If you don't believe in religion, how do you get your moral compass?

  • May 22, 2013 · 6:30 PM
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"So, you don't believe in god and religion? How could you possibly be a moral person? You need that to know right and wrong... don't throw out the baby with the bathwater"

The Bible, Koran and other religious texts dictate a lot of rules of how to live a moral life (or do they?). For many this is their reference point for making life important life decisions. How can you get your morality if not from religion, culture, social norms - acceptable standards of "right and wrong".

How do values, ethics and morals differ - or are they the same?  How do you go about setting such guideposts for your life?

Let's discuss these at this meet up.

*Bring some change for a beer and possible meal

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  • Anil S.

    I've booked a table for 12 folks for tonight at Woodcutters.... Looking forward to the discussion and meeting again.

    May 22, 2013

  • Michael L.

    I've been looking forward to this as much as anyone. Will hopefully get some feedback from the group. Have an interesting meeting and see you at the next one. Will keep active on Meetup in the meantime!

    May 21, 2013

  • Michael L.

    Hi all, this is really disappointing for me, my brother is going back to Mauritius on friday and tomorrow is the last evening we're spending together as thursday night he'll be busy with last minute stuff. I'm really sorry.

    May 21, 2013

  • Bruce P.

    Thanks for the links. Some confusion though because people mean different things by ethics or morality e.g. Steven Pinker's contention that "we have too much morality" is only correct if his definition is confined to Descriptive Ethics.

    The following sites might be helpful.
    http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_ethics.html
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-character/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_philosophy

    Some questions to ponder on:
    1. Are ethics and values the same, and are there also good and bad ethics?

    2. Are there moral absolutes? (see e.g. http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_absolutism.html).

    3. If there are, what tools are available to detect them, and, how does one persuade 7 billion people to accept them.

    4. If there are, what of moral dilemmas? (see http://listverse.com/2007/10/21/top-10-moral-dilemmas/ for some interesting ones). Is there a hierarchy of ethics i.e. are some "sins" worse than others?

    Looking forward to an interesting meeting.

    May 19, 2013

  • Michael L.

    Sorry if this is slightly off topic, but I thought I'd share this with you...

    Today I told a friend that I was an atheist and he seemed a bit shocked. I told him there is a fair bit of antagonism towards atheists in this society, which is why I avoid speaking about my atheism, and he told me the most unexpected thing.. "But aren't atheists into Satanism??"... I was shocked! I never knew that people thought such things here. I don't know if it's the perception of a minority or a general perception. I can only conclude that that's what the pastors tell their church members.

    May 18, 2013

  • Juergen R.

    Although I have no chance to be at the meeting, please let me contribute a further aspect.
    According to Steven Pinker, we suffer more from morality than from the lack of such:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFDJJ1KydgE
    I believe his points are very important to consider when thinking about morality.

    1 · May 17, 2013

  • johnbosco n.

    I would like concrete directions; I come from pietermaritzburg.

    May 5, 2013

    • Johann O.

      Head down on the N3 towards Durban. Take the M13 off ramp just before Hillcrest. Carry on till you get to the Roger Sishi (Old Westville Road) off ramp. Turn right at the traffic lights. Get onto Lancaster Terrace and ask for the location of the restaurant if you can't see it from where you are. Its fairly simple to find.

      1 · May 15, 2013

  • Stephan

    That was very good Michael. Here's some data on crime levels too:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94f2h-5TvbM

    1 · May 11, 2013

  • Michael L.

    This is a pretty good argument/ response from Richard Dawkins on this topic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu7AQTs_y5A

    looking forward to our next meeting! ;)

    May 9, 2013

  • Stephan

    I just came across a 1 hour talk by Sam Harris today that says some things about this, though more about other things I think valuable, there-among things from the last meetup:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtN4-lwnHX4

    Sam covers:
    "Either a person argues that a specific religion is true or he argues that religion is useful and indeed so useful that it might be necessary, or he argues that atheism is essentially another religion, dogmatic, intolerant or otherwise worthy of contempt."

    Transcript: http://nufreethought.blogspot.com/2010/05/sam-harris-aspen-ideas-festival-07.html

    1 · May 1, 2013

  • Anil S.

    Thanks Stephan. Yes. Sorted out above.

    May 1, 2013

  • Stephan

    This is at Woodcutters Anil?

    May 1, 2013

  • Stephan

    May 1, 2013

  • Juergen R.

    Took me a while to understand that while religions quite successfully highjacked both our morality and spirituality, they are IMHO the worst source for either.
    I strongly recommend the following short talk by Sam Harris to all participants as a basis of your meeting:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html
    cheers - Juergen

    April 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Besides religious text, peoples parents and societal norms and laws dictate what is right and wrong.
    Many 'religious' people have never read their own religions texts.
    Does instinct help us with this ?

    March 25, 2013

    • Anil S.

      Totally agree Lara. There are other sources besides religious texts, and most of the religious get their framework/ rules/ order/ life decision making reference from there. The discussion of societal norms, parents, peers, traditions, culture etc would be also interesting - as we are all influenced by these. Instinct, conditioning, wiring etc all play their role I'm sure.

      So, how free are we think/ choose/ make moral choices? Also, if we bring in the discussion of 'no free will' but the environment we're placed in - should make for some interesting angles. I think we just want to know (for the purposes of the discussion) what do we authentically reference/ seek to understand/ respect... or maybe not respect? ;-)

      March 25, 2013

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