Moral Law and Moral Law Giver

okamura
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Moral Law and Moral Law Giver

Hello All,

I have been listening to the speeches of one Ravi Zacharias on You Tube for quite a while now. He is a famous Christian apologist. He has also written a number of Christian books although I have yet to read them.

I must admit that he is a very good speaker and he delivers his message flawlessly. However, I found some of his apologetic arguments invalid. A prominent one is his response to theodicy or the problem of evil.

The question he is asked is worded in the usual way, e.g. "How can you talk about the existence of an all-loving and all-perfect GOD when there is so much evil in this world ?"

His response goes like this :

1. If you assume that there is such a thing as good, aren't you assuming that there is such a thing as evil ?

2. If you assume that there is good and there is evil, aren't you assuming that there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil ?

3. If you posit such a thing as a moral law, you must posit such a thing as a moral law giver.

4. However that is what you are trying to disprove.

5. Now, if there is no moral law giver, there is no moral law.

6. If there is no moral law, there is no good.

7. If there is no good, there is no evil. What is your question ?
 

I agree with only points 1 and 2.

However, I have some problems with point 3 (and its invalidity renders points 4 to 7 irrelevant) :

- Mr Zacharias simply assumes that a moral law necessarily implies an "external" moral law giver. I believe this is not necessary.

- I agree with others  (e.g. Dan Barker) who have described morality in the following simple way : the minimization of harm.

- Hence if a moral law exists, it could be reducible to something as simple as our individual consciences which is the by-product of our ability to survive together in society.

- We do not need an external "giver" of such a moral law. If anything, it is we who give ourselves such a moral law. 

I do not mean to disparage Mr Zacharias, but I feel that he is dishonestly using some kind of intellectual "sleight of hand" to smuggle in the relevance of GOD into the picture.

I hope my learned friends here in this forum would critique my analysis above.

Thankyou v much,

Okamura.

 

 


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okamura wrote:Hello All,I

okamura wrote:

Hello All,

I have been listening to the speeches of one Ravi Zacharias on You Tube for quite a while now. He is a famous Christian apologist. He has also written a number of Christian books although I have yet to read them.

I must admit that he is a very good speaker and he delivers his message flawlessly. However, I found some of his apologetic arguments invalid. A prominent one is his response to theodicy or the problem of evil.

The question he is asked is worded in the usual way, e.g. "How can you talk about the existence of an all-loving and all-perfect GOD when there is so much evil in this world ?"- Mr Zacharias simply assumes that a moral law necessarily implies an "external" moral law giver. 

- I agree with others  (e.g. Dan Barker) who have described morality in the following simple way : the minimization of harm.

 

Your argument is invalid, and I'll tell you why. You can't tell me what's evil and what's not evil, you can tell me what's evil and good in regards to yourself. I may agree with some of those notions, but in an atheistic worldview there is no external framework for anyone is to accept your notion of evil, or to accept your standard (such as Barkers silly one, I mean what the heck is harm? I'm sure Hitler felt killing the Jews was a minimization of harm to German society) as the true measure of it. 

The problem of evil, that the atheist attempts to paint, that an all loving and all powerful god would not allow evil to exist in the world, is incoherent, because your positing an objective standard for what morality is to be, your positing your sense of morality to have an external authority which it doesn't have.

In order for the problem of evil to be true it has to be objectively immoral, for an all powerful and all loving being to not allow evil to exist. How else would you refute, that it's moral for an all powerful and all loving  being to allow our world to exists at it is now, with it good and it's evil?

The problem of evil only works, if you paint an objective standard for morality, and an objective standard for morality, requires a belief in an external authority to make it so. 

The theist response to the problem of evil? "You find it immoral for an loving god to allow the world to be the way it is, I don't find it immoral at all. Case closed. "

 

 


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manofmanynames wrote:The

manofmanynames wrote:
The theist response to the problem of evil? "You find it immoral for an loving god to allow the world to be the way it is, I don't find it immoral at all. Case closed. "
Hahahahaha!  Isn't the first problem positing the existence of an unnecessary, poorly defined, contradictory and otherwise incoherent being called god to begin with?

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Thomathy wrote:Hahahahaha! 

Thomathy wrote:
Hahahahaha!  Isn't the first problem positing the existence of an unnecessary, poorly defined, contradictory and otherwise incoherent being called god to begin with?

There nothing contradictory in claim that if there were an all powerful, and all loving being that it wouldn't be a contradiction of his "all loving" nature, to allow the world to be as it is, with it's evil and it's good. 

The contradiction only comes from the atheist who attempts to peddle the problem of evil.

I have a good feeling that when it comes to morality, you don't have the slightest clue as to what's necessary or not. You probably still have the delusional belief that the way to steer us to be more moral is by education, and stronger reasoning. And  I have little doubt your just as clueless when it comes to God beliefs and religion. 

 

 

 


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

Thomathy wrote:
Hahahahaha!  Isn't the first problem positing the existence of an unnecessary, poorly defined, contradictory and otherwise incoherent being called god to begin with?

There nothing contradictory in claim that if there were an all powerful, and all loving being that it wouldn't be a contradiction of his "all loving" nature, to allow the world to be as it is, with it's evil and it's good. 

The contradiction only comes from the atheist who attempts to peddle the problem of evil.

I have a good feeling that when it comes to morality, you don't have the slightest clue as to what's necessary or not. You probably still have the delusional belief that the way to steer us to be more moral is by education, and stronger reasoning. And  I have little doubt your just as clueless when it comes to God beliefs and religion. 

 

 

 

I'm referring to positing the concept at all as being unnecessary.  You'll have to show how it is.  First you'll want to make the concept meaningful.  While you completely missed the point, I guess I'll address your contention with 'contradictory' too.  If the being made the world and is both all powerful and all loving, then it is contrary to its nature for the world to contain evil.  If it is not contrary, then the definition of loving must be different for the particular being you posit, which you have yet to define coherently or to show that it is necessary, whatever it is.


 

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Thomathy wrote:If the being

Thomathy wrote:

If the being made the world and is both all powerful and all loving, then it is contrary to its nature for the world to contain evil.  If it is not contrary, then the definition of loving must be different for the particular being you posit, which you have yet to define coherently or to show that it is necessary, whatever it is.

When we speak of terms such as "loving", "good" and "evil", our arguments are aesthetic ones, not scientific ones. We claim that something is evil, in the same sense that we say that something is beautiful, not like how we claim that 1+1=2. Do you understand this?

You claim that it's contrary to the nature of being loving to allow the world to contain evil. What the fuck is a loving nature? And why am i required to accept your notion of it? Again you're claiming an objective standard for an aesthetic belief. I don't find nothing contrary to the nature of being all loving, and all powerful to allow the world to exist as it does now. 

You need to venture beyond a delusional conception of these aesthetic terms, and depict your portrait of good, and evil, and loving nature as far more refined than the hodgepodge you've been presenting so far. You need to find some sort of aesthetic agreement between me and you, about characteristic of loving nature, of good, and of evil. 

 

 

 


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

If the being made the world and is both all powerful and all loving, then it is contrary to its nature for the world to contain evil.  If it is not contrary, then the definition of loving must be different for the particular being you posit, which you have yet to define coherently or to show that it is necessary, whatever it is.

This is where we find the heart of much of secular delusions. When we speak of terms such as "loving", "good" and "evil", our arguments are aesthetic ones, not scientific ones. We claim that something is evil, in the same sense that we say that something is beautiful, not like how we claim that 1+1=2. Do you understand this?

You claim that it's contrary to the nature of being loving to allow the world to contain evil. What the fuck is a loving nature? And why am i required to accept your notion of it? Again you're claiming an objective standard for an aesthetic belief. I don't find nothing contrary to the nature of being all loving, and all powerful to allow the world to exist as it does now. 

You need to venture beyond your delusional conception of these aesthetic terms, and depict your portrait of good, and evil, and loving nature as far more refined than the hodgepodge you've been presenting so far. You need to find some sort of aesthetic agreement between me and you, about characteristic of loving nature, of good, and of evil. 

 

 

 

So when the Bible makes statements about the nature of God such as "God is love", that's merely an aesthetic description?

I think the problem comes with trying to harmonize the evil in the world with "God is love" and 1 Cor 13:4-7 (for example). If God is love and love always protects, how is there any protection in people being damaged by evil?

"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."
— George Carlin


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

If the being made the world and is both all powerful and all loving, then it is contrary to its nature for the world to contain evil.  If it is not contrary, then the definition of loving must be different for the particular being you posit, which you have yet to define coherently or to show that it is necessary, whatever it is.

When we speak of terms such as "loving", "good" and "evil", our arguments are aesthetic ones, not scientific ones. We claim that something is evil, in the same sense that we say that something is beautiful, not like how we claim that 1+1=2. Do you understand this?

No, you've totally blown my mind.  I cannot even begin to grasp such a strikingly complex concept.  I'm not even sure how I know it's complex, since I can't understand it. [/sarcasm]

Quote:
You claim that it's contrary to the nature of being loving to allow the world to contain evil. What the fuck is a loving nature? And why am i required to accept your notion of it? Again you're claiming an objective standard for an aesthetic belief. I don't find nothing contrary to the nature of being all loving, and all powerful to allow the world to exist as it does now.
Even if I am the one defining the concepts of 'loving' and 'evil' subjectively, so are you.  Excuse the tu quo que, but it's just ridiculous to point out that it's subjective and then point to this entity of yours and call it all-loving and all-powerful.  I'm not the one positing the all-loving all-powerful thing, you are.  By what objective standard can it be ascribed those attributes?

Quote:
You need to venture beyond a delusional conception of these aesthetic terms, and depict your portrait of good, and evil, and loving nature as far more refined than the hodgepodge you've been presenting so far. You need to find some sort of aesthetic agreement between me and you, about characteristic of loving nature, of good, and of evil.
Why must I find the agreement?  How about you tell me what you mean when you ascribe an attribute like 'all-loving' or 'all-powerful' to an unnecessary, poorly defined, contradictory and otherwise incoherent being in which you have faith exists?

 

 

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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jcgadfly wrote:So when the

jcgadfly wrote:

So when the Bible makes statements about the nature of God such as "God is love", that's merely an aesthetic description?

Yes, it is. In fact I stand by the view that God beliefs, religious beliefs arise out of natural aesthetic inclinations of the world, rather than mechanical inquires about it. It's for the sake of forming an aesthetic portrait of what the world is like, rather than the science of it. God (Gods) and religions arise out of desire of depicting the notion of life we are ultimely moved by and concerned with, they are attempts to tell us more about our relationship to living, than mechanical workings of it.

Quote:
I think the problem comes with trying to harmonize the evil in the world with "God is love" and 1 Cor 13:4-7 (for example). If God is love and love always protects, how is there any protection in people being damaged by evil? 

Who said God always protects? Paul doesn't say that? The Christian testament of love is Christ crucified, and a claim that God sends us to life and meaning, through death, darkness and deprivation. It's by an acceptance of this paradoxical portrait of the world than one is  a Christian. 

 


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

So when the Bible makes statements about the nature of God such as "God is love", that's merely an aesthetic description?

Yes, it is. In fact I stand by the view that God beliefs, religious beliefs arise out of natural aesthetic inclinations of the world, rather than mechanical inquires about it. It's for the sake of forming an aesthetic portrait of what the world is like, rather than the science of it. God (Gods) and religions arise out of desire of depicting the notion of life we are ultimely moved by and concerned with, they are attempts to tell us more about our relationship to living, than mechanical workings of it.

Quote:
I think the problem comes with trying to harmonize the evil in the world with "God is love" and 1 Cor 13:4-7 (for example). If God is love and love always protects, how is there any protection in people being damaged by evil? 

Who said God always protects? Paul doesn't say that? The Christian testament of love is Christ crucified, and a claim that God sends us to life and meaning, through death, darkness and deprivation. It's by an acceptance of this paradoxical portrait of the world than one is  a Christian. 

 

So God is not love and the Bible is merely human aesthetics? Glad you're honest about it.

Why are you worshiping human aesthetics?

"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."
— George Carlin


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jcgadfly wrote:So God is not

jcgadfly wrote:

So God is not love

God is Love, is an aesthetic statement, because Love is an aesthetic term, there is no if ands or buts about that. My mother is loving woman, is an aesthetic statement. 

Quote:
and the Bible is merely human aesthetics? Glad you're honest about it.

Human aesthetics, what the fuck does that mean? 

 

Quote:
Why are you worshiping human aesthetics?

Richard Dawkins and the like desire for us to worship an aesthetic as well, worship can only be granted towards an aesthetic conception of something. Dawkins believings that science can replace religion, and be an inspiration for art. He is in fact attempting to remove science within it's own realm, into the realm of art, and  peddling as an object of awe and worship. He like  Robespierre during the french revolution desires to make "reason" an aesthetic concept, a goddess of reason. It's the aesthetic quality of things that move us, not the scientific quality of it. Why would we worship anything other than something that moves us? 

It's the aesthic quality of a moral statement you make to your children, or to your friends, that compels them to accept it. 

We don't feel love, or even hatred, unless we are moved by something as we are moved by like a painting. Science doesn't make moral arguments, art does. 

 


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okamura wrote:However, I

okamura wrote:
However, I found some of his apologetic arguments invalid.

Isn't this basically a tautology? Of course it is invalid, since apologetics is not about establishing your comclusion through arguments, but to defend the preheld conclusion. Basically the opposite of an intellectual persuit.


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

So God is not love

God is Love, is an aesthetic statement, because Love is an aesthetic term, there is no if ands or buts about that. My mother is loving woman, is an aesthetic statement. 

Quote:
and the Bible is merely human aesthetics? Glad you're honest about it.

Human aesthetics, what the fuck does that mean? 

 

Quote:
Why are you worshiping human aesthetics?

Richard Dawkins and the like desire for us to worship an aesthetic as well, worship can only be granted towards an aesthetic conception of something. Dawkins believings that science can replace religion, and be an inspiration for art. He is in fact attempting to remove science within it's own realm, into the realm of art, and  peddling as an object of awe and worship. He like  Robespierre during the french revolution desires to make "reason" an aesthetic concept, a goddess of reason. It's the aesthetic quality of things that move us, not the scientific quality of it. Why would we worship anything other than something that moves us? 

It's the aesthic quality of a moral statement you make to your children, or to your friends, that compels them to accept it. 

We don't feel love, or even hatred, unless we are moved by something as we are moved by like a painting. Science doesn't make moral arguments, art does. 

 

Since emotions have biological origins, you're worshipping biology now and calling it God?

"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."
— George Carlin


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jcgadfly wrote:Since

jcgadfly wrote:

Since emotions have biological origins, you're worshipping biology now and calling it God?

uhm...this is a silly as saying, that loving my daughter is loving my biology. 


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Since emotions have biological origins, you're worshipping biology now and calling it God?

uhm...this is a silly as saying, that loving my daughter is loving my biology. 

You're the one who said we can't experience emotions without being moved by something. I said that emotions have their origins in brain chemistry. basically, you're saying you love your God because it makes you feel good.

If your logic sounds strange when it's thrown back at you - don't blame the one who threw it back. Re-evaluate your logic.

"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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manofmanynames wrote:When we


manofmanynames wrote:

When we speak of terms such as "loving", "good" and "evil", our arguments are aesthetic ones, not scientific ones. We claim that something is evil, in the same sense that we say that something is beautiful, not like how we claim that 1+1=2. Do you understand this?

My biggest problem with that conception of morality is that even though we're not always right in our evaluations sometimes one's moral evaluation is right. But you can't say that because you deny that moral discourse is about stating facts.

So if a person judges that something is morally good, then upon reflection decides that it is actually not good (perhaps they became privy to new information or something), that conception of morality would bar them from saying that their earlier judgment was wrong and their new judgment is right because it wasn't a statement of fact to begin with. It wasn't even a statement of fact about one's self.

So you're implying that moral judgments in a sense are beyond reproach because they're not judgments at all; they're expressions of attitude. Therefore you can't account for the place of reason in ethics or moral truth and falsehood as perceived by the individual.

 

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okamura wrote: 3. If you

okamura wrote:

3. If you posit such a thing as a moral law, you must posit such a thing as a moral law giver.

Humans are the moral law givers.

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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butterbattle wrote:Humans

butterbattle wrote:

Humans are the moral law givers.

That's why everyone has their own morality.

The theists say with atheism everyone's morality would be relative. It already is. Even within a given church, everyone decides what is their morality.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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okamura wrote:1. If you

okamura wrote:

1. If you assume that there is such a thing as good, aren't you assuming that there is such a thing as evil ?

2. If you assume that there is good and there is evil, aren't you assuming that there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil ? 

I agree with only points 1 and 2.

Why do think there is 'good and evil'? People just call what gives them pleasureable sensation 'good' and call painful sensation 'evil'.

The atheist that asked the question fell into the trap of moralism. Good, evil and morality are BS concepts.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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Gauche wrote:So you're

Gauche wrote:

So you're implying that moral judgments in a sense are beyond reproach because they're not judgments at all; they're expressions of attitude. Therefore you can't account for the place of reason in ethics or moral truth and falsehood as perceived by the individual.

A good read is Alasdair Macintyre's After Virtue, a basic summary is that modern moral philosophy is an incoherent mess. In the pre-modern world conceptions of morality are conceived in a teleology, that we are creatures of a design, with and is, and should be. Modern moral philosophy claims to have abandon teleological arguments, yet speaks as if it hasn't. 

 

 

 

 


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EXC wrote:Why do think there

EXC wrote:

Why do think there is 'good and evil'? People just call what gives them pleasurable sensation 'good' and call painful sensation 'evil'.

uhm, even committing evil can give us a pleasurable sensation, rape someone might give us the pleasurable sensation of power and dominance, and ejaculation, yet the person committing it rarely labels it as a morally "good" thing.


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EXC wrote:Why do think there

. duplicate post


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jcgadfly wrote:Since

. duplicate post ( i have no clue as to why when i press post comment, it keeps posting them twice.)

 


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jcgadfly wrote:Since

jcgadfly wrote:

Since emotions have biological origins, you're worshiping biology now and calling it God?

Um, love is "directed" at an object, just as "worship" is, our biology gives us a capacity to love, but objects are what brings it out of us, i don't love a rock. I don't love things because I reason myself to love, I can't say because I find love your neighbor to be a promising idea, that I can will myself to love my next door neighbor. 

Objects that are loved, or worshiped, are loved and worshiped because of the aesthetic quality of these objects. We are moved to love, moved to worship, like we are moved by a painting, and not like we are "moved" to believe that 1+1=2. 

 

 


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Since emotions have biological origins, you're worshiping biology now and calling it God?

Um, love is "directed" at an object, just as "worship" is, our biology gives us a capacity to love, but objects are what brings it out of us, i don't love a rock. I don't love things because I reason myself to love, I can't say because I find love your neighbor to be a promising idea, that I can will myself to love my next door neighbor. 

Objects that are loved, or worshiped, are loved and worshiped because of the aesthetic quality of these objects. We are moved to love, moved to worship, like we are moved by a painting, and not like we are "moved" to believe that 1+1=2. 

 

 

In other words, you worship God for the same reason I eat chocolate. It stimulates brain chemicals that provide good feelings.

Your god = warm fuzzy feelings

 

"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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jcgadfly wrote:In other

jcgadfly wrote:

In other words, you worship God for the same reason I eat chocolate. It stimulates brain chemicals that provide good feelings.

Your god = warm fuzzy feelings

Following the idiot's logic.

Dawkins worships science, and reason. Therefore science and reason = warm fuzzy feelings. 

Nations adore their soldiers. Therefore soldiers = warm fuzzy feelings

Daniel Dennet adores his wife. Therefore his wife = warm fuzzy feelings.

 

 


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manofmanynames wrote:uhm,

manofmanynames wrote:

uhm, even committing evil can give us a pleasurable sensation, rape someone might give us the pleasurable sensation of power and dominance, and ejaculation, yet the person committing it rarely labels it as a morally "good" thing.

It's not pleasurable for the person being raped. 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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butterbattle wrote:It's not

butterbattle wrote:

It's not pleasurable for the person being raped. 

In terms of statutory rape it sure might be. 


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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

butterbattle wrote:

It's not pleasurable for the person being raped. 

In terms of statutory rape it sure might be. 

Oh, definitely. After all, it's just consensual with a minor involved. Ergo, this is already a gray area for me. I don't think I've ever heard any convincing arguments why this is considered evil. 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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My Thoughts Exactly

butterbattle wrote : Humans are the moral law givers.

My thoughts exactly. And thanks for the You Tube vid. It's very good Smiling

Best Regards,

Okamura.

 


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Some Clarifications

Hello All,

Please note that it was not my intention to talk about the problem of evil or morality in general. Neither was I trying to refute the existence of GOD.

My real intent was to challenge the line of reasoning (points 1 through 7 in my first post) that Mr Zacharias uses to demonstrate how the problem of evil does not disprove GOD. Let me clarify this below :

Observe what Mr Ravi Zacharias is saying :

"If you posit such a thing as a moral law, you must posit such a thing as a moral law giver."

And he went on to say :

"However that is what you are trying to disprove."

As I understand it, he is implying at least two things :

(i) There is a moral law giver.

(ii) The moral law giver is GOD.

To me, this is a non sequitur.

My refutations :

(a) While it may be acceptable that there be a moral law giver,  Mr Zacharias has not shown how this moral law giver must necessarily be GOD.

(b) The non-theist position, that human beings can learn and have learnt moral law simply by learning to live together harmoniously in society, is certainly plausible. Therefore, this moral law giver can be Man himself.

(c) In order to justify his claim in (ii) (i.e. that the moral law giver is GOD), he must demonstrate how, wthout GOD, either this moral law cannot exist (some deity must  create it first) or that humans can never learn it by themselves.

My contention with Mr Zacharias is not the problem of evil per se. It is his deductive reasoning that I do not agree with.

 

Thanks All,

Okamura.

 


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okamura wrote:(b) The

okamura wrote:

(b) The non-theist position, that human beings can learn and have learnt moral law simply by learning to live together harmoniously in society, is certainly plausible. Therefore, this moral law giver can be Man himself.

The problem is that the atheist starts speaking of morals as "laws", as natural laws, which are universal. It basically boils down to a taste preference, morality is not more of a law, than my liking towards brunettes is a law, or my distaste for broccoli is a law. 

The ridiculousness of the the PoE presented by atheist is that it assumes a "moral law" as we do a natural law, like the laws of physics. I.E. An all benevolent, all powerful being, would not allow the world to exists as it does now, is spoken of incoherently as a "moral law", a universal principle, that becomes nonsensical when the atheist is approached further, hence the "so what's the question again?"

Secondly when we speak of a universal moral law giver, we are in fact speaking of a God, like we do when we speak of an omnipotent being. Another name for a universal moral law giver is God, another name for an omnipotent being is God. 

 

 


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Morality is more than a mere

Morality is more than a mere personal preference because it's based on reason. If anything it's theists who believe it's a personal preference. God's personal preference.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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Gauche wrote:Morality is

Gauche wrote:

Morality is more than a mere personal preference because it's based on reason.

It's as much based on reason as my penchant for Bergman films, or a good tasting wine. If you assume it's more than that, you're peddling magic talking. I can give you reasons for why I like fat chicks, just like you can give me reasons as to why you find something to be morally tasteless, but that's all fine and dandy. 

You don't like the idea that good old Bob likes to urinate on bums while their sleeping, and Bob's response to you, "is too fucking bad". There's no mathematical formula, no universal law to turn to, to convince Bob otherwise. 


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theTwelve wrote:Gauche

theTwelve wrote:

Gauche wrote:

Morality is more than a mere personal preference because it's based on reason.

It's as much based on reason as my penchant for Bergman films, or a good tasting wine. If you assume it's more than that, you're peddling magic talking. I can give you reasons for why I like fat chicks, just like you can give me reasons as to why you find something to be morally tasteless, but that's all fine and dandy. 

You don't like the idea that good old Bob likes to urinate on bums while their sleeping, and Bob's response to you, "is too fucking bad". There's no mathematical formula, no universal law to turn to, to convince Bob otherwise. 

Are you implying that when someone says that an act is morally right or wrong they are actually stating their approval or disapproval?

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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Gauche wrote:Are you

Gauche wrote:

Are you implying that when someone says that an act is morally right or wrong they are actually stating their approval or disapproval?

I'm implying that when someone says something is moral and immoral, he is just stating his preference, like saying I prefer Chinese food over a cheeseburger.

Human beings are not like time pieces, we're not designed for a purpose, something we're suppose to be. We can't speak of a good person, like we do of a good watch. When you say someone is good, all you're saying is that he fit into a standard that you desired him to be, like Bill O'Reilly calling white washed republican Negros, good black men. The atheist moral reproach amounts to a "guys you're not living up to my expectations", for which the response is more than likely going to be a spit in the face. 

In the premodern world individuals believed in a telos, that like watches, men were designed for a purpose, and the virtues, and morals were the means of reaching an end, to make us "fully" human. The judeo-Christian tradition use the notion of an "image of God", for the same reason. They have a communal object to live up to, to be an image bearer of, "Jesus" christ in the christian tradition. Christians can speak of good and evil to other theist, in reference to how they live in the ideal of Christ. The purpose of Christians is to be more Christ like. 

Atheist don't believe in that superstitious shit, so their communal language of morality is bankrupt, and incoherent, though many of them have yet to abandon the religious moral babble. The atheist moral reproach amounts to a, "be more like me", for which the natural response is, "who the fuck are you"?


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Morality is based on what

Morality is based on what humans dictate, so you could call it personal preference. However, our beliefs concerning morality aren't random, but based on biology and environment. We can all appreciate the ideas of fairness, kindness, responsibility, etc. Often, morality is based on faulty reasoning, such as when different tribes and races enslave each other with the premise that a certain out-group is inferior. Here, we can use logic to clarify what is right and wrong, or what works better.

Unfortunately, since morality is an oughtness, a concept invented by humans, logic will always reach a dead end, a point at which we can only say that something is wrong because humanity deems it to be so.   

Theists unknowingly do the same thing, but pervert the system by enacting the moral systems from a time when we hadn't yet imagined our entire species as the in-group or understood our instincts, then claiming that morality rests beyond our control. This slows progress.  

Do you all agree with this?

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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theTwelve wrote:I'm implying

theTwelve wrote:

I'm implying that when someone says something is moral and immoral, he is just stating his preference, like saying I prefer Chinese food over a cheeseburger.

Human beings are not like time pieces, we're not designed for a purpose, something we're suppose to be. We can't speak of a good person, like we do of a good watch. When you say someone is good, all you're saying is that he fit into a standard that you desired him to be, like Bill O'Reilly calling white washed republican Negros, good black men. The atheist moral reproach amounts to a "guys you're not living up to my expectations", for which the response is more than likely going to be a spit in the face. 

In the premodern world individuals believed in a telos, that like watches, men were designed for a purpose, and the virtues, and morals were the means of reaching an end, to make us "fully" human. The judeo-Christian tradition use the notion of an "image of God", for the same reason. They have a communal object to live up to, to be an image bearer of, "Jesus" christ in the christian tradition. Christians can speak of good and evil to other theist, in reference to how they live in the ideal of Christ. The purpose of Christians is to be more Christ like. 

Atheist don't believe in that superstitious shit, so their communal language of morality is bankrupt, and incoherent, though many of them have yet to abandon the religious moral babble. The atheist moral reproach amounts to a, "be more like me", for which the natural response is, "who the fuck are you"?

I see, so you're operating under a number of naive assumptions, that the "right thing to do" is disputable, but what is "christ-like" is not disputable; that in the ancient world when people subscribed to virtue ethics there could be no disagreements about morality and that people of today (certainly atheists of today) don't subscribe to virtue ethics.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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Are you posting under two

Are you posting under two different names? Weren't you just talking about  Macintyre? You're taking a legitimate criticism of enlightenment theories about morality like Emotivism and Utilitarianism and trying to twist it to argue that atheists can't have morals.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
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Gauche wrote: You're taking

Gauche wrote:
 You're taking a legitimate criticism of enlightenment theories about morality like Emotivism and Utilitarianism and trying to twist it to argue that atheists can't have morals.

Uhm, I never said atheist can't have morals. I'm sure you're a swell guy, no less moral than the lot of us. But where an atheist is limited is in moral critic, so to say. You don't have any coherent means for telling me or others to align with your moral taste buds. Theist argue amongst each other about not being "Christ-like", theist have a shared reference point, to claim what other Christians are to align their way of life too. 

To give you a sort of example.

When I was in college, there was period where i was really broke, and barely had enough money to feed myself for the week. I was at one of the computers, and I noticed that someone had forgot their textbook there. It had no name in it, and it was in fairly good condition, and what I was tempted to do was to sell the book at the book store, and made $40 dollars out if. I was strongly inclined to do it.

If I were a theist, and I mentioned this situation to other theists, regardless of which stripe their from, they would have asked what's the "christ-like" thing to do? Since I subscribed to a religion, with an image bearer, that I'm suppose to be like, i have to commit my conduct into that spectrum. 

What would an atheist say? Either they'd tell me to live up to there own personal standards, for which the response would be, a "who the fuck do you think you are?". Or would be feeding me some religious bull shit, about cosmic karma, and how if i steel this book some one might steal one of my books one day. 

Rationally, I should just take the book and sell it for my own gain, I could even give reasons, such as the idiot shouldn't have left it there, I'm sure I need the money, more than he needs the book, so fuck him. 

Now, I'm not claiming every atheist would have sold the book, but rather than none of you all have any meaningful way of reproaching me, none of you all have any even quasi-persuasive reasons as to why I shouldn't do so. The theist could tell me i should be more Christ-like, but the atheist is fairly dumb founded. 

Gauche wrote:
 that the "right thing to do" is disputable, but what is "christ-like" is not disputable; 

No, it's not there is nothing to disputable, but rather that there is something to actually dispute. The theist has a shared reference point to dispute over, the atheist doesn't have that, because the only reference point an atheist can have is himself, and those who morality they oppose reference themselves as well. 

 

 


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theTwelve wrote:Rationally,

theTwelve wrote:
Rationally, I should just take the book and sell it for my own gain, I could even give reasons, such as the idiot shouldn't have left it there, I'm sure I need the money, more than he needs the book, so fuck him. 

It's only rational if you considered self gain to be more important than integrity.

Did you sell the book? 

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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theTwelve wrote:No, it's not

theTwelve wrote:

No, it's not there is nothing to disputable, but rather that there is something to actually dispute. The theist has a shared reference point to dispute over, the atheist doesn't have that, because the only reference point an atheist can have is himself, and those who morality they oppose reference themselves as well. 

 

 

Actually atheists (or anyone else for that matter) have a perfectly rational point to dispute over that has nothing to do with Christ, religion, or their own feelings... consequences. The consequences of your actions are not mumbo-jumbo friend, and unlike what one should consider "christ-like" it's objective.

You seem to have a very biased view of ethics where you ignore that criticism which is applicable to one moral objection is pertinent in another case that you favor. What is "christ-like" is clearly debatable, there are more than a hundred different denominations of Christianity. If that was really your approach to morality then "who the fuck are you to tell me what's christ-like?" for you would be a perfectly reasonable response to a Christian who tells you not to steal a book on that basis.

I'm sorry but suggesting that atheists have no coherent basis for making normative claims is absurd. It denies the place of reason in ethics and that people usually have common values anyway. If someone tells me that they're going to steal I don't have to make reference to some long dead water-walker to make an appeal to honesty. If the person believes in honesty already I could make a perfectly reasonable case for why they shouldn't steal. And even if the person didn't believe in honesty, as long as they weren't immune to reason I could make a good case for why they should believe in it, no christ needed.   

 

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H.P. Lovecraft


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Quote:The consequences of

Quote:
The consequences of your actions are not mumbo-jumbo friend, and unlike what one should consider "christ-like" it's objective.

Let's give you something simple to chew on. When you are speaking to someone about being morally good, taking the morally right course of action, you are speaking of someone as they "should be", rather than what they are. It's sort of like how your mother tells you that you should be more like your brother. You're telling me I should be more like something else. And unless two people have a mutual "something else" they both aspire to be like, moral speak is pure babble. 

If you can't follow why this is so, I suggest you give an example of telling a child a moral lesson, that doesn't work like this. 

Gauche wrote:
Actually atheists (or anyone else for that matter) have a perfectly rational point to dispute over that has nothing to do with Christ, religion, or their own feelings... consequences.

Well, first of all, if you desire to be even more incoherent, try speaking of morality that's not in relationship to your own "feelings", that's just pure nonsense. Morality can't be determined, and practiced as indifferent human beings. Like I said, if you used examples you'd be able to see your errors more clearly. 

Quote:
You seem to have a very biased view of ethics where you ignore that criticism which is applicable to one moral objection is pertinent in another case that you favor. What is "christ-like" is clearly debatable, there are more than a hundred different denominations of Christianity.

Well, there's no question that being Christ-like is debatable about certain things, but not all thing, it would be pretty hard whether you're an atheist or a theist to argue that the Christ-like thing to do is to sell the book. You doubt this? DO you honestly believe if that I ask theist of various different denominations, that some of them would say the Christ-like thing to do is to sell the book for my own gain? More nonsense dude. 

Quote:
If that was really your approach to morality then "who the fuck are you to tell me what's christ-like?" for you would be a perfectly reasonable response to a Christian who tells you not to steal a book on that basis.

The point is he just asks to ask me if i'm living up to the christian ideal of being christ-like? Of course the one contemplating stealing it, would understand that stealing it would not be Christ-like. Do you really question this? Now, either I would have to reject my christianity to steal it, or to accept it and act accordingly.  

Quote:
It denies the place of reason in ethics and that people usually have common values anyway. If someone tells me that they're going to steal I don't have to make reference to some long dead water-walker to make an appeal to honesty.

You have to make reference to someone or some idea of someone, since you're not speaking of the individual as he is, but as he should be. Your moral argument can only be in reference to yourself. That when you spew moral behavior you claim is to be more "like me". You're calling to yourself some sense of authority, that you'd get slapped for claiming. The theist claim is to be more "like Christ", whose authority is not rejected but accepted by theist, to reject it, is to no longer be a theist. 

Quote:
And even if the person didn't believe in honesty, as long as they weren't immune to reason I could make a good case for why they should believe in it, no christ needed.   

So you want people to believe in honesty, to have faith in it as some sort of superstition? Let's say I don't give a fuck about honesty, I care about having something to eat, having money in my pocket. So let's hear your reason for why I should sell the book, knowing what my desired end is. This should be fun. 

 


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manofmanynames wrote:uhm,

manofmanynames wrote:

uhm, even committing evil can give us a pleasurable sensation, rape someone might give us the pleasurable sensation of power and dominance, and ejaculation, yet the person committing it rarely labels it as a morally "good" thing.

At the time they decide to do it is 'good'. It's only 'evil' after they get caught and they need to show remorse to get a lower punishment.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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theTwelve wrote: Let's give

theTwelve wrote:

 

Let's give you something simple to chew on. When you are speaking to someone about being morally good, taking the morally right course of action, you are speaking of someone as they "should be", rather than what they are. It's sort of like how your mother tells you that you should be more like your brother. You're telling me I should be more like something else. And unless two people have a mutual "something else" they both aspire to be like, moral speak is pure babble. 

If you can't follow why this is so, I suggest you give an example of telling a child a moral lesson, that doesn't work like this. 

What you obviously fail to grasp is that what a person thinks they should do doesn't just fall out of the fucking sky (well, maybe it does in your case). The nature of moral judgment (and all value judgment for that matter) is that people provide reasons to justify them. That's why they're persuasive, and why you don't need to start out with some mutually believed, made-up, bullshit fairytale like how cool jesus was in order for them to be persuasive. Until you understand the connection between moral judgment and reason you'll continue to make the same basic mistakes. 

Quote:

Well, first of all, if you desire to be even more incoherent, try speaking of morality that's not in relationship to your own "feelings", that's just pure nonsense. Morality can't be determined, and practiced as indifferent human beings. Like I said, if you used examples you'd be able to see your errors more clearly. 

Emotions figure into morality as forces that advance or impede the purposes of moral judgments. But when I say that if you steal then you might go to jail it's not my feeling that you'll go to jail, it's just a fact.

Quote:

Well, there's no question that being Christ-like is debatable about certain things, but not all thing, it would be pretty hard whether you're an atheist or a theist to argue that the Christ-like thing to do is to sell the book. You doubt this? DO you honestly believe if that I ask theist of various different denominations, that some of them would say the Christ-like thing to do is to sell the book for my own gain? More nonsense dude. 

The point is he just asks to ask me if i'm living up to the christian ideal of being christ-like? Of course the one contemplating stealing it, would understand that stealing it would not be Christ-like. Do you really question this? Now, either I would have to reject my christianity to steal it, or to accept it and act accordingly.  

Some Christians probably would tell you to steal. Obviously Christians stealing for their own gain isn't unheard of. That's not really the point. It's about your bias.

You claim that a what a non-christian suggests is the "right thing to do" is merely their preference and should therefore be rejected. But if what is "christ-like" is debatable as you readily concede then one's conception of "christ-like" is a preference. It's their preferred definition of "christ-like" and would also be rejected if not for your bias.

Quote:

You have to make reference to someone or some idea of someone, since you're not speaking of the individual as he is, but as he should be. Your moral argument can only be in reference to yourself. That when you spew moral behavior you claim is to be more "like me". You're calling to yourself some sense of authority, that you'd get slapped for claiming. The theist claim is to be more "like Christ", whose authority is not rejected but accepted by theist, to reject it, is to no longer be a theist. 

Okay, now I think I understand what you've been going on about. You don't think that Christ is good because of his actions. You think that the actions are good because of Christ. So hypothetically if Christ was a child molester then child molestation would be good.
Quote:

So you want people to believe in honesty, to have faith in it as some sort of superstition? Let's say I don't give a fuck about honesty, I care about having something to eat, having money in my pocket. So let's hear your reason for why I should sell the book, knowing what my desired end is. This should be fun. 

 

Don't you think it's a little obtuse to say that there's no reason to be honest other than that you should emulate another person? 

Of course if you're not joking and you want me to explain how a moral judgment can be justified with reason I will do that.

 

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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    Interesting.  Google

Google "Christian sex scandal" and you get 4,360 hits.    

Google "Atheist sex scandal "  and you get 3 hits.

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.


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 Since I don't believe

 Since I don't believe people follow links, I'm just going to reprint my whole article in this thread.

 

Where Do Christians Get Their Morality?

Figures from the Morality plays

Ask a random Christian where his morality comes from, and you are likely to get one answer out of a few that are commonly given. Many fundamentalists believe that God is the source of all morality. Without God, they say, humans would not know right from wrong, and we would be living in total moral chaos. More moderate Christians often offer a more deistic explanation. God created humans with an innate sense of right and wrong, and even without his direct intervention, we know what we ought to do because he has placed his moral laws in our hearts.

Some Christians believe that morality is absolute. There are things that are always wrong, and things that are always right. The ends do not justify the means in any case, and we ought to trust God to work things out when it appears that we are doing something harmful by “doing the right thing.” Even outside of Christianity, there is a prevalent belief that morality exists on some kind of higher philosophical plane, and that it is proof of humanity's separation from the animal world. We are different in kind from the animals because we have morality.

I'd like to examine these claims in light of both philosophy and science to see if any of them hold any water. In the end, I hope to convince you that not only do Christians not have any means to derive a system of morality from their faith, they have every justification in the world to act immorally with impunity based only on their personal goals.


Morality Comes From God


Let us suppose that God is the source of all morality. For now, we will take the most extreme Christian view – that morality is impossible to derive from human wisdom, and that we must rely solely on the word of God to know what is right and what is wrong. If this is true, then it must be true that there is no logical reason to do what is right other than fear of God's punishment or desire for God's reward. If this conclusion seems odd, just consider the alternative. If we can think of any reason to do the morally correct thing, then we are basing morality on something natural. If it is right for me to feed my infant child because otherwise the child will die and that would cause me grief, then there is a natural reason for me to feed my infant child.

It doesn't take much thought to realize that morality doesn't derivesolely from God. Virtually every day of our lives, we are faced with moral choices, and we reason out the best course of action. Our thought processes involve causes and effects, not calling to memory a set prescription from the Bible. It should be painfully obvious that ifmorality does indeed come from God, it is not solely dependent on arbitrary dicta. There are unmistakable real world consequences to our actions, and we can judge their relative value based on individual situations.

For emphasis, let's think of it another way. If God truly was the only source of morality in existence, then we should not be able to distinguish right from wrong except when it was specifically mentioned by God himself. When presented with a unique moral dilemma, we should be at a complete loss for any means of deriving the correct answer. This is obviously not so. As human civilization has advanced and technology has increased, we have created moral dilemmas that couldn't have been conceived when the Bible was written. In many cases, we have established very clear ideas of what is right and what is wrong.

There is only one thing we can do if we are to save the idea that God is the source of morality. We must admit that God has instilled in humans a conscience, and that man is able to reason out morality on his own without reference to an arbitrary set of rules. This is the position that most reasonably intelligent Christians take, for the simple reason that the exercise of a modicum of intelligence pretty much necessitates it.


Unfortunately, this position fails on several levels, although the failures are more subtle, and take a little more critical thinking. Straight out of the gate, we must ask a crucial question. If God has instilled in humans the ability to judge right from wrong, what is the Bible good for? This question isn't as flippant as it may appear. Pastors all over the world thump the Bible on their podiums while decrying Godless heathens who don't act as it dictates. In heated debates over moral hot button issues, the Bible is used as a final arbiter. God says it. I believe it. That settles it. Anytime the Bible disagrees with our innate sense of morality, we ought to believe the Bible over our own conscience.

We are forced now to ask the question. What is the final arbiter of human morality? Is it God's word or our conscience? If it is God's word, then we are headed back towards where we started, only now we are in a worse position. We've admitted that our conscience is a real, God-given tool for determining the morality of a given situation, but now we're also admitting that God's word trumps our conscience. This is another way of saying that when God wants us to do something, it is good, regardless of what our conscience says.

While many Christians would happily agree with this statement, it leaves us with a horrible dilemma. There are, at present, somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen thousand denominations of Christianity, worldwide. Each one of them has different views on morality, ranging from the insignificant to issues of global human existence. We have two choices. Either there is one correct version of Christianity or there are multiple correct versions. If there is only one correct version, how are we supposed to identify it? Every denomination claims that it is the correct one (or at the very least, that it is one of the correct ones!) so we can't rely on these claims to make our decisions. Each denomination interprets the Absolutely True Word of God Which Trumps Conscience in a way that makes sense to them.

Let me reiterate that last sentence, because it's really important. Every denomination that believes the Bible trumps our conscience interprets the Bible in a way that makes sense to them. Did you catch the trap in this sentence? They use their conscience to decide which interpretation of the Bible trumps the conscience! Again, we are faced with a nasty choice. Either there is a correct version of the Bible that doesn't rely on conscience or logic to find, or we are right back to conscience and logic being the ultimate guide for morality.

If we assume that there is, in fact, a perfect interpretation of the Bible, we are at something of an impasse. Since logic and conscience can't be our criteria for making the decision, we must rely on something else, but what? Divine revelation? Again, every denomination makes some claim of divine revelation, so which one is correct? How will we decide? What if none of them are correct? What if, after reading the Bible, you come to the conclusion that everybody's got it wrong, and that you have the perfect interpretation. God has spoken directly to you, and you are certain you are correct. This is fine for you, but how am I to judge whether or not I believe you? You are now in exactly the same situation as the other fifteen thousand denominations. You must ask people to use either logic, conscience, or divine revelation to decide to believe you.

The sad truth is that if there is a true interpretation of the Bible that does not rely on human logic or conscience, then it is unknowable beyond individual interpretation, which is the same as saying that it's entirely subjective.

Did you catch that last sentence? If the Christians are right, thenmorality is completely subjective. What is it that Christians always say about atheists? Aren't they the ones who accuse atheists of having no basis for morality? According to them, the world would be ruled by anarchy and there would be no way to know right from wrong. Civilization would descend into self serving madness. The irony is that their very own doctrine, if true, leads inevitably to the very state they attribute to naturalism!


Now, we must backtrack. We have reached an absurd conclusion when we followed one line of reasoning. The other line must now be scrutinized. Since it is not possible that there is one correct version of Christianity, perhaps there are multiple correct versions. Again, we're faced with choices. Perhaps there are some things that are universally right and wrong, and some that are malleable according to individual situations. The other option is that all things are malleable and based on specific circumstances.

If we accept the former option, we are immediately forced to address the question of which things are universals, and which are subjective. Unfortunately, this is no easier than the dilemma we faced earlier. Either logic and reason can tell us the answer, or it must be found in the Bible, or through divine revelation. If it is found in the Bible, then where is it? Having read the bible myself, I can recall no such clear cut explanations of morality. Instead, I remember reading contradictory edicts from God himself. Don't kill, unless God orders you to, or if it's lawful to kill. Then again, turn the other cheek and repay evil with kindness. Then again, Jesus came to uphold the law. Then again, Jesus came to repeal the law. Then again, it is better to kill yourself than to cause a child to stray. Then again, suicide is an unpardonable sin. Then again, and again, and again, and again.1

The latter option leaves us in a real pickle. If all things are malleable and based on specific circumstances, then the only conclusion is that there is nothing that is set in stone. There are no absolutes, and God's word is not the final arbiter over conscience. With no instance by instance definitive statement from God himself, there is no way to ascribe any absoluteness to any moral imperative, and we clearly have no such step by step guide.

If there are no absolutes, and God's word is not the final judge of what is moral and immoral, how is a Christian to judge right from wrong? At the risk of becoming pedantic, I'm afraid I must point out that there are two choices. Either the Christian can continue to use the Bible, or church doctrine, or some other source as a basis for morality, or they can admit that morality is ultimately judged by humans on a case to case basis, without any arbitrary intervention by God.

If some theist source is used, then the Christian is right back where we ended up earlier – arbitrary subjective morality. If it is admitted that morality is ultimately judged by humans, we have relegated God to irrelevance. Whether or not God created man with a conscience or the conscience evolved is a pointless distinction. If the conscience, or logic, or any other natural method is used to determine morality, then man can determine morality without God. The foundation of one of religion's most ardent claims collapses. Man does not need God to live morally.


Morality By Plato


Having extracted God from the process of arbitrating morality, we must now address the question of morality as an absolute. Is there some kind of platonic model of morality that is universal to all humans? Are some things absolutely right and some absolutely wrong, or is morality subjective and arbitrary? Perhaps God created man and instilled in him an instinctive knowledge of the perfect good, much like Plato's perfect conceptualizations of imperfect reality. If this is true, perhaps humans are always striving towards perfection but always falling short. Maybe this is the true nature of the biblical “Fall of Man.” In fact, maybe this is the difference between Christians and non-Christians. Maybe God gives Christians an extra “morality boost” and allows them to see a clearer image of the cave wall.

As we did with all the previous claims, lets assume this to be true and see where it leads us. Let us suppose that for every human interaction conceivable, there is a “perfect” morally good action for every individual to take. The first question we must ask is what scale is being used to judge perfection. Is perfection based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people? What about reduction of suffering? Perhaps equality is the ultimate measure. (But, if it is equality, in what sense do we mean equal? Equality of opportunity, or resources, or happiness, or what?) To say that there is a perfect morality is to admit to a scale. Perfect must be judged in relation to something, or the word has no meaning.

Perhaps now is a good time to explore a hypothetical situation to see if we can gain some real world insight into the possibility that there is such a thing as perfect morality. Suppose that there is a man who has a wife and family. He has a good job, with enough time to spend with his children and his wife, enough free time to avoid getting overworked, and enough money to pay all the bills. (Talk about a hypothetical situation!) One day, this man discovers that his boss is involved in a large scale fraud that, if allowed to continue, will cheat hundreds of thousands of people out of large amounts of money. Unfortunately, the fraud is so pervasive throughout the company that if the whistle is blown, the company will surely fail, and all the employees will not only lose their jobs, but many of them will be pulled into years of lawsuits, whether they were knowingly involved or not.

If you are like most people, you have decided that despite the personal loss and the potential problems for other employees, the only moral thing for the man to do is blow the whistle on his company. There are other jobs, and it's selfish of him to hold onto his perfect little life knowing that it will cause great harm to so many people. Furthermore, “shit happens,” as the saying goes, and it's unfortunate that many of the employees will be caught in the mess, but it's just a case of bad luck. It can't be helped.

Does this situation tell us anything about the concept of perfect morality? Let's look at it from the perspective of the greater good. It is true that more people will be helped by blowing the whistle than not. In terms of financial success, the greater good will be served. However, in order to achieve the greater good, there must be lesser bad. Some people, including the whistle blower, will have to suffer financially. Where there is financial gain, there is also financial loss.

Mathematically, there is almost certainly an optimum financial solution to this problem. Perhaps there is a course of action that could minimize financial losses to employees as much as mathematically possible while maximizing the financial gain of those who will benefit from having the fraud exposed. We can say that in terms of financial good, there is a perfect solution to this problem. Maybe it involves a different employee blowing the whistle, or the boss having a fit of conscience and admitting his fraud. What the action is is irrelevant. The broader point is that there is a perfect solution.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that. When I began discussing the greater good, I assumed that good to be financial. If we use another measure, we might find completely different results from taking the “perfect” moral action. Supposing that the fraud comes to an end in the best possible way financially, what can we say about the solution based on equality? For instance, if the investors who were going to be defrauded were all upper class and wealthy, the huge financial losses they would take might lower their status to upper middle class, where they would still be quite comfortable. On the other hand, the employees of the company might all be in the lower middle class, and the setbacks from losing their jobs might throw them squarely into poverty, even though the financial losses were minimized as much as possible.

If this were the case, could we then say that a greater good had been achieved? What if there were a total of five hundred children of employees, and as a result of their parents losing their jobs, four hundred of them ended up having to go to lesser schools with poor standards? Knowing that these children will grow up and have children of their own, and knowing that poverty tends to breed more poverty, can we really say that blowing the whistle accomplished a greater good?

We haven't even begun to look at the measures of individual happiness or minimization of suffering. I'm sure there are at least a dozen other measures by which a moral action can be judged, and it's entirely likely that in this very situation, each measure comes out differently on the grand scale of moral correctness.

Even so, our idea of platonic morality is not dead. Perhaps there is a set number of measures by which morality can be judged, and in any given situation, there is an action which is the perfect balance of all of the measures, such that there is no way for a better outcome. To help you think of this concept more clearly, let's say that there are one hundred moral measures, and let us assign a value of zero to one hundred for each of them in any given situation. It's patently obvious that very few, if any, situations will allow an outcome of one hundred one hundreds. Every dilemma will have a number of solutions, each of which is better by some measures and worse by others.

If this is true, then we're left with a puzzle. How do we decide which way to weight the scale? In other words, do we always pick the solution that has the highest aggregate score – the highest total number when we add up the score from all hundred measures? If that's true, what if the solution to a particular problem includes a zero (meaning morally awful) in the category of “Preserving Human Life”? Do we weight “Preserving Human Life” more than “Promoting Individual Happiness”? If so, how do we determine the system by which we will achieve our perfect mathematical formula?

By now, it should be painfully obvious that there is a problem with the notion of Platonic moral perfection. The fact of the matter is that different people have different goals, and different needs, and when morality involves multiple people (as it almost always does) what's good for one person will be less good for another, and with no way to say definitively which person should take precedence, most moral decisions will be ambiguous in some sense.


The Danger of Christian Morality


Before we explore what science says about human morality, I want to take a slight detour and explore some of the consequences of morality as described by Christians. The main point I wish to hammer home is that not only is the Christian model of morality wrong, it is decidedly harmful as well. Imagine a discussion with a believer that goes something like this:


Skeptic: Is it wrong to kill your own child?


Believer: Yes.


Skeptic: Is it always wrong?


Believer: Yes. God has told us that we shall not kill.


Skeptic: And this is absolute and universal. There is never any time when it is ok to kill your child?


Believer: (feeling a little twitchy... he suspects a trap.) Well, I suppose there are some instances. (Perhaps he remembers that God, in the Old Testament, demanded that disobedient children be stoned to death.) But except for really extraordinary circumstances, it's wrong.


Skeptic: What if God told you to do it?


Believer: (Squirming noticeably in his seat.) God wouldn't do that.


Skeptic: How do you know? He ordered people in the Old Testament to do it. He ordered Abraham to do it. Can God do anything he wants to do?


Believer: Erm... well... yes, he can, but he wouldn't.


Skeptic: Well, you believe that he wouldn't, but by your own admission, and by the words of the Holy Scriptures themselves, Godhas done it, and could very well do it again if it pleases him to do so. Stop squirming around this, and just answer the question. If God told you to kill your child, and you knew with 100% certainty that it was God telling you, would it be a good thing to kill your child?


Believer: Um... well... I don't know if it would be good, exactly, but it would be God's will, so um...


Skeptic: Wait a minute. You're saying that God's will can be evil?


Believer: No, that's not what I said. I just said it wasn't good.


Skeptic: So, it's neutral? There are only three choices, right? Good, bad and neutral. Which is it?


Believer: Well, um... I don't know, exactly...


Skeptic: Ok. Let's get down to brass tacks. If you knew for certain that God wanted you to kill your own child, would you do it?


Believer: (scurries out of the room, making signs of the cross and genuflecting furiously)


From this little discussion, we can see that not only do Christians have nothing solid on which to hang their moral hats, they actually have a very dangerous excuse for doing vicious and horrible things and calling them good, or at worst, neutral. A brief look through history (some of it not particularly far in the past) we see many examples of people doing horrible things in the name of religion and calling them good. I'm not suggesting that every evil act ever committed by a Christian has been because of this kind of justification, but surely there have been many people who have used it.

Lest I be accused of creating a strawman, I want to be clear on one thing. I'm not suggesting that people would not do evil except for Christianity, or that non-Christians haven't done very horrible things. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that the Christian version of morality gives implicit and explicit permission for people to do evil and call it good. While it's true that removing this system of morality from the public consciousness wouldn't eradicate all evil in the world, it would most certainly eradicate some, and that, to me, seems a worthwhile endeavor.2 In the words of the Nobel Prize winning physicist (and descendant of a holocaust survivor) Steven Weinberg,"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion."

As I have hopefully made crystal clear, there simply is no basis for morality from God or scripture. At best we are left with a hopeless subjective conundrum and at worst, we have an excuse to do things that all sane people know to be wrong.  Now that we have exposed Christian morality for what it really is, we can begin to delve into the questions from a more reasonable perspective. What does science say about morality? For that matter, what exactly is morality? If morality is not absolute, what is it? If it's not completely subjective, how do we decide what is right and what is wrong?

These questions do not always have easy answers, but they do have answers. Again, we're going to need to learn some real science and be prepared to face whatever answers we find, even if they don't line up with what we were taught as children.


 

1When faced with this fact, many Christians fall back to the assertion that careful reading of the Bible with an open and honest heart will reveal the “true” intent of the author. Of course, this fails for the same reason that all claims of revelation fail. They are necessarily subjective!

2I should mention the other side of the Christian morality argument. It is often suggested that despite the problems with Christians sometimes doing evil in the name of God, Christianity encourages people to do good that they would not ordinarily do.  It's not within the scope of this entry, but evolutionary psychology explains quite parsimoniously that this notion is bunk.  People of all religions (and non-religions) have always been inspired to acts of charity.   It is just divisive and exclusionary thinking to suggest otherwise.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


theTwelve
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Gauche wrote: What you

Gauche wrote:
 What you obviously fail to grasp is that what a person thinks they should do doesn't just fall out of the fucking sky (well, maybe it does in your case).

Who the fuck said anything about shit falling out the sky?

Quote:
The nature of moral judgment (and all value judgment for that matter) is that people provide reasons to justify them. That's why they're persuasive, and why you don't need to start out with some mutually believed, made-up, bullshit fairytale like how cool Jesus was in order for them to be persuasive.

The atheist, who doesn't believe in a telos, that human beings are created for purpose, like the lot of secular moral philosophy, their moral expounding amounts to incoherency. 

And I'll tell you why. We can coherently speak of watches as good watches, because we're speaking of them fulfilling what they were designed to do. We can speak of watches as having a purpose in this sense, because they were designed. Expounding on morality amounts to the same thing, you can only speak of an individual as a good person, in light of an ideal good person. Striving to be a more moral person, can only make sense to us in light of an ideal of what a more moral person is. If you think other wise, tell me how you would teach your children to strive to be honest, loving, compassionate individuals, without a need to conceptualize what such an idyllic notion of an honest, and compassionate person is to be like?

Quote:
Emotions figure into morality as forces that advance or impede the purposes of moral judgments. But when I say that if you steal then you might go to jail it's not my feeling that you'll go to jail, it's just a fact.

Smiling

If you did or didn't do something out of fear of jail, you didn't do it for moral reasons. I don't remember the atheist writer, that said if a believer didn't or did do something because he feared a literal hell, he didn't do so for moral reasons, and i agree with him. If you convinced me not to do something out of a fear of jail, and I listened, i didn't do it for moral reasons, but reasons for avoiding jail. An amoral person could have done the same. I'm going give you two examples to chew over:

Person A:
A man of his times forces other men to be slaves to work his field. He at some point comes to see his actions as evil/wrong/bad (which ever word you're comfortable with). He asks those who he made slaves for forgiveness for forcing them to be his slaves. He gives them reparations for their years of unpaid labor and sets them free.

Would you agree this individual morally progressed?

Person B:
Another man of his times forces other men to be slaves to work his field. After a number of years his economic conditions change, and the money he was making from his agriculture can no longer support what's needed to maintain the slave labor. Realizing that the cost to maintain slaves would be much higher than the economic benefit of retaining them, he sets them free. But he said to himself, if the economic conditions return to where the benefit of having slaves are higher than cost of maintaining them, he would force men to be slaves again.

Even though this other man set the slaves free, did he morally progress or remain the same?

Quote:
Some Christians probably would tell you to steal. Obviously Christians stealing for their own gain isn't unheard of. That's not really the point. It's about your bias.

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil". I could have stolen the book, but I would have never of said I was doing the christian thing to do. If i were to ask any theist whats the Christ like thing to do in that situation, do you really feel that some of them would say that the Christ like thing to do, is to sell it?

Quote:
You claim that a what a non-christian suggests is the "right thing to do" is merely their preference and should therefore be rejected.

Well, i didn't say therefore it will be rejected, but rather that if we didn't have a similar taste bud, it would be rejected. 

Quote:
But if what is "Christ-like" is debatable as you readily concede then one's conception of "christ-like" is a preference. It's their preferred definition of "christ-like" and would also be rejected if not for your bias. 

Aiming to be Christ like sets parameters on what you're striving to be. It's not the equivalent of be "like anyone", the same as striving to be like your brother isn't. We may dispute certain qualities of what that means, but its still between parameters. If I were to tell you to strive to be more like Nelson Mandela, it wouldn't make sense to think this to mean to be more like Hitler.

No theist, I don't care what stripe he is, or even if he were a casual theist, would say to be more Christ like, I should sell the book for my own gain. 

Quote:
Don't you think it's a little obtuse to say that there's no reason to be honest other than that you should emulate another person?

No, what I'm saying is that it doesn't make any coherent sense to tell someone to be more honest, unless we speaking of him emulating what a more honest person is like. 

 


Gauche
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theTwelve wrote: Who the

theTwelve wrote:

 

Who the fuck said anything about shit falling out the sky?

Where do you think so called human telos comes from?

Quote:

The atheist, who doesn't believe in a telos, that human beings are created for purpose, like the lot of secular moral philosophy, their moral expounding amounts to incoherency. 

And I'll tell you why. We can coherently speak of watches as good watches, because we're speaking of them fulfilling what they were designed to do. We can speak of watches as having a purpose in this sense, because they were designed. Expounding on morality amounts to the same thing, you can only speak of an individual as a good person, in light of an ideal good person. Striving to be a more moral person, can only make sense to us in light of an ideal of what a more moral person is. If you think other wise, tell me how you would teach your children to strive to be honest, loving, compassionate individuals, without a need to conceptualize what such an idyllic notion of an honest, and compassionate person is to be like?

Yeah, I'm familiar with MacIntyre. I don't necessarily think you should take his arguments and put the word "atheist" in front of them but I do find his work compelling. It's the reason I give so much consideration to the concept of virtue ethics. Of course he's an idealist who wants to toss out our current and admittedly imperfect state and exchange it for a vague Utopian one based on a notion of human telos that he never gets very far in establishing. But even the very idea of a human telos is suspect. People are so different that there's really no reason to think there is a human telos. In Christianity it's presupposed and married to other ideas about god and sin that violate a variety of central enlightenment precepts and are quite frankly offensive to reason. It's just a human construct with flaws.
If you want to discuss his books that'd be interesting but if I wasn't ready to abandon modern morality after reading them I doubt I will be after you rehash them.
Quote:

Smiling

If you did or didn't do something out of fear of jail, you didn't do it for moral reasons.

I didn't tell you to have fear of anything.

 

Quote:

Aiming to be Christ like sets parameters on what you're striving to be. It's not the equivalent of be "like anyone", the same as striving to be like your brother isn't. We may dispute certain qualities of what that means, but its still between parameters. If I were to tell you to strive to be more like Nelson Mandela, it wouldn't make sense to think this to mean to be more like Hitler.

No theist, I don't care what stripe he is, or even if he were a casual theist, would say to be more Christ like, I should sell the book for my own gain. 

Well, you obviously have faith in that position but the only evidence we have is that Christians steal as much as anyone else.

 

Quote:

No, what I'm saying is that it doesn't make any coherent sense to tell someone to be more honest, unless we speaking of him emulating what a more honest person is like. 

 

And let me guess, God farted one day and magically poofed the first honest man into existence.

 

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


jcgadfly
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manofmanynames

manofmanynames wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

In other words, you worship God for the same reason I eat chocolate. It stimulates brain chemicals that provide good feelings.

Your god = warm fuzzy feelings

Following the idiot's logic.

Dawkins worships science, and reason. Therefore science and reason = warm fuzzy feelings. 

Nations adore their soldiers. Therefore soldiers = warm fuzzy feelings

Daniel Dennet adores his wife. Therefore his wife = warm fuzzy feelings.

 

 

I'm so glad you understand the source of your logic.

How is your worship of the God picture you borrowed from the Hebrews not based on warm fuzzy feelings? You've yet to establish there's more to it.

"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."
— George Carlin


jcgadfly
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Okamura Check Thunderfoot's

Okamura

Check Thunderfoot's YouTube video

"Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 29)"

might be useful...

 

"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."
— George Carlin