Need help debating a youth minister!
Hey guys, haven't been on for a while, but I need some help. I'll post the email under this, and I don't really know much about the evolution of morality, but here's what he said, and where do I start to debate him? Any evidence to support his claims, or to disprove his claims? Any and all comments are welcome! Thanks!
Sorry to hear about the cold. Not fun.
Perhaps I have not communicated as well as I would have wished. Having morals does not require being controlled by a supernatural being. What I said was that there must be some sort of supernatural being who writes an unchanging law in order for an objective moral standard to truly exist. (The existence of objective morality does not logically require the God of the Bible, but it does require some transcendent, supernatural law-giver.)
For instance, in response to my question about what ground you have for arguing that the Holocaust was evil, you say that morality is just an evolutionary trait which is constantly updating. If morality is a result of evolution, you actually have no grounds for saying the Holocaust or slavery were actually evil. You assert that the Holocaust and slavery were evil because the evolutionary trait of morality has progressed from what it was. I see several problems with your conclusion. For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply list the first two.
First, if your position is correct, then the reality is that people and society were less evolved in Germany in World War II or in America in the 1700-1800’s. As a result, when they were upholding slavery or implementing the Holocaust, it was not immoral at that time because morality had not yet evolved to the point at which it has today. So what room do we have to look at either of those historic atrocities and say that they truly were evil when they were being committed? The most we can logically say is that if they were to occur in our society today, they would be evil. But you can’t look at them and declare them actually evil any more than you look at an animal that is less evolved and condemn it for its killing or harm of other animals. To do so would lack integrity and logic.
Second, you speak of morality constantly changing, but what is it changing into? Just because something changes doesn’t mean that it is necessarily “better”. In fact, as we both know, sometimes things change for the worse. So, just because you say that morality has changed since then doesn’t mean that our morality is actually better, much less that it’s actually right. In order to make that sort of assessment we would have to have an absolute standard by which we could compare the different “moralities” of those times and ours in order to determine which was actually the best and the most “progressive” by virtue of being closest to the standard. This once again highlights the “Who says?” question. Who says our “morality” is actually better than the “morality” of the Holocaust or slavery?
So once again I would ask, within your worldview who says the Holocaust was truly, really, objectively evil? Unless there is a “judge” above it all (i.e. supernatural), all “evil” really means is that you don’t personally care for certain actions. But within a naturalistic worldview there is no actual, intrinsic moral value or offense in any actions, regardless of how you personally feel about them. So, how can you truly say the Holocaust and slavery are evil?
Until next time…
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to known." - Carl Sagan
"Atheism is a non-prophet organization." – George Carlin
"We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." – Richard Dawkins