Intelligent Design

Be Afraid

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For nearly 75 years the Holocaust has been used as an example of evil so clear as to be beyond reasonable dispute.  It was useful as a counter to arguments for moral nihilism such as we get on these pages so often, because very few people were willing to stand up and say, “I personally don’t agree with Holocausts, but of course that’s just my opinion; I can’t say a contrary opinion is necessarily wrong.”

That is not the case anymore as the following exchange between me and Bob O’H demonstrates:

Bob O’H: But doesn’t [Becky’s Lesson] actually support the materialists’ assertion? The story shows a situation where an act that the reader regards as grossly immoral is shown as being morally acceptable in another society.

 

Barry:  Your second sentence is almost right. It should read:  The story shows a situation where an act that the reader regards as KNOWS FOR AN ABSOLUTE CERTAIN FACT IS grossly immoral is shown as being morally acceptable in another society.

Thus, if “morality comes from society” is true, it can lead to a situation in which known immoral acts are moral. The materialist is then on the horns of a dilemma. He must admit that under certain circumstances the Holocaust would be good (note, “good,” not merely “regarded as good”) if everyone in the society believes that to be the case. Or he can admit that since that is patently absurd, the premise “morality comes from society” is false.

 

Bob:  Well, no. If I’m a moral subjectivist and I’m being precise, I can say that I regard certain acts are good, and I can say that societies (or other groups) regard these acts as good, but I don’t have any external objective standard by which to say that they actually are good.

Given the choice between (1) embracing the patently absurd proposition that under any conceivable circumstances the Holocaust could be morally good; and (2) rejecting the moral subjectivism his materialism demands, Bob casually clings to his materialism and embraces the absurdity.

Bob is a teacher.  God help his students.  God help the rest of us as well, because Bob speaks for many, and that should make you very afraid.

Critical Rationalist is even scarier.  At least Bob tries to ground his view that the Holocaust was evil in something, even if that something (subjective preference) in practice turns out to be nothing.  CR insists there is absolutely no justification for the proposition “the Holocaust was evil.”

Nietzsche speaks of such:

What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing?

“Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing?”  Yes, says CR.

If CR is right, then Camus’ observation that the only interesting question is whether to kill yourself in the face of the patent absurdity of life without meaning has real force.

UPDATE:

Bob O’H doubles down.  In comment 1 in the combox, he says it would be “arrogant” for him to say no one could ever see any circumstances under which they would consider this to be good:

 

 

 

69 Replies to “Be Afraid

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    Given the choice between (1) embracing the patently absurd proposition that under any conceivable circumstances the Holocaust could be morally good;

    Oh what a surprise, my views are being twisted. I can’t see any circumstances under which I would see the Holocaust (or a similar action) as being morally good, but that is my own subjective opinion. I wouldn’t want to be arrogant enough to say whether anyone else could see any circumstances under which they would consider genocide to be good.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Does everyone see what Bob is doing here? He refuses to state unequivocally that at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances the Holocaust would be evil. He gets called on his monstrous nihilistic Holocaust-enabling moral views, and he pretends his views were twisted.

    OK, Bob. Put it to us plainly. Do you state unequivocally that at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances the Holocaust would be evil?

    Prediction, Bob will say that IN HIS VIEW, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances the Holocaust would be evil, but it would be arrogant to say Himmler was necessarily wrong if he thought it was good.

    You seriously make me want to puke Bob. I’m not kidding. When I read your “arrogant” sentence, I could feel the gerd rising in my throat.

    I have updated the post to note that Bob has doubled down. God help us; it is worse than I thought, and that is saying a lot.

  3. 3
    EricMH says:

    My question is: why do a/mats accept there is an objective science standard by which ID fails to be science, but there cannot be an objective morality? That is very arbitrary.

    The only argument a/mats offer is that societies disagree. But societies disagree regarding mathematics. The Pythagoreans thought irrational numbers did not exist. But they were wrong. There is no reason people cannot also be wrong about moral claims.

    Underlying all of this is the Holocaust. There is a popular opinion that future world wars and genocides can be averted if no one is dogmatic about anything of a social nature. Relativism is used to extinguish violent prejudice. This is the root of modern tolerance. However, the reason the allies won is precisely because they were dogmatic about justice. The only way to fight any kind of tyranny is by being dogmatically and bravely just. So, the solution to prejudice is not relativism, but the right kind of dogmatism.

  4. 4
    J-Mac says:

    The soldier on the picture is wearing a belt with the buckle that is imprinted with the following words:

    “Gott mit uns”

    I don’t know German but I think Gott must mean Darwin, one would expect, as Barry must have done his background check..

    I bet the rest must mean something like ‘trust in” or close to it”…
    I’m sure that if it is not true, Barry would look like a moron who doesn’t even check the background of his own witnesses….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gott_mit_uns

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    OK, J-Mac. Put it to us plainly. Do you state unequivocally that at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances the Holocaust would be evil?

    Prediction: J-Mac will “bob”* and weave.

    ______
    *pun intended

  6. 6
    J-Mac says:

    OK, J-Mac. Put it to us plainly. Do you state unequivocally that at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances the Holocaust would be evil?

    Prediction: J-Mac will bob and weave.

    Since you are very …. person Barry I’m forced to ask you what is your definition of holocaust? Are you referring to WWII or the Canaanite extermination as well?

    BTW: I don’t care much about your Christian like predictions and your typical Christian like attitude…

    You can keep it to yourself. A/mats, Closet A/mats and rest of the reasonable people would have no problem to identify your comments as well as BA77,TWSYF even if your were to change your identity…
    Your type of “Christianity” is easily distinguishable by one trait…

    Do you know what it is?

    UD Editors: “Prediction: J-Mac will bob and weave.” Prediction confirmed. For people who pride themselves on their willingness to examine all beliefs and gaze into the abyss unflinchingly, the A-Mats who post on this site are a generally gutless lot.

  7. 7
    steve_h says:

    I have no problem saying that the Holocaust would be evil at all times, places etc because to me that’s the sort of thing that the word evil was coined to describe. We agree that Holocausts are evil but I think we disagree on many of the things that you would also want to describe using the same word – Same sex marriage, consensual sex between partners of the same sex etc.

    There are also cases where I would use the word “evil” but you not. For instance, many christians believe that people who don’t accept Christ as their saviour will be rightly punished in hell for all of eternity. As I understand it Jewish people do not accept Jesus as their saviour so the obvious conclusion, if the stories are to be believed, is that after dying in the death camps they went on to something much much worse. I would call that evil, but most christians won’t be losing any sleep over it. They might even come up with appalling CS Lewis-style justifications for it such as “Everyone in hell is there because they chose to be there”. Yeah right, just like they chose to be in the death camps beforehand.
    I suspect others might argue that the decision to punish them forever for the “sin” of not being perfect like God was OK because it was taken thousands of years ago. Some things much worse than a Holocaust are OK at some places or some times to them. Scary.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    steve_h:

    I have no problem saying that the Holocaust would be evil at all times, places etc

    Then you believe in at least one objective transcendent moral truth. Tell me steve, where did that objective moral truth come from?

  9. 9
    mike1962 says:

    The bottom line is that everyone who hasn’t been brainwashed by some sociopathically driven ideology would never believe the Holocaust was anything other than pure evil. Period. Unless you are a sociopath yourself, you have to sear your natural conscience to avoid what everybody knows from birth.

    The girl in the story was still not completely seared and her conscience was leaking through. Her father refused to be seared. He had the guts to call a spade a spade in the face of persecution from the sociopath ideologues.

  10. 10
    steve_h says:

    Then you believe in at least one objective transcendent moral truth. Tell me steve, where did that objective moral truth come from?

    It’s not an objective moral truth – it’s pretty much a tautology.

    I use “Evil” to denote acts which are harmful and without mitigating circumstances. It’s difficult to think of clearer examples of the concept than the Holocaust or say murdering or torturing a child for pleasure. As definitions go it’s far from perfect, but it’s no worse than “evil: something which is on God’s and Barry’s lists of things which are objectively evil (which just happen to be the same)”.

    If evil things are evil for all times and places, why are you so keen to sweep Canaan 3000 years ago under the carpet?

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Agreed mike1962. What do you make of Bob O’H? Do you think he is a sociopath when he says he wouldn’t want to be arrogant enough to say whether Himmler could see any circumstances under which he would consider genocide to be good?

    Is he an idiot?

    I’m fairly sure that if push came to shove he could bring himself to condemn Himmler’s views on The Final Solution.

    So why in the world does he spout such shite?

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    steve-h

    It’s not an objective moral truth – it’s pretty much a tautology.

    You don’t know what the word “tautology” means. You should look big words up before you use them.

    Here, I will help you with that. A tautology is the saying of the same thing twice in different words. “The Holocaust was evil” is not a tautology because “Holocaust” and “evil” don’t mean the same thing.

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    steve-h is another gutless A-Mat who wants to have it both ways.

    Steve at 7. I have no problem saying that the Holocaust would be evil at all times, places etc.

    Steve at 10. It’s not an objective moral truth.

    Uh, Steve, what you said in 7 is the very essence of objective moral truth.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob O’H, you’re awfully quite. We are waiting for you to elucidate on your position that it is arrogant to say no one could see any circumstances under which that truckload of corpses would be good.

  15. 15
    LocalMinimum says:

    So we keep gravitating to the equivocation of utterly destroying cities to drive a thoroughly diseased, child murdering society out of a specific land; to chasing millions of innocent people across an entire continent to murder them purely on the basis of their genetic heritage; because the claim to objective materialistic morality is vacuous (as pointed out by the story) and thus of no interest or use in discussion even to materialists?

    It seems all we have left on the table is Christian morality and a natural morality which cannot be accounted for on a materialistic basis when applied beyond the survival of one’s own genome; but is well accounted for by Christianity at every level.

  16. 16
    LocalMinimum says:

    Steve H @ 7:

    1 Timothy 2:3-4:

    This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    Ezekiel 18:22-23

    All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

    Ezekiel 18:31-32

    “Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

    John 3:17

    For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

    Romans 3:9-10

    What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

    As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

    Note also Romans chapter 11.

    Clearly any Christian who doesn’t count the murdered Jews as a loss needs to spend some time with the Manual.

  17. 17
    EDTA says:

    rvb8,

    I suspect very few of the SS guards were ordinary shop owners or the like. The SS recruited from the scum of the land: petty criminals, societal outcasts and the like. Furthermore, they culled their own ranks such that if a guard showed any sympathy with the prisoners, or was unable to be sufficiently brutal, he would be stripped of his rank and uniform, and thrown in _with_ the prisoners. In this manner, the guards were filtered until only the most brutal were left running the show. Thus, they had no morality to speak of.

    >When Christ comes again…
    I do not anticipate being asked to kill anybody now, or at that time.

  18. 18
    EricMH says:

    The a/mat’s prove objective morality with their counter example. If the god of the Bible commands morally reprehensible things, that proves objective morality is true. Otherwise, the commands would not be morally reprehensible.

  19. 19
    Seversky says:

    Actually, the really frightening thing is that not only did the hardcore Nazis who carried out the Holocaust think it was a Good Thing, there are today extreme alt-right types, neo-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers whatever you want to call them who still think it was a Good Thing. And you will find them all over the place, the US, UK, France, Italy, many of the East European countries. They may be small in number but they are a reminder that what happened in Nazi Germany could happen elsewhere if things were to go bad.

    What happened in Nazi Germany, as well as Soviet Russia, Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia was that relatively small but well-armed and well-disciplined groups were able to seize control of a state and, once in power, crushed opposition ruthlessly and violently. They were not interested in the opinions or will of the majority in the slightest. They are object lessons in what happens when a consensus is not sought.

    The same is true of the atrocities recounted approvingly in the Old Testament. We are told – by the victors – that all these peoples who were unfortunate enough to get tis the way of the Israelites and their God were horrible people who did horrible things and deserved all they got. Maybe they were, but there’s no evidence provided and we never get to hear their side of the story at all.

    The only thing that stands between us and subjection to some extremist group is a moral code and set of rights to which all can and do assent and for which any attempt at violation or suppression will be resisted by whatever means necessary.

    Just as, in a democracy, a government derives its authority and legitimacy by being the expressed will of the people so does a moral code stand on the assent of those subject to it. If God or any other being wants to contribute to the debate about morality with suggestions and the reasoning behind them then they should be heard. But the says of unchallengeable edicts being handed down on tablets of stone are past.

  20. 20
    harry says:

    The state claiming for itself the authority to “legalize” the murder of innocent humanity is a rejection of civilization itself and a return to savagery. One need not be a fervent Christian or even a serious theist to understand why this is so:

    Humanity precedes the state and brings it into existence.

    Therefore the state exists for humanity, not humanity for the state.

    Therefore it is humanity that bestows and withdraws the state’s right to exist, not the state that bestows and withdraws humanity’s right to exist.

    Therefore the state simply has no authority whatsoever to “legalize” the murder of innocent humanity.

    Aristotle declared in his Politics that “The state comes into existence that Man may live.” The very purpose of the state is to facilitate the flourishing of human life, not its destruction. This is also true of the medical profession.

    The ancient physicians’ oath of Hippocrates explicitly prohibited abortion; it required that physicians do no harm to any human being regardless of their status in society or lack thereof. Before this the sick had to wonder if the doctor was there to heal them or to harm them. Hippocrates turned witch doctors into physicians.

    Under savagery the powerful kill the less powerful and/or take their possessions simply because doing so serves their purposes at the moment. Ideally, at some point the response of humanity to this is the formation of a state that is more powerful than the most powerful individuals; the state is to protect the lives, liberty and property of everyone. The experience of humanity though, is that there is usually some segment of humanity that, due to bigotry – the curse of civilized humanity – just “doesn’t count.” This is what allows states only pretending to be civilized to “legalize” things like the murder, enslavement or the brutal oppression of some segment of humanity, even though it is just such things that the state is formed to prevent.

    The common sense morality at the heart of civilized society itself is immeasurably reinforced and extended to include all humanity, creating a civilization where everybody “counts,” by the belief in a benevolent Creator of humanity, One Who requires mankind to live according to an objective, common sense morality understandable by any rational mind, a morality that prohibits things like murder and theft, and in essence demands that we do not do to others what we wouldn’t want others to do to us. In a society where ethics have been enhanced in this way, if in one’s opinion the life of another human being is worthless and just doesn’t matter, one must still acknowledge that the God Who created such a human being had His own reasons for doing so, and expects the human rights of such a “worthless” human being to be respected like any other.

    As for Western civilization, the roots of its societal ethic placing great emphasis on the intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its stage or condition are ancient, even if they were often betrayed. The common sense morality of Aristotle and Hippocrates was reinforced by the Christianization of the West. The most enlightened aspects of the ancient pre-Christian morality were blessed and enhanced by the Judeo-Christian ethic. This formed what became the traditional Western ethic, one that acknowledged the inestimable value of any and every human being, and has been the basis for most of our laws and much of our social policy. If the state, or “Caesar” if you will, is just a mere mortal like the rest of us, he too, must acknowledge the authority of the benevolent Creator.

    Christianity made possible the very notion that even Caesar – no, Caesar in particular – had an obligation to protect human rights, the God-given, inalienable rights of humanity, and had no authority to do otherwise. God was God, Caesar was not a god. This fundamental paradigm shift was a spectacular achievement purchased for humanity with the blood of many Christian martyrs.

    This foundation stone of the traditional Western ethic has been steadily eroded though, beginning with the rise of the militant atheism born of the so-called Enlightenment. This is because atheism provides no intellectual basis for not doing unto others what we wouldn’t want done to us. To understand this we must ask again fundamental questions. Why would any human being deserve human rights or anything else for that matter? What exactly is wrong with the powerful serving their own interests at the expense of the less powerful simply because they are able to do so? Are the less powerful, simply because of their humanity, owed something? Is merely being human enough to merit any and every human being rights that must be respected by those more powerful?

    Militant atheism, on the one hand, believes that ultimately humanity is nothing more than some stuff that was quite accidentally vomited forth by mindless, purposeless natural processes. If that is the case then there is really nothing wrong with the powerful serving their own interests at the expense of others. It’s all about the survival of the fittest. Nobody owes anybody anything. A human being is just another collection of atoms, albeit a rather peculiar one in that it possesses consciousness and suffers from the delusion that it has a free will, with no more intrinsic rights than a rock — maybe less, since at least the collection of atoms of which a rock is comprised isn’t delusional.

    On the other hand militant atheism, after having destroyed the intellectual foundation for any notion of human rights, claims to be the champion of human rights, and insists that theism, which provides the required edifice upon which any intellectually satisfying explanation of intrinsic human rights must be built, is the enemy of humanity. This is exactly why, in the last 100 years (Lenin’s Bolsheviks seized control of Russia in 1917), godless regimes hostile to theism have murdered well over a hundred million people. And why wouldn’t they murder everyone who resisted their agenda? In doing so they are only cleaning up some vomit, destroying some inconvenient collections of atoms with no more intrinsic rights than rocks, that have become an obstacle in their path to power and dominance.

    Such militant atheism sees itself, of course, as the superior “fittest” doing what the fittest must do. And it is obvious why these self-appointed elites must claim that theism is the enemy of humanity: because theism and its insistence on the inalienable rights of all humanity is their mortal enemy, not the enemy of the human race as they claim. Theism is in truth humanity’s chief advocate. The murderous, militant atheists of the last century were fully aware of this, but they are liars and murderers whose first victim was their own consciences.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Something that gets lost in the translation of all this is the fact that we are all sinners and in need of redemption.

    Many people of the atheistic persuasion may deny the reality of objective morality, and hold that all morality is subjective, but I hold that the primary reason they are doing this is so that they may be free to do those things which they feel God is preventing them from doing. As Aldous Huxley honestly confessed:

    “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
    ? Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means

    And although atheists may feel God is preventing them from being free to ‘sin’, the fact of the matter is that sin takes your freedom away and makes you a slave to it. As Jesus said,,

    John 8:34
    Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

    Thus despite what atheists may want to believe, it is not that God is preventing us from being free to sin, it is that God is preventing us from becoming slaves to sin.

    For over a decade, my own life had been destroyed by my own personal sin. I was a homeless drunk and drug addict for many years. Some of the things I did and went through during that time still haunt me to this day.

    I knew all too well that sin was very real and that I was very much a slave to it.

    What the sinner who is acutely aware of his sin readily understands, but the sinner, who does not think he is really a sinner (if he even admits that there is such a thing as sin), but who is under the delusion that he is controlling his sin, does not readily understand, is that Jesus Christ had the full power and authority of heaven to relieve Himself of the horrid torment of the cross but instead chose, because of His great love for us, to endure it, in its entirety, willingly, so that he might completely overcome sin, hell and death, and all their horrors, on our behalf, (since we were and are incapable), so that we may be set free from our sin and reunited with him. Love is the only proper response on our part.

    Luke 7
    Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

    48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

    49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

    50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

  22. 22
    EricMH says:

    @Seversky, sounds like some objective morality supporting your position. You are saying it’s objectively wrong to have a tyrannical system, therefore it is better to have a democracy. An interesting question is whether the tyrannical regimes of today tend to be atheistic or theistic? A similar question, do democratic regimes have their roots in theism or atheism? What would you say?

  23. 23
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 2 –
    He gets called on his monstrous nihilistic Holocaust-enabling moral views, and he pretends his views were twisted.
    Yes, that it utterly twisting my views. Yes, the holocaust was evil. I have no problems saying that. How is that Holocaust enabling?

    Prediction, Bob will say that IN HIS VIEW, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances the Holocaust would be evil, but it would be arrogant to say Himmler was necessarily wrong if he thought it was good.

    I would say that Himmler was wrong, but that is of course based on my own moral views. Himmler, presumably, thought that he was doing a good thing, and although I would utterly reject his conclusion, I would acknowledge that he had come to that conclusion.

  24. 24
    LocalMinimum says:

    Seversky @ 19;

    The same is true of the atrocities recounted approvingly in the Old Testament. We are told – by the victors – that all these peoples who were unfortunate enough to get tis the way of the Israelites and their God were horrible people who did horrible things and deserved all they got. Maybe they were, but there’s no evidence provided and we never get to hear their side of the story at all.

    If I read it so skeptically, I must attribute any morality I derive to my skeptical viewpoint.

    Blaming the Bible for ill-conceived morality and cynical opportunism that contradicts Its message is like blaming a physics text for the bad rationales that contribute to the pile of “over unity” generator schemes.

    But the says of unchallengeable edicts being handed down on tablets of stone are past.

    According to the Bible, they have yet to even start. Humanity has always challenged, and failed, God’s Law and Word. The Israelites were worshiping an animal statue when those tablets were delivered. Prophets questioned and even pleaded against God’s edicts; often enough, successfully. Israel failed to completely drive the Canaanites from their lands, and adopted the evil ways of the remnant. YHWH is constantly allowing and adjusting for human failure and rebellion. Yeshua’s primary mission was to justify and establish an escape clause for the lot of us.

    God’s case is history itself. His judgement is being withheld for a time; to let those who may yet still sort themselves out, sort. There will be no disputing the final verdict of They whose Word precedes gravity.

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob @ 23. Just stop it. It’s embarrassing.

    Yes, Himmler believed the Holocaust was good.

    I am absolutely certain he was wrong.

    Until you can say the same thing, my point stands.

  26. 26
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 25 – Huh? What? I just said that I thought Himmler was wrong. What’s embarrassing about that? But just to make it clear:

    YES, I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT HIMMLER WAS WRONG THAT THE HOLOCAUST WAS GOOD.

    Happy now?

  27. 27
    critical rationalist says:

    Critical Rationalist is even scarier. At least Bob tries to ground his view that the Holocaust was evil in something, even if that something (subjective preference) in practice turns out to be nothing. CR insists there is absolutely no justification for the proposition “the Holocaust was evil.”

    And for all your talk of morality, you keep misrepresenting me, despite making numerous clarifications. Apparently, you subscribe to the old strategy of presenting a false version of an idea you find objectionable, then pointing out how it is false.

    To again further clarify, from this essay…..

    “The traditional systems of epistemology may be said to result from yes-answers or no-answers to questions about the sources of our knowledge. They never challenge these questions, or dispute their legitimacy; the questions are taken as perfectly natural, and nobody seems to see any harm in them. This is quite interesting, for these questions are clearly authoritarian in spirit. They can be compared with that traditional question of political theory, ‘Who should rule?’, which begs for an authoritarian answer such as ‘the best’, or ‘the wisest’, or ‘the people’ or ‘the majority’. (It suggests, incidentally, such silly alternatives as ‘Who should be our rulers: the capitalists or the workers?’, analogous to ‘What is the ultimate source of knowledge: the intellect or the senses?’) This political question is wrongly put and the answers which it elicits are paradoxical (as I have tried to show in chapter 7 of my Open Society). It should be replaced by a completely different question such as ‘How can we organize our political institutions so that bad or incompetent rulers (whom we should try not to get, but whom we so easily might get all the same) cannot do too much damage?’ I believe that only by changing our question in this way can we hope to proceed towards a reasonable theory of political institutions.” (Popper, 1963, 25)

    The key point in the passage is “these questions are clearly authoritarian in spirit”. Popper and Bartley used the term “justificationism” to describe the philosophical quest for “justified true beliefs”, based on the appropriate authority. They argued that this quest is misplaced because foundationalist justification cannot be achieved, although it is possible to justify a preference for a particular position in the light of evidence and arguments produced to date, on the understanding that the preference can change in the light of new evidence and arguments.

    The first section of this paper notes the damaging effect of moral relativism and the subversion of traditional values by the constructivist rationalists who Hayek subjected to protracted criticism. His “abuse of reason” project is a part of the defence of classical liberalism, specifically a defence of the little recognized but all-important moral framework.

    The second section examines the failure in the market of ideas which creates problems for classical liberalism, sketches the core problem of rationality, the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, and introduces Bartley’s proposal for a solution.

    The third section sketches the various responses to the dilemma and the way that classical liberalism has suffered from the “justified belief” framework. It notes that academic philosophy and the ‘true belief” religions tend to propagate the framework of justificationism and the “true belief” mindset.

    The fourth section shows how the non-justificationist approach resolves some tensions in the treatment of rationality and criticism in the work of Popper and Hayek. The final sections briefly describe Jan Lester’s application of Bartley’s ideas in political economy and a rejoinder to the deconstructionists in literary theory.

    IOW, you’re committing the fallacy of equivocation in respect to justificationism, which specifically refers to sources of knowledge.

    Furthermore, it addresses events like the holocaust in context already presented.

    3. Responses to the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism [Note 3]

    Relativists tend to be disappointed justificationists who realise that positive justification cannot be achieved. From this premise they proceed to the conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, critical rationalism is not a position. It is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by fixing on a position. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley did provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference.

    Liberalism has been forced to constantly work against the grain of the received opinions, locked in place by the justificationist or true belief mindset so the gains of one generation have often been lost to the forces of irrationalism and authoritarianism in the next. But the really penetrating insight provided by Bartley’s work is that traditional theories of rationality (based on the assumption of justificationism) perpetuate the justificationist tradition/framework/mindset and hence the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism. Hence it seems that rationalists of the justificationist variety, like Bertrand Russell (who was described as a “passionate skeptic”, unwittingly nurture the framework that creates so many problems for rationalists.

    This helps to explain why the survival of liberalism is precarious, why it needs auxiliaries to support its causes and why civilisation lapses into occasional bouts of irrationalism. Episodes such as the Nazi holocaust and the wilder excesses of the generation of ’68 are generally regarded as strange aberrations in the normally rational Western tradition, perhaps calling for psychological analysis of the individuals involved, for studies of ‘the authoritarian personality’ or ruminations on the ‘contradictions of developed capitalism’ or the decline of religious faith. But seen from the perspective of Bartley’s work such failures of reason are only to be expected in the justificationist framework, which sponsors dogmatism and fanaticism. And as long as that framework remains dominant our traditions of rationality, tolerance and freedom will remain fragile and liable to collapse at any time of social or political crisis (as in Greece, circa 2012). One of the thought-provoking results of his analysis is to identify academic philosophy and the “true belief” religions as major vehicles which perpetuate the justificationist framework.

  28. 28
    EricMH says:

    @Bob O’H, how can you be certain Himmler is wrong yet say there is no objective right or wrong? Saying there is no objective morality means you cannot be right or wrong when you make a moral claim. It’s like me saying you are wrong when you say “I like chocolate ice cream.” Morality is not a preference, it is an objective judgement about the state of the world. It is like saying “1+1=3” is wrong. If someone likes killing Jews he is a messed up person, and that’s an objective fact.

  29. 29

    harry @20 — excellent, thank you very much.

  30. 30
    Bob O'H says:

    EricMH @ 20 – I can be certain Himmler was wrong because they were wrong by my moral standards, and the standards of the society around me. Morality isn’t just about personal preference – it’s something that is determined by society.

    If morality is objective, then how come there is so much disagreement about it? How come slavery was morally OK for so long, for example?

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    Bob at comment 26: YES, I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT HIMMLER WAS WRONG THAT THE HOLOCAUST WAS GOOD.

    Bob at comment 1: I wouldn’t want to be arrogant enough to say whether anyone else could see any circumstances under which they would consider genocide to be good.

    Wow, Bob. Isn’t your comment at 26 an arrogant thing to say?

    Just kidding. Since you are now absolutely certain Himmler was wrong, welcome to moral objectivism. Good for you.

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry: CR insists there is absolutely no justification for the proposition “the Holocaust was evil.”

    CR: you keep misrepresenting me

    So you agree the proposition “the Holocaust was evil” is positively justified?

    Good to know. Thanks for clearing that up.

    CR: no position can be positively justified

    Oh. Nevermind.

  33. 33
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR says the proposition “the Holocaust was evil” can in fact be justified in this sense:

    although it is possible to justify a preference for a particular position in the light of evidence and arguments produced to date, on the understanding that the preference can change in the light of new evidence and arguments.

    Translation: CR tentatively holds to the notion that the Holocaust was evil, but he is open to being persuaded he is wrong.

    Horrifying.

    God help us.

    CR rails against “dogmatists.” I assume he means people like me who are not open to being persuaded the Holocaust was a good thing.

    I will ask the readers to judge. As between CR, who is open to be persuaded the Holocaust was good, and Barry, who is not, who is more likely to be persuaded the Holocaust was a good thing? Yes, my mind is closed on the issue. And it is horrifying to me that CR’s is not.

  34. 34
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 31 – Why is is arrogant to have a strong opinion? I’m not insisting that others should hold the same opinion (although I obviously hope they would).

    Also, my moral opinions aren’t objective – I think Himmler was wrong, but that’s based on the morals instilled into me by my family and surrounding society. Just because I believe something very strongly doesn’t make it a fact or objective.

  35. 35
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob @ 34

    Why is is arrogant to have a strong opinion?

    I dunno Bob. You are the one who wrote your comment at 1, not I.

    I think Himmler was wrong, but that’s based on the morals instilled into me by my family and surrounding society. Just because I believe something very strongly doesn’t make it a fact or objective.

    I knew Bob would waffle when he realized the implications of what he said.

    At 26 he was absolutely certain.

    It was pointed out to him that absolute certainty implies objective morals.

    Now he only “thinks” Himmler was wrong. He “believes very strongly.” Apparently, he is no longer “absolutely certain.” Now we are right back to Comment 1 Bob, who is open to the possibility that Himmler might have been right.

    We are back to the Bob I described in the OP:

    Given the choice between (1) embracing the patently absurd proposition that under any conceivable circumstances the Holocaust could be morally good; and (2) rejecting the moral subjectivism his materialism demands, Bob casually clings to his materialism and embraces the absurdity.

  36. 36
    tribune7 says:

    Bob

    Himmler was wrong . . . Morality isn’t just about personal preference – it’s something that is determined by society.

    That’s serious irony.

  37. 37
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry – I don’t think you’re getting it. I’m sure that (by may standards) Himmler was wrong. But I acknowledge that my standards are not objective, and allow for other people having different standards. That is how I can be sure that Himmler was wrong, but he was (presumably) equally sure that he was right. We both started with different standards.

    On the arrogance, my point was not that I think it arrogant to believe something very strongly, it’s that I think it’s arrogant to say what other people may think.

  38. 38
    Origenes says:

    CR: … no position can be positively justified …

    Good grief CR, when will you understand that your pseudo-philosophy is self-defeating?

    Read slowly with comprehension:

    It cannot be positively justified that "no position can be positively justified."

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    I don’t think you’re getting it

    No, I get it. You made the unqualified statement in ALL CAP shouting letters “YES, I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT HIMMLER WAS WRONG THAT THE HOLOCAUST WAS GOOD.” When you made that statement you were lying.

    Now you are saying that you are not, in fact, absolutely certain. You now allow for Himmler having a different standard than yours. Despite what you said earlier, you say you can’t be absolutely sure Himmler was wrong, because you “don’t have any external objective standard by which to say” Himmler’s standard is necessarily inferior to yours.

    Bob, I truly do get it, and I am not surprised. When someone is soft on whether the Holocaust was evil, flip flopping and lying are certainly no big reach.

  40. 40
    EricMH says:

    @Bob O’H, you are equivocating between why you come to believe a thing with why that thing is true.

    I have come to believe sqrt(2)=1.414 because of teaching I received in society. But, I don’t believe its truth is derived from society. I could have been raised in a Pythagorean commune and held the belief that sqrt(2)=1.414 was blasphemy punishable by death. However, the Pythagorean belief is false.

    It can sometimes be difficult to get past cultural teachings, but that does not mean all beliefs are culturally relative. This is especially clear in the case of math. So, it is fallacious to think just because society has taught you a certain moral view that said view is only culturally relative. It may well be objectively true. It is arrogant to claim otherwise.

    In fact, this is why many Nazis came to realize their error, even in the concentration camps, and assist the Jews. If their moral view was entirely relative, then they could not have come to this realization.

  41. 41
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob says I don’t get his position.

    Nonsense. His position is easy enough to understand. It boils down to “Holocausts are not my cup of tea. But apparently they were Himmler’s cup of tea. And who is to say whether my tea preference is superior to Himmler’s”

    God help us.

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    In the early days of the German advance into Eastern Europe, before the possibility of Soviet retribution even entered their untroubled imagination, Nazi extermination squads would sweep into villages, and after forcing villagers to dig their own graves, murder their victims with machine guns. On one such occasion somewhere in Eastern Europe, an SS officer watched languidly, his machine gun cradled, as an elderly and bearded Hasidic Jew laboriously dug what he knew to be his grave.

    Standing up straight, he addressed his executioner. “God is watching what you are doing,” he said.

    And then he was shot dead.

    What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing.

    [Berlinski]

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    Origenes at 42. God is indeed watching:

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Verses and video

    Hebrews 4:13
    “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.”

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Psalm 139:7-14
    Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

    Humanity – Chemical Scum or Made in the Image of God? – video
    https://youtu.be/ElBWAwjPzyM

  44. 44
    Barry Arrington says:

    How is arguing with a materialist like housebreaking a puppy?

    Materialist arguments, like those CR and Bob have made in this very thread, are the rhetorical equivalent of piles of steaming dog poo. And they drop those piles all over the place. Dealing with it is very unpleasant. But if you are going to make any progress, it is necessary to rub their noses in it. And as Bob especially demonstrates, they don’t like that.

    People like Bob living their comfortable little bourgeois lives, coasting on Christian moral capital built up over centuries, dabble in philosophy and make half-educated pronouncements about ethics. And they come up with gems like “it would be arrogant for me to say Himmler was necessarily wrong.” And a part of that moral capital is flushed down the toilet. How much longer before they undermine it altogether and the whole edifice comes tumbling down? I don’t know. But I’m no optimistic. Thus the title of this post.

  45. 45
    john_a_designer says:

    Now you can see how Hitler and the Nazis came to power. People forget that they didn’t seize power through force, though they had tried that earlier– the so-called Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler and the Nazis were voted democratically into power, then they seized absolute power. All they needed were morally indifferent people who were content to just bob along with the meandering currents and eddies of a relativistic society.

  46. 46
    tribune7 says:

    Bob,

    If morals are based on social consensus would those who advocate change to the consensus be immoral?

    Once racism was the social consensus of the West. Were those that condemned the consensus in the wrong? What gave them moral authority?

  47. 47
    Bob O'H says:

    Bob says I don’t get his position.

    Nonsense. His position is easy enough to understand. It boils down to “Holocausts are not my cup of tea. But apparently they were Himmler’s cup of tea. And who is to say whether my tea preference is superior to Himmler’s”

    I’m sorry to say, but you haven’t understood my position. We can all say whether my views on the holocaust are superior to Himmler’s (welcome to democracy!). My point is that I can’t say what the views of people 3000 years (say) in the future will be.

  48. 48
    Bob O'H says:

    JAD @ 45 –

    Now you can see how Hitler and the Nazis came to power.

    Yes, the people opposed to them were too busy arguing amongst themselves. Barry and I both agree that the Holocaust was wrong, and yet that’s not good enough. If I don’t believe it was wrong in the same way that he does, I get vitriolic attacks from him.

  49. 49
    Bob O'H says:

    t7 @ 46 –

    If morals are based on social consensus would those who advocate change to the consensus be immoral?

    Immoral by whose standards?

  50. 50

    Bob @ 49: The a/mats do have moral standards. Some think murder is perfectly moral. Some think murder is perfectly immoral. It’s all just each person’s opinion.

    “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Aleister Crowley.

  51. 51
    critical rationalist says:

    Translation: CR tentatively holds to the notion that the Holocaust was evil, but he is open to being persuaded he is wrong.

    Horrifying.

    God help us.

    Yes, Barry. I don’t suspect I will actually be persuaded, but that’s an accurate statement. Why?

    Because it goes both ways. Are you open to being persuaded that Yahweh’s command to kill Canaanite women and children on the land he “gave” them evil?

    If your not, merely because it came from a source you deem authorative, that’s what’s horrifying.

    However, you probably believe that God has stopped making personal appearances, so I don’t have to worry about you thinking God will command you to kill me (thanks goodness). But what about witches and homosexuals?

    “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.

    Exodus 22:18

    Are you just fortunate in that there are no true witches around anymore, so you don’t have to kill them? Or where any of the women killed 3,000 years actually witches?

    What about all the witches being killled in Africa? Is that evil?

    If I accept for the sake of argument that you are correct, that the Canaanite and Holocaust episodes are examples of the same sort of thing, that does not refute the point I made in the Becky’s Lesson story.

    Is this not questioning whether the Canaanite slaughter was evil?

  52. 52
    tribune7 says:

    Bob,

    Immoral by whose standards?

    I’ll grant that you haven’t been clear but as far as I can tell by your standards i.e. morality is determined by society.

  53. 53
    Barry Arrington says:

    Dear readers, you be the judge.

    CR just admitted that he cannot be certain the Holocaust was evil and that he is open to being persuaded that it was in fact morally upright and just.

    He does not, however, want to dwell on the staggering implications of his morally odious views about 18 million dead bodies 75 years ago.

    Instead, he is desperate to change the subject. “Let’s talk about Canaan 3,400 years ago, not Europe within living memory,” summarizes his comment.

    Instead of dwelling on the fact that he just said it is conceivable that he could come around to the view that it was OK to murder 18 million men, women and children, he says what about those witches?

    I am not going to rise to his bait. I do not need to defend God; he can take care of himself.

    Barry: If I accept for the sake of argument that you are correct, that the Canaanite and Holocaust episodes are examples of the same sort of thing, that does not refute the point I made in the Becky’s Lesson story.

    CR: Is this not questioning whether the Canaanite slaughter was evil?

    CR, you say lots of odious and morally indefensible things, but you are rarely downright stupid, as you are here. Read what I said again, this time for comprehension. I accept for the sake of argument that you are correct. I have cut off your attempt to change the subject away from your morally monstrous views. Again, God can defend himself. He does not need me to do so.

  54. 54
    critical rationalist says:

    Nonsense. His position is easy enough to understand. It boils down to “Holocausts are not my cup of tea. But apparently they were Himmler’s cup of tea. And who is to say whether my tea preference is superior to Himmler’s”

    All preferences start out as conjectures. If Himmler’s prefernce wasn’t throughly criticized, which it’s offen not in cases like this, then how could we find errors in it? Specifically, our preferences are based on ideas about how the world words, in reality, and we can be mistaken about those idea.

    In fact, many people in the Reich were of Jewish or Slavic desent. And Hitler himself had DNA markers that were rare in Western Europeans, but common among North Africans – particular the Berber tribes of Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. It is also one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population, present in 18 – 20% of Ashkenazi Jews and 7-30% of Sephardic Jews. So, it’s possible that Hitler was related to the people he despised.

    Based on what we know now, the human race is more driven by memes than genes. And that will only further continue to be the case in the future. Knowing how is a great equalizer.

    So, it seems to me that Hitler himself was quite mistaken across a wide range of moral knowledge.

    Hitler’s thinking was not far from Trumps. Make Germany great again, as opposed to make America great again.

  55. 55
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR:

    All preferences start out as conjectures.

    What is your preferred answer to the question what is the sum of 2+2?

    I prefer the answer “4.” My preference for that answer is not based on conjecture. It is based on the objective fact that the answer is self-evidently true.

    What is your preferred answer to the question is the slaughter 18 million men, women and children evil?

    I prefer the answer “yes.” My preference for that answer is not based on conjecture. It is based on the objective fact that the answer is self-evidently true.

  56. 56
    critical rationalist says:

    [Deleted as violation of UD Policy]

    CR if you have an argument to make in response to Barry’s, by all means make it. As the new UD policy indicates, UD is a forum for the discussion of science and philosophy, not your “gotcha” theological whataboutism.

  57. 57
    Barry Arrington says:

    Prediction: We won’t be hearing much from CR anymore. When you take his “gotcha” whataboutism away, all he has left is defending his self-evidently morally monstrous views (i.e., I am open to arguments that murdering 18 million was a good thing).

  58. 58
    critical rationalist says:

    Comment deleted.

    CR, this really is your last warning. If all you want to talk about is your assumed notions of Barry’s views of scripture and how God, if he existed, would be a poopyhead, then you need to move along.

    If you want to talk about your critical rational approach to ethics, by all means do so. I’ve even opened a thread hoping you would do just that. Again, we are not going to bog this site down in Old Testament apologetics.

  59. 59
    john_a_designer says:

    Bob @ #48,

    Your subjective “moral” opinions, Bob, are not morally binding on anyone else. “Morality” without interpersonal moral obligation is not just impotent it’s meaningless.

    How can any group or community survive and thrive if its members are not committed to honesty and truth telling. Tonight I was watching a documentary about an Illinois man, Randy Steidl, who was sentenced to death for a double homicide because one of the witnesses at his trial gave false testimony. Steidl spent 17 years on death row before this conviction was overturned. Here is a link to an article about his case.

    https://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/us/death-row-stories-randy-steidl/index.html

    All mentally competent human being are morally obligated to tell the truth. It can have dire consequences when we don’t. In other words, it’s not based on your subjective moral beliefs and opinions.

  60. 60
    Bob O'H says:

    JAD @ 59 –

    Your subjective “moral” opinions, Bob, are not morally binding on anyone else.

    Oh, I agree.

    “Morality” without interpersonal moral obligation is not just impotent it’s meaningless.

    Indeed, and that’s why the social element is important. The law is one way that moral behaviour is encouraged, but there are others (e.g. your comments about the obligation to truth telling are an example of subtler forms of encouragement).

  61. 61
    john_a_designer says:

    What if someone doesn’t agree that lying is wrong? Does that make it okay for him because he doesn’t believe it’s wrong? What if 99% of the people in a community believed there was nothing really wrong with lying? Would that make it moral to lie?

  62. 62
    groovamos says:

    CR Hitler’s thinking was not far from Trumps.

    Pretty dang ignorant if not outright stupid. Where is Trump’s WWI that he served in and got injured and was in the hospital when the Armistice was concluded? Where is the intense resentment stoked by the Armistice that Hitler and the populace in general felt was a betrayal of national destiny? Who is the equivalent of Oscar Pescel who invented Lebensraum after reading Origin of the Species Where is the economic depression that allowed Hitler to gain power when the populace gives into desperation? We have the economic opposite right now because of Trump

    Where is the equivalent of Lebensraum in the American psyche which demands expansion of our territory and genocide as the German population demanded?

  63. 63
    Allan Keith says:

    JAD,

    What if someone doesn’t agree that lying is wrong? Does that make it okay for him because he doesn’t believe it’s wrong?

    For him, yes. However, is he willing to live with the consequences of his lying (nobody trusting him, possible libel/slander charges, etc.)?

    What if 99% of the people in a community believed there was nothing really wrong with lying? Would that make it moral to lie?

    It wouldn’t really matter. There is no way a society could function if 99% of its population constantly lied.

  64. 64
    steve_h says:

    You don’t know what the word “tautology” means. You should look big words up before you use them.

    Here, I will help you with that. A tautology is the saying of the same thing twice in different words.

    Evil can be defined as intentional harm or suffering especially caused without mitigating circumstances.

    Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part.

    The Holocaust was an deliberate attempt to destroy a people at least in part.

    Given those definitions I don’t see how the Holocaust can be considered as anything but evil – The definititions simply do not allow it. No external standard is required. Take away the harm or the intent then the terms Genocide and Evil no longer apply.

    “The Holocaust was evil” is not a tautology because “Holocaust” and “evil” don’t mean the same thing.

    You are right, they don’t mean the same thing, but the definitions have much in common. If anything, Genocide could just be seen as a subset of Evil.

    Similarly, broadly speaking, murder is deliberate wrongful killing, as opposed to accidental killing, justifiable killing (to prevent even more killing), etc. If I say someone was murdered, I don’t need to say that the murder was wrong, because if it wasn’t wrong I wouldn’t have described it as murder in the first place.

    In the end, we are both using different definitions of the word “Evil” and you will denounce me as evil or stupid for not sharing your views. I don’t know exactly what your definition of evil is – only that you think it’s objective. That some acts meet my criteria and yours does not imply that your definition is therefore the correct one.

  65. 65
    john_a_designer says:

    AK,

    So there are practical “objective” reasons for not lying? What about murder? What about rape? What about child abuse? Racial discrimination? Genocide? Are there practical objective reasons why those thing might be wrong and immoral?

  66. 66
    Allan Keith says:

    JaD,

    So there are practical “objective” reasons for not lying? What about murder? What about rape? What about child abuse? Racial discrimination? Genocide? Are there practical objective reasons why those thing might be wrong and immoral?

    If what you mean by “objective reasons” why they are wrong, you are referring to the fact that they can’t be tolerated in a society if that society wishes to endure, then yes there are practical objective reasons why they are wrong. If by objective you mean some outside authoritatative source of objective morality, there is no evidence for this.

  67. 67
    Barry Arrington says:

    steve_h at 64,

    Let’s review our discussion:

    steve_h: I have no problem saying that the Holocaust would be evil at all times, places etc.

    So far so good.

    Barry: Then you believe in at least one objective transcendent moral truth. Tell me steve, where did that objective moral truth come from?

    Steve_h: It’s not an objective moral truth – it’s pretty much a tautology.

    Buzzzz. Steve goes off the rails.

    Barry: A tautology is the saying of the same thing twice in different words. “The Holocaust was evil” is not a tautology because “Holocaust” and “evil” don’t mean the same thing.

    Steve_h: You are right, they don’t mean the same thing

    OK, now that we’ve cleared that little distraction up, let’s get back to the original question:

    Steve, you said the Holocaust would be evil at all times, places etc. That is exactly the same as saying the Holocaust was objectively evil. Now, here’s the question again:

    Where did that objective moral truth come from?

    steve_h will either ignore the question or spew more word salad into the combox. Big surprise. Another A-Mat who is a simpering coward.

  68. 68
    steve_h says:

    “Evil” and “Genocide” don’t mean exactly the same thing. But by my definitions above asking “is genocide always evil?” is like asking
    is “an intentional attempt to destroy (harm) a people” always “an intentional act causing harm or suffering?”

    If only there was some way I could explain to you that there is some redundancy in that. In my view, a non-evil genocide is an oxymoron (Hint: This would be a great opportunity for you say that I’m the moron here)

    And it’s still not objective moral truth. My definitions could only be objective if the word “harm” can be defined objectively. Normally you would pull me up on this. Sure, some acts (murder, genocide, torture, rape) are known to be harmful or are harmful by definition, but there are many cases which are not so clearly defined – the ones you don’t mention when arguing for objective morality. You are using the clear-cut cases to sneak in as objective all of your own personal opinions, likes and dislikes.

    BTW, how do you feel about God potentially having the Jews tortured forever in hell after the Nazis had finished with them? I guess it’s one of the things you have bravely banned from discussion under your new blog rules.

  69. 69
    Barry Arrington says:

    steve_h at 68.

    He went the word salad route. Prediction confirmed. Does anyone else think Steve writes like stoned college sophomore?

    I’m right aren’t I Steve. You are in college; you were stoned when you wrote that. No shame. It’s legal in my state, assuming you’re 21.

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