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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Talking about Christianity
Thread: Talking about Christianity This thread is 51 pages long: 1 2 3 4 5 ... 10 20 30 40 ... 47 48 49 50 51 · «PREV / NEXT»
JollyJoker
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posted November 08, 2019 08:17 AM

I know what you mean, and it looks right, but that is still what I disagree with.
There are a lot of religions, and a religion is first and foremost some kind of story that describes and explains the powers that govern "the world"; the "order of things" you might say. The point of interest here is that part of the story that describes the role the humans "supposedly" play. If any.

Now - take the Romans. Is there any moral/morality as a normative in their religion? No. The only thing existing are cultic and ritual practices with the purpise to gain the favor of one or more gods for something. There is nothing normative (and I'd consider this as a condition for moral and morality coming into play). So a peasant would make a sacrifice to gain some kind of "protection" for the harvest. (The moral here would be: if the gods are (supposed to be) bribable, then who are we to be not so, but I don't think anyone was interested in "moral".)

It fits, that no matter whom the Romans conquered, they could keep their religion. Because religion was something personal and everyone could pray to and believe in everyone they want.

The same thing is true for the old Germanic religion, for the Egyptian religion, the Greeks and others - I'm no expert on all the religions of the world, so I don't know.

But naming a couple is already enough, because you said religions suggest a morality. They don't, AS A RULE.

Hinduism is something in-between. Karma and rebirth LOOK like morality stuff - but it isn't normative. You can do whatever you want, because the "reward" is automatic. It says, basically, we are all in the midth of building a big house, but if you nake a mistake in building, you'll lose part of it and have to restart the building. However, the ultimate reward is basically a heroin overdose, which is akin to a movie scene where someone is starting to torture someone else and then  says, if you tell me what I want to know, I'll give you a painless death.

Are the monotheistic religions suggesting a morality? You'd tend to say yes at first sight, but it's not that easy. For one thing, they all are based on the Jewish religion. What IS the Jewish religion? The story of a certain people (or, depending on how you want to see it, 3 peoples). But you might also say, it's the story of one god trying to bring a people to worship him, and ONLY him.
Now, what is different here, is that this god has such an interest in this people. He actively tries to bring them around to him, and for the followers there is just one moral: obey god (don't sin). That's the reason for interesting morale conflicts, like Sabbat and what can you do on that day, when God says you should rest?
With that comes a religion-bound codex of laws, and that is, in which the Jews differ from others, when you look at it the other way round. Their codex of law is reinforced by its status - given from the most powerful being Himself, so it' a GODLY law.
However, the result is GOD'S moral, not that of humans. That of humans is DON'T SIN. So, say, if God tells you to sacrifice your son, you better DO IT. And if God tells everyone to stone the adultress - you do it, and God DOES tell so.

Morality? Yes. Normative? Yes.

For all I know, Islam works the same way.

Christianity is somewhat different, because Jesus actually left something else: Love your neighbour as you love yourself. This goes back to far-east philosophy and is quite interesting, because it's the start of what we Westerners would call a moral, because it's basically a principle. It doesn't do away with the old laws, but instead it says, "the old laws only go so far; if in doubt, take that as a principle, and if something seems harsh as a penalty, remember the fundamental moral".
This could be understood (and the stories about Jesus and the Scriptores would support this) as an encouragement to get away from the strict DON'T SIN and develop a self-responsible law, a law virtually not carved in stone.

Of course, the Jews didn't accept that, and the Christians, once in power didn't either, and DON'T SIN was kept more or less until the last century, when things became more secular.

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artu
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posted November 08, 2019 03:20 PM
Edited by artu at 15:24, 08 Nov 2019.

I think that’s quite a narrow look on what morality can constitute. Yes, pagan gods took bribes in a more literal sense, but then Abrahamic religions also have a sense of praying or feasting for favors. They also have sacrifing animals in Judaism, which keeps on in Islam and in Christianity, the sacrifice is the prophet himself, he is “the lamb.”

Any social structure has normative moral values and it would be a very strange idea to assume that the religions they came up with were totally isolated from that. Since religions meant a lot to people. Roman religion is mostly a rephrasing of Greek religion, Zeus becomes Jupiter, Venus becomes Aphrodite, Ares becomes Mars and so on... All these gods, or the gods of Egypt, expected people to behave in some certain conduct, their expectations are not exactly the same with Abrahamic gods but it is not extremely different either, sex is less of an issue, belief in other gods is not a problem obviously, since it’s politheism. But you must be humble in front of the gods, not mess with the order of things, act virtuous to your fellow men etc etc. When king Tantalos made a fake peace with his enemy and served him the flesh of his cooked son, the gods punished him in eternal suffering, he was forever trying to reach fruits of a tree that kept helding back, forever trying to drink water when it escaped him as well. (Hence the word: Tantalize.) Now, this is a moral story: Do not cook people and have their father eat them or you will be penalized with eternal hunger and thrist. While pagan religions are not as contractual as Abrahamic ones, they still constitute moral norms.
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JollyJoker
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posted November 08, 2019 03:54 PM

And I think your idea of "moral" dilutes the whole concept.

Don't Sin (whether in the strict sense of Abrahamic religions or the "cautionary tale" sense of the polytheistic religions (which are on the same level than superstituous cautionary tales like "don't walk under a ladder", "don't step on seams between tiles" and so on; there is no service or sacrifice ASKED or in any way mandatory, it's just kind of a precaution)) isn't a moral, it's simply a command which doesn't imply any moral. If some absolute sovereign with unmimited power who owns your life commands something, there is no moral involved.

You say:
Quote:
Any social structure has normative moral values and it would be a very strange idea to assume that the religions they came up with were totally isolated from that.
Well, it's not strange it's a fact, because in those non-Abrahamic cultures religion was, as I said, a PERSONAL thing (easily to check), not a SOCIAL thing (which is why conquered people could keep their religion in Rome - socially spoken, religion was meaningless, it was only personally important, but whether someone was pious and would sacrifice at any opportunity or not was of no importance.

Keep also in mind that Rome had a quote complex code of laws - and Iustitia has nothing to do with that at all.

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artu
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posted November 08, 2019 04:29 PM

If you dig deep enough, all moral codes have some kind of beneficial motive behind them, not much different than "don't walk under a ladder, because things can fall on you." Sometimes, the conditions change, yet the moral code remains as taboo but no moral code evolves that had no benefit (or at least the assumption of benefit) in the first place.

And no, politheistic religions were not "personal" in that sense, they still had ceremonies, temples, rituals which were obviously social phenomenon. But unlike monotheism, just like you call different people to fix your car, paint your house, check your heart condition, and you dont mind if my plumber is different than yours, but there is still a moral context in which we treat all these people, Romans had different gods for different occasions. But all the soldiers prayed together to Mars before going to battle and there was a certain code of conduct, a dignified way a soldier should behave, which, if violated, would upset Mars. It's one thing to say they are less contractual, which they are, it's another thing to completely isolate them from normative patterns, which wasn't the case.  
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JollyJoker
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posted November 08, 2019 05:12 PM
Edited by JollyJoker at 18:18, 08 Nov 2019.

Not only had they different gods, one and the same god had different names for different purposes. And it should be quite clear that you cannot follow any "morals" of them all.

No, you are simply wrong. No morals there. No normative force. Nothing. Sorry.

With Augustus things changed a bit in Rome, true, because he utilized religion for his own purposes. But that has nothing to do with the religion as such.

EDIT: And this
Quote:
If you dig deep enough, all moral codes have some kind of beneficial motive behind them, not much different than "don't walk under a ladder, because things can fall on you."
is just ridiculous - walking under a ladder is supposed to bring bad luck (same as having a black cat crossing from this side to that in from of you). It's not the same thing because it has not the slightest normative social value. Social moral isn't "helpful".

My impression is that this is arguing for arguing's sake without proper facts. I've had enough of that, lately.

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artu
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posted November 09, 2019 07:45 AM
Edited by artu at 07:55, 09 Nov 2019.

If you dig deep enough there is always a reason why people think this thing and not the other brings bad luck, that was too clear an implication, I didint even bother to elaborate. For instance, there are whole books on why it is considered “a sin” to eat pork in some cultures. Why are black cats considered bad luck and not white ones, probably because it was symbolism for  darkness, which is night and it is dangerous and not benefical to go wander in the night. As I already said, you have a verry narrow perception of what would constitute morality, the very basic Greek notion that you should not tempt the Gods, not mess with the order of things and live in harmony with nature is clearly normative, it tells you HOW TO live your life. If the famous scale of Osiris, the Egyptian deity that puts your heart on a scale after you die, (and the heart weighs light if it is not full of “proper values”) isnt symbolism for moral code, I dont know what is. Once again Mars, how can you talk about to “bless and purify land” if there are no normative values, the very notion that something becomes “purified” is normative: Suovetaourilia. The very idea that “it is the right thing to offer sacrifice to gods” is a moral code. Right and wrong = moral code. Social moral is of course helpful, it may not seem instantly helpful in some cases but the golden rule in every culture is "do to others what you want done to you."

I’m the one giving you solid examples in my every post, yet somehow it is me who is not going by facts. It’s just funny how you think this is arguing for the sake of arguing because I was thinking like, “well, JJ never changes his mind anyway” and decided to drop it last night.
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JollyJoker
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posted November 09, 2019 09:59 AM

Look, artu, in the Wikipedia article "Morality and Religion " reads:
Quote:
Many religions have value frameworks regarding personal behavior meant to guide adherents in determining between right and wrong.


The keyword here is "many" which is definitely less than "all" which is what you said.

Even with the many, the difference between the Abrahamic religions and the others is, that their moral framework is A LOT less normative. Again - that's why Rome allowed conquered people to keep their religion. It should be obvious, that if a religious framework had RELEVANT social meaning, you couldn't do that (that's the circle drawn to today: religious freedom is something we have today as well, in some countries at least, and in these countries the morality bedded into the religions is, for society as a whole irrelevant, in that it becomes personal).

You can see that in the laws of a society. The Jewish law has been based on religion. The Roman - not so much.

The purpose of all this "morality" (that is, the advice) has been a completely different one. Keep in mind that religion was basically what Physics is today - it delivered an explanation what the world was, why it was what it was and what the governing forces were. So sacrifice and other cultic acts were more or less manuals of what to do. Today you STUDY agriculture and generally know what happens why. Then they didn't. They sacrificed stuff in order to sway the forces.

That has, for me, nothing to do with morality in the ethics sense. Religion was more like a "manual" on how to navigate life with the ruling (natural) forces.

If you want to call that "morality" the word loses all meaning. I mean, it has nothing to do with morality when you book a holiday for next year and you make a travel cancellation insurance as well (instead of sacrificing a hen so that nothing untoward will happen and I can make the holiday).

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artu
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posted November 09, 2019 10:24 AM

First of all, by your logic, only monotheistic theocracies can have moral relevance, does people being able to choose their religion, make those religions any less significant in their claim of moral guidance in today’s world. No. Politheistic means politheistic, it doesnt mean nihilistic.

And what I’m telling you is that morality is also a part of that navigation, the part regarding behavior. Is obeying the Christian god not to go to hell, really too different from sacrificing to Mars so that he wont curse you? Do you seriously believe moral codes develop the way they do, out of pure luck? Could they have been “dont wear purple pjamas“ instead of ”dont steal” by chance? Pagan gods are more arbitrary in their acts (only compared to Abrahamic ones), yes, in a way, you can say they reflect nature better, they are more like earthquakes and tsunamis, because they are not yet claimed to be omnibenevolent, they can get angry at you for being jealous of your wife’s beauty. Yet, it is still considered a moral act to obey them, just like it’s traditionally considered a moral act to obey your father even if you think his actions are not just. Obedience as loyalty, itself, is also a moral conduct and it is a moral conduct because people thought it was not wise to piss off “forces of nature.”
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JollyJoker
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posted November 09, 2019 11:22 AM

I think we agree that religion isn't given societies by the gods. As it's more or less stories told by members of societies, the moral lectures you are so keen on finding there, are obviously already part of the social structure starting to tell the story - it mirrors of what's already there.
As I said, religion is basically "natural science" (science not in today's meaning). Religion was a manual of "established knowledge".

Quote:
Do you seriously believe moral codes develop the way they do, out of pure luck?

Of course not. Moral codes have developed as soon as people started to live together in "communities", because a "code" was necessary to survive. You will have noticed, that the generalization of ethics for all humans or even beings is a fairly recent thing. Until not so long ago all moral codes were "ingroup codes", valid for the group only. You shouldn't steal from members of your own society/group (because that will lead to infighting which may lead to the death of the whole group), but stealing from other groups is perfectly ok, provided the group isn't stronger than yours or has no way to identify the stealer. In fact, stealing from others may even be considered good and right.
"Moral code" translated to teaching your children what they must know to survive and be part of the group. What was right and what was wrong.

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CountBezuhoff
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posted November 09, 2019 11:37 AM
Edited by CountBezuhoff at 11:38, 09 Nov 2019.

It seems to me you're both arguing the same thing

The Count
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artu
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posted November 09, 2019 01:17 PM
Edited by artu at 13:22, 09 Nov 2019.

@JJ

That's why tribal societies have tribal religions with tribal moral codes. And the god of the Old Testament is no exception that. But tribal is not the same as "personal" in the modern sense. Individualism is rather a very new thing. That's why people saw nothing wrong with stories from the Bible or Quran in which God gets angry at "a sinner city" and destroys it with all the children and innocent in it. Now you see the relevance here, it is both an explanation of natural phenomenon; a volcano erruption or an epidemic, but also moral guidance: If you folks behave bad, God will burn down your city. You can not dissect myths from morality, they are the explanations of natural phenomenon and moral guides of their day. Because back then, people believed nature behaved the way it did for a reason. Earthquakes, epidemics, floods didn't "just happen." They were punishments, warning, threats.


Rome was an empire, jews were many of the tribes with their own moral codes and religion, hence internal laws regarding that within that empire. This goes for many other groups just as well.
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Blizzardboy
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posted November 09, 2019 02:24 PM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 14:36, 09 Nov 2019.

Individuality was recognized in the ancient world but it was reduced compared to today. Tribes carried joint responsibility for their actions. If you were a young man on the battlefield you were the enemy and if you were a young woman supplying food and clothing you were also the enemy. Each of them was fair game to be killed or enslaved after victory and this was acceptable conduct. It was also pragmatic. You don't kill the armed grown men and then leave the boys and girls to grow up into soldiers and mothers who will hate you and raise their children to hate you. You either cut them down or made them into a slave class.
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JollyJoker
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posted November 09, 2019 04:59 PM

@ artu

That's where I balk: calling that "moral" or "morality". Survival tips are just NOT what I would call that.

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artu
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posted November 09, 2019 07:45 PM
Edited by artu at 19:45, 09 Nov 2019.

They may not be the most subtle or layered morality but as I said, morality always goes deeper into a practical layer. Do not have sex out of wedlock (so that there is no fatherless children around turning into potential punks and you dont catch disease.) Hence, when people had birth control + modern medicine, the taboo weakened to the point of disappearing in some cultures. Do not lie (so that we can trust each other and function as a whole, you can have your “white lies” for special occasions.) If you look at most societies, the biggest moral taboos are usually about harming children (but really harming, not beating up to educate and protect from danger like in old times) or hurting pregnant women, think that’s coincidence.
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JollyJoker
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posted November 09, 2019 09:16 PM

No. I disagree.

Has nothing to do with religion. Children? In the old age?

Religion just didn't do what you say it does. With polytheism, there is a god for everything and no matter what you do, you can find a god you can turn to. Thief, beggar, snow, whatever.

No, artu. You are wrong.

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artu
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posted November 10, 2019 01:05 AM

What has this got to do with religions having moral codes and moral codes, beneath their layers, having assumed benefical outcome? If there is a god for thieves, thieves got to apply a certain conduct to please that god, which would be then some sort of "honor among thieves." A moral code. All the dictionary definitions fit my description but since you like wiki quotes so much, I will add the definiton from there also:

Morality (from Latin: moralis, lit. 'manner, character, proper behavior') is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper.[1] Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal.

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JollyJoker
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posted November 10, 2019 08:29 AM

Yes. And this is something religions come with in more or less pronounced and more or less clearly phrased quantities, from zero to copious.

I don't even see your problem. If you take a society that allows everyone their own religion, than a SECULAR moral rule is, "allow everyone their own religion". If everyone is allowed their own religion, then it's quite obvious that the workings of the society in general cannot be dominated by "it" - because there is no "it", there are THEM. Which makes them personally more or less relevant in a subjective way, but not socially.

Festivities in the name of this or that god? Like Halloween for most: no idea what the heck this is all about, but, hey, let's party.

And don't forget - Rome was a secular state with a secular law that included how far personal religious practices could go (if necessary), since it was a law that favored societal benefit, not individual.

Religion was part of the everyday life, but not normative for society, which was organized quite worldly.

This is also one of the reasons why Christianity was persecuted after Augustus. Too "moral" - with lots of unwished consequences for the workings of the Roman Empire, a danger for the "system".

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artu
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posted November 10, 2019 02:23 PM

Not exactly what we had been talking about but again, you are acting as if modern secular law and imperial pluralism are the same thing, they are not. The Ottomans took their model mostly from Romans in this regard, too: Communities within the empire were free to execute their (religion based) laws and moral customs in internal affairs, as long as they didnt rebel against the empire, it was okay. But that didnt mean individuals were free to reject religion or interpret it anyway they want. I mean, just think of the story of Jesus himself, he is a jew who interprets religion and morality in an unorthodox way, what do the jews do, do they say “hey, this is Rome, to each his own.” No, they accuse him with heresy. Yet, they cant kill him because their internal law (based on religious morals) forbids that. So they ask the Roman governor to do so.

I think you are having a problem associating morality and religion in some cases because the “moral” origin of customs can be buried deep in. Simple example again: we can all understand why it can be considered immoral to get drunk in some cultures, it alters the mind, people can do stupid things, get violent, get addicted and become alcoholics etc. So Islamic law completely forbids it, now it turns into a taboo. Wine can be used as an ingridient while cooking, and because of the heat, all the alcohol vaporizes away anyway. But Muslims dont even use wine while cooking, because it is now, taboo. And, if 2000 years from now, if drinking alcohol is no more a thing and wine is just a cooking ingridient, the custom may still survive. Somebody without historical perspective would then  find it hard to give this custom a moral origin, but with proper tracking, it’s easy.

I mean, this is why morality shouldnt be left to religion anyway. Because once something becomes religion, it loses flexibility to a great deal. Especially, if the religion is as contractual as the Abrahamic ones.
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JollyJoker
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posted November 10, 2019 03:42 PM

You cannot argue, claiming something valid generally and then coming up with an example from one specific religion.

Mind you, I already said that a book of laws that is supposedly given by god isn't moral, because it's not OUR moral. It's gods. GOD says, here are the laws you have to follow and here are the penalties if you don't. Not following the law will bring a penalty AND is immoral because you disobeyed God. That is the one immorality there is in that regard. Everything God says you shouldn't do but incurs no penalty is just "immoral" when you still do it, but not because of the thing, but because you disobeyed god.

That is true for the example with the alcohol as well.

And if you say now, but the laws are not given from god - you cannot have both. If the people involved didn't believe that they wouldn't follow that "moral" in the first place - they do.

Secondly, your Roman example Jesus is wrong. Jesus was given over to Pilate with the accusation of being a political agitator, inciting people to rebel against Rome. Pilate, however, didn't find anything and gave Jesus back to Herod. Like I said, Rome wasn't interested in religion, except when it might have repercussions for the Empire. I wrote that, so I don't see what point you are trying to make here.

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artu
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posted November 10, 2019 04:55 PM
Edited by artu at 16:57, 10 Nov 2019.

Dude, you were the one bringing up Rome like religion was just "personal business" and that is historically wrong. The Jesus story is a fitting example of that. Why did the Jewish clergy see him as a "political agitator" in your words, because he was trying to run for senate? No, on religious grounds. They asked Pilates to kill him because THEIR LAW based on religion didnt allow them to, how does it matter if he was given back or not? Jews were under the rule of Rome and their law and morals were defined by religion.

If you want to talk about general, I already summed up to you four definitions of morality and how in all of them it is about normative definitions of right or wrong behaviour based on a conduct. And I also already gave almost a dozen examples from various religions about how they involve codes of normative behaviour and code of conduct. You started out by claiming things as absurd as "do not sleep with your neighbor's wife is not morals, it's law as if these two were mutually exclusive before secularism, you then confuse secularism with imperial pluralism, you look at things very anachronically. So, you jump from post to post, trying to "explain away" very obvious fact by examples because you simply can not handle being wrong and not having the last word. Well, I'm getting pretty tired of cleaning up the mass each time:

"Not following the law will bring a penalty AND is immoral because you disobeyed God. That is the one immorality there is in that regard. Everything God says you shouldn't do but incurs no penalty is just "immoral" when you still do it, but not because of the thing, but because you disobeyed god."

I already covered this: There was no such clear distinction before secular law and secular law is also based on a moral concept: human rights. Human Rights is something we invented. (Also keep in mind, in the beginning these rights were also defined as "god given.")

How can such a simple thing not get through you is beyond me but if a behavior is categorized as right or wrong, there is a moral claim. Cultures come up with moral codes, packages that define X behavior right or wrong. In ancient times, they did this with religion, the religions they created was explaining the world to them and they got their moral codes from what they understood from that explanation. Most also made their law according to that, imperial pluralism does not change this, because it is about having many customs and cultures under one authority. It will inevitably have a "higher law" not because morals had nothing to do with religion, because there were too many religions (and moralities) to rule. But each micro society still based their morals on their religion (a.k.a. how they explained the world.). They didnt care about the other group's religion and they had no intention to convert. This doesn't mean no morality, it just means politheism.
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