Early Primitive

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Frequently Asked Questions...

Is the morality of actions relative, or just the morality of people?

I keep reading responses on this site where atheists will declare morality to be relative, and then turn right around and say that murder is wrong. Well if it really is relative, how could it be absolutely wrong? I think this reveals a dual standard, and perhaps the beginnings of an understanding that actions are not the same as intentions.

If a person sincerely intends good, but causes evil, is that person then evil? Or is the action then good because of the person's intentions?

Take the example of early primitive cultures who sacrificed their children to ensure a good harvest. Looking back on it, we know this was nothing but superstition, and their actions were evil. But they sincerely believed these actions to be necessary and good. By moral relativism, therefore, their actions *were* good. But could it just be that the people themselves were good, yet their actions were evil?

What are your thoughts?

Best Answer...


I think I agree with you.

However (or maybe "but to clarify")

Basic morality is absolute -- we can very comfortibly say "human sacrifice is evil"
I am comfortible in saying that we have an obligation to stop it when it occurs.
This is not related to the intentions of the people doing it.

I think the myth of Abraham is a perfect example -- According to all of his upbringing and heritage, he realy thought he was doing a wonderful thing.
But God stopped him and said "your intentions were very good - I can see how much you love me - but this act is bad and will never be done in this new religion"

Seeing as we are not God, sometimes it is right to bring military power into it -- as the Brits did in fighting human sacrifice in India.