What religious values are useful to non religious people?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by dogbone, Jun 25, 2006.

  1. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #1
    This thread is inspired by this article about the recent disgraceful plan by the Australian government to introduce chaplains into state schools.

    They talk vaguely about "values" but as far as I can see religious values are useless outside of a specific religion.

    As far as I can tell, all that seems to be necessary to live an ethical and moral life are the common sense values that all individuals commonly sense. These values do not have to be taught. The value of these values may need to be taught, but not the values themselves.

    I'm talking about values that are based on how we all wish to be treated. For example no one wants to be lied to, robbed, cheated or to have their property stolen and we are all well aware that others wish to be treated the same way. Of course various religions have appropriated these common sense values into their own religious structure to give their religious values more creedence.

    So while we may need to be taught the value of not lying, that is "what do I get out of it", we do not need to be taught that we don't wish to be lied to.

    So as it says on the packet...What religious values (in this particular case, Christian) are valuable to non religious persons?
     
  2. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #2
    As far back as I can remember in school, The Golden Rule, straight from the Old Testament was taught to all of us. It makes a lot of sense and echoes what you're already saying. If you don't want that treatment, don't promote doing it.

    "Love thy neighbour as thyself" works for me, too.
     
  3. Queso macrumors G4

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    #3
    Empathy for the effects your actions have on others is more important than religion. If you wouldn't like it done to you, don't do it to others.

    Religion seems to divide as much as it brings together. This measure is old thinking by politicians harking after a lost past.
     
  4. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

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    #4
    "Thou shalt not kill the person tailgating you." :mad:
     
  5. RacerX macrumors 65832

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    #5
    Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.


    Really there is no need for invoking religion, a good philosophy course on ethics would be the best way to address the issue.

    For example, a course on the writing of Immanuel Kant would be a great starting point.

    Some of the key issues that could be covered would be what is an ethical (good) act?

    Most people seem to think that if the out come is good that the motivation for the action is justified. Kant didn't think so. For him, the initial motivation is what counts, regardless of the final outcome. If you do something because it is the right thing to do, then that was an ethical act. If you do something for selfish reasons, even if the final outcome prove to be good, then it was an unethical act.

    Of course part of what Kant found was that leading an ethical life is, in the end, harder. You should not do anything for a reward, you should do things because they are the right thing to do. And you should be prepared for the consequences of doing the right thing... because doing the right thing is rarely the easy path.

    That is where most religions fail in my view. The idea of most beliefs is that if you are good then in the end you will be rewarded. And so you have all these believers only doing the right thing because they want something in the end... which is the wrong reason for doing the right thing to begin with.

    I, being an Atheist, am under no illusion that there is some form of reward in the after life for being a good person. Further, being a good person is not it's own reward because being good is always the harder path to follow... but that doesn't change the fact that it is the path that should be followed.


    An excellent example of this is the following scenario: Say you when to a fast food place for lunch. The cashier gives you your food and change and you head home. Part way there you realize that the cashier gave you too much change. What do you do?

    The answer should be obvious... and is often the one least taken, you should return the money. It may be inconvenient, but the consequences to the cashier (possibly losing their job) makes it imperative that the money is returned.

    Sadly even Christians often do the wrong thing in such cases, which (to me) shows the weakness in that (or any other religion) as a basis for teaching values and ethics.



    Recommended reading:
     
  6. Peterkro macrumors 68020

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    #6
    I agree with RacerX,although their are some good things in various religious books I think you'll find they predate those books as ethics in human thinking.As for the "even christians" bit I,d say especially christians.Human thought has progressed a long way in the last couple of millennia in spite of religion.
     
  7. Boggle macrumors 6502

    Boggle

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    Well, the problem with this argument is that "values" cannot be religious. They can only be applied to a religion, since values are abstract concepts they cannot belong to any set of beliefs. That's why the Major Eight have generally the same core values.

    Therefore, I think a better way of framing the question would be, "What values (do you thinnk) are equally useful to members of organized religion and those who don't affiliate themselves with any religion?"

    1. Forgiveness (seems to be the most universally useful -IMO)
    2. Kindness
    3. Honesty
    4. Fidelity
    5. Respect

    The list could go on and on but really, unless somebody's looking for loopholes, have many positive values does a person need?

    [EDIT] Haha! I finished making my point b4 Chundles *makes funny face*[/EDIT]
     
  8. Chundles macrumors G4

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    #8
    Since when do religions get the right to appropriate basic "good" human values as their own?

    Love, justice, tolerance (questionable in Christianity, unsure about other religions as I haven't had a great deal of experience with them), kindness, honesty etc, these are values of a good person, not a religious person. Not even faith is a religious value, I have faith in myself but I don't believe in a god.

    A good person doesn't necessarily have to be religious nor does a religious person necessarily have to be good.
     
  9. skunk macrumors G4

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    #9
    Of course these are not "religious values". They were articulated by men around whose teachings religions were later built. Zoroaster was not a Zoroastrian, nor was Christ a Christian. A religion is simply a set of binding principles (religio=binding back) based on a code of behaviour set out by a teacher. On this basis, a "religious person" means no more - and no less - than someone who is bound by principles. I would imagine that most people, whether members of a specific religion or not, consider themselves bound by some principle or other in their behaviour. To those who behave without bounds, ethical principles are irrelevant.
     
  10. jamesi macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    i would think everyone can agree that the basic ideas of being nice to others is a nice idea to incorporate into your character.
     
  11. Chundles macrumors G4

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    #11
    Yes they are, but they are not religious values, you can be nice to others and not have to be religious.
     
  12. Boggle macrumors 6502

    Boggle

    #12
    Now that we have used common sense, etymology, and rhetoric to adjust the syntax, perhaps it is possible to address the essence of the OP's question?

    Which values are most useful to ALL people? -- or do we have to debate the question some more? *looks around fearfully for a parlimentarian* :D
     
  13. Peterkro macrumors 68020

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    #13
    Being good to others is not just a good ethical position to take it is hardwired into humans as a evolutionary advantage(in spite of the point of view of the loony right Darwinists)Religion mainly Christianity has tried to cover this up with the idea of original sin i.e. humans are essentially bad,the truth humans are essentially good it's why we have survived.IMHO.
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #14
    Vigilance. Without vigilance you fail to even notice the choices.
     
  15. Boggle macrumors 6502

    Boggle

    #15
    Good Answer.
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

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    #16
    I would characterise it rather as a willingness to cooperate, perhaps largely due to the fact that homo sapiens as a physical species is unable to survive without it. Does it have an ethical dimension at all?
     
  17. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

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    #17
    All kinds of "religious" values.

    As several people noted, altruism, empathy and cooperativeness do not belong to any specific religion. The Golden Rule that bousozoku mentioned is just as much the basis of secular humanism as well as any religion you could name. (Arguably moreso.) And secular humanism is just "religious values" minus the belief in God.

    It doesn't take religion to carry those values in your heart...only enlightened self-interest. If you want to be treated well by other people, and realize that to achieve that you in turn have to treat other people well, you've got your "religious values".
     
  18. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #18
    Only in as much as evolution informs ethical ideals.See Peter Kropotkins Mutal Aid(who was not on his own in his interpretation of evolution there was a entire school of Russian evolutionists who put forward similar ideas).My comment about right wing Darwinists referred to the likes of Huxley and Malthus plus their modern equivalents.Darwin himself appears to have agreed more with Kropotkin than disagree.For instance "the survival of the fittest" only appeared in the second editions of his books after it had been popularised by those with a political axe to grind.
     
  19. skunk macrumors G4

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    #19
    I'll check that out. Thanks.
     
  20. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Obviously "Love Thy Neighbour" is the most fundamental of any religious teaching. In fact, when some Christians/Muslims/whoever are spreading venom about gays and lesbians, perhaps they should think about the importance of that principle for their own religion.

    I always thought that "If a man steals your jacket, then give him your coat" (a shocking inaccrate paraphrase, probably) is a valuable insight into all of modern societies ills and makes you think twice about all your prejudices.
     
  21. skunk macrumors G4

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    #21
    "Turn the other cheek" of course says the same.
     
  22. wmmk macrumors 68020

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    #22
    Hate to be too sensitive, but I think you mean Jesus.Not all of us believe in Jesus as the messiah. Still, I get that you were probably just trying to make a point, because thw word "Christ" is part of the word "Chistianity." Oh well, time to move on.

    I am Jewish, but I certainly always try to abide by this. I am a pacifist.
     
  23. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #23
    Yes indeed. The alleged Jesus.
     
  24. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #24
    If "do-good" were hard-wired into us, we wouldn't need ethics or religion, would we? "Values" or religion or philosophical ethics are how we work to be able to get along with one another. As an example, in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not covet..." keeps your neighbor from doing bad things to your body. Same sort of thing from the "...false witness..." prohibition: If you don't lie, you don't have to remember what you said.

    It seems to me, from no more than I know of philosophical history from umpteen thousand years back, that all values and ethics stem from religious thought. A mix of "Who made us all?" and "What is Good, what is Truth?" And we wound up with the Torah, the Koran and the Bible.

    I dunno. We've never had a Beaver Cleaver/Norman Rockwell society, in reality. Never will. Still, it doesn't look like a bad society in which to live, if peace and quiet and getting along with the folks around you has any importance...

    'Rat
     
  25. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #25
    You might say that if our constructed environment and institutions were not so loaded with inappropriate values, we might rediscover our natural cooperative instincts.
    I prefer "philosophical speculation". Which is all too often shaped, at the time or thereafter, to maintain a political position. How popular would Christianity be if every true Christian was told he or she had to give up all his/her worldly goods?
     

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