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Discussion (17)¬

  1. TB says:

    Dualities and paradoxes is fun. Isn’t it so? Almost every religion/faction/law/state/action has it.

  2. carolita says:

    The only really unforgivable law any religion has is the one where you’re killed if you leave the fold. If you’re allowed to opt out, then I guess a religion should be tolerated even if we don’t like it. I say if you’re a woman in a country where they arrest you if your ankles show when you sit down in your very long pants, then you should be able to seek asylum somewhere else. But I do also think that if your religion holds in contempt everything that is common in a country’s social practices, you should not be allowed in, period. Like in Holland, where they say if you’re not tolerant, you should not come here.

  3. Jiffy says:

    This looks more like a perfectly formed criticism of moral relativism beloved by some liberals/lefties (and I speak as a liberal leftie!). Some values really are better than others and must be seen from an objective viewpoint. The minute you start making allowances for cultural diffrences to excuse for example sexual inequality (or more accurately sexual oppression) you lose the right to make any moral judgements. Sam Harris deals with this nicely in The End of Faith, as do Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom in Why Truth Matters. Both well worth a read for anyone who hasn’t got round to them yet.

  4. Markk says:

    This will come in very handy to link to on Internet forums.

  5. Rich says:


    Who decides which values are objectively better than others? ;o)


  6. Tim says:

    Rich – we all have to decide for ourselves which values are objectively better than others. Most people are sensible enough to adopt sensible values if left to figure things out for themselves.

    Just because we can’t aways agree on the truth doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. A willingness to engage with other people’s views and change your own if sufficiently pursuaded helps.


  7. BunBun says:

    My first post here, so be tolerant :-).

    @Jiffy, Tim, Rich:

    Moral based values are society and/or ideology dependend, so christian values may differ from buddhist or “communist” values. For a broader human value discussion you have to look at ethical based values. The “best” value system derived from 200 years of enlightenment are the human rights. we do not need any religion or esoteric based moral values. Just look at the human right charta.
    @Rich: The “decision”, which values are better or not is most offen written down in society dependend laws. In most countries in the constitution.
    @Tim: Thats not totally true: society “implants” you with a base of values and behavioural norms. Truth in a sence of absolut values does not exist, because values are nothing else than behavioural norms, so that most people can coexist. Deriving morality from spiritual entity is just plain wrong.

    Oops. Hope that wasn´t to “philosophical”. Especially for the first post 😉

    By the way: thanx for the strip. It always make me smile and laugh and therefore a very happy person. Thank you.


  8. Tim says:

    “@Tim: Thats not totally true: society “implants” you with a base of values and behavioural norms. Truth in a sence of absolut values does not exist, because values are nothing else than behavioural norms, so that most people can coexist. ”

    You are right but I think that you overemphasise the cultural differences between people and minimise that part of our behaviour that derives from values such as empathy and mutuality which I think are common to all (or very nearly all) humans (and if you asked a behavoural zoologist he/she would probably say that we share some of those values with other primates). Regardless of culture, relegion or whatever almost everyone can grasp some basic ideas about cause and effect (“If I destroy his crops he may starve” or “if I steal his wife, he might catch me and beat me up”) and show a degree of empathy (any human watching another person fall our of a tree will think “ohh, that must have hurt”) and understand the principle of I’ll stratch your back… surely such common human aspects (indeed thinks that define what it is to be human) can form the basis of a shared universal moral code

    Whether or not a particular culture codifies these as human rights or relegion or whatever will differ as will the detail but surely some concepts of morality are sufficiently shared to be called universal and the more we discuss and debate our differing points of view on the details the closer we will get to a better and more universal morality

    it is an abigation of our responsibilty as moral agents to just put down what we see as amoral behaviour to a different cultural framework. I think that rape and murder in the UK are bad. My empathy tells me that victims in other countries will suffer to a similar degree to victims in the UK, therefore I think that rape and murder are wrong in other countries. I don’t even have to consider the culture of those countries to reach that position. Not everything is that clear cut (farting in lifts is bad in the UK but I’d be prepared to accept that it isn’t bad in some cultures) but most of the important stuff is.

  9. BunBun says:

    “behaviour that derives from values such as empathy and mutuality which I think are common to all (or very nearly all) humans”

    The modern age approach (or common sense), that violence against other human beings, even violence against other “tribes” or neighbours is something “bad” or something you shouldn´t do is the output of a thousends years ongoing process. (I strongly recommend to read Norbert Elias’ book “The Civilizing Process”, where he analyzed this process.)

    I agree with you, that there must be some basics of social programming in our genes (as evolutional product). These may be the same Social instincts as observed on primates. But these are instincts, not values per se.

    “I think that rape and murder in the UK are bad”

    Yes, but this thinking was not moral standard in the 6th or 12th century. The rape of women from lower classes was not considered “bad”. Is rape in marriage illegal in thge UK? Since when?

    To me the big difference between morality and tolerance is the big question: do I have to tolerate the stoning of a woman, because it is done in the name of the moral values of that society or do I consider other – my – morals as “higher”. For myself I would conclude, that the development of the secular humanistic values and ethics to be the framework to compare values. Not any religious values.

    —- ufff —

    (please excuse my english, I am austrian 😉 and sociologist)

  10. Jonathan says:

    The idea that there is a “best” system of values is not logical in my view. Genghis Khan had values, thieves have values, everyone has values. To an extent every individual has his own set of values, though we generally all subscribe to some extent to the general system of values dominant where we live.

    All of these systems are in constant competition. Every day individuals answer questions such as “should I kill my neighbor and take his things?” or “is sex with my wife against her will OK?” or “is my I-Pod disturbing the people around me?”. Obviously, there are still many situations where violence is a viable part of the dominant value system. Certainly the concept of human rights has advantages and a definite appeal, but that doesn’t make it the only game in town. Values are not about morality, they are about survivability.

    I believe that there are mutations in thinking just as there are physical mutations, and the closer we get to anything we might call Utopia, the stronger the impulse will be to counter it. Nature has a way of keeping things in movement, and I doubt very much that there will ever be a value system that establishes itself as dominant for an extended period of time.

    I also think that it is fair of me to fight for my own value system, which I have devoted a great deal of time and effort to developing. I am not at all embarrassed about saying where I think other cultures, or other value systems, are wrong, and I can explain why. There are definitely aspects of other cultures I consider unjust and which I would try to eradicate, even in the countries where they are established, given the opportunity. I have respect for other cultures only the the extent that they correspond with my values and pose no threat to me or my system of values.

  11. Rich says:


    To say one set of values is “better” than another is to judge it subjectively according to how YOU want society to be. It can’t ever be objective because you’re shaping the rules according to your own personal values. Someone else would choose the rules differently.

    Without resorting to arguments of divine authority, I think values can only be subjective. Even then, religions disagree on what the rules of behaviour are. Even factions within the same religion differ drastically.

    You can see this happening all around you when people become outraged by behaviour that other groups find perfectly acceptable, for example; the death penalty, sharia law, abortion, inequality, gas-guzzling SUVs, war… the list goes on.

  12. dd says:

    “Genghis Khan had values”

    Don’t knock Genghis Khan, He did us a good turn by massacaring millions of muslims (mostly the ruling class of muslims) and stopped dead the spread of Islam and prevented the Islamization of China.

  13. FREAKO says:

    Anyone From TRINIDAD readin this webcom?

  14. Sachintha says:


    At least there is one such religion, though I really don’t fancy the idea of calling it a religion.
    It is not really a religion, rather a philosophy. Yet, it never says that you can not leave it. In fact, Buddha encourages everyone to investigate into his teachings and accept ONLY if you see they are fit. You are free to come and go.

  15. fenchurch says:

    Is there a freedom of choice with being religious?
    Or, does childhood indoctrination and/or threats of death to apostates remove choice from the equation?

    I would just wish that people could see better that their complicity in their religion is under their domain as independent humans with rights to their thoughts and opinions, and they should feel free to exercise their rights to reject religion and its tenets just as they (being atheists from birth), somehow agreed to participate with some level of autonomy in the first place.

    But it seems more like they are a victim of some abusive entity who claims to love them, but will keep giving them black eyes for their own good, and will kill themselves and the adherent if they ever leave.

    Since I still think that being religious is a voluntary decision (no matter how closely tied to coercion and brainwashing), why the hell are non-muslim cultures bending over backwards to accommodate segregation and fetishes of modesty of an incoming muslim population– why can’t a host culture stick to its guns and resist the changes of the parasitical one?

    After all, special statuses and facilities for muslims is not a form of multiculturalism that improves the community as a whole– it seems rather to enforce a most intolerant religion’s narrow-mindedness and divisiveness with a special status, even to go so far as to override native equal rights and freedom of expression/speech (example: in Toronto, some secular schools kowtowing to muslims permit the segregation of menstruating students, or equates every Canadian’s right to draw Mohammad as a “hate crime”, as per an incident in the north in the RCMP’s words).

  16. Topi says:

    It’s very hard fror me to think of any evolution of mores to the better when bankers all over the world exploit everybody else in the name of international law.


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