Intelligent Design

How Materialist Fundamentalists Are Like Islamic Fundamentalists

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A few weeks ago I posted How Materialist Fundamentalists Are Like Christian Fundamentalists in which I argued that Christian and Materialist fundamentalists are alike in this respect:  Their religious/metaphysical commitments come first and the evidence comes second.  If the evidence seems to contradict conclusions compelled by their faith commitments, they will either reject the evidence or try to explain it away. 

A few weeks after I posted my article, O’Leary for the UD News Desk posted an article about a philosopher who had dumped Darwinism because of its proponents’ open advocacy of using deception to push the Darwinian line.  She linked to “I’m with stupid” by J. Budziszewski in which he wrote:

Philip Kitcher, a philosopher of biology and a supporter of natural selection, chastises Darwin for “appeasing his critics,” writing that “If the presence of particular goals can interfere with the epistemic evaluation of a novel proposal, then it is epistemically desirable for the proposer to respond to those goals, even if it requires deception.”

In other words, you may have to lie to the stupid people to get them to take Darwinism as seriously as we smart people do.

A more elaborate argument in favor of deception is offered by philosopher Phillip L. Quinn, who says that sometimes, in public debate over Darwinism, the only arguments that have a chance of convincing policymakers are bad ones.  He argues that presenting arguments one knows to be faulty is morally permissible, but only “provided we continue to have qualms of conscience about getting our hands soiled.”  He does worry that after presenting effective but bad arguments has become easy and second nature, one’s hands “become dirty beyond all cleansing and one suffers from a thoroughgoing corruption of mind.”  But perhaps scholars could “divide up the labor so that no one among us has to resort to the bad effective argument too frequently.”  That way, “we can succeed in resisting effectively without paying too high a price in terms of moral corruption.”

This got me to thinking.  Where have I heard “it’s OK to lie to further the true religion” before? Oh, yes, some Islamic fundamentalists say this. 

Reliance of the Traveler and Tools of the Worshipper (also commonly known by its shorter title Reliance of the Traveler) is a classical manual of Islamic jurisprudence written in the 14th century by scholar Shihabuddin Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn an-Naqib al-Misri.  In a famous passage al-Misri writes:

Speaking is a means to achieve objectives.  If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it.  When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible (N:i.e. when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory . . . it is religiously precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression . . . One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those entailed by telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more damaging, one is entitled to lie.


Reliance of the Traveler, sec. r8.2, 745-746.

For the Islamic fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith. 

For the Materialist fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith. (I use the same word advisedly). 

14 Replies to “How Materialist Fundamentalists Are Like Islamic Fundamentalists

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    For the Islamic fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith.

    For the Materialist fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith. (I use the same word advisedly).

    But apparently it’s not just Islamists and materialists who find truth “conditional” on occasions:

    This question is even more serious since there are two famous biblical examples.

    1. Pharaoh’s demand that the Hebrew midwives kill all newborn male babies (Exod. 1:17–21).

    When asked by Pharaoh why they didn’t obey his command, the midwives tell him it’s because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before a midwife can arrive. God appears to issue his verdict on their behavior: he “dealt well with the midwives” and “gave them families” (vv. 20–21).

    The midwives deliberately deceived Pharaoh—and God appears to reward them for it.

    2. Rahab the prostitute, who tells a falsehood to protect the Israelite spies (Josh. 2:1–7; cf. Heb. 11:31).

    James 2:25 appeals to Rahab as an illustration of how good works flow from genuine, saving faith: “And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” Rahab communicated a falsehood to protect the spies—and is apparently applauded for it. And note that Joshua sent spies into the land, whose purpose was to deceive and undermine the enemy in order to gather information the enemy hopes to conceal. God had spies working for him in the Old Testament.

    And come to think of it, to paraphrase Captain Kirk, what does an omniscient God need with spies?

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev, the points you raise are cogent. And it is a fact that in some Biblical contexts — the two you mentioned involve saving the lives of the babies and the spies — truth takes a back seat to larger considerations. But there is a difference between the deception advocated by Kitcher and Quinn and the deception in the examples you raised. Are you able to suss that difference out? If not, let me know and I will tell you the answer.

  3. 3
    john_a_designer says:

    For the Islamic fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith.

    For the Materialist fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith.

    I think the two are actually very dissimilar. At least I think I understand the Islamic fundamentalist (jihadist) motivations. So in that sense their belief system has some rationality. The atheist materialist, on the other hand, has rejected any basis for any kind of rationality. How can there be when mind and consciousness are nothing but illusions and morality is completely subjective and relativistic? If they reject Truth both an epistemic and moral/ethical level why would they feel obligated to tell the truth (be honest) on a personal level? As far as a cause, what kind of cause are nihilists capable of creating? The only thing I can think of is that some of them are very unhappy people and can’t stand anyone else being happy or pursuing anything that is meaningful.

  4. 4
    aarceng says:

    Barry @ 2
    Will you tell me the answer?

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    I agree with JAD, in regards to the existence of truth itself, the two worldviews are very dissimilar.

    All worldviews presuppose the existence of truth, after all all worldviews claim to be true, but which worldview can actually ground truth?

    In regards to atheistic materialism itself, to an atheistic materialist truth is arrived at by pure chance and/or randomness and not by reason.

    “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
    — C.S. Lewis (from, The Case for Christianity)

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    The Argument From Reason – resource page
    http://www.reasonsforgod.org/t.....om-reason/

    The atheistic materialist, and all the thoughts that he or she may be having as a ‘meat robot’ with no free will, is/are simply a ‘victim’ of whatever state the material particles of his brain may randomly take and they are not arrived at by reason.

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    Jerry Coyne – No, You’re Not a Robot Made Out of Meat (Science Uprising 02) – video
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant:,,) Read more here:
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain.
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    Why the state of material particles in one brain may randomly coincide to the state of material particles in another brain to produce an agreement that something/anything, say evolution itself, may actually be true, is, apparently, one of those inexplicable ‘miracles’ of Darwinian evolution that we are not to examine too closely lest we become heretics of the Darwinian faith.

    Natural Selection itself is of no help to the Darwinian materialists in regards to producing true beliefs. As Richard Dawkins stated, “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”

    Why Atheism is Nonsense Pt.5 – “Naturalism is a Self-defeating Idea”video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff-5rsrDRGM

    And as Steven Pinker stated, “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”

    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.

    In fact, if Darwinian evolution were actually true, not only could we never trust our thoughts about reality but we also could never trust our perceptions of reality.

    Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is? – Video – 9:59 minute mark
    Quote: “fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes.,,, Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is, and it is fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution. So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds. Some of the organisms see all of the reality. Others see just part of the reality. And some see none of the reality. Only fitness. Who wins? Well I hate to break it to you but perception of reality goes extinct. In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality, but are just tuned to fitness, drive to extinction that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor veridical, or accurate perceptions. Those (accurate) perceptions of reality go extinct. Now this is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?”
    https://youtu.be/oYp5XuGYqqY?t=601

    The Case Against Reality – May 13, 2016
    Excerpt: Hoffman seems to come to a conclusion similar to the one Alvin Plantinga argues in ch. 10 of Where the Conflict Really Lies: we should not expect — in the absence of further argument — that creatures formed by a naturalistic evolutionary process would have veridical perceptions.,,,
    First, even if Hoffman’s argument were restricted to visual perception, and not to our cognitive faculties more generally (e.g., memory, introspection, a priori rational insight, testimonial belief, inferential reasoning, etc.), the conclusion that our visual perceptions would be wholly unreliable given natural selection would be sufficient for Plantinga’s conclusion of self-defeat. After all, reliance upon the veridicality of our visual perceptions was and always will be crucial for any scientific argument for the truth of evolution. So if these perceptions cannot be trusted, we have little reason to think evolutionary theory is true.
    Second, it’s not clear that Hoffman’s application of evolutionary game theory is only specially applicable to visual perception, rather than being relevant for our cognitive faculties generally. If “we find that veridical perceptions can be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality” (2010, p. 504, my emphasis), then why wouldn’t veridical cognitive faculties (more generally) be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality? After all, evolutionary theory purports to be the true account of the formation of all of our cognitive faculties, not just our faculty of visual perception. If evolutionary game theory proves that “true perception generally goes extinct” when “animals that perceive the truth compete with others that sacrifice truth for speed and energy-efficiency” (2008), why wouldn’t there be a similar sacrifice with respect to other cognitive faculties? In fact, Hoffman regards the following theorem as now proven: “According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness” (Atlantic interview). But then wouldn’t it also be the case that an organism that cognizes reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that cognizes none of reality but is just tuned to fitness? On the evolutionary story, every cognitive faculty we have was produced by a process that was tuned to fitness (rather than tuned to some other value, such as truth).
    http://www.gregwelty.com/2016/.....t-reality/

    Thus, in regards to being able to ground truth itself, at least the Islamic Fundamentalists, in his Theistic worldview, can potentially ground true beliefs, whereas Materialist Fundamentalists are at a complete loss to explain how their worldview can possibly ground true beliefs. Materialist Fundamentalists, i.e. Darwinists, are in a state of catastrophic epistemological failure in regards to being able to ground true beliefs.

    Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God – Peter Kreeft
    11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
    http://www.peterkreeft.com/top.....nce.htm#11

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    In regards to differentiating Christianity from Islam, “Jesus claimed to not only give the truth, but to be the very personal embodiment of it.”

    “If you were to take Mohammed out of Islam, and Buddha out of Buddhism, and Confucius out of Confucianism you would still have a faith system that was relatively intact. However, taking Christ out of Christianity sinks the whole faith completely. This is because Jesus centred the faith on himself. He said, “This is what it means to have eternal life: to know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent” (John 17:3). “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Buddha, before dying, said in effect, “I am still seeking for the truth.” Mohammed said in effect, “I point you to the truth.” Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Jesus claimed to not only give the truth, but to be the very personal embodiment of it.”
    http://commonground.co.za/?res.....way-to-god

    And Jesus has the support of modern science itself behind Him in His claim that “I am the truth.”

    The main ‘problem’ in physics today is to try to find a quote/unquote “Theory of Everything” between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. That effort, despite decades of effort by some of the most brilliant minds in the world, has been dismal failure thus far.

    As was pointed out yesterday on another thread, string theory, and its red headed step child M-theory, are, basically, mathematical fantasy with no discernible connection to reality.

    “What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.”
    – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote is in the following video clip:
    Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking’s New Book ‘The Grand Design’ – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg_95wZZFr4

    Whereas on the other hand, and as was also pointed out yesterday,

    ,, if we rightly allow the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders of modern science),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the confirmation of the Maxwell Demon thought experiment that empirically demonstrated that ‘entropy is a property of an observer who describes the system’, as well as with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company in 2018), if we rightly allow the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics then that provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/fields-medalist-says-math-really-exists/#comment-684614

    Thus, Jesus Christ’s claim that He is “THE Truth” actually has some fairly impressive empirical support behind it and even satisfies the main quest in physics today in regards to finding “The Truth”, i.e. in regards to finding the “Theory of Everything”.

    Verse and video:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb” – Petrus Soons – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

  7. 7
    vmahuna says:

    Well, gee, wow. I’m slogging through Thomas Sowell’s “The Vision of the Anointed”, which is about POLITICAL theories. This is a SCARY book. The “anointed” in this case are those people (such as Communists, or more generally “Liberals”) who KNOW that their theories of how to run the world are Right/True, and so lesser people should simply stop trying to debate or analyze the Truth handed down to them. The Anointed of course continue to believe they were right about what they believed last week, even if that doesn’t agree with this week’s hot new solution to all the world’s problems.
    This ties in PERFECTLY with the wacko French theorists of the early 19th Century. The French motto “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” means something VERY much different than what is commonly assumed. You have the “liberty” to do what the government tells you to do. You must be “equal” to your fellow citizens by living EXACTLY like every other citizen. This is down to living in IDENTICAL houses and wearing IDENTICAL clothes. And under “fraternity” you must ABANDON all of your biological kin because your NEW family is all of your fellow citizens.
    This of course flopped big time in actual practice by the mid-19th century, but the French oddly kept the slogan, which no longer has any meaning.
    But for an extended trip down insanity lane, read “Fire in the Minds of Men” by James H. Billington. There were more crazy political solutions by the various Anointed Ones than you can shake a stick.

  8. 8
    john_a_designer says:

    I agree with Bill Nye. If his materialistic world view is true then we are nothing more than insignificant specs.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kBbEQvgJec

    However, there is no evidence that his materialistic world view is true. What I find sad is he thinks our insignificance is a big joke. Atheists philosophers like Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus didn’t see I that way. At least they were somewhat honest. Maybe Nye is on something. (Notice, I did not say on to something. I said, ON something.)

    Why would anyone want to push or promote such a view?

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev apparently is not curious about the critical differences between his examples and the deception advocated by Kitcher and Quinn. But at 2 Aarceng inquires. Clearly not all false signification is culpable. Examples abound. The ruse de guerre in time of war, the sting operation by law enforcement, the social lie to preserve someone’s feelings, and, perhaps most significantly, the falsehood intended to save a life — the classic Nazi and the door with Jews in the attic scenario. Several years ago there was an excellent article in First Things on this topic. From the article:

    Neither Aquinas nor the Church understands the use of lethal force in defense of innocent life to be an “exception” to the prohibition of murder. Nor does the taking or destroying of property belonging to another when necessary to avert some great evil function as an “exception” to the prohibition of theft. Murder is the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being. Theft is taking something against the reasonable will of the owner, and a reasonable owner would approve of taking property to protect important goods. Therefore, properly stated, although killing and the taking of property are sometimes morally permissible, the norms against murder and theft remain absolute, without exception. Similarly, I believe that the telling of some falsehoods and other forms of false signification are compatible with the absolute prohibition of lying . . . We certainly must try to achieve goods without killing or destroying property, and the same holds for our efforts to promote goods without engaging in false signification. But just as destruction of life and property is now sometimes necessary and thus moral for the protection of what is good, false signification is sometimes necessary for the protection of life, property, and even truth itself. Uttering a falsehood to deceive a Nazi in order to save a Jew seems to be just such a case.

    Now to cases, the examples that Sev gave in his comment square with the analogy to murder. Just as it would have been morally good to kill someone trying to murder an innocent baby, it is morally good to lie to that person to preserve the life of the baby. Where do the lies for which Kitcher and Quinn advocate fall? Without the slightest doubt, those lies are more analogous to murder than to killing in defense of another. Context is key. Kitcher and Quinn are operating in a context (academic inquiry) in which the whole point of the endeavor is to get to the truth of the matter, i.e., the nature of reality. Yet, they urge lies in the context of a pursuit of truth. They are culpable.

  10. 10
    john_a_designer says:

    I think there is a difference between what I call “rule absolutism” and moral objectivism. You don’t have to accept rule absolutism to be a moral objectisivist. Indeed, I would argue that morality is not based on some written code but on our moral conscience which has been written on the hearts of all human beings by the Creator. See Paul’s comments about this is Romans chapter 2.

  11. 11
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @10
    You’re quite right, John. “the rules” are applications of an underlying principle to specific circumstances, and it’s a bad idea for people who don’t understand scripture at all to assay this kind of critique attempted above.
    Just to take up the example already given, the command “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is not about telling lies – it is about telling a specific kind of lie. The judicial principle given by God through Moses was that “on the strength of two witnesses the truth shall be established”. In other words, there could be no guilt by accusation, no “he said she said” where you automatically believe the accuser, or the man, or the woman, or any other kind of partiality. But if the witnesses are false, i.e. if they lie to the judge about the guilt of one party, then they conspire to condemn an innocent, and/or to exonerate the guilty. By this method the justice system itself is corrupted and twisted to become a tool of oppression.
    Not incidentally, the punishment for a false witness – once discovered – was to receive the exact same penalty that would have been laid upon the person found guilty by their false witness.
    In this manner the system of justice itself was protected.
    We recognise the difference in modern legal systems too (for in the western nations they largely arose out of Christian contexts) and thus to perjure oneself before a judge is punishable by law while lying to your husband about his handsome face is not.

  12. 12
    john_a_designer says:

    While there may be extraordinary circumstance which force exceptions to the so-called rules, 99.9% of the time we are obligated to tell the truth. There are some strong pragmatic arguments that confirm this truth about Truth. Telling truth is critical to the functioning of society. Consider how important it is when it comes to finance and business, government and law enforcement as well as personal relationships. Indeed, if you a conscious human being with a conscience you know this is true because it is self-evidently true.

    However, materialistic atheists (like Ruse, Dawkins, Dennett, Provine and Rosenberg etc.) have no basis for either epistemological or moral truth. There is no capital-T Truth according to them (I can provide their quotes if you wish.) But how can you trust someone who doesn’t believe there is such a thing as moral truth? Morality is useless unless there is some kind of real and binding interpersonal moral obligations. Obligations are not subjective personal preferences. For example, we are obligated to tell the truth whether it advances our self-interest or not. Obligations also demand that there is some kind of interpersonal moral standard which more than one person MUST admit is the right, correct and true standard. The materialist atheist has no reason to accept such a standard. So what reason would anyone have to believe that he (or she) is able to treat other honestly and fairly? How for example, could you have an honest and fair discussion on-line about morality if you don’t feel you have a personal obligation to be truthful? I don’t see how you can or ever could.

  13. 13
    ScuzzaMan says:

    John,
    Moses did not provide a single undifferentiated mass of rules. The ten commandments are an agreement between God and His people and as such they are unchangeable and unbreakable.
    But Moses also gave a large body of civil regulations that explicitly recognise that not all people are trustworthy, and yet we have to deal with them and their actions.
    In the normal course of events all you say is itself true and correct; we carry a moral obligation to Truth.
    But we carry a higher obligation to Life, and it is far from unusual for untruthful (immoral) people to put us in situations where telling them the truth will damage or end the lives of others. This we are not obligated to do. Quite the opposite: we are obligated to not do it.
    Ergo, Rahab, as mentioned previously.
    If you want to take this offline, I can be reached via scuzzaman at gmail. Exploring the “right dividing” of the word is a fascinating discussion as it touches on the ten commandments. As Morpheus says to Neo about the rules of the Matrix: “Some may be bent … others may be broken.”

  14. 14
    john_a_designer says:

    Actually, the underlying concept or key question is this: Is morality based on a set of rules that are written down somewhere OR are “the rules” based on a moral standard that transcends time, space and culture?

    An “objective” and honest look at human history strongly suggests it’s the latter not the former. For example, no one today would defend the U.S. Supreme Court’s dreadful 1857 Dred Scott decision as being morally just (it was effectively overturned by the 13th and 14th amendment after a civil war that took 600,000 lives.) In other words, even the so called Supreme Court is fallible.

    Of course, that raises the question what is the ultimate source of the transcendent moral standard?

    PS I don’t have time to become involved in on-line discussions elsewhere.

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