December 26, 2006

Casual Morality Test

It is tiresome when I read that Atheists are not moral, or cannot be moral, or have no moral code. The biggest problem with the idea of morality is that, like snowflakes, no two people agree on what exactly morality is, and what exactly is an immoral act. The definition of morality is totally subjective.
I define an immoral act as an act that causes the individual committing the act any degree of guilt and/or an act that was done maliciously or selfishly that causes any degree of hurt or grief onto another living being.
I'm 100% certain that everyone who reads this has a different idea about what is moral and immoral. But that is my premise.
Now, to prove it. Here is a casual quiz. You can put your answers into the comments here, or just walk away knowing I'm right:) usual.

Rate every statement from 1-10 where 10 is a moral act and 1 is as immoral as you can get. Also, a 0 would mean the question doesn't have enough info. And NA would mean you don't find the question to be a moral issue. An 8 or 9 would be slightly immoral.

1. An unmarried woman had sex with a man who she is no longer seeing and became pregnant and has an early abortion. How immoral or moral was the act of the abortion?

2. An unmarried woman gets violently raped by an escaped convict and becomes pregnant and has an early abortion. How immoral or moral was the act of the abortion?

3. Premarital sex?

4. You are 18 and you take a few tokes from an illegal marijuana joint?

5. You are married with young children and walking the dog, and see a really sexy person. On your way back home you start fantasizing about having sex with this person, and when having sex with your partner, you pretend your partner is that person?

6. Killing a a career criminal who is caught on tape robbing and killing a clerk in a convenience store, by lethal injection?

7. Killing a harmless daddy long legs spider that was in your bedroom?

8. Living together before marriage?

9. Telling a loved one he or she looks great when you don't think that is the case, just so that person won't spend money at a spa because you don't think the spa will help?

10. Finding $5000 in the attic, 3 years after you moved into a new home and not trying to contact the former owner?

11. Not feeding a dying relative who has terminal cancer and is in endless pain when it is their wish not to be fed.

I had to do this post after losing a few braincells "debating" with a couple of theistic "scholars" over at Christ Matters: Politics That Matter To Him.


  1. People with low morals need (or think they need) fear of damnation to make them not do bad things.

    Often times religious folks do as much evil or worse than any atheist.

    Saying atheists are immoral is just another belief based on ignorance and superstition.

  2. None of those are 'moral' situations, are they?

  3. Only the last two seem to be moral questions. For number 10, keeping the money would be immoral if you didn't at least try to find the former owners (but then again, it might not be their money either and they might be immoral and lie to get it) and for number 11, not feeding a relative who requests not to be fed seems like the moral thing to do.

  4. 1 3
    2 5
    3 0
    4 0
    5 0
    6 1
    7 0
    8 4
    9 3 that's pretty crummy
    10 0
    11 10

  5. "I define an immoral act as an act that causes the individual committing the act any degree of guilt and/or an act that was done maliciously or selfishly that causes any degree of hurt or grief onto another living being."

    This excludes children, schizos, and retards(sic) who don't know any better from doing something immoral. If you don't know it's immoral it automatically isn't? I disagree.

    Guilt, malicious, selfish, hurt, grief? Trying to objectively define something using such subjective words is doomed to fail.

    I try keep my judgment on morality on a case to case basis.

  6. I might as well give my answers based on my definition of morality.

    1. Because I don't view a fetus as being a human entity until it can survive outside of the womb (on a machine if necessary), I rate this as moral. However, if the woman has an ounce of guilt over it, to some degree to her it is an immoral act.

    2. I would almost find it immoral to allow the pregnancy to go on if I had any say in it. It is the woman's choice though.

    3. Since I don't have to worry about what God thinks, premarital sex is perfectly fine.

    4. I don't think marijuana should be illegal. But I may experience some guilt by doing something like this if I knew it would get back to my parents (oh to be 18 again).

    5. This is probably not a moral question to me. Nobody is hurt, but I may experience some guilt if I become obsessed with the hot chick over a long period of time. (but I didnt' state that was happening)

    6. I look at the death penalty as a deterrant regardless how some people want to bend the stats. And I think that taking another persons life not in a war and not in a domestic situation is as bad as it gets. So this is definitely not an immoral act.

    7. If I think about this at all, it is immoral. Maybe a 3 on a scale of 1-10.

    8. Nope, I wish I lived together longer before mine.

    9. This is about lying and deception. I would feel guilty about lying. Maybe an 8 or 9 in this case.

    10. This is an immoral act because of the guilt associated with it. There is a good chance you aren't harming anyone living by not seeking out the owner. Still it is a 1 or a 2.

    11. Assuming the person is in his or her right mind, this again may cause some guilt by not feeding the person but I'd rate it an 8 or 9.

  7. Shadow, I may have worded my intent incorrectly when it comes to maliciously. I want to include the victim's perspective in the definition.

  8. "The definition of morality is totally subjective." Atheistic Jew

    That is one philosophical point of view but there are others. As far as I know they are all opinions. If you are a loyal citizen of the U.S. then your point of view on what is moral will coincide with that of the U.S. Declaration of Independence which happens to coincided with the command to love others and yourself.

  9. Kerwin, you can't say that morality is different depending in what country you live and then say that the definition is not subjective. I guess you can say anything....but it doesn't have to make sense.
    The US D of C doesn't mention love, perhaps respect... but more like the government respects the rights of the people or it gets taken down.
    And if you think that the definition of morality is objective. Lets here the exact should be the same no matter what country you live in.
    And if you think morality is objective, try answering the quiz.

  10. 1-4 Not even things I'd consider on moral grounds. I'm the result of a situation not totally unlike #2, the fact that I'm here at all is good or bad depending on ones point of view, should I debate my existence? NA.

    5 I avoid as much as possible because it is disrespectful of the person you are with. 5.

    6 Don't care much but...have issues with giving any governing body the authority to take life. NA.

    7 Why would you want to? 3.

    8 NA.

    9. 4.

    10. 0. Too many variables.

    11. 10.

    12. Voting while retarded 1. Oh wait, that wasn't on the list...never mind.

  11. 1. 10

    2. 10

    3. 10

    4. 10

    5. 10

    6. 10

    7. 9

    8. 10

    9. 9

    10. 0 (hard to determine morality)

    11. 10

  12. 1) I'll invent the context because it is only implied in the question. She has an abortion because she wants nothing that reminds her of the man she left. So I'd give that action a 10. The fetus or embryo is the property of the mother.

    2) 10. the motivation being that she wants nothing that reminds her of the man who raped her. The fetus or embryo is the property of the mother.

    3) 0. Not enough context because the answer would depend on the nature of the relationship.

    4) 8. Screwing with one's own mind is not in one's self interest.

    5) 10. The important thing is is that the couple love each other, and if imagining a better looking spouse makes sex better, then that's a good thing.

    6) 10. The career criminal forfeited his own life by murdering the clerk

    7) From a 5 because you have a cruel streak, to a 9 because you just can't be bothered transporting the critter to another location, or a 10 if bites from dandy long legs in your country can cause any degree of harm to people.

    8) N/A

    9) 0. I don't get it.

    10) 1. for not contacting the ~police~ after finding $5000 in the attic.

    11} A 10 given the context.

  13. Eclectic Infidel,

    "10. 0 (hard to determine morality)"

    What's so hard? You didn't earn the $5000. It isn't yours. If you keep it then you are a thieving scum who deserves gaol time and a kick in the head by the rightful owner. So you take it to the police to determine who the rightful owner is, which gets a 10/10.

  14. NYMama, sorry if I offended you with the quiz:) I don't know you well enough if you are deemed to be a danger to others because of your genes.

    But this is getting interesting because what is a moral question for some isn't a moral question for others. As I predicted....this wasn't brain surgery.

    Tony, 9 is a about lies and deception, albeit quasi white or gray lies.
    The purpose isn't about debate here regarding question 10, although I welcome it. You are trying to say your morality is better than someone elses. That is fine.
    Personally, I don't think it is a black and white police issue. Different states may have different laws regarding who really owns the 5G's. If I look at it as a law issue, I would say that because I bought the house as is, the money would be legally mine. What if I found a stash buried in my backyard from 1932? Again, it would be interesting to see what different countries or even states and provinces say about this.

  15. 1. 9
    2. 10
    3. 10 (since I'm not allowed to get married in Texas to the person I love, what choice would I have?)
    4. 10
    5. 10
    6. 1
    7. 1 if intentional; 9 if unintentional
    8. 10
    9. 5
    10. 5 (it's a 2-way street)
    11. 8

  16. I just realized TMQ had never added your blog to our blogroll. Forgive us. You have now been added. Don't worry, the initiation process isn't too tough, but it does involve some hoofed animals, ugly women, chewing tobacco, and a plethora of cheap tequila.

  17. Moral
    6 (ceteris paribus), 11

    2, 5, 7, 8, 3 (premarital committed sex)

    Permissible, but don't make a habit of it
    1, 3 (premarital casual sex), 4, 9 (lying for good)

    10 (You wouldn't steal a car if someone left their keys in the ignition on your street, would you? Then why steal a lesser amount?)

    All-- Disagreement in scientific, mathematical, or ethical matters does not prove that science, mathematics, and ethics are bogus disciplines. Not this kind of argument applies here-- people have far more agreement ethically on hordes of things we don't notice because of the agreement-- society would be impossible without it. But this is insufficient to demonstrate the objectivity of ethics; a different kind of argument is required either way -- consensus shows nothing.

  18. Kona, after I wrote the test, I thought I should ask a question with gay marriage implications, but it appears that religious Fundies are either too embarrassed (and I wish they weren't) or maybe they have no desire to answer the questions. So a gay question would have no relevance here to date.

    Lance, I'm on your keyboardist roll, but thanks for putting me on your real roll.

    Jason, this isn't a scientific study, and yes I know that just because 1.6 billion Muslims think Allah is a prophet or 2.1 billion Christians think Jesus is the Messiah, doesn't mean either belief true. But the point to this exercise is to prove that no two people have the same degree of morality on all issues, and don't even have the same definition of what morality is.

  19. Wow, it took my dial-up a long time to load your blog, BEAJ!
    Here are my comments from over at Christ Matters:

    I prayed about it and God told me he no longer exists. After his death from suicide by mob a little over 2000 years ago, he waived his omnipotentence and omniscience and all else omni, and retired to the quiet life of an invisible pink unicorn living in a teapot orbiting Saturn. He retained only enough power to remain both pink and invisible at the same time. And of course to answer my question, which was his last one.

    Problem solved.

    Comment by karen — thep31e12beWed, 27 Dec 2006 04:18:27 -0700 28, 2006 @ 12:29 p12

    Oh, and by the way, the title of your blog–”Christ Matters: Politics That Matter to Him” –??? You’re joking, right? Is there another blog about sports teams that matter to him? And fashions? And housewares?
    How would Jesus vote? Too frickin’ funny!

    Comment by kar

    I guess I cut off part of the comment by part when I was cutting and pasting.
    Maybe the admin did delete me, but I don't know why it would show up intact on my screen and not yours.
    Gawd works in mysterious ways! ;-)

  20. BEAJ
    The comments are gone from my screen now.
    And how cute; admin called me a troll!

  21. 1. 0
    2. 10
    3. 0
    4. What, you're kidding, right?
    5. 0
    6. 5
    7. 8
    8. What, you're kidding, right?
    9. 7
    10. 10
    As to #10, hey, you can't hold onto your own damn money, what, am I someone else's keeper?
    11. 10
    My brother-in-law's aunt contracted a horrible infection via biting her tongue, which they had to remove. She ended up starving herself to death.

  22. I only consider actions 6 and 11 as moral issues because they relate to terminating a human life (I don't consider a foetus a fully formed human being). As moral issues, they would require deep thought. The other matters listed I wouldn't give a second thought to.

  23. NYMama, sorry if I offended you with the quiz:)

    Not one little bit :). It's a good and interesting quiz. I am enjoying the responses.

    People can come up with the same answer for entirely different reasons or totally different answers but for the same reasons. I'm usually more interested in intent than the particulars.

  24. FWIW...

    1. 10 Not immoral. But stupid.

    2. 10 or even higher.

    3. 0

    4. 10 ... legalize it...

    5. 5 I think this hurts you and your partner.

    6. 0 - not enough info. I support the death penalty for genocide, serial killers, and some other circumstances (some rapes/paedophilia). I think it depends on many things, like the psychological profile of the criminal.

    7. 8 Well it doesn't hurt a person but I don't like killing things unless they're going to hurt me in some way.

    8. 10

    9. 7 it's a bit low. How about tactful honesty.

    10. 4 Although if it's in the attic and they didn't take it, maybe it was never really theirs...

    11. 10

  25. OK, Bacon Eater, I'll bite, just for fun:

    1) 9 I don’t like abortions, but it’ll never be my body. It’s her choice.
    2) 9 same thing
    3) 10 just don’t be stupid
    4) 7 guilt never actually stopped anybody…
    5) 5 looking won’t hurt anyone, and fantasies are private. Don’t make this a habit, though, or it will hurt your marriage.
    6) 10 law and order, bub. “Thou shalt not muder.”
    7) 2 what’d the daddy long ever do to you?
    8) 10 this can frequently result in a stronger marriage
    9) 8 I don’t have a big problem with “little white lies” do avoid hurting a loved one, but, like the fantasy issue, this can become harmful if it becomes a habit.
    10) 7 The money was not yours, originally. Try to find the owner. If you can’t, well, you did buy the house and all of its contents, so you do have a legitimate claim to the cash.
    11) 8 You’ll feel bad no matter what, but you should respect the wishes of your relatives, especially if they are lucid.

    Interesting post. My favorite kind, actually: it made me think.

  26. Well I voted NA for all of them. I've been asking similar questions on my own atheist blog. One of my favourite questions is, if you could save only save a man or a gorilla from death by ebola which one would you save? I had one vote for the gorilla, one for the man and one for toss a coin.

    Humans eh?


  27. Karen, it seems that you are only allowed to bash them if you stay on topic. Easy enough.

    Lex, your definition of morality is different than mine and everyone else, and my definition is different than everyone elses....oh wasn't that the point of this quiz?

    NYMama, though very few believers have bothered answerring the quiz, nobody has yet said that there answer had anything to do with what God wants. How would Jesus answer this quiz?

    Michael and Billy Jean, thanks for responding.

    Louie, define morality. I left a comment on your gorilla post.

  28. Cheers for the comment. Rather than define morality, I'll give specific responses to your quiz.

    1.(NA) If people want to have sex with each other and then abort any foetus which arises as a consequence of the sex, who am I to criticise? I may not want to pay taxes so irresponsible people can waste my money, but then I often don't get a choice in where my money goes. What is the alternative? Illegal abortions? Banning sex? Stoning people for unmarried sex? Millions more unwanted children for society to look after?

    2.(NA)Pretty much the same as 1.

    3.(NA)This one's a joke. All of our ancestors had sex. Your mum and dad had sex. Marriage (civil or religious) does not change much.

    4.(NA)Marijuana has been used by humans for thousands of years. Only within the last 100 years is it 'illegal'. Legislating for behaviours which are carried out privately in the home is difficult. Tobacco is legal. Alcohol is legal. If it doesn't hurt anyone, and people do it anyway, why make more criminals and drive a black market?

    5.(NA)Lots of people do this. You cannot stop people thinking or fantasising. It is human nature.

    6.(NA)I have asked similar questions on my own blog. If you are 100% certain that the murderer is guilty then I see no problem with killing them too. Life is short and without ultimate purpose. Taking a life is very serious.

    7.(NA)A daddy long legs has no idea about what the world is. It has no concept of itself. It is a biological machine. Hoover it up and feel no guilt!

    8.(NA)When did marriage become a pinnacle? I'm divorced and can tell you that it's a bit of paper. If you're a good couple you'll survive regardless of whether other people recognise your relationship as a 'marriage'.

    9.(NA)Relationships sometimes require small lies. People often do not want the truth, but want to be made to feel better.

    10.(NA)Finders keepers losers weepers. Ignorance and idiocy are motivating factors to not do it again.

    11.(NA)Ending your own life should not be illegal, but you can't change your mind when your dead. I don't want to die, but if other people do, I cannot criticise them for that decision. Let's hope for a time when medical science can reduce such dilemmas.

  29. Louie, I don't know that NA would be applicable in most cases, you seem to be stating that most of these examples are 10's. Again it would depend on your definition of morality. If one equates morality with God's word and then you don't believe in God, the concept of morality would be NA for everything.

  30. I answered NA to each question. I don't use the label "libertarian" or think of myself as a libertarian, but I agree with libertarian ethics regarding personal relationships. I.e, if no harm is meant, then there is no moral judgement. Although you can still judge someone as making a stupid mistake of judgement in an act of commisssion or omission.

  31. You're definition of morality: I define an immoral act as an act that causes the individual committing the act any degree of guilt and/or an act that was done maliciously or selfishly that causes any degree of hurt or grief onto another living being.

    You also state: Rate every statement from 1-10 where 10 is a moral act and 1 is as immoral as you can get. Also, a 0 would mean the question doesn't have enough info. And NA would mean you don't find the question to be a moral issue. An 8 or 9 would be slightly immoral.

    Googling a definition of morality gives: concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct.

    I do not believe in good or 'evil'. There is no ultimate observer who determines what right or wrong is. Our biology and cultural development has led to a construct of 'morality' but there is no objective right or wrong (hence my rating of NA). You mention guilt, but what about a psychopath who lacks guilt? I keep thinking about this question, but from another position. I call it the Munsters' Dilemma. How do you accommodate different wants within a society?

    I don't mind what people get up to really, as long as it doesn't affect me negatively. But what if somebody wants my life, or my body when I don't want to give it up?

    Personally I think that in this godless, pointless universe we shouldn't worry so much about unmarried sex, or smoking a joint and spend more time feeding the starving and educating the ignorant.

    But what do I know. I'm a dirty atheist!

  32. JG, when someone has a lethal injection, harm is definitely meant, so NA doesn't cut it, unless you don't have a concept of secular morality.

    Louie, there could be a situational objective right and wrong that may just have to do with evolutionary tendencies of surviving, adapting successfully or procreating.

  33. > If you are terrified of horses and afraid to be near them, and yet like
    > to dress up in cowboy costumes as an adult and ride bicycles rather than
    > horses on a former pig farm that you call a "ranch", you just might be a
    > jew.
    > If you were a cocaine-snorting, shiftless and worthless drunk until you
    > were forty years old, and yet then begin to pontificate sanctimoniously to
    > the entire nation about "decency and honor" and "moral character", you
    > might just be a jew.
    > If you dodged the military draft and avoided a foreign war because you
    > were the privileged son of a Congressman, and yet like to dress up in
    > military costumes as an adult and send hundreds of thousands of poor kids
    > to a war that you alone started, you might just be a jew.
    > If you and your brothers went from one failed and questionable business
    > venture to another and were bailed out time and again by taxpayers and
    > family friends, and yet have the gall to lecture a nation on economics and
    > budgeting, you might just be a jew.
    > If you and your family helped arrange for your girlfriend to have an
    > abortion because you didn't have the sense to use a condom when you were
    > young, and then later wag your finger at women about the "sanctity" of
    > life of an embryo, you might just be an asshole jew.

  34. Anon, you must be a retarded assmonkey.

  35. the kanadian kikester atheist/bacon/beajpusgut/wino etc complains that yahoo violated his free speech writes, but then he selectively deletes comments from his blog. he is a joohypocrite weasel and a fraud.

    Please don't take this the wrong way, I am only telling you this as 1 friend to another.

    Your blog blows. It's crappy. Having a blog is like having a baby. You don't need a license to have one. You don't need to meet any qualifications to have one. Anybody CAN have one or more than one. And the ones who normally have them are the ones who really shouldn't have them because they suck. Having one doesn't make you important either.

    What I'm trying to tell you is GET A FUKKING JOB AND STOP SPONGING OFF YOUR WIFE!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. My wife only works 3 days a week. Oh, and I do have a job.


  38. Maybe you can explain why you turned your back on your race/religion/upbringing and committed a sin against god and man by intermarrying and assimilating, violating one of the basic tenets of judaism. I suppose it's because your don't "believe" in god so you can do a la carte pick and choose judaism to suit your purpose at hand. Pretty hypocritical.

  39. Rickey, a Jew is a Jew by birth and/or religion. There is nothing hypocritical about me calling myself a Jew.
    Hitler would have murdered me without an interview.

  40. But how can you claim to be a jew when your dad was an Arab Persian rugrider and you mom is a Lebanese Arab?

  41. If that were the case, I wouldn't be able to claim Jew status.

  42. Louie - tell me you are not one of those smoking shitheads.

  43. I wonder if you ever asked your grandfathers those questions or perhap you father. You should know your own family well enough to be able to judge what their answers to morality would have been. It is their views that I would have found interesting.

  44. 1. 1
    2. 4
    3. 10
    4. 1
    5. 10
    6. 10
    7. 10
    8. 10
    9. 10
    10. 10
    11. 5

  45. Kevin, I just checked out your blogs. I find it strange that a Libertarian Leaner, is against abortion and marijuana.