.
            Sorry. What was that definition? I missed it. All I saw was a simplistic tool - which, you assert, is not the only tool, so is certainly not a definition - for "evaluating" morality.
              I have provided a basis for discussion. You ...nothing. If you don't have a definition exclusive of torah just say so. Don't tease me.
              • OK. Basis for discussion.
                Your basis is a direct translation of R' Akiva's definition of ואהבת לרעך כמוך -
                מה דעלך סני לחברך אל תעביד
                Hillel said that the rest of the Torah is simply the explanation of this "basis."
                You (or I) may have difficulties at times understanding how specific issues are manifestations of the "basis."
                But your "basis" is the Torah's "basis."
              • IH
              • Who is included in רעך and חברך and who is excluded, thereby, from the domain of "morality" or "mussar"?
              • Your question is based on a mistaken premise. While ואהבת לרעך כמוך ומה דעלך סני may entail inclusions and exclusions, morality - if we define it as mussar - has no exclusions. There is no one who is beyond the mission of Mussar - to attempt לתקן עולם במלכות שדי.
              • Can we therefore determine that anything which contradicts this basis is wrong? Even if it shows up in the explanation?
                (Also, as you note, and much like the Kantian Categorical Imperative, how you frame the question is how you control the result you want to get)
              • Yes. But only according to RT because it is "immoral." I do not accept his tool for evaluation as the definition of "morality" as I perceive it.
              • So Hillel was wrong?
              • No. He did not mean to define "morality." He meant to define the baseline that the Torah demands.
              • So Hillel was wrong?
                No. He did not mean to define "morality." He meant to define the baseline that the Torah demands.
                This demands a . It would be convenient if you were able to dismiss Hillel's words as just defining the baseline. That way you can reject his words as being a proper definition of moral without saying he was wrong. Unfortunately that's not possible. There are many cases where halacha defies his words completely. It isn't that halacha used them as a baseline and built up from there. It's that halacha rejects this maxim completely and says the polar opposite.
                Killing someone who violates shabbos when you wouldn't want to be killed for violating someone else's shabbos.
                Owning a slave when you would never want to be one yourself. And on and on. So Hillel had a decent concept of morality innately which then got ignored.
                So Hillel was wrong about torah. And the torah deviates often from Hillels stated moral principle.
              • check
              • Hillel's statement is not a legal principle, it's ethos. It doesn't supersede the halacha, it is descriptive of much of the mitzvot and obligations bein adom lechaveiro.
              • It reflects his attempt to summarize what its all about. It's probably what he would have LIKED to be true since it is a real decent yet brief way to get to morality. But it just isn't the basis for much of halacha. Even BALC. The first moral departure is that jews are treated differently than non-jews. that violates Hillels principle.
              • You think Hillel was such an Am Ha'aretz that he was not aware of these issue?
              • That's such a 'lazy rebbe' answer/question. Don't expect me to do your work for you . If you have a logical reconciliation for Hillel please tell me.
              • i don't direct people to books to find my answers. They're in my head and I use my own words. If you'd like to copy and paste a few relevant lines , thats one thing, but why not just explain in your own words.? In my experience any response that requires pages and pages of pre-ambles and framing is a result of weakness of argument, not strength.
              • Truth be told, it loses in translation. See the attached scan.
              • Treating your slaves nicely doesn't help. It's still immoral and still violates Hillels principle.
              • ...On the Old Testament attitude toward slavery, it's harder to take the line most Christians want to take. After all, the Torah does institute the practice of slavery. It tells Israel to take slaves of certain peoples conquered in war, which is actually merciful given what it says to do to the natives of the land. That means someone who truly believes the Torah came from God should admit that it's ok to institute a practice of slavery. At the same time, the context of the Torah limits this slavery from being anything like what we would think of as paradigm cases of bad slavery. The seven-year maximum alone (and some cases would be much less, if they began closer to the seventh year) shows a huge difference. The fact that many slaves voluntarily stayed with their masters, as a provision in the law allows, shows that it wasn't an oppressive practice. That it was voluntary and perhaps the best way at the time to deal with excessive debt shows that it's a mercy for Israelites who would become slaves. That the 49th or 50th year (depending on how you take certain passages) would return property to its rightful owner (not that Israel ever followed this law, but God had commanded it) also helps a great deal.
                So in the end I don't see how the slavery imposed by the Torah of God is anything like what people usually complain about when they say slavery is inherently wicked. I think I've given enough reason for Christians to think of slavery in very different terms from how it's usually thought of in the American orthodoxy of moral thought. It's not slavery itself that's wrong in principle. It's various other features that happen to go along with slavery enough in recent memory and at certain important times in the past. We associate those things with slavery, but slavery itself is in principle something that can be very good. At least that's what Christians should say, given what the Bible says.
                see more
              • That's not what he is saying.
                But you are incorrect. If you treat your slaves appropriately, and the alternative is to release them to a life of misery and affliction, then it is good and moral to retain your slaves.
                If you can purchase a slave from a foul master and treat him well so long as he is your household, and you do not have the wherewithal to make him free with dignity and security, that too is good and moral.
                If it is necessary to inflict punishment on someone who imperils society, that too is good and moral.
                If the betterment of society trumps the right of an individual to be irresponsible and wanton, that too is good and moral.
                Moreover, all these scenarios meet and manifest Hillel's principle.
                For some reason, which I can conjecture, you position your thoughts on such matters as a priori superior to anyone else's thoughts. Most unfortunate.
              • Let's stick to eved cnaani. From where did they come? Many presumably were forcibly removed from their homes/tribes/families/culture only to be bought and sold along the path to the residence of a jew who now owns him and his children, who are then passed down to the jews own children as property. And now you want to claim that since releasing him would leave him in poverty and misery that its GOOD and MORAL to continue enslaving him??!! And ignoring the fact that every slave purchased increases the demand for slaves thereby contributing to the enslavement of more humans?
                Then you further posit that since the jewish home is better than the 'foul' master alternative its actually an altruistic endeavor to own this slave??

                If slavery was such a good option for slaves, why not free them and hire them for their work just as was done for non-slaves? Will you next suggest that YOU know better what's good for these people and you're helping them by removing their freedom? Please. These answers will only work on the hopelessly gullible and on those who really really want to believe them without the slightest desire to subject them to critical thought.
                These defenses of torah-permitted slavery might be why as you said, "For some reason, which I can conjecture, you position your thoughts on such matters as a priori superior to anyone else's thoughts."
                With just one correction. My positions aren't by definition superior a priori in my mind, but having evaluated the available responses similar to what you offered above, I have the greatest confidence that my thoughts on this matter are in fact superior .
                There's only one honest answer for someone who accepts the divinity of the torah :
                "Yes, the torah contains many immoral and bad things. However, we must still follow it since god commanded us to."
                And therefore god is not omnibenevolent, and Hillel's words are simply incompatible with torash teachings.
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              • Let us indeed stick to eved kena'ani. They did not come from the inhabitants of the land, as these were not intended as slaves, the term notwithstanding. They either, as Halacha provides, sold themselves into slavery, or were purchased from a non-Jewish master who was not divinely commanded to treat them with dignity.
                The slave trade prior to the African-American experience was generally in the spoils of war. If these people were not bought, they would undoubtedly be killed by their captors, not left in some romantic Rousseau-like noble savage state.
                The vociferous character of your tirade does not make it correct or true, On the contrary, איסתרא בלגינא קיש קיש קריא. The post-bellum sufferings of African-Americans - the effects of which linger beyond the sesquicentennial of their emancipation - demonstrate that it is a glib, simplistic and unsubstantiated assertion that you make about freeing slaves and paying them wages.
                I have cited thinkers - both Jewish and Christian - who give reasonable and reasoned explanations as to why slavery was considered moral throughout history. I know you well RT, and I have no hope of convincing you on anything. But to not even concede that there are thoughtful and thought-out perspectives that differ from yours, and to then state that you respectfully disagree - that is unbecoming.
              • " that is unbecoming."
                I guess you won't be voting for me to win "Miss Congeniality" . :)
              • It depends. It is all relative... ;-)
              • or were purchased from a non-Jewish master
                Exactly. And thus immoral. That christian and jewish 'thinkers' may try to explain WHY it was CONSIDERED moral is not the same as explaining whether it WAS moral. Again, YOU would not have wanted to be a slave and jews at that time didn't want to be slaves. The torahs lack of condemnation and lack of a ban is telling.
                In response to the last paragraph, there are many issues related to politics, economics, global warming, obamacare etc. in which I have my opinion but I understand and respect the other side to the point where i can't say with certainty that I'm right. This is not one of them. I know I'm right. And if you think you're having a hard time convincing me that slavery is moral, try to explain how killing a homosexual is moral and good. And tell me why its the epitome of goodness to put those who don't your particular beliefs to death. And perhaps you'll convince me that its the height of morality to kill the animals of a people you've defeated. After all, those animals :
                a) deserved it?
                b) would prefer to be killed ?
                c) are going to a better afterlife?
                I assume you would be equally dismissive and unconvincable (?) if someone was trying to tell you that the 9/11 hijackers were quite moral.
              • Experience has shown me that when people pile question upon question with no pause for breath, they are not interested in hearing responses, but hearing themselves pontificate.
                So, as you did, I will stick to Eved Kena'ani. Many people don't want to work at all, but must do so. When they are employed at a dead-end lousy job, is their employer immoral?
                Have you ever been fired/fired someone? Is that immoral?
                I wish the Torah would prescribe economic systems. It doesn't. It teaches us how to act within the prevailing system - morally.
              • "So, as you did, I will stick to Eved Kena'ani. "
                I wasn't sticking to eved c'naani as the sole example of immorality. I said that WHEN we're discussing the immorality of slavery we should stick to the eved cnaani form since it better reflects the problem.
                i hope you're not avoiding the other examples i raised for lack of a decent defense.
              • I am offended... ;-)
                RT, you know me better than that, I hope. Pick one issue at a time to address. Your choice.
              • i think we've exhausted the slavery issue. Let's try the killing of homosexuals who engage in gay sex after being properly warned even if the opportunity to do so only presented itself once every seven or seventy years. Explain how that is the height of morality and goodness.
              • Now to homosexuals. We don't go into people's bedrooms. If we do kill homosexuals it is only if they are involved willfully and wantonly and publicly in the full act.
              • Oh and you still haven't fulfilled what is a prerequisite for discussing morality which is to define it.
              • I did. It is elsewhere in this discussion. Seek and you shall find.
              • Mussar doesn't cut it. Neither does using another term you won't define.
              • I am in awe of your skill with peremptory statements.
              • Nothing peremptory. Historical basis.
              • I am not sure you understand the word peremptory.
                Full Definition of PEREMPTORY
                1
                a : putting an end to or precluding a right of action, debate, or delay; specifically : not providing an opportunity to show cause why one should not comply b : admitting of no contradiction
                2
                : expressive of urgency or command
                3
                a : characterized by often imperious or arrogant self-assurance <how become,="" he="" how="" insolent="" is="" late="" of="" peremptory="" proud,="" shakespeare="" —="">b : indicative of a peremptory attitude or nature : haughty</how> <peremptory an="" disregard="" objection="" of="">
                The statement: "Mussar doesn't cut it" is a peremptory statement.</peremptory>
              • My apologies. I was thinking of preemptive.
              • My understanding is that it doesn't have to be a public act, just that witnesses are able to see it. Please confirm.
                In any case, single heterosexuals are not subject to death for the same act and their sex is not called a "toeva" .
              • That which occurs before two witnesses is a public act! What are these guys thinking doing their thing in front of two witnesses who have just made their presence and intent very clearly known?
                Heterosexuals and lesbians receive malkos d'rabbanan (makkas mardus).
                The penalty is lesser because it is not a to'eiva.
              • The two witnesses could be looking through an open window of a private house.
                Further, what is the moral basis for homo to be any different than hetero ?
                And most importantly, the frequency of which the punishment can be carried out by man is a side issue to the morality of the law. The torah says they should be put to death for having gay sex. That death sentence is immoral. The gay sex is not. Though you can't really respond since you won't define the word.
              • The two guys know the two witnesses are watching them. So what if it's through the window?
                They are both immoral. Because a normal society does not want people engaging in sexual activities in public.
                But homosexuality is also a sin. We haven't spoken about the concept of sin apart from "morality" here. The Torah tells us that certain behaviors are sinful. Even among consenting adults. You don't like the concept of sin. That's why most people who opt out of Shemiras Torah u'Mitzvos opt out.
                The death sentence is not immoral. That's absurd. People of good will can argue if the death sentence is effective, if it is abused, etc. But it is not immoral.
              • 2 men have every right to do whatever they please in their bedroom or anywhere else in a private residence. To suggest that because they have a window and are warned THEY are immoral is again preposterous, though you can't judge its morality. You can only judge its torah-lity.
                Sin is another topic. Since you still refuse to define morality separate from torah and god, i can only assume you agree when I say certain parts of the torah are immoral since I've provided a method of evaluation which is currently the only one on the table. And by that definition it is immoral.
                Your options are to either dispute that killing gays fails the 'don't do unto others' test. or to offer another definition by which killing someone for gay sex would pass the test.
                "You don't like the concept of sin"
                It isn't that i don't like it , it's that it doesn't exist.
                " That's why most people who opt out of Shemiras Torah u'Mitzvos opt out."
                Study which supports this? In my case and those I know that didn't even make the list.
                "The death sentence is not immoral. That's absurd."
                i never said it was. My words were "The torah says they should be put to death for having gay sex. That death sentence is immoral.
                And it is. Killing someone because they want to act on their attraction which happens to differ from yours is sick, cruel,immoral, barbaric, vile and brought to us by the torah. It's interesting that god d much of the same moral thinking as the men of the bronze age.
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              • One more thing before we leave the slavery issue. A society in which CEOs making $1million a year can fire at will lower level employees making under $50k a year is a far more immoral society than one that allows for humane "slavery."
              • So you assert. I strongly disagree. Proof I'm right is that i bet you couldn't find even a single fired low-paid worker of a $1M CEO who would choose to be a slave rather than a fired worker. That doesn't make it the ideal situation but with economic systems there's only fair analysis relative to the alternatives. It's fair to say that capitalism is the least moral and ethical of all economic systems.......EXCEPT for everything else.
              • In an economy without entitlements? Nonsense. You are thinking of an American who can get food stamps and welfare (hooray for socialism!).
              • James Johnson, a 79 year old ex-slave from Columbia, South Carolina, stated in his narrative that he “[felt] and [knew] dat de years after de war was worser than befo’”. The Emancipation Proclamation and the Union’s victory in the war secured the freedom of slaves, but with a society plagued by Jim Crow Laws and segregation, ex-slaves were far from liberated. Slaves paid the price for their freedom as emancipation introduced new hardships, insecurities, and humiliation.
                During the post Civil War and Reconstruction Era, a slave’s fight for freedom turned into a mere fight for survival. The majority of slaves were released from their previous plantations penniless. Wages for African Americans also fluctuated in response to the perceived worth of that person and manual labor was considered easily replaceable during the post Civil War time period. With income being an issue, few ex-slaves had the ability to own land. According to the 1880 Census, one-fifith of African Americans owned at least some of the land they farmed. However, these holdings were usually beset with debt, crippling African American owners in the long run. Johnson declared that, “Befo’ de war, niggers did have a place to lie down at night and somewhere to eat, when they got hungry in slavery time.”
              • " is their employer immoral?"
                Come on. An employee may quit whenever he likes and seek other opportunities.
                "Have you ever been fired/fired someone? Is that immoral?"
                Of course not.
                "It teaches us how to act within the prevailing system - morally."
                It {torah} teaches us how to act within the prevailing system - torah-like.
              • check
              • "Have you ever been fired/fired someone? Is that immoral?"
                'Of course not.'
                I may have missed some of your posts, but IIRC, you defined morality as don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you. Most people don't like being fired; thus, it follows that firing someone is immoral behavior.
              • That's a fair question. An employment agreement is a contract between 2 people in which the employee agrees to do "x" under "y" set of rules established by the employer , knowing that under this agreement the employer "R" may fire the employee "E" if such conditions aren't met and even if only because he thinks doing so will save him money, since thats the ultimate goal of a business. In exchange R agrees to pay E an agreed sum.
                The one doing the action in a firing is the employer. Would that employer want all parties to a contract to be able to enforce that contract? i would think so. Would the employee want to be in a contract whose terms can't be enforced? No.
                Therefore from either perspective taking an action permissible under the terms of a mutually agreed contract is moral and ethical, even though the employee may not be happy about it when the agreed terms lead to his firing.. OTOH if the terms said that E is entitled to 3 weeks vacation and R refuses to allow it under threat of termination, THAT would be immoral and the law would consider it a breach of contract and he could be civilly liable.
              • And if there are no other opportunities?
                Why is it moral to fire someone? You are depriving them of livelihood and happiness.
                Your last statement is a truism, not a rational argument.
              • So is that YOUR basis?
              • No. I subscribe to commenter Robert's definition of Morality as Mussar. Hence, it is not sufficient to avoid harming others to be considered "moral."
              • Incidentally, I have a far more thorough and objective definition which I'll gladly describe once I hear yours.
              • So you have yet to be pinned down on any definition whatsoever. It's a clever ploy but I'm not letting it go. What is the definition?
              • A moral person is a person that strives to make himself and his sphere of influence good. A moral society is one that strives to make its constituency and its sphere of influence good.
                An amoral person does not strive to make himself and his sphere of influence good - but does not strive to make himself and his sphere of influence bad.
                An immoral person strives to make himself and his sphere of influence bad.
                You cannot define morality without defining "good" and "bad."
              • That just pushes the problem off from 'moral' to 'good' and will again require a definition of 'good' beyond the torah. IOW that's a cop-out. Please define whatever your definition leads to up to a point where that definition is Objective and not subjective. Especially not subjective to a torah def. since thats still nothing but a tautology.
              • There is no definition of "good" unless there is a "god" (god/good). As a bona fide atheist, you can have no concept of good. From your perspective, an egotistical, apathetic, utterly neutral person is moral. There is nothing "better" or "greater."
              • There is no definition of "good" unless there is a "god" (god/good)
                Really? Why is that? And before you answer please consider whether your answer claim and answer would also apply to the statement , There is no definition of "stinky" unless there is a "god" (god/stinky) ..no disrespect intended.
                As a bona fide atheist, you can have no concept of good
                Ridiculous. As someone who has been able to spend years working on both defining and applying morality , honesty and goodness to life situations I think i have quite a good concept.
                OTOH, people who accept that the morality of a book they believe written by god contains the final word on morality and goodness would have no reason to exercise their moral faculties and powers of reason. All they need do is study that book really hard. You aren't permitted to truly question and evaluate the torahs morality. And you def can't act on any disagreements you might have in a way that defies halacha.
                I feel bad for those who can never experience the freedom to really think in moral terms.
                From your perspective, an egotistical, apathetic, utterly neutral person is moral. There is nothing "better" or "greater."
                The good thing is that since my thoughts and judgments don't derive from any known book, you CAN"T possibly know what I think. This statement proves it. The person you described is at best neutral. You didn't list any specific good qualities . But since I know where you get your morals, I can say confidently that you would deem a jew who is a sabbath violating homosexual as being immoral.
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      The most religious segments of the American polity are exactly the groups most heavily supporting those elected officials advocating for unfettered capitalism; so that would tend to undercut your thesis.
        Religious people are not necessarily good people. Rav Wolbe makes this point eloquently in his harsh disparagement of "Frumkeit" in Alei Shur vol. 2. Often a non-religious person reflects Judeo-Christian values more than a religious person. This is because the religious person suffers from "Frumkeit." (See also the Meshech Chochmo's introduction to Vayikra.)
          And as an aside, if non-religious people tend to be better people than religious people, shouldn't we be hoping that everyone leave religion for the general betterment of mankind?
            Silly comment. Truly religious personalities are transcendent. They epitomize goodness. Evidently you never met one of them. Your antipathy can only be understood on that basis.
              No true scotsman . Plenty of religious people are highly immoral. plenty of non-religious are incredibly great people.
              There's no reason to expect correlation.
              • We are talking past each other since we have not defined morality. I specifically referred to goodness on that account.
                I admit that I erred using the term "truly religious." I knew I was being inaccurate when I was using it, but thought it was inconsequential. The actual connotation of "truly religious" is negative. I should have written "True Torah."
              • Still no true scotsman. Since nobody can avoid sin there;s no such thing. And amongst sinners you can't pick and choose after the fact as to who is "true torah".
              • You are coming from a Christian definition of the sin/sinner connection. In Judaism, people who sin are not necessarily sinners. A "choteh" in Yahadus is a perennial sinner. And it does not apply to all "sins" either. One who perennially misses davening is not categorized as a "choteh."
                BTW, I am responding to your challenge of the presence of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy on your own terms. In actuality, you are misapplying it here.
              • My friend, any attempt to claim that a truly 'religious' or 'torah true' person is a good person is precisely what is rendered fallacious by NTSF.
              • Nope. I will demonstrate. A Tzaddik in Our Time is a depiction and account of a Torah True Person (TTP). That is an objective standard against which to measure other people. To the extent that someone resembles or emulates Rabbi Aryeh Levin, he is a TTP. He may be further along the continuum or further back. Although human behavior is not subject to precise measurement, were it so, we might be able to describe a point on the continuum that is not on the level attained by RAL and say that is suffices as a threshold to be regarded as a TTP.
              • So as long as you have defined TTP as being such a level at which there may only be a handful of such people on the planet, you can feel comfortable saying that all religious people are moral. In that case, the vast majority of frum jews who do not measure up to RAL are not necessarily moral. What does that say about the system of laws they're following and whether those laws lead to morality? ANd that standard is FAR from objective. IF so, can you list for me who is currently worthy of being called TTP or like RAL?
              • It says life is not always about being but about becoming.
                Your last question is such an obvious trap. But like Roadrunner, I know (at least sometimes) when to avoid Wily Coyote...
              • Your last question is such an obvious trap
                That you perceive it so (correctly) shows that your position is untenable. You're in effect claiming that there are NO people you would call religious since thats the only way you can maintain your claim that a 'religious' person is 'transcendent' and 'epitomizes goodness'. thus your claim is meaningless.
              • Not at all. You are trying to get me to define the category by people. It is defined, as Reb Micha Berger notes elsewhere, by the Hakdama to Sha'arei Yosher.
              I have met a number of people who were both religious and genuinely incredibly good people.
              I have also met a number of people who were not religious, and were also genuinely incredibly good people.
              And I have met a number of people who were extremely devout, and astoundingly hate-filled.
              From this, I see no reason to believe in any correlation (much less causation) between religious beliefs and goodness (or even greatness).
              • moshe
              • Except how can you define what is good without referencing G-d? In fact, the words are etymologically related.
              • My point! The people you have met have been "both religious and ... good people."
                You have not met the personalities who are fusions of the two qualities, but personalities who are combinations of the qualities.
                I urge you to read A Tzaddik in Our Time. Only from such works can one garner the unique loftiness of authentic Torah personalities.
          Could you please define "Judeo-Christian" values?
          In general, I find that it is a handy term to look inclusive, but almost inevitably devolves down to "Christian but look, we'll say we include Jews too".
            Why don't we start with the Decalogue?
              The decalogue is not a particularly moral teaching.
              So why don't we call it "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" values, since as near as I can tell, the only commandment the Muslims don't have involves a day of rest, and that is one point where the "Judeo" and the "Christian" don't agree either.
              • moshe
              • They're also commanded to blow things up.
              • And we're commanded to commit genocide.
              • But in Orthodox Judaism we are not commanded to commit genocide.
              • Amalek?
              • You don't know the Rambam?
              • "Pay us or we'll kill you all" is at best blackmail with the real threat of Genocide.
                And that's assuming that you think the Rambam's view is anything other than revisionism to meet with either the mores of his time (after all, he would have been familiar with Dhimmihood) or sheer self-interest (since Jews were a powerless group at the time, and had a very strong interest in arguing against conquerors wiping out the conquered).
              • That's not what the Rambam says.
                But - and this is an important point - you have just made it impossible to discuss any issue with you. If there is any evidence that I might cite in a discussion that you would like to dismiss, you will dismiss it by branding it "revisionism" or "self-interest."
              • But that's part of the whole issue under discussion here.
                R' Harry's thesis was that Orthodox Judaism represents an absolute morality, as differentiated from those that are controlled by the zeitgeist of the cultures that contain them.
                The Rambam's take on Amalek (and my understanding that the requirement was, "Follow the Noachide Laws, and pay a tax, or we will have to kill you") is distinctly a change in Jewish thought.
                Now, I think it far more likely that he was trying to deal with the conflict between a commandment to Genocide and the the social mores of his time than it is that it was a matter of self-interest, but that is also a possibility. Part of the reason I think it more likely a conflict resolution is that his solution (again, as I understand it) is very much in line with the culture in which he lived.
                But that's part of my point; regardless of a claimed "absolute morality", all religions have their views of right and wrong altered by their own cultures over time. That's why we can see Christian Churches having bankers accepted as members in good standing (despite 1500 or so years of teaching against usury by the Christian community). That's why we can see Orthodox Judaism overturn the Shulchan Aruch (and the Rambam) on Conversions in the past century. That's why we can see Chareidi Judaism overturn the Ketubah in the last half century. That's why we can see the Baptists demand that teachers at Baptist schools swear to follow a specific creed.
                Because religions exist as part of cultures, and when the cultural pressure conflicts with religious doctrine, the doctrine changes. Just as it does in the secular world.
                see more
              • Generally speaking, I have no problem with the "JCI" terminology. The "JC" terminology is traditional in the US because it is upon this basis that American values were forged - Islam enters the equation much later.
                I do, however, agree with the critique of Islam expressed by Emeritus Pope Benedict in the Regensburg lecture.
              • I disagree. American values were formed (as I said above) with an enormous influence from the Enlightenment, which is neither Jewish, Christian, nor Muslim.
                To put it another way, there is no way that a country that was created in a tax rebellion against its King could make a plausible claim to be based on Christian values.
              • Hmmm... have you ever read the Declaration of Independence?
              • The Declaration is a non-legal and non-binding document. The constitution not only makes no mention of god but wants the govt. to be separated completely from ones belief or lack thereof. See the "Treaty of Tripoli" for example..."As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion....,"
              • Yes, have you read the Christian Bible? Or for that matter, the Jefferson Bible?
              • Yes. And the Koran as well.
              • So how is a tax revolt the act of those following a God who declared "Render onto Caesar that which is Caesar's"?
              • Too far off-topic. Whether you (or, for that matter, I or anyone else) find their perspective plausible or not, the founding fathers believed that their revolt reflected Christian values.
              • I specified "plausible" in my initial statement.
                The very act of rebelling against an ordained King (especially over taxes) was far more in keeping with the ideals of government only with the consent of the governed coming out of the Enlightenment than it was with anything rooted in Christian doctrine.
                As I said in the first post on this thread, America is in a constant tension between religious extremism (after all, the Puritans got thrown out of England for being too uptight) and Enlightenment ideals, with the balance shifting back and forth over the years.
                However, the foundational document of the United States is far more a creation of the Enlightenment than anything else, and the author of the Declaration of Independence could not in any meaningful sense be considered a believing Christian (nor was he treated that way by his contemporaries).
              • Dwight Eisenhower looked to the Founding Fathers of 1776 to say:
                "all men are endowed by their Creator." In other words, our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is. With us of course it is the Judeo-Christian concept, but it must be a religion with all men created equal.[12]
                ^ Patrick Henry, "'And I Don't Care What It Is': The Tradition-History of a Civil Religion Proof-Text," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, March 1981, Vol. 49 Issue 1, pp 35-47 in JSTOR
              • Christianity
                By Mary Fairchild
                Christian Quotes of the Founding Fathers
                Founding Fathers - Quotes on Christianity, Faith, Jesus and the Bible
                No one can deny that many of the founding fathers of the United
                States of America were men of deep religious convictions based in the
                Bible and their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. Of the 56 men who
                signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary
                or Bible school degrees.
                These Christian quotes of the founding fathers will give you an
                overview of their strong moral and spiritual convictions which helped
                form the foundations of our nation and our government.
                George Washington
                1st U.S. President
                "While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and
                soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add
                the more distinguished character of Christian."
                John Adams
                2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
                "Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there
                exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and
                to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."
                "The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could
                Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the
                general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men
                United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.
                "Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and
                Attributes of God ; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System."
                "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding
                generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought
                to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from
                this time forward forever."
                Thomas Jefferson
                3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
                "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the
                minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I
                reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it
                may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event."
                "I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."
                John Hancock
                1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence
                "Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God,
                nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."
                Benjamin Franklin
                Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Unites States Constitution
                --The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.
                --Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.
                --Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, excerpt from a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
                --Adams wrote this in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.
                --Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.
                --The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.
                --History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.
                Declaration of Independence
                Image: Photodisc / Getty
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                "Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped.
                "That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in
                another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet
                with them.
                "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world
                ever saw, or is likely to see;
                "But I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though
                it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of
                knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his
                doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his
                government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure."
                Go to Page 2: Christian Quotes of the Founding Fathers
                This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please visit:http://christianity.about.com/...
                ©2013 About.com, Inc. All rights reserved.
                Links in this article:
                --Benjamin Franklin wrote this in a letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University on March 9, 1790.
                see more
              • I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Holmes. Not relevant.
              • There is no question that the majority of the American rebels were Christian.
                The question is whether their actions could accurately be termed as "Christian values". I submit that there is no way a tax rebellion against a King can be squared with the Christian injunction to pay taxes.
              • moshe
              • Just because taxes are a necessary evil, doesn't mean they need to be confiscatory.
              • Christians are directly commanded to pay their taxes, no matter how unjust the ruler. Therefore, whether right or wrong, a tax rebellion can never be based on Christian values.

I include the following exchange just because it is amusing: 
     a day ago
    On the basis of this comment thread, I now better understand the comments from people left intellectually unsatisfied by discussion of these philosophic topics with RW Rabbis. Wavings one's hands to redefine problems so that they fall within the comfort zone of RW Orthodoxy and can thereby be “answered” is transparent and self defeating. Just saying…


124 comments:

  1. The penalty for purposeful gay sex is death. Period. The penalty for violating shabbos is death.
    That a beis din requires certain elements to be present to ensure that the act took place and that it was done b'meizid is just extraneous. The statement "mot tamotu otam" is immoral in multiple ways.
    When I say 'immoral' I have provided a definition. By my definition of morality which i have set forth, it is immoral. If you wish to dispute that the torah is immoral you must either show how the death penalty for gays doesn't violate 'don't do unto others' OR you must provide an alternative definition of 'morality' which doesn't contain 'torah' or 'supreme being' or anything related. It would only be at that point at which you could evaluate the morality of the torahs words.
    It's clear that you will NEVER put in writing any such definition for reasons obvious to both of us. Therefore, you have confirmed the point i made which started this entire thread. That being that ortho jews have no right to judge the morality of anything or to defend the torahs morality since any such statement would be a tautology.
    I would love to see you offer the long awaited definition but I won't hold my breath.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I put down my definition of morality. It consists of activities that better society. Activities that neither better nor worsen society is neither moral or immoral. "Amoral" has negative connotations, but it is the closest term for this category. Activities that worsen society are immoral.

    In the absence of a society, the same yardstick can be applied to individuals and their own refined behavior or lack thereof. But the Torah - in common with most cultures and/or cultural phenomena - is more concerned with society than with the individual.

    Your particular brand of Atheism is very radical. It denies the validity of natural law. This actually eliminates any common basis for discussion, since your frame of reference resides exclusively in your self. Ipso facto, anyone who asserts another frame of reference is a priori wrong. The only way that the person might be regarded by you as right is by first accepting your frame of reference as absolute and authoritative, and then attempting to demonstrate how he can plant his viewpoint into your dominion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. But most of humanity - even the non-theistic sector - does find common ground for debate in natural law. It is fundamental in Judaism that natural law preceded the Torah and that Torah is a refinement thereupon.

    The great philosopher of natural law, Plato, applies it to sexuality:

    Today natural law theory offers the most common intellectual defense for differential treatment of gays and lesbians, and as such it merits attention. The development of natural law is a long and very complicated story, but a reasonable place to begin is with the dialogues of Plato, for this is where some of the central ideas are first articulated, and, significantly enough, are immediately applied to the sexual domain. For the Sophists, the human world is a realm of convention and change, rather than of unchanging moral truth. Plato, in contrast, argued that unchanging truths underpin the flux of the material world. Reality, including eternal moral truths, is a matter of phusis. Even though there is clearly a great degree of variety in conventions from one city to another (something ancient Greeks became increasingly aware of), there is still an unwritten standard, or law, that humans should live under.

    In the Laws, Plato applies the idea of a fixed, natural law to sex, and takes a much harsher line than he does in the Symposium or the Phraedrus. In Book One he writes about how opposite-sex sex acts cause pleasure by nature, while same-sex sexuality is “unnatural” (636c). In Book Eight, the Athenian speaker considers how to have legislation banning homosexual acts, masturbation, and illegitimate procreative sex widely accepted. He then states that this law is according to nature (838-839d). Probably the best way of understanding Plato's discussion here is in the context of his overall concerns with the appetitive part of the soul and how best to control it. Plato clearly sees same-sex passions as especially strong, and hence particularly problematic, although in the Symposium that erotic attraction could be the catalyst for a life of philosophy, rather than base sensuality (Cf. Dover, 1989, 153-170; Nussbaum, 1999, esp. chapter 12).


    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/

    ReplyDelete
  4. That site deals with contemporary "queer theory" (their term, not mine). You can side with the queer theorists. But it is more narrow-minded than a Chasid from Meah Shearim, more dogmatic than the most orthodox Pope, to assert that what the preponderance of world history has regarded as "immoral" is "moral" - that only you can bestow the imprimatur of morality.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ok. So now I have your definition.

    It consists of activities that better society.

    So now all we need to do is establish what metric you use to measure whether society has benefited or not.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I want YOUR answer as to what "benefits" means. I don't want to read books. I know u well enough to know you could provide a basic rule to go by in a few sentences if you wanted to.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Max Beer, in his History of British Socialism, points out that Bacon looked for the happiness of mankind chiefly in the application of science and industry. But by now it is plain that if this alone were sufficient, we could all live in heaven tomorrow. Beer points out that More, on the other hand, looked to social reform and religious ethics to transform society; and it is equally plain that if the souls of men could be transformed without altering their material and institutional activities, Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Buddhism might have created an earthly paradise almost any time this last two thousand years. The truth is, as Beer sees, that these two conceptions are still at war with each other: idealism and science continue to function in separate compartments; and yet "the happiness of man on earth" depends upon their combination.

    Lewis Mumford, The Story of Utopias, Chapter Twelve (1922).

    ReplyDelete
  8. I liked this succinct statement I just found:

    The dream of Socrates and Plato of a better society based on self-responsibility, respect of the laws and zeal for inner and outer improvement is still alive, and dependent on each and every one of us.

    http://mnazer.com/2013/12/05/self-examination-and-its-impact-on-society/#more-1545

    ReplyDelete
  9. " respect of the laws"

    That presupposes a basis for these existing laws. That basis is dependent on a way to determine what's better for society-or better for whomever is making the laws.
    So that doesn't solve the problem.

    ReplyDelete
  10. BTW , are you a proponent of moral relativism?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ideally, every society has the equivalent of the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The idealistic basis and the legal framework of the society. One must then respect those laws that build upon those foundations.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am not a proponent of moral relativism, but I strive to understand other perspectives and to respect their proponents whenever possible.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "every society has the equivalent of the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."

    Do I really need to ?

    IF a country's constitution called for the murder of all jews would that mean following that law is moral?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Did I say that any D of I and/or constitution is moral? Far from it. Totalitarian regimes also have these documents. But if a society's D of I and C are "moral," it follows to respect the laws grounded in those documents.

    ReplyDelete
  15. But we're attempting to see how you plan to determine whether something benefits society in order to then understand your definition of morality since your def. was 'actions that benefit society' .

    Offering as an answer that "respect of the laws" is part of that measurement can't possibly work since those very laws you would like to be respected and considered beneficial might in fact be immoral. You only want the following of moral laws to be considered beneficial and thus moral.

    " But if a society's D of I and C are "moral," it follows to respect the laws grounded in those documents."

    You can't define 'morality' by saying it's those things which are moral. You've replaced the torah tautology with a 'moral' tautology.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I haven't a clue what you are saying. Care to explain in plain English?

    BTW, "respect of laws" was not the main passage in that Middlebury College student's sentence that I liked. It was the zeal for inner and outer improvement.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your definition of morality:

    Morality = "benefits" society

    "benefits" society = follow MORAL laws

    thus

    Moral = Moral

    You can't define "morals" by using "morals" in the definition.

    So I'm still waiting for your definition of "moral" WITHOUT using "moral" in the definition. I'm becoming more convinced you will never do it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. If the question were to name some things you like, the passage would be nice. But I'm asking for something quite basic which you are avoiding. Just define "moral" in such a way that you also provide the definitions of any value words you use, otherwise you're just kicking the can down the road.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Morality=benefits society.

    Benefits society=maintains and enhances zeal for inner and outer improvement.

    Inner and outer improvement=ascent in the physical and metaphysical realm.

    Our responsibility in society=to enable and encourage that ascent=ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש.

    Enabling and encouraging that ascent=לתקן עולם במלכות שדי.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have a few things to do. If I don't reply later tonight I will tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'll just start with this...

    "ascent in the physical and metaphysical realm."

    2 major problems.

    1. How do you determine whether a given result is an "ascent" or "descent" ?

    2. How does one measure metaphysical results? And whose determination of what metaphysical results are good?
    We can't measure whether the 9/11 hijackers got 24 or 36 virgins, metaphysically of course. And assuming they did, is achieving that result an 'ascent' or 'descent' of said realm?
    Might their actions have been moral?

    ReplyDelete
  22. It's not that simple. You are asking for a static definition of a dynamic concept. We have to define the objectives of natural law (which we believe is divinely designed) and then identify behaviors that lead towards those goals vs. those that lead away from them. This may be phrased as the pursuit of virture. If you want a list of virtues, Benjamin Franklin's list is pretty good.

    ReplyDelete

  23. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

    Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

    Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

    Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

    Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

    Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

    Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

    Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

    Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

    Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

    Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

    Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

    Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


    http://thirteenvirtues.com/

    ReplyDelete
  24. " We have to define the objectives of natural law "

    Why? Are you now claiming your definition is "natural law" ?

    "(which we believe is divinely designed)"

    Of course you do. But that means you're again using god and your claim of his words in the torah to define morality. If you want to do that, just say so. And then we can agree that you as an ortho jew have no definition of morality except what the torah says. ANd ergo you can't judge anythings morality. Only its TORAH-lity. Which is my point from the get go.

    And more problems. Natural laws aren't a specific list of laws but rather an assertion that certain rights come to man automatically. Amongst those who speak of them, there's little agreement as to exactly where they stem from and how they are determined. In many of its proposed definitions 'reason' is required to decide what they are. So again this solves nothing.

    If the virtues you listed represent morality then must I emulate jesus to be moral?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes. You should emulate the idealized Jesus. The sermon on the mount Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I put what I put in parentheses for a reason. Take it out if you want.

    I reiterate that we have no basis for debate, because your Atheism has no philosophical notion of virtue. The truth is that even your arbitrary definition of morality is sophistry, because in a random world there can be no rules, not even the golden rule.

    Even your definition of morality is actually a societal concept. Without absolute truths, it is just a platitude.

    ReplyDelete
  27. And one more thing.
    You can do better. The virtues are a list of one mans ideas as to what IS virtuous but is not a formula for figuring out whether something is moral. If murder of jews was listed in the virtues would its appearance on the list mean that it's moral?

    ReplyDelete
  28. "because your Atheism has no philosophical notion of virtue"

    To begin with, I do have a definite notion of virtue which can be derived objectively. I'll get to it when the current issue is resolved.
    But it's irrelevant to this issue which is whether or not YOU as an ortho jew can have a definition of morality exclusive of the torah. And by that I mean a definition which doesn't itself require other definitions of value judgements which are exclusive of torah. A clear formula that doesn't require someone to believe in the torah or anything else a priori.
    Whether I have a definition doesn't matter , yet as a courtesy in reciprocality i did provide one which requires NO particular belief, god, or bible . And that formula stands up pretty well to anything I've heard questioning it. You can't dismis it by calling it a 'societal concept' because it applies to any society. But lets not get sidetracked from the issue which is YOUR definition.

    ReplyDelete
  29. It's interesting that it's now MY fault that you can't come up with any definition whatsoever which doesn't pre-suppose some divine or arbitrary laws which grants things the title "moral" for some reason you can't explain.

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  30. Without any prior axioms there is no morality. No virtue, no vice. If you were consistent and honest you would admit that in random collections of molecules such notions are silly affectations.

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  31. "Without any prior axioms there is no morality"

    I reject that completely and so should everyone. i reject the assertion that one must first grant that there are rules or axioms we must accept with no reasoned justification and which therefore are not themselves subject to scrutiny. I reject that this claim leaves open an infinite set of prior claims as to what is included on this list. I reject that the 9/11 hijackers can have a valid claim to be moral as long as you understand that one of the prior axioms is that infidels must be killed.
    It is WITH acceptance of prior rules that there can be no way to evaluate the morality of an action and no chance at objective morality.

    As to second point, that we are all collections of molecules takes nothing away from our ability or desire to live by a set of rules and values and to have real needs, wants and loves.

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  32. Obviously you reject that completely. If you accepted it, your world would fall apart!

    I didn't say "with no reasoned justification." You like putting words in my mouth (or, in my pen). I don't think you understand the meaning of an "axiom."

    From Wikipedia:

    An axiom, or postulate, is a premise or starting point of reasoning. As classically conceived, an axiom is a premise so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy.

    A proposition that commends itself to general acceptance; a well-established or universally conceded principle; a maxim, rule, law" axiom, n., definition 1a. Oxford English Dictionary Online, accessed 2012-04-28. Cf. Aristotle, Posterior Analytics I.2.72a18-b4.

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  33. I reject that this claim leaves open an infinite set of prior claims as to what is included on this list.

    You're the one who leaves open that infinite set. Mine is quite finite.

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  34. I reject that the 9/11 hijackers can have a valid claim to be moral as long as you understand that one of the prior axioms is that infidels must be killed.

    I reject that claim because it runs counter to natural law. You have no basis on which to reject that claim.

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  35. By that opening sentence you've conceded my point. Since you believe that to have morality one needs prior axioms, and the only place prior axioms can have derived is from somewhere beyond our world else they couldn't be called 'prior' to the first people that somehow became aware of them, that would mean a divine being = god.
    So my point has been agreed to. YOU cannot define morality without referencing or relying on god , and are therefore unable to judge objective morality in any situation. You can only judge somethings Torah-lity.

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  36. It is WITH acceptance of prior rules that there can be no way to evaluate the morality of an action and no chance at objective morality.

    It is without the acceptance of natural law that there is no way to evaluate morality.

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  37. As to second point, that we are all collections of molecules takes nothing away from our ability or desire to live by a set of rules and values and to have real needs, wants and loves.

    Al Capone also had real needs, wants and loves, and he desired to live by a set of rules and values as well.

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  38. By that opening sentence you've conceded my point. Since you believe that to have morality one needs prior axioms, and the only place prior axioms can have derived is from somewhere beyond our world else they couldn't be called 'prior' to the first people that somehow became aware of them, that would mean a divine being = god.

    Don't call it a god. Don't even call it a being. Call it purposefulness Without purposefulness there is no morality. With purposefulness, everything follows.

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  39. So my point has been agreed to. YOU cannot define morality without referencing or relying on god , and are therefore unable to judge objective morality in any situation. You can only judge somethings Torah-lity.

    No one can define morality without purposefulness. Without purpose, the term is meaningless, just a mask for utilitarianism.

    Wikipedia puts the basic critique of your "morality" - aka utilitarianism - succinctly:

    As Rosen[27] has pointed out, claiming that act utilitarians are not concerned about having rules is to set up a "straw man". Similarly, Hare refers to "the crude caricature of act utilitarianism which is the only version of it that many philosophers seem to be acquainted with."[78] Given what Bentham says about second order evils[79] it would be a serious misrepresentation to say that he and similar act utilitarians would be prepared to punish an innocent person for the greater good. Nevertheless, whether they would agree or not, this is what critics of utilitarianism claim is entailed by the theory. A classic version of this criticism was given by H. J. McCloskey:[80]

    Suppose that a sheriff were faced with the choice either of framing a Negro for a rape that had aroused hostility to the Negroes (a particular Negro generally being believed to be guilty but whom the sheriff knows not to be guilty)—and thus preventing serious anti-Negro riots which would probably lead to some loss of life and increased hatred of each other by whites and Negroes—or of hunting for the guilty person and thereby allowing the anti-Negro riots to occur, while doing the best he can to combat them. In such a case the sheriff, if he were an extreme utilitarian, would appear to be committed to framing the Negro.

    By "extreme" utilitarian, McCloskey is referring to what later came to be called "act" utilitarianism. Whilst this story might be quoted as part of a justification for moving from act to rule utilitarianism McCloskey anticipates this and points out that each rule has to be judged on its utility and it is not at all obvious that a rule with exceptions has less utility. The above story invites the reply that the sheriff would not frame the innocent because of the rule "do not punish an innocent person"; it also invites the reply that these issues need to be resolved, and riots might very well have positive utility in the long run by drawing attention and thus resources to the racial situation. However, McCloskey asks, what about the rule “punish an innocent person when and only when to do so is not to weaken the existing institution of punishment and when the consequences of doing so are valuable”?

    In a later article, McCloskey says:[81]

    Surely the utilitarian must admit that whatever the facts of the matter may be, it is logically possible that an 'unjust' system of punishment—e.g. a system involving collective punishments, retroactive laws and punishments, or punishments of parents and relations of the offender—may be more useful than a 'just' system of punishment?

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  40. "I didn't say "with no reasoned justification." You like putting words in my mouth (or, in my pen). I don't think you understand the meaning of an "axiom."


    No, i don't think you understand what I wrote since you replied as if the words "with no reasoned justification." applied to the axioms themselves . What I said is that I reject "that there are rules or axioms WE MUST ACCEPT with no reasoned justification .

    On what basis must I accept that these rules are moral? And if you'll say that we must accept that there are prior MORAL axioms, then again you're using Moral to define moral.
    And again there's no way to differentiate between your claim that there's a prior axiom which says its moral to kill sabbath violators and the hijackers claims that the existence of prior axioms makes their 9/11 actions moral.
    It leads to much immorality and killing in the name of pursuit of goodness and morality.

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  41. "It is without the acceptance of natural law that there is no way to evaluate morality."

    See answer above for 'prior axiom' and again 'natural law' won't work because as i explained above it ISN"T a formula for testing morality. It is a subjective list which varies and has no method for evaluation. Killing infidels is my natural right. Or maybe killing gays.

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  42. What I said is that I reject "that there are rules or axioms WE MUST ACCEPT with no reasoned justification.

    That depends. Suppose someone is not smart enough to understand the justification? Is each person to live only according to his understanding, however limited that may be?

    On what basis must I accept that these rules are moral? And if you'll say that we must accept that there are prior MORAL axioms, then again you're using Moral to define moral.

    You are the one who is actually using Moral to define moral. First you decide how to define Moral, and then you assert that this is the definition of moral. You have no objective basis for morality. I do it is in natural law.

    And again there's no way to differentiate between your claim that there's a prior axiom which says its moral to kill sabbath violators and the hijackers claims that the existence of prior axioms makes their 9/11 actions moral.
    It leads to much immorality and killing in the name of pursuit of goodness and morality.


    No, that is actually your conundrum, not mine. Assuming that the death penalty is moral (I know, your arbitrary anarchic "morality" assumes that the death penalty is never justified - not against Goebbels, not against Goering), the question of its application is another issue.

    But since you have no objective definition of morality, it is just as heinous to murder a Hitler as it is to murder the innocents of the WTC. Indeed, it would be immoral to kill in self-defense!

    כל המרחם על האכזרים סופו להתאכזר על הרחמנים.

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  43. See answer above for 'prior axiom' and again 'natural law' won't work because as i explained above it ISN"T a formula for testing morality. It is a subjective list which varies and has no method for evaluation. Killing infidels is my natural right. Or maybe killing gays.

    You don't understand "natural law." It is not at all the same as "natural right" - at least in the clownish way you are using the term. Look it up on Wikipedia.

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  44. You do understand that from your perspective Abraham Lincoln was a mass murderer, right?

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  45. That's all for tonight. Good Night, RT. Easy fast and, since short Fridays don't leave much time for dilettantish repartee, Good Shabbos as well.

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  46. As I wrote there in a comment you didn't grab... I feel that moral good and functional good are both called "tov" for a reason. (And because the Torah uses the same word, so do some languages that post-date Xianity.) A good pen is one that writes well without problems like leaking ink. That is functional good -- being effective as what it was made for. A morally good person is one who is effective at what *he* was made for. Morality is thus acting in alignment with the purpose for which we were created. It maximizes happiness because you aren't trying to force square pegs into round holes, and because we were made to receive Hashem's Good, including the good of echoing His sharing that Good.

    Sin thus causes its own punishment, just as misusing any tool will produce inferior results.

    (Notice that this avoids the Euthyphro Dilemma. It is a definition of morality that neither makes Hashem subservient to a pre-existing moral code nor reduces morality to a set of arbitrary decisions by G-d.

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  47. Given the need for eidus and hasra'ah, testimony and acknowledged warning, the death penalty isn't so much being meted out for Shabbos violation or for homosexual relations, but for being so rebellious as to be willing to die for the cause.

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  48. http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-taylor0.html

    A Debate Between
    Richard Taylor and William Lane Craig
    Union College, Schenectady, New York
    October 8, 1993

    One of America’s most eminent philosophers, Richard Taylor earned a Ph. D. in philosophy from Brown University. Dr. Taylor has taught philosophy at Brown, Union College, the University of Rochester, and Hartwick College. He has written the best-selling Metaphysics, which has gone through several editions, as well as those works listed below. Dr. Taylor lives with his wife, Kim Fontana, and his two sons, Aristotle and Xeno, in Trumansburn, New York.

    William Lane Craig earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Birmingham, England, before taking a doctorate in theology from the Ludwig Maximiliens Universität–München, Germany, at which latter institution he was for two years a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt–Stiftung. Having spent seven years at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the Katholike Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, he is currently a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology. He has authored over a dozen books, including those listed below, as well as nearly a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife Jan and their two children, Charity and John.

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  49. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-indispensability-of-theological-meta-ethical-foundations-for-morality

    The last paragraph of the paper:

    In summary, theological meta-ethical foundations do seem to be necessary for morality. If God does not exist, then it is plausible to think that there are no objective moral values, that we have no moral duties, and that there is no moral accountability for how we live and act. The horror of such a morally neutral world is obvious. If, on the other hand, we hold, as it seems rational to do, that objective moral values and duties do exist, then we have good grounds for believing in the existence of God. In addition, we have powerful practical reasons for embracing theism in view of the morally bracing effects which belief in moral accountability produces. We cannot, then, truly be good without God; but if we can in some measure be good, then it follows that God exists.

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  50. Thanks G-d it's possible to be moral without having a logical reason to be so.

    But there is really no definition of morality without theology. If there is no G-d and no souls, it's all just physics -- which caused chemistry, biology, neurobiology and psychology. It's an arbitrary choice to favor life over maximizing crystallization or happiness over itchiness. They're all equally just complex networks of subatomic particles.

    The atheist attaches value to life, human life, consciousness and happiness because those are things he wants for himself for reasons he can explain to himself by evolution. Altruism isn't different in kind than the growth of a crystals, both are things that happen because things that replicate well will be more common.

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  51. I want to start by pointing out that what follows is in essence a completely new debate on a new point. The first culminated in your concession that my statement- "you can't or won't define morality without the use of 'god' or 'morality' itself as an end point"- with which you once disagreed, has now been admitted to.
    Now you would like to discuss a NEW resolution in which you state that there can be no morality for ANYBODY without a theological basis. I'm glad to oblige.

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  52. The first culminated in your concession that my statement- "you can't or won't define morality without the use of 'god' or 'morality' itself as an end point"- with which you once disagreed, has now been admitted to.

    I am not sure you read what I write. I thought I made it clear that natural law can be substituted for "god" or "morality."

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  53. Al Capone also had real needs, wants and loves, and he desired to live by a set of rules and values as well.

    And what's your point?

    RT- What I said is that I reject "that there are rules or axioms WE MUST ACCEPT with no reasoned justification.

    RB- That depends. Suppose someone is not smart enough to understand the justification? Is each person to live only according to his understanding, however limited that may be?


    RT-
    What "depends" ? By your position there ARE prior axioms AND we are to take them as moral without first reasoning why. That's not a philosophical nor moral assertion, its a religious one.

    You are the one who is actually using Moral to define moral. First you decide how to define Moral, and then you assert that this is the definition of moral. You have no objective basis for morality. I do it is in natural law.

    Must I copy and paste entire threads to repeat previously covered points and remind you of your own thought progression?
    I didn't define morals with morals. As you recall the only definition I provided was hillels , which doesn't require any use of morals in its definition, nor any pre-supposed knowledge.We were discussing YOUR definition which followed a path which led to 'natural law' and 'prior axioms'. These were YOUR words. Don't pawn them off on me. I reject them in no uncertain terms.
    And now you return to the 'natural law' is a basis for M argument which has been defeated.

    i reject the assertion that one must first grant that there are rules or axioms (or natural laws) we must accept with no reasoned justification and which therefore are not themselves subject to scrutiny. I reject that this claim leaves open an infinite set of prior claims(and natural laws) as to what is included on this list. I reject that the 9/11 hijackers can have a valid claim to be moral as long as you understand that one of the prior axioms(natural laws is that infidels must be killed.
    It is WITH acceptance of prior rules/ natural laws that there can be no way to evaluate the morality of an action and no chance at objective morality.

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  54. RT-And again there's no way to differentiate between your claim that there's a prior axiom which says its moral to kill sabbath violators and the hijackers claims that the existence of prior axioms makes their 9/11 actions moral.

    RB- No, that is actually your conundrum, not mine. Assuming that the death penalty is moral (I know, your arbitrary anarchic "morality" assumes that the death penalty is never justified - not against Goebbels, not against Goering), the question of its application is another issue.


    Say what? This is the second time you've brought up the issue of the morality of the death penalty and further assumed to know my position on it. What you have not done is explained how based on your 'prior' or 'natural law' basis YOUR belief that killing gays is moral while the 9/11 murderers claim that killing infidels is moral. You can both rely on some natural law as justification. And if you say otherwise, you must explain on what basis an objective person can be made to understand the difference.

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  55. But since you have no objective definition of morality, it is just as heinous to murder a Hitler as it is to murder the innocents of the WTC. Indeed, it would be immoral to kill in self-defense!

    Once again . I have an objective def. By that def. Hitler was immoral. You do not. You rely on 'prior' and 'NL' . As long as hitler's PA were that aryans are special and superior and need to maintain pure bloodlines and that jews are filthy evil swine so there's a NL which demands their end, on what basis was he immoral by your definition? Or am I to assume that despite there being no formula provided for evaluating what is worthy of NL status, you somehow know.

    You don't understand "natural law." It is not at all the same as "natural right" - at least in the clownish way you are using the term. Look it up on Wikipedia.

    Your condescension is endearing and inspiring. Natural laws aren't a specific list of laws but rather an assertion that certain rights come to man automatically. Amongst those who speak of them, there's little agreement as to exactly where they stem from and how they are determined. In many of its proposed definitions 'reason' is required to decide what they are. So again this solves nothing.

    Don't call it a god. Don't even call it a being. Call it purposefulness

    Just like I shouldn't call it 'creationism' but rather 'Intelligent design'.
    Purposefulness is not a value word. If hitler wanted to gas jews, Zyklon -B had a purposefulness characteristic.

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  56. Micha-

    A morally good person is one who is effective at what *he* was made for.

    That presupposes that we were 'made' for anything and also that we know not only WHY we were made but exactly which actions are effective in getting us there. In other words, it requires god and knowledge of his words. That's the whole issue. i stated that no religious fundie including Orth jews could define 'morality' without using god as part of definition.


    Given the need for eidus and hasra'ah, testimony and acknowledged warning, the death penalty isn't so much being meted out for Shabbos violation or for homosexual relations, but for being so rebellious as to be willing to die for the cause.

    Those needs are to establish b'mayzid. And that's circular reasoning too. The reason homosexuality is an abomination is because anyone who does it knowing its an abomination is abominable.

    And if the torah said touching your finger to your knee is not only evil but punishable by death, then your defense can be the same. Its not that knee-touching is so bad but being defiant.
    But what makes the act bad to begin with? And what moral right does anyone have to carry out this death penalty ? The torah.

    The god of the bible is a terribly immoral figure. He can do anything but commands people to carry out the most awful and final punishment there is despite that they can't even explain why that action is bad in the first place, other than god having said so. If these acts are so offensive, god should be a 'man' and take care of it himself.

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  57. There are two distinct questions:

    1- Does the idea of "morality" have a meaningful definition that doesn't involve G-d? Hume pretty well proved there is no way to get from Is to Ought. So, if you do not have a Creator making the world to meet some purpose (some ought) you have no pieces to build the concept of morality out of.

    2- Once you do say that there is such a thing as morality, you need to know what it contains. This is the question of 9/11 terrorists killing random NYC workers vs beis din killing someone who said to witnesses who said they will testify against him "I know I could get killed for violating Shabbos / having homosexual relations / whatever, but I want to do it anyway."

    Here I think we were given a pretty fundamental rule of empathy. Whether it's Hillel's version, the Xian Golden Rule, the Law of Karma, etc...

    BUT, and I think this is the key to Hillel's last two words, once you admit there is a Creator, you have also opened the door to the possibility that He knows more about how to accomplish that goal than you do. That the same theory will at times have outcomes that are both counter-intuitive and inexplicable to those of us who lack His infinite foresight and total knowledge of the human (and animal, and Betelgeusian, and...) condition.

    I personally believe that this is perhaps the most significant reason why Judaism requires submission to G-d, an acceptance of a yoke of the heavenly kingdom and a yoke of mitzvos. Without that connection to G-d, we lack the tools to provide to other people everything we could and should.

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  58.  If God does not exist, then it is plausible to think that there are no objective moral values, that we have no moral duties, and that there is no moral accountability for how we live and act. The horror of such a morally neutral world is obvious.

    There can be objective moral values but work must be undertaken to get there. There's no luxury of referring to an old book and all its editors, commentaries and canonists.

    Depends on how you define 'duties'.

    No metaphysical accountability. Correct.

    He might be horrified but that doesn't make it not so. I'm horrified that little kids die from awful diseases. But I don't create imaginary sky friends to fool myself into believing that there IS fairness and that dead child is really doing great in another form of existence.

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  59. But there is really no definition of morality without theology.

    And THAT is my point all along. NOT that what you said is true, but that as an ortho jew, you MUST believe that and can never provide a definition of the word without really referring to god or torah.

    The atheist attaches value to life, human life, consciousness and happiness because those are things he wants for himself for reasons he can explain to himself by evolution. Altruism isn't different in kind than the growth of a crystals, both are things that happen because things that replicate well will be more common.

    basically correct. And so?

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  60. RT: You are very smart, very skilled at debating, but not very knowledgeable. You are not familiar with ideas that I have cited. Hence, you think you have come up with this phenomenal exposure of religion. Go read Sir Thomas More's "Utopia" among myriad works that debunk the positions from which you have launched your attack.

    So be it. Your turn.

    What is your definition of "morality"?

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  61. Does the idea of "morality" have a meaningful definition that doesn't involve G-d? Hume pretty well proved there is no way to get from Is to Ought

    I'm no expert but he said ,
    "Hume argues that an orderly universe does not necessarily prove the existence of God. Those who hold the opposing view claim that God is the creator of the universe and the source of the order and purpose we observe in it, which resemble the order and purpose we ourselves create. Therefore, God, as creator of the universe, must possess intelligence similar, though superior, to ours. Hume explains that for this argument to hold up, it must be true that order and purpose appear only as a direct result of design. He points out that we can observe order in many mindless processes, such as generation and vegetation. Hume further argues that even if we accept that the universe has a design, we cannot know anything about the designer. God could be morally ambiguous, unintelligent, or even mortal. The design argument does not prove the existence of God in the way we conceive him: all-knowing, all-powerful, and entirely beneficent. The existence of evil, Hume holds, proves that if God exists, God cannot fit these criteria. The presence of evil suggests God is either all-powerful but not completely good or he is well-meaning but unable to destroy evil, and so not all-powerful."

    And yet he still wrestled with morality so it seems he didnt reject it without god.
    Second, Hume saw that certain things were innately sensed to be immoral and repulsive. Having lived prior to Darwin and the theory which explains HOW we came to have these inborn sensibilities and reactions, a logical conclusion at the time might have been to assume they came from god. How else?
    regardless, i reject that assertion.

    2- Once you do say that there is such a thing as morality, you need to know what it contains. This is the question of 9/11 terrorists killing random NYC workers vs beis din killing someone who said to witnesses who said they will testify against him ...

    Right. And by invoking a theological basis, there's no difference in the claim that gays must be killed for not listening when told by the beis din not to be gay and infidels not listening to the warnings of imams the world over that they must submit to allah. You have a terrible problem on your hands here.

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  62. Right. And by invoking a theological basis, there's no difference in the claim that gays must be killed for not listening when told by the beis din not to be gay and infidels not listening to the warnings of imams the world over that they must submit to allah. You have a terrible problem on your hands here.

    This is balderdash. You haven't been listening. This is not the problem of theology, it is the problem of evil. Although, from your perspective, there is no such thing as theology nor evil, only molecules.

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  63.  RT: You are very smart, very skilled at debating, but not very knowledgeable. You are not familiar with ideas that I have cited.

    I never claimed to be any of the above and my arguments and logic don't rest on the accuracy of your assessment. But since we're handing out report cards......RB- you are very smart, and skilled at debating but you're hampered by being forced to defend a position for which there's no good logical defense.

    Yes, I do possess the ability to expose religion as lacking a moral basis. And clearly false modesty is something from which I don't always partake. And if you think 'Utopia' or any other source can 'debunk' my position, then you haven't thus far been able to apply the knowledge you got from these sources to do so. And since I know you're very bright and have a superb memory, I can only assume there's a different reason as to why the debunking hasn't occurred here.

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  64. This is balderdash. You haven't been listening. This is not the problem of theology, it is the problem of evil.

    Great, so explain which of the 2 is evil and how you arrived at that conclusion.

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  65. Great, so explain which of the 2 is evil and how you arrived at that conclusion.

    Due process. As we discussed on the phone, it is absolutely forbidden to inflict vigilante justice in Judaism - with two exceptions, neither of which is homosexuality. Even in the midst of a public act. Indeed, someone who would attempt to do so would be subject to the parameters of rodef and would be killed.

    Contrary to popular misconception, it is absolutely forbidden to kill an Amalekite as well - except in war. Which itself must be halachically sanctioned. And they if they accept sheva mitzvos they may not be killed.

    It is evil to kill anyone without due - and just - process.

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  66. That once again evades the question. I'm not nor ever have been referring to vigilantism. I'm asking about a beis din imposed death penalty.

    Assuming due process in which a halachic beis din has ordered the torah mandated death penalty, and a similar due process in which an imam has followed islamic law and ordered the death penalty for an infidel(s) which is also carried out, which of those 2 killings are immoral (if any) and evil and on what basis did you reach your conclusion?

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  67. Your comparison is wrong on many accounts, but let's grab one of the more obscure ones and run with it. You could ask better. Let me phrase the question for you:

    Assuming due process in which a halachic Beis Din has ordered the Torah mandated death penalty, and a similar due process in which a pagan priest has followed Polytheistic Law and ordered the sacrifice of an infant to Molech which is also carried out, which of those 2 killings are immoral (if any) and evil and on what basis did you reach your conclusion?

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  68. RT: I have made a request, and it had not been addressed, so I repeat:

    What is your definition of "morality"?

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  69. Your comparison is wrong on many accounts

    Except there was no comparison. Just a simple question. Which of those 2 scenarios are immoral and why? Your 2 work just as well. You didn't answer either.

    RT: I have made a request, and it had not been addressed, so I repeat:

    What is your definition of "morality"?


    I haven't answered yet because it's irrelevant for now. The issue is whether YOU have a definition outside of torah and whether you can state a formula by which various actions can be tested. As soon as you consent that I've proven my point that you don't and you can't I'll be glad to move on to a second topic which can be to analyze MY definition and see that it of course is possible to have a formula for measuring morality which doesn't require god, torah, or natural law.

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  70. You have a major problem on your hands. You've already conceded to two separate concepts which are contradictory. You've brought down the 'yashar vetov' concept which you stated meant that there IS goodness and morality outside of torah. But when asked how one determines what is good and moral you concede that it can't be done without god. You wrote, Without any prior axioms there is no morality. No virtue, no vice. and similar for natural law, neither of which can be resolved without invoking god.
    Not only does your inability prove me correct, but since you can't provide a definition or formula you can't know how to fulfill the requirement to do what is 'yashar vetov'. So god commands you to do something which is impossible.

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  71. Great. Let's go with my scenario! It is wrong to kill another human being unless he has been given a fair trial or you are at war for legitimate cause with the nation of whom he is a part.

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  72. Where's the answer there? Which , if either, is moral of from the 2 scenarios?

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  73. I don't understand the contradiction. You only assert that it is a contradiction on your own terms - which is to say that natural law=purposefulness=divinity. If I must accept that those concepts are congruent, then I have to concede that there is no morality without divinity. But this equation is only compelling to you, an "explicit, hard atheist." An "implicit, soft atheist" - and even, perhaps, an "explicit, soft atheist" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism) is not forced into the intellectual corner in which you are immobilized.

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  74. The regrettable necessity to execute the forewarned-nevertheless- rebellious person who engaged in a homosexual act in front of witnesses would be moral. Sacrificing a child to the Molech by decree of a priest is not.

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  75. I'll get back to the first comment if necessary. But for now...

    The regrettable necessity to execute the forewarned-nevertheless- rebellious person who engaged in a homosexual act in front of witnesses would be moral. Sacrificing a child to the Molech by decree of a priest is not.

    I assume you're not trying to be sneaky by substituting 'decreed' in place of the wording of YOUR OWN scenario in which YOU wrote, "and a similar due process in which a pagan priest has".

    If that change was accidental and thus immaterial, then what you've said is that when a JEWISH due process demands the killing of a gay, it IS moral but when a Pagan due process requires a killing for its deity or deities it is NOT moral.
    What made the outcomes different?

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  76. The child did not commit a crime. Even if he did, as a child he cannot be held responsible.

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  77. We can keep playing your delay games if you like but we know where this is leading. You're going to say the baby was innocent but the gay did something to deserve it. We both knew what my 2 responses will be.
    1. What makes the gays actions wrong in the first place?
    2. Substitute MY original 2 cases in which the second option was an imam using islamic due process to kill infidels who have defied their demands to believe in Islam.

    Your statement earlier that my question was "wrong" and that your edition was an improvement was quite disingenuous. My original framing of the choices was far more analogous.

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  78. And there you have it. You're following the script I set forth. So see my above for the answer.

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  79. 1. The question is a tactic posing as legitimate inquiry. You know the answer to the question as you pose it. What you should be asking is: "Can the argument that a homosexual act is wrong be made independent of Judaism?" To which the answer is: "Yes."

    2. This question is also a deliberate deception. What you should be asking is: "Why would a halachic Beis Din using its concept of due process in order to execute an idolater be moral while a sharia-law court using its concept of due process in order to execute an infidel be immoral?" To which the answer is that when such court procedures existed in Judaism, the veracity of Judaism could be demonstrated, whereas other religions do not mandate the demonstration of their veracity as a precondition to the imposition of the death penalty.

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  80. It seems to me that the principle of moridin applies only when the intervention of Divine Providence is manifest to all. For when the times were such, the extirpation of the wicked was clearly seen as the removal of an immediate threat to humanity, everyone knowing that it was the incitement and bad example of the wicked that caused pestilence, war and famine. But in a time of eclipse, when the people are cut off from faith, expediting the downfall of sinners does not serve to mend the breach, but only widens it. Therefore, the law does not apply, and we must do our utmost to bring them back with bonds of love.

    Chazon Ish, Yoreh De'ah 13,100:16

    http://vbm-torah.org/archive/halak72/02halak.htm

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  81. At the end of his book Ahavat Chesed, the Chafetz Chayyim wrote in the name of the Maharil that it is a mitzva to love the wicked...for we are bidden first to reprove, and since we do not know how to reprove, they are considered as sinners out of ignorance or under coercion. Incidentally, regarding the law of moridin velo ma'alin the Chazon Ish writes: "A sinner is not to be put down before efforts have been made to set him aright by speaking with him." So we see that there is a vast gap between the Halakha's trenchantly stated mitzva to hate sinners and its implementation.


    Also cited at http://vbm-torah.org/archive/halak72/02halak.htm

    Perhaps I should have made this point earlier, but "better late than never:"

    Not only is the death penalty for any crime extinct in Judaism because our courts have not operated in a duly constituted manner in almost 2000 years, but also - and primarily - because the death penalty in Judaism is inextricably contingent on demonstrable evidence of the veracity of Judaism and the capacity to reprove a sinner effectively.

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  82. So any comparison of classic Torah law to contemporary religion of any sort - including contemporary Judaism - is intrinsically flawed.

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  83. 1. On what moral basis?

    2. I have no idea what deception you could possibly be talking about. Anyway, you're now saying that the reason why it's moral to kill those who violate certain parts of torah is that torah is true and can be proven so. Huh? not only does that require YOUR subjective conclusion to that question to the exclusion of other religions claims that THEIR religions are true, but it also is then reliant on torah for morality.
    3. It's moral and good to kill someone because he prays to idols? Or will you now say that it isn't really about killing someone for having different beliefs, but the danger posed by the things that go along with idol worship?

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  84. Yes, we can both be clear that judaism does not currently impose ANY death sentences or penalties. There's no sanhedrin and hasn't been for many centuries. OK. Now that's out of the way.

    As you know, my questions were for when there IS a court which can mete out such sentences.

    That changes nothing in the discussion but can be made clear.

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  85. 1. Long ago in this conversation I quoted Plato on the topic. I now quote it from a different source, an original text:

    LAWS:

    Ah, my friends, how difficult it seems to ensure that the working of an institution shall be as unquestionable as its theory! Presumably it is with states as it is with human bodies – one cannot prescribe one definite treatment for one subject which involves no physically injurious consequences along with its beneficial effects. For example, these physical exercises and common meals you speak of, though in many ways beneficial to a city, provide dangerous openings for faction, as is shown by the cases of the Milesians, Boeotians, and Thurians. And, in particular, this practice is generally held to have corrupted the ancient and natural rule in the matter of sexual indulgence common to mankind with animals at large, and the blame for these corruptions may be charged, in the first instance, on your two cities and such others as are most devoted to physical exercises. Whether these matters are to be regarded as sport, or as earnest, we must not forget that this pleasure is held to have been granted by nature to male and female when conjoined for the work of procreation; the crime of male with male, or female with female, is an outrage on nature and a capital surrender to lust of pleasure. And you know it is our universal accusation against the Cretans that they were the inventors of the tale of Ganymede; they were convinced, we say, that their legislation came from Zeus, so they went on to tell this story against him that they might, if you please, plead his example for their indulgence in this pleasure too. With the tale we have no further concern, but the pleasures and pains of communities and of private lives are as good as the whole subject of a study of jurisprudence. (Laws I 636a-d)

    That was exactly my own meaning when I said I knew of a device for establishing this law of restricting procreative intercourse to its natural function by abstention from congress with our own sex, with its deliberate murder of the race and its wasting of the seed of life on a stony and rocky soil, where it will never take root and bear its natural fruit, and equal abstention from any female field whence you would desire no harvest (Laws VIII 838e-839a).


    The author of the website (http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/~davpy35701/text/plato-homo.html) adds:

    [Note: Also, do not forget that (1) Plato says that sexual intercourse even for heterosexuals is not really a great thing and should not be over-indulged in; and (2) Plato does not here or elsewhere condone any violence against homosexuals. However, these are passages for which people who believe that Plato was a homosexual need to account.]

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  86. And another thing. God demanded morality BEFORE the torah. You've never solved the problem as to how to decipher what is moral. What's the formula god expected you to use?

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  87. 2. If we can't prove it, we can't execute them. So you're entire premise is null and void.

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  88. 3. As the Rambam puts it, they would be killed for denying - and publicly repudiating - demonstrable truth.

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  89. The formula is hinted at by the Gemara in Eruvin. Assuming we repudiate the statement ascribed below to R' Chaim Brisker, the basis of the formula is as follows:

    עירובין דף ק - "צניעות מחתול" - על משמעותו של מוסר טבעי

    הגמרא בדף ק עמוד ב עוסקת בעניינים שונים הנוגעים לחיי אישות, ואף עומדת על ההבדלים שבין גברים לנשים. בהמשך לעיסוק זה, מזכירה הגמרא מימרה מוסרית ידועה:

    "אמר רבי יוחנן: אילמלא לא ניתנה תורה היינו למידין צניעות מחתול, וגזל מנמלה, ועריות מיונה".

    בביאורה של מימרה זו, מצאנו שתי גישות עקרוניות, אשר תהום של ממש כרויה ביניהן. הגישה האחת מיוחסת באחרונים לגר"ח מבריסק. כך, למשל, נוסחו הדברים בשו"ת משנה הלכות (חלק טז סימן קכד):

    "זכר מה שאמר הגר"ח מבריסק זי"ע, שאפילו דאיתא בגמרא עירובין: "אילמלא נתנה תורה היינו למדין צניעות מחתול וגזל מנמלה" - כל זה רק לפני מתן תורה, אבל משנתנה תורה אין לנו שיור רק התורה הזאת, ואין ללמוד דבר מבעלי חיים בפרט טמאים ומאוסים כאלה".

    הגר"ח לומד את הגמרא כפשוטה: אם לא היתה ניתנת תורה, ניתן היה ללמוד דרכי מוסר מבעלי החיים. אך היות שזכינו וניתנה לנו תורה בסיני, שוב אין כל צורך להתבונן בבריאה, וכל עסקנו אינו אלא בתורה.

    ניתן לעמוד על קשר בין דברים אלה של הגר"ח מבריסק, ובין שיטתו העקרונית של סבו הגדול, הגר"ח מוולוז'ין, בעל "נפש החיים". לדברי זה האחרון (נפש החיים, סוף שער א), קודם מתן תורה היה מקום לעבודת ה' אישית, הנובעת מהשגת המושכלות, ומתפיסתו המוסרית והערכית של כל אדם באשר הוא. אך לאחר שניתנה תורה, כל תובנה אנושית, ואפילו תובנה של קדושה, בטילה ומבוטלת, ואין לנו שיור רק התורה הזאת.

    לעומת הרבנים לבית וולוז'ין-בריסק, היו שפירשו את הגמרא באופן הפוך: אמנם ניתנה תורה, אך עדיין יש מקום להתבונן בבריאה, וללמוד ממנה דרכי מוסר. כך, למשל, כתב רבינו בחיי בספרו "חובות הלבבות" (שער הבחינה, פרק ב):

    "כי הבחינה בברואים והבאת ראיה מהם לחכמת הבורא יתברך - אנו חייבין בה מן המושכל, מן הכתוב ומן הקבלה ... ואמרו: אלמלא נתנה תורה לישראל, למדנו צניעות מחתול ועריות מיונה ודרך ארץ מתרנגול וגזל מנמלה. וכבר התבאר חיוב הבחינה בברואים והבאת הראיות מסימני החכמה".

    בניסוח קצר וחד אף יותר הובאו הדברים גם במשך חכמה (פרשת משפטים):

    "ואתנה לך את לוחות האבן והתורה והמצוה אשר כתבתי להורותם" ... לכן אמר "אשר כתבתי" - בספר הטבע אשר יצרתי, שזה ספר של השם יתברך היוצרה".
    עולם הטבע הוא מעין ספר תורה נוסף שהוענק לכל באי עולם, ואין ספק שעליהם ללמוד ממנו.

    גם מורנו הרב עמיטל ז"ל דגל בעמדה זו. את דברי הגמרא שלפנינו הוא הביא בפתח הפרק העוסק ב"מוסר טבעי" בספרו "והארץ נתן לבני אדם", והוא מבהיר:

    "הקב"ה ברא את האדם בצלם א-להים, וחנן אותו ברגישות מוסרית ומצפונית - מוסר טבעי. רגישות זו מאפיינת את האדם מאז בריאת העולם, גם כשלא נבעה מתוך ציווי א-לוהי ישיר ... כך עולה מדברי הגמרא בעירובין "אלמלא לא ניתנה תורה היינו למידין צניעות מחתול" ... גם לאחר שניתנה תורה, לא ייתכן שהתורה תחייב פחות מאותה תביעה מוסרית".

    כאמור, שתי הגישות מביאות סימוכין מן הגמרא, והפער ביניהן מעמידנו בפני שאלה ערכית, מוסרית, רעיונית ורוחנית מן המדריגה הראשונה.

    הרב אביהוד שורץ

    http://www.etzion.org.il/vbm/archive/yomyom/dafyomyomi/2013-06-16.php

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  90. Please refer to my questions of 9:33:00 PM using the numbers I listed .

    So the moral justification for KILLING those that engage in GS is that they're wasting seed? Really?
    So masturbation deserves the death penalty? How about sex with someone who can't get pregnant?

    How about someone who simply refuses to have sex despite a court order? Someone who refuses to bathe ? Are we really having this discussion?

    What's the FORMULA which is used to analyze a potential action ?

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  91. I numbered my responses in accordance to your questions of 9:33.

    The rest of your post of 9:52 is just an attempt to prolong the debate by evading admission of defeat. I have shown you that one need not resort to religion in order to define homosexual activity as immoral. Now you want me to split hairs as to what aspects deserve which penalties, variations on the theme, etc. Interesting issues which we can address another time.

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  92. 3. As the Rambam puts it, they would be killed for denying - and publicly repudiating - demonstrable truth.

    1. So after running the concept of
    " denying - and publicly repudiating - demonstrable truth" through the as yet unknown 'moralformula', the result is that such actions are so awful that the person doing so must be killed.
    That makes me really wonder what that hidden formula is.

    2. If someone publicly insists it's friday when it's demonstrably monday.....He deserves death according to your formula.
    If someone publicly repudiates the truth by saying that water is H2N instead of H2O, he too deserves death.

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  93. I have shown you that one need not resort to religion in order to define homosexual activity as immoral.

    Of course not. You can describe anything at all as immoral depending on what your definition of the word is. The thing is you refuse to define it. All you've done is make a subjective claim that it's wrong because it doesn't populate the earth. As I showed, that's a baseless assertion, would require a death penalty for many other sex acts, AND is STILL NOT A FORMULA.

    4. What is the formula for determining whether something is moral ?
    5. What is the formula for determining whether something is moral ?
    6. See 4. and 5.

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  94. 1. That makes me really wonder what that hidden formula is.

    At the text meeting of the Elders of Zion I will ask if I am allowed to reveal it to you. :-)

    2. If someone publicly repudiates the truth by saying that water is H2N instead of H2O, he too deserves death.

    Cute.

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  95. Of course not. You can describe anything at all as immoral depending on what your definition of the word is. The thing is you refuse to define it. All you've done is make a subjective claim that it's wrong because it doesn't populate the earth. As I showed, that's a baseless assertion, would require a death penalty for many other sex acts, AND is STILL NOT A FORMULA.

    At this point, on this point, I am hiding behind Plato. To use the yeshivish term, he "bavorns" (translates best as "pre-empts") your questions. You're just not paying attention to what he's saying.

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  96. I have shown you that one need not resort to religion in order to define homosexual activity as immoral.

    Who decided that having fewer inhabitants of the world is bad while having more is good? Who decided that the proper punishment for that is death?
    This is absurd. From whence do those judgements come? I certainly don't share them. I'm sure you don't either. And since you brought up the lack of beis din now, is the act no longer so bad so it gets no human penalty? What about if the beis hamikdash returns ? Will certain acts tht now do not get death penalty change their moral status to where they once again will? Since i know your formula for morality can't have any connection to god, isn't it an amazing coincidence that the morality will change at the very same time the sanhedrin is reconvened? Its a good thing. otherwise it would seem that morality is based on torah.

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  97. I am hiding behind Plato...You're just not paying attention to what he's saying.

    No. What you're doing is being purposely evasive by hiding behind other people's words. When you copy paste long quotations you aren't bound to anything specific and can try to maintain plausible deniability.
    State your formula. It took hillel less than 2 sentences.

    NOT what it's based on, and NOT what inspired it, NOT what is similar, NOT the results of said formula after the fact.

    Just a formula. One by which ANY ACTION can be judged. I've been asking for 100 comments. You can't do it.

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  98. Who decided that having fewer inhabitants of the world is bad while having more is good? Who decided that the proper punishment for that is death?

    This is absurd. From whence do those judgements come? I certainly don't share them. I'm sure you don't either.


    Sour grapes. I would also feel bad to have Plato used against me.

    And since you brought up the lack of beis din now, is the act no longer so bad so it gets no human penalty? What about if the beis hamikdash returns ? Will certain acts tht now do not get death penalty change their moral status to where they once again will? Since i know your formula for morality can't have any connection to god, isn't it an amazing coincidence that the morality will change at the very same time the sanhedrin is reconvened? Its a good thing. otherwise it would seem that morality is based on torah.

    The morality does not change. The imposition of penalties does.

    According to both the Chofetz Chaim and the Chazon Ish sited above, the reinstatement of the Sanhedrin is not a sufficient condition for the restoration of capitol punishment. So, no, even if the Sanhedrin were reconvened tomorrow no one would be put to death by it.

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  99. 2. If someone publicly repudiates the truth by saying that water is H2N instead of H2O, he too deserves death.

    Cute.


    It's not at all cute. It's quite serious. You stated that (without saying WHAT the formula is) the formula says that repudiating truth means death. The question above means that either

    1. the rule you gave for justifying killing of idol worshippers
    is NOT a correct rule. OR
    2. The person above IS deserving of death too.

    If your answer is 1. , then you must go back to my question 3. above and explain how It's moral and good to kill someone because he prays to idols?

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  100. To ask for a grand unification formula is the same as to ask for a grand unification theory. Ask your brother about that. It hasn't been done and may not be feasible altogether. The world is a complex place and humanity is complex. Revelation does simplify matters, but, as I have demonstrated, if necessary we could have established a the requisite moral code without the revelation. The Avos did so.

    Like most human beings (even atheists, since they were also endowed by their Creator with good intuition, even if they abuse their intellects), I generally follow Judge Potter Stewart's similar stance in regard to obscenity:

    Stewart will long be remembered for his concurrence in a pornography case, Jacobellis v. Ohio. Though he was unable to formulate a definition of pornography, he declared that "I know it when I see it."

    http://www.oyez.org/justices/potter_stewart/

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  101. RT- ...AND is STILL NOT A FORMULA.

    RB- At this point, on this point, I am hiding behind Plato.


    How exactly can you hids behind Plato when Plato never states his formula. Plato gives his opinion as to what he thinks of GS. He also sates his reasons for it being wrong which are "nature" based. So what's your formula?

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  102. It's not at all cute. It's quite serious.

    No. It's definitely not serious. The denial of truth is a condition for the potential imposition of the death penalty, but not a sufficient condition.

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  103. o ask for a grand unification formula is the same as to ask for a grand unification theory. Ask your brother about that. It hasn't been done and may not be feasible altogether.

    Without a formula for establishing morality, you can't judge things as to their morality.

    It hasn't been done and may not be feasible altogether.

    We can secondarily debate whether it has or can be done. However, by saying that it may not be feasible it's clear that at least for now you say there is none, which means YOU DON"T HAVE ONE.

    That concedes that my statement that you will NEVER state a formula for morality is true.

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  104. The denial of truth is a condition for the potential imposition of the death penalty, but not a sufficient condition.


    But when I asked you why its good and whether it was because they had different beliefs, your reply was that repudiating truth WAS the justification.
    What is required 'in addition' to 'denial of truth' for the killing of an idol worshiper to be moral?

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  105. Never is a very long time. I have addressed homosexual acts, which was the topic of this debate. I have addressed several other cases in point along the way. I have demonstrated the fallacy of your assertion that for a Jew the Torah is a self-referential - and hence, you argue, arbitrary - code of law that does not correlate to an "independent" rational notion of "morality." I have neither the time nor the inclination to extrapolate further at the moment.

    OTOH, you assert that you have this simple formula that is the grand unification theory of morality. גל עיני ואביטה נפלאות מתורתך!

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  106. I have addressed homosexual acts, which was the topic of this debate.

    No. It wasn't. Ever. It was just one of the things which came up during the debate. It also wasn't about abortion or Plato or Mother teresa, though they all came up.
    I said you can't -or won't- DEFINE moral behavior without using god as part of the answer. I said you would NEVER provide a FORMULA by which morality can be ascertained.
    And you have admitted I'm right.

    RB - "It hasn't been done and may not be feasible altogether."

    and this....


    I have neither the time nor the inclination to extrapolate further at the moment.

    Since this debate has reached its conclusion with your final comment having acknowledged that you agree with me that you can't provide a formula since none exists, it's a good time to end it.

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  107. You misunderstand. Or maybe I misunderstood you. The basis for morality is natural law. The formula I gave long ago in my three tiers of immoral, amoral, moral. But that requires careful consideration of factors and circumstances of each case in point. I do not have a grand unification formula that takes all factors and all circumstances of each possible case into account and reduces all those variable into one simple, elegant test. I contend that to do so is impossible, to attempt to do so absurd.

    Continuing our analogy further, from Wikipedia:

    A Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is a model in particle physics in which at high energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model which define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, are merged into one single interaction characterized by one larger gauge symmetry and thus one unified coupling constant. In contrast, the experimentally supported Standard Model of particle physics is based on three independent interactions, symmetries and coupling constants.
    Models that do not unify all interactions using one simple Lie group as the gauge symmetry, but do so using semisimple groups, can exhibit similar properties and are sometimes referred to as Grand Unified Theories as well.

    Unifying gravity with the other three interactions would provide a theory of everything (TOE), rather than a GUT. Nevertheless, GUTs are often seen as an intermediate step towards a TOE.

    The new particles predicted by models of grand unification cannot be observed directly at particle colliders because their masses are expected to be of the order of the so-called GUT scale, which is predicted to be just a few orders of magnitude below the Planck scale and thus far beyond the reach of currently foreseen collision experiments. Instead, effects of grand unification might be detected through indirect observations such as proton decay, electric dipole moments of elementary particles, or the properties of neutrinos.[1] Some grand unified theories predict the existence of magnetic monopoles.
    As of 2012, all GUT models which aim to be completely realistic are quite complicated, even compared to the Standard Model, because they need to introduce additional fields and interactions, or even additional dimensions of space.

    The main reason for this complexity lies in the difficulty of reproducing the observed fermion masses and mixing angles. Due to this difficulty, and due to the lack of any observed effect of grand unification so far, there is no generally accepted GUT model.

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  108. So, instead of saying I had the "formula" I should have said I had the "mode of application." So I have the basis, the mode of application, and have demonstrated the formula in specific cases. The formulas are complex, however, as there are many variables. I don't believe there is one formula which will lead, in all cases, to the correct mode of application of the basis. But while we did use the term formula, I understood that what you actually wanted was a formulation - meaning, a crystallization of the the basis and the mode, not a formula (or equation) that would be the moral equivalent of the GUT in physics.

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  109. And, I have provide a formulation/.

    I cannot help noticing your refusal to present your - what surely must be a brilliant and elegant - formulation.

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  110. You're now repeating attempts you made which reached logical dead ends. That's unproductive. I don't have the patience to re-hash the entire progressions. Anyone who wishes to may look at prior comments. I'll just say this:

    "The basis for morality is natural law"

    As above, 'natural law' is a SUBJECTIVE concept in and of itself which excludes it as being able to provide an OBJECTIVE way to judge its own assertions,let alone other behaviors. It also has no starting point other than god.
    Where did the first person to invoke them get them from? If god didnt tell him then he must have thought of them on his own. What tools did he use to decide which of his thoughts were moral and thus 'natural law' and which should not be counted as 'natural law'. This is silly and already covered.
    It is also NOT a FORMULA and thus irrelevant. It is merely a claim that if something conforms with these subjective laws it is somehow moral. It fails to provide any formula for those things not covered by natural law.

    " The formula I gave long ago in my three tiers of immoral, amoral, moral."

    This again? Your words,

    "It consists of activities that better society. Activities that neither better nor worsen society is neither moral or immoral. "Amoral" has negative connotations, but it is the closest term for this category. Activities that worsen society are immoral.

    As above, since you couldn't explain what makes things "better" or "worse" without invoking god or torah as solutions for value judgements, that is NOT a formula.
    It states that once we have established what makes thing "better" -Read:moral, than doing those things is moral. It's a meaningless tautology.

    It's not sporting to engage in a debate on a specific issue and statement and then when having admitted to that very statement, trying to claim the debate wasn't about that. Just saying.

    At this point the only thing remaining is repetition similar to this so I think I'll leave it here.

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  111. So, instead of saying I had the "formula" I should have said I had the "mode of application." So I have the basis, the mode of application, and have demonstrated the formula in specific cases.

    You provided NO basis. Natural law is not a basis for anything. If natural laws are themselves immoral, then anything based on them will be immoral. So your "basis" requires first knowing that natural law is moral. NL must therefore first 'pass' the morality test. But that test can't be done until the results of that test are known, since the test requires that we already know that natural laws are moral. It's a complete logical impossibility.. DEAD END.

    So you have no basis.

    the mode of application,

    That part is easy. Once you can define morality, of course doing it is moral and not doing it is immoral. So that hasn't brought anything to the table.

    and have demonstrated the formula in specific cases.

    You've done no such thing. You can't "demonstrate" something without "showing" it. And since youve stated no such formula exists, it would be impossible for these 2 statements to both be true.
    What you've done is stated your opinion as to different concepts' morality and tried to provide a rule you followed in each of those cases which not only wasn't a formula, but which rules were then shown not to be universal and objective rules at all, since they didn't work when applied to other scenarios.

    To summarize: You have shown NO basis, and NO formula, and said that none exists.

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  112. http://jim.com/rights.html

    Utilitarian and relativist philosophers demand that advocates of natural law produce a definition of natural law that is independent of the nature of man and the nature of the world. Since it is the very essence of natural law to reason from the nature of man and the nature of the world, to deduce “should” from “is”, we unsurprisingly fail to meet this standard.

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  113. http://www.nccs.net/natural-law-the-ultimate-source-of-constitutional-law.php

    "Man... must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator.. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature.... This law of nature...is of course superior to any other.... No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force...from this original." - Sir William Blackstone (Eminent English Jurist)

    The Founders DID NOT establish the Constitution for the purpose of granting rights. Rather, they established this government of laws (not a government of men) in order to secure each person's Creator­ endowed rights to life, liberty, and property.

    Only in America, did a nation's founders recognize that rights, though endowed by the Creator as unalienable prerogatives, would not be sustained in society unless they were protected under a code of law which was itself in harmony with a higher law. They called it "natural law," or "Nature's law." Such law is the ultimate source and established limit for all of man's laws and is intended to protect each of these natural rights for all of mankind. The Declaration of Independence of 1776 established the premise that in America a people might assume the station "to which the laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them.."

    Herein lay the security for men's individual rights - an immut­able code of law, sanctioned by the Creator of man's rights, and designed to promote, preserve, and protect him and his fellows in the enjoyment of their rights. They believed that such natural law, revealed to man through his reason, was capable of being understood by both the ploughman and the professor. Sir William Blackstone, whose writings trained American's lawyers for its first century, capsulized such reasoning:

    "For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the...direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws."

    What are those natural laws? Blackstone continued:

    "Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one his due.."

    The Founders saw these as moral duties between individuals. Thomas Jefferson wrote:

    "Man has been subjected by his Creator to the moral law, of which his feelings, or conscience as it is sometimes called, are the evidence with which his Creator has furnished him .... The moral duties which exist between individual and individual in a state of nature, accompany them into a state of society . their Maker not having released them from those duties on their forming themselves into a nation."

    Americas leaders of 1787 had studied Cicero, Polybius, Coke, Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone, among others, as well as the history of the rise and fall of governments, and they recognized these underlying principles of law as those of the Decalogue, the Golden Rule, and the deepest thought of the ages.

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  114. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/dr-kenneth-howell-email-utilitarianism-v-natural-moral-law-on-homosexuality

    ...I know this doesn't answer all the questions in many of your minds. All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions. As a final note, a perceptive reader will have noticed that none of what I have said here or in class depends upon religion. Catholics don't arrive at their moral conclusions based on their religion. They do so based on a thorough understanding of natural reality.



    Kenneth J. Howell Ph.D.

    Director, St. John's Institute of Catholic Thought

    Adjunct Associate Professor of Religion, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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