Intelligent Design

Evolutionary biology rewrites the American Declaration of Independence

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I am currently reading a thought-provoking book titled, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, who has a Ph.D. in History from Oxford University and who now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Harari is no friend of religion, but he is quite frank in acknowledging that liberal humanism is founded on monotheistic beliefs, and that the current scientific consensus among evolutionary biologists is increasingly at odds with the tenets of liberal humanism.

In chapter 6 of his book, Dr. Harari contrasts two documents: Hammurabi’s Code (written in 1776 B.C.) and the American Declaration of Independence (written in 1776 A.D.). Under Hammurabi’s Code, society was viewed as a hierarchy: people were divided into two genders and three classes (superior people, commoners and slaves), each of differing monetary values. Children were the property of their parents, and could be killed as punishment for crimes committed by their parents, such as murder. Now, it is easy for us to recognize that the Babylonian division of people into superior and inferior classes was not based on any objective reality, but on a social myth that was widely accepted by people living at that time. But Dr. Harari argues that the belief, enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence, that all human beings are equal, is also a myth with no basis in reality. He writes:

Is there any objective reality, outside the human imagination, in which we are truly equal? Are all humans equal to one another biologically? Let us try to translate the most famous line of the American Declaration of Independence into biological terms:

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.

According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’.

Just as people were never created, neither, according to the science of biology, is there a ‘Creator’ who ‘endows’ them with anything. There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals. ‘Endowed by their creator’ should be translated simply into ‘born’.

Equally, there is no such thing as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics. Birds fly not because they have a right to fly, but because they have wings. And it’s not true that these organs, abilities and characteristics are ‘unalienable’. Many of them undergo constant mutations, and may well be completely lost over time. The ostrich is a bird that has lost its ability to fly. So ‘unalienable’ rights should be translated into ‘mutable characteristics’.

And what are the characteristics that evolved in humans? ‘Life’, certainly. But ‘liberty’? There is no such thing in biology. Just like equality, rights and limited liability companies, liberty is something that people invented and that exists only in their imagination. From a biological standpoint, it is meaningless to say that humans in democratic societies are free, whereas humans in dictatorships are unfree. And what about ‘happiness’? So far biological research has failed to come up with a clear definition of happiness or a way to measure it objectively. Most biological studies acknowledge only the existence of pleasure, which is more easily defined and measured. So ‘life, libery and the pursuit of happiness’ should be translated into ‘life and the pursuit of pleasure’.

So here is that line from the American Declaration of Independence translated into biological terms:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.

Dr. Harari goes on to say that he has no argument with those who would contend that encouraging people to believe in the myth of equality will help create a stable and prosperous society, thereby creating an imagined order, which is neither a subjective mirage nor an objective fact, but rather, a publicly accepted fiction residing in the consciousness of many individuals, which enables large numbers of humans to co-operate effectively. He goes on to note, however, that Hammurabi’s Code, in which the social order was based on a shared belief in hierarchy, could be justified by the same line of reasoning.

Dr. Harari also notes that any social order requires what he calls ‘true believers’: in order for it to work, a large number of people – including people in the elite class and in the security forces – have to actually believe that the myth is true. “American democracy,” he writes, “would not have lasted 250 years if the majority of presidents and congressmen failed to believe in human rights.”

Dr. Harari also makes the interesting point that in order to change an imagined order, which is collectively held by the vast majority of citizens, we need to simultaneously changes the beliefs of millions of citizens. But since these citizens still need to function as a society, they will need to replace the myth they discarded with a new myth.

In a later chapter, Dr. Harari explores the disturbing social implications of evolutionary biology, whose findings do not support liberal humanism, but a radically different kind of humanism – evolutionary humanism – in which the ultimate goal of society is to encourage the evolution of human beings into a race of superhumans:

At the dawn of the third millennium, the future of evlutionary humanism is unclear. For sixty years after the end of the war against Hitler it was taboo to link humanism with evolution and to advocate using biological methods to ‘upgrade’ Homo sapiens. But today such projects are back in vogue. No one speaks openly about exterminating lower races or inferior people, but many contemplate using our increasing knowledge of human biology to create superhumans.

At the same time, a huge gulf is opening between the tentes of liberal humanism and the latest findings of the life sciences, a pull we cannot ignore much longer. Our liberal political and judicial systems are founded on the belief that every individual has a sacred inner nature, indivisible and immutable, which gives meaning to the world, and which is the source of all ethical and political authority. This is a reincarnation of the traditional Christian belief in a free and eternal soul that resides within each individual. Yet over the last 200 years, the life sciences have thoroughly undermined this belief. Scientists studying the inner workings of the human organism have found no sould there. They increasingly argue that human behavior is determined by hormones, genes and synapses, rather than by free will – the same forces that determine the behavior of chimpanzees, wolves, and ants. Our judicial and political systems largely try to sweep such inconvenient discoveries under the carpet. But in all frankness, how long can we maintain the wall separating the department of biology from the departments of law and political science?
(Emphases mine – VJT.)

How long, indeed?

Dr. Harari and I disagree profoundly on the human soul, and on the sufficiency of blind processes to explain the course of human evolution. Nevertheless, Dr. Harari is to be commended for his clearsightedness and frankness, in expounding the logic of evolutionary biology with perfect clarity. You cannot believe in the values enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence and at the same time, call yourself an evolutionary biologist. Which raises an interesting sociological question: why are American schools teaching a doctrine in their science classrooms which undermines the founding principles of their own society?

Thoughts?

154 Replies to “Evolutionary biology rewrites the American Declaration of Independence

  1. 1
    Chimera says:

    On the BBC they have a series where they talk to an author regarding their book.

    Dr. Yuval Noah Harari appeared in this series and he talked about this very book.

    I saw a brief part of this interview, essentially he was saying that if you put a group of chimps and a group of humans on an island the humans would survive better.
    How so? By cooperation via their stories. Whether these stories were true or not.
    He mentioned that some of the most successful stories like Christianity’s are viewed by scientists as pure fiction.

    It was to be pretty honest one of the silliest and funniest things I had seen in a long time.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Chimera at 1: From your account, Dr. Harari would not seem to be an expert in international affairs.

    It is conflicting STORIES that create most huge, lethal conflicts among human beings.

    From the Trojan War down to the Middle East today, war often comes down to whose story we accept. Failure to recognize that would not speak well for Dr. Harari’s thesis.

    But Torley read the book, and you saw the series, and I did neither, so I can only throw in the general comment: Any account of warfare among humans must include “stories” as a key driver.

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    I have no idea whether Harari is correct, but there is no inconsistency between the view that human cooperation is facilitated by stories and stories create wars. Stories can be a tool for integration within a group and a cause of confict between groups.

  4. 4
    Zachriel says:

    the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them

    Whatever its origin, whether the Laws of Nature or Nature’s God, it’s intrinsic to human nature to prefer freedom to chains*. As such, society assigns each person an equal right to freedom. The secular concept is citizen.

    * See Moloch et al., Most Seemingly Prefer Candy to Hot Poker in the Eye; Experimental Results, Proceedings of the Lower Realms BCE.

  5. 5
    Heartlander says:

    We hold no truths to be self-evident, that all are evolved based on chance, that they are endowed by a mindless chemical process from a mindless universal algorithm with uncertain illusions of rights that among these are equality of life throughout all species, and the pursuit of happenstance.

  6. 6
    velikovskys says:


    You cannot believe in the values enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence and at the same time, call yourself an evolutionary biologist.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” , I thought the logic was a self evident truth’ proof was that it was self evident.

    A question,why do you assume that a biologist cannot be a theist? The Catholic Church doesn’t seem to think those are incompatible.

  7. 7
    ppolish says:

    Religion in general and Christianity in particular believe in the survival of the fittest soul. Heck, reincarnation will have many Atheists coming back as fungus. Better luck next time.

    Afterlife is a more advanced Evolutionary Concept. Religion brings EvoBio to the next level.

  8. 8
    wd400 says:

    Which raises an interesting sociological question: why are American schools teaching a doctrine in their science classrooms which undermines the founding principles of their own society?

    I don’t think a country that was built on the eradication or removal or one set of peoples and the enslavement of another ever took consistency with this principle that seriously.

    Moreover, while evolutionary biology lets us understand the basis of the differences and similarities among individuals, those differences exist whether you are an atheist, theistic evolutionist or a creationist. And many people that accept evolutionary biology are themselves theists.

    I’m not sure this is an evolution-creation topic at all.

  9. 9
    Tim says:

    V@6,

    Read with discernment; write with clarity. Dr. Torley’s post is about a person who dispenses with the “creation” aspect of the Declaration and per evolutionary biology replaces/adjusts the phrases in question. The “assumption” is not really even made by Dr. Torley, but by Dr. Harari. Obviously, Dr. Harari does not espouse Catholic views, so why the insertion of the views of the Catholic Church re biologists and theism? Come on, man! You can (and should) do better.

    Again, for those who haven’t read it, I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man,” which readily anticipates the discussion Dr. Harari brings, even though it was written over seventy years ago. Dr. Harari is merely identifying for us the plain fact that although much influenced by the humanisms of the age, the Declaration of Independence was written out of the Tao.

    It is also clear, at least to me, that both the drive and bankruptcy of evolutionary humanism will produce effects that are both inhumane in application and chilling in result. Now, by inhumane I mean not only the dis-integrated search for moral answers via physical process, but also the inexorable escape toward “conditioning” as a process of “development” over what we used to call learning. Read again the paragraph on “imagined order” and you can plainly see that “conditioning” (that is, if no real correspondence to reality admits) would be the course of action.

    Chilling. Indeed taking a sociological view, we can call up many pre-apocalyptic visions from popular media in which such evolutionary-biology-driven philosophies would shape our world, in fact who we are, into none other than apocalyptic orders.

    On a more personal level, the chill is deeper and without an endowment from above necessarily more visceral and therefore vulgar.

    Dr. Torley asks about American schools. My answer is that too many American schools, especially at the secondary and post-secondary level, are operating outside Lewis’s Tao (what many would identify as natural law). And in one of the great miscalculations by our intelligensia, they continue to erect (in some cases quite literally building after building) ideals to support the face of the modern university believing that such outer constructs can replace the now-ignored and largely abandoned heart of all early American universities, that is, the Heart who gave us the Universe.

  10. 10
    M. Holcumbrink says:

    why are American schools teaching a doctrine in their science classrooms which undermines the founding principles of their own society?

    That wicked woman Jezebel has assumed control, it seems, and it is getting worse. As I see it, Intelligent Design vs the Modern Synthesis has for me been like the contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah. Today’s evolutionary biologists will cut and maim themselves trying to call down convincing evidences that their theory is correct. Then along comes the ID theorist, calling down fire from heaven, and in turn convincing millions that there must have been a designing intelligence behind it all, and at the same time make the Naturalist look completely ridiculous.

    Yet Jezebel is still in charge (i.e. the prevailing worldview), so the prophets of God still face death wherever they are found. Even Elijah ran for his life after such a fantastic victory over the prophets of Baal.

    But in the end, I take it that the prevailing worldview will eventually be thrown from the wall and eaten by the dogs, not even to be given a proper burial, so that no one will ever be able to proclaim “here lies Jezebel”. This will happen eventually… I hope.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT: Thanks for a good reminder. As always, I point to the ghost of Plato on this, in The Laws, Bk X, c 360 BC:

    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.

    We can hardly say, we were not warned.

    KF

    PS: Let us recall, that evolutionary materialism is also intellectually self-defeating,cf here.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    leodp says:

    Tim: “I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man,” which readily anticipates the discussion Dr. Harari brings, even though it was written over seventy years ago.”

    Spot on! For those who haven’t read it, here’s a convenient summary (and appetizer): To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.

  14. 14
    tragic mishap says:

    Interesting post.

    This type of thinking has been around quite some time. For instance: Brain states replacing emotions. It’s the obvious conclusion of materialism, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it explicitly compared with the Declaration of Independence before.

    Thanks vj. Very interesting.

  15. 15
    rvb8 says:

    Why is that moderate apologist CS Lewis put forward as evidence for anything. As Bart Ehrman points out, ‘Jesus is either liar, lunatic, or Lord; there is a fourth option, “legend”.’

    As to the post; this would be the Babylonian code that the interned Jews in Babylon would have been exposed to, 1000 years after Hammurabi put them down? Absorbing some of it they produced a slightly more humane version. As time and humanity evolved we came to the realisation that we are thinking animals, and methods to avoid confrontation are better than confrontation; Islam is still grappling with this. During the enlightenment we extended these ideas and used religion to aid in the formulation of the protective myth that, you actually matter. This myth means I can live a long and fruitful, peaceful life, which is infinately preferrable to the theocratic alternative we experienced in the youth of our culture: Theocracy!

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    Thoughts?

    How about ‘stuff and nonsense? Naturalistic fallacy, anyone? Is/ought problem ring a bell? Anyone? Bueller?

    In a later chapter, Dr. Harari explores the disturbing social implications of evolutionary biology, whose findings do not support liberal humanism, but a radically different kind of humanism – evolutionary humanism – in which the ultimate goal of society is to encourage the evolution of human beings into a race of superhumans:

    The scientific theory of evolution doesn’t “support” any kind of ‘ism’. You can’t logically derive ‘ought’ from ‘is’. And anyone who seriously thinks that the theory inevitably shows the next stage of human evolution to be some sort of Nietzschean Ubermensch has caught a bad case of Hollywood eugenics.

    You cannot believe in the values enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence and at the same time, call yourself an evolutionary biologist. Which raises an interesting sociological question: why are American schools teaching a doctrine in their science classrooms which undermines the founding principles of their own society?

    I have to say I am somewhat taken aback that someone with your knowledge of philosophy could present such a fundamentally flawed argument. Not only is there no way to logically derive the values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence from any theory in science, let alone in biology, there is also no way that those values could be undermined by such theories. The fact that we observe phenomena that can be explained as a force called gravity does not in any way imply that we should use it to drop bombs on people. the fact that we observe that people are not all born equal – not equal in health or talents or skills or looks or access to resources and opportunities, for example – does not mean that we shouldn’t grant every member of society the same basic set of rights and privileges and strive to ensure that they are respected and upheld.

    As for what is taught in the science classroom, you’re right that doctrine of any sort should be excluded but the theory of evolution is no more a “doctrine” than quantum mechanics. It does not prescribe. If it did it would no longer be science.

  17. 17
    Robert Byers says:

    this is why one should not listen to foreign, very foreign as in israel, people talk about man and civilization. One is wasting ones time.
    Yes we have souls As another poster said its SELF EVIDENT we have rights from a creator and so self evident that its still our rights even admitted by those who deny a creator.
    ITS self evident in short.

    e are all equal as naked dumb babies. Everything afterward is just picked up and that is indeed a result of identity. or rather the curves in the graph of our circles.
    There is no evidence of genetic difference save for things of the free will.
    Even male/female is from prompting sense of identity.

    The American thing is obvious in its intents. How can one fight that.
    superhumans! Isn’t this concept one of the reasons they use to justify the right for Israel to exist! That concepts of SUPERhumans leads to desuppering other people!?

    i vote thumbs down on this guy completely.
    Not a friend and took someone elses chance at a Oxford degree and ends up in Israel doing nobody any good.
    Stick with our own people and names we can pronounce.

  18. 18
    rvb8 says:

    Mr Byers and his implicit quasi-antisemitism are strangely tolerated here. His medieval view on women is also glossed over. He is of course a follower of that Jewish off shoot faith, so this is not so terribly strange.

    His second to last sentence is a grab bag of mangled grammar, the dissing of Oxford degrees, and Israel generally.

    Why exactly is he tolerated here?

  19. 19
    vjtorley says:

    rvb8,

    Thank you for your comment. As it happens, I’m pro-Israel, and not ashamed of saying so.

    I find it very troubling that Robert Byers views Israel as a state set up for “superhumans”. If Mr. Byers wants to know why Israel has a right to exist, then I suggest that he should have a look at this piece. He should also read Israel’s 1948 Proclamation of Independence, which includes the following passage:

    “We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”

    I can’t see any reference to superhumans here.

  20. 20
    vjtorley says:

    Seversky,

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    The scientific theory of evolution doesn’t “support” any kind of ‘ism’. You can’t logically derive ‘ought’ from ‘is’…

    I have to say I am somewhat taken aback that someone with your knowledge of philosophy could present such a fundamentally flawed argument. Not only is there no way to logically derive the values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence from any theory in science, let alone in biology, there is also no way that those values could be undermined by such theories…

    …[T]he theory of evolution is no more a “doctrine” than quantum mechanics. It does not prescribe. If it did it would no longer be science.

    Hold it right there. You are half right: the theory of evolution does not prescribe. But it can certainly invalidate some prescriptive doctrines. If, for example, evolutionary biology were to establish that there is no clear dividing line between humans and other animals in terms of their capacities, and that the transition from the first hominids to Homo sapiens was gradual at every level (cognitive as well as biological), then that clearly would invalidate the doctrine that humans have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and that other animals don’t. Likewise, if science were to conclusively establish that the brain is a machine whose workings can be explained in a deterministic fashion from the bottom up, then there would be no room for the concept of free will, and hence no grounds for saying that humans are responsible for their actions, while animals are not.

    Dr. Harari believes that the findings of modern science undermine the prescriptive doctrines contained in the American Declaration of Independence. I disagree with his reading of the evidence, but I have to say that if I thought the evidence pointed in the direction he says it does, then I would concur with his assessment.

    I should add that the revised version of the Declaration of Independence proposed by Dr. Harari contains no prescriptions of its own: it simply declares that “all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.” No “oughts” there.

    But, you will object, what about evolutionary humanism, with its prescriptive doctrine that the ultimate goal of society is to encourage the evolution of human beings into a race of superhumans? How does one derive this from science?

    I would reply, with Ayn Rand, that while you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”, you can certainly derive an “ought” from an “if”. Evolutionary biology tells us that some humans have genes that help make them more intelligent than others, and that this trait was the vital one that enabled humans to conquer the planet and become the dominant species. Evolutionary logic would therefore dictate that if you want to maintain your species’ dominance, you should try to cultivate intelligence – in order words, try and breed a race of superhumans. An evolutionary biologist would find it hard to fault that logic.

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    #15 rvb8

    Why is that moderate apologist CS Lewis put forward as evidence for anything. As Bart Ehrman points out, ‘Jesus is either liar, lunatic, or Lord; there is a fourth option, “legend”.’

    A fifth more banal option is that he was mistaken.  People can be under delusions about specific things without being lunatics. Lewis was a great writer of children’s stories but his philosophy is crude. He cannot recognise that someone can wrongly think they are divine without being a lunatic; and he does not appreciate that value judgements are a combination of the objective and subjective – for him they have to be objective or they are just statements about our feelings.

  22. 22
    Mark Frank says:

    If, for example, evolutionary biology were to establish that there is no clear dividing line between humans and other animals in terms of their capacities, and that the transition from the first hominids to Homo sapiens was gradual at every level (cognitive as well as biological), then that clearly would invalidate the doctrine that humans have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and that other animals don’t. Likewise, if science were to conclusively establish that the brain is a machine whose workings can be explained in a deterministic fashion from the bottom up, then there would be no room for the concept of free will, and hence no grounds for saying that humans are responsible for their actions, while animals are not.

    VJ – I am sorry but both of these are false.

    The world is full of things that have gradual transitions and we have no problem allocating duties and rights. All it means is those duties and rights are fuzzy at the point of transition. The transition from infant to adult is gradual but we give adults moral responsibilities and rights that we do not give to infants (and we give some rights to infants, e.g. to be cared for by their parents, that we do not give to adults).

    Like all compatibilists I absolutely disagree with the second proposition. 

  23. 23
    drc466 says:

    Zach @4,

    I would say that men prefer limited chains to either freedom or full chains. Thus do we create governments, rather than living in anarchy. (Moloch ref made me laugh, tyft).

    Vel @6,

    I’m very sad, because I’m going to agree with you. By saying “self-evident”, Jefferson was basically saying everyone thinks this way so I’m not going to explain it to you. Although, honestly, I think what most people believe is “all men are created [no better than me]”.

    wd400 @8,

    Jefferson, the conflicted slave-owner, would agree with you. No one ever said actually living according to your principles was easy (c.f. moralistic materialists).

    rvb8 @15,

    Dude, your belief system is seriously depressing. “the protective myth that you actually matter”? Ouch.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8: Ehrman’s suggestion is ill-informed. While that is tangential to the issue for this thread, it would be advisable for you to cf here on as a starter on why the “Jesus was a myth and the Gospels/NT are fundamentally unreliable historically” thesis fails, fails badly. KF

    PS: RB is back on exactly the same terms that many others who were banned are: the blog owner decided to give a general amnesty a short while back. If RB does not clean up his act from his former ways, he is predictably headed for the same status he so recently had.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, what is a right and how is a right grounded — yes, grounded? To substitute another definition that is tantamount to might and manipulation makes right (as Plato warned against), does not reasonably answer the question. KF

    PS: Onlookers, consider the point that a right is a binding moral expectation for appropriate respect, rooted in our inherent status and fundamental equality as human beings; not merely a social convention backed up by whatever history of battles won or lost in courts and parliaments, or on the field etc across time. Thus, we see Locke citing Canon Richard Hooker from Ecclesiastical Polity, to found the rights basis of what would become modern liberty and democracy, in Ch 2 of his 2nd essay on civil gov’t — which directly underlies the terms of the US DoI of 1776:

    . . . 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]

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N’s:

    1: IS vs OUGHT: Hume’s guillotine implies directly that the only effective answer must lie in a world-foundational IS that at once grounds OUGHT. The only serious candidate has long been the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    2: SELF-EVIDENCE: As Aquinas long since highlighted, this is not equal to “the [seemingly] obvious,” but is instead a truth that once soundly understood, will be seen to be true, and necessarily true on pain of patent absurdity. (Just try to suggest to the father of a kidnapped, raped and murdered child that that child had no right to life beyond whatever force or eloquence it could have mustered in its defence.) But there are ever so many cases of denial based on clinging to ideologies that blind one to such absurdities . . . and the compatibilist notion of holding responsible freedom to be compatible with evolutionary materialist determinism is a classic in point. Racism comes to mind as another obvious case.

    KF

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Regarding the use of the slavery case to try to polarise against and dismiss the US DoI of 1776.

    First, US 6th President John Quincy Adams, July 4, 1837:

    The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the Declaration himself. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the Memoir of His Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. “Nothing is more certainly written,” said he, “in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free.”

    The time has long since come for a fairer more historically informed reading and response.

    I note as well this from Stephen McDowell (2003):

    America’s Founding Fathers are seen by some people today as unjust and hypocrites, for while they talked of liberty and equality, they at the same time were enslaving hundreds of thousands of Africans. Some allege that the Founders bear most of the blame for the evils of slavery. Consequently, many today have little respect for the Founders and turn their ear from listening to anything they may have to say. And, in their view, to speak of America as founded as a Christian nation is unthinkable (for how could a Christian nation tolerate slavery?) . . . .

    America’s Founders were predominantly Christians and had a Biblical worldview. If that was so, some say, how could they allow slavery, for isn’t slavery sin? As the Bible reveals to man what is sin, we need to examine what it has to say about slavery . . . .

    The Bible teaches that slavery, in one form or another (including spiritual, mental, and physical), is always the fruit of disobedience to God and His law/word. (This is not to say that the enslavement of any one person, or group of people, is due to their sin, for many have been enslaved unjustly, like Joseph and numerous Christians throughout history.) Personal and civil liberty is the result of applying the truth of the Scriptures. As a person or nation more fully applies the principles of Christianity, there will be increasing freedom in every realm of life. Sanctification for a person, or nation, is a gradual process. The fruit of changed thinking and action, which comes from rooting sin out of our lives, may take time to see. This certainly applies historically in removing slavery from the Christian world . . . .

    Some people suggest today that all early Americans must have been despicable to allow such an evil as slavery. They say early America should be judged as evil and sinful, and anything they have to say should be discounted. But if we were to judge modern America by this same standard, it would be far more wicked – we are not merely enslaving people, but we are murdering tens of millions of innocent unborn children through abortion. These people claim that they would not have allowed slavery if they were alive then. They would speak out and take any measures necessary. But where is their outcry and action to end slavery in the Sudan today? (And slavery there is much worse than that in early America.)

    Some say we should not listen to the Founders of America because they owned slaves, or at least allowed slavery to exist in the society. However, if we were to cut ourselves off from the history of nations that had slavery in the past we would have to have nothing to do with any people because almost every society has had slavery, including African Americans, for many African societies sold slaves to the Europeans; and up to ten percent of blacks in America owned slaves . . . . [Moreover] after independence the American Founders actually took steps to end slavery. Some could have done more, but as a whole they probably did more than any group of national leaders up until that time in history to deal with the evil of slavery. They took steps toward liberty for the enslaved and believed that the gradual march of liberty would continue, ultimately resulting in the complete death of slavery. The ideas they infused in the foundational civil documents upon which America was founded – such as Creator endowed rights and the equality of all men before the law – eventually prevailed and slavery was abolished. But not without great difficulty because the generations that followed failed to carry out the gradual abolition of slavery in America.

    And, as the underlying target is, too often, the Judaeo-Christian foundation of our civilisation, I clip a few points to ponder:

    Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. [1 Cor 7:21 – 23.]; . . . .

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery . . . . You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. [Gal. 5:1, 13 – 15.]

    The law is good if one uses it properly . . . [it] is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders [KJV: menstealers] and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. [1 Tim 1:8 – 11]

    If a man is caught kidnapping one of his brother Israelites and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you. [Deut. 24:7. Cf. Lev. 24:22: “You are to have the same law for the alien and the native born . . .”]

    In short, while the biblical textual emphasis is on spiritual liberation, the implications and direct supportive statements for civil liberty are all too plain.

    Nor, is this a hidden matter that lay inexplicably dormant for over 1,000 years, until the C18 – 19 Evangelical Awakenings in the North Atlantic Anglophone world. For, we may read in The Oxford History of the Roman World, under the sub-heading “The Church and the End of the Ancient World,” on p. 471, that:

    . . . there were questions about [Christian] compromise with the political and social system. Gregory of Nyssa boldly attacked the institution of slavery. Augustine thought the domination of man over his neighbour an inherent wrong, but saw no way of ending it and concluded that, since the ordering of society prevented the misery of anarchic disintegration, slavery was both a consequence of the fall of man and at the same time a wrong that providence prevented from being wholly harmful. Slaves were not a very large proportion of the ancient labour force, since the cost of a slave to his owner exceeded that of employing free wage-labourers. Slaves in a good household with a reasonable master enjoyed a security and standard of living that seldom came the way of free wage labourers. But not all slaves had good masters, and in special cases the bishops used the church chest to pay the cost of emancipation. Refusal on moral grounds to own slaves became a rule for monasteries. [Henry Chadwick, “Envoi: On taking Leave of Antiquity,” in The Oxford History of the Roman World, Eds. Boardman, Griffin & Murray, (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press paperback, 1991), p. 471. NB: In the very next paragraph, the contributor goes on to discuss how the church also deeply disapproved of capital punishment [which in many cases of course would be by the utterly degrading death on the cross, and which would thus sharply contrast with Paul’s remarks on the magistrates’ power of the sword in Rom 13:1 – 7] and judicial torture. Indeed, he notes that “[a] Roman church-order of about 200 forbids a Christian magistrate to order an execution on pain of excommunication. No Christian layman could tolerably bring a charge against anyone if the penalty might be execution or a beating with lead-weighted leather thongs . . . Torture forced so many innocent people to confess to crimes they had not committed that the Christian hatred of it commanded wide assent . . .” In short, the picture is far more complex than we might have thought.]

    KF

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, people who are sane are not generally mistaken about the sort of things Jesus claimed, e.g. in Mk 2:1 – 11. As, you know or should know. KF

    PS: This was a point Lewis explicitly addressed in the relevant text, comparing that “mistake” to the man who seriously imagines himself a poached egg.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: CSL in Mere Christianity:

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

    Where, on far too much evidence to be seriously ignored or dismissed (cf here on for starters), at minimum he is a man of history, who stood in Israel’s hebraic prophetic tradition and so confronted the secular and religious elites that he was deemed a threat and was judicially murdered for his pains in calling his nation to repentance and reformaiton.

  30. 30
    Mark Frank says:

    KF#28

    MF, people who are sane are not generally mistaken about the sort of things Jesus claimed, e.g. in Mk 2:1 – 11. As, you know or should know.

    As you write it that’s is strictly true but irrelevant. People who are sane are not generally dwarfs either – but that does not entail that dwarfs are generally insane. More to the point (I am tempted to say “as you know or should know”), there have been and still are many people who believe they have divine powers (including healing the sick and such like) and are sane – especially when their culture supports them in that belief – think of Shamans,  Pharaohs and Roman emperors.

    I accept that he was probably a real person “who stood in Israel’s hebraic prophetic tradition and so confronted the secular and religious elites that he was deemed a threat and was judicially murdered for his pains in calling his nation to repentance and reformation”.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, pardon but people don’t usually claim to have general power to forgive sins — note the text — and that ability to heal is a demonstration thereof, raising up a paralytic in front of all. And Emperors such as Nero were both mad and bad men. As for Shamans, they claim powers, but not to be Son of God with general power to forgive sins etc. Nor do Shamans or Neros rise from the dead with 500+ witnesses who then go forth in unstoppable boldness and miracle working power in that name, in demonstration of the gospel’s power. Cf here on again, please. KF

  32. 32
    Mark Frank says:

    #31 KF

    MF, pardon but people don’t usually claim to have general power to forgive sins — note the text

    Again you have your logic backwards (you are trained in logic aren’t you?). What matters is not if “sane people don’t usually claim to have the general power to forgive sins” but if “people who erroneously claim to have the general power to forgive sins are usually sane”. I am not aware of many examples of people who make such a claim so it is hard to tell but there are certainly plenty of people who make equally bizarre claims who are sane.

    — and that ability to heal is a demonstration thereof, raising up a paralytic in front of all.

    There are plenty of people who demonstrate an ability to magically heal in front of large numbers of people. It proves very little except the power of mass hysteria.

    And Emperors such as Nero were both mad and bad men.

    Some were – many weren’t – Augustus and Claudius for example. You might want to look at the Wikipedia list of people considered deities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....ed_deities). I don’t think they were all insane!

    As for Shamans, they claim powers, but not to be Son of God with general power to forgive sins etc.

    See above.

    Nor do Shamans or Neros rise from the dead with 500+ witnesses who then go forth in unstoppable boldness and miracle working power in that name, in demonstration of the gospel’s power.

    You seem to be getting muddled about what Jesus said and what he did. If he really did rise from the dead with 500+ witnesses then that would be powerful evidence of some kind of supernatural power. Of course, I dispute that really happened but it is a separate issue from CS Lewis’s “proof” which is based on what he said not what he did.

  33. 33
    Joe says:

    There are plenty of people who demonstrate an ability to magically heal in front of large numbers of people.

    That is incorrect. There are plenty of people who demonstrate an ability to fool large numbers of people into thinking they have observed magical healing.

  34. 34
    Joe says:

    The scientific theory of evolution doesn’t “support” any kind of ‘ism’

    The scientific theory of evolution doesn’t exist.

  35. 35
    Mark Frank says:

    #33 Joe

    You are right. I should have written:

    “There are plenty of people who demonstrate an ability to apparently magically heal in front of large numbers of people.”

    Of course they may not be consciously fooling large numbers of people. They may believe in what they are doing and the power of hysteria and the placebo effect does the rest. The problem being that we have no way of knowing if Jesus acts of healing were not just more of the same.

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    They may believe in what they are doing…

    Yes, they definitely believe they are fooling large numbers people. After all they may be a sucker born every minute and they may even group together.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, I simply point out that quadriplegics don’t generally recover through hysteria. KF

    PS: And, the crucified to death generally stay that way, especially when their hearts have been speared to make sure. (And being dead on a cross is obvious, you don’t force yourself up to breathe for long enough; indeed that is how you generally die, you no longer can push up through the pain to breathe.)

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I cited Nero to show that one can be both mad and bad, not to suggest that other emperors who accepted the cult were both. Any ordinary human being who knowing this status accepts worship, is evil. Period.

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I also find the implied incoherence between a manipulator of hysterical reactions and the personality behind say the Sermon on the Mount and the sort of situation responses we see, is utterly glaring. KF

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2, notice the lack of serious response on the issue of moral foundations. KF

  41. 41
    velikovskys says:

    Drc466
    I’m very sad, because I’m going to agree with you. By saying “self-evident”, Jefferson was basically saying everyone thinks this way so I’m not going to explain it to you. Although, honestly, I think what most people believe is “all men are created

    If it would cheer you up I could give my opinion on ,” that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as a founding principle of the country.

  42. 42
    Zachriel says:

    drc466: By saying “self-evident”, Jefferson was basically saying everyone thinks this way so I’m not going to explain it to you.

    The Declaration stated this as their own view, and reasonably assumed that many of the world’s people, but not all, would share it. It acts as a premise of a syllogism: *if* all men are created equal, and so governments are instituted to protect liberty, and as the rule of George III is antithetical to liberty, and because the suffering is unsufferable prudence is no longer an option, therefore revolution. The argument is that if you accept the premise, then you will be forced to accept the conclusion.

    ETA: Prudence clause

  43. 43
    velikovskys says:

    Tim,
    Read with discernment; write with clarity. Dr. Torley’s post is about a person who dispenses with the “creation” aspect of the Declaration and per evolutionary biology replaces/adjusts the phrases in question. The “assumption” is not really even made by Dr. Torley, but by Dr. Harari.

    A good suggestion. Dr Torley” Dr. Harari is to be commended for his clearsightedness and frankness,
    in expounding the logic of evolutionary biology with perfect clarity. You cannot believe in the values enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence and at the same time,and call yourself an evolutionary biologist”

    Dr Torley obviously agrees that is logic of evolutionary biology, correct? . So I was curious about how one one holds that view. The existence of theistic evolutionists seem to contradictory. The Catholic Church’s position seems to contradict it.

    Come on, man! You can (and should) do better.

    Thanks for your confidence and support.

    Edit for clarity

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    VS & DR, actually, no. As already pointed out, self evident and obvious-seeming are very different. The attempt to deny moral equality among humans ends in patent, immediate absurdity, as does the attempt to deny that we are under the government of OUGHT. Indeed, the points VJT responds to in the OP illustrate just that. KF

  45. 45
    hrun0815 says:

    The attempt to deny moral equality among humans ends in patent, immediate absurdity, …

    And as always we get no support for this. Unless we ask, and then we get an absurdly long strong of loosely connected conjectures that supposedly prove the point.

    … as does the attempt to deny that we are under the government of OUGHT.

    And here I thought we live under the government of man-made laws that have very ways of enforcement– all generally based on man-imposed punishments.

    KF, could you maybe support your statement that the denial of being ‘under the government of OUGHT’ leads to ‘patent, immediate absurdity’?

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    Hrun, I simply inform you, I am a descendant of slaves targetted as skin-colour labelled inferiors. That should sufficiently warn you on both the sort of absurdities I point to, and how secondary ignorance due to ideologies and interests can blind one to such absurdities. KF

    PS: I suggest to you that the attempt to dismiss or suggest dismissal of our being under government of OUGHT ends very rapidly in inconsistencies (e.g. tease out how many oughts or shoulds are implicit in your comment just above), and/or in implying that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

  47. 47
    hrun0815 says:

    Hrun, I simply inform you, I am a descendant of slaves targetted as skin-colour labelled inferiors.

    Duly noted. You are not the only one here who is descendant of persecuted minorities based on perceived inferiority.

    But sadly this is completely irrelevant. You are saying this leads to ‘patent, immediate absurdity’. Maybe what you would like to say is that it leads to injustice or some other label. But injustice is not ‘patent, immediate absurdity’.

    That should sufficiently warn you on both the sort of absurdities I point to, and how secondary ignorance due to ideologies and interests can blind one to such absurdities.

    It should? Really? It is a complete non-sequitur.

    PS: I suggest to you that the attempt to dismiss or suggest dismissal of our being under government of OUGHT ends very rapidly in inconsistencies (e.g. tease out how many oughts or shoulds are implicit in your comment just above), and/or in implying that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    Nobody lives under the government of my OUGHTS. And nobody lives under the government of your OUGHTS. But all of us live under the government of man-made laws that are enforced by a police under the threat of man-made punishment. I do not see how the many shoulds or oughts in my comment above have any bearing on your claim that we live under the government of OUGHTS.

  48. 48
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    hrun0815 said,

    You are saying this leads to ‘patent, immediate absurdity’. Maybe what you would like to say is that it leads to injustice or some other label. But injustice is not ‘patent, immediate absurdity’.

    I say,

    If we are not created equal it is not unjust to treat inferiors differently.

    If fact if we are not created equal it would be unjust to treat others equally.

    There is your ‘patent, immediate absurdity’ right there. It is staring you right in the face.

    I’m amazed and frankly a little saddened that you need to have this pointed out to you.

    peace

  49. 49
    velikovskys says:

    Kf:
    VS & DR, actually, no. As already pointed out, self evident and obvious-seeming are very different.

    I agree,but Jefferson assumes equality of man is self evident not obvious-seeming. Since it is self evident it is not necessary to use a diety for justification, therefore even an evolutionary biologist can accept it

    The attempt to deny moral equality among humans ends in patent, immediate absurdity,

    It seems to have been a successful strategy for those with the power to enforce their moral superiority.

  50. 50
    rvb8 says:

    The thought of being banned here carries no bother to me kairosfocus; at all, ban away! However, your philosophical self, might like to delve into your inherent hypocrisy at not banning the egregious Mr Byers, for insignificant things, such as a hatred for Jews, and misogyny. Self awareness, and self criticism are so important, don’t you think? Wow, I say ‘self’, almost as if my atheism and my humanity equate to my individuality, without recourse to your necromonger.

    Despite your desperate efforts, and despite your recourse to another man desperately clambering for recognition (Mr Lewis), Jesus is not an obviously historical character on the evidential level as, say, Caesar.

  51. 51
    hrun0815 says:

    If we are not created equal it is not unjust to treat inferiors differently.

    If fact if we are not created equal it would be unjust to treat others equally.

    I’m not sure I get what you are trying to say. If we are all created equal then you could argue that it would be just, fair, nice, evil, … to treat everybody equal or not. If we are not all created equal you could also argue that it would be just, fair, nice, evil, … to treat everybody equal or not.

    There is your ‘patent, immediate absurdity’ right there. It is staring you right in the face.

    I don’t see the ‘patent, immediate absurdity’ here. Could you explain what exactly is supposed to be absurd?

    I’m amazed and frankly a little saddened that you need to have this pointed out to you.

    Don’t be too sad. You might be happy to know that I truly believe that we should strive to treat all people equally. That, for example, is one reason why I find so many religious text so abhorrent. Such texts, and many religious institutions, are notorious for espousing the different treatment of certain people for various reasons.

    I wonder if you and KF would agree that slaying unbelievers or enslaving women of defeated tribes leads to ‘patent, immediate absurdity’ or if this is simply evil, or maybe you actually think it’s a perfectly fine thing to do.

  52. 52
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    hrun0815 says,

    I’m not sure I get what you are trying to say.

    I say.

    oh well, lead a horse to water and all that

    hrun0815 says,

    That, for example, is one reason why I find so many religious text so abhorrent.

    I say,

    God doesn’t exist but you hate him.
    Truth is relative the Bible is fiction and the OT God is objectively mean and evil.

    Got it. Check

    moving on

    peace

  53. 53
    hrun0815 says:

    God doesn’t exist but you hate him. Truth is relative the Bible is fiction and the OT God is objectively mean and evil

    ???

    That’s all pretty bizarre. Of course I don’t hate God and of course I believe the bible is fiction.

    What I am wondering is about the people who love God and don’t believe the bible is fiction, yet, at the same time they also think that all people are created equal since otherwise there follows immediate and patent absurdity.

    That’s the part I find absurd.

    And, by the way, claiming that something is staring you in the face is not equal to leading a horse to water (if with that you mean that you are attempting to actually explain something).

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    VS,

    We have 150 years worth of evolutionary biology that speaks to things such as “scientific” eugenics, and linked racism etc. With Darwin providing a material part of the support. In effect, human variation was held to be reflective of evolutionary processes with emerging superior/inferior varieties . . . the latter being on the way to extinction.

    And, a worldview that traces to matter and energy in space and time acting by purposeless, blind chance and mechanical necessity is inherently incapable of grounding ought save as a manifestation of might and manipulation making ‘right.’

    On ought, let’s start with something specific: we ought not to kidnap, rape and murder a young child.

    Is this a mere matter of personal or group choice?

    KF

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8: I ask you to re-read above before further projecting. KF

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    5th, sadly, right you are. KF

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN: I suggest you observe the following, from Will Hawthorne:

    Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the ‘is’ being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

    Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

    Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

    For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

    Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.

    Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from [[a material] ‘is’.

    KF

  58. 58
    hrun0815 says:

    HRUN: I suggest you observe the following, from Will Hawthorne:

    KF, I suggest that if you make claims you learn to support them with relatively short number of your own words.

  59. 59
    rvb8 says:

    Wrong KF, again;

    150 years of evolutionary biology speaks to, micro-biology, palaeoanthropology, palaeobotany,palaeobiology, genetic research, geology, pop-genetics, vestigial genes,vestigial traits, embryonic studies, convergent evolution, marsupial isolation and geographic speciation and biogeography, atavism,adaptive radiation,heritability, adaptation, and natural selection.

    This adumbrated partial list is what evolutionary biology speaks to. It is singularly not purposeless as it explains the purpose of life is to survive and reproduce. The added stuff we hold so dear music, history, art, the law, are recent human additions, which I’m very pleased about.

    No doubt I will now be accused of having a meaningless life. Those flailing thrusts are wasted on me, as I and my family and friends, find just about as much meaning in our godless lives as can be. And our meaning is spontaneously and naturally reached, without the disgusting self flagellation before a god who if real, I want no part of.

  60. 60
    Robert Byers says:

    News
    I didn’t say or mean israel was set up for superhumans. i meant it was set up, partly, as a response to superhuman concepts meaning NAZISM.
    Thats what I meant.
    My accuser is a false accuser (without evidence for claimed evilness on my part) but I tolerate him before free speech is right and our right.
    Accusation is not indictment this poster and others should understand as thinking people .
    I don’t accuse anyone even if I have educated suspicions.
    I’m not accusing anyone by say that.
    UD does a good job of allowing free speech on subjects that the stuff of civilization and God and man.
    Everybody watch what you say and stop watching what others say.
    Just intelligently, kindly, correct erring fellow human beings (or tailless primates to be inclusive.

  61. 61
    rvb8 says:

    Yes Robert, thank you for that non-explanation explanation. Let’s try and untangle this mess to get at any kind of coherence. (By the way ‘to accuse’ is actually very similar, ‘to indict’, they are synonyms.) Please note, by simply singling out the origins of the nation Israel you seem to judge it differently from the emergence of all other modern nations; why are they your choice for special treatment?

    “i mean it was set up, partly, as a response to superhuman concepts meaning NAZISM.” I suppose a safe place for world Jewery to come together, and be spared the ancient scourge of antisemitism, was one of the overarching goals of the founders of modern Israel. Your wording however is confusing when you equate ‘superhumans’ with NAZISM.

    At any rate your history of poorly thought out ideas about Jews in general, mark you as a classic bigot.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    HRun: I notice the dodge on the substantial point. I endorse the cite as adjusted, can you address the substantial concern? KF

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, actually, Plato documented the problem with evolutionary materialism 2350 years ago in The Laws, Bk X (just scroll up): “they are taught by them that the highest right is might.” Nihilism or at least amorality leading to serious moral hazards, especially when — as is all too common — the lab coat clad materialism is tied to scientism. Over the past 150 years, evolutionary materialism switched from philosopher’s robes to a lab coat. The issues on eugenics and linked social darwinism, and the inherent IS-OUGHT gap of evolutionary materialism are material to science and society issues, and have been for 150 years. KF

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Evolutionary materialism undermines mind and meaning, sweeps purpose and meaningfulness off the table and more, as Dawkins so classically put it:

    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.

    We humans have purpose on the brain. We find it difficult to look at anything without wondering what it is “for,” what the motive for it or the purpose behind it might be. The desire to see purpose everywhere is natural in an animal that lives surrounded by machines, works of art, tools and other designed artifacts – an animal whose waking thoughts are dominated by its own goals and aims . . . .

    Somewhere between windscreen wipers and tin openers on the one hand, and rocks and the universe on the other, lie living creatures. Living bodies and their organs are objects that, unlike rocks, seem to have purpose written all over them . . . . The true process that has endowed wings, eyes, beaks, nesting instincts and everything else about life with the strong illusion of purposeful design is now well understood.

    It is Darwinian natural selection . . . .

    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.]

    Likewise, Provine in his 1998 Darwin Day address at U of Tenn, said:

    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 . . . .

    That we cannot live without a sense of meaningfulness in life tied to an intuition of purpose and value, which onwards speaks to our being under moral government, is a clue as to how far off base this lab coat clad worldview is.

    Absence of responsible freedom is crucial, as if we are not free to choose, we are not free to choose to follow the steps of reason. That is, rationality is being undermined through the implicit appeal to conditioning (genetic, psycho-social, etc) and the onward implied substitution of GIGO limited blindly mechanical computation for rational, insightful, responsible contemplation.

    On materialism, man is dead.

    But, man is NOT dead, and we intuitively know that.

    So, actually, we have a case of dominant ideology that has captured institutions of influence and prestige. But, which is patently absurd.

    An all too familiar case across the long reaches of history.

  65. 65
    Joe says:

    150 years of evolutionary biology and we know that natural selection is impotent and unguided evolution cannot be tested.

  66. 66
    Me_Think says:

    kairosfocus @ 64
    There is a disconnect between reality and theory – how many atheist do you know who will murder, rape and plunder ? Do you really think Dawkins and Povine will do it ? You seem to imply just because someone has a world view different from a theist, he/she will not hesitate to do immoral , heinous acts.

  67. 67
    hrun0815 says:

    HRun: I notice the dodge on the substantial point. I endorse the cite as adjusted, can you address the substantial concern? KF

    Nonsense. You posted some unrelated babble on how for atheists Hitler’s were permissible.

    Let me remind you again with statements you actually need to support:

    The attempt to deny moral equality among humans ends in patent, immediate absurdity, …

    and

    … as does the attempt to deny that we are under the government of OUGHT.

    So far my conjecture was right. You can’t support either statement, but you attempt to hide this fact first by bluster and then by hiding behind some long yet unrelated quite. Next will likely be a patented KF string of 28 unrelated mom-sequiturs.

    I will suggest to you again the following:

    KF, I suggest that if you make claims you learn to support them with relatively short number of your own words.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    MT, that the worldview of evolutionary materialism undermines both responsible mind and morality, does not immediately imply that all who advocate or adhere to it will immediately go out and indulge in rape and blatant murder. (Implanted conscience and reason do have some restraining influences after all. And, they are clues to the real nature of the world . . . ) But the undermining of a moral consensus and disruption of the foundation for rights and justice in our civilisation have brought about some serious trends, of which, say, the abortion statistics and reasoning behind such — if, that word can be used . . . — show the dangers inherent in such a might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth, and ‘reason’ scheme. KF

  69. 69
    hrun0815 says:

    Me_Think, the fun thing is that rather than rethinking their silly arguments the folks here jump to the conclusion that atheists are actually not true atheists but rather take the moral God given absolutes yet deny his existence.

    According to some on this board the only consistent atheists are the psychopathic mass murderers. Of course, even if one were to follow their ridiculous argument (that for an atheist all actions are equally permissible) this conclusion clearly doesn’t follow, as then an atheists would only chose to do such actions that he WANTS to do. If an atheist does not want to go around and murder a dozen children he will not do so. Why would he?

    It turns out that this actually the case, not just for atheists, but for everybody (even all those people always talking about the moral absolutes given by God but expect to hear much profession to the contrary and denial of the obvious facts from the usual suspects.

  70. 70
    Mark Frank says:

    Me_Think hrun0815

    You are following a well-worn groove ….

    There is a widespread assumption among the religious community that

    a) For something to be morally good or bad there has to be a definitive ultimate foundation for it. Otherwise anything goes.

    b) Religion can provide such an ultimate foundation.

    Both statements seem to me to be clearly false. But of course philosophers have disagreed about these issues through the ages so it can be interesting to hear contrary opinions. However, I now try (not always successfully) to avoid slipping into the debate on UD as it just goes round in circles with the same points coming up again and again.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, actually, if you took time to address Will Hawthorne’s summary of the breakdown of ethics on scientific materialism, you would have seen that he is making a general, worldview level argument on the consequences of such worldview presuppositions. I simply thought that his summary is apt and so well put that it would be appropriate to remind the UD readership of it. If you would take a moment to look at the clips from Dawkins and Provine just above, you would see, Hawthorne’s deductions are not mere idiosyncrasies; leading Darwinists have come to much the same point, as did Plato 2350 years ago — evolutionary materialism is ancient, and its implications have been understood for thousands of years. And no, putting up serial dismissive strawman caricatures of Hawthorne and myself does not answer to the substantial issue: bridging the IS-OUGHT gap. KF

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    MF,

    A long time ago now, I have pointed out for UD’s readership, why worldviews need to be soundly founded.

    As a fairly simple outline, let’s take a claim or conclusion A, then ask why we should accept it.

    That leads to further claims, observations or premises, etc B.

    But B then meets the same challenge, so we have A, B, C . . .

    That leads to the implications, circularity, infinite regress or some finitely remote set of first plausibles, F.

    Circularity does not help, it begs the root questions.

    A stepwise traversal of the infinite is not feasible for finite and fallible thinkers such as we are.

    So, we do end up with first plausibles, which are the defining cores of our worldviews.

    To avoid question-begging, we apply comparative difficulties across serious options F1, F2, . . . Fn, which will also be finite.

    These points Fi are foundations, by whatever name we prefer. And, I would suggest that worldviews need to be addressed on comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory scope, power and elegance [“simple” but not simplistic as opposed to ad hoc patchworks].

    Among other things, that means that the IS-OUGHT gap is a serious matter that the valid part of Hume’s guillotine argument implies, can only be answered at world foundational level.

    The problem materialists face is either accepting that might and manipulation make ‘right’ obtains, or else finding a grounding rooted in matter-energy, and space-time in some form.

    Mission impossible.

    Hence the tendency to be dismissive regarding foundational issues on this subject.

    Across many centuries — and the US DOI of 1776 alludes to this — the only serious candidate to be a world-foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT, is the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Thus, that is the explanation to beat.

    Dismissing the need for foundations, does not adequately answer to the problem.

    KF

    PS: And yes, I know we have been around the issue a few times some years back. I stand by the above, on long consideration of the matter.

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Those wishing to see why I sum up the matter as above will find here a useful 101. KF

  74. 74
    hrun0815 says:

    HRUN, actually, if you took time to address Will Hawthorne’s summary of the breakdown of ethics on scientific materialism, you would have …

    KF, if you actually took the time to read Hawthorne’s quote and the ridiculous statements you posted you’d see that Hawthorne does not even address your claims.

    Let’s try again:

    KF, I suggest that if you make claims you learn to support them with relatively short number of your own words.

    All the bluster and lengthy obfuscation with supposedly authoritative quotes will not rescue you. Sorry.

  75. 75
    hrun0815 says:

    However, I now try (not always successfully) to avoid slipping into the debate on UD as it just goes round in circles with the same points coming up again and again.

    Isn’t this true for virtually all topics discussed on UD?

    Just look at the ‘phraud’ thread. It was clearly without merit. It took a while to actually establish this. And then, rather than actually being able to address why you get these silly posts and addressing the false underlying assumptions everybody simply drifts off. But I’m sure they’ll all be back at it when the next ridiculous accusation about climate research comes along.

  76. 76
    Mark Frank says:

    #75 hrun0815

    Isn’t this true for virtually all topics discussed on UD?

    I guess it is true for the vast majority of most internet debate. I have just found the topic of the foundation of morality to be particularly repetitive.

    However, new things do crop up. I was interested in atheist rituals. The challenge is to stop the discussion reverting to the well-worn grooves (unless you like following them).

  77. 77
    hrun0815 says:

    Mark, in this case the angle I am interested in is that KF actually brought up that we are living under government of something. And as far as I can tell, the majority of people on UD live under government of man-made rules, with man-made enforcement, and man-made punishment. And it turns out that we don’t police or enforce moral behavior other than through indirect means.

    I wonder if KF will be able to address this without his lengthy obfuscations. But I do not have high hopes. I have a good idea how this will progress and his original statements I highlighted will remain unaddressed and unsupported.

  78. 78
    Joe says:

    LoL! Climate research is a joke- well that part that sez human activity is warming the planet is a joke and without merit.

    As for morality, if Darwin was right then it is an illusion.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, I think the repetition of your strawman caricature simply underscores that you do not have a sound answer. KF

    PS: Onlookers, you may want to glance at the longstanding discussion here on, in context.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, no need to have a side chat with MF. All you have done is to report that we live under the authority of states. But that brings up Mao’s thesis that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. Until you soundly answer to the grounding of justice — thus the IS-OUGHT world foundation challenge — all you have managed to do is to imply that might and manipulation conveyed by who has won the political contest, makes ‘right’ and ‘truth’ etc, on your worldview. That is, you have implied the same absurdity I have pointed out and which Hawthorne outlines in a nutshell. KF

    PS: A preview of where this points is here (which draws out the unfortunately real world case of a kidnapped, abused and murdered child).

  81. 81
    hrun0815 says:

    HRUN, no need to have a side chat with MF.

    You want to police that too? Do you have a moral argument against it? An OUGHT maybe?

    All you have done is to report that we live under the authority of states…

    Correct. And with that I have pointed out your absurd notion that we live under the government of OUGHTs. We do not. We live under the government of man-made laws, with man-made enforcement, and man-made punishment.

    Do we or do we not? You may call this unjust, evil, or something else. But it is still the reality of the matter. And You may claim that this leads to immediate, patent absurdity, but you are unable to support that claim. In fact, it seems pretty clear that hundreds of millions or even billions of people find this situation not at all absurd.

    By the way, I have not suggested at all that this makes all laws ‘right’ or ‘truth’.

    So, let’s do this again… ah, wait… let’s not. You will just continue to ignore your original statement that “the attempt to deny that we are under the government of OUGHT [ends in patent, immediate absurdity]”. Simply because you are unable to do so.

    Cue the bluster…

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, Pardon, but the tone you are taking is uncalled for. KF

  83. 83
    hrun0815 says:

    HRUN, Pardon, but the tone you are taking is uncalled for. KF

    Ok.

    KF, kindly address your unsupported statements that “… the attempt to deny that we are under the government of OUGHT [ends in patent, immediate absurdity].”

    And also kindly attempt to address this by using your own, ideally concise, words and not the quotation of unrelated text passages or strings of logically unconnected arguments that do not actually support your original statement.

    [Let’s hope that this is not yet again a ‘strawman caricature’. Maybe this time it’ll be a red herring, set ablaze to create a smoke screen to hide the fact that atheists are immoral people who are pushing an ideology that will lead to the death of uncounted millions of good people. Of course that is just a well founded opinion and not worthy of being pointed out as ‘uncalled for’.]

  84. 84
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: The attempt to deny moral equality among humans ends in patent, immediate absurdity

    Indeed, there are perfectly consistent world-views that do not extend moral equality, such as feudalism and monarchism. They are usually based on birthright claims, and allegiance to your liege. Most people nowadays reject these world-views, but not because they are logically inconsistent, but because they are unworkable and contrary to the aspirations of the majority.

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, Not just those conveniently remote cases. Evolutionary materialism has been strongly associated with cases that are a lot closer to home. KF

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN,

    If it were not sad, what you did would be amusing. I took time to give outline and cite based grounding above, and linked no less than two more extensive discussions. Your rhetorical resort to terms like “unsubstantiated” does not do more than erect a miniature strawman and knock it over.

    Let me just clip a cite from near the opening of the first of these, noting the onward links are to be found there:

    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 grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. 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. (NB: Cf. a separate discussion on the grounding of worldviews and ethics here on, which includes a specific discussion of the grounding of ethics and goes on to Biblical theism; having first addressed the roots of the modern evolutionary materialist mindset and its pretensions to the mantle of science. Also cf. here on in the next unit in this course, IOSE, for Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X, on social consequences of the rise of such a view as the philosophy of the avant garde in a community.]

    The IS-OUGHT gap problem is a serious matter.

    In the second of my linked, I take a bit of time to expand on the grounding issue, here. (And BTW, it sets the US DOI 2nd paragraph in context.)

    KF

  87. 87
    Axel says:

    Desperation has its own imperious call, KF. I don’t think rhun0815 is able to grasp that each atheist must decide his own moral code – however impressed he might be by those of others and adopt them.

  88. 88
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Not just those conveniently remote cases.

    You claimed they were absurd, rather than unjust, so remoteness makes no difference. The founders didn’t claim that monarchy was logically absurd, but that the specific monarch had abused his authority.

  89. 89
    hrun0815 says:

    Desperation has its own imperious call, KF. I don’t think rhun0815 is able to grasp that each atheist must decide his own moral code – however impressed he might be by those of others and adopt them.

    Not just every atheist, Axel. Everybody must decide on their moral code. Even KF decided on his own moral code. As did you.

    The IS-OUGHT gap problem is a serious matter.

    In the second of my linked, I take a bit of time to expand on the grounding issue, here. (And BTW, it sets the US DOI 2nd paragraph in context.)

    I see. This is what you would call ‘a dodge’ of the original point. Would you kindly address it? I guess not.

  90. 90

    Me_Think said:

    There is a disconnect between reality and theory – how many atheist do you know who will murder, rape and plunder ? Do you really think Dawkins and Povine will do it ? You seem to imply just because someone has a world view different from a theist, he/she will not hesitate to do immoral , heinous acts.

    Without an objective grounding, “immoral” and “heinous” are subjective and can mean anything. Under moral subjectivism, “heinous” and “immoral” can be equally translated into “letting Jews live” and “gassing all Jews”. Objective grounding for morality can only come from God.

    It’s not that atheists are more prone to immoral behavior than theists; the point is that their worldview logic concerning morality is fatally flawed. Atheism/materialism cannot provide a foundation for a morality worth concerning oneself with.

  91. 91
    hrun0815 says:

    Wow. How interesting:

    Zachariel writes:

    kairosfocus: The attempt to deny moral equality among humans ends in patent, immediate absurdity

    Indeed, there are perfectly consistent world-views that do not extend moral equality, such as feudalism and monarchism. They are usually based on birthright claims, and allegiance to your liege. Most people nowadays reject these world-views, but not because they are logically inconsistent, but because they are unworkable and contrary to the aspirations of the majority.

    He gives perfect examples why KF’s claim is simply false.

    KF answers:

    Z, Not just those conveniently remote cases. Evolutionary materialism has been strongly associated with cases that are a lot closer to home. KF

    So rather than trying to defend his silly original claim KF agrees, and adds on top of it that there are more such cases.

    I guess we can get not closer to KF admitting that an assertion of his is actually false. 🙂

    EDITED TO ADD:

    This, of course, did not pass by Zachariel either:

    kairosfocus: Not just those conveniently remote cases.

    You claimed they were absurd, rather than unjust, so remoteness makes no difference. The founders didn’t claim that monarchy was logically absurd, but that the specific monarch had abused his authority.

  92. 92
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: Without an objective grounding, “immoral” and “heinous” are subjective and can mean anything. Under moral subjectivism, “heinous” and “immoral” can be equally translated into “letting Jews live” and “gassing all Jews”. Objective grounding for morality can only come from God.

    Like Martin Luther:

    I shall give you my sincere advice:

    First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.

    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.

    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.

    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.

    Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home.

    The second and fifth are rather interesting in juxtaposition.

  93. 93
    hrun0815 says:

    Atheism/materialism cannot provide a foundation for a morality worth concerning oneself with.

    And neither can anybody else.

  94. 94
    Me_Think says:

    My question is, do we need any foundation in morality? Our society is enough to guide us through what is moral and immoral. Even theist don’t get their moral grounding from their religious texts, they imbibe it from their parents and the society.
    Moral foundations may have been useful during the initial period of society’s formation, we don’t need it now.

  95. 95

    Zachriel said:

    The second and fifth are rather interesting in juxtaposition.

    I don’t see how that is responsive to my post. People claiming that some acts are condoned or ordered by God is not the same as the logical necessity that any objective, significant morality must be rooted in God (meaning, a primary being that is the ground of existence and the definitional, objective basis of “good”).

    Me_think said:

    My question is, do we need any foundation in morality?

    Depends on what you ask of morality. If you wish it to be something more than subjective feelings and “because I feel like it”, you need something more substantive than subjectivism to base it on.

    Our society is enough to guide us through what is moral and immoral.

    So, social consensus determines what is moral? If society says it’s good to burn witches, then it is by definition good? One wonders, if “society” decides what is moral, how can one be moral and defy society in order to change social views?

    To be sure, it’s quite common to have vague, poorly-thought-out references to “society” and “feelings” and such things in order to provide adequate cover for ones insistence that morality is subjective or can be attained from atheistic/materialist foundations, but upon examination such vague hand-waving falls apart.

    Even theist don’t get their moral grounding from their religious texts, they imbibe it from their parents and the society.

    The question is not where one gets their particular moral views from, but rather whether or not their fundamental premises actually support their conclusions and is reconcilable with how they actually live. Outside of sociopaths, we all live as if morality is an objective commodity; we cannot actually live as if it is a subjective commodity. If we follow the logic of subjective morality, it necessarily leads to the maxim: “because I feel like it”, which only a sociopath could think is a valid moral maxim.

    Moral foundations may have been useful during the initial period of society’s formation, we don’t need it now.

    Then what fundamental principles will guide the future of moral values, what are they based on, and why should future generations care? If you can offer nothing more, fundamentally, than “because I feel like it”, or “because we say so”, what do you expect to happen to society as a result over time?

  96. 96

    hrun0815 said:

    And neither can anybody else.

    Perhaps you mean: “… and neither can any other system of thought.”

    However, that would be incorrect. While subjective morality can entail no necessary consequences (and thus, no substantive reason to be “moral” in the first place), nor any moral “rights” or “obligations”, objective morality can entail necessary, unavoidable consequences, providing a morality worth concerning oneself with, replete with rights and obligations that provide an essential framework for deliberate, concerned, judicious behavior.

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    I will pause and point out that the underlying political calvinism behind the US DOI of 1776, pivoted on the challenge of addressing the absolutist claims of nobility and more particularly monarchy, as can be seen most directly in the title for Lex Rex. The absurdity is, that kings have no inherent superiority that makes the core rights of others subject to their rule, alienable. That same basic, superiority/inferiority view of people, articulated on Social Darwinism and/or on the sort of thoughts that underlay eugenics and worse, did much harm between the late C19 and the C20.

    I only outline this, as any reasonably informed person commenting on this topic should be quite familiar.

    Let me remind of the clip from Hooker Locke used in Ch 2 Sect 5 of his 2nd essay on civil govt, as I have already cited in this thread:

    . . . 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. Emphasis added.]

    This is of course, in already linked material; as well as citation above.

    KF

  98. 98
  99. 99
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: People claiming that some acts are condoned or ordered by God is not the same as the logical necessity that any objective, significant morality must be rooted in God (meaning, a primary being that is the ground of existence and the definitional, objective basis of “good”).

    Luther wasn’t just some person, but the founder of the Christian Reformation, before which, the Church was the arbiter of religious morality. In any case, Luther claimed to be acting for the glory of God. If morality is objective, then, well, you saw the results.

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    Hrun, kindly cf 97 just above — and the long since onward linked that you seem not to have taken reckoning of. KF

  101. 101
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: The absurdity is, that kings have no inherent superiority that makes the core rights of others subject to their rule, alienable.

    Kings, of course, would disagree. They are anointed by God. Monarchists also point to the necessity of social order, and that democracy had been proven to be unstable, to inevitably result in anarchy, then even worse tyrannies.

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, perhaps, it has not dawned on you that Christians are not obligated to view every opinion of Luther etc as correct. Luther did and said many intemperate things, and had feet of clay; nevertheless he did do some great things for which we would be well advised to remember his positive achievements. I am sure, never mind intemperate words and deeds, that he would have been utterly horrified to see where others would take such notions or words. Just as, Darwin and Galton would have been horrified to see where social darwinism and eugenics, etc would end up. KF

  103. 103
    hrun0815 says:

    Hrun, kindly cf 97 just above — and the long since onward linked that you seem not to have taken reckoning of. KF

    KF, kindly support your actual statement, rather than point to peripherally related material.

    To make it easy for you, here again is your claim:

    “… the attempt to deny that we are under the government of OUGHT [ends in patent, immediate absurdity].”

    The reality is that none of us are under the government of OUGHT. We are under man-made government with man-made rules, man-made enforcement, and man-made punishment.

  104. 104
    velikovskys says:

    Kf,
    We have 150 years worth of evolutionary biology that speaks to things such as “scientific” eugenics, and linked racism etc.

    Is this the eugenics that was passed into law by creation believing state legislatures? Or the racism which creation believers inflicted on their ” moral equals” by kidnapping and enslaving them? Cause needs to precede effect,KF.

    With Darwin providing a material part of the support. In effect, human variation was held to be reflective of evolutionary processes with emerging superior/inferior varieties

    Is your contention that this did not occur before Darwin or are you saying that racism will use any framework to justify its existence, just as southerners used biblical text to justify slavery.

    Perhaps your argument is that human life was more valuable before Darwin?

    . . the latter being on the way to extinction.

    Like the creationists did with the indigenous people who stood in their way?

    And, a worldview that traces to matter and energy in space and time acting by purposeless, blind chance and mechanical necessity

    Design does not preclude such a system, for instance if the designer who wished to maximize free will , a designer who knew that such a system would by necessity result in that which he choose to design.

    You seem to be under the assumption that a designer is limited in his choices to those which are comprehensible to you.Certainly human designers are not so limited

    Perhaps the designer’s purpose was for man to find purpose in what appears to be purposeless.The myth of Sisyphus. To do that would show both courage and faith.

    Less faith than a design which leaves obvious evidence.

    is inherently incapable of grounding ought save as a manifestation of might and manipulation making ‘right.’

    Unless the diety is governed by the same moral system as humans, your system boils down to might makes right

    On ought, let’s start with something specific: we ought not to kidnap, rape and murder a young child.

    If one has the power to prevent the rape kidnapping or murder of a young child is one not responsible to some degree for that immorality?

    Thomas Jefferson who wrote that the Creator endowed men with certain inalienable rights was certainly was guilty of two of those.

    Why limit it to young children? Is it less wrong to murder or rape old people,young men? Or is morality just an emotional argument?

  105. 105

    Father: “I heard about what you did in school today. It’s wrong to take things from other children just because you want those things and you’re bigger and stronger.”

    Child: “Why is it wrong?”

    Atheist father: “Well, in the first place it’s illegal, and second, society says it’s wrong to bully others and steal their stuff.”

    Theist father: “There is a design to things created by God; what is moral is in line with God’s purpose; what is immoral good detracts from that purpose. We can often discern the difference between the two using our conscience and reasoning.

    Child: “So, if it was legal, and if society said it was okay to bully others and take their stuff, then it wouldn’t be wrong?”

    Atheist father: (atheists invited to fill in the blank)

    Theist father: “Societies have permitted and even endorsed all sorts of immoral activities; ultimately, your essential guides in determining what is moral and immoral is conscience and logic, which is why you should strive to develop and maintain those capacities as much as possible.”

    Child: “If society says that it’s okay to own slaves, or that it’s okay to treat women and children like possessions, then those things would be good?”

    Atheist father: (atheists invited to fill in the blank)

    Theist father: “Certainly not. What is good is not determined by any individual, group or society, nor decreed by law, nor made so by holy edict; it is an essential aspect of existence which we interact with through our conscience and examine using reasoning.”

    Child: “Why does society get to say what is right and what is wrong?”

    Atheist father: (atheists invited to fill in the blank)

    Theist father: “It doesn’t.”

    Child: “What if I don’t agree with what society says? If what society says is what makes a thing moral or immoral, then isn’t the fact that I disagree by definition an immoral position?”

    Atheist father: (atheists invited to fill in the blank)

    Theist father: “On the contrary, it is your moral obligation to stand up to society and work for change when society is clearly wrong according to your conscience, even to the point of putting yourself in danger. What is more important, society, or the fundamental good purpose of existence itself?

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    that a king may be anointed by oil and even anointed spiritually, did not come from within him, rendering him inherently superior. Indeed, that is a major part of the debate in 1 Sam 8 regarding the request of the Israelites for a king, and the onward playout of the history of Saul and David.

    Forever, David, man after God’s heart and the better king than Saul, must face the pointed words of Nathan the prophet: thou art the man.

    So, there is no innate superiority of a king rooted in the Judaeo-Christian, hebraically rooted tradition. Utterly by contrast with pagans who were led to worship kings as gods.

    Indeed, 1 Samuel 8 is a plain a rebuke to kings and their tendencies as we will ever see in ancient history:

    8 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

    4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

    6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.

    7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

    Samuel’s Warning Against Kings

    10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

    It is time for a rethink.

    The issue was justice in government, and when one regime failed, the people — notice the democratic impulse that int eh text is respected by God, but warned against because of the inherent dangers of monarchy — asked for what seemed to be a workable solution.

    They were warned but insisted. They got a warning, but they got what they asked for. And the consequences they were warned against.

    At no point does it enter that kings hold any special innate status, and it is clear that kings are subject to the same premise, of justice.

    Which is exactly what the notion of innate superiority undermines, and not just with a king or a noble. With a class or a “race,” too.

    Likewise, here are the words of Paul before the Areopagus in Athens, c. 50 AD, which forever undermine any attempt to ground racial superiority on some imagined spiritual or natural superiority of certain races:

    Ac 17:22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

    “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]

    as even some of your own poets have said,

    “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]

    29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    And, I repeat, any notion of inherent superiority of individual people or classes of people, leads straight to absurdities.

    Such is not to be found in the Judaeo-Christian framework, but instead the concept that we are all made in the image of God, which endows us with a common dignity from which stem our duties of neighbour love and therefore rights, starting with life etc.

    Again, time for a rethink.

    One that starts with the intuition that we have, that we stand with a common dignity and equality of personhood. Thence, the duties and rights that flow from such.

    Thus, OUGHT as a real, governing moral premise of human existence.

    Thence the issue that OUGHT is grounded in an IS capable of bearing that weight. An IS that must be at world foundation level and thus points to the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    KF

  107. 107
    hrun0815 says:

    How about this:

    Father: “I heard about what you did in school today. It’s wrong to take things from other children just because you want those things and you’re bigger and stronger.”

    Child: “Why is it wrong?”

    Atheist father: “Well, in the first place it’s illegal, and second, society says it’s wrong to bully others and steal their stuff.”

    Theist father: “There is a design to things created by God; what is moral is in line with God’s purpose; what is immoral good detracts from that purpose. We can often discern the difference between the two using our conscience and reasoning.

    Child: “So, if it was legal, and if society said it was okay to bully others and take their stuff, then it wouldn’t be wrong?”

    Theist/Atheist father: “Societies have permitted and even endorsed all sorts of immoral activities; ultimately, your essential guides in determining what is moral and immoral is conscience and logic, which is why you should strive to develop and maintain those capacities as much as possible.”

    Child: “If society says that it’s okay to own slaves, or that it’s okay to treat women and children like possessions, then those things would be good?”

    Theist/Atheist father: “Certainly not. What is good is not determined by any individual, group or society, nor decreed by law, nor made so by holy edict; it is an essential aspect of existence which we interact with through our conscience and examine using reasoning.”

    Child: “Why does society get to say what is right and what is wrong?”

    Theist/Atheist father:“It doesn’t.”

    Child: “What if I don’t agree with what society says? If what society says is what makes a thing moral or immoral, then isn’t the fact that I disagree by definition an immoral position?”

    Theist/Atheist father: “On the contrary, it is your moral obligation to stand up to society and work for change when society is clearly wrong according to your conscience, even to the point of putting yourself in danger. What is more important, society, or the fundamental good purpose of existence itself?

  108. 108

    Zachriel said:

    Luther wasn’t just some person, but the founder of the Christian Reformation, before which, the Church was the arbiter of religious morality. In any case, Luther claimed to be acting for the glory of God. If morality is objective, then, well, you saw the results.

    Again, I don’t see how this relates to anything I have said. Claiming to be acting for God and claiming that a particular theism is the objective root of morality is not the same as an argument based on the arguendo premises of morality actually being objective or actually being subjective and the necessary, distinct logical consequences thereof.

    I’m not arguing for any particular version of theism; the point is that only theism can offer a philosophically sufficient grounding for a significant morality worth concerning oneself with; I’m certainly not trying to make the case that every form of theism offers such a basis.

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    VS,

    I would suggest to you that simple reading of the actual history will show that in the name of science, darwinist thought led many to accept the notions of superiority of certain races and classes, and to the rise of a eugenics movement keyed to even the Darwin family in successive generations (including of course Galton), much less the ideas that we may find stressed in the infamous logos of the International conferences, cf here.

    Note, the theme: Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution.

    It was not for nothing, that a chief spokesman against the movement when it was in its heyday, was precisely Christian thinker G K Chesterton.

    Time for a serious rethink.

    KF

  110. 110
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: it has not dawned on you that Christians are not obligated to view every opinion of Luther etc as correct.

    Luther thought the presence of Jews was undermining Christian society. Jews wouldn’t convert to the one true religion, so action had to be taken so that God could see that Christians would not countenance such disrespect.

    You haven’t argued as to why Luther was wrong based on objective criteria, rather than simply contrary to modern sentiments concerning justice.

    William J Murray: Child: “If society says that it’s okay to own slaves, or that it’s okay to treat women and children like possessions, then those things would be good?”

    “before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” — Harper Lee

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    VS, BTW, did you read 27 above where inter alia I took time to cite John Quincy Adams as a very relevant eyewitness tot he thought and actions of the US founders? KF

  112. 112
  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, I have spent time here today that I did not really have to spare, but I should say, you may be closer to the key point than you realise, if you really mean what you just said regarding conscience as a major and non-delusional faculty of our conscious, minded lives. For, if conscience testifies as to the law that governs us, then that points strongly to the objectivity of OUGHT, i.e. to our being under moral government. And if so major an aspect of our conscious, minded lives is delusional, it points to the utter unreliability of the human faculty of reason and also of our conscious awareness of the world. Please have a read at the second linked, here. KF

  114. 114
    Joe says:

    The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.

    But unguided evolution cannot explain a person’s conscience.

  115. 115
    Me_Think says:

    William J Murray,
    Morality is something a person decides by observing, imbibing and internalizing. No one can force morality on anybody. The fear of law may dissuade many from serious immoral acts, but ultimately morality has to come from within, you can’t impose it. Our society and law today are mature enough to act as a moral guide. We don’t need to worry that moral values will breakdown without religious edict.

  116. 116
    Mark Frank says:

    #105 WJM

    You seem to have missed out the dialogue with the Thiest father when the child responds:

    “So if I found it was God’s purpose for me to bully others and take their stuff, then it wouldn’t be wrong?”

  117. 117
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus (quoting): No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery.

    They must have got over it by 1861.

    Mississippi Declaration of Causes of Secession: Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.

    Texas created this strange perversion of the original Declaration of Independence.

    Texas Declaration of Causes of Secession: We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

    It’s about white supremacy.

    Speech of Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens: Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.

  118. 118
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: For, if conscience testifies as to the law that governs us, then that points strongly to the objectivity of OUGHT, i.e. to our being under moral government.

    That’s the very definition of subjective.

  119. 119
    JWTruthInLove says:

    President Barry proclaiming his personal objective truths:

    When one accepts materialism, in addition to design, one is compelled to deny other glaringly obvious truths. Here are a few:
    (…)
    A man’s body is designed to be complementary with a woman’s body and vice versa. All of the confusion about whether same-sex relations are licit would be swept away in an instant if everyone acknowledged this obvious truth.

  120. 120

    Mark Frank said:

    You seem to have missed out the dialogue with the Thiest father when the child responds:

    “So if I found it was God’s purpose for me to bully others and take their stuff, then it wouldn’t be wrong?”

    Mark, the answer would be that no “discovered purpose” trumps conscience and reason; there is no justification for that which clearly violates conscience and reason. This is what gives even atheists the right (and even obligation) to refer to conscience and reason when challenging religious doctrine that asserts “divine purpose”, and why Apologists must explain divine orders/actions in the Bible; they too are bound by a conscience and reason which is assumed as an objective grounds for determinations of the morality of even that which is in the Bible – or issued from any religion or even Humanist ethics.

    However, under subjectivism, there is no principle by which the atheist can challenge asserted divine purpose; if “divine purpose” is the subjective arbiter (even if considered objective by the adherent) of morality by an individual, how can the moral subjectivist object? By what grounds that are not the same that support his/her own morality?

  121. 121

    Me_Think said:

    We don’t need to worry that moral values will breakdown without religious edict.

    I didn’t say that they would break down without religious edict. I said that without a rationally sufficient basis for moral views, rights, and obligations, there’s no reason to believe they can be sustained over time. Without an inviolable premise for individual rights and freedoms, I think we can look to China to see our future. Without an objective, necessary morality that is considered superior to the state and society, I think that country serves as a good example of what to expect.

    When one’s rights and morality are considered products of the state and not inviolable aspects of existence itself, the state becomes all-powerful and without the need to justify itself according to anything at all. If the state itself decides what “best interest” means, what good does it do to say it works in the “best interest” of the people? Unless rooted to something objective, that can mean anything.

    A morality that can mean “anything” means nothing. Subjective morality can mean anything.

    Again, I don’t claim all theisms are good models – certainly not “divine command” theism – but theism is the only model that can provide the necessary grounds for individual rights, liberty and morality that is something other than “might makes right”.

  122. 122

    The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.

    If conscience is considered nothing more than a subjective feeling (albeit a strong one), then what “right” does one have to hold to their conscience if, by the same token, I feel strongly enough, and had the power to do so, I force my strong feelings on others about any number of things?

    If conscience is not considered something above subjective feelings, one cannot justify defying society and putting others in danger in matters of conscience and not in other matters of personal taste. Unless one is implicitly assuming their conscience to be objectively binding on others, society, and obligatory, what principle do we invoke when acting on conscience, other than “I feel like it.”?

    Similarly, unless one implicitly assumes an obligation to act on matters of conscience that go beyond mere subjective feelings, why bother, especially when it puts yourself and others in danger? Why not simply ignore the dictates of conscience? Why bother asking others to justify their unconscionable actions, or some unconscionable aspect of their beliefs or doctrine?

    The very fact that you expect a rational explanation for behaviors/beliefs that conforms to a mutual conscience directly implies that one considers conscience more than irrational feelings, and must be justified as more than that.

  123. 123
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: If conscience is considered nothing more than a subjective feeling (albeit a strong one), then what “right” does one have to hold to their conscience if, by the same token, I feel strongly enough, and had the power to do so, I force my strong feelings on others about any number of things?

    That seems to be the human condition.

    William J Murray: Unless one is implicitly assuming their conscience to be objectively binding on others, society, and obligatory, what principle do we invoke when acting on conscience, other than “I feel like it.”?

    “This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.” — Charles James Napier

    William J Murray: Why not simply ignore the dictates of conscience?

    The same reason you don’t ignore your hunger or thirst. It’s in your nature.

    William J Murray: The very fact that you expect a rational explanation for behaviors/beliefs that conforms to a mutual conscience directly implies that one considers conscience more than irrational feelings, and must be justified as more than that.

    Ethics is based on shared assumptions concerning morality. If we agree that everyone has an equal right to life and liberty, then we can reason as to the best way to accomplish this goal, including when revolution may be justified. On the other hand, if you believe in the divine right of kings, and that duty to your liege is paramount, then the argument will fall flat, as it presumably did for George III.

  124. 124
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, why have you tried to conflate the US Founders with a later generation, nearly 100 years later? That speaks volumes. KF

    PS: So does conflating conscious perception as a subject (a person) with subjectivity as opposed to objectivity. I perceive two limes in a bowl, and add three more, then perceive five therein. That raises the issue of whether the perception of an external world is accurate, or that the operation symbolised by 2 + 3 = 5 is self evident and more, but it does not cast perception or experience or observation against reality. The dilemma of the perception of conscience remains: if objective, we are under OUGHT, if merely subjective, i.e. delusional, then mind is under serious doubt.

  125. 125

    Z says:

    If we agree that everyone has an equal right to life and liberty ..

    Under atheism/materialism, why should anyone agree to this?

    That seems to be the human condition.

    That doesn’t answer the question.

  126. 126
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM – in practice people’s consciences come to different conclusions. How do you know which one is “correct” if conscience is the ultimate arbiter?

  127. 127
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: why have you tried to conflate the US Founders with a later generation, nearly 100 years later? That speaks volumes

    We haven’t conflated anything. You claimed that no one in the southern colonies justified slavery. We pointed out that the situation had obviously changed at least by 1861, and provided evidence in support of that claim.

    Odd that the founders forgot to free the slaves when they drafted the Constitution, even though, according to your comment above, no one defended slavery.

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    That George III may — for argument — have believed himself inherently superior to the American Colonists and may have held that they as inferiors had no unalienable rights (probably 100+ years anachronistic . . . ) would simply mean he was on that scenario clinging to an absurdity to promote injustice.

    Let me again remind of Locke’s cite from Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity in Ch 2 of the 2nd essay on civil gov’t; which in part was an argument regarding the Revolution of 1688, establishing the Bill of Rights of the net year which destroyed vestiges of absolutism in England and Scotland.

    First, the essence of the BoR (still a main plank of the UK’s small-c constitution):

    no royal interference with the law. Though the sovereign remains the fount of justice, he or she cannot unilaterally establish new courts or act as a judge.
    no taxation by Royal Prerogative. The agreement of the parliament became necessary for the implementation of any new taxes
    freedom to petition the monarch without fear of retribution

    no standing army may be maintained during a time of peace without the consent of parliament.[5]
    no royal interference in the freedom of the people to have arms for their own defence as suitable to their class and as allowed by law
    no royal interference in the election of members of Parliament
    the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament

    “grants and promises of fines or forfeitures” before conviction are void.
    no excessive bail or cruel and unusual punishment may be imposed.

    This shearing of royal prerogatives and blocking of absolute monarchy by making king and parliament of commoners partners in rule, finds a root in the clip from Hooker:

    . . . 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 [–> which is directly reflected in several BoR provisions, though of course 1594 or so is 100 years more or less ahead of when Locke wrote, though Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis, resting on nigh on 1,000 y of Roman law, was another thousand years earlier]; 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.]

    In short, your projection of absolutism on the situation of 1776 simply has no grounding in reality.

    And if it did, it would have represented an absurd position on George III’s part.

    I note, in warning, that those whose agenda serve to undermine the foundations of justice, are thereby advancing a situation where the aggrieved can only appeal to the power of their clan lord or the like to protect them.

    We are playing with fire here.

    KF

  129. 129
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: Under atheism/materialism, why should anyone agree to this?

    Because they hold the view. Why else?

    William J Murray: If conscience is considered nothing more than a subjective feeling (albeit a strong one), then what “right” does one have to hold to their conscience if, by the same token, I feel strongly enough, and had the power to do so, I force my strong feelings on others about any number of things?

    “Right” is also subject to conscience. If the person feels strongly enough, she may believe she has right, even a duty, to respond. Because it is subjective, people reach different conclusions. However, most people in a particular culture share many of the same values, and that results in a relatively stable society. When cultures clash, then it may result in conflict.

  130. 130
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: That George III may — for argument — have believed himself inherently superior to the American Colonists and may have held that they as inferiors had no unalienable rights (probably 100+ years anachronistic . . . ) would simply mean he was on that scenario clinging to an absurdity to promote injustice.

    The monarchist view was that the king was anointed by God, and that the stability of society depended on the relationship between the various classes. That’s why Britain followed a very different path to democracy.

    kairosfocus: In short, your projection of absolutism on the situation of 1776 simply has no grounding in reality.

    We made no such claim. Rather, British society was structured at many levels for stability while providing various rights and privileges for each class. The squire defended his position in society just as much as did the king, and that meant the squire was defending the king because that was how he protected his own position. And anarchy was considered the worst possible outcome.

    French society was far more rigid and absolutist, so when the Revolution occurred, every institution was implicated by its dealings with the despot. The king had no allies.

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, In 27 above, I cited John Quincy Adams speaking specifically about the founding circle and generation (and particularly, Jefferson) — the specific context of the DoI of 1776. You have twisted the matter utterly out of context and have set up a strawman. KF

  132. 132
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: I cited John Quincy Adams speaking specifically about the founding circle and generation (and particularly, Jefferson) — the specific context of the DoI of 1776.

    Sure. That explains why there was such a lively debate about slavery during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution, because everyone obviously agreed.

  133. 133
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, I simply point the onlooker to the above across today, where I have had to successively correct you on equality vs some imagined superiority of an anointed king. I had to start by making it plain that the Hebraic root of the Judaeo-Christian frame in fact shows monarchy as a dangerous compromise prone to tyranny, right from the outset. I had to point out that a symbolic or actual spiritual anointing has nothing to do with any innate superiority or immunity to falling into grave sin or even crime. Latterly, I had to take up a presentation of George III that tried to put up a blend of feudal and absolutist views, by highlighting the BoR and Glorious Revolution. And more. Please, think again. KF

  134. 134
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, I again point the onlooker to 27 above. That will show what JQA said, wider issues on the American founding, and the deeper question. KF

  135. 135
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: I simply point the onlooker to the above across today, where I have had to successively correct you on equality vs some imagined superiority of an anointed king.

    Returning to the original point, you had said that denying moral equality among humans ends in absurdity. We pointed out that there are perfectly consistent world-views that do not extend moral equality, such as feudalism and monarchism.

    The moral value of humans is subjective. While there is broad agreement in the world that all humans have equal moral value, this is not a universally shared belief, certainly not over the course of history. There is nothing in logic that requires we assign moral equality to all humans. Rather, it is the result of a long cultural progression.

  136. 136
    Seversky says:

    vjtorley @ 20

    Hold it right there. You are half right: the theory of evolution does not prescribe. But it can certainly invalidate some prescriptive doctrines. If, for example, evolutionary biology were to establish that there is no clear dividing line between humans and other animals in terms of their capacities, and that the transition from the first hominids to Homo sapiens was gradual at every level (cognitive as well as biological), then that clearly would invalidate the doctrine that humans have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and that other animals don’t.

    Really? What is to prevent human beings in society deciding for themselves that they – and they alone – are all entitled to certain “inalienable rights”? What is to prevent them from extending those rights to other members of the animal kingdom if they so choose? Why shouldn’t they decide such things for themselves?

    Likewise, if science were to conclusively establish that the brain is a machine whose workings can be explained in a deterministic fashion from the bottom up, then there would be no room for the concept of free will, and hence no grounds for saying that humans are responsible for their actions, while animals are not.

    Quantum theory suggests that there are no purely determistic systems. A largely determistic system could include a degree of free will. it could be capable of identifying and considering several different courses of action and deciding between them. If it could be shown that it could predict some of the consequences of a particular choice then ti could be held responsible for its actions.

    But, you will object, what about evolutionary humanism, with its prescriptive doctrine that the ultimate goal of society is to encourage the evolution of human beings into a race of superhumans? How does one derive this from science?

    I would reply, with Ayn Rand, that while you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”, you can certainly derive an “ought” from an “if”. Evolutionary biology tells us that some humans have genes that help make them more intelligent than others, and that this trait was the vital one that enabled humans to conquer the planet and become the dominant species. Evolutionary logic would therefore dictate that if you want to maintain your species’ dominance, you should try to cultivate intelligence – in order words, try and breed a race of superhumans. An evolutionary biologist would find it hard to fault that logic.

    Sorry, it still doesn’t work, neither for you nor Ayn Rand. Yes, our superior (in some ways) intelligence might be found to have a genetic basis. That still doesn’t say anything about whether we should be top dogs. It doesn’t say anything about being any kind of dog. It doesn’t say anything about whether we should get more intelligent or live longer or take over the galaxy or exist at all. I’m sure most of us would like to live longer and be smarter – I know I’d sign up for a cabin on the first interstellar space cruiser – but that’s just what we’d like. There’s no ‘ought’ about it.

  137. 137
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 105

    Child: “So, if it was legal, and if society said it was okay to bully others and take their stuff, then it wouldn’t be wrong?”

    Atheist father:

    “That’s right. Now let me ask you a few question. would you like to be bullied and have your stuff taken by other people? You wouldn’t? Do you think all the other people who make up society along with you would like it? No? So what do you think are the chances society would decide that bullying and stealing are right?”

    Child: “If society says that it’s okay to own slaves, or that it’s okay to treat women and children like possessions, then those things would be good?”

    Atheist father:

    “Yes, they would. But what did we just discuss? That’s right, about whether you or anyone else would like to be bullied or have their stuff stolen. Now, potential slaves are part of society. Women and children are part of society. Do you think many people really want to become slaves? Do you think many women and children want to be treated as possessions? Would you? No, I didn’t think so”

    Child: “Why does society get to say what is right and what is wrong?”

    Atheist father:

    “Why shouldn’t society get to say what is right and wrong for itself? Or put it another way. Supposing some really big guy came along with a really big gun and said, “I’ll tell you what is right and wrong an anyone who doesn’t like it gets blown away!” Would you prefer that or would you prefer that we get together and decide for ourselves?”

    Child: “What if I don’t agree with what society says? If what society says is what makes a thing moral or immoral, then isn’t the fact that I disagree by definition an immoral position?”

    Atheist father:

    “It certainly could be. Of course, if you were able to persuade enough people that you were right and they were wrong then yours would be the moral position, by definition.”

  138. 138
    rvb8 says:

    Whenever I read WJM my profundity meter blows a gasket.

    Today in Paris religious adherents to great Islamic morality, shot in cold blood 11 cartoonists, and satirists, of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. (Humour and satire as George Orwell noted, are the scourge of tyrrany, when you can laugh at them, their clothes fall off. This is why Islam fears the west, not because we can bring freedom and democracy, these are incidental, but because we have a long tradition of laughing and mocking all centres of power, be they, business, political, cultural or RELIGIOUS). You see, I strongly believe Mr WJM and kairros, that if you and your ‘morality’ had true power, then we citizens should truly be afraid.

    My point to any ‘moral’ religious person here, is to ask why would a god based morality condone, perhaps encourage such behaviour?

    It is patently clear that with our evolving society we are actually becoming more moral. It is the dregs of god and faith that always appear to be desperately pulling us back to a delusional fairy land of god and Moses, and 10, either absurdly obvious laws, or absurdly pointless. No! The laws and morality of an evolved ape have proven to be infinately prefferrable to those of a ‘jealous God’.

  139. 139
    Robert Byers says:

    rvB8
    In law accusation is nOT indictment. Why do you think it is.?
    That would make every accuser get the accused instant punishment with no need for trial.
    your accusation was based on , I presume sincere, error in reading my comment.
    Context should of been clear.
    You persist in falsely accusing me without moral cause.
    i stand by what i said, forgot now by this time, .
    i made no comment about israel.
    I don’t agree they have any moral right to take another peoples land or even exist as a jewish state. Yet i believe its in Gods plan and a moral person can accept their existence based on the concept of new generations having been born and the original ones having died and the arabs likewise were not born in the land since their expulsion. thats how to justify, rightly, any invasion after the generation of invaders

    By the way there is no such thing as anti-semetism.
    all there is IS accusation of one identity towards another. Right or wrong, good or evil in intent.
    Every accusation should make its case in a trial before its declared true or not true.
    Thats the moral and legal law and stops false accusation which also would of helped the Jewish people in old Europe in not being murdered.
    Judge not least ye be Judged.
    That is before trial of coarse.
    Its also very unkind and unsporting.
    Peace..

  140. 140
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, there are worldviews that advocate a fundamental want of moral worth and/or equality of people. They immediately entail moral absurdities, as shown and/or linked. Given my discussion linked yesterday, here, please tell me what subjectivist answer you have to the grieving father of that kidnapped, abused, murdered child, that does not entail that a major aspect of mindedness is delusional, undermining — yet again — the credibility of mind on such premises. KF

  141. 141
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, The murders in Paris and others of like order under the false use of the name of God are very simply explained: “let us do evil that good may come.” The Apostle Paul, whom I just quoted, immediately said of such thinking, that the condemnation of such is just. (He was replying to a slander.) Next, I suggest to those who think like that on a flimsy excuse about dishonouring their founder, that murder dishonours the image that God stamped unto man and will justly face his wrath — a direct echo of the words of James in the NT. Third, this is a manifestation of exactly the failure of sober thought that Locke highlights by citing Hooker, and note that across yesterday I cited that in this thread something like three times. Beyond that (given known wider context in debates in recent years), I think you should take pause on feeding into a talking point line that would extend to Christians, what even most Muslims would not agree with. KF

  142. 142
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    rvb8 says,

    It is patently clear that with our evolving society we are actually becoming more moral.

    I say.

    Does patently clear equal self evidently true?

    peace

  143. 143
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Z, there are worldviews that advocate a fundamental want of moral worth and/or equality of people.

    Those are not the same thing. Someone might assign moral worth to all people, just more to some than others. Indeed, most people would protect their families at the expense of strangers.

    You still haven’t defended your claim that denying moral equality among humans ends in absurdity.

  144. 144
    Joe says:

    rvb8- What happened in France is a tragedy. What people need to realize is that if you piss off emotionally unstable people bad things tend to happen. To me only imbeciles do things like that.

  145. 145
    Silver Asiatic says:

    rvb8

    (Humour and satire as George Orwell noted, are the scourge of tyrrany, when you can laugh at them, their clothes fall off. This is why Islam fears the west, not because we can bring freedom and democracy, these are incidental, but because we have a long tradition of laughing and mocking all centres of power, be they, business, political, cultural or RELIGIOUS).

    Satire and mocking is intended as an attack. It attempts to destroy the value or importance of its target. Attacks and attempts to destroy are the elements of warfare. We might say that mocking is “just words”. But threats are “just words” also – and wars are started from an escalation of threats.

    My point to any ‘moral’ religious person here, is to ask why would a god based morality condone, perhaps encourage such behaviour?

    It might be easier to defend the materialist/evolutionary view. In that viewpoint, terrorists should be encouraged and defended for following their own evolved morality. I find it odd that defenders of societal freedom don’t defend acts of terrorism on evolutionary grounds. Islam is growing in numeric strength in Europe. Islam has reproductive advantage and are therefore looks to be more evolved and selected to take over society.

    That should be a good thing in terms of evolution. Natural selection allows terrorism to win.

    The laws and morality of an evolved ape have proven to be infinately prefferrable to those of a ‘jealous God’.

    You don’t think Muslim extremists are ‘evolved apes’?

  146. 146
    velikovskys says:

    Kf,
    VS,

    I would suggest to you that simple reading of the actual history will show that in the name of science, darwinist thought led many to accept the notions of superiority of certain races and classes,

    As apparently so did the Bible before Darwin, inequality and persecution predates Darwin. You seem to think that the justification is necessarily the motivation.

    and to the rise of a eugenics movement keyed to even the Darwin family in successive generations (including of course Galton), much less the ideas that we may find stressed in the infamous logos of the International conferences, cf here.

    You seem to be ignoring that eugenics was accepted by creationists as well, since you are a history buff ,what was the status of those victims of eugenics before Darwin?

    Note, the theme: Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution.

    Note, humans have been self directing human evolution since there were humans, the difference in the the power of the state. Again you ignore the point that creationists who did not believe in evolution supported eugenics,

    It was not for nothing, that a chief spokesman against the movement when it was in its heyday, was precisely Christian thinker G K Chesterton.

    “Opposition to eugenics began even as the movement was being organized into a scientific discipline. By 1910, the equilibrium model developed by Godfrey N. Hardy and Wilhelm Weinberg disproved the claim that degenerate families were increasing the societal load of dysgenic genes. The Hardy-Weinberg equation also showed that sterilization of affected individuals would never appreciably reduce the percentage of mental defectives in society. At the same time, George Shull, at the Carnegie Station for Experimental Evolution, showed that hybrid corn plants are more vigorous than pure-bred ones. This refuted the notion that racial purity offers any biological advantage or that race mixing destroys “good” racial types.”

    He was not alone.

    Time for a serious rethink.

    Unless you are willing to condemn Christianity because of alll the atrocities committed in its name then your position is built on quicksand.

  147. 147
    hrun0815 says:

    In law accusation is nOT indictment. Why do you think it is.?
    That would make every accuser get the accused instant punishment with no need for trial.

    google to the rescue:

    in·dict·ment

    noun
    1.NORTH AMERICAN; a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime. – “an indictment for conspiracy”; the action of indicting or being indicted. – “the indictment of twelve people who had imported cocaine”

    2. a thing that serves to illustrate that a system or situation is bad and deserves to be condemned. – “these rapidly escalating crime figures are an indictment of our society”

    and wikipedia

    An indictment (/?n?da?tm?nt/ in-dyt-m?nt), in the common law system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that use the concept of felonies, the most serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that do not use the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an offence that requires an indictment.

    So it seems pretty clear that in law an indictment is indeed an accusation– a formal one. However, it is not something the gets instant punishment without the need for a trial.

  148. 148
    velikovskys says:

    ffm
    Does patently clear equal self evidently true?

    patently clear requires some actual data to support it, self evident truth requires only the assertion that it is true to all but a psychopath or a king.

    But since God has not seen fit to wipe out humanity with a catastrophe we must be doing better than the preflood humanity.

  149. 149
    kairosfocus says:

    VS,

    strawman.

    The self evident is true, is seen to be so once properly understood, and is seen so on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial (as opposed to, on prolonged, complex analysis). A good example from another domain is, 2 + 3 = 5, or || + ||| –> |||||.

    A useful summary of the point for morality starts with how we quarrel by appealing to a principle of fairness standing in moral governance, which is universally acknowledged. It even peeks out beneath the attempted dismissal you just made.

    A good example of the point in the moral domain is what I have now cited several times and which objectors, side trackers and strawman creators have consistently failed to address. Here, in grounding what would become modern liberty and democracy, in Ch 2 of the 2nd essay on civil govt, Locke cites Hooker in Ecclesiastical Polity:

    . . . 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. Emphasis added.]

    The same frame appears in Blackstone and he points to Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis, which also picked up the point.

    We intuit our moral worth and expect to be treated in accord with that, which imposes a duty of reciprocity to moral equals as a direct corollary, one that is backed up by the testimony of sound consciences. Not, that one cannot kill or warp one’s conscience, given enough effort, but the aberration will immediately be evident from its utter unreasonableness and inconsistency.

    Where also, if one imagines such a major faculty of conscious mindedness is delusional, then one walks into the trap of undermining rationality and mind across the board. For, if we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, we live in a Plato’s Cave world.

    Patent absurdity in several ways in short.

    But then, evolutionary materialism already is long since in serious trouble with the mind, reason and knowledge, cf here on.

    And if you think that my pointing to such is a caricature, kindly read this:

    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 grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. 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 problem is, that for ideological reasons, absurdities can become institutionalised, and entrenched in power. And can resort to the abuse of power to sustain themselves, through might and manipulation make ‘right’ tactics.

    As, we can readily see all around.

    And as over 100 millions of ghosts from the century just past warn us against.

    KF

  150. 150
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: BTW, VS, here is a classic sumary of Christian Morality, that you would despise, by its chief proponent:

    ___________________

    >> 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. >>
    _________________

    And if you imagine that every Christian every moment must live up to this, or it loses all grounds, you do not understand the difference between is and ought, and you do not understand the importance of moral struggle to the good.

  151. 151
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Or, if you want it in a nutshell:

    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 to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    (And yes, the link-up to what Hooker said is there.)

  152. 152
    Joe says:

    You don’t think Muslim extremists are ‘evolved apes’?

    Devolved humans.

  153. 153
    Silver Asiatic says:

    In evolutionary terms [not my own] they might be more evolved and their moral code should be defended as having been selected for reproductive advantage.

  154. 154
    max hodges says:

    >Dr. Harari and I disagree profoundly on the human soul

    How could something without any parts do anything at all? And how could something non-physical have any effect on our world to begin with? It either has an effect on things and is part of this world, or it has no effect and therefore it doesn’t matter. There really isn’t any alternative.

    Not to be rude, but It seems many people have of terrible habit of using magical ideas (“vital force”, “souls”, and “spirits”) to explain phenomena which they don’t understand. But such theories don’t really explain anything. They just kick the can down the road: If a “vital force” distinguishes living things from non-living things, how does this “vital force” work? What kind of parts does it have and how are they arranged?

    These kind of theories lack imagination because a thing with no parts can’t really do anything at all.

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