Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by -1- » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:58 pm

I had been re-thinking my stance on human morality.

My belief had been that morality is an evloutionary development, and the random mutations that govern ethical behaviour have been surviving in genomes in larger numbers than the genomes that lacked it, because social living helped the survival of those who behaved ethically (treat others as you would like to be treated, do your fair share of community work, help those in need to survive, follow marriage traditions, accept community standards of behaviour codes).

Then I got on this site, and see arguments by theists, that atheists can't have a moral system because they lack in the beliefe in a God-given moral code.

Then I got thinking. The crime rate of atheists and theists are not different. So if some crimes ara also sinful, then the Christians in America also don't follow god's commandments. So the argument that atheism leads to more sinful ways, is valid only inasmuch as a sin is not a crime. For instance, overeating, or cheating on a spouse.

But even Gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins, is more prevalent in America, the most Christian nation in the world, than anywhere else.

So I decided that fear of god does not dictate a sinless, crime-free life.

But does atheism?

In all honesty, no. Atheists and Christians would both walk into fire to save their sons and daughters, and atheists and Christians would be equally likely to jump into the foaming brine of the oceans to save a person from drowning. Atheists and theists alike would and do volunteer their time to serve the poor in food kitchens, and atheists and theist alike are equally bent on either not shoplifting, or shoplifting.

There was an other reason why my theory on ethics as a development by the evolutionary process had to change. That is that both theists and atheists commit murder, or steal, or cheat on their spouses, or are rude with others, or beat their spouses, etc. etc. They both drive drunk and hit people.

So if ethics can be superridden, I theorized, by sinful behaviour, then it's not DNA or genome-driven. Some ethical behaviour is. But most behaviour which our society fosters as "ethical" is not genome-driven.

So what the driving force that compels people to behave ethically?

I would say indoctrination, and fear of law.

People do feel guilty if they do something unethical. Guilt is a feeling which would not exists if humans lived outside of a society. Guilt, as a feeling, is a social development. It is not an innate process.

So guilt and the knowledge of future guilt IF the individual does something unethical, is one driving force to make people generally behave ethically.

Another force is the law. If you steal an apple, you can go to jail. If you murder someone, and get caught, you go to jail.

We created laws for all conceivable ways in which unwanted behaviour is punished. Laws don't exactly follow the descriptions of what comprises sin. For instance, in Canada now you can blaspheme in public. Or wear nothing above the belt, even if you are a woman.

But my thinking or opinionating shifted from a belief of an evolutionary development of ethics, to a belief in which it is crime punishment that forbid also in one fell swoop unethical behaviour.

I believe that it the social invention of enforceable law that dictates to most humans how and when to behave ethically, it is not religion and it is not an innate evolutionary imperative.

We, humans, behave ethically, regardless of our philosophies, because we tend to want to avoid legal remedies dished out to criminals.

What do you think?

Viveka
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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by Viveka » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:43 am

To me, Humans behave ethically because they see the Goodness, or lack thereof, in certain actions, beliefs, and willing. For instance, many Christians are totalitarians in the sense they believe that everyone should believe in the Bible and its interpretation by their own or other's ideas, and not to do so is immoral. Likewise, people behave ethically because of a belief in a moral system, or at least a wish to do good things for others in this life, and lacking a belief in something good, or confusing what is good with what is evil, is what leads to ethical or unethical action. Likewise, willing is required as intentionally doing good or evil, which may be out of ignorance or lack of comprehension, but generally people in general know what willing entails. Also, many people who commit crimes are not doing so out of their own ignorance per se, but rather simply not caring in a moral and common sense, and/or lying, and/or stealing, and/or impulsive actions, and/or treating humans as sub-human, and/or lacking feeling capacity, and/or simply being addicted to a certain drug(s).

Hence, sin is very important when it comes to morality. The Ten Commandments, and/or Jesus' teaching are the opposite of psychopathy and crime-related actions. Just because we do not legislate good behavior means that good behavior itself comes from religion and common-sense ethics and fear of sin or wrong-doing. If one sets his/her mind on doing good, expect one to do good as much as one can. While others may not be so inclined to have such a want of good and fear of evil, it is simply a desire to do good that starts one on the path to goodness in life and a lack of evil, while a legislative body could never do such a thing.

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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by -1- » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:14 am

Dear Viveka, I understand what you wrote. That Christian scriptures promote good behaviour. That I can't deny, without any admission that the scriptures are god-inspired.

However, if the sin and concept of acting against the will of god is the opposite of the required behaviour, then how come so many Christians sin? Not more, I am not saying more, than atheists, by relative numbers; but the ratio of sinful behaviour (as measured by criminal behaviour) is the same in relative terms among the theists and the atheists.

How come sin and guilt are god-given, according to christians, but the commandments are disobeyed by the faithful? I find a strong inconsistency between faith and behaviour.

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GreatandWiseTrixie
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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by GreatandWiseTrixie » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:02 am

Ethics has nothing to do with law.

Ethics is a genetic reflex.

Here is an example.

Some stupid government, America for instance, passes a law saying it's illegal to fart in public.
You immediate reflex is to say that the law is unethical.

If laws can be unethical (which most of them are) it is safe to say that laws are not ethics.

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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by -1- » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:53 pm

GreatandWiseTrixie wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:02 am
Ethics has nothing to do with law.

Ethics is a genetic reflex.

Here is an example.

Some stupid government, America for instance, passes a law saying it's illegal to fart in public.
You immediate reflex is to say that the law is unethical.

If laws can be unethical (which most of them are) it is safe to say that laws are not ethics.
True. For half of the laws. I am not saying for the bigger or for the smaller half, but some laws are unethical. Like punishing theft. In Indian life, and in pre-agricultural societies, even in Europe, theft was not known, as the activity did not contravene any ethical rules, and in primitive societies only ethical rules made up the law.

No laws are ethical in the sense you describe, Trixie. If it's genome-driven or DNA ingrained ethics which can't be contravened, then there is no need for a law against it.

Some laws are ethical in the sense that they are social ethics. The law in a lot of cases are formed from social norms, from social ethics. By social ethics I mean what they teach you as a kid to do and what not to do. They are not genome-strength ethics, but ingrained, learned ethics. But ethics they are, nevertheless. For instance, don't steal. Or don't lie. Or don't cheat on your spouse. These are laws and social ethics which minimize social friction and maximize societal stability; these are laws and social ethics that promote the healthy survival of a society, and thus, are useful.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:12 pm

-1- wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:58 pm
The crime rate of atheists and theists are not different.
I guess we're not counting the 148 million people killed by avowedly Atheist regimes in the last century. I hope their relatives don't mind.

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Seleucus
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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by Seleucus » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:43 pm

I think morality is eternal and metaphysical and the discussion so far is too surface level.

Viveka
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Re: Guilt, sin, crime and punishment

Post by Viveka » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:14 pm

-1- wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:14 am
Dear Viveka, I understand what you wrote. That Christian scriptures promote good behaviour. That I can't deny, without any admission that the scriptures are god-inspired.

However, if the sin and concept of acting against the will of god is the opposite of the required behaviour, then how come so many Christians sin? Not more, I am not saying more, than atheists, by relative numbers; but the ratio of sinful behaviour (as measured by criminal behaviour) is the same in relative terms among the theists and the atheists.

How come sin and guilt are god-given, according to christians, but the commandments are disobeyed by the faithful? I find a strong inconsistency between faith and behaviour.
Even though Christians and Atheists do not do evil or do evil doesn't reflect their capacity for goodness. I could be a sinner, per Christian Scriptures, but also do good things. And while Christians have no monopoly on morality, atheists have less meaning in their lives that gives them the opportunity for goodness unless they believe in doing good without an objective morality. Atheists who are moral and Christians have it in common their willingness to do goodness. If it's religion or non-religion that vibes well with the individual, it makes no difference if both believe in Goodness.

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