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William Lane Craig’s video on the objectivity of morality and the linked reality of God

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In this video, Dr Craig argues that we have good reason to accept the objectivity of ought, and from that we see that there is a credible ground of such, God.

In slightly more details, if one rejects the objectivity of the general sense of OUGHT as governing our behaviour, we are implying a general delusion.

Where, as there are no firewalls in the mind . . . a general delusion undermines the general credibility of knowledge and rationality.

And in practice even those who most passionately argue for moral subjectivity live by the premise that moral principles such as fairness, justice, doing good by neighbour etc are binding. That is, there is no good reason to doubt that reality.

OUGHT, credibly, is real and binding.

But if OUGHT is real, it has to be grounded in a foundational IS in the cosmos.

After centuries of debate, there is still only one serious candidate, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

Essentially, the being we find referred to in the US Declaration of Independence of 1776 (which also shows the positive, liberating historic impact of such a view):

When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .

(Readers may wish to see this discussion in context as well.)

By way of contrast, on the evolutionary materialist perspective, we may for instance see Dawkins, in  as reproduced in “God’s Utility Function” in Sci Am in 1995:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose . . . . In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [[ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

. . . or (adding overnight), Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson in the 1991 form of the essay, “The Evolution of Ethics”

The time has come to take seriously the fact [[–> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will  … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external groundingEthics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. [= evolutionary materialist philosophical premise, duly dressed up in a lab coat . . . ] Once it is grasped, everything falls into place. [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991.

. . . and Provine in his Darwin Day address at U. Tenn 1998:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

With Sir Francis Crick backing up in an inadvertent self-refutation:

. . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” [–> But Sir Francis, what does this imply about your own responsible freedom and ability to choose to think reasonably?] This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [Cf. dramatisation of unintended potential consequences, here.]

So, it seems that if we are inclined to accept evolutionary materialist scientism and to reject God, we do end up in a want of foundation for morality. Which carries the onward implication of a general delusion and breakdown of the credibility of rational mindedness and responsible freedom.

Thus, reductio ad absurdum.

At least, that is how it looks from where I sit and type. Thoughts? (And if the thoughts are evolutionary materialistic, how do you ground credibility of mind and morals on such? For surely, blindly mechanical computation is not contemplation.) END

PS: I think it worth adding (Jan 29) a Koukl lecture:

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228 Replies to “William Lane Craig’s video on the objectivity of morality and the linked reality of God

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Looks like trouble with embeds this morning . . . after a spot of trouble, fixed.

  2. 2
    hrun0815 says:

    (And if the thoughts are evolutionary materialistic, how do you ground credibility of mind and morals on such? For surely, blindly mechanical computation is not contemplation.)

    In other words: If you don’t agree with me I will dismiss anything you say offhand.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I thought it of help to design thinkers in general, that this video — which is a bit of philosophy — should be headlined at UD. KF

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, no, just how do you ground general credibility of mind and rationality as well as responsible freedom on evolutionary materialist premises? In case you miss a key allusion, part of what I have in mind is this from famed evolutionary theorist JBS Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    That is a quite serious issue and it needs a serious and substantial answer, not a rhetorical dismissal based on projecting closed mindedness to design thinkers and supporters. KF

  5. 5
    hrun0815 says:

    Re #4:

    Actually, yes, KF. Everybody who has read your posts in the past (or even read your second sentence I clipped) knows that you are not actually asking a question. You know that it is in fact impossible to ground the credibility of minds and morals on evolutionary materialistic thoughts.

    So, you are playing the same stupid ‘steers and queers’ plow so adeptly used by WJM when he asserted that all subjectivists are either delusional or sociopaths. You are dismissing people who disagree with you as either deluded about how they supposedly ground their thoughts or as not having the ability to consider any question in the first place.

    I am more and more realizing that this is a common debate strategy here at UD. In your words, this should give you some food for thought.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    there is an issue on the table, with a second level issue, self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism. The focal thing is not the man but the issue. Let’s hear your answer, to Haldane in the first instance.

    Or, perhaps, you would prefer to address this from Reppert (expanding on C S Lewis):

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    And, even that is secondary to the main issue, from Craig.

    KF

    PS, added: The issue is, double reductio ad absurdum. It is not answered by trying to project to the man, but by providing worldview level grounds for your view. That is, as gramps used to say, every tub must stand on its own bottom.

  7. 7
    awstar says:

    if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.

    in order to post this comment I had to correctly complete the equation “4 x three = ?”

    If the thinking of the one who asked this was determined wholly by the motion of atoms in his/her brain, then what caused the atoms in my brain to correctly come up with the missing value so that I could post this comment? Was it not something other than the motion of atoms in my brain that caused them to come up with the correct answer?

  8. 8
    hrun0815 says:

    I realize that there are ‘issues on the table’ as you say. But that does not mean that a person who is delusional and unable to contemplate can add anything to maybe shed light on said issue.

    That’s exactly what it means to dismiss all the people you disagree with offhand prior to the begin of a conversation.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    hrun0815, are you going to do nothing but whine? Or do you have a response to KF’s challenge?

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    hrun0915’s non-response to KF’s challenge is of a piece with many of the materialist responses we get on these pages. And those put me in mind of Miracle Max in this clip (starting at 3:25).

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    HR:

    There are many subjectivists who are not evolutionary materialists (who BTW need to address point no 1 on no firewall), and if there is a foundational self referential incoherence in that worldview then via ex falso quodlibet, it defeats itself then it needs to be faced. Shooting at the messenger does not help the case.

    BA:

    I don’t see an actual linked vid . . .

    [–> clip there now]

    KF

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    AW, we do need to resolve whether we have sufficient responsible freedom to think and reason for ourselves, given say what Provine argued at U Tenn in 1998, and what Crick implied in his The Astonishing Hypothesis in 1994. Not to mention Carter’s point on the hard problem of consciousness. Haldane put his finger on a serious problem. KF

  13. 13
    hrun0815 says:

    hrun0815, are you going to do nothing but whine? Or do you have a response to KF’s challenge?

    If a whole group of people is dismissed offhand on the outset I think I will stick to whining. How could I respond to KF’s challenge?

  14. 14
    humbled says:

    hrun0815, “…dismiss all the people you disagree with offhand prior to the begin of a conversation.”

    But this is exactly what the darwin faithful do all the time. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Stop whining.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, if an argument claims a reductio, you answer it on its merits, as was done by Plantinga on the problem of evils, cf here at 101 level. (And of course back when I was a student that reductio attempt argument was almost routine resort no 1 by atheists. As in sauce, meet Gander not just Goose.) KF

  16. 16
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    Barry, over at “The Skeptical Zone” (Thanks News) you are being accused of cowardice. They say you silently banned commentators and then ran off for a while. Please set them straight.

  17. 17
    hrun0815 says:

    Re #14:

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Stop whining.

    At least somebody is honest about what is going on. I have the feeling that BA and KF actually disagree with you.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, I have to go off real world just now. I think you will see that reductio arguments have been a commonplace and have a well known response — answer them. And no, to point out that there is a worldview foundation level challenge for evolutionary materialism is not to lock out listening to such ahead of time, it is to say, step up to the plate and answer a comparative difficulties challenge on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory capability. If theism must answer to such, so must materialism, even when it wears a lab coat. And in that way, sauce, meet Gander not just Goose. Or, as Gramps’ ghost just reminded me, every tub must stand on its own bottom. Here, on both answering the IS-OUGHT gap and grounding the credibility and capacity of mind to do so. KF

  19. 19
    bb says:

    hrun @ 5 “So, you are playing the same stupid ‘steers and queers’ plow so adeptly used by WJM when he asserted that all subjectivists are either delusional or sociopaths.”

    If the shoe fits.

    “You are dismissing people who disagree with you as either deluded about how they supposedly ground their thoughts or as not having the ability to consider any question in the first place.”

    He isn’t dismissing all that disagree. He’s justifiably dismissing subjectivists/materialists. The fact is they can ground their thought in logic, just not their philosophy/belief system which undermines logic and thought itself.

  20. 20
    Brent says:

    hrun0815,

    You’re going to get no sympathy from me. You are being a complete jerk. You are trying to play the sad, sad victim. I’ll have none of it, thanks!

    You are twisting what the actual point is. Perhaps (perhaps) someone has called you delusional for not accepting that your idea of morality needs grounding in a final, non-negotiable, standard. If someone has, WHAT OF IT?

    Firstly, do you accept that the idea of what we are talking about when we say “morality” is the idea of something that governs our actions? If you say no, well, we are just never going to agree, but then you’re going to be made to face the fact that you indeed do not have any claim to morality, as the meaning of it has always been just that: what governs our behavior, judging it acceptable or not.

    Assuming you agree to the idea that morality is that which governs our behavior, you have a problem if you say that society, groups of people, is the source of morality. If morality’s source is people, then people obviously govern morality, and morality does not govern people. If morality can change because the desires of people change, then morality is molded by our desires, and it doesn’t mold us. I.E., this morality is not morality.

    If you have any one thing that you can never agree to being morally acceptable, whether any other person on the planet agreed with you or not, you have no choice but to believe in an objective standard from which to make that judgment. If you say there is no such thing that is objectively wrong, but only in your opinion wrong, then you reject morality because, then, you again have nothing that governs man, which is what has always been meant by saying morality.

    Now, when this comes up between atheists and theists, there is a big misunderstanding, and it is, I believe, at the root of your frustration. I’ve come up with an analogy to help clarify the misunderstanding.

    __________

    Three men walking:

    One man walks up to me, and I ask him to jump. He does.

    A second man walks up to me, but different from the first, as he is walking in the air. I ask him, also, to jump. He tries, but cannot, because he is not grounded.

    A third man walks up to me, but different from either of the first two, as he is walking on the ground, but doesn’t believe in the ground. He believes the ground does not exist. I ask him to jump too. He does.

    __________

    Now, when the theist says you don’t have morality, like I’m saying, you think we are claiming you are the second guy. But you want to say, “No! You idiot! I can jump just fine.” And you can. But we are not saying you are the second guy at all. Rather, we are saying you are the third guy. You have, in actuality and practicality, the correct moral standards from which you CAN jump, and you KNOW you have them.

    But the problem remains, and it really is a problem that is delusional. You have the ground, you use the ground, you run and jump and play all day long. But you deny that which is right under your feet even as you are doing it.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, pardon, I have actually dismissed no-one. If there is a serious response it is something that one can work with, even if unsuccessful. What is telling is the apparent unwillingness to address the matter. KF

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, care to elaborate? KF

  23. 23
    Brent says:

    KF,

    hrun0815 said:

    So, you are playing the same stupid ‘steers and queers’ plow so adeptly used by WJM when he asserted that all subjectivists are either delusional or sociopaths. You are dismissing people who disagree with you as either deluded about how they supposedly ground their thoughts or as not having the ability to consider any question in the first place.

    And then:

    I realize that there are ‘issues on the table’ as you say. But that does not mean that a person who is delusional and unable to contemplate can add anything to maybe shed light on said issue.

    That’s exactly what it means to dismiss all the people you disagree with offhand prior to the begin of a conversation.

    He (I assume “he” anyway) is throwing a fit because he thinks he will be dismissed off hand because (perhaps) someone said he was delusional (I don’t know if someone actually said that or not, but . . .). I’m trying to point out that if someone said he was delusional, it was not an emotional way of just trying to dismiss him, but rather a calculated conclusion based on solid reasoning. He has no reason to think he will be dismissed “off hand”. He will be dismissed if he holds to his current position, but with reason and argument.

    My contention is:

    1. No one really denies morality (a code to which we are bound to adhere).

    2. Anyone who denies it (in word) does so because they don’t understand it. They need to study.

    3. Those who deny an objective standard (in word) in morality deny it for the undesired implications. They aren’t comfortable saying no sort of morality exists, but simply say it isn’t an objective standard or code.

    a) Those who deny objectivity (again, in word) really deny morality, even as they are trying not to do so, because they have no way to attempt to ground it and make it binding other than in man. But since morality is supposed to be that which governs man, man cannot be the source for morality; man would then in actuality be governing morality, which isn’t morality in any sense.

    4. In actuality, everyone believes in an objective morality.

    a) Getting some to see it and admit it is a monumental task 😉

  24. 24
    ForJah says:

    I used to believe WLC had some good points here until I realized the idea that there are objective moral values is unsubstantiated. Keeping in mind that objective moral values are values that are true independent of whether we believe so or not. Therefor, it’s impossible for humans to come to know whether there are or are not objective moral values. Which means that all current values are subjective to the human experience and not a product of an innate sense of morality.

  25. 25
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    How do we know if a Moral value is objective or not? Do we have a reliable mechanism?

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DesignDetectiveDave

    Objective morality has different sources:

    1. A body of moral laws or codes collected and taught to a population from a recognized authoritative source (often from a religious/spiritual revelation/prophecy/insight). The Ten Commandments are an example.

    2. As above, a system of moral codes developed by a recognized authoritative group based on shared philosophical or social principles. Stoicism, Epicureanism, Taoism.

    3. The internal recognition that personal conscience references universal/binding moral codes that are external to the person.

    In the first two cases, moral values reference stated, objective, accessible moral systems or codifcations.

    “To worship God is a moral requirement”. That objective value can be found in the Ten Commandments – external to the person, with the authority (for those who accept it) of a prophet receiving revelation from God, the moral lawgiver.

    The third case which relies only on reason and conscience is more difficult to recognize as an objective value. The most general norms can be found to be universal in humanity:

    “It is immoral to torture people for pleasure”. The human conscience points to something external to the person – something objective.

    A person who commits a crime and gets away with it – but still feels guilt and wants to repay somehow, has a conscience referencing an external moral standard. There’s a sense of justice that is ‘calling’ the person and causing guilt.

  27. 27
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic.

    Can you please expand on “a recognized authoritative source” – How do we know this?

    I’m having trouble not ascribing 2 and 3 to “consensus” and “personal preference”, which are relative.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD, do you have difficulty accepting the testimony of your five senses and consciousness — imperfect as they are and with the diversity that happens (e.g. on seeing the redness of an apple) — as pointing to an objective world? What do you understand by, objectivity? KF

  29. 29
    bb says:

    KF @ 21

    Please accept my apology. You didn’t dismiss anyone and neither should I. However, one is entirely justified if he were to dismiss the untenable position of subjectivism. We can divorce the person from the philosophy because subjectivists very rarely live as if their philosophy were true.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, no-one has called HR delusional. What has been called under question is the evolutionary materialist frame of thought on morality, responsible freedom and responsible rationality; on grounds of implied reductio. To show that such a frame is reasonable, adherents need to show why those challenges fail; challenges that BTW go back on record as far as Plato in The Laws Bk X. Note, in the OP leading spokesmen for evolutionary materialism and scientism were cited on the matter. KF

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, understood. KF

  32. 32
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    Hi Kairos,
    I understand that I sense things and interpret them and through common language and reasoning am fairly sure these things are real. But objects are a different category and class to morals and values.

    What are your views on “1. A body of moral laws or codes collected and taught to a population from a recognized authoritative source (often from a religious/spiritual revelation/prophecy/insight). The Ten Commandments are an example.” – How would we know that to be objective?

  33. 33
    ppolish says:

    Do dogs have a sense of right and wrong? Cats don’t, that’s for sure. Cats and dogs have a sense of love, that’s for sure too.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD, is the number 2 (not merely the glyph we use as a numeral for it) objective? The propositional truth expressed in 2 + 3 = 5? The falsehood in 2 + 3 = 4? Pardon, I am trying to grasp what you are seeing. KF

  35. 35
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    Math is an axiomatic system. Again a very different category from morality.

    I’m still interested in “What are your views on “1. A body of moral laws or codes collected and taught to a population from a recognized authoritative source (often from a religious/spiritual revelation/prophecy/insight). The Ten Commandments are an example.” – How would we know that to be objective?”

  36. 36
    Heartlander says:

    We may put this in another way. Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.

    This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are colour-blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to every one. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practised? If they had had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the colour of their hair.
    The Law of Human Nature – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

  37. 37
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DDD

    Can you please expand on “a recognized authoritative source” – How do we know this?

    I’m having trouble not ascribing 2 and 3 to “consensus” and “personal preference”, which are relative.

    First of all, a code that is accessible external to the individual – that can be referenced objectively, cannot be a ‘personal preference’. Secondly, when a moral code is given by an authoritative source, it’s not a question of consensus. The moral code is fixed by the authority – whereas consensus fluctuates.

    The natural moral law is objective in that it guides the conscience and points to universal norms. But this is the weakest form of moral law since, although it is objective (referenced external to the individual) it offers only the most generalized norms and is less precise and less easy to access or evaluate than are objective moral codes given or established by teachers (philosophical or religious).

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DDD

    What are your views on “1. A body of moral laws or codes collected and taught to a population from a recognized authoritative source (often from a religious/spiritual revelation/prophecy/insight). The Ten Commandments are an example.” – How would we know that to be objective?

    In the simplest sense, we know it’s objective because its source is not-subjective. It’s objective because it is external to the person. Anyone can access it and evaluate it. Beyond that, it was given as a revelation from God – not even as Moses’ personal ideas. So it is objective in that sense.

    Objective morality accepts the moral code for the external authority of the lawgiver and not for the authority of the individual.

    With subjectivism, the individual either creates or chooses moral codes on his own authority and preference. The subjectivist does not acknowledge a higher or external source for moral law than himself.

  39. 39
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    I’m not seeing it, Silver Asiatic.

    I’m looking for tools to help me find objective truth.

    Also “the external authority of the lawgiver” is clearly subjective – a choice made by an entity. If they are objective then they transcend entities and you don’t need a God to see them?

    Lots of scriptures claim to be the truth. How do I pick the objectively true one?

  40. 40
    ForJah says:

    I don’t see how a person, other than myself, who tells me what is good and bad somehow makes those morals objective. That’s subjective, It’s subject to what God deems right. I don’t see why 3 can be used at all, since Objective moral values are defined independent or what any one individual might think AND of consensus. So I will have to side with DDD and ask…how do we detect objective morals enough to the fact that we can say there ARE objective morals?

  41. 41
    Graham2 says:

    The video is the same old nonsense. Most of it is internally consistent, in that if we really did have an objective moral standard, it would need god, or something similar. But does an objective moral standard exist ? I would have thought it bleeding obvious that there is no such standard.

  42. 42
    Andre says:

    DDD & Forjah

    How about the standard that encourages you to test it? You see the one thing that makes biblical scripture stand out above all other religious texts is this;

    “Test everything, hold onto the good.”

    Don’t know about you guys but I take comfort in the fact that those texts want us to test it’s truth claims as opposed to just believing it blindly. Test everything is being a real sceptic.

  43. 43
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    An interesting thought, Andre but then we have:

    “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”

    and

    “Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: “Here we are”?”

    “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.”

    My point is we can cherry pick from any of holy books.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD:

    In fact, the objective reality of mathematical — abstract — objects is pivotal.

    They constrain many causal relations in the observed, consciously experienced physical world. And in fact we can see and show that things like the natural numbers and their inter-relationships such as 2 + 3 = 5 cannot not exist in any possible world.

    As a simple illustration, contemplate — and notice you are using the properties of your mind to contemplate and reason seeing things that are albeit abstract and what follows on such — the set that collects nothing, and assign it a symbol denoting its cardinality (and representing it):

    {} –> 0

    Next, contemplate the set that collects 0:

    {0} –> 1

    After this, the set:

    {0, 1} –> 2

    And so forth.

    Back in my days as a student (I can in my mind’s eye still contemplate the classroom on Crumpton Street with its amazing thick coral limestone walls and astonishingly awful chairs and stools . . . I was tempted to think they may have been designed to be just a tad less than comfortable to force attention via mortification), I would contemplate the abstract space that can be represented through a space based on the number line and its orthogonal lines x, y, z (most easily through the ijk vector system based on roots of unity). Or even before that we can abstract from the common appearance of local space. Then we can contemplate spatial objects, triangles, circles, polygons, lines, points etc and what follows from such.

    We can find in this way any number of objective abstract truths that directly constrain what obtains in the physical world. The world of mathematics beckons.

    So also, we can perceive that to be abstract and accessible to rational contemplation and insight is not to be an utterly subjective figment of imagination.

    That cuts clean across what our culture, especially many wearing lab coats as a badge of prestige, are inclined to tell, suggest or imply. In short, we see a worldview gap relative to the existence of abstract realities.

    And, bonus, the astonishing effectiveness of mathematics is a cornerstone of the success of science.

    So the above cannot simply be dismissed without raising serious questions on the imposition of ideology on reasonable contemplation and discussion of reality. (Which last is a good initial definition of Philosophy, from which the vaunted sciences arose. If you find that seeming implausible, think of what, say, a natural philosopher was and why Newton’s great work bore the title, Mathematical principles of natural philosophy.)

    We are of course now pondering things and implications that open up many other things that the dominant and too often domineering evolutionary materialist elites would not have us contemplate. Just as across yesterday we saw rhetorical stunts meant to distract from the issue that a priori evolutionary materialism faces a reductio challenge, thence the onward implication of dangerous unreliability: ex falso quodlibet. Where, the nature of the scheme — look back at the OP and the statements of major advocates, is that it undermines credibility of the rational, contemplative mind in general, and implies a grand general delusion on morals.

    Indeed, after this I am going to add in something from Ruse et al.

    But our moral intuitions are themselves cases of rational contemplation driven by our sense of the inherent value and dignity of the human being. First, ourselves, then by direct extension those who are as ourselves. To the point where we properly deem someone blind to such abnormal, a sociopath with a deadened, benumbed or warped conscience.

    That is, we see here that principles such as neighbour love and mutually reciprocal duties of respect and care trace to foundational, hard to dismiss insights. And that those who fail or refuse to see or become blind to such are every inch analogous to the physically blind or those who seem constitutionally unable to perceive and understand mathematical entities.

    Next, you have a problem with foundational start-points.

    But a moment’s reflection will show that if we accept some claim A, it is because some evidence or prior claim etc B leads to it. But B then requires C etc. We face three options, infinite regress, circularity or finitely remote first plausibles constituting our faith-point.

    We cannot traverse an infinite regress stepwise to arrive at A so that can be set aside. Besides, as fallible, we would inevitably blunder along the path.

    Question-begging circularity is an issue, which leads to the principle of comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power (elegantly simple but not simplistic nor an ever-growing ad hoc patchwork), thence the foundational level of one’s worldview. One’s faith-point. And yes, we ALL live by faith, the issue is in what or who, why, and with what degree of reasonableness.

    Hence BTW, a title of one of Craig’s books, Reasonable Faith.

    Coming back, to dismiss morality as only subjective entails general delusion, undermining the credibility of mind as there are no firewalls.

    We have no more reason to dismiss the insights we call conscience than those of mathematics or the general deliverances of the senses that allow us to contemplate the external physical world so influenced and constrained by such evident principles.

    And, we have the whole province of history to teach us on the march of folly and its consequences. Lessons bought with blood and tears that if soundly summed up and learned, will draw out the empirical reality of those principles. For one instance, when my parents were young, there was a nation that saw itself as evolutionarily superior and needing living space at the expense of those who in its leaders’ eyes were as mice before a pitiless cat. And those are the literal terms from a book written fifteen years before events played out.

    We have no good reason to dismiss the objectivity of morality, no more than that of gravity when it warns us that jumping off 50 storey buildings has consequences.

    As I have repeatedly highlighted, the only serious candidate grounds for such . . . after centuries of debate . . . is the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    As for scripture, the validation pivots on a prophesied, fulfilled resurrection from the dead, with 500+ witnesses. That, per Ac 17, is the only offer of proof or warrant presented. But, we also find there the pivotal double-principle that founds morality and makes sense of precepts such as we may see in the Decalogue:

    Matt 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” [ESV]

    And, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, in seeking to ground what would become modern liberty and democracy (now in decay around us through demagoguery, manipulation and growing mob rule), Locke in his 2nd essay on civil gov’t would cite “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” from Ecclesiastical Polity of 1594+:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    So, there is much for us to contemplate.

    KF

    PS: You may find here on helpful, on worldview foundations.

    PPS: DDD, the context of your half-cite from 2 Cor 10:

    2 Cor 10:3 For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

    4 For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

    5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) . . . [AMP]

    That is, the context is refutation of fallacious arguments and intellectual strongholds erected that block people from seeing and acknowledging the reality of God. All in a context where the one and the same Logos is literally Communicative Reason Himself. Or as Schaeffer was fond of saying, He is there and is not silent.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    G2:

    It is objectively true that it is wrong and even wicked to kidnap, bind and gag, torture, sexually assault and murder a young child.

    If one is blind to that, it is an index of warped perceptions, not a serious challenge to such an unfortunately real world point.

    And, if adherence to evolutionary materialism leads one into such moral blindness then that at once is a case of patent reductio ad absurdum.

    But then, we live in a day where ever so many refuse to acknowledge the reality of the ground they stand on in moral terms. And, mental-rational terms, too.

    Please, think again.

    KF

    PS: Onlookers, cf here on.

  46. 46
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    Math does not constrain reality but is a byproduct of it. You’ve started with an obvious mistake, and there is still no bridge of that “similarity with regard to abstraction” between math and morals. Dreams are also abstract, should we grant them similar privilege?

    >> “We have no more reason to dismiss the insights we call conscience than those of mathematics”. I think is is patently wrong, for within mathematics there exist mechanisms to explore and discuss outcomes (it is after all an axiomatic system). Math is an “is”, Morals is an “ought”. Clearly very different types of things which leads me to believe you’ve over-reached with your extrapolation. We would perhaps like morals to be like math, but we are all choosing our own, even if we believe one set or another are divinely inspired we cannot agree around the edges – not a hallmark of an objective function.

    You can’t cite the bible’s narrative as proof of its truth, “prophesied, fulfilled resurrection from the dead, with 500+ witnesses.” – It is unsupported elsewhere and could be fabricated whole cloth. Moreover, where the bible intersects with natural and human history it is sadly wanting: Genesis get it all wrong and the story of Christ’s birth is contradicted internally within the gospels and unsupported in any contemporary texts as well is being logistically implausible.

    As a side note, this place used to have a more scientific tone:”Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” was the throwaway jibe. Let’s not give ammunition to the other side?

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD,

    Nope, on several levels.

    Do, let me expand a bit. Pardon now necessary length, as opposed to mere links (which suffer the defect that too often they are brushed aside).

    It is impossible for 2 + 3 = 5 to fail in any possible world, and the diagonal of a square must be as sqrt 2 to the sides. And, much, much, much more. Those are foundationally embedded in reality and constrain our world in ways that led Wigner to famously exclaim on the astonishing effectiveness of mathematics in the physical sciences.

    That is, you are reversing reality, denying the consequent to dismiss the antecedent: P => Q, so assert ~Q to conclude ~ P. But that, too is another case of the power of abstract logical reality to constrain: logic and the force of that very abstract thing, implication.

    Second, if you want empirical evidence of the objectivity of moral principles, you have the record of sound history; paid for in blood and tears. Those who refuse to learn those hard-bought lessons will be forced to pay the same price again. As our civilisation seems again determined to pay.

    But then, I am one whose very name has a thousand years of hard-bought history written into it. A name that is, bought with my family’s martyr’s blood, literally written over the door-way of the Parliament of my homeland.

    That gives me a bit of a different perspective, I suppose.

    As to dismissive words on “narratives” in scripture etc, you are waving away eyewitness lifetime primary source documents and a lot of linked analysis, starting with the minimal facts issue. You would do well to ponder such rather than propose a selectively hyperskeptical dismissal that reminds me of the classic essay on the fabrication of the existence of Napoleon.

    This is not a blog on theology and the like, which is often little more than distractive, but that much can be noted and you can again be directed here on.

    The IS-OUGHT gap issue is important, but not in the way you have been led to see.

    Let me clip from an already linked discussion:

    . . . many will boldly assert that it cannot be proved that it is absurd to reject the notion that core moral principles are objective and universally binding. So in the view of too many today, we are left to the feelings of revulsion and the community consensus backed up by police and courts on this.

    Not so.

    Compare a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. And even for those who object, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around. But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force.

    So, already, once we let radical relativism and subjectivism loose, we are looking at the absurdity and chaos of the nihilist abyss, might (and manipulation) makes for ‘right.’

    Oops.

    At the pivot of the skeptical objections to objective moral truth, notwithstanding persistent reduction to absurdity, is the pose that since we may err and since famously there are disagreements on morality, we can reduce moral feelings to subjective perceptions tastes and preferences, dismissing any and all claims of objectivity much less self evidence.

    So, the objector triumphantly announces: there is an unbridgeable IS-OUGHT gap, game over.

    Not so fast, as there is no better reason to imagine that we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, than that we live in a physical or intellectual Plato’s Cave world.

    That is, we consider the imagined world of Plato where the denizens, having been imprisoned from childhood, all imagine that the shadow shows portrayed for their benefit are reality. Until, one is loosed, sees the apparatus of manipulation, then is led outside and learns of the reality that is there to be discovered. Then he tries to rescue his fellows, only to be ridiculed and attacked . . . .

    Now, the skeptical question is, do we live in such a delusional world (maybe in another form such as the brains in vats or the Matrix’s pods . . . ), and can we reliably tell the difference?

    The best answer to such is, that such a scenario implies general delusion and the general un-trustworthiness of our senses and reasoning powers.

    So, it undercuts itself in a turtles all the way down chain of possible delusions — an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusions.

    Common good sense then tells us that the skeptic has caught himself up in his own web, his argument is self referentially incoherent . . . .

    The onward cascade of doubts and/or delusional worlds, though implicit, is painfully patent. This participant is neither confident of the external nor the internal worlds, and ends up in an arbitrary and confessedly blind faith that something is “out there” and “in here” nonetheless. Which boils down to, s/he cannot live consistent with his or her view.

    So also, the proper stance in response to such is that this sort of appeal to general doubt or general delusion about major aspects of reality and the mind reduces to absurdity. In response, we should hold that it is senseless to assume or imply the general dubiousness or delusion of any major faculty of mind, precisely because of that absurd result. Including, of course, conscience as that candle of the Lord within, shining a sometimes painful light into some very dark corners of our thoughts, words and deeds.

    Instead, until and unless we can find evidence of specific error, we will confidently hold to what seems to be reliable, common sense reality; beginning with the bench-mark truths that are self-evident and foundational (e.g. first truths and first principles of right reason . . . ), which we will use as plumb-lines to test the systems of thought we hold. Yes, as finite, fallible, intellectually and morally struggling creatures, we must live by faith, but there is no reason why such faith should be blind, hopeless and/or absurdly irrational. Thus, we proceed on common good sense and solid first principles, until and unless we see specific good evidence and reason to acknowledge and turn from specific error. Which, we pledge to promptly do, out of our sense of a duty of care to seek and follow the truth through good reasoning on credible evidence.

    H’mm — isn’t that an OUGHT?

    Yes it is.

    No surprise.

    And, a big hint on the nature of the underlying foundational IS that grounds OUGHT. [–> that is, in the end OUGHT can only be grounded at world-foundational level. And the only serious candidate . . . after centuries of contentious debates . . . is still the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.]

    So also, we see the absurdities implied by attempted denial of moral reality through reducing it to mere [potentially] delusional subjective perceptions. Even the much prized or even vaunted rationality is in the stakes!

    For, if our minds are that delusional on so important a matter, we have decisively undercut the mind, period.

    Which should be patent, once we give it a moment’s thought in light of our experience and understanding of the world we live in.

    It is reasonable to hold and accept instead that: just as we have minds that allow us to make sense of the signals of our external world accessed through seeing and hearing, forming a coherent picture of the world, we have a generally [as opposed to absolutely] trustworthy sense — conscience — that is detecting and responding to duty in light of the value of those we interact with . . .

    Locke in the intro to his essay on human understanding, section 5, summed up the dilemma of the linked hyperskepticism aptly:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better.

    How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . [.]

    It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . [.]

    If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations. Paragraphing added.]

    Such hyperskepticism reduces to absurdity in many ways.

    It should be abandoned.

    KF

    PS: I have added in the OP a clip from Ruse and Wilson that underscores just how worldview embedded the debates are. Consequently, we properly should examine the phil side and the linked issues on science in society. When Scientists, science educators and those influenced by them seek power or influence and/or large pools of taxpayer derived funding, they must face such scrutiny.

  48. 48
    Graham2 says:

    KF: You cant justify what you are saying, can you ? Except to carry on about how bitter and twisted any dissenter must be. Why not just wheel on BA, he does the indignant better than you. But with a similar lack of evidence, just, Im right, and if you don’t agree, well you are out of luck.

  49. 49
    Andre says:

    DDD

    It is indeed dangerous to cherry pick versus for an agenda!

    I was puzzled when you picked this;

    “Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: “Here we are”?”

    Surely you knew that we don’t know!

    http://www.slate.com/articles/.....osmic.html

  50. 50
    Andre says:

    DDD

    “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”

    Clearly you have no clue what this actually means do you?

    Aren’t you glad that there is not a small video screen on your forehead that constantly plays your thoughts? Our minds can imagine all sorts of things, it can dream up stuff you never dreamed of! In this verse Paul tells us to cast down all thoughts that are against the knowledge of Christ and bring them into captivity. In other words, take charge of your thoughts and control them instead of letting them control you. Some people are controlled by intimidating thoughts that don’t even exist in reality, they perceive those thoughts to be real so to them they are. Reality is reality not our perception of things and our thoughts that are not controlled by the Spirit may or may not be reality. We are what we think, so what are your thought processes based upon? Your philosophy is your prophesy! What you think about yourself and your life will come to pass. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he;”(Proverbs 23:7). Don’t allow unfounded suspicions, low self esteem and mental concoctions to ruin your life because it can!! Take charge of your life by programming your mind by putting the positive, powerful Word of God into your mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”(Romans 12:2) If you want your life to be different, then you must begin to think differently. According to this verse, Paul says that renewing your mind will transform your life. The sooner you get started, the sooner your life will get better.

    Pastor Scott L. Boatner

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    Andre, I like the rendering in GNB, which brings out a key facet:

    3 It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. 4 The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; 5 we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ . . .

    Spiritual warfare is in large part a thought- and motive- battle against the fallacious and the embedded flawed assumption and/or agenda that roadblocks evidence warranting knowledge of God.

    KF

  52. 52
    Andre says:

    KF

    And we see these false arguments everyday…..

    Relativism being the key contributor, how I pray that it would be purged from the minds of men!

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    G2,

    pardon, but there is more than enough warrant provided above. Please, just take time to look.

    KF

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Since it seems useful, here on is the line of thought that starting 30+ years ago, led me to conclude that evolutionary materialism is staring at a serious reductio issue . . . one I don’t find a cogent materialist answer to, and one that I find cropping up directly or indirectly in major statements by leading advocates of same as I cited above. Let me clip a key part:

    __________

    >> 12 –> Some materialists then suggest that consciousness is an “emergent” property of matter in the brain in action; one dependent on that matter for its existence and behaviour. But, “emergence” is itself immediately problematic: is “emergence” a euphemism for “Voila: poof!” . . . i.e “magic”?

    13 –> Some materialists go further and suggest that mind is more or less a delusion. For instance, Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    14 –> Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    15 –> In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin . . . .

    . . . This issue can be addressed at a more sophisticated level [[cf. Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on, e.g. here as well as Reppert here and Plantinga here (briefer) & here (noting updates in the 2011 book, The Nature of Nature)], but without losing its general force, it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [[Emphases added. Also cf. Reppert’s summary of Barefoot’s argument here.]

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [[And if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words justify the above, kindly cf. the more complete clip and notes here.]

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.) >>
    __________

    Let’s watch to see how this is handled; or, not.

    KF

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Plato, in The Laws Bk X, has some’at to say, too; with emphasis on thought and society:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”)], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them.

    2350 years ago, these same issues were on the table.

    KF

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N3: I also think a reply by Johnson to Lewontin in Nov 1997, is highly relevant:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    In short, there is a lurking worldview level issue that is driving much of the surface level debates. Until it is faced, the latter will not budge. KF

  57. 57
    hrun0815 says:

    Brent, no-one has called HR delusional. What has been called under question is the evolutionary materialist frame of thought on morality, responsible freedom and responsible rationality; on grounds of implied reductio. To show that such a frame is reasonable, adherents need to show why those challenges fail; challenges that BTW go back on record as far as Plato in The Laws Bk X. Note, in the OP leading spokesmen for evolutionary materialism and scientism were cited on the matter. KF

    Yes, that’s right. Nobody has called me delusional. And I have not said so either. WJM however very clearly stated that I and all other subjectivists are either delusional or sociopaths.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, Pardon, but that is a strawman caricature of what WJM argued (which is far more like Brent’s three men metaphor in 20 above . . . i.e. if one were to live by the implications of a view that people like Ruse and Wilson posit as implying our sense of ought is illusory, then it opens the door to nihilism, but in fact people usually try to live based on the binding nature of ought even as they debate otherwise . . . ), where it is also tangential to this thread’s proper focus. There is a worldviews foundation level reductio challenge on the table, and you are now going into a second day of distractive arguments rather than cogently address it. That in itself tells the astute onlooker something significant and not in your favour. KF

  59. 59
    bornagain77 says:

    DDD at 43 cites Job 38:35:

    ““Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: “Here we are”?”

    Yet,,,

    We Don’t Actually Know What Triggers Lightning Strikes – Aug. 2013
    Excerpt: Lightning is a natural electrical discharge—but scientists are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what triggers it.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/.....osmic.html

    hmmm, wonder if they will ever get to the ‘unmoved mover’ argument?

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    Aquinas’ First Way
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    Or to put it much more simply:

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way

    Lightning – Inspirational Poem
    In a windswept field the clouds build
    The sky grows dark, the air smells of coming rain
    As a nervous world stews in fearful anticipation
    Fearful anticipation for the promised Wonders,
    Of the new promised Wonders from the Ancient Ones hand
    Yes, the mighty foretold Wonders
    Soon to be seen across the land
    Could this be THE prophesied cleansing rain?
    Will He finally wash away all our tears and pain?
    Lightning cracks the sky open,,,
    For a brief instance the glorious white light of His kingdom is revealed,,,
    The tear in the sky threatens to rip the sky asunder
    The world roars applause with a loud sustained thunder
    An applause for the glorious light we have glimpsed
    From the world of light promised past death’s weakened fence
    Yes, of the glory promised to our every fiber and sense
    Another longer bolt of lightning teases us yet again
    And again the world with thunder shouts an encouraging reply
    Yes, Encouraging the glory of paradise to swallow this world whole
    Yet, it is followed by a long low grumble for being teased yet again
    For being teased yet again with the coming of a glorious paradise
    A long low grumble yearning jealously for the promise that is so soon near
    But alas, the sky closes behind the lightning bolt’s rip
    All the world is still as it was
    The clouds open up, The rain pours down
    But it is not really raining, the clouds are really crying
    Crying for the world must face yet another day
    Face yet another day of being one step short of paradise.

    Massive Lightning Strikes in HD Slow Motion
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYguAFZwhpU

  60. 60
    hrun0815 says:

    HR, Pardon, but that is a strawman caricature of what WJM argued (which is far more like Brent’s three men metaphor in 20 above . . .

    KF, pardon, but you are full of it.

    WJM. Made a very clear argument: All subjectivists act in fact unknowingly act as objectivists (so they are deluded) and the only people that truly are subjectivists are sociopaths.

    Do you disagree? Can you in fact be a subjectivist without being a sociopath? If so, your disagreement is with WJM and not with me.

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    first I warn you on language that is getting close. Next, I note that again you are off on a tangent. Third, you are again insisting on a distortion.

    BTW, have you looked at the OP as update with this from Ruse and Wilson:

    In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. [== evolutionary materialist philosophical premise, duly dressed up in a lab coat . . . ] Once it is grasped, everything falls into place. [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991.]

    The actual issue being pointed to by WJM et al is a significant one. Above, I have already laid out ways in which this leads to a reductio challenge.

    And, your insistence just now on trying to push words that don’t belong in our mouths there, i e that relativists by declaration or argument are sociopaths, is unjustified.

    All normally functioning people have consciences, though if one works hard enough at it one can deaden one’s conscience or anesthetize it with something like alcohol.

    The point is that conscience is sensing something real — the worth of one’s fellow human being for instance, whether or no our worldview notions sit comfortably with that.

    What WJM did say or imply is that those who lived fully consistent with the idea that morals are illusory would be sociopaths, living by might and manipulation makes ‘right.’

    Especially, if they have the power to get away with what they want to do.

    I add, short of that, a sort of relativism with a swivel that suits one’s particular proclivities — especially if one can create a powerful enough pressure group — is a way to silence objection to a particular wrongful agenda. Often tied to painting those who dare object to the agenda in a very bigoted way.

    And we can name cases in point, with some pretty awful track records.

    But the underlying issue that keeps on being ducked is that we have a widespread testimony across time and space on the power of conscience to sense and respond to moral issues. With good reason to accept that generally speaking (absent warping or deadening), it is testifying to truth.

    Namely, we are under moral government of the force of OUGHT, or duty of care to the right, the fair etc.

    And the consequences of that, we should face.

    KF

  62. 62
    Axel says:

    If you are coherent, then objectively, you cannot avoid being a sociopath. But reason requires coherent thinking, and that has never been the atheists’ strong suit, so you get a Pass.

    It’s only when your level of consistency rises, and you get to killing the unborn, eugenics, etc, that your actual culpability is proximately entailed.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Those interested in a more structured discussion may wish to look here at a 101:

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/k.....Ethics.htm

    This on seven common inconsistencies of relativists, is thought-stirring:

    http://www.salvomag.com/new/ar...../koukl.php

    J W Wallace may also help:

    http://coldcasechristianity.co.....agreement/

    Koukl’s 1-hour lecture here I will add above:

    http://vimeo.com/9026899

    KF

    PS: On grounding issues:

    http://coldcasechristianity.co.....character/

    PPS: But people disagree . . .

    http://coldcasechristianity.co.....al-truths/

  64. 64
    hrun0815 says:

    first I warn you on language that is getting close. Next, I note that again you are off on a tangent. Third, you are again insisting on a distortion.

    I note that I asked you a simple question that would clear up a lot of things:

    WJM. Made a very clear argument: All subjectivists act in fact unknowingly act as objectivists (so they are deluded) and the only people that truly are subjectivists are sociopaths.

    Do you disagree? Can you in fact be a subjectivist without being a sociopath?

    Can you answer? Or do you want to obscure the fact that a) I characterized WJM’s argument accurately and that b) you agree with it?

    And right on cue here come somebody else (#62) who claims that subjectivists are either incoherent or sociopaths. I presume this is also a distorted straw man caricature, right?

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    I have answered and others including WJM way back now have answered. You are setting up a strawman caricature, which we have corrected.

    This is getting into being the second day of a dodge of a worldview foundation issue.

    Here is my answer just above again:

    . . . your insistence just now on trying to push words that don’t belong in our mouths there, i e that relativists by declaration or argument are sociopaths, is unjustified.

    All normally functioning people have consciences, though if one works hard enough at it one can deaden one’s conscience or anesthetize it with something like alcohol.

    The point is that conscience is sensing something real — the worth of one’s fellow human being for instance, whether or no our worldview notions sit comfortably with that.

    What WJM did say or imply is that those who lived fully consistent with the idea that morals are illusory would be sociopaths, living by might and manipulation makes ‘right.’

    Especially, if they have the power to get away with what they want to do.

    I add, short of that, a sort of relativism with a swivel that suits one’s particular proclivities — especially if one can create a powerful enough pressure group — is a way to silence objection to a particular wrongful agenda. Often tied to painting those who dare object to the agenda in a very bigoted way.

    And we can name cases in point, with some pretty awful track records.

    But the underlying issue that keeps on being ducked is that we have a widespread testimony across time and space on the power of conscience to sense and respond to moral issues. With good reason to accept that generally speaking (absent warping or deadening), it is testifying to truth.

    Namely, we are under moral government of the force of OUGHT, or duty of care to the right, the fair etc.

    And the consequences of that, we should face.

    Side-track to a strawman caricature, answered.

    Now, the core issue remains un-addressed for a second day. (And I took time to add from Ruse and Wilson on the point.)

    Inadvertently, sadly revealing.

    KF

    PS: It may be worth noting on what the Christian scriptures actually explicitly teach, just to answer a projection:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . [ESV]

  66. 66
    Silver Asiatic says:

    ForJah @ 40

    I don’t see how a person, other than myself, who tells me what is good and bad somehow makes those morals objective. That’s subjective, It’s subject to what God deems right. I don’t see why 3 can be used at all, since Objective moral values are defined independent or what any one individual might think AND of consensus. So I will have to side with DDD and ask…how do we detect objective morals enough to the fact that we can say there ARE objective morals?

    First of all, make a distinction between subjective and objective. We act morally for a reason, with an intent.

    For subjectivism, the individual decides on moral values. The reason something is good or bad is because the individual decides it is, for himself, by himself.

    With objective morality, the moral code is external to the person. The individual did not create it. The reason why something is good or bad is not because the person chooses it to be so, but because the moral code demands it.

    An objective code is accessible. You can discover what the ten commandments are objectively. “What does Jesus state are the two most important moral values?” You can find that in the Bible. That’s objective. It’s like: “What is the first sentence of the US Constitution?” It’s objective.

    A subjective morality is known by the individual alone. “What moral value does a subjectivist give to in vitro fertilization? There’s no way to know or validate that except by asking the subjectivist. Plus, it’s not a fixed value – the subjectivst can change his moral code whenever he wants. Or, he might not know what he believes.

    Objective values are accessible in the 3 ways I described.
    The most difficult way to access them is through the natural law alone — this is the law that the conscience responds to when there is no other moral code to reference.

    The conscience tells the person that there is something good about an action – the conscience points to a law outside of the individual. It’s not a moral law the individual created. That’s why he feels guilty if he breaks it.

    There are objective morals, of course. They are different from subjective morals. The individual ‘submits’ himself to a moral law higher than himself with objective morality. The individual alone is the highest authority in subjective morality.

  67. 67
    hrun0815 says:

    Wow, KF, I am impressed. The gall of dodging the question and at the same time accusing others of dodging.

    Here is again WJM:

    I suggest most people involved in this discussion can only live as if moral objectivism is true; only sociopaths can live as if moral subjectivism is true. I don’t think anyone can live as if moral relativism is true.

    It’s as clear as it comes: subjectivists are either deluded (they are in fact objectivists) or they are sociopaths.

    To use your own words ‘it is really telling’ and ‘it should give you food for thought’ to see who openly admits that they agree with WJM and who is trying to weasel around. I think it is pretty clear to onlookers which direction you chose.

  68. 68
    Zachriel says:

    Two mantises, overheard by a fly:

    Daughter: I don’t want to eat my mate’s head.

    Mother: But dear, everyone eats the male’s head after mating.

    Daughter: But it’s gross!

    Mother: At first, it might seem that way, but once you bite into it, you’ll see.

    Daughter: Ewww!

    Mother: It’s a family tradition. What would your father say?

    Daughter: How would I know? You ate his head before I was hatched.

    Mother: Young lady! I won’t have you be the first to break with tradition.

    Daughter: Maybe just the tip …

    Mother: Anyway, it’s the right thing to do. It’s called *objective morality*. Talk to the pastor at church.

    Daughter: Why does he still have a head?

    Mother: Unlucky in love, I guess… Now finish eating your fly and go to bed.

  69. 69
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DDD

    I’m not seeing it, Silver Asiatic.

    I’m looking for tools to help me find objective truth.

    Ok, but you’re asking about objective morals. That is different from objective truth.

    Also “the external authority of the lawgiver” is clearly subjective – a choice made by an entity. If they are objective then they transcend entities and you don’t need a God to see them?

    Again, you have to make a distinction between objective and subjective. What are the moral virtues as explained by Aristotle? That’s an objective moral code that anyone can reference. Aristotle defends his teaching through reason and philosophy. His moral code was established and had a body of followers who adopted it. He was recognized as an authority — not as the source of moral values themselves (those are from God) but as one who explained, rationally, what those values are.

    That is objective morality. It’s different than subjective.
    “What is the subjectivist’s moral code”? The only authority given for that code is the individual himself. Those morals apply only to the individual. They cannot be taught or imposed as universal values – since any subjectivst can correctly and rightly disagree with every one of those values and claim the opposites to be morally good or bad.

    Lots of scriptures claim to be the truth. How do I pick the objectively true one?

    Again, you’re confusing objective morality with objective truth.

    Objective moral codes can be found in various scriptures. You can see, review, practice and evaluate those codes. You can’t do that with subjectivist morals.

    Choosing which scriptures are the true ones is a different topic.

    First, you have to recognize evidence that God exists.

    You could use ID theory to give support for that idea – even though ID does not require a belief in God necessarily.

  70. 70
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Graham2

    Most of it is internally consistent, in that if we really did have an objective moral standard, it would need god, or something similar. But does an objective moral standard exist ? I would have thought it bleeding obvious that there is no such standard.

    Conscience points to something objective. When we feel guilty for something that nobody even knows we did, we’re responding to something objective or universal.

    You could have some kind of morality without a god, but it’s weak and inconsistent. There would be no ultimate consequences. The moral code wouldn’t be fixed – it could change. There would be no binding reason to follow that code if there wasn’t a god.

    When we do good or bad actions there’s an evaluation or judgement. If the individual created the moral code, then he is the lawmaker and the judge — but he’s also the defendent in cases where he wonders if he did something wrong.

    Subjectively, we could declare ourselves innocent of everything. We could change the law or make it impossible to violate it.

    But we know when we do something wrong and when we do a good act — the judgement for those things comes from an objective moral code, external to ourselves.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    You are beginning to play the distract-distort, denigrate game.

    Let’s observe your quote:

    [WJM:] I suggest most people involved in this discussion can only live as if moral objectivism is true; only sociopaths can live as if moral subjectivism is true. I don’t think anyone can live as if moral relativism is true.

    Notice, WJM is NOT saying that relativists and/or subjectivists are sociopaths, which is the second tier strawman that began to appear above:

    [HR, 57:} WJM however very clearly stated that I and all other subjectivists are either delusional or sociopaths.

    Nope.

    He is pointing to a gap between the assertions and their implications on the one hand for subjectivism, and the actual typical behaviour. In short, he is saying by and large you don’t live by the raw and undiluted implications of evolutionary materialist moral relativism.

    He is saying if you did live consistent with the declarative beliefs, then that would require the sort of deadening of conscience that issues in sociopathic behaviour.

    Let me clip Koukl in the linked Salvo Mag article that draws out some of the force of that:

    Rule #1: Relativists Can’t Accuse Others of Wrong-Doing

    Relativism makes it impossible to criticize the behavior of others, because relativism ultimately denies that there is such a thing as wrong- doing. In other words, if you believe that morality is a matter of personal definition, then you can’t ever again judge the actions of others. Relativists can’t even object on moral grounds to racism. After all, what sense can be made of the judgment “apartheid is wrong” when spoken by someone who doesn’t believe in right and wrong? What justification is there to intervene? Certainly not human rights, for there are no such things as rights. Relativism is the ultimate pro-choice position because it accepts every personal choice—even the choice to be racist.

    Rule #2: Relativists Can’t Complain About the Problem of Evil

    The reality of evil in the world is one of the primary objections raised against the existence of God. The argument goes that if God were absolutely powerful and ultimately good, then he would take care of evil. But since evil exists, one of three possible scenarios has to be true: God is too weak to oppose evil, God is too sinister to care about evil, or God simply doesn’t exist. Of course, to advance any one of these arguments means that you also have to believe in evil, which relativists can’t do. In fact, nothing can be called evil—not even the Holocaust—because to do so would be to affirm some sort of moral standard.

    Rule #3: Relativists Can’t Place Blame or Accept Praise

    The concepts of praise and blame are completely meaningless within relativism because there is no moral standard by which to judge whether something should be applauded or condemned. Without absolutes, nothing is ultimately bad, deplorable, tragic, or worthy of blame. Neither is anything ultimately good, honorable, noble, or worthy of praise. It’s all lost in a twilight zone of moral nothingness. Those claiming to be relativists are almost always inconsistent here (they want to avoid blame but readily accept praise), so be careful!

    Rule #4: Relativists Can’t Claim Anything Is Unfair or Unjust

    Under relativism, justice and fairness are two concepts that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. First off, the words themselves have no meaning; both suggest that people deserve equal treatment based on an external standard of what is right, and as I have already said several times, relativists can’t believe in right and wrong. Second, there is no such thing as guilt. Justice entails punishing those who are guilty, and guilt depends on blame, which, as I have also already proven, cannot exist.

    Rule #5: Relativists Can’t Improve Their Morality

    With relativism, moral improvement is impossible. Sure, relativists can change their personal ethics, but they can never become moral people. Moral reform implies some kind of objective rule of conduct as a standard to shoot for. But this rule is exactly what relativists deny. If there is no better way, there can be no improvement. Not only that, but there is no motivation to improve. Relativism destroys the moral impulse that makes people rise above themselves because there is no “above” to rise to. Why change your moral point of view if your current one serves your self-interest and feels good for the time being?

    Rule#6: Relativists Can’t Hold Meaningful Moral Discussions

    Relativism makes it impossible to discuss morality. What’s there to talk about? An ethical discussion involves comparing the merits of one view with those of another to find out which is best. But if morals are entirely relative and all views are equally valid, then no way of thinking is better than any other. No moral position can be judged adequate or deficient, unreasonable, unacceptable, or even barbaric. In fact, if ethical disputes only make sense when morals are objective, then relativism can only be consistently lived out in silence. You can’t even say, “It’s wrong to push your morality on others.”

    Rule #7: Relativists Can’t Promote the Obligation of Tolerance

    Finally, there is no tolerance in relativism, because the moral obligation to be tolerant violates the rules. The principle of tolerance is often considered one of the key virtues of relativism. Morals are individual, and so we should tolerate the viewpoints of others by not judging their behavior and attitudes. But it should be obvious that this principle fails through contradiction. If there are no moral rules, there can be no rule that requires tolerance as a moral principle. In fact, if there are no moral absolutes, why be tolerant at all? Why not force your morality on others if it’s in your self-interest and your personal ethics allow it? Just be sure not to speak when doing so.

    The incoherences and typical inconsistencies should be clear enough.

    WJM and others are pointing out an error, a fallacy that is fairly common nowadays. But it is extreme to take pointing out an error and turn it into, you are suggesting we are delusional — a term with quite serious psychological/medical overtones of being seriously out of contact with reality. That, is erecting a loaded strawman.

    Instead, WJM is implying or stating that most relativists live better than what their nominal beliefs imply if taken at strict value. That is, he is pointing to an incoherence that points to a fallacy or error in action. A common enough problem. He is also implying that precisely because of the power of conscience you are living in better contact with reality than your declared beliefs strictly imply.

    And, he is also cautioning by suggestion that the error of relativism is one that makes people more and more vulnerable to clever manipulators who push agendas by manufacturing rights out of whole cloth as claimed entitlements to be backed up by state power, and dehumanising victims of such. Then, those who object are turned into caricatures and scapegoats.

    As in, I have a right to sit at a store lunch counter or in the bus without those of darker skins sitting as my equals. And if such get uppity, I have a right to teach them a lesson and get the local sheriff to back me up. And if any N-lovers object, why we will take care of those commies just fine and bury them out by the dam when we are finished.

    I can update to deal with the ongoing abortion holocaust of 55 millions or so in the USA and hundreds of millions more around the world. But, you would likely have a much harder time seeing this case of robbing unborn children of their lives typically on utterly flimsy excuses.

    The pattern is plain.

    All of us once were children in the womb, just as the fact that I have ancestors from Europe, Africa and Asia shows conclusively that we are all “of one blood.”

    So, the side track has been answered, yet again.

    Not that that is likely to deter further resort to it as a convenient side track.

    And a second day of dodging the pivotal issue continues apace.

    The astute onlooker can see the implications clearly enough.

    KF

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    Z: Praying mantises are creatures of instinct, not rational, morally governed human beings. Do you want for me to cite Herr Schicklegruber on the subject of the attitude of cats to mice to spotlight the difference? A specific case BTW that is addressed in the WLC video in the OP. KF

  73. 73
    hrun0815 says:

    He is saying if you did live consistent with the declarative beliefs, then that would require the sort of deadening of conscience that issues in sociopathic behaviour.

    Pardon, KF, but no. He is not saying that this would ‘require the sort of deadening of conscience that issues in sociopathic behaviour’.

    He is saying that if you believe that moral subjectivism is true there are only one of two things you can do:

    – You can act as if you are an objectivist even though you believe subjectivism to be true.
    – Or you can actually live according to subjectivism which would make you a sociopath.

    Which in fact is something that others willingly ascribe to as well. In fact, you are admitting the same, yet, you are hiding this fact in a thousand word post and obscuring it in different words.

    Let’s ask again: Can you in fact be a subjectivist without being a sociopath? If you say yes, then you disagree with WJM. If you say no then you disagree with yourself. Pick one.

    And again, your dodging, distorting, distracting, and deflecting of the issue is duly noted and clear for all to see.

  74. 74
    Brent says:

    hrun0815,

    If,

    WJM. Made a very clear argument: All subjectivists act in fact unknowingly act as objectivists (so they are deluded) and the only people that truly are subjectivists are sociopaths.

    is accurate as you say (and I don’t doubt it), then your question,

    Can you in fact be a subjectivist without being a sociopath?

    is simply answered, yes. You can be a ‘subjectivist’ without being a sociopath, IF you mean that one is subjectivist in word and declaration, rather than living their life consistently as a subjectivist. If one is ACTUALLY a subjectivist, not in word only, but actually lived consistently with what that entails, well, they would be a sociopath.

    You are not going to get many people here to claim you or others are really sociopaths, so you should stop asking. What I was trying to say at #20 above (I’m sorry I didn’t make it very clear I’m sure) was that, yes, I would say someone like you (as far as I really understand your position) is deluded (like man number three). But you have no reason to be up in arms about it because, 1) it is only meant in this one narrow (though extremely important) respect regarding thinking on morality; no one is saying, “Ha-ha-ha! Look at this guy. He is delusional!!!” as if you are deluded about everything. And 2), we are pointing to a case where it is pretty easy to point out how your understanding is incorrect, and therefore no one is just “ad-homineming” you, if you will, by saying, “Ha-ha-ha! Look at this guy. He is delusional!!!”

    Now, I’m sorry to say, but you really don’t, I think, have any excuse to be playing the victim card in the way you have been as you almost definitely know what was just explained to you by both myself, KF, and I have a hard time believing you didn’t really understand it in whatever conversations you had with WJM. Again, I’m sorry, but I too think you are dodging the issue and using some feigned offense as your excuse.

  75. 75
    hrun0815 says:

    is simply answered, yes. You can be a ‘subjectivist’ without being a sociopath, IF you mean that one is subjectivist in word and declaration, rather than living their life consistently as a subjectivist.

    Great. So you can be a subjectivist without being a sociopath if you delusional (i.e. you believe that you are a subjectivist but in fact you do not live your life as such).

    Thanks for the clarification. I wonder if KF agrees now.

    You are not going to get many people here to claim you or others are really sociopaths, […]

    Again, I never made such a claim! I very clearly stated that there is a second option. The subjectivists that are not sociopaths are delusional: They believe the are subjectivists yet they do not live like they are subjectivists.

  76. 76
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Praying mantises are creatures of instinct, not rational, morally governed human beings.

    Ha! It’s an analogy. Try again.

  77. 77
    Brent says:

    Well, I appear to be using the word “deluded” with a lot less baggage attached. The reason I am willing to use such a heavy word is for the fact that I think the thing in question is, or should be, quite obvious, and therefore describing it a “mistake” seems a little too easy.

  78. 78
    hrun0815 says:

    Again, I’m sorry, but I too think you are dodging the issue and using some feigned offense as your excuse.

    This is not about being a victim or using anything as an excuse. WJM was very clear about the fact that he does not believe that the people on this board can live their life according to what they profess to be true. Either they delude themselves or they are sociopaths. You, again, confirmed this to be an accurate description. KF, even though he used many more words, also confirmed this to be true.

    Yet, here we are dancing around this issue. Why not admit this to be true? Why in the world do you think KF does not want to fess up that this is what he really believes? We could then delve into discussing how he started off this thread with a similar ‘steers and queers’ dismissal of everybody who disagrees with him.

  79. 79
    Brent says:

    hrun0815,

    OK, hrun. “Greatly mistaken”. Will you stop dodging now? It is telling that you dismiss the rest of my post which takes a great, great deal of the sting out of what I mean (and I’m guessing WJM means) by deluded. You seem to confirm my thoughts about the reason for the big stink you are making.

    As for KF, I’m guessing he is, as per usual, very reluctant to use “deluded” in a ‘light’ way as I am (and perhaps WJM) due to the baggage that is associated with it; yes, it clearly is most often used to say more than what I’m saying.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, I think error, even widespread embedded error backed up by ideology is different from being delusional. Particularly as the inconsistency between what relativism implies and what most who declare themselves in support actually do is BECAUSE thanks to conscience they are in a lot better contact with reality than what the implications of the nominal belief system point to. Of course, such adherence weakens conviction and makes such people vulnerable to manipulation by the clever, powerful and ruthless . . . who more often than we like to reckon ARE sociopathic, narcissistic and highly machiavellian. KF

    PS: To see what I am highlighting cf here

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201301/shedding-light-psychology-s-dark-triad

    The dirty dozen, 1 to 7 score yourself Q’s:

    1] I tend to manipulate others to get my way.
    2] I tend to lack remorse.
    3] I tend to want others to admire me.
    4] I tend to be unconcerned with the morality of my actions.
    5] I have used deceit or lied to get my way.
    6] I tend to be callous or insensitive.
    7] I have used flattery to get my way.
    8] I tend to seek prestige or status.
    9] I tend to be cynical.
    10] I tend to exploit others toward my own end.
    11] I tend to expect special favors from others.
    12] I want others to pay attention to me.

    The total score can range from 12 to 84, but you can also break down the scales into the three traits as follows: Machiavellianism= 1, 5, 7, 10; Psychopathy= 2, 4, 6, 9; Narcissism= 3, 8, 11, 12.

    Resemblance of the above to trollish conduct is NOT coincidental.

    And, as memory/adherence to objectivity in morality fades and as relativist indoctrination is drummed in ever more deeply, the incidence of the dark triad pattern will grow dramatically.

    The resulting anarchy and fear will lead many to the devils bargain of surrendering liberty to gain safety. And guess who will end up in control — you guessed it, wolves in the clothing of the shepherd.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    the analogy fails because it misses several highly material points of comparison. But then, on evolutionary materialist premises, as Provine argues:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    In short, you likely don’t see the pivotal fallacy because you — as an adherent of evolutionary materialism or a close fellow traveller — do not acknowledge human beings to be significantly free and responsible to think and act aright.

    But that worldview position has consequences.

    Specifically, the undermining of the credibility of the reasoning, warranting, knowing mind, ending in self referential incoherence no 1.

    Secondly, if morality is as Ruse and Wilson put it “an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes . . . ” then that injects grand general delusion into mindedness. There are no firewalls in the mind and so again we see drastic undermining of the credibility of the reasoning, warranting, knowing mind, ending in self referential incoherence no 2.

    Which are of course two key points in the OP that evolutionary materialism advocates are now into day two of dodging.

    The issue is serious and needs to be adequately answered.

    KF

  82. 82
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: the analogy fails because it misses several highly material points of comparison.

    Heh. None of your comment addresses the analogy.

  83. 83
    Heartlander says:

    @ 68 ‘Treat others as you would want them to treat you’ – vs – ‘Eat the male’s head after mating’. Hmmm…

  84. 84
    Zachriel says:

    William Lane Craig: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

    That doesn’t follow. Objective moral values might exist even if God does not.

    kairosfocus: if one rejects the objectivity of the general sense of OUGHT as governing our behaviour, we are implying a general delusion.

    If one rejects the subjectivity of the general sense of OUGHT as governing human behavior, one is implying a general delusion.

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, clever quips do not answer to a significant issue. KF

  86. 86
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: ‘Eat the male’s head after mating’. Hmmm…

    Il est de rigueur.

  87. 87
    Box says:

    Kairosfocus,

    thank you for bringing up the all-important issue of naturalism’s inability to accommodate reason and the mind.

    Naturalism -> matter behind the steering wheel -> no free will -> “drastic undermining of the credibility of the reasoning, warranting, knowing mind, ending in self referential incoherence no 2.”

    KF: (…) evolutionary materialism advocates are now into day two of dodging.

    My prediction: as usual they will keep dodging the point, because there is absolutely no way for them to address it.
    IOW this simple but profound argument refutes naturalism.

  88. 88
    Heartlander says:

    Z @ 86 – Required? Explain…

  89. 89
    velikovskys says:

    KF;

    Z, clever quips do not answer to a significant issue. KF

    Truth can take many forms,grasshopper.

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    VS:

    I do not think you realise the matches you are playing with.

    Herr Schicklegruber, discussing his struggle:

    Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents . . . Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life . . . The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

    The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice . . . .

    There is a world of difference between animal and human behaviour, and if that difference is blurred in a context that undermines the value of the human being, history warns on the consequences.

    There is a world of difference between responsible, rational freedom and the world of blind chance and mechanical necessity, as well as the world of instinct.

    Indeed, the story you chose above inadvertently shows how evolutionary materialism, having in it no IS that grounds OUGHT, ends in the chaos of might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    As was warned against, long since.

    KF

  91. 91
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: clever quips do not answer to a significant issue

    It wasn’t a quip, but an analogy. It shows that what is considered moral depends on the viewpoint of the observer. We could provide human examples; e.g. Luther and the Jews, slavery, genocide, colonialism, what have you; but the mantises overheard by a fly was apt.

    kairosfocus: There is a world of difference between animal and human behaviour, and if that difference is blurred in a context that undermines the value of the human being, history warns on the consequences.

    Aesop, undermining society since 600 BCE.

    Heartlander: Required?

    de rigueur, required by etiquette or current fashion. {In the past, of course, both women and men in public life considered a hat to be as de rigueur as shoes.}

  92. 92
    Heartlander says:

    Z – @91 Do you equate morality with etiquette or current fashion? Insect and human ‘morality’ is ultimately the same?

    If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.
    – Darwin Descent of Man

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, there is no proper analogy between insect and human behaviour as regards responsible freedom of action. And if you wish to compare an insect killing her mate with humans who kill others, something has gone seriously wrong, clever quips about Aesop’s fables notwithstanding. KF

    PS: We are well into day 2 and the serious challenge on the table since the OP has yet to be taken seriously by one of the objectors.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As the by now usual attempt to distort the Judaeo-Christian moral frame is being hinted at, I again post the central exposition of that frame of thought by its leading authoritative teacher. In his best known sermon, the most famous sermon of all time:

    _______________

    >> Matthew 5-7
    Matthew 5-7English Standard Version (ESV)
    The Sermon on the Mount

    5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
    The Beatitudes

    2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

    10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    Salt and Light

    13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

    14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
    Anger

    21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.[f]
    Lust

    27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
    Divorce

    31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
    Oaths

    33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.[g]
    Retaliation

    38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
    Love Your Enemies

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Giving to the Needy

    6 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

    2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    The Lord’s Prayer

    5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.[j]
    10 Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,[k]
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us this day our daily bread,[l]
    12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.[m]

    14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
    Fasting

    16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

    19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[n] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[o]
    Do Not Be Anxious

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[p] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

    34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
    Judging Others

    7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
    Ask, and It Will Be Given

    7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
    The Golden Rule

    12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[q] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
    A Tree and Its Fruit

    15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
    I Never Knew You

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
    Build Your House on the Rock

    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
    The Authority of Jesus

    28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. >>
    _______________

    We may confidently say, that we do struggle to meet that standard. And, we may observe that this provides abundant corrective resources for Christians, lay or clergy who do or teach things that are in error.

    KF

  95. 95
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: Do you equate morality with etiquette or current fashion?

    Thomas Jefferson had a special walkway constructed above ground so that the slaves could walk below the walkway out of sight of his guests. He also had a dumbwaiter installed so that food could be brought up to the dining table without the slaves being seen. It was just good manners, you see.

    kairosfocus: there is no proper analogy between insect and human behaviour as regards responsible freedom of action.

    Yeah, silly fiddle-playing grasshopper. The motto, of course, is to join the musicians union, so that if they dance to the music, they gotta pay the piper.

    In any case, you have been provided many alternative moral systems among humans. The key to how people are treated largely depends on whether they are considered in-group or out-group.

  96. 96
    Heartlander says:

    Z – @ 95 The questions are directed at you – Do you equate morality with etiquette or current fashion? Is insect and human ‘morality’ ultimately the same?

  97. 97
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: Do you equate morality with etiquette or current fashion?

    Did you not understand the answer? People find moral justifications for their actions, including slavery. The key to how people are treated largely depends on whether they are considered in-group or out-group.

    Heartlander: Is insect and human ‘morality’ ultimately the same?

    No. Humans don’t literally bite the head off their mates after sex, not as a general rule anyway.

  98. 98
    Heartlander says:

    Z – @97 So you do equate morality with etiquette or current fashion (such as hats and shoes) but you see human ‘morality’ as better than insect mating etiquette. Zachriel’s current mode du jour. Personally, I don’t think your shoes go with your hat votre empereur

  99. 99
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: So you do equate morality with etiquette or current fashion (such as hats and shoes)

    Um, no. People find moral justifications for their actions, including slavery. The key to how people are treated by others largely depends on whether they are considered in-group or out-group.

    Heartlander: but you see human ‘morality’ as better than insect mating etiquette.

    Better for humans.

  100. 100
    Heartlander says:

    Z – @99 But you believe the moral justification changes much like fashion and etiquette – if the shoe fits…

    Curious – how is insect mating worse (you read the quote from Darwin)? Is it due to; selfish genes, survival of the fittest, or game theory?

  101. 101
    Timmy says:

    Zachriel: “The key to how people are treated by others largely depends on whether they are considered in-group or out-group.”

    No, the key is figuring out if the actor is moral or immoral. If immoral, then treatment depends on self-interest (which encompasses group status). If moral, self-interest is subordinated.

    If there is no God, that means everything is just atoms and math, and that means there is no mind or free will, and that means objective morality cannot have any meaning.

    If objective morality has meaning, free will must be real. If free will is real, reality must be more than just atoms and math. If there is more than atoms and math, there must be a God.

    Absent objective morality, the only rule of behavior that makes any sense is self-interest. It may be that respecting others in your group makes you better off, but that’s only if they know about it. Any time an atheist behaves morally in secret, he is strictly being silly.

  102. 102
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: But you believe the moral justification changes much like fashion and etiquette

    No. Moral justifications have more staying power, but they can and do change. There are certain commonalities having to do with human nature related to whether someone is considered in-group or out-group.

    Heartlander: how is insect mating worse?

    Worse for humans: male humans are important for the survival of the tribe and for child-rearing. Better for mantises: the male is small and expendable after mating, but does provide a hearty meal for the mother and her eggs. (ETA: cannibalism is actually rare.)

    Heartlander: (you read the quote from Darwin)

    Which quote?

    Heartlander: Is it due to; selfish genes, survival of the fittest, or game theory?

    All of the above.

  103. 103
    Zachriel says:

    Timmy: If immoral, then treatment depends on self-interest (which encompasses group status). If moral, self-interest is subordinated.

    So if a Nazi kills a Jew to prevent the ‘vermin’ from undermining the German nation, then it is moral. You do realize that Hitler thought the Jews were evil and dangerous?

  104. 104
    kairosfocus says:

    Vs,

    1: do or do we not have rights that pivot on our value and dignity as human beings, including life, liberty, innocent reputation etc?

    2: Do or do we not therefore have a reasonable binding expectation that (a) such should be respected, and (b) that governments in material part exist to safeguard such by defending the civil peace of justice?

    3: And, is or is not it a reasonable foundation for such that we are equally made in the image of God who endows us with such rights, with correlative mutual duties of care?

    4: Is, or is that not explicitly taught in, inter alia the following scriptural summary on life in community:

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [–> or, harm] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    5: Is or is this not binding on a Pastor, and would this not be a direct un-bridgeable contrast to your imagined praying mantis pastor?

    6: Further to this is it not a longstanding answer of the Christian faith to attempts to mis-apply the so-called Euthyphro dilemma to the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being that the good is inherent to his nature, is neither arbitrary nor independent of the One who is the root of being, and is our reasonable — it makes good sense — service?

    7: Yet further, is or is it not the case that it has been repeatedly drawn to your attention and that of others of like ilk, that in laying out the principles of what would become modern liberty and democracy, Locke in his 2nd essay on civil govt, Ch 2, cited “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” thusly, from his Ecclesiastical Polity, 1594+:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    8: Is or is not a canon a clergyman, and is or is not the Golden Rule of neighbour love a principal canon of morality in the Judaeo-Christian frame?

    9: why then did you see fit to erect so utterly distorted a comparison in choosing to introduce the notion of a “pastor” in the alleged analogy or metaphor above?

    10: Do you therefore see why I and others rather would have reason to infer that such is a loaded, strawman caricature?
    __________

    and so the red herrings led away to strawman caricatures loaded with ad hominems and set alight with snide or blatantly incendiary words continues. And there is no serious response to the cluster of serious issues on the table from the outset.
    KF

  105. 105
    Heartlander says:

    Z @102
    Moral justifications have more staying power…

    Fashion and etiquette has staying power such as wearing clothes or eating with utensils.

    The quote provided @92

    If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.
    – Darwin Descent of Man

  106. 106
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: Fashion and etiquette has staying power such as wearing clothes or eating with utensils.

    Clothes have changed considerably over time. Slavery was acceptable in most of the world for most of human history. Colonialism and ethnic cleansing are as old as civilization. Government-sanctioned torture is still in existence.

    Heartlander (quoting): If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.

    Well, it was not uncommon in human history for people to sacrifice their children to their gods, and to consider it not only morally acceptable, but a moral duty.

    However, while humans are very flexible in their behaviors, they do tend to form attachments to those to whom they are close. This results in an in-group out-group dynamic.

  107. 107
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: 1: do or do we not have rights that pivot on our value and dignity as human beings, including life, liberty, innocent reputation etc?

    Sure. We happen to be very fond of Earth’s more intelligent ape. Consider it a peccadillo.

  108. 108
    ForJah says:

    I have to say, the fact that out morals have changed since the past are exactly what we would expect if morals are not objective and instead are relative to human experience and knowledge.

    Again, I’m not saying there are no moral objectives but we can’t determine which morals are and are not objective. Meaning that all the morals we have today are a product of our own collective mind in relation to the universe, and not because some God dictated them to us. If he did they wouldn’t change.

  109. 109
    Timmy says:

    Zachriel:

    If a Nazi kills a Jew, then that is exactly the sort of self-interested “in-group/out-group” behavior you were talking about. It’s an excellent predictor for immoral people.

    Moral people routinely make choices in which they put other people’s self-interests ahead of their own, regardless of group status.

    ForJah:

    Of course revealed morality hasn’t changed, so a much better explanation for human immorality is that humans are morally imperfect.

  110. 110
    Heartlander says:

    Z @106
    I said clothes – not clothing styles – clothes… and eating utensils (notice I didn’t say knife, fork, or chopstick)… Also, there are different styles of slavery (home mortgage or government dependence) – and torture ‘etiquette’ or definitions differ…

    However, while humans are very flexible in their behaviors, they do tend to form attachments to those to whom they are close. This results in an in-group out-group dynamic.

    That being said, you seem to like this in-group / out-group theory and yet here you are in a pro-ID forum – part of the out-group. You seem a slave to these discussions and I don’t understand why you torture yourself.

  111. 111
    Zachriel says:

    Heartlander: I said clothes – not clothing styles – clothes… and eating utensils (notice I didn’t say knife, fork, or chopstick)

    Which you said immediately after saying “fashion and etiquette”, conflating style and utility.

    Heartlander: Also, there are different styles of slavery (home mortgage or government dependence) – and torture ‘etiquette’ or definitions differ…

    Excellent point. It’s amazing how people can find moral justification when it suits their needs.

    Timmy: If a Nazi kills a Jew, then that is exactly the sort of self-interested “in-group/out-group” behavior you were talking about.

    It’s not normally construed as self-interest if it helps the in-group, but doesn’t help the individual.

    Timmy: Moral people routinely make choices in which they put other people’s self-interests ahead of their own, regardless of group status {which group they belong to}.

    That just means they have defined that person as part of the in-group. If you look at history, the in-group has grown from the family and tribe, to city-state, to ethnic and religious group, to nation, and tentatively, to humanity generally. However, there are still significant ethnic, religious, and national divisions today.

  112. 112
    Heartlander says:

    Z @111

    It’s amazing how people can find moral justification when it suits their needs.

    Yes – yes it is…

  113. 113
    Graham2 says:

    ForJah @108: we can’t determine which morals are and are not objective

    Exactly.

  114. 114
    Heartlander says:

    Joel Marks, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the U. of New Haven, who for 10 years authored the “Moral Moments” column in Philosophy Now, made the following statements in a 2010 article entitled, “An Amoral Manifesto.”

    “This philosopher has been laboring under an unexamined assumption, namely that there is such a thing as right and wrong. I now believe there isn’t…The long and short of it is that I became convinced that atheism implies amorality; and since I am an atheist, I must therefore embrace amorality…I experienced my shocking epiphany that religious fundamentalists are correct; without God there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God. Hence, I believe, there is no morality.

    Marks then quite boldly and candidly addresses the implications of his newfound beliefs:

    “Even though words like “sinful” and “evil” come naturally to the tongue as say a description of child molesting. They do not describe any actual properties of anything. There are no literal sins in the world because there is no literal God…nothing is literally right or wrong because there is no Morality…yet we human beings can still discover plenty of completely naturally explainable resources for motivating certain preferences. Thus enough of us are sufficiently averse to the molestation of children and would likely continue to be…( An Amoral Manifesto Part I )

  115. 115
    Heartlander says:

    DAWKINS: (snip)"…But yet we have this gathering together of genes into individual organisms. And that reminds me of the illusion of one mind, when actually there are lots of little mindlets in there, and the illusion of the soul of the white ant in the termite mound, where you have lots of little entities all pulling together to create an illusion of one. Am I right to think that the feeling that I have that I’m a single entity, who makes decisions, and loves and hates and has political views and things, that this is a kind of illusion that has come about because Darwinian selection found it expedient to create that illusion of unitariness rather than let us be a kind of society of mind?"

    PINKER: "It’s a very interesting question. Yes, there is a sense in which the whole brain has interests in common in the way that say a whole body composed of genes with their own selfish motives has a single agenda. In the case of the genes the fact that their fates all depend on the survival of the body forces them to cooperate. In the case of the different parts of the brain, the fact that the brain ultimately controls a body that has to be in one place at one time may impose the need for some kind of circuit, presumably in the frontal lobes, that coordinates the different agendas of the different parts of the brain to ensure that the whole body goes in one direction. In How the Mind Works I alluded to a scene in the comedy movie All of Me in which Lily Tomlin’s soul inhabits the left half of Steve Martin’s body and he takes a few steps in one direction under his own control and then lurches in another direction with his pinkie extended while under the control of Lily Tomlin’s spirit. That is what would happen if you had nothing but completely autonomous modules of the brain, each with its own goal. Since the body has to be in one place at one time, there might be a circuit that suppresses the conflicting motives…"(end snip)

  116. 116
    Brent says:

    Zachriel (and others who point to “changing” morality),

    You are lacking in understanding. Morality has not changed. Understanding and beliefs about how morality applies, and to whom (for instance) has changed, but not a whit have they changed in substance. Treating the ‘negro’ as inferior, for instance, was a simple result of “believing” “facts” that were not facts, i.e., that they were actually inferior. It was thought that the morality normally extended to others (or that should be) didn’t apply to their case. It didn’t take a change in morality in any sense whatsoever to start to treat the black man equally, it only took admission that the black man was worthy of being so treated.

    You admit as much when you say that a Nazi would be considered moral for killing a Jew, since the Nazi thought him vermin. Now, in neither case did the Nazi or the white man have a valid excuse for their “belief”, and that is why we can rightly condemn their actions today.

    Further, morality is quite consistent within different cultures; even Nazi culture. There aren’t any cultures where it is thought good to be selfish and put yourself first. There might be an opinion that it only extends to the border of your family, say, or your hometown, or your party, country, or ethnicity, but the central theme is present and unbroken. The point remains, then, that morality didn’t change. It is, in fact, the one constant.

  117. 117
    Graham2 says:

    Brent, Understanding … has changed, but not a whit have they changed in substance

    Yes,yes,yes, but how do you know thay have not changed in substance ? How do you know ? What evidence do you have ? Is there a scroll somewhere where the ‘substance’ is written ? Of course there isn’t. This is the simple point the heathens have been trying to drum into your head, over and over. How do you know ?.

  118. 118
    Heartlander says:

    How does anyone know anything?

    “Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”
    Charles Darwin

  119. 119
    Graham2 says:

    HL: pure casuistry

  120. 120
    Heartlander says:

    G2 – Yes – that is Darwin’s position as you know.

  121. 121
    Graham2 says:

    HL: no, your comment.

  122. 122
    Brent says:

    Graham2,

    Well, I admit I know nothing, unless the whole of human history as recorded through the centuries can be used as testimony.

    No. I have no scroll. But I do have hundreds of them, if not thousands and even hundreds of thousands.

    Your honor, I call every human in every human race to the stand. I present all the scrolls in history that concern the ideas of right and acceptable conduct.

    After that, who will you call, Graham? Sure, you and your pals, but then you can’t even give consistent testimony. Case closed.

  123. 123
    Graham2 says:

    Brent: what on earth are you talking about ? Is this related to my comment ?

  124. 124
    Brent says:

    Graham, can you point to any society or culture, either present or past, where it was admirable to be selfish? I mean, of course, within that culture. I’ve already said that people have differed in opinion about who this morality should be applied towards, or how far it should be extended. Nonetheless, every culture has had this idea of right conduct that pressed upon them to act a certain way.

    Are you not aware that many sages, teachers, gurus, etc. have written about this code through the centuries and that they are quite in agreement?

    If it is your contention that morality has changed, I only need to point out how it, in fact, has not.

  125. 125
    Graham2 says:

    I think I see. Your reasoning is that if lots of people have a similar outlook, then there must be an objective standard at work. Is that it ?

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    G2:

    Your reasoning is that if lots of people have a similar outlook [perception regarding an external world or better yet abstract mathematical or logical objects and their relationships . . . ], then there must be an objective standard at work. Is that it ?

    I trust the selective hyperskepticism is evident.

    We generally trust our senses regarding the external world and regarding logical or mathematical abstract objects even though we know we are fallible.

    In material part, we do this because to assume general delusion a la Plato’s Cave, is to undermine the project of rationality and the credibility of mind, thus ending in an infinite regress of self referential incoherence.

    Let me again draw to your attention and that of your ilk, a 101 level discussion that for almost fully two days now, you all have studiously ignored:

    We may now carry this forward, to briefly address the vexed problem of the fairly common attempt to reduce morality to subjective or otherwise relative perceptions imposed by persuasion or force. For this, it is perhaps best to start with a very concrete case, one which is unfortunately not just theoretical:

    ASSERTION: it is self-evidently wrong, bad and evil to kidnap, torture, sexually violate and murder a young child. Likewise, by corollary: if we come across such a case in progress, it is our duty to try to intervene to save the child from such a monster.

    Almost all people will agree that such a case is horrible, and to be deplored. So also, they will agree that a duty of rescue obtains, or at least succor for someone left half dead. Thus, we see the significance of the Good Samaritan as a paradigm of neighbourliness across racial, religious, political and other dividing-lines or even outright enmity . . . .

    Where, John Locke, in grounding modern liberty and what would become democratic self-government of a free people premised on upholding the civil peace of justice, in Ch 2 Sec. 5 of his second treatise on civil Government [c. 1690] cites “the judicious [Anglican canon, Richard] Hooker” from his classic Ecclesiastical Polity of 1594 on, as he explains how the principles of neighbour-love are inscribed in our hearts, becoming evident to the eye of common good sense and reasonableness:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8 and alluding to Justinian’s synthesis of Roman Law in Corpus Juris Civilis that also brings these same thoughts to bear:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

    But that general acknowledgement is not the same as to further acknowledge that the sort of wrong we are contemplating is bindingly, objectively, universally something that OUGHT not to be done.

    And indeed, many will boldly assert that it cannot be proved that it is absurd to reject the notion that core moral principles are objective and universally binding. So in the view of too many today, we are left to the feelings of revulsion and the community consensus backed up by police and courts on this.

    Not so.

    Compare a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. And even for those who object, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around. But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force.

    So, already, once we let radical relativism and subjectivism loose, we are looking at the absurdity and chaos of the nihilist abyss, might (and manipulation) makes for ‘right.’

    Oops.

    At the pivot of the skeptical objections to objective moral truth, notwithstanding persistent reduction to absurdity, is the pose that since we may err and since famously there are disagreements on morality, we can reduce moral feelings to subjective perceptions tastes and preferences, dismissing any and all claims of objectivity much less self evidence.

    So, the objector triumphantly announces: there is an unbridgeable IS-OUGHT gap, game over.

    Not so fast, as there is no better reason to imagine that we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, than that we live in a physical or intellectual Plato’s Cave world.

    That is, we consider the imagined world of Plato where the denizens, having been imprisoned from childhood, all imagine that the shadow shows portrayed for their benefit are reality. Until, one is loosed, sees the apparatus of manipulation, then is led outside and learns of the reality that is there to be discovered. Then he tries to rescue his fellows, only to be ridiculed and attacked . . . .

    Now, the skeptical question is, do we live in such a delusional world (maybe in another form such as the brains in vats or the Matrix’s pods . . . ), and can we reliably tell the difference?

    The best answer to such is, that such a scenario implies general delusion and the general un-trustworthiness of our senses and reasoning powers.

    So, it undercuts itself in a turtles all the way down chain of possible delusions — an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusions.

    Common good sense then tells us that the skeptic has caught himself up in his own web, his argument is self referentially incoherent . . .

    I trust the problem is evident.

    There is every good reason to generally as opposed to absolutely trust the deliverances of our conscious mindedness relative to moral perception, just as there is good reason to trust our perceptions relative to mathematical, logical or physical world perceptions. And the realities of Mathematics and logic forever demonstrate that the abstract is not to be equated to the subjective.

    I suspect, the root problem is, that disagreements exist. Sure, but in general that error exists is a testimony that there is somewhat out there to be in error about.

    Likewise, the typical relativist’s assertion that we should be tolerant of the diverse views of others, which comes to a point of making “intolerance” a major accusation today, is itself a disguised claimed universally binding moral principle, that we OUGHT to be tolerant.

    Similarly, the understanding that we have a right to expect our rights to be respected, points in the same direction.

    And as WLC’s animation shows, if one stumbles on a brick and drops a cell phone only to have it snatched, one does naturally perceive and respond with, this is unfair and unjust.

    There is utterly no good reason to dismiss that as caught up in an ugly gulch between an inner subjective world of perceptions and an outer world of things in themselves that we cannot access.

    For in fact as was pointed out long ago now by F H Bradley, that is a claim to know something about the external world, that it is unknowable.

    It is self referentially incoherent.

    So necessarily false and ex falso quodlibet.

    Though, yes, that caught out so eminent a person as Kant and many who followed him.

    I suggest that subjectivism is self referentially incoherent in many ways including morally.

    Further to this, I suggest that a priori evolutionary materialism, never mind its lab coats these days, is multiply self referentially incoherent and as it has in it no foundational IS capable of bearing he weight of OUGHT, it leads to the implication that might and manipulation make for ‘right,’ etc.

    In the face of the father of that murdered child, such is patently error.

    I point instead to an alternative, that there is a longstanding serious candidate who makes sense of morality: the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    Actually, the only such serious candidate.

    KF

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: From that intro to phil course:

    _____________

    >> Ethics is closely related to, but subtly distinct from, principles and morality. As David Clarke and Robert Rakestraw aptly observe[1]:

    Principles are broad general guidelines that all persons ought to follow. Morality is the dimension of life related to right conduct. It includes virtuous character and honorable intentions as well as the decisions and actions that grow out of them. Ethics on the other hand, is the [philosophical and theological] study of morality . . . [that is,] a higher order discipline that examines moral living in all its facets . . . . on three levels. The first level, descriptive ethics, simply portrays moral actions or virtues. A second level, normative ethics (also called prescriptive ethics), examines the first level, evaluating actions or virtues as morally right or wrong. A third level, metaethics, analyses the second . . . It clarifies the meaning of ethical terms and assesses the principles of ethical argument . . . . Some think, without reflecting on it, that . . . what people actually do is the standard of what is morally right . . . [But, what] actually happens and what ought to happen are quite different . . . . A half century ago, defenders of positivism routinely argued that descriptive statements are meaningful, but prescriptive statements (including all moral claims) are meaningless . . . In other words, ethical claims give no information about the world; they only reveal something about the emotions of the speaker . . . . Yet ethical statements do seem to say something about the realities to which they point. “That’s unfair!” encourages us to attend to circumstances, events, actions, or relationships in the world. We look for a certain quality in the world (not just the speaker’s mind) that we could properly call unfair.

    Thus, we see the focus of ethics as a philosophical discipline, and the major challenges to ethics over the past century: positivism deriving from the naturalist worldview, and relativism, deriving from the assumption that what is and what ought to be are effectively the same.

    Consequently, as Arthur Holmes points out[2], ethics has to address the is-ought gap:

    However we may define the good, however well we may calculate consequences, to whatever extent we may or may not desire certain consequences, none of this of itself implies any obligation of command. That something is or will be does not imply that we ought to seek it. We can never derive an “ought” from a premised “is” unless the ought is somehow already contained in the premise . . . .

    R. M. Hare . . . raises the same point. Most theories, he argues, simply fail to account for the ought that commands us: subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states, egoism and utilitarianism reduce them to statements about consequences, emotivism simply rejects them because they are not empirically verifiable, and determinism reduces them to causes rather than commands . . . .

    Elizabeth Anscombe’s point is well made. We have a problem introducing the ought into ethics unless, as she argues, we are morally obligated by law – not a socially imposed law, ultimately, but divine law . . . . This is precisely the problem with modern ethical theory in the West . . . it has lost the binding force of divine commandments.

    The relevance of this comes out as soon as we consider the concept that we have rights:

    If we admit that we all equally have the right to be treated as persons, then it follows that we have the duty to respect one another accordingly. Rights bring correlative duties: my rights . . . imply that you ought to respect these rights.[3]

    But, why should we consider that people have rights at all? The only enduring answer to this has been aptly summarised in the US Declaration of Independence of 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”

    In short, the is-ought gap of ethics points to the question that rights and correlative duties arise from our being equally valuable as creatures of God. But such claims often do not sit well with modern or post-modern people, who wish to reject the moral argument to God. >>
    _____________

    And, it seems there is the rub.

    For, clearly, objective morals do raise the issue that we are creatures under moral law, thence law-giver, our Creator.

    But if one is sufficiently determined to reject the reality of a Creator, one can then decide to reject that and reverse the implication to deny the objective, binding nature of morality at its core as a law written on our hearts to which our consciences routinely bear testimony.

    Thus, even at the price of burning down the credibility of the consciously aware, reasoning, responsibly deciding, warranting, knowing, acting mind.

    This is beginning to look uncommonly like what we are seeing.

    KF

  128. 128
    Me_Think says:

    KF,
    Mackie’s Argument from Relativity and Argument from Queerness disprove that morality is objective.

  129. 129
    Graham2 says:

    KF: I don’t read your copy/paste exercises, but I think all you have to go on is that ‘it is self evident’. That’s it. Nothing more.

    And if you want people to read your stuff, try being concise. You have been told this many times, it just doesn’t sink in.

  130. 130
    kairosfocus says:

    G2:

    In short you have no answer and dismiss on handy excuses.

    Let’s make it concrete:

    Would it be wrong to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school?

    If you were to come across such in progress, would you consider it a duty to try to rescue the victim, why or why not?

    KF

    PS: Onlookers, take particular note of a change from it would be wrong to personal feelings or perceptions or the like.

    PPS: One of the issues in dealing with many objectors is that a brief remark will predictably be twisted into pretzels and a slower more thorough discussion will be dismissed en bloc or face snip and snipe or go off on tangents.

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    MT, Perhaps you care to elaborate, and to apply to the concrete cases of the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of a young child, and the sense of justice that leads us to want to rescue and to set up courts of justice to deal with such crimes. Along the way, kindly address the mens rea principle used in addressing crime. Then, draw out the implications of general delusion entailed by the widespread perceptions of morally binding obligations; including for systems of justice and the powers and legitimacy of the state. Those are just a few of the matches you are playing with. KF

    PS: Onlookers a read here will help you know what MT alludes to:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....heory.html

    . . . and here is a rebuttal:

    http://www.ohadmaiman.com/disp.....eNumber=20

  132. 132
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It needs to be pointed out that moral obligation is instantly objectively founded once one acknowledges the reality of the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being. Such would be an IS fully capable of grounding OUGHT, and our values would be rooted in the quasi-infinite value we each hold as made in God’s image and valued by him; leading to love your neighbour as yourself as moral yardstick no 1. Something that is of longstanding, even being embedded in key foundational political thought and state papers. More later. KF

  133. 133
    Graham2 says:

    KF: You are terribly slow on the uptake. Of course we all agree its wrong to eat babies, but we are perfectly capable of feeling something is wrong all on our own. We don’t need god to tell us this. Why is this so difficult for you religious types to understand ?

    I imagine there are a small number who disagree, but so what ? I bet you don’t agree with me on the subject of gay marriage … so who is right ? Jeez this is hard work.

    As for ‘personal feelings’ … exactly. That’s what they are, there just happens to near universal agreement on extreme cases (babies etc) but wide dissent on middling cases (gay marriage). Its a spectrum.

  134. 134
    Box says:

    Brent: Morality has not changed. Understanding and beliefs about how morality applies, and to whom (for instance) has changed, but not a whit have they changed in substance. Treating the ‘negro’ as inferior, for instance, was a simple result of “believing” “facts” that were not facts, i.e., that they were actually inferior. It was thought that the morality normally extended to others (or that should be) didn’t apply to their case. It didn’t take a change in morality in any sense whatsoever to start to treat the black man equally, it only took admission that the black man was worthy of being so treated.

    I fully agree with Brent. People share the same (objective) morality, it is our world views that differ. The distinction between morality and world view is repeatedly ignored by both sides in discussions like this.
    Injustice towards others doesn’t stem from a different morality (e.g. ‘I do not have to treat equals equally’) it stems from a world view which informs the criminal that others are inferior.

  135. 135
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Let us again observe how that foundational premise and principle of mutual benevolence of neighbours appears in Locke in his 2nd essay on civil govt, Ch 2 as he grounds what would become modern liberty and democracy on effectively what lies in Paul’s mini exposition on the Golden Rule and universality of key moral perceptions in Rom 2 & 13:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . .

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [–> or, harm] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    . . . by citing “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” in his Ecclesiastical Polity, 1594+ (a work, BTW, praised across the Reformation divide by the then pope):

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    In short, on the premise of the imago dei and resulting quasi-infinite value and moral worth, one can ground our moral government and the general testimony of conscience to core morality and justice. With the state as a guardian of the civil peace of justice. Such, that:

    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
    but to do justice, and to love kindness,[b]
    and to walk humbly with your God?

    This allows us — this is mainly for the onlooker as the objectors already informed us they won’t be reading — to turn the tables, on a worldviews foundation case:

    1 –> As may be easily seen, worldviews must rest on finitely remote first plausibles, on the grounds that infinite regress and circularity are not acceptable. These will be start points for reasoning, best explanatory presuppositions that structure our worldviews on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    2 –> In this, one of our main things is the premise of moral government that comes out as soon as we see the consensus that fairness is binding. If you doubt, just watch quarrels, and listen to conscience. and listen to the ghost of that murdered child.

    3 –> We notice that moral government by the golden rule rooted in the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being makes excellent sense of moral government and allows us to undergo personal and community reformation once we become humble and teachable in the face of evident reason, reality and truth. AKA, willing to admit that X is my neighbour, just as much a quasi-infinite value image bearer of God as I am. (Where also, there are ever so many good reasons otherwise to take the reality of God seriously. Start here for one way forward. Or, here if you want a more worldviews rooted base.)

    4 –> In this frame, we expect conscience to be The Lord’s candle within, to be trained and followed, not snuffed out. And justice then teaches us much and grounds much at personal and family etc levels. Light shines far and wide from a city set on a hill in a dark world.

    5 –> In the other corner, we find that dismissing God and seeking enlightenment everywhere else runs into the IS-OUGHT gap and the looming menace, might and manipulation — however prettified as institutional socialisation and whatnot — make ‘right.’

    6 –> Linked, we see that general delusion is let loose in the mind as conscience’s testimony that we are under moral government must be dismissed as Ruse’s “illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.”

    7 –> So, on subjectivist- relativist views like this the credibility of the perceiving, reasoning, warranting, deciding, acting, knowing mind is undermined fatally in self-referential incoherence.

    8 –> In short, purporting to be in enlightenment, we find ourselves instead in en-darkenment and confusion, prone to manipulation. Which, should ring a few warning bells in and of itself.

    9 –> So the conclusion is obvious, the evident binding nature of ought and moral perceptions rooted in conscience, can be grounded on an ethical theism. Where, the rejection of such ends in evident self referential incoherence.

    ________________

    On this alone, it would be reasonable to accept the premise of a world founded by an inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, and to build life and community on that premise. Light dispels darkness.

    And, we are not left to this alone:

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....l#u1_grnds

    KF

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    G2:

    we all agree its wrong to eat babies, but we are perfectly capable of feeling something is wrong all on our own

    Notice the substitution of a perception for the issue that that perception may be telling us something pivotal about the nature of the world in which we live?

    That switcheroo is key.

    You cannot deny that your conscience speaks, testifying to the value of that child (save, I suppose when it is out of sight inside its mother’s womb . . . ) and moral duties to it. But, you are back at the ugly gulch between the world of perceptions and the world of realities. Including, of course, abstract realities (save, I suppose for numbers . . . ).

    But that voice was never the problem, its presence is undeniable.

    The issue is, does this major aspect of consciously aware mindedness speak truly or is it merely an illusion played by genes, memes and whatnot to induce us to be nice controllable sheeple for our would-be masters to manipulate. As in, might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    If it is illusory, we are looking at general delusion and undermining the credibility of mind. Thence, straightaway self referential incoherence and irrationality in an infinite regress of Plato’s Cave worlds.

    That looks a lot like a reductio to me, and I therefore turn from it.

    Instead, I start from the point that I have no more reason to believe conscience that tells me endangering a baby is wrong is misleading than to believe that the eyes, ears and touch that tell me the baby is there are delusional. That, I sit as a disembodied brain in a vat or the like.

    We are bound by OUGHT and live in a world where there is a foundational IS that grounds OUGHT.

    For that, after centuries of debate, there remains just one adequate, serious candidate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, the root of reality through whom we live, move and have our being.

    KF

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    Box, you are so right, especially when the worldview has Stukas, Panzers and MG34s backing it. KF

  138. 138
    Brent says:

    Graham,

    KF took up where I left off, mostly how I would liked to have said it. My answer would have been yes, we can infer a reality of a moral code that we can’t see (you are imposing a physicalist/materialist test here where none should or could apply) by the testimony of the whole history of the human race (especially since that testimony matches exactly what we find in our own inner voice), just as we would believe the testimony of a great number of people to any other event. It is really only a problem for your kind when it comes to the testimony about miracles or, like now, morality. You are the dogmatist here.

    You said:

    Of course we all agree its wrong to eat babies, but we are perfectly capable of feeling something is wrong all on our own. We don’t need god to tell us this. Why is this so difficult for you religious types to understand?

    Some great equivocation lurking in there. Sure you can feel something is wrong all on your own, without God telling you. I absolutely agree. If, that is, you mean that you can feel something is wrong, all on your own, without God needing to spell it out for you in the sky. I absolutely disagree, however, if you mean that you can determine what is wrong without having an absolute standard to which you can refer in order to make your determination.

    Now, it seems clear that you agree with me and the rest of the human race that this code is within you. You cannot deny it (lest you’d have tried), so you say it is just a product of your environment with no relation to anything. But you’ll not ever dare to live that way.

    This all starts to remind me of what Chesterton said about how atheists deal with sin. They don’t deny sin, but they deny man. By the same standard you question how we can know this moral code, you question your own existence.

  139. 139
    Brent says:

    Thanks, Box. That’s a great way to put it.

  140. 140
    Zachriel says:

    Brent: Morality has not changed.

    Human sacrifice used to be acceptable. Now it’s not.

    Brent: Treating the ‘negro’ as inferior, for instance, was a simple result of “believing” “facts” that were not facts, i.e., that they were actually inferior.

    And the Holocaust was justified as self-defense of the German state, so per your evaluation they were moral, just misguided.

    Every society has morality. That’s because humans are social organisms, and the moral sense evolved so as to create social cohesion. That doesn’t make it objective. It’s still dependent on the human perspective, and sentient mantises would reach different moral conclusions.
    http://tinyurl.com/sentientmantises

    It’s also dependent on the social context, as history shows.

    kairosfocus: Would it be wrong to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school?

    At one time, child sacrifice was morally acceptable, even a moral duty.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sacrifice

  141. 141
    Box says:

    Zac,

    Brent: Morality has not changed.

    Zac: Human sacrifice used to be acceptable. Now it’s not.

    Completely missing the point presented by Brent. Why is it that everything has to be spelled out to you? Ok here goes again …

    Suppose that world view informs the Mayans that human sacrifice – though in itself reprehensible – is necessary for survival of the community. IOW morality has not changed (Brent’s point), but world view did.
    Secondly, is it not acceptable today to “sacrifice” young men (soldiers) for the benefit of the society as a whole?

  142. 142
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Suppose that world view informs the Mayas that human sacrifice – though in itself reprehensible – is necessary for survival of the community.

    That was their belief. So to answer kairosfocus’s question, “Would it be wrong to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school?”, the answer is, according to your evaluation, “It depends.”

    Box: Completely missing the point presented by Brent. Why is it that everything has to be spelled out to you?

    We understood the point fine, and it leads to saying that the morality of child sacrifice, ethnic cleansing, and enslaving women are context dependent.

    Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

    Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.

    Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

    Conan: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

    Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

    There are commonalities in human experience. The moral sense is innate in humans, and is thought to have evolved to enhance social cohesion. That’s why it is often expressed in terms of the in-group and out-group dynamic. It’s okay to kill the enemy, but not one of your own. It’s okay to sacrifice a child for the greater good of the community. Human morality is dependent on the human perspective, and sentient mantises would reach different moral conclusions.
    http://tinyurl.com/sentientmantises

  143. 143
    Box says:

    Zac: So to answer kairosfocus’s question, “Would it be wrong to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school?”, the answer is, according to your evaluation, “It depends.”

    Sigh. You have also failed to understand the point of KF’s example: it is context (world view) independent.
    So no, that would not be my evaluation at all. KF’s example attempts to explain to the blind that there is a limit to what world view can do.
    If you still don’t get it, I dare you to present a world view that answers Kairosfocus’s question with “No, it’s not wrong”.

  144. 144
    Zachriel says:

    Box: I dare you to present a world view that answers Kairosfocus’s question with “No, it’s not wrong”.

    We already did. It’s called child sacrifice, which was once considered not only morally acceptable, but a moral duty. Those people answered “No, it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s the right thing to do!”

    We’ve provided other examples. Mongols slaughtered the men, and took the women. This wasn’t for self-defense, but because they wanted to conquer the weak and take what they wanted. “That is good! That is good.”

  145. 145
    Me_Think says:

    KF @ 131,
    The objections to argument from relativity are pretty weak.The author just says ‘It'(objective way) is misunderstood. Where is the proof that ‘it’ is objective?:

    But if you acknowledge that beliefs heavily influence our evaluative concepts, it is plausible to say that moral disagreements can stem from seemingly contradicting or inadequate evidence, leaving the attacked objectivity in tact under the Realist view that variations only prove that many are not getting it right. “It” being the objective way true morality is.

    As for Argument from Queerness, he says he hasn’t figured what objective might be:

    I would here claim that since values are internally human, the “objective” moral truth would be the one that best fits human needs, even if we are still far from figuring out what might that be

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, child sacrifice was advocated and practised by depraved communities, indeed it is argued that by doing the utterly repugnant they proved their loyalties to their gods. And yes, conscience can be benumbed, as is quite evident in our day with hundreds of millions of victims of abortion effectively on demand. That’s one reason why objective foundational moral principles are so vital . . . they are the basis for reformation. KF

    PS: I hardly need to remind you of judge Jackson’s retort to the attempt of Nazi officers to plead that relative to community standards and orders of duly appointed powers, they acted legitimately in what they did. Namely, that there is a known higher, even transcendent law of our nature that stands above and judges man-made laws.

  147. 147
    kairosfocus says:

    MT: Let’s read, for starters:

    Mackie’s argument aims at establishing moral relativism by stripping Realism of the objective basis of moral grounding. A general immediate response to his argument from the Realist side would be that diversity shows widespread confusion but does not as much as touch the objectivity of values. The argument from queerness would be dropped as not too impressive for all it eventually does is show why Philosophy is a complicated and sophisticated field. Out of more specific philosophical frameworks Davidson might insist that all communicators share by and large agreement, deeming the argument from diversity powerless. He might also acknowledge that objective values can sound like a queer proposition that is hard to trace “out there” but that this is only due to the Holistic structure of contingent abstract concepts. Putnam, adhering to the law of the excluded middle and to an internally realist perspective, would also counter the argument from relativity on the grounds that many false theories that seem to fit the world are acceptable as false without harming the claim for one true theory. The fact that our assessments are clouded by our point of view only grants diversity of assessments as much as diversity of points of view but does not carry any claim for truth; the fact that everyone is still running around in circles, unable to find true objective values, does not prove that there aren’t any, it just proves people have a hard time trying to be objective.

    KF

    PS: For afters try here.

  148. 148
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Z, child sacrifice was advocated and practised by depraved communities

    They would would disagree, saying they were being sincerely devout. You certainly reject their view, confirming that what is considered moral depends on social context.

  149. 149
    Me_Think says:

    Zac @ 148,

    They would would disagree, saying they were being sincerely devout. You certainly reject their view, confirming that what is considered moral depends on social context.

    KF, note that what zac says is true, and that is exactly what Mackie’s Argument from Relativity is.

  150. 150
  151. 151
    Box says:

    Zac,

    Box: I dare you to present a world view that answers Kairosfocus’s question with “No, it’s not wrong”.

    Zac: We already did. It’s called child sacrifice, which was once considered not only morally acceptable, but a moral duty. Those people answered “No, it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s the right thing to do!”

    Religious child sacrifice – however depraved – does not equate to “kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school”. So no, you did not present a world view that answers Kairosfocus’s question with “No, it’s not wrong”.

    Of course you are fully aware of the fact that you did not. When will you start to debate honestly?

  152. 152
    Timmy says:

    Zachriel:

    Attempting to explain genuine morality by way of group status only demonstrates that group status is indefinite and meaningless.

    The explanatory power of “morality equals in-group/out-group because evolution” falls apart when it comes to the ascendancy of Christianity civilization, because 1) Christianity completely ignores group status “love your enemy”, 2) completely ignores self-interest “turn the other cheek”, and 3) demonstrates through its meteoric rise that humans have indeed been programmed with objective morality.

    Contrast with the various fake “moral systems” humans have experienced, which can be reduced to group status/self-interest: the one moral system which throws group status out the window is the one that won. It won because it appealed to that objective moral programming, which is apparently very strong when compared with self-interest.

  153. 153
    Zachriel says:

    Box: “kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school”

    Heh. So you’re problem is with the “on the way home from school” part? Would on the way to the temple to watch the human sacrifices be more acceptable? Seriously, the whole point is that there are differences in moral behavior. Today, people send their kids to school. Yesterday, the family packed a picnic lunch to watch them hang a horse thief.

  154. 154
    Zachriel says:

    Box: “kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault and asphyxiate a child on the way home from school”

    Heh. So you’re problem is with the “on the way home from school” part? Would on the way to the temple to watch the human sacrifices be more acceptable? Seriously, the whole point is that there are differences in moral behavior. Today, people send their kids to school. Yesterday, the family packed a picnic lunch to watch them hang a horse thief.

  155. 155
    kairosfocus says:

    MT,

    did you see the slip-slide switcheroo again? What is CONSIDERED moral is not what is moral. Just as what is CONSIDERED true is not what is true.

    The underlying issue is you have likely decided a priori that there are no moral truths so all that is left is opinion.

    So, if you don’t mind: do moral truths exist?

    In particular, is it true that it is evil to kidnap, sexually assault and asphyxiate a young child for pleasure?

    I suggest to you that if you hold there are no moral truths, that implies the frank answer is no, it is not true that this deed is wrong.

    The implications of such a view are precisely the opening the door for nihilism and the reductio of introducing general delusion into thought-life that I have already highlighted.

    The case — a real one — also exposes the moral blindness that passes for enlightenment in our day.

    Let me clip from an excerpt above [in a course unit I taught some years back] due to Clarke and Rakestraw, which I doubt you and other objectors took time to read:

    Principles are broad general guidelines that all persons ought to follow. Morality is the dimension of life related to right conduct. It includes virtuous character and honorable intentions as well as the decisions and actions that grow out of them. Ethics on the other hand, is the [philosophical and theological] study of morality . . . [that is,] a higher order discipline that examines moral living in all its facets . . . . on three levels. The first level, descriptive ethics, simply portrays moral actions or virtues. A second level, normative ethics (also called prescriptive ethics), examines the first level, evaluating actions or virtues as morally right or wrong. A third level, metaethics, analyses the second . . . It clarifies the meaning of ethical terms and assesses the principles of ethical argument . . . . Some think, without reflecting on it, that . . . what people actually do is the standard of what is morally right . . . [But, what] actually happens and what ought to happen are quite different . . . . A half century ago, defenders of positivism routinely argued that descriptive statements are meaningful, but prescriptive statements (including all moral claims) are meaningless . . . In other words, ethical claims give no information about the world; they only reveal something about the emotions of the speaker . . . . Yet ethical statements do seem to say something about the realities to which they point. “That’s unfair!” encourages us to attend to circumstances, events, actions, or relationships in the world. We look for a certain quality in the world (not just the speaker’s mind) that we could properly call unfair. [Readings in Christian Ethics, Vol. 1: Theory and Method. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), pp. 18 – 19.]

    I again remind, the idea of an ugly unbridgeable gulch between our inner mental life and the world of objective reality of things in themselves is self-refuting, though subtly so. To claim we have no knowledge of the external world actually claims high confidence in several knowledge claims about that world.

    We are back to the problem that if conscience is delusional in telling us we are under moral government, then that injects general delusion into mind. And there are no firewalls, the responsible, rational mind would be fatally undermined.

    Reductio.

    Let us go elsewhere and build afresh on sounder footing.

    Starting with, we have no better reason to doubt conscience in general than reasoning or perception and consciousness.

    And, we will not burn down the life of the mind to please those who refuse to acknowledge that the Is grounding OUGHT may be One utterly unpalatable to them.

    KF

  156. 156
    Zachriel says:

    Timmy: Attempting to explain genuine morality by way of group status only demonstrates that group status is indefinite and meaningless.

    Not meaningless to those who belong to groups. People often have a strong affinity for their memberships, whether national, political, religious, military, even athletic.

    Timmy: The explanatory power of “morality equals in-group/out-group because evolution” falls apart when it comes to the ascendancy of Christianity civilization, because 1) Christianity completely ignores group status “love your enemy”, 2) completely ignores self-interest “turn the other cheek”, and 3) demonstrates through its meteoric rise that humans have indeed been programmed with objective morality.

    Christianity is about salvation, so you forgive your enemy for your own sake. However, it extends in-group status based on a set of beliefs. This led to numerous wars between Christian sects, not to mention persecution of the Jews.

    Timmy: It won because it appealed to that objective moral programming, which is apparently very strong when compared with self-interest.

    We agree that people have a strong moral sense. This doesn’t always lead to the results you prefer, however. Furthermore, even if humans shared the same moral beliefs, that doesn’t make it objective, but simply a shared trait.

  157. 157
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, kindly cf just above. On the way home from school or on orders of kings and priests of Molech or whoever makes utterly no difference. And, self sacrifice of soldiers fighting in what they credibly believe is a just cause is a lesser of evils in the face of say a Schicklegruber talking about German cats and Polish Mice. They failed, but in initially cracking Enigma, opened the way to victory. And such is utterly different from soldiers trying to plead that orders are orders in the face of evidence that they murdered millions of Poles [half the Jewish side of the holocaust and two million other Poles out of was it 20 millions, and add in 25 million Russians (using terms loosely) by far and away most not on the battlefield]. Failure to discern such is telling. KF

  158. 158
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: On the way home from school or on orders of kings and priests of Molech or whoever makes utterly no difference.

    If child sacrifice was considered a moral duty, then it answers your question above, “No, it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s the right thing to do!”

  159. 159
    logically_speaking says:

    “Do to others what you want them to do to you”.

    Is an objective morality.

  160. 160
    Brent says:

    Zachriel,

    You’re late to the punch. I’ve already said flatly that, yes, to them (pick any of the examples above), they believed (meaning by rationalization) they were acting morally. There yet remains the question of whether they ACTUALLY acted morally. Now I can sit here and say “NO! They didn’t”, and you are going to tell me an assertion is not proof. But you are sitting here saying “Yes! They did”, and likewise your assertion is not proof. You are just asserting your point without showing anything.

    I said above that, the ‘white man’ and the Nazi believed they were within moral bounds (but through rationalization), and yet they are without excuse. We are only talking about equality in application of the moral law, not about the essence of it. For, even the societies who practiced such atrocities as child sacrifice still had a moral intuition that said they should not be selfish and “sacrifice more than their share, leaving their neighbors with no one to sacrifice.” That is sickening to put it that way (I hope you agree), but the point remains; even those societies will show they know the moral law. I’m sure they knew they were acting wickedly even as they sacrificed their children. You do to, right?

    Here is a case to prove it. Think of a murderous drug cartel. Do you really think that they believe they are acting morally? Their lives are totally enmeshed in murder, lying, stealing, etc. In their society, literally, they are within their “societal code”, if you will, in each of the evil things they do. Do YOU really believe that THEY actually believe they are doing no wrong? And next: Do they ACT as if they know they are doing wrong? They don’t. They have rationalized their actions.

    Likewise, societies in the past (and even presently) rationalize their wicked behavior.

  161. 161
    Brent says:

    And it is just dawning on me that you are emphatically, though not knowingly, stating that you don’t believe in morality on any level; everything goes.

    How so? In trying to prove your point, you are actually saying that everything every society ever did (or is doing or will do) was moral, because obviously, they did it, and they wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t believe it was moral, which alone makes it moral. I.E., everything goes.

    Now, the gulf between us is that, while the objectivist says objective morality actually exists, we do not claim that every society, even if they know that objective moral law perfectly, lives up to it.

  162. 162
    Timmy says:

    Zachriel,

    “Not meaningless to those who belong to groups.”

    Nice dodge. Obviously group status is very meaningful. Just not in the context of genuine morality, or explanations for genuine morality.

    “Christianity is about salvation, so you forgive your enemy for your own sake.”

    Spare the theological spin, nobody cares: Christians do not do good “for their own sake”, sorry. We are supposed to do it for the sake of being good. Lol.

    “However, it extends in-group status based on a set of beliefs. This led to numerous wars between Christian sects, not to mention persecution of the Jews.”

    Can you read? What part of “love your enemy” or “turn the other cheek” makes the slightest bit of sense in the context of your group-status evolutionary explanation? None of it. This silly observation about “Christian” wars only reflects back to the only reasonable explanation of human behavior in this context: we have objective morality programmed into us, but our sense of it is corrupted and obscured. Christianity reveals and/or taps into that objective morality, which is what people found appealing.

    “We agree that people have a strong moral sense.”

    No, you don’t. You think that people have a strong sense of self-interest which results in behavior based on group status. That’s not morality. If we are going to bother using the term “morality”, then we will be using it to refer to something that can’t be reduced to self-interest.

    And I agree with you: if evolution where true, morality wouldn’t exist–only self-interest and group status. But morality does exist. Jesus proved that better than anyone, by throwing out self-interest and group status as a basis for behavior and reminding us of the objective morality that we already knew. Therefore, evolution is not true.

  163. 163
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, there you go chasing the tail in a subjectivist circle again, and in so doing making a strawmanish substitution and distorting the issue. The issue at stake, is not what people may consider or power groups may declare is right, but what is right. And, the warrant for such, in the context of the strong testimony of conscience. There is credibly such a warrant, just it is not palatable to those who find such a Shadow on their doorstep utterly repugnant. And, it seems are perfectly willing to burn down the credibility of the mind to do so. KF

  164. 164
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, you are putting your finger on the problem of cultural relativism that the moral reformer calling for change is the immoral one precisely because s/he rejects the consensus. And, that appeal to almighty consensus dominated by “our” elites should trip a lot of warning flags, as well as sounding oh so familiar. KF

  165. 165
    Zachriel says:

    logically_speaking: “Do to others what you want them to do to you”. Is an objective morality.

    objective, of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers

    Independent observers disagree. For instance, someone who supports the aristocracy won’t think that you should treat their vassals the same as their liege lord.

    logically_speaking: There yet remains the question of whether they ACTUALLY acted morally.

    Thought the question was whether morality was objective.

    logically_speaking: But you are sitting here saying “Yes! They did”, and likewise your assertion is not proof.

    Proof of what? That we find their actions moral? No, we don’t. That we think morality is objective? There is wide variation in moral attitudes, and independent observers differ substantially. It’s clear that morality is subjective. Even though people share many of the same viewpoints, morality is still particular to the social situation, even to the specific organism.

    Timmy: Obviously group status is very meaningful. Just not in the context of genuine morality, or explanations for genuine morality.

    All true Scotsmen agree.

    Timmy: You think that people have a strong sense of self-interest which results in behavior based on group status.

    That is not our position. People often exhibit selflessness. They are more likely to exhibit this characteristic for those to whom they feel attachment, but will sometimes exhibit selflessness towards strangers.

    Timmy: if evolution where true, morality wouldn’t exist–only self-interest and group status.

    You keep using “group status” is different ways. Do you mean gaining status within a group, or the feeling of belonging to the group?

    kairosfocus: The issue at stake, is not what people may consider or power groups may declare is right, but what is right.

    Objective means independent of the individual observer, but it’s clear that people differ substantially over moral questions.

  166. 166
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    First, objective as opposed to subjective addresses that something is capable of reasonable (though perhaps provisional) warrant, not that it is a physical entity in itself.

    That obtains, for instance, for the expression

    0 = 1 + e^i*pi, which involves an imaginary number serving as an exponent and two transcendentals (thus also the infinite and products involving such series)

    And likewise for F = m*a, a mathematical relationship that describes interactions that constrain physical phenomena under certain circumstances. (think about acceleration as the second rate of change of displacement . . . )

    That people may differ over moral claims only means that error is possible and perhaps prevalent in certain cases.

    It has nothing to do with whether or no such principles can be reasonably warranted.

    Especially in a context where it has been brought to attention in this thread and elsewhere, that the testimony of our consciences, which is quite firm on things like murder, and especially cases like the one you keep skirting: it is wrong to kidnap, torture, sexually assault and murder a young child.

    Wrong tot he point of being self evidently so.

    Wrong to the point that those whose views are not consistent with that declaration, skirt it.

    Wrong, to the point that anyone who would actually directly disagree, would thereby identify him or herself as seriously morally deficient.

    Wrong, to the point that worldviews that imply the contrary, such as the sort of evolutionary materialism of a Ruse or a Dawkins that would imply that conscience is illusory insofar as it says there is a standard that this violates, imply onwards the presence of general delusion in our minds, thence collapse of the credibility of the self-aware, reasoning mind.

    Which is a reductio.

    Wrong, to the point that the worldviews that entail such reductios can be on the strength of just this one case and others like it, set apart as themselves gross errors.

    But of course, that challenge is the real problem.

    KF

  167. 167
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zac

    Objective means independent of the individual observer, but it’s clear that people differ substantially over moral questions.

    The same is true with regard to scientific observations. But we consider them objective because they are external or independent of the individual observer.

    Objective morality differs from subjective morality because an objective code can be referenced external to the individual. It does not mean that because a moral code is objective that it is necessarily the single, universally true, complete code of human morality.

    To determine the truth of the moral values within any particular objective moral code is a different process.

    Aristotle’s code of virtues is an objective moral code. It is a philosophical system defended by reason, referencing universal human values and adopted by a community of followers who recognized Aristotle’s teaching as authoritative. That’s an objective moral code. It can be accessed and evaluated.

    Epicurus’ teaching on morality is also an objective moral code which differs considerably from Aristotle’s. In many ways, it’s based on the same universal human values but interpreted differently.

    Both of those codes can be compared and evaluated for their truthfulness, consistency, completeness and meaning.

    The same cannot be done for subjective morality. A subjective code is known only to the individual. It cannot be accessed, evaluated or understood – and it does not need to be fixed or consistent. Its not intended or directed to anyone but the individual.

  168. 168
    Box says:

    If moral principles are applied according to world view, and I hold that they are, then the correct world view – the truth – leads to the correct application of moral principles; IOW objective morality.

    Suppose a person who gradually discovers the truth and gets there at the age of 60. Did moral principles change during the course of his adult life? I think not. By learning the truth he was presented the capability to apply those unchanging moral principles correctly. I think of those moral principles as unchanging pieces of a puzzle waiting for a coherent and correct context – world view.

    An ill-informed judge doesn’t rule unfairly because of his moral principles, but because he simply doesn’t know the truth.

  169. 169
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: and especially cases like the one you keep skirting: it is wrong to kidnap, torture, sexually assault and murder a young child.

    Skirt it? We keep referring to it. Human sacrifice has been common in many societies. Not only did they think it not wrong, but they thought “It’s the right thing to do!”

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, you are right as regards the difference between objective and absolute; not to mention, true. An objective moral code that is reasonably warranted, is one that may be held by a reasonable person as binding. As obtains for the case of the kidnapping and sexual assault then murder of a young child. KF

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, you and your ilk keep converting the question at stake into a matter of perceptions and views of cultures, which is very different. And in the teeth of repeated caution on the switch. KF

  172. 172
    Zachriel says:

    Box: An ill-informed judge doesn’t rule unfairly because of his moral principles, but because he simply doesn’t know the truth.

    It has to do with values. Nowadays, people apply a very high value to the individual. But it was not always so. In most of human history, people divided themselves into various groups, with some groups having much higher value than others. Indeed, even today, people don’t consider everyone of equal value despite the rhetoric.

    People value their own families higher than other people. They value their own tribes higher than other people. (Through most of human history, tribes were usually a group of closely related people.) People distrust people different from themselves. (Again, people are generally more closely related to those who look like themselves.) They value their own nation and religion higher than those of other nations and religions. (Do we really have to peruse the internet to find examples?) Only recently have large numbers of people become humanists, but they are subject to scorn or worse by nationalists and religionists. The in-group out-group dynamic is alive and well.

  173. 173
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: The same is true with regard to scientific observations. But we consider them objective because they are external or independent of the individual observer.

    The consistency of observation between observers is an important test of objectivity.

    Silver Asiatic: Objective morality differs from subjective morality because an objective code can be referenced external to the individual.

    Subjective morality can still be codified, either by fiat, or by mutual agreement.

  174. 174
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: you and your ilk keep converting the question at stake into a matter of perceptions and views of cultures, which is very different.

    Ah, we’re a member of an ilk.

    In any case, if the claim is that morality is objective, then the perception of independent observers is, of course, relevant, even if not the only possible criteria.

  175. 175
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    An objective moral code that is reasonably warranted, is one that may be held by a reasonable person as binding. As obtains for the case of the kidnapping and sexual assault then murder of a young child.

    That’s an essential point that is usually missed in these discussions. The reason the code is adopted and is binding is also non-subjective. It is because the code points to universal, external values that the person is bound by it.

    With subjectivism, the reason the person codes values as good or bad is person – it’s not because of the authority or presence of external moral values.

    In the objective moral code, there are two basic reasons – both objective – that the person accepts the code: 1. Conscience points to binding values external to the individual. 2. God is the creator and source of the moral law.

  176. 176
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Z

    Subjective morality can still be codified, either by fiat, or by mutual agreement.

    Once it is codified it is no longer subjective. It is external to the individual.

  177. 177
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: The reason the code is adopted and is binding is also non-subjective. It is because the code points to universal, external values that the person is bound by it.

    Subjective morality can be codified, either by fiat, or by mutual agreement.

    Silver Asiatic: Conscience points to binding values external to the individual.

    Most people have an active moral sense. But even when they agree on matters of conscience, that doesn’t mean it is objective. It just means it is shared.

  178. 178
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Once it is codified it is no longer subjective. It is external to the individual.

    The code is external, but that doesn’t make morality objective.

  179. 179
    Timmy says:

    Zachriel,

    “All true Scotsmen agree.”

    If true Scotsmen are logical Scotsmen, sure.

    “People often exhibit selflessness. They are more likely to exhibit this characteristic for those to whom they feel attachment, but will sometimes exhibit selflessness towards strangers.”

    And people who recognize objective morality are not only vastly more likely to exhibit selflessness to strangers, but also to enemies. Are you getting, yet, that “group status” is good explanation for the behavior of selfish people, but not for moral people?

    “You keep using “group status” is different ways.”

    No, I don’t. I mean, by group status, exactly what you mean.

    “People value their own families higher than other people […]”

    The explanatory power breaks down when investigating people who recognize the objective morality, demonstrating that the “group status” theory is false or incomplete.

    “The consistency of observation between observers is an important test of objectivity.”

    So is comparing apples to apples, as in not mistaking self-interested behavior for “moral” behavior.

  180. 180
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Z

    The code is external, but that doesn’t make morality objective.

    Once it is external it can be accessed and evaluated as an objective entity. It makes it an objective moral code – as with Aristotle’s code of virtue.

    The code is adopted for reasons other than subectivity.

  181. 181
    Box says:

    Zac: It has to do with values. Nowadays, people apply a very high value to the individual.

    This value isn’t applied from nowhere. It’s applied because our world view (in the western world) has changed.

  182. 182
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zac

    Most people have an active moral sense. But even when they agree on matters of conscience, that doesn’t mean it is objective. It just means it is shared.

    I wasn’t referring to shared values or a consensus. Conscience refers to values external to the individual when the individual feels the need to answer to values that are independent of the individual.

    A person who feels guilt within conscience can feel a higher value “calling” him to correct or repair or make amends for the guilty act.

    This is non-subjective in experience because the individual is not inventing or choosing the values that the conscience is pointing to.

  183. 183
    Zachriel says:

    Timmy: If true Scotsmen are logical Scotsmen, sure.

    It’s a reference to a well-known fallacy. What is the difference between “genuine morality” and garden-variety morality?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

    Timmy: And people who recognize objective morality are not only vastly more likely to exhibit selflessness to strangers, but also to enemies.

    Not sure why you think that. It has more to do with attachment or compassion in most cases, than some rarefied morality.

    Timmy: Are you getting, yet, that “group status” is good explanation for the behavior of selfish people, but not for moral people?

    We asked you to explain how you are using “group status”. You didn’t answer. Do you mean gaining status within a group, or the feeling of belonging to the group?

    Someone who sacrifices their life for their fellow in battle is hardly acting selfishly.

    Timmy: The explanatory power breaks down when investigating people who recognize the objective morality, demonstrating that the “group status” theory is false or incomplete.

    There are very few who don’t protect and nurture their own children over others.

    As for the “genuine” altruist, that is just an extension of the in-group to all of humanity. It’s rare. As we pointed out, humanists are often derided or worse by those who have a strong affinity for in-groups.

    The question, remember, is whether morality is objective, not whether some people are altruistic or not.

    Silver Asiatic: Once it is external it can be accessed and evaluated as an objective entity. It makes it an objective moral code – as with Aristotle’s code of virtue.

    If you only argument is that people can agree to codes of conduct, then sure. We usually call these codes of law, not moral codes, especially as the implications of laws are not always found to be moral for everyone. Most people mean something else when they say morality is objective.

    Box: This value isn’t applied from nowhere. It’s applied because our world view (in the western world) has changed.

    That’s right! There’s been a historical transition which has placed a higher and more equitable value on human life. Moral values have changed over history.

  184. 184
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Conscience refers to values external to the individual when the individual feels the need to answer to values that are independent of the individual.

    Conscience is clearly internal.

    Silver Asiatic: This is non-subjective in experience because the individual is not inventing or choosing the values that the conscience is pointing to.

    The individual doesn’t choose to get angry and kick the dog. People are born that way. They like candy better than a hot poker in the eye. They love their children. They hate their boss.

  185. 185
  186. 186
    Brent says:

    Zach,

    Would you tell me of any society that has upheld selfishness as a virtue?

    Will you find the society that thought it good to be a coward?

    Could you show me the society which said killing for no good reason was fine?

    Please introduce me to the society that thought stealing from their neighbor was praiseworthy.

    I’d like to be informed of the society who encouraged their young children to grow into robust liars.

    Please show us the society that thought it good to cheat in sport or business.

    TIA

  187. 187
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zac

    The individual doesn’t choose to get angry and kick the dog. People are born that way.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with work done towards moral education in many areas like criminal rehabilitation, psychological therapy, addiction recovery or anger management where the belief is that the individual makes choices about his moral actions. Work is done to help the person make better moral choices.

    It sounds like you disagree with that point of view.

  188. 188
    Box says:

    Zac: There’s been a historical transition which has placed a higher and more equitable value on human life. Moral values have changed over history.

    Nope, unchanging moral principles are applied differently in accord with different world views.
    When you no longer consider someone inferior, you don’t change your moral principles – you change the application of your moral principles.

  189. 189
    Timmy says:

    Zachriel,

    “It’s a reference to a well-known fallacy. What is the difference between “genuine morality” and garden-variety morality?”

    And I was mocking your reference for being misapplied. The difference is, genuine morality cannot be reduced to self-interest. Call your garden variety “morality” what it is: self-interest.

    “Not sure why you think that. It has more to do with attachment or compassion in most cases, than some rarefied morality.”

    Given all your talk about how morality can be reduced to group status, the substantial evidence of moral behavior that ignores group status (mainly by Christians) makes your response seem a bit silly. What, are people who become Christians genetically predisposed to be more compassionate? Lol.

    “We asked you to explain how you are using “group status”. You didn’t answer. Do you mean gaining status within a group, or the feeling of belonging to the group?”

    I did answer. I answered very, very clearly.

    “Someone who sacrifices their life for their fellow in battle is hardly acting selfishly.

    Lol, the whole basis of the “morality from groups” nonsense is that it’s just a higher order of selfishness. Individual members of the group tend to be better off if they occasionally sacrifice for the good of the group. I think you know this.

    “As for the “genuine” altruist, that is just an extension of the in-group to all of humanity. It’s rare.”

    We’re not talking about altruism, remember? We’re talking about objective morality. If altruism was merely an evolutionary defect, it would be rare. But because what you call altruism is really just an expression of programmed (but corrupted) objective morality, it is no surprise that you can get so many people to practice it.

    “There’s been a historical transition which has placed a higher and more equitable value on human life. Moral values have changed over history.”

    Yeah, because of people recognizing and appealing to objective morality, and throwing out “group status” as the primary factor in “moral” behavior.

  190. 190
    Piotr says:

    Brent,

    You list a number of antisocial behaviours and ask if societies tolerate them. Game theory will tell you that such behaviour, if practiced by a sufficiently large proportion of individuals, will make cooperation impossible. Society will disintegrate. It follows that stable societies have to restrict such behaviour if they are to survive.

    Note, however, that if “neighbours” belong to an out-group, many communities don’t mind killing them, taking away their property, cheating them in business, etc. They might even regard such behaviour as patriotic and praiseworthy.

    Or, say, “is it OK to kill animals for sport”? Many people in our own civilisation think it’s perfectly fine. The great Christian philosopher and moralist William Lane Craig, Doctor Invincibilis, has recently argued that animals (other than the great apes and humans) don’t “really” suffer ’cause they lack WLC’s sophisticated neural pathways allowing him to experience a higher-order awareness of having subjective mental states. Therefore, they are not aware of being in pain. If they show its symptoms — kicking about and screaming when you torture them — it’s only a physiological reaction without any moral significance. What can I say? I’m glad there’s no chance WLC could ever get near my family pets.

  191. 191
    Zachriel says:

    Brent: Would you tell me of any society that has upheld selfishness as a virtue? …

    There are many commonalities in human culture. That doesn’t make morality objective, just shared.

    Silver Asiatic: Work is done to help the person make better moral choices. It sounds like you disagree with that point of view.

    Nope.

    Box: When you no longer consider someone inferior, you don’t change your moral principles – you change the application of your moral principles.

    The basic moral equation is in-group out-group dynamics. The in-group has become more inclusive, and nowadays is primarily expressed on the national or religious level.

    Timmy: I did answer. I answered very, very clearly.

    Perhaps you could provide a link to how you are using the term “group status”.

    Timmy: Lol, the whole basis of the “morality from groups” nonsense is that it’s just a higher order of selfishness.

    No. Someone who sacrifices themselves for others is selfless by any reasonable definition. You are conflating different meanings of “group status”.

    Timmy: Given all your talk about how morality can be reduced to group status, the substantial evidence of moral behavior that ignores group status (mainly by Christians) makes your response seem a bit silly.

    All societies have individuals who exhibit out-group altruism, just as all societies have people who define their in-group narrowly. Interesting how you defined your own group as ‘superior’ in this regard.

    Timmy: If altruism was merely an evolutionary defect, it would be rare.

    Not sure why you would consider it a defect. It is obviously an expression of human nature.

  192. 192
    Timmy says:

    Z:

    “Perhaps you could provide a link to how you are using the term “group status”. “

    As I already said, I’m using it the same way you are. What other way would I be using it?

    No. Someone who sacrifices themselves for others is selfless by any reasonable definition. You are conflating different meanings of “group status”. “

    Uh, actually yes. That is the whole point of the evolutionary explanation: to reduce selflessness to selfishness, by way of in-group/out-group status. Sacrificing for the group isn’t really sacrificing.

    “All societies have individuals who exhibit out-group altruism, just as all societies have people who define their in-group narrowly. Interesting how you defined your own group as ‘superior’ in this regard.”

    Nice dodge. Your claim is that what is considered “moral” is fundamentally based on who is in what group. No one ever said you didn’t accept the existence of altruistic outliers. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the Christian phenomenon, which your “group” theory doesn’t explain. What explains it is that Jesus (being, if you will, the Source of objective morality) illuminated objective morality for mankind. The effect was staggering. Attributing it to altruistic outliers is laughable.

    “There are many commonalities in human culture. That doesn’t make morality objective, just shared.”
    Lol, you might as well say that mathematics is merely shared, not objective. We can be reasonably certain that morality is objective because, like other truths, it has a remarkable power to displace nonsense.

  193. 193
    Box says:

    Zac: The basic moral equation is in-group out-group dynamics.

    This is also covered by world view. Unchanging moral principles are applied differently when ones world view implies that members of the out-group are e.g. inferior.

  194. 194
    Zachriel says:

    Timmy: As I already said, I’m using it the same way you are.

    We’ve avoided the term. We used the term “in-group status” once to indicate membership in the in-group. Is that what you mean, whether someone is a member of the group? If so, why have you resisted simply saying so?

    Timmy: Uh, actually yes. That is the whole point of the evolutionary explanation: to reduce selflessness to selfishness, by way of in-group/out-group status. Sacrificing for the group isn’t really sacrificing.

    That doesn’t mean the person isn’t acting selflessly. When a lion suckles her young, and protects them from danger, she does it out of maternal love. That this love is a evolutionary advantage isn’t her motivation.

    Timmy: We’re talking about the Christian phenomenon, which your “group” theory doesn’t explain.

    Christians were very much the in-group and persecuted out-groups for centuries, even other Christians who might have a slightly different flavor of doctrine. Is that what you mean?

    Box: Unchanging moral principles are applied differently when ones world view implies that members of the out-group are e.g. inferior.

    You might want to expand on which “unchanging moral principles” you have in mind.

  195. 195
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Z

    If you only argument is that people can agree to codes of conduct, then sure. We usually call these codes of law, not moral codes, especially as the implications of laws are not always found to be moral for everyone. Most people mean something else when they say morality is objective.

    My argument is to distinguish first between subjective and objective morality. Objective moral codes are given as universal and for the moral improvement of the person. Aristotle’s code of virtue is not a set of laws to regulate society, for example – but are for the betterment of the individual. They’re moral laws or values – seen to be part of human nature and also given by God. They’re fixed in that sense.

    That’s very different from a set of civil laws, for example as well as from subjective moral values.

  196. 196
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I’d like to be informed of the society who encouraged their young children to grow into robust liars.

    Truth-telling is a good example of an objective moral value (not an entire code itself, but one value in a code).

    Without the moral virtue of telling the truth (even to oneself), no analysis could be done. If equal moral value is assigned to truth and falsehood, it would be impossible to determine the value of anything.

    So to talk about morality at all, the objective moral value of truth-telling is necessary and must be recognized as such.

  197. 197
    kairosfocus says:

    Piotr,

    When Jesus was challenged on “who is my neighbour,” do you know what he did?

    Hint, it’s in the link on discussing objective morality (I just didn’t include it all here. Y’know, all that long boring complicated stuff that isn’t worth the bother to look at; everybody knows these Christians are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked . . . they cannot have anything serious to say.)

    Let me clip straight from the translated eyewitness lifetime, prime source report on public challenges to that controversial Galilean people were viewing as a prophet or even more and who was stirring the ire of the power brokers:

    Luke 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

    29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    30 Jesus replied,

    “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

    36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

    37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” [ESV]

    To understand, there were racial and religious differences going back hundreds of years and some deep resentments on both sides to the point of ingrained enmity. In that toxic atmosphere, Jesus’ parable on neighbourliness and lack of neighbourliness . . . and who was not being neighbourly [and you betcha this was close to home or it would have been hotly answered] . . . was a rhetorical, spiritual and ethical earthquake.

    So, that is the scriptural paradigm standard for neighbourliness, directly taught by the principal teacher of the Judaeo Christian ethical tradition.

    Taught to the point where the traditional title of the parable, The Good Samaritan, has entered our language in its own right.

    And it is still a deeply challenging text to this very day, when we are tempted to mistreat our fellow son of Adam or daughter of Eve.

    Yes, there are cases where policing must happen and wars fought, but that must always be in due proportion and in defense of the civil peace of justice.

    KF

  198. 198
    Piotr says:

    KF,

    It’s all beside the point. Brent asked if there were any societies in which killing, theft or cheating were regarded as morally acceptable. The question was not about the advantages of Christianity but supposedly universal values (or prohibitions). Doing all manner of harm, whenever possible, to outsiders regarded as enemies (and dehumanised/demonised accordingly) is perfectly acceptable in many cultures.

  199. 199
    kairosfocus says:

    Piotr, With all due respect, you tried to do exactly what that lawyer did 2,000 years ago by asking or implying much the same question. Let the answer stand as it did in Palestine so long ago. G’night. KF

  200. 200
    Box says:

    SA #196,

    Excellent point!

  201. 201
    Brent says:

    Zackriel,

    There are many commonalities in human culture. That doesn’t make morality objective, just shared.

    Precious! First, you say morality has changed in order to show it isn’t objective. When shown it hasn’t, you say, well, of course it hasn’t, but what does that prove?

    You are hard to keep up with, I give you that.

  202. 202
    Brent says:

    Piotr,

    You list a number of antisocial behaviours and ask if societies tolerate them. Game theory will tell you that such behaviour, if practiced by a sufficiently large proportion of individuals, will make cooperation impossible. Society will disintegrate. It follows that stable societies have to restrict such behaviour if they are to survive.

    So . . . you don’t believe these “social conventions” are moral issues? You deny morality altogether? Is there a contradiction in saying that morality will lead to cooperation and stable societies? If there is not (and there isn’t), flourishing societies don’t speak to my point at all. To YOUR point, however, they do, for when I ask you what is meant, of course, by flourishing, or stable, you also need an objective starting point to make a determination of what a flourishing or stable society would be.

    Note, however, that if “neighbours” belong to an out-group, many communities don’t mind killing them, taking away their property, cheating them in business, etc. They might even regard such behaviour as patriotic and praiseworthy.

    You are only reiterating my point. Whoever these groups are, they are acting under the belief (rationalized belief) that they have a good reason to do that which they know they need a good reason to do. They don’t do it within their group because they know it is wrong. I.E., they know the moral law, but disagree on how far it extends.

    Or, say, “is it OK to kill animals for sport”? Many people in our own civilisation think it’s perfectly fine. The great Christian philosopher and moralist William Lane Craig, Doctor Invincibilis, has recently argued that animals (other than the great apes and humans) don’t “really” suffer ’cause they lack WLC’s sophisticated neural pathways allowing him to experience a higher-order awareness of having subjective mental states. Therefore, they are not aware of being in pain. If they show its symptoms — kicking about and screaming when you torture them — it’s only a physiological reaction without any moral significance. What can I say? I’m glad there’s no chance WLC could ever get near my family pets.

    Thanks again for proving my point. There is within everyone a sense that something is not right about unjustified killing. It’s universal, end of story. I and others have said this time and time again in this thread, and time and time again that the disagreement with societies among each other, and even individuals within those societies, about how far and to whom (or what) this moral intuition extends, is the only disagreement.

  203. 203
    Brent says:

    Noses on our faces. Funny how we can’t see them, being so close to our eyes. We kind of see them, but can’t really make out what they are. We feel them, and they feel strange; certainly unlike the rest of our body. Yet, for all that, we forget mostly they are there. Until we see them on others faces we have no idea what they even really look like.

    If I don’t like having a nose, it would be pretty hard to deny having one. I have this faintish shadow of it always. I feel it there. It causes me, sometimes, to go into violent convulsions (no doubt one reason why I don’t like having it). It causes me to mind it even though I really would rather not. It can be messy, and cause for discomfort. I would like to just deny my nose altogether, but people would laugh and jeer, so that isn’t a desirable option.

    My plan in ridding myself of my nostrils, then, is to deny its importance. I may still have one, but I need not admit to its being “all that”. I have one, but it’s relatively benign, and I could have got along just fine without it.

    What of the others? They seem, mostly, to admire theirs. They smell the roses and swear that life tastes better when their noses are healthy. But, different cultures go for different tastes, and not all like to smell roses. Some even like the smell of barn animals for crying out loud! Me? I know better than to take this as evidence that noses are anything really important. Certainly all noses would agree that either roses were the correct smell to be enjoyed, or cheese the best taste for all palettes, if noses were important really.

    Sure, I have a nose, but since people differ in how to best make use of theirs, it isn’t, quite obviously, an important part of my face, even if I wouldn’t look human without it.

  204. 204
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, an important perspective on neighbourliness, which highlights the power of Jesus’ parable on the decent enemy. (This brings to mind a vid of a delegation of the elderly survivors of the 28th Maori battalion attending a memorial service for General Rommel.) KF

    PS: And yes, sometimes apt stories make a point more effectively than elaborate arguments. But, they must be apt.

  205. 205
    kairosfocus says:

    Piotr: Notice, to abuse, a group first denigrates and dehumanises its targets to create a perceived excuse. That directly implies that they implicitly recognise that one’s neighbours are valuable moral equals to be treated with respect etc. That is, we see here exactly the shadow of the very moral law being dismissed. And, Jesus’ parable on the neighbourly heretic racially distinct enemy speaks to exactly that tactic. KF

  206. 206
    Piotr says:

    Brent,

    So . . . you don’t believe these “social conventions” are moral issues? You deny morality altogether? Is there a contradiction in saying that morality will lead to cooperation and stable societies?

    Where did I say I denied morality? Morality is individual, social norms are collective. There is usually a close match between the two because we undergo socialisation and acculturation as children, internalising the cultural norms shared by those around us. Social stability and individual morality co-evolve. The former is older in a purely historical sense (there are highly social animals to whom I wouldn’t attribute much “morality”), but in humans they simply develop together in the process of cultural evolution.

    If I say that game theory predicts which behavioural patterns (transmittable across generations) are stable and advantageous for social groups, that doesn’t mean that people who follow them do so out of selfish motives. Zachriel discussed that in #194. I would say that what matters socially how you behave towards fellow human beings, not what your internal motivation is. That’s why the separation of state from church is such a good idea.

  207. 207
    kairosfocus says:

    Piotr, social norms are dominant moral codes in a community backed up by folkways level sanctions and sometimes institutional ones. Further to all this, the Categorical Imperative pivots on identifying whether a behaviour parasites off that people don’t normally live like that and/or if something were to become dominant, it would undermine the community. And, it is in fact a test of objectivity, on grounds that the right supports the civil peace of justice and human flourishing; which of course are morally desirable ends which normally functional people acknowledge we ought to pursue, in turn reflecting the inherent value of the neighbour who is as we are. For instance if manipulative deceit were to become the norm in communication, trust and community would utterly break down. Such a test is not the be all and end all, but it is helpful. linked, the call to reform — note the word shift to “evolution” — is a call in light of first moral principles; with the linked point that cultures can decline to the point of moral bankruptcy in which good is treated as if it were bad and bad is prized and protected as if it were good. Boiled down, by changing terms and speaking of game theory, you have not removed the issue of objective moral truth and its binding nature. KF

    PS: Would you consent to separation of church and ideological, lab coat clad a priori evolutionary materialist scientism? Or, are you simply seeking to sustain dominance of this substantial equivalent to an established church in our time? Never mind its inherent self referential incoherence that undermines credibility of mind and conscience and implication that might and manipulation make ‘right.’ The scare quotes highlighting that it implies outright that such is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes.

  208. 208
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I should point out that I distinguish an informal or formal moral code from the question as to whether the terms of the code at any given place and time are objectively justified. Quite often, we err morally as we err scientifically, mathematically, perceptually, etc. But the very fact that we are concerned to detect and correct errors, points to the underlying operations of all sorts of OUGHTS. Oughts on responsible freedom, commitment to truth and soundness in thought, and more. We constantly, unconsciously reflect how we are governed by OUGHT, as shone in our hearts and minds by conscience, involving felt responses to all sorts of judgements or evaluations. And, thus it is vital for us to hold views that do not entail general delusion, as that is an ultimate form of reductio that frustrates the very credibility of reasoned thought we seek. But of course the pivotal point is that the acceptance of the general testimony of conscience points to our being under the government of OUGHT, that obligation of moral character is real. Thence the issue of the world foundational IS that grounds OUGHT. For which after centuries of debate, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, the root of reality. KF

  209. 209
    Brent says:

    Piotr,

    I had said:

    So . . . you don’t believe these “social conventions” are moral issues? You deny morality altogether? Is there a contradiction in saying that morality will lead to cooperation and stable societies?

    You said:

    Where did I say I denied morality? Morality is individual, social norms are collective.

    In saying:

    You list a number of antisocial behaviours and ask if societies tolerate them. Game theory will tell you that such behaviour, if practiced by a sufficiently large proportion of individuals, will make cooperation impossible. Society will disintegrate. It follows that stable societies have to restrict such behaviour if they are to survive.

    Of course, you did change what I said. I didn’t say “tolerate”, but asked whether they actually thought them good. There is a big difference. Anyway . . . when you immediately jump to pointing to cooperation of the society for the societies’ good, you disregard moral intuitions entirely as a cause and what informs individuals to cooperate, and probably more importantly, how to cooperate (and you just did it again). You have it that the society makes individuals, while it is much truer to say it the other way round, for without individuals you have no society. You can start with individuals and build a society, but you cannot build individuals in a society that doesn’t already have them. You throw morality under the bus, as if this isn’t the thing which informs individuals how to build a society. A society can’t be built on trust if trust wasn’t at the root, from the beginning, for as you seem to indicate you know, society would never get off the ground that way. But if the society can’t get off the ground without trust in the first place, how is it that the society was able to “hand down” this trust to its individuals? It’s truer to say that the individuals handed trust up to the society. You’ve got the whole thing upside down and inside out at once.

    What my main point was previously is that you cannot just say that morality wasn’t the thing that helped societies form. In the way you did it comes across as if you think there is a contradiction in the concept I laid out just now, that it is much more likely — nay, only logical — that morality is at the root of society and a necessary ingredient without which no society could be formed.

    There is usually a close match between the two because we undergo socialisation and acculturation as children, internalising the cultural norms shared by those around us. Social stability and individual morality co-evolve. The former is older in a purely historical sense (there are highly social animals to whom I wouldn’t attribute much “morality”), but in humans they simply develop together in the process of cultural evolution.

    Here you seem to be caught in the trap of thinking that, if morality was a real objective thing, that we couldn’t learn it or be taught it by the societies we live in. Clearly that isn’t the case, just as we teach math which is an objective reality.

    If I say that game theory predicts which behavioural patterns (transmittable across generations) are stable and advantageous for social groups, that doesn’t mean that people who follow them do so out of selfish motives. Zachriel discussed that in #194. I would say that what matters socially how you behave towards fellow human beings, not what your internal motivation is. That’s why the separation of state from church is such a good idea.

    I’m not particularly griping about the selfish motives aspect.

    What I note again, however, is that you throw around the idea of what is GOOD for society.

    How do you make a judgment about what is GOOD for society?

    What does it mean for society to FLOURISH?

    What does it mean to have a STABLE society?

    TIA again.

  210. 210
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: My argument is to distinguish first between subjective and objective morality. Objective moral codes are given as universal and for the moral improvement of the person.

    That codes are written down doesn’t mean morality is objective.

    Silver Asiatic: They’re moral laws or values – seen to be part of human nature and also given by God. They’re fixed in that sense.

    Repeating your position is not an argument.

    Silver Asiatic: Truth-telling is a good example of an objective moral value (not an entire code itself, but one value in a code).

    It’s still an in-group out-group dynamic. It’s usually acceptable to deceive one’s enemy.

    Silver Asiatic: So, that is the scriptural paradigm standard for neighbourliness, directly taught by the principal teacher of the Judaeo Christian ethical tradition.

    Altruism predates Jesus, and is one of a range of such behaviors in humans.

    Brent: First, you say morality has changed in order to show it isn’t objective.

    Changing morality contradicts the notion that morality is objective.

    Brent: When shown it hasn’t, you say, well, of course it hasn’t, but what does that prove?

    It doesn’t have to change in every instance to show that it has changed in some instances.

    Furthermore, lack of falsification is not evidence of the contrary claim.

    Brent: Whoever these groups are, they are acting under the belief (rationalized belief) that they have a good reason to do that which they know they need a good reason to do.

    Humans have moral sensibilities, so they justify their actions. Having moral sensibilities is not the same as saying morality is objective.

    For instance, mothers nurture their young because they have a fondness for their young. That doesn’t mean fondness has an objective basis. It’s how mammalian mothers feel. Similarly, humans form relationships with other humans, and those relationships are tempered by how they are viewed by others. Hence, they will help others to attain their approval, and avoid actions that would bring on condemnation by the group.

    Brent: There is within everyone a sense that something is not right about unjustified killing.

    Unless you stretch justification to include conquest, slaughtering the men and children, and enslaving the women, then you are simply wrong.

  211. 211
    Brent says:

    Zach,

    I had asked you:

    Zach,

    Would you tell me of any society that has upheld selfishness as a virtue?

    Will you find the society that thought it good to be a coward?

    Could you show me the society which said killing for no good reason was fine?

    Please introduce me to the society that thought stealing from their neighbor was praiseworthy.

    I’d like to be informed of the society who encouraged their young children to grow into robust liars.

    Please show us the society that thought it good to cheat in sport or business.

    TIA

    You tacitly said, no, you couldn’t provide me with that information.

    There are many commonalities in human culture. That doesn’t make morality objective, just shared.

    You therefore take back your assertion that morality has changed, or is inconsistent among societies, correct?

  212. 212
    Zachriel says:

    Brent: You tacitly said, no, you couldn’t provide me with that information.

    We said it wasn’t relevant because we already provided one plausible falsification that morality doesn’t change; human sacrifice. We also noted that lack of falsification doesn’t support the contrary claim.

  213. 213
    Piotr says:

    Brent,

    What I note again, however, is that you throw around the idea of what is GOOD for society.

    How do you make a judgment about what is GOOD for society?

    What does it mean for society to FLOURISH?

    What does it mean to have a STABLE society?

    First, I didn’t use the adjective “good” (or “bad”, for that matter). I did say “advantageous” and “stable”, which don’t have moral implications. I have my own idea of what is “good”, but it’s my subjective opinion (it does reflect to a large extent the norm and values of the culture I’m part of, albeit strongly personalised).

    I didn’t say, either, that it was “objectively good” for a society to survive and flourish. It’s a fact of life that different cultures and the norms they produce are in competition; and that some cultures manage to survive a long time flourish while others collapse of become assimilated. Their success depends at least partly on things like effective cooperation and collective problem solving. We are social animals and most of us wouldn’t be able to survive on our own, so acculturation is a necessity to everybody.

    I have to do other things now, so I can’t reply at length. I’ll be back later on.

  214. 214
    Timmy says:

    Z:

    Yes. I shortened it to avoid typing so many words. Group status, obviously, refers to whether you are “in” the group or “out” of the group.

    “That doesn’t mean the person isn’t acting selflessly. […] That this love is a evolutionary advantage isn’t her motivation.”

    What it means is that “selflessness” is reducible to evolutionary instinct, and since the rest of us are talking about a selflessness that is not reducible to evolutionary instinct, we are the ones who get to keep the term. Just like how it’s asinine when atheists talk about “the mind” or “consciousness”, both of which are (in atheist terms) reducible to mathematics. But atheists are very dishonest about these things.

    “Is that what you mean?”

    Obviously not, so why waste your time asking?
    Also, did you figure out yet that mathematics is just “shared”?

    “It’s still an in-group out-group dynamic. It’s usually acceptable to deceive one’s enemy.”

    Love your enemy. Do good to those who hate you. You’ve continually ignored the fact that this blows the “group status” dynamic out of the water.

    “Altruism predates Jesus, and is one of a range of such behaviors in humans. “

    And the reason Jesus managed to get so many people to behave altruistically is that he revealed and appealed to the objective morality that they already knew about.

  215. 215
    Zachriel says:

    Timmy: What it means is that “selflessness” is reducible to evolutionary instinct, and since the rest of us are talking about a selflessness that is not reducible to evolutionary instinct, we are the ones who get to keep the term.

    No, it just results in confusion when what everyone recognizes as a selfless act is referred to as selfish. When a mother sacrifices herself for her children, she’s doesn’t consider it as evolutionarily advantageous.

    Timmy: Love your enemy. Do good to those who hate you. You’ve continually ignored the fact that this blows the “group status” dynamic out of the water.

    Haven’t ignored it at all. People sincerely disagree in their evaluation of that sentiment. It’s not a universally held value.

    Timmy: And the reason Jesus managed to get so many people to behave altruistically is that he revealed and appealed to the objective morality that they already knew about.

    Yes, helping one another is a human trait. So is jealousy, hate, love, pride, embarrassment, belonging, and a whole panoply of socially-driven emotions.

  216. 216
    Brent says:

    Zach,

    You’re not dealing honestly here.

    Sacrifice to their god was their ‘justification’. They knew it was evil and still did it. They rationalized a ‘justification’ to satisfy their own lusts. Morality didn’t change, and never has.

    I didn’t say that I was presently trying to prove objectivity, just make you admit that your “fact” that morality has changed is clearly not a fact at all. If you say that morality has changed and therefore it is not objective (even though with these cases provided it wouldn’t follow even if you were correct — people do, you know, get their sums wrong sometimes), I just am showing you that you cannot back up your claim, and that one reason you had held to discount the objectivity of moral values is worthy of nothing but a trash bin.

  217. 217
    Zachriel says:

    Brent: Sacrifice to their god was their ‘justification’.

    That’s right.

    Brent: They knew it was evil and still did it.

    They knew it was a sacrifice, giving something they valued. They thought it was the right thing to do.

  218. 218
    Brent says:

    Not so fast there Piotr, not so fast.

    You most definitely do have a value judgment when you say stable and advantageous. Why you don’t think so is a mystery to me. After all, what you call a stable society is an unstable one if you can find anyone whose morality says that societies are better off collapsing and the citizens dying. Or advantageous, you have to have a definite idea of what is better, the slight progress toward which you can call an advantage.

    But you just think this subjectively (along with everyone else on the planet). Right!

    So. We are to believe that:

    Morality isn’t objective because it has changed (but it hasn’t).

    Morality isn’t objective because it is unchanged, thereby proving it is a social convention (but it isn’t).

    Morality isn’t objective because we can’t agree on what is moral (but we do).

    Do any of those three facts (that are not facts) strike anyone else as dogmatic question begging?

  219. 219
    Brent says:

    Zach, you are just begging the question, and in the worst way. You are literally saying that what everyone does is morally acceptable, period. You are saying that simply by virtue of someone doing something, they must have thought it right, and for them, therefore, it was right. By this standard of yours you would have to empty the prisons of the world of all but those who say boldly, “Yeah, I knew what I was doing was wrong.” But anyone who gave any excuse for their action, in your tacit admission, has justified their actions. YOU might not like it (what they’ve done), but cosmically speaking, you have to judge them by their own standard of morality, which, according to you, they automatically do simply by not being dumb enough to admit they knew what they did was wrong.

    Most people would call that wicked.

  220. 220
    Piotr says:

    Brent:

    You most definitely do have a value judgment when you say stable and advantageous.

    Nope. Stable means “lasting without much dramatic change”, not “good”. “Advantageous” means “leading to survival and growth rather than decline and collapse”. I can easily imagine a set of cultural values which are “morally bad” from my subjective point of view (and possibly yours as well), but which are part of an ideology making a culture survive and spread. For example, slavery may be economically advantageous. Or you can have a religion giving its believers a powerful heroic ethos and making them great warriors, but demanding human sacrifice once or twice a year to appease the gods.

    In biology, we talk about an “advantageous” mutation if it is associated with a positive selection coefficient, not if it makes its carrier friendlier and cuddlier. The adjective carries no value judgment if it’s used in such a technical sense.

  221. 221
    Joe says:

    Yes, helping one another is a human trait.

    Actually cooperation permeates biology. ID explains it rather easily. Unguided evolution not so much.

  222. 222
    Joe says:

    In biology, we talk about an “advantageous” mutation if it is associated with a positive selection coefficient, not if it makes its carrier friendlier and cuddlier.

    Yes, and in that context “advantageous” could mean just about anything, even something that is detrimental.

  223. 223
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest to the OP, Kant’s empirical requirement for the moral argument for God to be verified, (influences arising from outside space-time), has now been met in quantum mechanics:

    God, Immanuel Kant, Richard Dawkins, and the Quantum – Antoine Suarez – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQOwMX4bCqk

    Antoine Suarez is the founding director of the Center for Quantum Philosophy in Zurich, based on philosophical questions raised in the 1970’s and 1980’s by John Bell.
    Suarez and Valerio Scarani, inspired by discussions with Bell, proposed in 1997 the “before-before” experiment (which confirmed quantum non-locality from another angle).,,,
    http://www.informationphilosop.....ts/suarez/

  224. 224
    sergmendes says:

    Joe @ 221,

    Fascinating. How does ID explain the permeation of cooperation in biology? Thanks.

  225. 225
    kairosfocus says:

    SM: It is designed in. Organisation, in general is about putting multiple parts together in insightful ways to achieve a resulting function. I suggest that vast integrated interacting ecosystems up to planetary level may also reflect designs; though that is a general expectation not an inductive explanation. We already have strong indicators of fine tuning written into physics and cosmology, and in the organisation of life forms from the cell on up, not to mention indicators or at least hints of terraforming of our planet — esp the atmosphere — for complex multicellular life. KF

  226. 226
    Zachriel says:

    Brent: You are literally saying that what everyone does is morally acceptable, period.

    No, but that doesn’t make morality objective.

    Brent: You are saying that simply by virtue of someone doing something, they must have thought it right, and for them, therefore, it was right.

    No. People often do things they regret or feel guilty about.

    Brent: By this standard of yours you would have to empty the prisons of the world of all but those who say boldly, “Yeah, I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

    No, because society imposes standards. Turns out that most people share certain values, especially within a given culture. That results in a widespread basis for codes of conduct, both legal and social.

    Brent: YOU might not like it (what they’ve done), but cosmically speaking, you have to judge them by their own standard of morality, which, according to you, they automatically do simply by not being dumb enough to admit they knew what they did was wrong.

    Someone said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Earlier in the thread this person was said to be the fount of objective morality.

  227. 227
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zac

    That codes are written down doesn’t mean morality is objective.

    It depends on what you mean by the terms ‘morality’ and ‘objective’.

    Silver Asiatic: They’re moral laws or values – seen to be part of human nature and also given by God. They’re fixed in that sense.

    Repeating your position is not an argument.

    Depends on what you mean by ‘argument’. Repeating a point in different terms is often a successful means of educating or arguing.

    Silver Asiatic: Truth-telling is a good example of an objective moral value (not an entire code itself, but one value in a code).

    It’s still an in-group out-group dynamic. It’s usually acceptable to deceive one’s enemy.

    That’s an exception to the objective norm. Interpretations of objective morals can vary. Again, you can’t analyze the morality of anything without accepting the objective moral norm of truth-telling. If you’re saying that truth is morally equivalent to falsehood then I couldn’t assess the value of what you’re saying.

    Silver Asiatic: So, that is the scriptural paradigm standard for neighbourliness, directly taught by the principal teacher of the Judaeo Christian ethical tradition.

    Altruism predates Jesus, and is one of a range of such behaviors in humans.

    You’re responding to someone else here – not me.

  228. 228
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: It depends on what you mean by the terms ‘morality’ and ‘objective’.

    The usual sense.

    objective, of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers

    moral, concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior

    Silver Asiatic: Depends on what you mean by ‘argument’.

    argument, a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion

    Typically, one tried to find common ground from which to build the argument.

    Silver Asiatic: That’s an exception to the objective norm.

    Apparently, so is human sacrifice, or conquest.

    Silver Asiatic: If you’re saying that truth is morally equivalent to falsehood then I couldn’t assess the value of what you’re saying.

    Well, we are very partial to the truth, but that doesn’t make our predilections objective reality. The range of human views on moral conduct shows that morality is not independent of the human observer, but a consequence of human nature and cultural milieu.

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