Why an atheist based morality is inferior

OrdinaryClay
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Why an atheist based morality is inferior

Let's set up a simple game. We'll call it Moral. It is a two person non-zero sum game.

Suppose you have the following conditions for the game:
1) A moral choice that each player agrees exists. Each player has two available strategies: one, make the moral choice (do the right thing), and two, not make the moral choice (cheat).
2) Defined individually preferred payoffs based on adherence to this moral choice, where the payoff is greater for either player if that player can silently cheat the system.

The game does not rely on what the exact details of the moral choice is only that the players agree what it is. As it exists both players when acting with rational self interest will choose to cheat.

Suppose we add a third condition:
3) A third party judge that both players believe exists and is omniscient and fair. Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.

The game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists. The judge adds the component of complete knowledge. If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 


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Interesting game.It seems

Interesting game.

It seems there's a rule 4, though:

4) Arbitrary morals exist that may or may not be right. Both parties believe the judge prefers these choices, whether the choice is right or not.

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So, you posit that believers

So, you posit that believers require a judge to be moral?

There is no such thing as an "atheist based" anything. As Hamby has said before:

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

Looking at behavior:

  • People do immoral things.
  • Some of these immoral actors believe in an omniscient judge, some do not.
  • therefore: Morality is little effected by belief in such a judge

If anything, the believers will be more likely to have remorse, but not adjust thier behavior.

Also, non-belivers represent 10 to 18% of the US population in general, but only 0.2% in prison populations. This doesn't fit your argument's prediction.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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OrdinaryClay wrote: If the

OrdinaryClay wrote:

 If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

And if the payoff for "cheating" is not greater than that for following the agreed moral rational players wouldn't favour "cheating" regardless.

So, what is your reason for setting the payoff so high? How does that choice relate to atheism and morality?

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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

Interesting game.

It seems there's a rule 4, though:

4) Arbitrary morals exist that may or may not be right. Both parties believe the judge prefers these choices, whether the choice is right or not.

Nicely spotted, Nigel, I second that. Do we assume the judge agrees with the players?

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It's inferior in

It's inferior in OrdinaryClay's eyes because he can't see a moral system working without a fear motive guiding it.

Methinks he's jealous.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

Interesting game.

It seems there's a rule 4, though:

4) Arbitrary morals exist that may or may not be right. Both parties believe the judge prefers these choices, whether the choice is right or not.

You're missing the structure of the argument. It does not depend on the details of the moral choice. It only depends on whether there exist morals that more then one person believe in together.
 


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You said:Quote:Both players

You said:

Quote:
Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.


Just because the judge can punish cheating and they know about every instance of cheating that doesn't mean that they will punish ever instance of cheating, so it's still within the player's self-interest to cheat. It's actually in their interest to cheat much more because most of the cheating doesn't result in any benefit so a greater amount of cheating is require to get the same amount of payoff that the players received from cheating before the omniscient judge started deducting points gained from cheating.

Depending on how often you could get the payoff from cheating and how much higher the payoff from cheating is it may be advantageous to do nothing but cheat. As long as you could determine that cheating ultimately resulted in greater gain. So, no your omniscient judge causes more cheating.

 

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JillSwift wrote:So, you

JillSwift wrote:

So, you posit that believers require a judge to be moral?

No, I posit that cheating is in our rational self interest.

 

Quote:

There is no such thing as an "atheist based" anything. As Hamby has said before:

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

This is wishful thinking that has been elevated to the level of a meme.
 

Quote:

Looking at behavior:

  • People do immoral things.
  • Some of these immoral actors believe in an omniscient judge, some do not.
  • therefore: Morality is little effected by belief in such a judge

Your claim that rewards have no affect on behavior is incredulous.
 

Quote:

If anything, the believers will be more likely to have remorse, but not adjust thier behavior.

Is this based on your feelings?. So you are positing that remorse has no affect on behavior?

 

You're kidding right? This is a meaningless "correlation" as anyone who understands the prison population would realize.
 


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Eloise wrote:OrdinaryClay

Eloise wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

 If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

And if the payoff for "cheating" is not greater than that for following the agreed moral rational players wouldn't favour "cheating" regardless.

So, what is your reason for setting the payoff so high? How does that choice relate to atheism and morality?

This is a good observation. Cheating by definition involves greater payoff, or at least the perception of greater payoff. Can you think of any perfect cheating that does not provide a payoff greater then not cheating.
 


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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Interesting game.

It seems there's a rule 4, though:

4) Arbitrary morals exist that may or may not be right. Both parties believe the judge prefers these choices, whether the choice is right or not.

You're missing the structure of the argument. It does not depend on the details of the moral choice. It only depends on whether there exist morals that more then one person believe in together.

I understand the structure of the argument. But including a judge that may reduce payout to zero requires the players to second-guess the rubric used by the judge. Perhaps you are suggesting that the judgements are based entirely on the rules agreed to by the players.

In which case, this is entirely unlike any theistic moral framework in existence today, and the title of this thread is misleading. And it also leaves open the question about the role of the judge concerning moral choices upon which the players do not agree.

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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Quote:

 

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

This is wishful thinking that has been elevated to the level of a meme.
 

Umm... did you have a premise, then to add in place of the first three question marks?  Can you elaborate on what it is you believe necessarily follows from no belief in god?

As a secondary question, what is a meme such that something can be elevated to its level?

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Gauche wrote:You

Gauche wrote:

You said:

Quote:
Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.


Just because the judge can punish cheating and they know about every instance of cheating that doesn't mean that they will punish ever instance of cheating, so it's still within the player's self-interest to cheat. It's actually in their interest to cheat much more because most of the cheating doesn't result in any benefit so a greater amount of cheating is require to get the same amount of payoff that the players received from cheating before the omniscient judge started deducting points gained from cheating.

Depending on how often you could get the payoff from cheating and how much higher the payoff from cheating is it may be advantageous to do nothing but cheat. As long as you could determine that cheating ultimately resulted in greater gain. So, no your omniscient judge causes more cheating.

Adding uncertainty to the judge is the same as adding uncertainty to getting caught with no judge. Perfect cheating (no judge) still results in more likelihood to cheat. Imperfect cheating (uncertain judge) still results in cheating, but the expectation (average) of the gain is less then with perfect cheating (no judge). Your argument actually bolsters my point.
 


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OrdinaryClay wrote:Adding

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Adding uncertainty to the judge is the same as adding uncertainty to getting caught with no judge. Perfect cheating (no judge) still results in more likelihood to cheat. Imperfect cheating (uncertain judge) still results in cheating, but the expectation (average) of the gain is less then with perfect cheating (no judge). Your argument actually bolsters my point.

What exactly is your point? That theism favors a strawman version of morality?

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Thomathy wrote:OrdinaryClay

Thomathy wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Quote:

 

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

This is wishful thinking that has been elevated to the level of a meme.

Umm... did you have a premise, then to add in place of the first three question marks?  Can you elaborate on what it is you believe necessarily follows from no belief in god?

Behavior results from having a belief or not having a belief. The behavior may be different, but they still occur.  It is vacuous to think otherwise.
 


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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Adding uncertainty to the judge is the same as adding uncertainty to getting caught with no judge. Perfect cheating (no judge) still results in more likelihood to cheat. Imperfect cheating (uncertain judge) still results in cheating, but the expectation (average) of the gain is less then with perfect cheating (no judge). Your argument actually bolsters my point.

What exactly is your point? That theism favors a strawman version of morality?

The point of my quote you include here is that the poster's argument actually bolsters mine.

A strawman is a side argument used for misdirection purposes when arguing against a primary argument. My argument is the primary argument so no I'm not building strawman.

To answer what I think you are asking here and in the previous post, I'm reducing a moral choice to a bare abstraction for analysis. This has value and is ligitmate. I'm not saying more complex moral structures don't exist. These more complex systems can be, and are, debated. The results of this debate still has validity and implications, though.
 


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OrdinaryClay wrote:Gauche

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Gauche wrote:

You said:

Quote:
Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.


Just because the judge can punish cheating and they know about every instance of cheating that doesn't mean that they will punish ever instance of cheating, so it's still within the player's self-interest to cheat. It's actually in their interest to cheat much more because most of the cheating doesn't result in any benefit so a greater amount of cheating is require to get the same amount of payoff that the players received from cheating before the omniscient judge started deducting points gained from cheating.

Depending on how often you could get the payoff from cheating and how much higher the payoff from cheating is it may be advantageous to do nothing but cheat. As long as you could determine that cheating ultimately resulted in greater gain. So, no your omniscient judge causes more cheating.

Adding uncertainty to the judge is the same as adding uncertainty to getting caught with no judge. Perfect cheating (no judge) still results in more likelihood to cheat. Imperfect cheating (uncertain judge) still results in cheating, but the expectation (average) of the gain is less then with perfect cheating (no judge). Your argument actually bolsters my point.
 

It's difficult to decipher what you're saying because it's very vague but I think you're saying that a game without a referee will always have more cheating than a game with one. That's not necessarily the case.

Let's say that your judge deducts points 50% of the time. If cheating twice is still easier than gaining the same amount of points without cheating that's not a very strong deterrent. Maybe some people will be deterred but everyone who isn't will be cheating twice as much. So you'd probably end up with more cheating.  
 

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OrdinaryClay wrote:3)

OrdinaryClay wrote:

3) .....the game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists.  

I think you hit the nail on the head here. It is important that the players believe the judges exists. It is important that people believe God exists for us to have the moral order we have today. This does not necessitate anything about God be true. But I think it could be strongly argued that we have the morality we have today because people believe a God exists, not the other way around. Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

 

 


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OrdinaryClay wrote:Eloise

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Eloise wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

 If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

And if the payoff for "cheating" is not greater than that for following the agreed moral rational players wouldn't favour "cheating" regardless.

So, what is your reason for setting the payoff so high? How does that choice relate to atheism and morality?

This is a good observation. Cheating by definition involves greater payoff, or at least the perception of greater payoff. Can you think of any perfect cheating that does not provide a payoff greater then not cheating.
 

I can give you an instance where cheating doesn't involve a greater payoff. Using a strategy guide to beat a game.  It gives the player the ending, just as it gives the player who didn't cheat the ending.  However the person who uses the strategy guide has gained less in the ability to solve the game and the accomplishment is deminished because it isn't really their own accomplishment.

Sounds made up...
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OrdinaryClay wrote:Thomathy

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Quote:

 

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

This is wishful thinking that has been elevated to the level of a meme.

Umm... did you have a premise, then to add in place of the first three question marks?  Can you elaborate on what it is you believe necessarily follows from no belief in god?

Behavior results from having a belief or not having a belief. The behavior may be different, but they still occur.  It is vacuous to think otherwise.
 

Let us insert your premise:

  • A person has no belief in god.
  • That person exhibits behaviour endemic to that lack of belief.
  • Therefore ...? (The person is atheist?  Lovely tautology.)

First, what behaviour must an atheist exhibit except for a lack of belief?  Perhaps a lack of that behaviour which a religious person may or may not exhibit?  The point is, there is nothing that can be logically derived from atheism except itself.

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Magus wrote:OrdinaryClay

Magus wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Eloise wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

 If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

And if the payoff for "cheating" is not greater than that for following the agreed moral rational players wouldn't favour "cheating" regardless.

So, what is your reason for setting the payoff so high? How does that choice relate to atheism and morality?

This is a good observation. Cheating by definition involves greater payoff, or at least the perception of greater payoff. Can you think of any perfect cheating that does not provide a payoff greater then not cheating.
 

I can give you an instance where cheating doesn't involve a greater payoff. Using a strategy guide to beat a game.  It gives the player the ending, just as it gives the player who didn't cheat the ending.  However the person who uses the strategy guide has gained less in the ability to solve the game and the accomplishment is deminished because it isn't really their own accomplishment.

Thank you.

That makes three large assumptions that OC needs to make his argument work.

1. Players that will always cheat.

2. A guaranteed large payoff for cheating

3. An judge incapable of corruption

Social behavior breaks 1. Your example breaks 2. His bible breaks 3.

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What if the difference in

What if the difference in the amount of cheating was negligible in terms of effort. You know what I mean? What if cheating one time required the same effort as cheating a thousand times. Everyone who wanted to cheat would still cheat as much as they wanted whether a judge was deducting points or not.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:The point

OrdinaryClay wrote:

The point of my quote you include here is that the poster's argument actually bolsters mine.

A strawman is a side argument used for misdirection purposes when arguing against a primary argument. My argument is the primary argument so no I'm not building strawman.

To answer what I think you are asking here and in the previous post, I'm reducing a moral choice to a bare abstraction for analysis. This has value and is ligitmate. I'm not saying more complex moral structures don't exist. These more complex systems can be, and are, debated. The results of this debate still has validity and implications, though.

A strawman is a strawman. You have created a false view of morality for the purpose of showing that a belief in an abstract judge will produce adherence to that morality. You have titled the thread "Why an atheist-based morality is inferior," and then proceeded to define "inferior" as, "Will not be followed due to a lack of a judge."

Also, your model for atheism vs. theism is completely inaccurate. For instance, the setup should be, "Both players assume there is a separate payoff at the end of the game. Cheating presents an immediate greater payoff, but could potentially jeapordize the hypothetical eventual payoff." That's a closer model, isn't it? After all, theism doesn't promise immediate payoff for following the assumed code of conduct. The immediate results are identical with or without a judge.

I'm actually not quibbling so much with your game. I'm quibbling about the complete inaccuracy of the title of this thread, and the applicability of this game to real-world morality.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:Let's set

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Let's set up a simple game. We'll call it Moral. It is a two person non-zero sum game.

Suppose you have the following conditions for the game:
1) A moral choice that each player agrees exists. Each player has two available strategies: one, make the moral choice (do the right thing), and two, not make the moral choice (cheat).
2) Defined individually preferred payoffs based on adherence to this moral choice, where the payoff is greater for either player if that player can silently cheat the system.

The game does not rely on what the exact details of the moral choice is only that the players agree what it is. As it exists both players when acting with rational self interest will choose to cheat.

Suppose we add a third condition:
3) A third party judge that both players believe exists and is omniscient and fair. Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.

The game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists. The judge adds the component of complete knowledge. If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

My emphasis added in bold text.

So there isn't any ultimate advantage to be gained by cheating and both players know this.  Doesn't that mean that there really isn't any such thing as a moral choice in your scenario, seeing as there's no temptation to misbehave?  You're basically offering the players vanilla ice cream or arsenic; picking arsenic doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a crazy person.  I guess this works if you have a very Calvinistic understanding of morality, and that's all well and good, but I don't live in 16th century Geneva--I have to make choices for myself everyday, and there are real temptations to do the wrong thing.

Furthermore, they get to agree to these rules?  You have know that's bullshit.  In any theistic scenario, you exist at God's (or the gods') pleasure, not because you willed yourself into being.  You accept the existing moral rubric because it's the only game in town, not because accepting it makes you moral.

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Gauche wrote:Let's say that

Gauche wrote:


Let's say that your judge deducts points 50% of the time. If cheating twice is still easier than gaining the same amount of points without cheating that's not a very strong deterrent. Maybe some people will be deterred but everyone who isn't will be cheating twice as much. So you'd probably end up with more cheating.  

Let's focus on the case where we have a judge(referee).  Assuming the judge is fair in applying judgements to the players this judge may be omniscient or not. If he is omniscient he catches every instance of cheating so the players can expect zero gain. If the judge is not omniscient he partially catches players. As you point out the players will still be motivated to cheat even with the chance of getting caught sometimes. If the players have a judge who never enforces the rules then they will be maximally motivated to cheat. So cheating decreases as the likelihood of being caught increases irregardless.

Now in the case of no judge the only deterrent is the chance of being caught by your fellow player. We know for a fact our fellow players are not omniscient so this is equal to having a judge who catches players unreliably. The case of an omniscient judge still results in less cheating then player enforced rules or a judge with uncertainty.
 


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JustAnotherBeliever

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.


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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.

yeah, I'm a christian too and thats why I'm telling you its not logically defendable. You would be the first on the planet to do so successfully. But there is a case to be made that radical love is not logical, but it is what we all look for. That is why we are drawn to Christ.


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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.

good - wating for you to start logically defending...

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OrdinaryClay wrote:Suppose

OrdinaryClay wrote:


Suppose we add a third condition:
3) A third party judge that both players believe exists and is omniscient and fair. Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.

The game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists. The judge adds the component of complete knowledge. If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

This fails as an analogy to theists vs. atheists because your judge represents a god overseeing the game. The atheist in the real world does not accept there is an overseer who is omniscient. All you have shown is 2 'believers' in an omniscient judge will cheat.

Fail.

Try again.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:Gauche

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Gauche wrote:

 

Let's say that your judge deducts points 50% of the time. If cheating twice is still easier than gaining the same amount of points without cheating that's not a very strong deterrent. Maybe some people will be deterred but everyone who isn't will be cheating twice as much. So you'd probably end up with more cheating.  

Let's focus on the case where we have a judge(referee).  Assuming the judge is fair in applying judgements to the players this judge may be omniscient or not. If he is omniscient he catches every instance of cheating so the players can expect zero gain. If the judge is not omniscient he partially catches players. As you point out the players will still be motivated to cheat even with the chance of getting caught sometimes. If the players have a judge who never enforces the rules then they will be maximally motivated to cheat. So cheating decreases as the likelihood of being caught increases irregardless.

Now in the case of no judge the only deterrent is the chance of being caught by your fellow player. We know for a fact our fellow players are not omniscient so this is equal to having a judge who catches players unreliably. The case of an omniscient judge still results in less cheating then player enforced rules or a judge with uncertainty.
 

Well obviously if a player cannot gain from cheating then there's no point in cheating. I think that pretty much goes without saying. But a situation where there is no enforcement of the rules doesn't necessarily always lead to more cheating than a situation where there is some enforcement of the rules. It depends. And you probably shouldn't use the word irregardless unless you're doing it as a joke.

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JustAnotherBeliever

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.

yeah, I'm a christian too and thats why I'm telling you its not logically defendable. You would be the first on the planet to do so successfully. But there is a case to be made that radical love is not logical, but it is what we all look for. That is why we are drawn to Christ.

It would be a radical love if it were unconditional. Unfortunately, the cost for God's love is unquestioning obedience. If Christ is drawing people in by offering an unconditional love he's guilty of a "bait and switch".

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jcgadfly

jcgadfly wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.

yeah, I'm a christian too and thats why I'm telling you its not logically defendable. You would be the first on the planet to do so successfully. But there is a case to be made that radical love is not logical, but it is what we all look for. That is why we are drawn to Christ.

It would be a radical love if it were unconditional. Unfortunately, the cost for God's love is unquestioning obedience. If Christ is drawing people in by offering an unconditional love he's guilty of a "bait and switch".

That is one way to look at it. I don't look at it that way. A free gift should be a free gift. But we see analogies on earth. If my boss is gracious enough to give someone else a raise they don't deserve, I would be upset. It happens all the time. This goes to the parable of the worker who only worked an hour and got the whole days pay. Is it really any business of mine, who agreed to work for the whole day for a certain wage."

And, technically although unquestioning obedience is useful at times, I don't think God requires that, especially since its not possible. Its impossible to not break at least one the 10 commandments daily. I think there are tons of grace God gives us to repent. Thousands of times over our lifetime. Its not totally unfair.

I think God still loves the people who choose hell and makes it the "best" place possible, whatever than means.


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Where does the 'if you get

Where does the 'if you get caught cheating the police arrest you, you go to jail with a penalty far higher than anything you could win'?

Fear of punishment is a factor (among others)  in people behaviouring but that is generally a fear of this world


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JustAnotherBeliever

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.

yeah, I'm a christian too and thats why I'm telling you its not logically defendable. You would be the first on the planet to do so successfully. But there is a case to be made that radical love is not logical, but it is what we all look for. That is why we are drawn to Christ.

It would be a radical love if it were unconditional. Unfortunately, the cost for God's love is unquestioning obedience. If Christ is drawing people in by offering an unconditional love he's guilty of a "bait and switch".

That is one way to look at it. I don't look at it that way. A free gift should be a free gift. But we see analogies on earth. If my boss is gracious enough to give someone else a raise they don't deserve, I would be upset. It happens all the time. This goes to the parable of the worker who only worked an hour and got the whole days pay. Is it really any business of mine, who agreed to work for the whole day for a certain wage."

And, technically although unquestioning obedience is useful at times, I don't think God requires that, especially since its not possible. Its impossible to not break at least one the 10 commandments daily. I think there are tons of grace God gives us to repent. Thousands of times over our lifetime. Its not totally unfair.

I think God still loves the people who choose hell and makes it the "best" place possible, whatever than means.

That's the "God will forgive me so I can do what I want" Christianity that I know so well. 

1. Commit sin

2. Get forgiveness and be safe until you want to sin again

3. goto 1

Lather, rinse, repeat. Why bother? It reads more like paranoia than freedom.

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A fatal flaw in the original

A fatal flaw in the original formulation of the game is that it assumes that atheists do not have a motivation to cooperate, and therefore will necessarily cheat. However, under the formulation of the game known as the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, it is quite rational to adopt a strategy of cooperation (including sub-strategies to deter cheating).

So, basically, if the game is IPD (Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma), then it does not matter whether there's a God/judge or not. There are rational reasons to cooperate regardless.

Since most examples of cooperation in human society can be formulated as IPD, the original post's game is definitely a Straw Man. It does not accurately depict *actual* moral situations. It's a fantasy game, not based in reality.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:JillSwift

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JillSwift wrote:

So, you posit that believers require a judge to be moral?

No, I posit that cheating is in our rational self interest.

In a vacuum, perhaps.

 

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Quote:

There is no such thing as an "atheist based" anything. As Hamby has said before:

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

This is wishful thinking that has been elevated to the level of a meme.

You don't actually address the argument there, just assert it's false.
 

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Quote:

Looking at behavior:

  • People do immoral things.
  • Some of these immoral actors believe in an omniscient judge, some do not.
  • therefore: Morality is little effected by belief in such a judge

Your claim that rewards have no affect on behavior is incredulous.

Straw man, I made no such claim.
 

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Quote:

If anything, the believers will be more likely to have remorse, but not adjust their behavior.

Is this based on your feelings?. So you are positing that remorse has no affect on behavior?

It's based on experience working with criminals, and on studies done by others. What I posit is that a belief in a supernatural judge who is all forgiving means they feel remorse, feel forgiven, and repeat the behavior.

 

OrdinaryClay wrote:

You're kidding right? This is a meaningless "correlation" as anyone who understands the prison population would realize.

If you have any reason to suggest this correlation is meaningless, I'd love to hear it.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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OrdinaryClay wrote:We'll

OrdinaryClay wrote:
We'll call it Moral. It is a two person non-zero sum game.

"Morality" would have been catchier, and the idea that it's a zero-sum game is not true

OrdinaryClay wrote:
1) A moral choice that each player agrees exists. Each player has two available strategies: one, make the moral choice (do the right thing), and two, not make the moral choice (cheat).
2) Defined individually preferred payoffs based on adherence to this moral choice, where the payoff is greater for either player if that player can silently cheat the system.

Are you referring to the Prisoner's Dilemma? Because that's what it looks like.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
3) A third party judge that both players believe exists and is omniscient and fair. Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.

That changes the mathematics of the Prisoner's Dilemma completely, but that's because it redefines the payoff structure, which you have not illustrated. If both believe that their payoff for cheating will be zero, that's what the game reduces to.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
The game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists. The judge adds the component of complete knowledge. If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.

That's not "cheating", though, except that you've said it is. It's just "option 2". In this situation, you've set the game up entirely to prove your point, and reach the conclusion that your point is proven, given that the game has been set up to prove your point.

That's circular reasoning. I call shenanigans.

 

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Making a moral choice is not

Making a moral choice is not necessarily doing the right thing. I do hate it when people talk through their arses and hope to be taken seriously.

 

Killing someone is a moral choice. Stealing is a moral choice. As long as there is a moral standard applied to the choice then the choice cannot avoid being a moral one.

 

Rule Number One: If attempting through English to set up a hypothesis designed to generate debate it is better to learn fucking English first.

 

But I digress ...

 

So here's an improved version of the game (let's call it Immorality, and let's base it on something a bit more real than OrdinaryClay's impossibly naive stupidity):

 

1. Each player agrees that there is a moral choice to be made and that they can choose one of two strategies - make a choice deemed morally good (do the right thing) or one which is morally bad (do the wrong thing, such as cheat). - Oh look, a standard of morality has been established already!

 

2. Both players agree that the immediate payoff is greater for being morally bad and choosing that strategy, though both players instinctively know that morally bad is considered morally bad for a reason, and that a strategy which might appear out of self-interest to be logical is probably anything but, if they have the time, information and intelligence to work it out. (At this point one adopts the safe attitude and decides it's better to be good while the other takes a chance on being bad)

 

3. Both players are then told that there is a third party - an omniscient judge who will reduce the payoff for doing the morally bad thing to zero.

 

4. Both players must believe that the judge exists, which immediately begs the question. How has the definition of morality changed one iota since his introduction? After all, both players had already sussed out what was morally good and bad.

 

In this game the player who would have behaved morally bad might change his mind to avoid a nil payoff, but if he has half a brain would at least demand to know by what authority this judge was appointed and that the judge should at least have the courtesy of explaining in person what the fuck gave him the right to get involved. The player who would have behaved morally good would be quite justified in wondering much the same thing, and what right had the judge in any case to threaten him into behaving in a way he had already decided to adopt anyway?

 

So, thanks to the introduction of the so-called "judge" we now have a situation where two players, who already had an understanding of morality, now have an understanding of morality and either a) a reasonable objection to unwarranted interference from a supposedly omniscient third party or b) two players with a reasonable demand that the judge reveal himself and explain what gave him the right to intervene or - failing such an action on the judge's part - c) a reasonable certainty that they've been fooled.

 

In short, the game doesn't need a judge - least of all one which is a delusion at best.

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... is it cheating if i kill

... is it cheating if i kill the judge?

 

What? i'm just asking...


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If the judge is omniscient

If the judge is omniscient and fair, surely that means that both players believe the disapproved strategy actually has zero payoff, so that makes it a different game. It turns any decision to cheat into a simple case of breaking the rules of the game. 

Such a system is not a 'moral' one , it is a legalistic one, where an authority sets the rules, and the punishments for breaking them.

It debases the concept of 'good' to just a matter of obedience to an arbitrary set of rules.

A choice to do 'the right thing' only makes sense as a personal 'moral' decision if it is made without coercion or threat.

Commandment style rules are not morality, they are simply laws. They also cannot be written to cover all possible situations, especially where there are conflicting interests.

Rules such as the 'Golden Rule' are more in accord with morality, providing guidelines for decision making in the real world where the situations and the ultimate effects of our decisions are often far from clear-cut.

We typically do not have enough knowledge or experience to rationally assess what actions really are in our ultimate self-interest, even if were able to overcome emotional issues sufficiently to reason our way thru a situation. Even if we knew all the factors, the ultimate effects are not necessarily predictable in the complexity of the real world.

The question being addressed by the OP seems to be: Does belief in an omniscient judge make people more likely to follow the rules associated with that judge? Possibly. Depends on things like the nature of the rules, and how easy it is to apply them to the real world situations people encounter, especially if strong emotions are involved. Such complications make any conclusions from such a simplistic scenario as in the OP somewhat academic.

Observations of actual behavior in different societies support the idea that there is no clear benefit to society from widespread belief in an omniscient enforcer.

 

 

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I'd just like to add the

I'd just like to add the fact that adopting a certain policy would result in less cheating isn't really an argument for the policy being "superior". I'm sure if your government said that the penalty for cheating on your taxes was that you'd be castrated, your wife would be executed, and your children sold into slavery, less people would cheat on their taxes. Maybe no one would cheat. But it wouldn't be a superior policy it would be a very destructive policy.

You're saying that having an unelected, authoritarian, big-brother entity monitoring people at all times is superior because people cheat less when they know they can't get away with it. It's pretty insane if you think about it.

 

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Magus wrote:OrdinaryClay

Magus wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Eloise wrote:

And if the payoff for "cheating" is not greater than that for following the agreed moral rational players wouldn't favour "cheating" regardless.

So, what is your reason for setting the payoff so high? How does that choice relate to atheism and morality?

This is a good observation. Cheating by definition involves greater payoff, or at least the perception of greater payoff. Can you think of any perfect cheating that does not provide a payoff greater then not cheating.

I can give you an instance where cheating doesn't involve a greater payoff. Using a strategy guide to beat a game.  It gives the player the ending, just as it gives the player who didn't cheat the ending.  However the person who uses the strategy guide has gained less in the ability to solve the game and the accomplishment is deminished because it isn't really their own accomplishment.

A player that cheats by gaining knowledge not known to the other players receives the "winning" payoff with less cost to the cheating player. This is a net gain greater then the player who did not cheat. So the payoff is greater by cheating. The less tangible payoff such as self satisfaction can be gained by a cheating player in the form of self admiration for being a good cheater and peer admiration for beating the game(assuming silent cheating).
 


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Thomathy wrote:OrdinaryClay

Thomathy wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Quote:

 

  • No belief in god.
  • ???
  • Therefore: ???

 

This is wishful thinking that has been elevated to the level of a meme.

Umm... did you have a premise, then to add in place of the first three question marks?  Can you elaborate on what it is you believe necessarily follows from no belief in god?

Behavior results from having a belief or not having a belief. The behavior may be different, but they still occur.  It is vacuous to think otherwise.
 

Let us insert your premise:

  • A person has no belief in god.
  • That person exhibits behaviour endemic to that lack of belief.
  • Therefore ...? (The person is atheist?  Lovely tautology.)

First, what behaviour must an atheist exhibit except for a lack of belief?  Perhaps a lack of that behaviour which a religious person may or may not exhibit?  The point is, there is nothing that can be logically derived from atheism except itself.

The claim is far simpler. The beliefs (not believing is a belief) stemming from atheism affect behavior. I find it unbelievable that you can not think of a behavior that results from your lack of belief. Your behavior on this forum is certainly affected by your lack of belief. Your behavior toward Christians stems from your non-belief. The reason there are monster red letters in the "kill-em with kindness" forum stems from atheist beliefs.
 


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JustAnotherBeliever

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

JustAnotherBeliever wrote:

Now, the atheists want us to "graduate" into beliefs that are more logical and defendable.

I'm aware of what atheists want. I'm also aware of what logical and defendable are. I'm also a Christian.

yeah, I'm a christian too and thats why I'm telling you its not logically defendable. You would be the first on the planet to do so successfully.

Two person non-zero sum games have been understood for awhile now. The simple game I propose is particularly easy to understand. I don't understand why you would argue that reasoning based on such is indefensible.

 

Quote:

But there is a case to be made that radical love is not logical, but it is what we all look for. That is why we are drawn to Christ.

What is radical love?


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pauljohntheskeptic

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:


Suppose we add a third condition:
3) A third party judge that both players believe exists and is omniscient and fair. Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.

The game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists. The judge adds the component of complete knowledge. If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

This fails as an analogy to theists vs. atheists because your judge represents a god overseeing the game. The atheist in the real world does not accept there is an overseer who is omniscient. All you have shown is 2 'believers' in an omniscient judge will cheat.

I don't think you understand. Read the sentences below and then try rereading my original post.

There are actually two games described. The first game, which does not require an omniscient judge, would be played by an atheist. The second game which would be played by a Christian would have an omniscient judge. The comparison would then be on who is more prone to cheat between the two games.
 


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Gauche wrote:OrdinaryClay

Gauche wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Let's focus on the case where we have a judge(referee).  Assuming the judge is fair in applying judgements to the players this judge may be omniscient or not. If he is omniscient he catches every instance of cheating so the players can expect zero gain. If the judge is not omniscient he partially catches players. As you point out the players will still be motivated to cheat even with the chance of getting caught sometimes. If the players have a judge who never enforces the rules then they will be maximally motivated to cheat. So cheating decreases as the likelihood of being caught increases irregardless.

Now in the case of no judge the only deterrent is the chance of being caught by your fellow player. We know for a fact our fellow players are not omniscient so this is equal to having a judge who catches players unreliably. The case of an omniscient judge still results in less cheating then player enforced rules or a judge with uncertainty.

Well obviously if a player cannot gain from cheating then there's no point in cheating. I think that pretty much goes without saying. But a situation where there is no enforcement of the rules doesn't necessarily always lead to more cheating than a situation where there is some enforcement of the rules.

If you agree that some enforcement of the rules leads to some cheating then it follows that no enforcement would lead to more cheating. If a person is willing to take a risk for the gain of cheating (which shows they want the gain) then they would want the certain gain to be had when no enforcement is had.


 


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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:


Suppose we add a third condition:
3) A third party judge that both players believe exists and is omniscient and fair. Both players also agree that this judge can punish cheating by reducing payoffs to zero.

The game does not rely on the judge actually existing only that the players believe he exists. The judge adds the component of complete knowledge. If the omniscient judge does not exist and there is no notion of complete knowledge the players are more prone to cheat the system.
 

This fails as an analogy to theists vs. atheists because your judge represents a god overseeing the game. The atheist in the real world does not accept there is an overseer who is omniscient. All you have shown is 2 'believers' in an omniscient judge will cheat.

I don't think you understand. Read the sentences below and then try rereading my original post.

There are actually two games described. The first game, which does not require an omniscient judge, would be played by an atheist. The second game which would be played by a Christian would have an omniscient judge. The comparison would then be on who is more prone to cheat between the two games.
 

Does the person playing the game with the omniscient judge get infinite mulligans with no penalty for cheating if he apolgizes to the judge? That would be more in line with Christianity. In which case the Christian would cheat continually because there would be no reprisals as long as he kept apologizing.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:The claim

OrdinaryClay wrote:
The claim is far simpler. The beliefs (not believing is a belief) stemming from atheism affect behavior. I find it unbelievable that you can not think of a behavior that results from your lack of belief. Your behavior on this forum is certainly affected by your lack of belief. Your behavior toward Christians stems from your non-belief. The reason there are monster red letters in the "kill-em with kindness" forum stems from atheist beliefs.


 

Well, actually, the 'monster red letters' are a reaction to Christian beliefs, I believe.  You haven't addressed the argument though.  What I'm trying to exemplify is that nothing is logically entailed of being atheist other than being atheist.

For example:

  • A person lacks a belief in god.
  • (something must go here)
  • therefore, atheists are immoral.

Get it yet?  In order to come to some conclusion you need two premises.  That's some pretty basic logic.  Without two premises you cannot have a conclusion.  That atheists may act in a certain way because of being atheists is simply entailed by atheism.  Pointing out in a vague and extremely generalized way that my behaviour toward Christians stems from my non-belief is nothing more than pointing out that since I hold to x, x should have some effect on my behaviour toward y.  Problematic there is that it is vague and extremely generalized.  There is no specific way, entailed from my atheism, in which I should behave toward any given Christian.  If atheism is only a lack of belief in god(s), then there is nothing that can be derived from it, except tautologically.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:If you

OrdinaryClay wrote:

If you agree that some enforcement of the rules leads to some cheating then it follows that no enforcement would lead to more cheating.

No it doesn't. What about a situation where I need a specific number of points? In that situation, no enforcement of the rules means I would need to cheat less.

 

I only keep harping on this because I experienced this exact situation a few weeks ago. I was playing a mmog and I was cheating. I was botting which is against the rules but I don' give a shit because I'm a cheater. Now, if you get caught botting they'll disable your account but it's so unlikely that in effect there's no enforcement of the rule.

So a few weeks ago they patched the game to automatically delete points that you gained from botting.  The patch didn't work right and maybe 2 out of 3 times you'd get the points anyway. So all it did was create a situation where I had to cheat more to get the points I wanted.

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Guys, I think we've veered

Guys, I think we've veered off the path of game theory significantly enough for this to be a completely convoluted argument. At first, the problem was a rigged game, that was poorly explained. Now, we're talking about cheating as if it's not playing by the rules. Different things. In game theory, you have choices. If one of them is "to cheat", that's just a different choice with a different payoff.

Are there no economists or mathematicians on here to back me up? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

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Why Theistic Morality is

Why Theistic Morality is Inferior

It is a model that relies on the existence of a magical deity for which there is no evidence.

Full stop.

 

Genuine scientific standards for what morality is, on the other hand, rely on actual data, research and experimentation. So, even if maybe we don't like what it has to say about human morality from time to time, we know within reasonable doubt that it's claims are accurate. We can (and do) make predictions that are borne out in reality based on naturalistic moral science (unlike theistic moral predictions like, say, abstinence-only sex education will prevent teens from having sex. Oops on that one, eh?)

 

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940