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What Stops Us From Doing...?

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Recently I was asked that if there weren't a conciousness that created morality for man, then what would stop people from commiting crimes. I explained what morality was, how it derived from reality, etc, but they kept asking me what would stop the criminals (as in they stopped commiting crimes themselves) if they rejected rational reality.

What they wanted is an answer that would have me either acknowledge the need for the existence of a god and throw away my previous argument or reject morality altogether. The conversation ended before I could put my input but the truth is, I don't have a good answer. Any suggestions?

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Recently I was asked that if there weren't a conciousness that created morality for man, then what would stop people from commiting crimes. I explained what morality was, how it derived from reality, etc, but they kept asking me what would stop the criminals (as in they stopped commiting crimes themselves) if they rejected rational reality.

What they wanted is an answer that would have me either acknowledge the need for the existence of a god and throw away my previous argument or reject morality altogether. The conversation ended before I could put my input but the truth is, I don't have a good answer. Any suggestions?

First, don't let religionists get away with injecting God into the argument. In my view, it is more important to challenge their notion of God than to haggle over moral issues--especially when they clearly have no interest in your positive case for an egoistic morality.

But if you want to stop their clocks, you might try simply pointing out that The Ten Commandments don't seem to stop criminals. So, what is so great about a God-given morality?

You can also point out that even criminals have free will and can choose to act against morality and the standard of man's life. If you want to stop criminals, call the police.

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"...what would stop people from commiting crimes. I explained what morality was, how it derived from reality, etc, but they kept asking me what would stop the criminals (as in they stopped commiting crimes themselves) if they rejected rational reality."

Um - what would stop the criminals if they rejected irrational mysticism? Or even better what would stop the criminals if they rejected morality completely? And what bearing upon that philosophy or morality does their rejection have? (hint - none at all)

In other words, the question they present is: if a man does not accept a particular idea, morality, philosophy etc, what can FORCE him to accept it?

Obviously that is an absurd question - and you need to point that out instead of trying to answer it. There is no answer because there is NO way to force a mind.

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What if a criminal rejects God? Its much easier to suppose that a person would reject god as opposed to reject a rational reality. Aside from this, the thing that keeps people from commiting crimes (and this is basic) is selfishness. Even the so-called altruists are aware and act according to causal consequences. A person will not commit a crime based not on decrees from God or state but rather because by commiting a crime they open themselves upto harm by those protecting their lives or their property. Its common sense. Collectivists (those who insist the counciousness of God or state is primary) often reveal in their claims that an "enforcer" is necessary display a disgusting distrust of the individual, which stems mainly from a distrust of themselves inherent in their philosophy. Anyone who believes that man is born guilty and must spend his existance "groveling to ghosts" will inherently distrust the individual's ability to make correct moral desicions.

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Recently I was asked that if there weren't a conciousness that created morality for man, then what would stop people from commiting crimes.

There ARE people who commit crimes, therefore there IS no consciousness that "creates morality for man." Q.E.D.

Talk about a self-refuting argument! :)

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...they kept asking me what would stop the criminals (as in they stopped commiting crimes themselves) if they rejected rational reality.

Well, hopefully, a cop. ;-)

This is a very silly question on their part, which is probably why you got stumped trying to give it a serious answer. What would stop an irrational person from being irrational? Well... nothing, unless *he* decided to stop being irrational. Certainly it won't help to introduce further irrationality in the form of religion.

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What they wanted is an answer that would have me either acknowledge the need for the existence of a god and throw away my previous argument or reject morality altogether. The conversation ended before I could put my input but the truth is, I don't have a good answer. Any suggestions?

God and religion have caused the worst evils in the world -- Crusades, Dark Ages, Inquisition, Terrorism, etc.

Surely a criminal would prefer a rational philosophy rather than a religious philosophy if he accepts anything at all.

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Thanks guys. I've decided to fully explain my argument step by step next time from what I believe metaphysically, man's place in world, and the connection between man, rationality, and ethics. I'll then make sure to point out the very mistakes their making.

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  • 4 weeks later...

i had someone ask me a similar question. or rather his statement was that if there weren't any cops then if someone didn't like you or got upset at you the first thing they'd do (as there are no cops) is shoot you. I told him that first of all not everyone would do that....certainly I wouldnt nor anyone else who had morals and principles. He went on to say that he didnt think most people had any. He had told me earlier that he believes in psychics and things and that was why I was trying to convince him of reason in the world when he said that. Well I just told him he had a very pessimistic view of the human individual. I told him I thought most people have the capacity to reason and be moral...whether they choose to use those is up to them. Funny, he doesn't approach me to talk anymore.

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