In the debate between Glen and Gene (a few posts below), they are arguing the timeless question of whether belief in God is necessary for morality. Let me first broadcast a portion of my comment:
"...I think that God designed the universe and human beings, and thus He knows what will give us not mere pleasure, but joy. And thus when He warns us (through prophets, but also by giving reason to sociologists, economists, political scientists, and medical doctors who specialize in venereal disease) about the consequences of immorality (or sin, to use a quaint term) He is letting us know that we are going to be unhappy. It's like a parent telling a child not to go near the stovetop...
What if it were the case that people felt unfulfilled because they were separated from their Maker, and that's what caused them to seek out drug use, affairs, bank robberies, etc.? (Granted they might be atheists and not realize the source of their unhappiness.) In what possible sense could you say these people could fully understand morality if they were ignorant of the single most important fact in the universe (the existence of a conscious God)?"
Now as far as the issue at hand: I think it's similar to Hayek's argument in Road to Serfdom. You can't expect to have a political system that respects "democratic" rights if it is socialist. Yes, in theory you could have a bunch of socialists who allow the government-owned printing press to run critical articles and who don't give dissenters crap jobs in Siberia, but in practice that's not going to happen. With each generation, the government will become more and more brutal as the habits and morals that formed under economic freedom die away.
By the same token, it's logically possible to have a society of atheists who are completely moral. But if you take an actual society right now, and stamp out belief in God, with each generation (I claim) it would get less and less moral, by our current definition. Maybe the people in those succeeding generations would consider themselves more civlized than us, but we would do the same when viewing their behavior--even today's atheists.
"If your approach to mathematics is mechanical not mystical, you're not going to go anywhere." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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