Intelligent Design

Materialist Reaches New Low

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Barry:  Can we know with absolute certainty that it is evil to torture a baby for pleasure?

JDK:  “There is no possible answer to the question: it’s a meaningless question.”

UPDATE:

JDK has accused me of being intellectually dishonest for quoting him as saying (1)  there is no possible answer to the question; and (2) it is a meaningless question.  He has implied that the “context” of his statement makes it mean something other than what it appears to mean on its face.

OK JDK.  I’ll bite.   Do you believe the question has meaning and it is possible to answer?  If so, answer it.  If not, apologize for saying the quotation was dishonest.

SECOND UPDATE:

JDK continues to post in the comment thread.  I noted that he had posted twice without responding.  His response:

A true fact, Barry. This makes three times.

It surprises no one, I am sure, that JDK’s charge of dishonesty was, itself, fundamentally dishonest.  What should we expect from someone who claims to be wobbly on the whole baby torture issue?

 

 

157 Replies to “Materialist Reaches New Low

  1. 1
    Barry Arrington says:

    If gerd does not rise in your throat when you read his response, something is wrong with you.

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    He laughed. ‘But what will become of men then?’ I asked him, ‘without God and immortal life? All things are lawful then, they can do what they like?’ ‘Didn’t you know?’ he said laughing, ‘a clever man can do what he likes,’ he said. ‘A clever man knows his way about, but you’ve put your foot in it, committing a murder, and now you are rotting in prison.’
    – Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Chapter 73

    But of course. For some in the end, there’s no right or wrong, only power. Power, self, and murder. And then comes the judgment.

    -Q

  3. 3
    Aeneas Pietas says:

    From the perspective of the intellectually honest atheist, there is, of course, nothing morally good or bad about torturing a baby for pleasure.

    However, consider it from the perspective of a utilitarian such as Peter Singer. A baby has no moral value. Therefore, the suffering he or she experiences is of no moral consequence. Conversely, the torturer experiences pleasure while torturing the baby. Therefore, utility is maximised, and the torture is morally good, if not morally mandatory.

  4. 4
    asauber says:

    Hypothetically,

    Can we know with absolute certainty that it is evil to torture an Atheist for pleasure?

    Andrew

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    The psychological, even spiritual, reason that Atheists/Materialists refuse to give a straightforward answer to a clear moral question is rather simple. Simply put, they do not want to be held accountable to God:

    John 3:19-20
    And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.…

    As the atheist Thomas Nagel, who wrote “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False”, once stated, “It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time.”

    “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.”
    – Thomas Nagel – , The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997. Dr Nagel (1937– ) is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.

    And as the atheist Aldous Huxley also once stated, “We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

    “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none,,,,
    We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
    ? Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means – 1937

    And while the psychological, even spiritual, reason that Atheists/Materialists refuse to give a straightforward answer to a clear moral question is rather simple, the scientific reasoning behind the Atheistic undermining of morality in Judeo-Christian societies, is a bit more nuanced.

    Basically, Atheists, by claiming that there is nothing unique or special about humanity, and that we are just animals, have, basically, reduced morality to a sort of ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality.

    As Adolph Hitler himself stated,

    “The law of selection exists in the world, and the stronger and healthier has received from nature the right to live. Woe to anyone who is weak, who does not stand his ground! He may not expect help from anyone.”
    – Adolf Hitler

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

    Besides directly undermining Hitler’s innate sense of objective morality, Darwinism also directly undermined Stalin and Mao’s innate sense of objective morality,

    The Darwinian Foundation of Communism by Dr. Jerry Bergman
    Summary
    In the minds of Hitler, Stalin and Mao, treating people as animals was not wrong because they believed that Darwin had ‘proved’ humans were not God’s creation, but instead descended from some simple, one-cell organism. All three men believed it was morally proper to eliminate the less fit or ‘herd them like cattle into boxcars bound for concentration camps and gulags’ if it achieved the goal of their Darwinist philosophy.
    https://answersingenesis.org/charles-darwin/racism/the-darwinian-foundation-of-communism/

    In fact, Lenin even kept a little statue of an ape staring at a human skull on his desk. The ape was sitting on a pile of books which included Darwin’s book, “Origin”.

    “V.I. Lenin, creator of the Soviet totalitarian state, kept a little statue on his desk—an ape sitting on a pile of books including mine [The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life], gazing at a human skull. And Mao Zedong, butcher of the tens of millions of his own countrymen, who regarded the German ‘Darwinismus’ writings as the foundation of Chinese ‘scientific socialism.’ This disciple mandated my works as reading material for the indoctrination phase of his lethal Great Leap Forward.” Nickell John Romjue, I, Charles Darwin, p. 45
    https://thunderontheright.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/hitler-lenin-stalin-mao-and-darwin/

    Here is a picture of what the little statue on Lenin’s desk looked like:

    Hugo Rheinhold’s Monkey
    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61Y8HpKyHOL._SL1009_.jpg

    Stalin likewise, while at ecclesiastical school of all places, was also heavily influenced by Darwinism,

    Stalin’s Brutal Faith
    Excerpt: At a very early age, while still a pupil in the ecclesiastical school, Comrade Stalin developed a critical mind and revolutionary sentiments. He began to read Darwin and became an atheist.
    G. Glurdjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin’s, relates:
    “I began to speak of God, Joseph heard me out, and after a moment’s silence, said:
    “‘You know, they are fooling us, there is no God. . . .’
    “I was astonished at these words, I had never heard anything like it before.
    “‘How can you say such things, Soso?’ I exclaimed.
    “‘I’ll lend you a book to read; it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense,’ Joseph said.
    “‘What book is that?’ I enquired.
    “‘Darwin. You must read it,’ Joseph impressed on me” 1
    1 E. Yaroslavsky, Landmarks in the Life of Stalin (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing house, 1940), pp. 8-12. ,,,
    http://www.icr.org/article/stalins-brutal-faith/

    Even America, with its strong Christian heritage, and even though America overcame the Nazi and Communist scourges in Europe, has not escaped unscathed from the devastating effects of “Darwinian morality”. To this day in America, Darwinian morality is at war with Judeo-Christian morality

    At 1,200,000, Abortion is the leading cause of deaths each year in the USA – graph
    http://skepchick.org/wp-conten.....704889.jpg

    How Darwin’s Theory Changed the World
    Rejection of Judeo-Christian values
    Excerpt: Weikart explains how accepting Darwinist dogma shifted society’s thinking on human life: “Before Darwinism burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of the sanctity of human life was dominant in European thought and law (though, as with all ethical principles, not always followed in practice). Judeo-Christian ethics proscribed the killing of innocent human life, and the Christian churches explicitly forbade murder, infanticide, abortion, and even suicide.
    “The sanctity of human life became enshrined in classical liberal human rights ideology as ‘the right to life,’ which according to John Locke and the United States Declaration of Independence, was one of the supreme rights of every individual” (p. 75).
    Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.).
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-world.htm

    The unmitigated horror unleashed on the world by Darwinian ‘morality’, i.e. by the direct undermining of the Judeo-Christian worldview, is almost beyond comprehension. Here’s what happens when Atheists/evolutionists/non-Christians take control of Government:

    “169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]
    I BACKGROUND
    2. The New Concept of Democide [Definition of Democide]
    3. Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide
    II 128,168,000 VICTIMS: THE DEKA-MEGAMURDERERS
    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime
    III 19,178,000 VICTIMS: THE LESSER MEGA-MURDERERS
    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military
    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State
    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges
    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State
    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing
    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State
    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse
    IV 4,145,000 VICTIMS: SUSPECTED MEGAMURDERERS
    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea
    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico
    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia”

    This is, in reality, probably just a drop in the bucket. Who knows how many undocumented murders there were. It also doesn’t count all the millions of abortions from around the world.
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, the sad irony is is that this undermining of the Judeo-Christian morality by Darwinian morality is completely unjustified scientifically.

    First off. the fossil record and the genetic evidence, despite oft repeated claims by Darwinists to the contrary, simply does not support the Darwinian worldview. There are far more differences between humans and chimps than is commonly believed,,,

    “Contested Bones” (Part 1 – Prologue and Chapter 1 “Power of the Paradigm”) 1-27-2018 by Paul Giem
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6ZOKj-YaHA&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNU_twNBjopIqyFOwo_bTkXm
    Contested Bones (by Christopher Rupe and John Sanford) is the result of four years of intense research into the primary scientific literature concerning those bones that are thought to represent transitional forms between ape and man. This book’s title reflects the surprising reality that all the famous “hominin” bones continue to be fiercely contested today—even within the field of paleoanthropology.

    A Closer Look At Human and Chimp Similarities and Differences
    https://youtu.be/CGqtB44AEKU

    New Chimp Genome Confirms Creationist Research
    BY JEFFREY P. TOMKINS, PH.D. * | FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
    Excerpt: The first time they constructed a chimp genome and compared it to humans, they claimed 98.5% DNA similarity based on cherry-picked regions that were highly similar to human. However, an extensive DNA comparison study I published in 2016 revealed two major flaws in their construction of the chimp genome.1
    First, many chimp DNA data sets were likely contaminated with human DNA, especially those produced in the first half of the chimpanzee genome project from 2002 to 2005. Second, the chimpanzee genome was deliberately constructed to be more human-like than it really is.2 Scientists assembled the small snippets of chimp DNA onto the human genome, using it as a scaffold or reference. It’s much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle by looking at the picture on the box as a guide. Since many chimpanzee data sets likely suffered from human DNA contamination, the level of humanness was amplified. I studied the 2005–2010 data sets that showed less human DNA data contamination and found they were only 85% similar to human at best.1
    Just this year, scientists published a new version of the chimpanzee genome.3 This new version incorporated an advanced type of DNA sequencing technology that produces much longer snippets of DNA sequence than earlier technologies. It also involved better protocols that greatly reduce human DNA contamination. And most importantly, the authors report that the DNA sequences have been assembled without using the human genome as a scaffold.
    They also acknowledged the flawed nature of previous versions of the chimp genome:
    The higher-quality human genome assemblies have often been used to guide the final stages of nonhuman genome projects, including the order and orientation of sequence contigs and, perhaps more importantly, the annotation of genes. This bias has effectively “humanized” other ape genome assemblies.3
    This confirms what many creationists have been pointing out for years.
    Curiously, the authors of the new chimp genome paper said very little about the overall DNA similarity between humans and chimpanzees. However, the University of London’s specialist in evolutionary genomics, Dr. Richard Buggs, evaluated the results of an analysis that compared this new chimp version to the human genome and discovered some shocking anti-evolutionary findings.
    Dr. Buggs reported on his website that “the percentage of nucleotides in the human genome that had one-to-one exact matches in the chimpanzee genome was 84.38%” and “4.06% had no alignment to the chimp assembly.”?4 Assuming the chimpanzee and human genomes are about the same size, this translates to an overall similarity of only about 80%! This outcome is way outside the nearly identical level of 98 to 99% similarity required for human evolution to seem plausible.
    http://www.icr.org/article/new.....t-research

    Geneticist: On (Supposed 99%) Human-Chimp Genome Similarity, There Are “Predictions” Not “Established Fact” – July 31, 2018
    Excerpt: To come up with the most accurate current assessment that I could of the similarity of the human and chimpanzee genome, I downloaded from the UCSC genomics website the latest alignments (made using the LASTZ software) between the human and chimpanzee genome assemblies, hg38 and pantro6.,,,
    The percentage of nucleotides in the human genome that had one-to-one exact matches in the chimpanzee genome was 84.38%
    In order to assess how improvements in genome assemblies can change these figures, I did the same analyses on the alignment of the older PanTro4 assembly against Hg38 (see discussion post #40).,,,
    The percentage of nucleotides in the human genome that had one-to-one exact matches in the chimpanzee genome was 82.34%.
    – Richard Buggs
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/07/geneticist-on-human-chimp-genome-similarity-there-are-predictions-not-established-fact/

    DNA Variation Widens Human-Chimp Chasm – Jeffrey Tomkins – 2017
    Excerpt: In the past several years, new sequencing technologies have become commercially available that provide much longer reads of 10,000 to 215,000 bases.2,3 These new long-read sequencing technologies allow for the more accurate assembly of the human genome, revealing some incredible surprises about human genetic diversity.,,,
    The results from these new papers using long-read technology have been startling and are shaking up the entire human genomics community. The most surprising finding was that the research demonstrates that large regions of the human genome can be markedly different between any two humans,,,
    The bottom line is that any two human genomes can be up to 4.5% different from one another, in marked contrast to the previous estimate of 0.01% based solely on single-base changes.5
    These newly found large differences in human genomes conflict with the evolutionary idea that humans and chimpanzees are 98.5% similar in their DNA. If humans can be up to 4.5% different from each other, how is it that chimps are supposedly only 1.5% different from humans? The fact of the matter is that the 98.5% similarity figure is based on cherry-picked data designed to bolster evolution. Newly published research by this author clearly shows that chimpanzee DNA overall is, at most, only 85% similar to human.9
    http://www.icr.org/article/9939

    And although the purported evidence for human evolution is far weaker and far more illusory than most people realize, it is interesting to note exactly where leading Darwinists themselves admit that they have no clue how evolution could have produced a particular trait in humans.

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    As Michael Egnor noted, when compared mentally, “We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.”

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals – Michael Egnor- November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/11/the_fundamental_2/

    Best Selling author Tom Wolfe was so taken aback by this honest confession by leading Darwinists that he wrote a book on the subject.,,,

    “Speech is not one of man’s several unique attributes — speech is the attribute of all attributes!”
    – Wolfe

    “Speech is 95 percent plus of what lifts man above animal! Physically, man is a sad case. His teeth, including his incisors, which he calls eyeteeth, are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch. Yet man owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.”
    —Tom Wolfe, in the introduction to his book, The Kingdom of Speech

    In other words, although humans are fairly defenseless creatures in the wild compared to other creatures, such as lions, bears, and sharks, etc.., nonetheless, humans have, completely contrary to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking, managed to become masters of the planet, not by brute force, but simply by our unique ability to communicate information and, more specifically, infuse information into material substrates in order to create, i.e. intelligently design, objects that are extremely useful for our defense, shelter, in procuring food, furtherance of our knowledge, and also for our pleasure.
    And although the ‘top-down’ infusion of immaterial information into material substrates, that allowed humans to become ‘masters of the planet’, was rather crude to begin with, (i.e. spears, arrows, and plows etc..), this top down infusion of immaterial information into material substrates has become much more impressive over the last half century or so.
    Specifically, the ‘top-down’ infusion of mathematical and/or logical information into material substrates lies at the very basis of many, if not all, of man’s most stunning, almost miraculous, technological advances in recent decades.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    What is more interesting still about the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand and create information, and have come to dominate the world through the ‘top-down’ infusion of information into material substrates, is the fact that, due to advances in science, both the universe and life itself, are now found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    In the following video at the 48:24 mark, Anton Zeilinger states that “It is operationally impossible to separate Reality and Information” and he goes on to note, at the 49:45 mark, the Theological significance of “In the Beginning was the Word” John 1:1

    48:24 mark: “It is operationally impossible to separate Reality and Information”
    49:45 mark: “In the Beginning was the Word” John 1:1
    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    Vlatko Vedral, who is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and who is also a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, states,

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    Moreover, besides being foundational to physical reality, immaterial information, as Intelligent Design advocates are constantly pointing out to Darwinists, is also found to be ‘infused’ into biological life.

    Information Enigma (Where did the information in life come from?) – – Stephen Meyer – Doug Axe – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA-FcnLsF1g

    It is hard to imagine a more convincing scientific proof that we are made ‘in the image of God’ than finding both the universe, and life itself, are both ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and, moreover, have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our unique ability infuse information into material substrates.

    Perhaps a more convincing evidence that we are made in the image of God could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was indeed God.

    And that is precisely the claim of Christianity!

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ on a Solid Oval Object Under The Beard – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    Verses:

    Genesis 1:26
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.

    Supplemental note: The following videos go over the scientific evidence that, among other things, overturns the Copernican principle which, like Darwinism, greatly undermined the Judeo-Christian belief that man was ‘made in the image of God”.

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

  8. 8
    jdk says:

    Why didn’t you post the entire exchange in order to show the context of that remark?

    You’re just plain intellectually dishonest., Barry.

    Also, I’ll point out again that I am not a materialist, not that you care.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk states:

    You’re just plain intellectually dishonest., Barry.

    For the sake of argument, if he were, are you “absolute certainty that it is evil’?

    If not, why should he or anyone else care what you think?

  10. 10
    Latemarch says:

    I see that JDK has found himself caught in a logical (not to mention moral) conundrum and is attempting to escape by declaring the question meaningless. Argument by dismissal, a wave of the hand if you will.

    Now there are such things as meaningless questions….for instance.
    If you add the last four digits of Pi is the result odd or even?
    The question is obviously meaningless as there are no last four digits of Pi.*

    It is now incumbent on JDK to explain why the question is meaningless.
    I’ll even simplify the question so that we don’t have to talk around so many words.
    Is it wrong to torture babies for pleasure?**

    Are you up for it JDK? Or is Andrew on to something? Have we tortured the atheist enough for our own pleasure?

    *Adapting on old joke about pin numbers and Pi.
    **I believe that the simplified form of the question is logically equivalent to Barry’s.

  11. 11
    jdk says:

    Amazing!!!

    Dear lurkers, FYI: this is the paragraph the sentence Barry quoted in the OP came from:

    To be flippant, it’s like asking whether unicorns are pink. I know what the question means, but since unicorns don’t exist, there is no possible answer to the question: it’s a meaningless question.

    This was part of a more substantial discussion about how, in general, one can’t assent to the conclusion of a conditional statement if one doesn’t assent to the premises.

    The OP is dishonest.

  12. 12
    Latemarch says:

    Barry,

    JDK has a point about context.
    You should put a link in your post. I for instance have no idea which thread this exchange occurred in. I don’t read them all.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk, If morality is illusory, i.e. pink unicorns,, why are you, and everyone else, incapable of living our lives as if morality is illusory? I can live my life perfectly fine without believing in pink unicorns,

    As the following article points out, if it is impossible for you to live your life consistently as if Atheism were actually true, then Atheism cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but Atheism must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    The way you live your own life testifies against you.
    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt:
    Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK:

    Why didn’t you post the entire exchange in order to show the context of that remark?

    Why? Are you suggesting that the context makes your statement mean something other than what it appears to mean on its face? If not, then the context is not relevant to my point (i.e., your moral bankruptcy).

    Here’s the question that you have steadfastly refused to answer for several days now: “Can we know with absolute certainty that it is evil to torture a baby for pleasure?”

    Here is your response: “There is no possible answer to the question: it’s a meaningless question.”

    Are you backing off your statement? Are you now saying that the question has meaning and it is possible to answer it? If yes, by all means answer it. If no, stop whining about “context.”

    You’re just plain intellectually dishonest

    I am dishonest if and only if your statement, in context, means something other than what it appears to mean on its face. Oh, and by the way, it really is a howler when someone who is wobbly on the issue of whether it is evil to torture babies screams about being treated unfairly.

    You said what you said JDK. It means what it means.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Too funny, jdk at 11 and elsewhere doth protest way too much about the moral injustice of Barry’s OP on atheistic immorality. 🙂

    You simply can’t make this stuff up! Nobody would ever believe that someone could ever be that obtuse to their own self-refuting logic.

  16. 16
    Latemarch says:

    JDK,

    This was part of a more substantial discussion about how, in general, one can’t assent to the conclusion of a conditional statement if one doesn’t assent to the premises.

    To which premise to you not assent and why. It is insufficient to just not assent otherwise your just back to argument by dismissal.

    PS: I have to run off and do some actual work. If I don’t answer right away is not because I’m stumped or ignoring….just gone.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    Latemarch

    JDK has a point about context.

    Nonsense. For the reasons I explained to JDK in comment 14.

    I know materialists like JDK when they are caught out in their moral squalor want to fall back on “you misunderstood me. It is all nuance-y and stuff.”

    I call BS. It is black and white. He said what he said. It means what it means.

  18. 18
    Bob O'H says:

    UD Editors: Bob O’H’s reprehensible and dishonest attempt to deflect and redirect deleted. Bob, you are warned. Last warning.

  19. 19
    jdk says:

    Hi Bob. Did you save your remark? If so, perhaps you could post it somewhere else. I’ve been saving these threads lately because you never can tell what Barry will delete.

  20. 20
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK,

    I see you are back after my comment at 14.

    Does my question have meaning JDK?

    Is it possible to answer it?

    If the answer to both is “no” I shall expect your apology for saying that I was intellectually dishonest for quoting you as saying:

    1. My question has no meaning; and

    2. It is impossible to answer.

    But I will not be holding my breath.

  21. 21
    Latemarch says:

    Barry,

    Latemarch

    JDK has a point about context.

    Nonsense. For the reasons I explained to JDK in comment 14.

    I know materialists like JDK when they are caught out in their moral squalor want to fall back on “you misunderstood me. It is all nuance-y and stuff.”

    I call BS. It is black and white. He said what he said. It means what it means.

    Not disagreeing with you about the above.
    A link would have let me skip the bit about the meaningless question and got me up to speed.

    Not all of us are directly involved in each thread.
    Give us a link, it’s not that hard.

  22. 22
    jdk says:

    Bob was trying to “deflect and redirect” by pointing out that I am not a materialist, and therefore the title of the OP should be corrected?

    And doing so was “reprehensible”! That’s a bit strong.

    And “dishonest”? As far as I know, he stated a fact that is, in fact relevant to this overall discussion, FWIW.

    Not that that would make a difference to Barry.

    UD Editors: Everyone sees you talking about anything and everything other than Barry’s comment at 14 and the update in the OP.

  23. 23
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK,

    Now you have posted twice since my comment at 14.

  24. 24
    jdk says:

    A true fact, Barry. This makes three times.

  25. 25
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Querius

    But of course. For some in the end, there’s no right or wrong, only power. Power, self, and murder. And then comes the judgment.

    The very same thing is seen in every argument where the conclusion requires a commitment to reality. The response is relativism – where there are no real truths about anything. There’s supposedly always an exception to every positive statement.

    It ends up with sophistry and deception.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK at 24.

    OK, you’ve got nothing and your charge of dishonesty was itself dishonest. I will update the OP to reflect this.

  27. 27
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk

    This was part of a more substantial discussion about how, in general, one can’t assent to the conclusion of a conditional statement if one doesn’t assent to the premises.

    I think we have to do this all the time when testing the logic of any number of proposals.

    “If mutation rates were consistent through the entire history of life on earth, then we would expect …”

    We don’t know if they were consistent. Even if a person disagrees that the rates were consistent, that person can and should affirm the logic.

    “Yes, if mutation rates were consistent, then we would see that. However, I do not accept that they were consistent.”

    That is all you have to do.

  28. 28
    jdk says:

    SA, I accept that to someone that accepts the premises that objective moral standards exist and that that we can know them with certainty, as Barry does, the conclusion that tbff is evil is true. There is nothing controversial about that.

    But I do not accept the premises.

  29. 29
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK @ 28:

    But I do not accept the premises.

    Which means, you do not accept the conclusion that follows from those premises, i.e., that we can know for certain that torturing babies for fun is evil. Why don’t you just admit that and we can all move on?

  30. 30
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK,

    Do you concur with the following reasoning?

    Consider the following two premises:

    1. objective moral standards exist
    2. we can know them with certainty

    Given these two premises, the conclusion that we can know for certain that torturing babies for fun is evil is true.

    I reject both premise 1 and premise 2. Therefore, I believe the conclusion that we can know for certain that torturing babies for fun is evil is false.

    [Lest there be any doubt, I, Barry, believe both premises are true and the conclusion is true.]

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    Hmmm. It appears a post from Antonin, or maybe more than one, have been disappeared. How honest is that?

    Looks like I need to start saving a separate copy of this thread after every post because who knows what Barry will just delete.

  32. 32
    asauber says:

    I do not accept the premises

    Since jdk claims that every moral position is simply an opinion, this can be translated into “I just don’t like the question.”

    Is that correct, jdk?

    Andrew

  33. 33
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK at 31.

    Yes, I am deleting all posts that attempt to hijack and/or redirect the thread. And I will continue to do so.

  34. 34
    jdk says:

    re 30:

    Logic 101

    Given: if p then q

    if ~q then ~p is a logically correct proposition

    if ~p then ~q is a logically incorrect conclusion

  35. 35
    Barry Arrington says:

    For those unfamiliar with logic notation, I will translate Jack’s comment at 34. Jack points out that the following is an invalid argument:

    If P, then Q.
    Therefore, if not P, then not Q.

    True enough. It is the logical fallacy of affirming the antecedent.

    What does this have to do with our discussion? Glad you asked. At 28 Jack said

    SA, I accept that to someone that accepts the premises that objective moral standards exist and that that we can know them with certainty, as Barry does, the conclusion that tbff is evil is true. There is nothing controversial about that.
    But I do not accept the premises.

    So in comment 30 I asked him if he would deny the conclusion if the premises were false.

    Jack responded that denying the premises does not mean he denies the conclusion as a matter of logic. He is quite correct as a matter of logic.

    As a matter of basic honesty, however, he continues to wade in a moral cesspool. Jack’s comment merely proves that when he stated “I do not accept the premises” at comment 28, he was merely evading the question. As he points out, as a matter of strict logic, the conclusion could still be true.

    It is unclear why Jack believes that highlighting his own evasion of the question helps his case.

  36. 36
    jdk says:

    In 30, Barry, you asked if I concurred with fallacious logic. In your next to last sentence in 30, the “therefore” part is a logical error. It does not follow from the sentence that precedes it.

    If you knew that was a logical fallacy, you shouldn’t have bothered to have written the post.

  37. 37
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    You have already stated that you don’t believe we can know with certainty or have I misinterpreted your position?

    Vivid

  38. 38
    jdk says:

    Vivid, if you want to discuss any of the more general issues, such as how we know different kinds of things, the other thread would be a better place.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/subjectiviest-cowardice-on-display/

  39. 39
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    What I want is an answer to my question LOL.

    Vivid

  40. 40
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK,

    Still waiting for a response to 14. You have posted 8 times since I posted at 14.

    Conclusion: JDK falsely accused me of intellectual dishonestly. He refuses to acknowledge and apologize, but continues to take advantage of the UD platform to spew his vile moral sewage. Natch.

  41. 41
    jdk says:

    Vivid, maybe your question in 37 was meant to refer specifically to Barry’s questions. (I took it as more general than that when I responded in at 38.)

    I do not believe objective, transcendent moral standards exist.

    Therefore, any question about whether we can know them or not makes no sense, because if they don’t exist, there is nothing to know.

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    JDK

    Logic 101

    Given: if p then q

    if ~q then ~p is a logically correct proposition

    if ~p then ~q is a logically incorrect conclusion

    Yes, of course, but we don’t need all of that.

    All we need is this: If P, then Q. If I can’t know that ANY moral act is evil, then I can’t know that THIS moral act is evil (torturing babies for fun.)

    JDK has confessed that P is true (for him), but he will not confess that Q is true (for him) Why?

  43. 43
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    “I do not believe objective, transcendent moral standards exist.

    Therefore, any question about whether we can know them or not makes no sense, because if they don’t exist, there is nothing to know.”

    Got that for that reason i want to focus on “knowledge” thus the reason for my question in 37 which I hope you will address. On the other thread you wrote that you dont believe it is True ( capital T) that there is no Truth ( capital T) So unlike evil you do accept ( capital T) Truth. You go on to write that you believe there is no Truth that we can know and give reasons why.

    To say one believes there is no Truth (capital T) we can know is that we cannot know anything with certainty. Is this a correct interpretation of your position?

    Vivid

  44. 44
    jdk says:

    Vivid, the other thread is the place for further discussion about this for me.

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    JDK

    I do not believe objective, transcendent moral standards exist.

    Yes. I understand.

    Therefore, any question about whether we can know them or not makes no sense, because if they don’t exist, there is nothing to know.

    On the contrary, it is very meaningful. It goes like this: Moral truths do not exist; therefore I don’t believe we can know what doesn’t exist. Very meaningful. Extending: For me (JDK), there is no moral truth to say that it is wrong to torture babies, therefore, I can’t know that it is wrong to torture babies. Very meaningful, indeed.

  46. 46
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Why are my inquiries relevant in one thread and not this one? This is a very important issue that is completely relevant to this thread. Barrys question concerns two subjects. 1) Knowledge ( knowing with certainty) and 2) Evil. The focus has been on “evil” I want to discuss the 1st part ( certainty of knowing). So it is very relevant to this thread.

    Vivid

  47. 47
    jdk says:

    Vivid, we were discussing this very question on the other thread.

    Today, Barry choose to inaccurately and dishonestly highlight part of a conversation I was having with you and start a new thread. (He also refuses to correct his heading stating that I am a materialist, FWIW)

    That action on Barry’s part is what this thread is about, as far as I am concerned. If you want to continue our discussion, post over on the other thread.

  48. 48
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Let’s change Barrys question. From Can we know with absolute certainty that it is evil to torture a baby for pleasure?

    To

    Can we know with absolute certainty that it is funny to torture a baby for pleasure? How would you answer?

    Vivid

  49. 49
    john_a_designer says:

    If according to a moral subjectivists, like Jack, interpersonal moral obligations don’t really exist (however, exactly how he really knows that he hasn’t explained) then how is anyone obligated to be honest? And if there is no standard of honesty how do we determine who is being honest or what honesty really is. In other words, Jack’s accusation that Barry is being dishonest is nothing more than his unwarranted subjective opinion. He can’t make that claim that Barry is being dishonest unless there is a real moral-ethical standard that both he and Barry ARE OBLIGATED to follow.

  50. 50
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry Posts the following:

    Barry: Can we know with absolute certainty that it is evil to torture a baby for pleasure?

    JDK: “There is no possible answer to the question: it’s a meaningless question.”

    JDK screams: Intellectually dishonest out-of-context quote! (comment 8)

    Only to come back later and say the same thing in comment 41: “any question about whether we can know them (i.e., transcendent moral truths) or not makes no sense, because if they don’t exist, there is nothing to know.”

    Putting the lie to his charge that I quoted him in a misleading way.

  51. 51
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK:

    Today, Barry choose to inaccurately and dishonestly highlight part of a conversation I was having

    Liar. Still waiting for a response to my comment at 14.

  52. 52
    OldAndrew says:

    Yes, I am deleting all posts that attempt to hijack and/or redirect the thread. And I will continue to do so.

    Having read the entire OP, what exactly is the “direction” of the thread so that one may avoid hijacking or redirecting it? It’s not clear. (I’m not sure if asking that question is redirecting, hijacking, or both.)

    Must all comments continue in the theme of self-congratulation and pointing out what an evil baby-torturer/coward/liar jdk supposedly is?

    I’ll just disagree and see if that’s permitted.

    I haven’t seen any evidence that he is a coward or has attempted to deceive anyone. I’ll also assert that his moral rejection of baby torture is equal to yours, mine, and that of any other sane person. When a person says that they believe torturing babies is wrong, that is sufficient. They do not need to convince anyone that their belief has adequate basis.

    I don’t think you would torture a baby either. I think that you and jdk are exactly as likely to torture a baby. If you think that your reasons for not torturing babies are better than his, good for you. If you don’t, most people don’t care, but it’s still possible to have a civil discussion about something meaningless. Getting all bent out of shape just doesn’t make sense.

  53. 53
    Barry Arrington says:

    OA @52.

    If someone says that torturing babies is wrong for them but it may be right for someone else, that is evil. So you and I will have to disagree.

  54. 54
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk @ 28

    SA, I accept that to someone that accepts the premises that objective moral standards exist and that that we can know them with certainty, as Barry does, the conclusion that tbff is evil is true. There is nothing controversial about that.

    But I do not accept the premises.

    Ok – it’s good that you do see that the logic is consistent, given the premises.

    As for that first premise – what would convince you that it is true? What evidence would you be looking for?

  55. 55
    Silver Asiatic says:

    It’s actually relevant for late-term abortions which create torturing pain for babies (as do earlier stages, but late term are most obvious).

    Does the abortionist do this “for fun”? Well, they do it for profit. Are they doing a job that they hate? If not, there is job satisfaction – which is a form of “fun”.

    Either way, the proposal may even be worse – instead of “torturing babies for fun”, it could be “torturing babies for profit”. Is that morally any more acceptable?

    Some will claim that the abortionists are heroes because they’re showing now much they care, etc. It’s torturing babies.

    There are some people lately who celebrate abortion. “Shout Abortion” movement.

  56. 56
    OldAndrew says:

    If someone says that torturing babies is wrong for them but it may be right for someone else, that is evil. So you and I will have to disagree.

    Disagree about what, specifically? It sounds like your post is worded to suggest that we disagree about torturing babies. I’m sure you wouldn’t imply that intentionally so it must have been a mistake.

    In my experience arguments that require hyperbole and extreme hypotheticals just aren’t that good to start with. If you’re appealing to reason you don’t need to provoke an emotional reaction.

  57. 57
    Silver Asiatic says:

    OldAndrew

    In my experience arguments that require hyperbole and extreme hypotheticals just aren’t that good to start with. If you’re appealing to reason you don’t need to provoke an emotional reaction.

    Hmmm. A thought to keep in mind.

  58. 58
    asauber says:

    OldAndrew,

    Do you know what an abortion is?

    Andrew

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    Old Andrew

    In my experience arguments that require hyperbole and extreme hypotheticals just aren’t that good to start with. If you’re appealing to reason you don’t need to provoke an emotional reaction.

    Sometimes, you do need an emotional reaction. A lot of people either ignore or cannot follow the arguments against abortion. That is why so many babies are killed. But if you show them the picture of an aborted baby or what’s left of it, they are forced to take their head out of the sand.

    That is also why television networks refuse to show those pictures. They know that if they did, abortions would stop tomorrow – and they don’t want abortions to stop. They want to keep killing babies.

    If you ask JDK what he thinks about all this, we know what his reaction would be: He would say that we can’t know that abortion is objectively wrong and, while it might seem wrong to me, it is not necessarily wrong for anyone else. That is the philosophy of subjectivism. It get’s people killed.

    I gather that you cannot get excited about the subject one way or the other and are probably more concerned with my rhetoric than the fact that millions of babies are violently ripped apart or scalded to death because they get in someone’s way.

  60. 60
    vividbleau says:

    I wanted to respond to jdk to one of the points he brought up regarding Barrys question

    “To be flippant, it’s like asking whether unicorns are pink. I know what the question means, but since unicorns don’t exist, there is no possible answer to the question: it’s a meaningless question.”

    Yes jdk there is an answer and the answer is obvious it is NO

    Regarding knowledge. If one cannot know anything with certainty then one can insert in the place of the word “evil” anything such as funny, or interesting, or profitable etc, etc and the same answer would be the necessary response of NO.

    Vivid

  61. 61
    ScuzzaMan says:

    If one cannot know anything with certainty then …

    Then one cannot know with certainty that one cannot know anything with certainty.

    One can suspect, one can believe, but one cannot know.

    This is the exact same self-referential contradiction that infests all relativism. And because of it, one cannot justify what one believes, which is the dilemma in which JDK is now firmly trapped.

    He can protest all he likes about how he’d try to persuade the baby-torturing homo-killer that what they’re doing isn’t very nice, but he’s already admitted before the argument starts that he has voluntarily disarmed himself of any rhetorical weapon beyond “It makes me feel icky!

    Which is why every relativist has only one weapon, and that is force. They cannot persuade, not by moral suasion since they do no believe in morality, not by rational argument since they do not practice reason, and so all that is left to them is force.

    They WILL kill you if they feel like you disapprove of their behaviour, long before they disapprove of yours.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    SM, sadly, precisely correct and backed by a bloody century in which 100+ millions fell victim to regimes ruled by nihilistic dictators serving ideologies driven by radical undermining of objective morality; we can readily calculate that 800+ millions of living posterity in the womb have been killed in the worst holocaust in history over the past 40+ years . . . a global holocaust driven by calculated, massively promoted dehumanisation of the child in the womb. Likewise, if there are no transcendent, objective, binding moral principles, this includes that no-one is bound by duties to truth, right reason, fairness, etc. This immediately ends in self-refutation as the argument being made by relativists and subjectivists crucially depends on our being bound by just such duties. Further, as being so bound is a general perception, we see that these objectors imply grand delusion, corroding the basic credibility of mind. Further yet, that such objectors cannot acknowledge that it is self evidently wrong and evil to torture an innocent child for fun and/or profit shows a monstrous breach of the civil peace of justice which marks such as enemies of civil society; a point that is also indicated by the implication of such views that might and/or manipulation imposes ‘truth’ ‘right’ ‘rights’ ‘knowledge’ etc. This is patent amorality and opens the door to naked nihilism and the rule of the baying mob on the streets or in the board room, court house or parliament chamber. For, the point of such an example — it is not hyperbolic, I can cite a definite related case in point that I observed at close hand — is that the weakest, most voiceless have a right to the protections of the civil peace of justice. So, we need to ponder pointed questions about whether such should be entrusted with power, in all prudence in defence of the civil peace of justice. We could go on but that is enough. KF

  63. 63
    john_a_designer says:

    Let’s state the key proposition or premise as succinctly as we can:

    If there are no real and binding interpersonal obligations there is no such thing as morality.

    If that’s true all you are left with are self-centered or egocentric preferences which are at best amoral and at worst immoral.

    You do not have a basis for a just society or universal human rights if you begin with egocentrism, amorality or immorality. You certainly cannot have any kind of viable democratic from of government.

    Conclusion: whatever Jack is arguing for or about, it is not morality. He is therefore either ignorant, deluded or morally incorrigible. Please notice none of those are good. But of course Jack is not going to think that way because according to the subjectivist good or bad are just subjective evaluations or opinions.

  64. 64
    OldAndrew says:

    Sometimes, you do need an emotional reaction. A lot of people either ignore or cannot follow the arguments against abortion.

    I agree with that. I was referring more to the constant reference to torturing babies, punctuating every other comment with something about how the other guy thinks it’s okay.

    If the point of this discussion is to reason then the TBFF thing is the worst possible choice because it distracts from reason with emotion. Something less emotional like stealing your neighbor’s Amazon packages is a much better choice. SYNAP.

    Once you start calling people cowards and liars and referring to other people’s typed words as “screams” (50) then the pretense of reason has gone out the window.

  65. 65
    Barry Arrington says:

    OA

    I agree with that. I was referring more to the constant reference to torturing babies, punctuating every other comment with something about how the other guy thinks it’s okay.

    OA, you don’t seem to understand the argument. No one has ever said “the other guy thinks it’s okay.” The point is that the other guy cannot ground his statement that it is not okay in anything other than an appeal to his own personal preference.

    The use of an extreme example is absolutely necessary to counter that. Do you understand why that is the case?

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, there are 800+ million cases in point as well as 100+ million victims of nihilist regimes that demonstrate just how sadly relevant the point is. The extremism is in the nihilistic consequences, not in the relevance. We need to pause, listen to the ghosts and think then start again in our pondering of the IS-OUGHT gap, first duties and first principles of right (notice this: right) reason. KF

    PS: Where I had to bring out these issues in three phases here in the Caribbean: https://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2018/11/no-mr-robinson-and-gleaner-gospel-is.html

  67. 67
    OldAndrew says:

    BTW, my bad. I did not realize that TBFF was code for abortion. I happen to believe that abortion is murder.

    I suppose I can connect the dots. Some pregnancies are caused by “having fun”. Some are caused by rape. Some abortions are performed to protect the mother. And late-term abortions could cause horrible pain for the aborted child. I don’t think they all get “tortured,” though.

    I’m not arguing for abortion. As I said, I believe that an unborn child is a living person and that deliberately terminating it is a form of homicide.

    All I’m saying is that if TBFF is a an exact 1:1 code referring to abortion then it’s a lousy one. First because people literally can’t tell what you’re talking about. At least call it “torturing unborn babies for fun so people know what you mean. (Except they still might not know what you mean.)

    Second, you’re mixing up subjects. Is your point to argue that abortion is wrong? Argue that. Is your point to argue in favor of objective morality? Argue that using an example that anyone can agree with. (They way I previously understood TBFF I thought that was what you are doing.)

    But you can’t get anywhere if you start trying to establish adjacent but distinct points at the same time, in one discussion. It’s just a mess. It only make sense if the objective is to feel superior by calling people names while pretending that it’s a rational discussion. That’s what this looks like to me.

    Step back and look at this from the perspective of a first-time visitor. What do they see? It starts as personal attacks within discussions. Then it escalates to threads in which both the titles and the OPs are personal attacks. People escalate when they’re angry.

    Why doesn’t that offend anyone? I suspect that it does, and those who are offended back away, leaving mostly those who enjoy it.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I am of course concerned at how personal some exchanges above have become. A term like “lie” is very loaded (like “racist”) and I think we would do well to ponder what it is about: to lie is to speak with disregard to truth in hope of profiting from what is said or suggested being taken as true. This actually goes to a breach of the civil peace of justice and to principles where mindedness is undeniably under a known duty to truth, right reason, fairness and more. The offensiveness of “lie” comes from the objective, binding nature of moral obligation.

  69. 69
    Silver Asiatic says:

    kf

    the weakest, most voiceless have a right to the protections of the civil peace of justice

    I just wonder what kind of man it is who leaves the care of the defenseless to whatever subjective judgement provides.

    Subjectivists cannot establish that their moral convictions are “standards”. There can be no heroism in that view. There can be no sense of what we understand as “a just man”, or even “a good man”, since every man is just doing what he wants to do. He is not conforming his selfish independence to the greater good. This is true of reasoning. Right-reason demands a surrender to higher values.

    It is the same with being a man of justice – defending widows, orphans, the unborn – the defenseless. It is surrendering ego and self-interest to a higher (objective) moral value.

    Otherwise, in the subjective view, everything emerges from self. It’s the ultimate selfish morality.

    I see religious errors at the root of this, but no matter. Even the pagan philsophers recognized that a man obtains greatness. goodness, and justice by striving for higher values which exist outside of himself.

    I hope OA and jdf and other subjectivists here see this. It’s very relevant for our own personal growth.

  70. 70
    jdk says:

    If you wish to accurately represent my views, you will use the word “choice”, not “preference”, because my view emphasizes free will.

  71. 71
    Silver Asiatic says:

    OA

    BTW, my bad. I did not realize …

    It’s important to think about the topic and find related meanings, otherwise you will make a mistake in understanding. Obviously, abortion is not the only example of inflicting torture on babies, but it is a common one.

    “Your bad” … apology to the thread. I trust it is accepted.

  72. 72
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk

    If you wish to accurately represent my views, you will use the word “choice”, not “preference”, because my view emphasizes free will.

    Ok, but what is the motive and foundation for your choice? Emotional satisfaction? Pleasure?

  73. 73
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BA answering jdf

    The point is that the other guy cannot ground his statement that it is not okay in anything other than an appeal to his own personal preference.

    Personal preference here is the same as “personal choice”. You select an action, not guided by a objective moral standard, but just that it is your personal choice alone.

  74. 74
    OldAndrew says:

    BA,

    No one has ever said “the other guy thinks it’s okay.” The point is that the other guy cannot ground his statement that it is not okay in anything other than an appeal to his own personal preference.

    First I’ll quote your previous words:

    If someone says that torturing babies is wrong for them but it may be right for someone else, that is evil.

    So someone did say that. You did. Notice that I point out the contradiction without calling you a liar. You just didn’t realize the contradiction. That’s not lying.

    But let’s go back to this:

    The point is that the other guy cannot ground his statement that it is not okay in anything other than an appeal to his own personal preference.

    I get it. I really get it. Everyone gets it. I agree with that statement. I’ll go a step farther and agree that there is a fixed source of moral guidance. It’s not subjective.

    I’m establishing that common ground so that hopefully the following points are clearer:

    First, our belief in objective morality does not make us somehow superior to those who do not believe it. I don’t think anyone has explicitly said that it makes someone superior, but it’s strongly implied by mocking and attacking those who disagree and calling them names.

    Imagine an atheist neighbor who never steals your Amazon packages because he thinks it’s wrong. Are you going to get into arguments with him and call him names because his reasons for not stealing your stuff aren’t sufficiently grounded?

    Yes, the distinction exists. I get it. I really do. But where you’re going with it and all the personal attacks just don’t make sense.

    Second, consider this statement, which which I agree: An atheist’s morals are grounded in personal preference, so their belief that XYZ is evil is subjective and may be subject to change.

    That’s a reasonable statement. While I don’t think most atheists would like to phrase it that way, I think that many would concede it for the sake of discussion.

    Here’s the problem: That statement, while reasonable, does not constitute any sort of logical proof that they are wrong. Neither is it logical proof that my beliefs about objective morality or yours are right.

    Even if you and I agreed on every detail of what objective morality means, it wouldn’t prove that we were right. We don’t. So how can it possibly prove that they’re wrong and you’re wrong but I’m right, or that they’re wrong and I’m wrong but you’re right? How can it establish that a particular set of religious beliefs is correct? It can’t.

    I’m not saying that someone can’t try to establish their religious beliefs using logic and reason. I’m saying that pointing out that what isn’t objective is subjective (rather tautological when you boil it down) doesn’t accomplish it.

    That’s what they keep saying over and over, and they are right.

  75. 75
    john_a_designer says:

    jdk@ 70,

    If you wish to accurately represent my views, you will use the word “choice”, not “preference”, because my view emphasizes free will.

    How is anyone obligated to use your hairsplitting preference when it comes to terminology? It appears to me that you are just trying to find reasons to feel insulted. That’s a ploy we see all the time on this site.

  76. 76
    Silver Asiatic says:

    OA

    I hope that every time someone hears the words “objective morality” and “natural moral law” they picture blood-splattered knights surrounded by carnage and mass graves full of the bodies of slaves and their babies.

    OA

    I get it. I really get it. Everyone gets it. I agree with that statement. I’ll go a step farther and agree that there is a fixed source of moral guidance. It’s not subjective.

    It’s great to see that you’re capable of recognizing your errors and having the humility to openly change your views when confronted with the truth of the matter.

    It’s hopeful. The path of conversion is on-going, for all of us. Sincerely, OldAndrew – I pray for you.

  77. 77
    OldAndrew says:

    SA,

    It’s important to think about the topic and find related meanings, otherwise you will make a mistake in understanding.

    Or we could say that it’s important to think about what we’re trying to say and skillfully use the English language to select the words that express what we mean – especially when the language contains a word for exactly what we mean – instead of saying something else and then chiding others for not decoding it.

    “Your bad” … apology to the thread. I trust it is accepted.

    It wasn’t an apology. Think of it more as a sort of diplomacy. Let me break down for you how that works:

    – You sow confusion by saying one thing when you mean something else. Or saying something general that might include something else, or maybe mixing the two. I can’t tell.
    – When I use the words, “My bad, I did not realize…” that is a deliberate, careful attempt at diplomacy, framing your lack of clarity as my misunderstanding.
    – Am I contradicting myself because now I’m saying one thing when I mean another. Maybe. (See, more diplomacy.) But in this case it wasn’t part of any logical argument.
    – To be even more specific, saying that maybe I didn’t understand something is my way of signalling that it’s okay to admit when we misunderstand or say something we don’t mean.

    I like to be right as much as the next person. And I’m susceptible to getting worked up and emotional just like other people. But if you read my words you’ll see that I’m not just endlessly trying to score points. I’m attempting to communicate.

  78. 78
    Barry Arrington says:

    Andrew,

    No one has ever said “the other guy thinks it’s okay.” The point is that the other guy cannot ground his statement that it is not okay in anything other than an appeal to his own personal preference.

    First I’ll quote your previous words:

    If someone says that torturing babies is wrong for them but it may be right for someone else, that is evil.

    So someone did say that. You did. Notice that I point out the contradiction without calling you a liar. You just didn’t realize the contradiction. That’s not lying.

    Andrew, perhaps there is a third alternative, which is this: You are not bright enough to understand that my two statements are not contradictory. In the first statement I said “If someone says that torturing babies is wrong for them but it may be right for someone else, that is evil.” Notice, I never said the other guy actually thinks it is okay. I said the other guy said that it “may be right for someone else.” And under subjective reasoning, if there were such a person it would in fact, by definition, be okay for them. I never said such a person actually exists.

    The next time you try to correct someone on the Internet – especially in the condescending and sanctimonious tone that pervades your comment – you should take a moment to make sure you actually understand what they said.

  79. 79
    OldAndrew says:

    I hope that every time someone hears the words “objective morality” and “natural moral law” they picture blood-splattered knights surrounded by carnage and mass graves full of the bodies of slaves and their babies.

    Yes, I did say that, and I meant it. People have been those terms, “objective morality” and “natural moral law” as clubs to beat on others for the supposed inferiority of their morals.

    I’m making those words work against you. First by pointing out that people who use them are just as capable of evil as those who don’t. What we believe matters, but what we do matters more. So while you’re talking about hypotheticals, I’m talking about real evil visited upon real people by real people who strongly believed in objective morality.

    Second, I’ve associated them. When you use those words people will remember the evil, bloody baggage they haul behind them. And they will. That was communication, but not diplomacy.

  80. 80
    Barry Arrington says:

    Since Andrew has decided to get up on his sanctimonious, self-righteous high horse, I will respond to his other points as well.

    First, our belief in objective morality does not make us somehow superior to those who do not believe it. I don’t think anyone has explicitly said that it makes someone superior, but it’s strongly implied by mocking and attacking those who disagree and calling them names.

    Well, it depends on what you mean by “superior.” If I say torturing babies for fun is objectively wrong” and a relativist says, “No it is not.” Then my moral reasoning is superior to the relativist’s moral reasoning.

    Imagine an atheist neighbor who never steals your Amazon packages because he thinks it’s wrong. Are you going to get into arguments with him and call him names because his reasons for not stealing your stuff aren’t sufficiently grounded?

    If your neighbor comes onto my website like JDH has and lies and acts in a cowardly way, I will point those things out.

    Yes, the distinction exists. I get it. I really do. But where you’re going with it and all the personal attacks just don’t make sense.

    You are deeply confused about the meaning of the phrase “personal attack.” If someone lies and acts in a cowardly way, pointing out that they are a liar and a coward is in no meaningful sense a “personal attack.”

    I will tell you what is a personal attack, however: Getting on your sanctimonious, self-righteous high horse and posting a condescending comment attacking someone for merely telling the truth.

    Here’s the problem: That statement, while reasonable, does not constitute any sort of logical proof that they are wrong. Neither is it logical proof that my beliefs about objective morality or yours are right.

    No one ever said that it did Andrew. I can’t imagine why you would think they have. The point, which you seemed to have missed, is not to demonstrate subjectivism is wrong. The point is to demonstrate that subjectivism is absurd. Now it may be there is not God and the existentialists are correct when they say the universe is in fact absurd. But what I will not tolerate and will call out at every turn is smiley-faced, what-me-worry atheists who simultaneously sponge parasitically off of the Christian worldview they despise and undercut it at every turn.

    Even if you and I agreed on every detail of what objective morality means, it wouldn’t prove that we were right. We don’t. So how can it possibly prove that they’re wrong and you’re wrong but I’m right, or that they’re wrong and I’m wrong but you’re right? How can it establish that a particular set of religious beliefs is correct? It can’t.

    If anyone can make sense of that mishmash they are welcome to respond to it. It left me feeling slightly dizzy.

    I’m saying that pointing out that what isn’t objective is subjective (rather tautological when you boil it down) doesn’t accomplish it.

    No, you are absolutely wrong about that. The subjectivists who come into these pages – JDK in particular – spew their subjectivism and then try to smuggle in objectivism through the back door. The do it every. single. time. So we need constantly to point out what they are doing.

    That’s what they keep saying over and over, and they are right.

    No, actually, they don’t.

  81. 81
    OldAndrew says:

    Barry,

    Andrew, perhaps there is a third alternative, which is this: You are not bright enough to understand that my two statements are not contradictory. In the first statement I said “If someone says that torturing babies is wrong for them but it may be right for someone else, that is evil.” Notice, I never said the other guy actually thinks it is okay. I said the other guy said that it “may be right for someone else.” And under subjective reasoning, if there were such a person it would in fact, by definition, be okay for them. I never said such a person actually exists.

    So you didn’t say the other person thought it was okay. You said they thought it may be right for someone else. And I misunderstood that. No, I guess I’m not that bright.

  82. 82
    Barry Arrington says:

    I hope that every time someone hears the words “objective morality” and “natural moral law” they picture blood-splattered knights surrounded by carnage and mass graves full of the bodies of slaves and their babies.

    Yes, I did say that, and I meant it.

    Which goes to show how deeply misguided and confused you are. Mass murder does not follow as a matter of necessity from arguing that objective morality exists. The objective morality condemns murder; to suggest that it promotes murder is to be aggressively stupid.

    People have been those terms, “objective morality” and “natural moral law” as clubs to beat on others for the supposed inferiority of their morals.

    Setting aside your tendentious use of the words “club” and “beat,” those who reject the truth (i.e., that objective morality exists) do in fact have an inferior moral framework. You say that you believe objective morality exists. This implies that you believe someone who does not believe in objective morality is in error. Do you not think their error is inferior to your true belief?

    I’m making those words work against you.

    Not sure what words you think are working against me. So far all you have demonstrated is that you are deeply confused.

    First by pointing out that people who use them are just as capable of evil as those who don’t.

    No one ever said otherwise. So I don’t know why you believe you’ve made some stunning revelation.

    What we believe matters, but what we do matters more.

    What we believe determines what we do.

    So while you’re talking about hypotheticals, I’m talking about real evil visited upon real people by real people who strongly believed in objective morality.

    Again, no one ever said that people who believe in objective morality cannot do wrong. Just the opposite is true.

    Second, I’ve associated them. When you use those words people will remember the evil, bloody baggage they haul behind them. And they will. That was communication, but not diplomacy.

    Yes, just as people will remember the even bloodier and orders of magnitude more evil acts of atheist regimes (as demonstrated by tens of millions of corpses piled up in the 20th Century). Again, the point is not that one side or the other never does wrong. The point is that only one side actually means something when they use the word “wrong.”

  83. 83
    Silver Asiatic says:

    OA

    I like to be right as much as the next person. And I’m susceptible to getting worked up and emotional just like other people. But if you read my words you’ll see that I’m not just endlessly trying to score points. I’m attempting to communicate.

    That’s an honest response, but I would ask you to consider that Barry and others here are not merely trying to score points.

    This is a very serious issue – for each person, and for society. Many people today believe in subjective morals, and that truth is relative.

    Many leaders in our society today – in media, education, politics, entertainment, business, science … will reject the notion that we have true moral standards. They just get away with it. Nobody seems to challenge them.

    This thread is providing that challenge.

  84. 84
    OldAndrew says:

    You are deeply confused about the meaning of the phrase “personal attack.” If someone lies and acts in a cowardly way, pointing out that they are a liar and a coward is in no meaningful sense a “personal attack.”

    Good luck, man. Andrew out.

  85. 85
    Barry Arrington says:

    And good luck to you was well Andrew.

  86. 86
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK:

    If you wish to accurately represent my views, you will use the word “choice”, not “preference”, because my view emphasizes free will.

    Your metaphysical premises preclude freewill. Therefore you appear to be in the logically incoherent position of basing one “view” on the existence of something a different “view” precludes. You are in a tight spot.

  87. 87
    StephenB says:

    Old Andrew:

    I hope that every time someone hears the words “objective morality” and “natural moral law” they picture blood-splattered knights surrounded by carnage and mass graves full of the bodies of slaves and their babies.

    Let’s not forget that these mass graves are the product of subjective morality, not objective morality. Objective morality comes from outside the individual; it is discovered, real, and true. Subjective morality comes from inside the individual; it is invented, unreal, and false.

    Granted, there are people within the arena of objective morality that break away from their principles and create a subjective matrix in order to create confusion or justify excessive behavior, but the fact remains that their novelties come from themselves and not the objective principles that the falsely claim to believe in. No one ever committed murder because he believes in or follows objective morality, which forbids that very thing.

  88. 88
    jdk says:

    re 86: In what way do my metaphysical premises preclude free will? Can you be explicit about what you think my metaphysical premises are, Barry?

  89. 89
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK @ 88:

    Just an inference from your other positions.

    If I am wrong, by all means correct me. If you have concluded that we have freewill, please tell us what the premises are that led to that conclusion.

  90. 90
    jdk says:

    I am not a materialist. I have told you that, and so did Bob O. That we have consciousness and through consciousness agency is a premise that I accept.

    I am strongly agnostic about the nature and source of consciousness and free will: I do not know what their metaphysical nature might be, if any. But I accept my internal experience of consciousness and agency as a fact, and that therefore is a premise from which other conclusions are based.

  91. 91
    jdk says:

    P.S. By the way, Barry, I have repeatedly pointed to posts 1 and 10 on the Saudi thread making it clear that the I based some of my thoughts on freely-willed choice.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/bob-argues-with-a-saudi-about-whether-it-is-good-to-execute-homosexuals/

  92. 92
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK @ 90

    Yes, I know, I know. You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to argue like a hardcore materialist when it suits you and yet reserve the option of jumping back into a feigned agnosticism when the incoherence of materialism is too much to bear.

    I call BS on that. You say we have free will. OK, then. Free will is possible only if materialism is false. Logically, therefore, if you assert the existence of free will you are flatly denying that materialism is true.

    There goes your agnosticism out the window.

    Before we move on, please clarify.

    Are you agnostic about materialism? If so, you have to give up on being committed to the existence of free will.

    Are you committed to the existence of free will? If so, you have to give up on your agnosticism about materialism.

    Time to choose JDK.

    Prediction. JDK will refuse to choose and go on trying to have it both ways.

  93. 93
    ScuzzaMan says:

    I hope that every time someone hears the words “objective morality” and “natural moral law” they picture blood-splattered knights surrounded by carnage and mass graves full of the bodies of slaves and their babies.

    So I noticed this and although it’s half related and half completely irrelevant to the point of this thread, still I think it deserves reply.

    The crusades were two very short-lived episodes of Western European christianity pushing back against the encroaching muslim conquests. There were centuries of muslim invasions of eastern Europe and north Africa, slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews, and enslavement of millions, before the Christian states of Europe pushed back when they were directly threatened.

    I have no defense to make of the medieval church or of the behaviour of the crusaders per se. War always descends to people at our worst, irrespective. But if you’re going to make arguments about morality in this thread about the basis of moral thought, then I’m going to insist on some degree of accuracy in your presentation of what you consider relevant history.

    Circling back to the question of certainty of knowledge, you seem overly certain for someone presenting such an inadequate picture. Had the crusades not happened and Europe been conquered by Islam, you would be beheaded for making the same criticism of Islam you’ve made here about the crusades. I am naive enough to think that distinction important, and that it ought to accord christianity some measure of respect by agnostics and unbelievers alike.

  94. 94
    StephenB says:

    jdk: “I am not a materialist. I have told you that, and so did Bob O. That we have consciousness and through consciousness agency is a premise that I accept.”

    That’s a little vague. By agency, do you mean an immaterial faculty (mind) in addition to a material organ (brain) – and an immaterial faculty of will capable of resisting the body’s inappropriate animal urges, such as murder or rape. If so, how do you explain these immaterial faculties?

  95. 95
    Silver Asiatic says:

    SM

    Had the crusades not happened and Europe been conquered by Islam, you would be beheaded for making the same criticism of Islam you’ve made here about the crusades.

    That important point is usually completely ignored or dismissed by a majority of people today (or at least by the public voices in society).

  96. 96
    jdk says:

    Stephen, I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I appreciate your asking them. As I said, I am strongly agnostic about those things. I take the experience of consciousness and agency as a given, and start from there.

    I am aware of the spectrum of thought on these issues, but I don’t think I or anyone else knows what the true situation is, or whether any of our human explanations are the true one.

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are.

    Barry call this BS. I call it a realistic and honest appraisal of the limits of human knowledge.

    As I have repeated said, I live by the idea, articulated by Feynman, that I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.

    That is why choice is central to my position. I choose to affirm the primacy of consciousness and free without needing to have some underlying explanation for them. I would rather do that then make up stories which claim to account for them just to avoid the uncertainty of not knowing.

  97. 97
    ScuzzaMan says:

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are.

    Barry call this BS. I call it a realistic and honest appraisal of the limits of human knowledge.

    As I have repeated said, I live by the idea, articulated by Feynman, that I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.

    Barry hasn’t called this BS. He has called other statements of yours BS. But if you’re going to object to him calling you a liar, then you’re going to have to be more careful.

    I disagree with you, and I admire your willingness to endure the slings and arrows and publicly defend your position, however well or poorly I might think you’re doing in that attempt.

    Just by the by, Descartes covered this long ago:

    I think, therefore I am.

    I doubt anyone here actually doubts that. As BA points out, the radical materialists like to claim to dispute it but the very nature of their arguments belies their claim.

    C’est la vie.

  98. 98
    steve_h says:

    JDK,

    did you really say that you thought it was (or may be) OK for other people to torture babies? Did somebody make that up?

  99. 99
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry @ 92:

    Prediction. JDK will refuse to choose and go on trying to have it both ways.

    Well, that didn’t take long. JDK confirmed my prediction at 96.

    JDK

    Barry call this BS. I call it a realistic and honest appraisal of the limits of human knowledge.

    No, I did not call your agnosticism about materialism BS. Nor did I call your affirmation of free will BS. I said trying to have it both ways by asserting both agnosticism about materialism and affirming the existence of free will at the same time BS. And so it is.

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are.

    Materialism, by definition, precludes free will. Therefore, if you are going to be agnostic about it – if you are going to allow it as even a possibility – the most you can say is that you possibly have free will if materialism turns out to be false.

    It follows that your “explanation” of your moral frame work at comments 1 and 10 of this post, fails. I will fix your comments at 1 and 10 so that they are logically consistent with the other views you have expressed.

    Comment 1:

    Barry, as human beings we MAY BE ABLE TO make choices about what we believe, and what values we want to live by. Choice – free will – responsibility – you know those ideas? WELL, THEY MAY BE TRUE.

    Comment 10:

    I MAY have chosen to live by certain values, and IF I HAVE FREE WILL it’s a matter of my own integrity to put my beliefs and actions before the world. That MAY BE my freely chosen choice.

    Therefore, IF WE HAVE FREE WILL the responsibility lies with each one of us to make choices about our values. This MAY BE true for all of us: Barry, you, everyone.

  100. 100
    Seversky says:

    The problem with the concept of a “natural moral law” that is somehow embedded in the natural order in a way akin to the natural physical laws is that it raises an obvious question, Why are we not all converging on the same moral code?

    If some unfortunate person falls off a tall building, it doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Jew or Muslim, whether they are Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, they will suffer the same fate when they hit the ground. Regardless of religious belief or political conviction, we are all subject to gravity. And the same is true of all the other natural physical laws.

    You can argue on the basis of observations of different cultures that human societies have a natural tendency to compile lists or codes of behavioral rules that have the apparent purpose of regulating the way individuals behave towards one another. But while there are similarities, they are not all the same. It’s as if some people stepping off a tall building fall to the ground, while others can leap Matrix-like to the top of the next building and yet other zoom upwards like Superman. Would we call that a natural law?

    So while we all agree that torturing human babies for pleasure is evil, for want of a better word, we cannot say that the horror we feel amounts to certain knowledge or a violation of some natural moral law. We know, for example, that there are a number of other animal species in which adults have been observed to kill and even eat their own young. We might find that ‘icky’ or even horrifying but is it evil? We can envisage some highly-advanced alien anthropologists sitting in their cloaked ship and observing human behavior even now. They might see some psychopath torturing a baby for pleasure and while they might be appalled by it as we are, they might also view it with Vulcan-like dispassionate objectivity and simply categorize it as an example of aberrant behavior rather than intrinsically evil. We would disagree but is there any way to decide objectively who is right?

  101. 101
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    The problem with the concept of a “natural moral law” that is somehow embedded in the natural order in a way akin to the natural physical laws is that it raises an obvious question, Why are we not all converging on the same moral code?

    The problem with your problem is that it confuses ontology (the reality of the moral law) with epistemology (what and how we know about the moral law).

    When everyone thought the sun orbited the earth, it went right on being stationary with respect to the earth. When everyone thought it was OK to expose unwanted babies, it went right on being evil to expose babies.

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK:

    Pardon an intervention. I see your:

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are . . . . As I have repeated said, I live by the idea, articulated by Feynman, that I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.

    That is why choice is central to my position. I choose to affirm the primacy of consciousness and free without needing to have some underlying explanation for them . . . . I choose to affirm the primacy of consciousness and free without needing to have some underlying explanation for them. I would rather do that then make up stories which claim to account for them just to avoid the uncertainty of not knowing.

    The first problem here is that human knowledge, on the whole is not incorrigibly certain, it seeks to be well warranted, credibly — as opposed to be absolutely certainly — true (and reliable), and is belief. What we for good and reliable reason accept as true despite residual uncertainty. This holds for science, history, management, forensics, common-sense day to day realities and — post Godel — for Mathematics. The standard you cite Feynman on, taken at face value, would demolish knowledge as a whole, principles of right reason and the basis for moral responsibility. Thus, per the categorical imperative, it should be set aside as a ruinous evil.

    So, too, with all respect: BA — never mind harsh cross-examining mode — clearly has a point that you are in effect slipping in selective hyperskepticism by the back door through exerting a double-standard of warrant on what you prefer vs wish to dismiss. The consistent standard of warrant we need instead is some degree of moral certainty tempered by what is feasible for a relevant and important topic. Moral certainty regarding X means that for good cause, one would be irresponsible to act as though X were false.

    Now too, you left off certain key facets in the account of self-aware, palpably free existence we have. Namely, that we are evidently responsibly and rationally free, by and large guided by conscience. Which testifies to a known, generally acknowledged duty to truth, right reason and first obligations such as fairness and other principles connected to the civil peace of justice. Without that moral government being credible, mindedness collapses into grand delusion and into the nihilism of might and/or manipulation making ‘truth,’ ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘warrant,’ ‘justice,’ knowledge’ etc. Nihilism, in short.

    So, we must face the IS-OUGHT gap, and we must recognise that the only responsible worldviews and linked cultural visions/agendas are those that can bring those two together. Which, post Hume, has to be at world-root.

    So, dismissive remarks on your part about “mak[ing] up stories” — itself a sign of selectively hyperskeptical dismissiveness — notwithstanding, we do have to face a fact about 2500 years of intellectual history that may well be unpalatable for the fashionably skeptical and too often sneering chattering classes of our time.

    Let me first cite Cicero in De Legibus, c. 50 BC on foundations of law and of moral government:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    Yes, that is a pagan Roman speaking about the received view in his day and adding to it his own insights after a lifetime of praxis as lawyer and statesman. Recognising moral government carries with it worldview-level import.

    Namely, that after centuries of debates and experience as a civilisation bought with blood and tears, there is just one serious candidate at world root that credibly fuses IS and OUGHT: the inherently good (and wise) creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable, freely given service of doing the good in accord with our nature.

    That is, arguably, it is credible to moral certainty that the God of ethical theism is real.

    To which, the alternatives as a rule end in grand delusion and/or in implying radical subjectivism or relativism that opens the door to outright nihilism. Which in our day is baying at the door in the form of masked mobs and crazed mass murderers — knives, guns, bombs and trucks or cars used to mow down pedestrians in hand.

    That is what we must face, as our civilisation marches stubbornly towards a crumbling cliff’s edge.

    We must find a way to turn back (if it is not already too late as the ground cracking underfoot may well indicate). [BTW, here is my current plea to that end: https://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2018/11/no-mr-robinson-and-gleaner-gospel-is.html .]

    Kindly, reconsider what you have argued.

    KF

  103. 103
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    So while we all agree that torturing human babies for pleasure is evil, for want of a better word,

    God help me I want to puke every time someone says something that idiotic. The reason we in want for a better word, Sev, is there is no other word that could possibly describe it — even when decadent but oh-so-sophisticated relativists want to pretend otherwise.

  104. 104
    jdk says:

    re 98: No, Steve_h, I didn’t ever say that.

  105. 105
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    We would disagree but is there any way to decide objectively who is right?

    Why, yes, there is. We know it in exactly the same way we know that 2+2=4.

  106. 106
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK:

    re 98: No, Syeve_h, I didn’t ever say that.

    JDK is correct. But when he refuses to say that he is certain it is evil — which he has done several times — it is logically the same thing.

    Here is yet another example of JDK trying to have it both ways.

    I will put it to you in those terms and watch you try to wiggle off again JDK. Are you absolutely certain it is not OK for other people to torture babies?

    Readers, note that JDK can say yes. In which case he has affirmed he believes in objective moral truth. Or he can say no, in which case his denial at 104 becomes hollow at best or an effective lie at worst.

    Prediction. He will give us a word salad that amounts to neither “yes” nor “no.”

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, it seems that there is a very good reason for considerable disagreement, dispute and arguing on moral government as on many other topics of consequence: error exists. Also, in a less happy light, agendas, the desire to justify oneself i/l/o cognitive dissonance and the ruthless advantage of parasiting off what others as a rule will not do also exist. Indeed, were lying and similar manipulations to be the rule, society would collapse. So even Cretans must speak and serve the truth by and large. Which BTW also points to the fact that at root, on core issues, there is a much broader, deeper consensus than we may think because it is natural to focus attention on the differences and disagreements. KF

  108. 108
    StephenB says:

    JDK

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are.

    Barry call this BS. I call it a realistic and honest appraisal of the limits of human knowledge.

    As I have repeated said, I live by the idea, articulated by Feynman, that I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.

    I understand. How much uncertainty do you experience in forming judgments about the real world? Do you know with certainty that a dog is truly a dog (and not something else) and that a cat is truly a cat (and not something else) and, therefore, that it is a false statement to say that a dog is a cat? In other words, do you accept the fact that, in this context, we can know things as they are? Or do you simply choose to believe these things without really knowing that they are true?

  109. 109
    Barry Arrington says:

    StephenB at 108,

    In a comment to a prior post JDK said:

    I hope it’s clear that we have been talking about transcendent truths, and primarily moral values, when we say they are “objective”.

    Clearly it is an objective truth, in the non-transcendent sense of the word, that I can’t walk through a brick wall.

    Like every single hyper-skeptic I have ever seen, JDK is very selective in his hyper-skepticism.

  110. 110
    jdk says:

    Looks like we need to clear up the BS issue. 🙂

    Scazzaman quoted me at 97:

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are.

    Barry calls this BS. I call it a realistic and honest appraisal of the limits of human knowledge.

    However, Scuzzaman didn’t quote the whole extent of what I said at 96:

    Stephen, I don’t know the answers to those questions [about mind and will], but I appreciate your asking them. As I said, I am strongly agnostic about those things. I take the experience of consciousness and agency as a given, and start from there.

    I am aware of the spectrum of thought on these issues, but I don’t think I or anyone else knows what the true situation is, or whether any of our human explanations are the true one.

    My consciousness and sense of agency are experiential facts. I don’t have an underlying explanation that justifies them: they just are.

    Barry call this BS. I call it a realistic and honest appraisal of the limits of human knowledge.

    My statement about Barry applied to all three paragraphs, not just the one Scuzzaman quoted.

    What Barry actually wrote at 92 was,

    Yes, I know, I know. You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to argue like a hardcore materialist when it suits you and yet reserve the option of jumping back into a feigned agnosticism when the incoherence of materialism is too much to bear.

    I call BS on that.

    Barry clarified in 99 what he is calling BS about:

    No, I did not call your agnosticism about materialism BS. Nor did I call your affirmation of free will BS. I said trying to have it both ways by asserting both agnosticism about materialism and affirming the existence of free will at the same time BS

    Well, he called my agnosticism feigned. But it seems that he thinks that if one believes in free will one can’t be agnostic about materialism. I think there are issues that could be discussed here, but my purpose in this post is just to clarify what Barry was calling BS.

    I apologize to Barry for not being clearer and more accurate about recognizing what he thinks is BS.

  111. 111
    StephenB says:

    Barry @109, yes, that is what I am wondering about. JDK says that he does not accept any transcendent truths at all, moral or metaphysical, with emphasis on the former.

    So it would help to know if he rejects the law of causality, a transcendent truth that rules over science, or the transcendent truth that an infinite regress is impossible, a truth that further clarifies the law of causality. Or again, what about the transcendent truths (Laws of identity and noncontradiction )that I used in my example @108? Does he reject all these transcendent truths?

    *Transcendent truth* = one that transcends time and space.

  112. 112
    Barry Arrington says:

    steve_h @ 98.

    Note my response at 106. My prediction failed. I did not consider that he might come back into the thread and post (which he did at 110) and just ignore the 500 pound gorilla. Well, you can’t call them all.

  113. 113
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK,

    But it seems that he thinks that if one believes in free will one can’t be agnostic about materialism.

    Yes, for the third time, to assert the existence of free will is to reject materialism which, by definition, precludes the existence of free will.

  114. 114
    jdk says:

    At 108, in response to the Feynman idea that “I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true,”

    Stephen replied,

    I understand. How much uncertainty do you experience in forming judgments about the real world? Do you know with certainty that a dog is truly a dog (and not something else) and that a cat is truly a cat (and not something else) and, therefore, that it is a false statement to say that a dog is a cat? In other words, do you accept the fact that, in this context, we can know things as they are? Or do you simply choose to believe these things without really knowing that they are true?

    This is an important question.

    My use of the Feynman quote is primarily about metaphysical matters, as that is primarily what we have been talking about in these threads, but the question of truth about the physical world is a good topic, too.

    I certainly believe we can find truth, to different levels of certainty, about the physical world. As an example, I am as certain as I can be that I can’t walk through a brick wall, or that the sun will rise tomorrow, even though there might be some infinitesimally small chance that I could turn out to be wrong.

    There are other things that are a bit more likely to be true, but are so unlikely to be true that I act as if they were certainly not true. Sasquatch might exist, or even UFO’s, but I choose to believe they don’t.

    Other things are more problematic. There is some evidence that prolonged cell phone use can cause cancer. I remain open to further investigation on this, but at the fairly small rate at which I use a cell phone, I choose to discount this risk.

    Here’s the overall point: all of us gather all the evidence we can about the truth of many different kinds of things about the world, and come to conclusions about how likely they are to be true. These range from virtually certain to extremely unlikely. Then, more importantly, we have to choose what beliefs to act one: when is the probability of the truth of something problematic enough, and the consequences of being wrong serious enough, that we really have to stop and choose carefully.

    But for the most part we have an accurate set of beliefs about what is true about the world, and successfully act upon those beliefs. When we discover that our beliefs are not born out, we change our beliefs, and hopefully build a truer set of beliefs as time goes by.

  115. 115
    StephenB says:

    JDK:

    My use of the Feynman quote is primarily about metaphysical matters, as that is primarily what we have been talking about in these threads, but the question of truth about the physical world is a good topic, too.

    My question was very specific and it does not focus on the physical world. It focuses on two transcendent truths, the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction. Here it is again:

    Do you know with certainty that a dog is truly a dog (and not something else) and that a cat is truly a cat (and not something else) and, therefore, that it is a false statement to say that a dog is a cat? In other words, do you accept the fact that, in this context, we can know things as they are? Or do you simply choose to believe these things without really knowing that they are true?

    Also, please take note of my questions @110 about transcendent truths concerning causality.

  116. 116
    jdk says:

    I see. I didn’t understand your first question. I did, however, see 110 where you made this clearer. I just wrote the following, which does not answer all your questions, but this is as much time as I am going to spend on this tonight, as real life calls.

    Stephen, you bring up a whole new set of issues at 111.

    My immediate response is that morals and math are quite different things. I know you and Barry strongly disagree.

    I do not know why we have a universe that has the physical laws it does that are capable of being modeled by formal mathematical laws. But the fact that is true is a far different thing than thinking moral laws exist in the same way.

    Stephen calls these laws transcendent: “*Transcendent truth* = one that transcends time and space.”

    But I don’t know whether they are transcendent. (FWIW, I taught math for many years, and have read in the philosophy of mathematics than in some other fields.)

    There are broad two schools of thought. The first, most famous, and most common here at UD is the Platonic one, whereby a world of mathematical Ideas exists transcendently, and that we can apprehend with our rational mind.

    However, the other school of thought is that mathematical structure is embedded in our universe–immanent not transcendent–and that through the creation of abstract symbol systems we can mirror the structure within the world. That is, we have created ways of representing the logical and mathematical basis that is within the world, not one that is outside the world.

    Surprise: I am agnostic about this. I don’t know what the case is. I don’t know why the universe is as it is.

    However, I will point out that it entirely possible that mathematical structure, logical and impersonal, exists transcendentally and informs the physical world, but that no corresponding transcendent personal Ideals exist: that the universe is mathematical, but does not care at all about how human beings act. These seem like entirely different issues to me.

  117. 117
    jdk says:

    re 113: Barry, here’s a reply.

    I don’t assert the existence of free will, as a fact. I accept and affirm the sense that I have free will, and live as if that were so. I do not know what the “true” nature of consciousness or free will are; nor, for that matter, do I know the true nature of the material world.

    Consciousness and free will might be monistically entangled with the physical world in ways that are beyond our understanding, or they may not. I don’t know.

    But, and I keep coming back to this point: thinking that I know what is metaphysically true is much less important that the propositions and understandings I choose to live by. I choose to accept the fact that I have a sense of agency even though I don’t know what the metaphysical nature of that sense might be.

  118. 118
    StephenB says:

    JDK, since you refuse to answer my questions – again – I will just have to answer them for you.

    [a] You don’t know that a dog is a dog or that a cat is a cat, and by extension, you don’t know if it is false to say that a dog can also be a cat.

    Thus, you don’t know if the transcendent laws of identity and non-contradiction are true, which is consistent with your earlier claim that you don’t believe that transcendent, objective, metaphysical truths exist at all and cannot, therefore be known.

    [b] You don’t believe that the transcendent law of causality or the transcendent law that rules out an infinite regress of causes is true, because you don’t believe that any transcendent metaphysical truths exist at all.

    Again, your doubts about the transcendent, metaphysical, objective law of causality is consistent with your earlier statement that no such transcendent truths can be known.

    [c] In keeping with your earlier statements that we cannot know if any act is morally wrong for everyone, it follows that you don’t know if the particular act of torturing babies for fun is morally wrong for everyone.

    In every case, concerning metaphysical and moral truths, all we can do is simply make a choice about what we want to believe. Have I represented your positions fairly?

  119. 119
    ScuzzaMan says:

    I do not know why we have a universe that has the physical laws it does that are capable of being modeled by formal mathematical laws. But the fact that is true is a far different thing than thinking moral laws exist in the same way.

    It might be fun to explore what you mean by “exist in the same way“. Exist as phenomena that can be mathematically described, perhaps?

    So far, everything we have been able to examine in the physical world, either directly or by strong inference from direct observations, follows peculiarly exacting and (apparently) universal mathematical relationships. That these things are governed by such abstracts is highly dubious, to my mind, but that they are governed by something or someone with a commitment to rationality which is implied by the ubiquity of such rigorously consistent relationships, appears to me to be very likely.

    But at the very least the ubiquity of these mathematical relations among those things that are amenable to our investigation ought to give us cause to ponder what that implies about things that are not so amenable.

    Right?

    We are confronted with a relative paucity of choices. (You’re keen on choices, as I recall.)

    A) If the materialists are right that everything that exists is material then we have near absolute warrant to conclude that everything that exists is governed in such a way that its relations to other things that exist are mathematically describable. Not much left to discuss there, and neither you nor I have, to this point, acceded to this view so it remains largely irrelevant but it included here for completeness, and for the fact that we do apparently agree on the second conclusion, that everything material is governed by mathematically describable “laws”.

    B) If the materialists are wrong and there’s a non-material aspect to existence, and both the material and non-material realms are governed by (a) God who created them as reflections of his own character, then we also have near absolute warrant to conclude that yes, the moral aspect of our existence is universally governed by immutable and exacting relationships that could be described mathematically.

    C) The final available alternative is that the materialists are wrong again, and that whatever or whoever is responsible for the existence of the material and the non-material aspects of existence, is stark raving mad, or at least at war within itself or among its selves.

    Of the latter two options, I’m going to choose B.

    But you knew that already.

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I call your attention to 102 above, which gives the underlying context: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/materialist-perhaps-reaches-new-low/#comment-668174 You do not get to have your cake and eat it on world-root issues. KF

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    SM, if a world now is which is full of contingent beings (and, matter as composite WRT atoms with underlying particles that seem convertible to energy given the Einstein expression, and i/l/o evident fine tuning of the laws and parameters of the observed cosmos makes this plain) then at its root something must be ontologically necessary. That is, as non-being (a true nothing) can have no causal powers, if a world now is, SOMETHING always was that is utterly independent of external enabling causal factors. Such a being would be framework for a world, any world, to exist; that is a key part of understanding such NB’s. Where, a serious candidate to be such a NB would either be impossible of existence as a square circle is (i.e. core defining characteristics stand in mutual contradiction so the A AND ~A being cannot exist), or else it is actual. Such would be without beginning nor can it cease from being, it is inherently eternal as opposed to futile claims to infinite causal succession. Where, given our moral governance, we are looking at God as such a serious candidate. Atheists and fellow travellers have implicitly accepted the burden of proof of showing God to be impossible of being and/or of grounding moral government and closing the IS-OUGHT gap without reducing morally governed mind to grand delusion and utter discredit. Where, their arguments must inevitably appeal to our known duties to truth, right reason, fairness etc. Per fair comment, after Plantinga cut the problem of evil down to due size in the 60’s and 70’s, they don’t seem to have anything on the table that comes close to answering that burden. KF

    PS: Of course the usual rhetorical move is to scant the logic of being and worldviews analysis more broadly. That then includes scanting the roots of Mathematics — distinct identity is foundational to both logic and quantity as well as structure and relationships, abstract or physical — and its relevance and power.

  122. 122
    Jammer says:

    Planned Parenthood has a sickening new pro-abortion ad out that has a frightening level of overlap with this discussion.

    Chilling Planned Parenthood ad for abortion: ‘The Chosen’

  123. 123
    jdk says:

    Stephen, I did not refuse to answer your questions. I wrote a post (116) about whether mathematical truths are transcendent or not, and explained that whatever the nature of their truth, that is different than the question of moral truths. I pointed out that the whole question of logic, math, and mathematical descriptions of the physical world broadened the topic considerably. Perhaps you wrote 118 before you saw 116.

    I also pointed out that I hadn’t seen your 110 when I wrote my post, but that I was done for the night (even though I wrote one short post to Barry before going to bed).

  124. 124
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BA

    We know it in exactly the same way we know that 2+2=4.

    Reframing Sev’s objection:

    There are no laws of math.
    When people fall off of tall buildings, they all die.
    But people do not always get the same answers to math problems.

    Therefore, there are no natural laws of logic or reason.

  125. 125
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jammer @ 122

    Planned Parenthood has a sickening new pro-abortion ad out that has a frightening level of overlap with this discussion.

    Chilling Planned Parenthood ad for abortion: ‘The Chosen’

    That’s subjective morality at work. Parents choose some children to live, others to die – based on their personal preferences.

    That is evil.

  126. 126
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk

    However, I will point out that it entirely possible that mathematical structure, logical and impersonal, exists transcendentally and informs the physical world, but that no corresponding transcendent personal Ideals exist: that the universe is mathematical, but does not care at all about how human beings act.

    Mathematics and natural law morality are functions of human reason. The same reasoning power and imbedded structures that give us correct answers to math problems, give us moral norms.

  127. 127
    Silver Asiatic says:

    We already spoke about truth and right-reason.

    Before you can do math, you must have a commitment to truth.

    Truth is opposed to falsehood or error. These values are mapped to good as opposed to evil.

    Thus, the understanding of good and evil are inherent in human nature – in human reasoning (math, logic).

    The objective natural moral law, in simplest terms, it to do good and shun evil.

  128. 128
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Anticipating an objection also …

    There should be consequences.

    If you violate the law of gravity (falling off building), the consequence is that you die.

    If you violate the laws of math, your physical products dependent on math will fail.

    What happens if you violate the natural moral law? What are the consequences?

    Well – just like math … you can say 2+2=5. I just did it. Where is the consequence? The consequences of math errors show up most distinctly on the larger-scale. When constructing aircraft or weapons or buildings.

    Violations of the moral law show up on the larger scale also. Genocide, dictatorships, starvation.

  129. 129
    jdk says:

    At 118, Stephen ended his post with “In every case, concerning metaphysical and moral truths, all we can do is simply make a choice about what we want to believe. Have I represented your positions fairly?”

    No.

  130. 130
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk

    However, the other school of thought is that mathematical structure is embedded in our universe–immanent not transcendent

    As KF points out, the Law of Identity cannot be immanent to the universe. It cannot be secondary to the universe and must exist outside of it, transcendent. The LOI governs the identity of the universe.

    That law is the foundation of reason. The laws of reason are transcendent therefore.

  131. 131
    jdk says:

    Scuzzaman writes,

    So far, everything we have been able to examine in the physical world, either directly or by strong inference from direct observations, follows peculiarly exacting and (apparently) universal mathematical relationships. That these things are governed by such abstracts is highly dubious, to my mind, but that they are governed by something or someone with a commitment to rationality which is implied by the ubiquity of such rigorously consistent relationships, appears to me to be very likely.

    Irrespective of the question of whether abstract ideals can govern, or whether “something or someone with a commitment to rationality” is required, I’d like to discuss the issue of whether the mathematical and logical laws of nature we discover “govern” the world.

    I know (with virtual certainty 🙂 ) that most of you here won’t agree with this, but one of the reasons I am here in these conversations is to give myself a forum for describing some alternate views, with the purpose, among other things, of countering the sense of certainty that seems so prevalent. Anyway …

    The Platonic, dualistic view idea that if there are laws there must be a lawgiver is a traditional Western view, but it is only one of two broadly different views. The other view is that the world behaves as it does according to its nature, and then we describe that behavior mathematically and logically. The laws are descriptive only: they don’t exist independent of nature, and they have no causal power.

    The idea that if there are laws there must be a lawgiver is an anthropomorphism that confuses a cause with a description.

    Here is an analogy (just an analogy) that a philosopher friend many years ago used to explain this. We watch goats going up a mountainside and we say, “Look, the goats are following the path” as if the path were the cause of the route the goats were taking. However, in reality, the path is there because the goats made it. The cause of the path is the goats: the path is merely a reflection of the goat’s nature, not the cause of it.

    From this view, then, it is incorrect to say that world “follows”, or “is governed by” laws. It is correct that we can describe the world with such “laws”, but the world is internally governed by its components manifesting their nature, not by any external laws being imposed on them.

  132. 132
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, again, you do not engage the corrective chain of reasoning which is laid out above. Putting on a label, “Platonic” and saying that in effect you can pose an alternative does not sufficiently address the issue of warrant that is on the table; a point we duly note, observing the significance of this i/l/o things like the false declarations and threats about being ill equipped for higher studies and the world of work by the US NAS and NSTA in Kansas c 2005 — this is not just of mere academic interest. And, the world in fact is ordered by intelligible ordering principles. In reasoning, including Mathematics, we have that once a particular world is, identity must obtain. Thus we see that distinct identity is framework for a world to exist, with immediate corollaries that as W = {A|~A} then no x in W will be both A and ~A, likewise any x in W must be A X-OR ~A, LNC and LEM. This grounds both logic and quantity, with structure following behind, i.e. Mathematics. Going towards the duty side, your arguments inevitably pivot on our having a known duty to truth, right reason, fairness etc. Should this be delusional, you inject grand delusion, utterly undermining rationality and Mathematics. A proof or assumption that proofs do not exist undercuts itself. We are forced to acknowledge the reality of moral government of our mindedness, pointing to the IS-OUGHT gap and the question of bridging it. I therefore again point you to 102 where this is drawn out in outline: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/materialist-perhaps-reaches-new-low/#comment-668174 KF

  133. 133
    StephenB says:

    JDK

    I wrote a post (116) about whether mathematical truths are transcendent or not, and explained that whatever the nature of their truth, that is different than the question of moral truths.

    I didn’t ask you about mathematics. Why on earth would you waste almost three hundred words on such an irrelevant distraction?

    I pointed out (@116) that the whole question of logic, math, and mathematical descriptions of the physical world broadened the topic considerably. Perhaps you wrote 118 before you saw 116.

    I am responding to your claim that transcendent truths, either the metaphysical or moral variety, do not exist and cannot, therefor be known. The laws of identity, non-contradiction, causality, and non-infinite regress are all transcendent truths.

    So according to your stated philosophy, we cannot know any of these rational principles as metaphysical truths because they simply do not exist. Also, according to that same philosophy, you don’t know if any moral actions are wrong for everyone, so it follows that you don’t know if the particular act of torturing babies for fun is wrong for everyone.

    All these irrational positions of yours need to be made explicit and put on the table. My aim is not to harass you but to awaken you from your intellectual slumber so that you can join the community of rational people. I am not your enemy. I am your friend.

  134. 134
    jdk says:

    re 133: please go back and read the start of 116, where I said that I know I didn’t respond to all your questions because I was out of time for the night. And twice I’ve said that you’ve broadened the topic considerably.

    As for your specific points: When I was discussing the nature of mathematics I was also discussing the nature of logic: the laws of logic are usually considering a foundational part of mathematics. I don’t want to write mathematics and logic all the time, and am not in the habit of doing so.

    The law of causality is not a law of logic: it is an inductive conclusion about how the world works. Events have causes. However, quantum mechanics has called this into question as the fundamental nature of the world. It is a solid conclusion that we all adopt, both informally and formally in science, but it not a law of logic.

    The law of infinite regress is even more problematic. If some things can happen without cause at the quantum level, and then set off a chain of events, then the law of infinite regress is false.

    If everything has a cause, and all causes can be traced back to prior causes, then the state of the universe at its inception complete determined everything that has happened since then, and I don’t think anyone thinks that these days.

  135. 135
    ScuzzaMan says:

    JDK; you wrote:

    The laws are descriptive only: they don’t exist independent of nature, and they have no causal power.

    You can, as you note, understand it either way. Even amongst fundamentalist Christians there’s the recognition that there exists a progression in maturity from law-as-prohibition to law-as-descriptor-of-ideal.

    The idea that if there are laws there must be a lawgiver is an anthropomorphism that confuses a cause with a description.

    Perhaps. Just to clarify, when I wrote:

    … but that they are governed by something or someone with a commitment to rationality which is implied by the ubiquity of such rigorously consistent relationships, appears to me to be very likely.

    … it was only the someone that I intended to describe as rational, not the something. It’s rather elementary to note that the inverse square law doesn’t cause the field strength to decline by the inverse square of the distance from the source. But noting that doesn’t relieve us of the suspicion that something causes all known things to behave in relation to each other according to strict methematically-describable patterns.

    To say merely that “that is their nature” is neither description nor explanation. We remain insatiably curious as to why their nature is what it is? What IS causing them to behave in such ways? As others have noted, whatever it is, it exhibits a curiously convenient and consistent discoverability and describability.

  136. 136
    Silver Asiatic says:

    kf

    JDK, again, you do not engage the corrective chain of reasoning which is laid out above.

    Agreed, and I conclude that it is pointless for me to continue to repeat such things.

    JDK insists on making his point known. He is proclaiming his view and will continue to do that no matter what the response is to that view.

    He is saying “there are alternatives”. Of course. Sophistry always provides alternatives. That’s the classic denial, avoidance, escape from reality that is at the foundation of relativism.

    I’ve seen discussions with relativists who deny the objectivity of mathematics.

    It’s a childish game – with no end. There is no serious commitment to follow the truth, but rather to use up the valuable time of one’s life, chasing fantasies.

    That game ends in sadness – at the recognition of waste.

    A man’s life must be given to a serious commitment to the truth – no matter how much it costs. He must put himself on the side of good – in the battle of good versus evil.

    Subjectivism damages a man’s character and integrity. It is a fear of commitment and responsibility.

    Holding on to doubts in matters that demand an affirmation – creates a spirit of fear and weakness.

    The modern world today does this to many men – creating doubts about everything. Skepticism means they cannot make a commitment. This frees them from responsibility – making life a matter of amusement, following one’s own passions, playing foolish games, sitting on the sidelines of life and making wry comments about what is happening.

    The danger to every man (I suffer it) – is selfishness. Subjectivism is the philosophy of self-interest above all else.

    Virtue is when we make a sacrifice for something greater than ourself.

    That is not even possible in subjectivism – everything is turned inwards. The source of all authority, meaning and value is trapped within one’s own flawed personality. It cannot contribute anything to values or the common good – since it denies both of those.

    Materialists who claim to “find their own purpose” – are just selfishly giving to themselves. There is no valor in that kind of life. The so-called ‘purpose’ in that life is amusement, enjoyment, self-pleasure.

    It created the generation of soy-boys, cucks, beta-males and effeminates that are destroying our society today. That’s what atheism is. Self-satisfied little boys who don’t want to grow-up.

    The answer is not pagan stoicism or atheistic will to power – which are just modifications of the same self-idolatry.

    It’s Christian virtue – lived in its integrity. Yes, consistent with classical moral teachings, but far surpassing them.

  137. 137
    Barry Arrington says:

    SB:

    All these irrational positions of yours need to be made explicit and put on the table.

    Good luck with that. I’ve been trying to get him to admit the logic of his commitments for several days over several posts. He refuses every time.

    You see, in his subjective morality, dodging the logic of your premises is not dishonest and/or cowardly. It is perfectly reasonable and just.

  138. 138
    StephenB says:

    JDK

    I know (with virtual certainty ???? ) that most of you here won’t agree with this, but one of the reasons I am here in these conversations is to give myself a forum for describing some alternate views, with the purpose, among other things, of countering the sense of certainty that seems so prevalent. Anyway …

    It is a perfectly legitimate goal. However, you will never achieve it because your hyperskepticism militates against the truth.

    The Platonic, dualistic view idea that if there are laws there must be a lawgiver is a traditional Western view, but it is only one of two broadly different views. The other view is that the world behaves as it does according to its nature, and then we describe that behavior mathematically and logically. The laws are descriptive only: they don’t exist independent of nature, and they have no causal power.

    The “laws” are human descriptions of law-like regularities in nature, which are real and are, themselves caused. They didn’t always exist because the natural world didn’t always exist.

    The idea that if there are laws there must be a lawgiver is an anthropomorphism that confuses a cause with a description.

    Incorrect. Rational people understand that our “laws” are merely human descriptions of the law-like regularities that we find in nature, but the existence of those law-like regularities needs to be explained. The confusion is on the side of those who do not understand this.

    Here is an analogy (just an analogy) that a philosopher friend many years ago used to explain this. We watch goats going up a mountainside and we say, “Look, the goats are following the path” as if the path were the cause of the route the goats were taking. However, in reality, the path is there because the goats made it. The cause of the path is the goats: the path is merely a reflection of the goat’s nature, not the cause of it.

    Good analogy – bad logic. Of course, the goat caused the path, and of course, the path is merely a reflection of the goat’s nature. (A correct metaphysical analysis). The point is that if we observe a path, and nothing else, the law of causality (which you deny) teaches us that someone or something had to put it there. (A correct epistemological analysis). In like manner, if we observe law-like regularities in nature, that same law of causality tells us that a lawgiver put it there. Just as goat paths are not responsible for their own existence, law-like regularities are not responsible for their own existence. Again, you are confusing metaphysics (reasoning from the cause to the effect) with epistemology (inferring the cause from the effect).

    From this view, then, it is incorrect to say that world “follows”, or “is governed by” laws.

    The physical world (not the world as a whole) is governed by law-like regularities described as laws. Obviously, the descriptions have no causal power. No one thinks that they do. This is a strawman argument.

  139. 139
    Barry Arrington says:

    Readers take notice.

    At comment 134 JDK has finally and completely abandoned rationality altogether.

    Can something happen without a cause?

    JDK: Maybe.

    SA

    I conclude that it is pointless for me to continue to repeat such things.

    JDK insists on making his point known. He is proclaiming his view and will continue to do that no matter what the response is to that view.

    That game ends in sadness – at the recognition of waste.

    Avicenna speaks to the only appropriate response to such.

  140. 140
    jdk says:

    Hi Scuzzaman.

    You wrote,

    but that they are governed by something or someone with a commitment to rationality

    , and I see now that the “commitment to rationality” was just meant to apply to the someone.

    To say merely that “that is their nature” is neither description nor explanation. We remain insatiably curious as to why their nature is what it is? What IS causing them to behave in such ways? As others have noted, whatever it is, it exhibits a curiously convenient and consistent discoverability and describability.”

    Yes, what I wrote is certainly not an explanation. The question of why the universe is as it is – why do things behave as they do – is, I don’t think, answerable, because how no matter how far down we create a chain of explanations, there is always the question of why are things like whatever the last link in the chain is? And, yes, it is does exhibit a “consistent discoverability and describability”, except that perhaps we have reached the limit of that with quantum mechanics.

  141. 141
    jdk says:

    re 139, to Barry.

    I put a radioactive atom with a half life of one day in a box, which means that it has a 50-50 chance of decaying during the next day by emitting radiation.

    What causes it to decay when it does? Quantum theory says nothing causes it to do so. There are no hidden causes. It just decays, or fails to decay, at random.

  142. 142
    jdk says:

    Barry, you write,

    Rational people understand that our “laws” are merely human descriptions of the law-like regularities that we find in nature, but the existence of those law-like regularities needs to be explained. The confusion is on the side of those who do not understand this.

    First, my post was in reference to saying the world is “governed” by the laws. You seem to agree with me that that isn’t very accurate language.

    Second, the fact that something, somehow caused the things in the world to behave in certain ways doesn’t mean that the descriptions we discover have some independent transcendent existence. They are embedded in the behavior of the things that exist, irrespective of how those things got here.

  143. 143
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    “Quantum theory says nothing causes it to do so. “

    “I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics” Richard Feynman

    Nice to know that JDK knows more than Feynman unless he has changed his mind since making that statement.

    Actually regardless of Feynman or anyone else for that matter I can safely say that to say “ nothing” causes something is absurd,it is the total abandonment of rationality. One doesn’t need to have a PHD in quantum physics to know this.

    Vivid

  144. 144
    StephenB says:

    JDK

    re 133: please go back and read the start of 116, where I said that I know I didn’t respond to all your questions because I was out of time for the night. And twice I’ve said that you’ve broadened the topic considerably.

    I didn’t broaden the topic. You are the one who denied ALL transcendent truths. So all that is on the table. You are repeating yourself.

    As for your specific points: When I was discussing the nature of mathematics I was also discussing the nature of logic: the laws of logic are usually considering a foundational part of mathematics. I don’t want to write mathematics and logic all the time, and am not in the habit of doing so.

    Mathematical principles are irrelevant to the discussion. Please stop trying to use them as a distraction.

    The law of causality is not a law of logic: it is an inductive conclusion about how the world works.

    Where did I say that the law of causality is a law of logic? Please stop with the strawman arguments. Meanwhile, the law of causality is not an inductive conclusion about how the world works. It is a self-evident truth that makes inductive conclusions possible, just as the law of identity makes deductive conclusions possible.

    <blockquote?Events have causes.

    You say that now, but I suspect you will reverse yourself in the remainder of the paragraph.

    However, quantum mechanics has called this into question as the fundamental nature of the world. It is a solid conclusion that we all adopt, both informally and formally in science, but it not a law of logic.

    There you go. First, you say that events have causes, then you say that some of them don’t. Just so that you will know, quantum mechanics cannot delegitimize the law of causality. It was the law of causality that made the discovery of quantum mechanics possible in the first place. It is only through the rules of right reason that evidence can be interpreted in a rational way. Anyone who thinks that the law of causality can be influenced by an experiment is interpreting evidence in an irrational way.

    JDK

    If everything has a cause, and all causes can be traced back to prior causes, then the state of the universe at its inception complete determined everything that has happened since then, and I don’t think anyone thinks that these days.

    Everything doesn’t have to have a cause. Everything that begins to exist or move must have a cause. Think back to your example of the goat path. First, it wasn’t there, and then it was. You know, therefore, that something caused it to come into existence. If you don’t know that, then you are not a rational person. The number of people who accept that proposition is irrelevant.

    Meanwhile, the law of causality does not determine everything that happens. Humans are causal agents themselves and use nature’s causes for their own purposes.

  145. 145
    jdk says:

    Oops: 142 was to Stephen.

    And vivid, quantum physics defies our rational understanding. Do you know much about it?

    Radioactive decay is a random process. Look it up and study a bit.

    And Feynman didn’t mean that we don’t know anything about quantum mechanics. He did as much as anyone to make quantum mechanics a useable field of study.

  146. 146
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    If I was totally ignorant about quantum mechanics it would not matter one whit as to my position that one can be certain that to hold to the position that “ nothing” causes something is absurd and an abandonment of rationality.

    Yes I do know something about quantum mechanics but on a layman level from books such as “In Search of Schrodingers Cat” and other books written by people dumbing it down for people like myself. Your arrogance is palpable.

    Furthermore to say something is random is not the same as saying “nothing “ caused it.

    Vivid

  147. 147
    StephenB says:

    Vivid

    Furthermore to say something is random is not the same as saying “nothing “ caused it.

    Right you are. Just because an event is not predictable does not mean that it was uncaused. Many quantum theorists stumble over that logical error. Perhaps, like JDK, they “choose” what they want to believe even if it makes no sense.

  148. 148
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, there are several flaws in your quantum example, illustrating how poorly we (including the highly educated) typically understand causality. First, were there no atom, no decay so cause no 1 is the presence of an atom with an unstable nucleus. Next, the instability is a causal factor, but one which does not act with inevitable force at some given time and place, i.e. we see risk or probability in action, here following a definite distribution. Third, in RA analysis, a typical behaviour pattern is a tunnelling effect, whereby a potential barrier is in effect porous not impermeable as in the classical world. That difference in behaviour has its own roots, which have causal import. So, yes we see an unpredictable random effect (at least, beyond a probability distribution reflected in the empirically reliable characteristic: half-life) but it does not come out of nowhere, nothing for no reason. KF

  149. 149
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus, excellent summary @148. Many there are who don’t understand the significance of the term “causal conditions,” which you just described in brief.

  150. 150
    Ed George says:

    Jdk

    Radioactive decay is a random process. Look it up and study a bit.

    I find it strange that something that is random (radioactive decay) is the tool we have used to establish a globally accepted measure of time.

  151. 151
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, that’s because there is order in the randomness, tied to how the unstable nucleus behaves due to its particular nature. So, there is a characteristic lawlike decay constant, let’s call it L. The half-life of a population of the nuclide is then Ln 2/ L. That order is a signature of causal factors at work tied to the specific nature and characteristics of the nuclide. KF

  152. 152
    Barry Arrington says:

    I thought we measured time based on the oscillations of the cesium atom. I admit I am no expert.

  153. 153
    Ed George says:

    KF@151, can you really call it causal? If whether or not any atom decays is random, can it be causal? And, secondly, at what population size does it become non predictive? At what population size can it no longer be used to determine time?

  154. 154
    Ed George says:

    Barry

    I thought we measured time based on the oscillations of the cesium atom. I admit I am no expert.

    After a bit of googling I think that you are correct and I am wrong. My apologies.

  155. 155
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, the presence of a population of relevant atoms is a causal factor. The observed decay constant (note: constant) is a key property belonging to a given nuclide, reflecting its particular instability and quantum circumstances in the nucleus; indeed, we can construct a sort of nuclear periodic table reflecting that pattern. What results from those properties is a quantifiable decay pattern that holds down to the individual atom but is best estimated from a population large enough that statistical fluctuations are minimised. That, in some ways, is not hard as even very small quantities easily have 10^11 – 10^17 atoms. A Mole being 6.023 * 10^23 atoms, we are looking at micro to pico moles here. What is more interesting is the principle of identity and its connexion to both cause and inductive, scientific reasoning: a thing is what it is i/l/o its core characteristics that mark it out as just that, distinct. So, we should not be surprised that such a thing has characteristic behaviours and properties that can be observed and inferred as likely to persist, providing reliable, observable patterns. KF

    PS: BTW, this is also why the common objection “it’s only an analogy” runs into problems. A strong analogy builds on in-common properties between entities that share certain common characteristics (i.e. we focus on the genus and exclude the irrelevant differences) so if we correctly highlight how case A and case B instantiate a common genus G, we may quite properly expect B to reflect the characteristics of G just as much as A. A man, an elephant and a mouse are all mammals, a mouse and a fish are vertebrates, an elephant and a guava tree use cells that operate on much the same genetic code, etc.

  156. 156
    kairosfocus says:

    EG & BA, both of you are correct, in different circumstances. Atomic clocks classically are based on oscillations of Cs-137 atoms, and radiodating is a specific marker of time elapsed that is commonly used for dating/ estimated dating of findings from sites of interest. KF

  157. 157
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK:

    The question of why the universe is as it is – why do things behave as they do – is, I don’t think, answerable, because how no matter how far down we create a chain of explanations, there is always the question of why are things like whatever the last link in the chain is?

    This reflects the gap caused by the gap in our education systems regarding logic of being.

    We are not locked into infinite regress.

    There are intelligible principles which lie at the heart of reason and the logic of being. For example, the principle of identity in effect highlights that some A is what it is, i/l/o its core, distinctive cluster of characteristics. This is what marks A out from what is not A and we should not be surprised that A will have certain features that are stable; even in the case of a RA atom that due to instabilities is prone to transformations through decay processes. (I note, gamma decay is in effect relaxation from a high energy state of a nucleus, leading to a relaxed, lower energy state.)

    Going further, we may ponder possible vs impossible and contingent vs necessary beings. Impossible candidate beings have contradictory required core characteristics and cannot be instantiated in any world, a square circle being a classic illustration. Necessary beings are framework for any world to exist and are independent of external, enabling causes so they neither begin to be (which requires action of a cause) nor can they cease from being. Two-ness, rooted in distinct identity, exists necessarily and there cannot be any world without this quantitative property.

    Obviously, a world is. As non-being (the real nothing) can have no causal properties, if a world now is, something always was. Something independent of external enabling/disabling causes. And yes, that is in fact a pointer to where ever so many are utterly disinclined to go nowadays. That where, is not arbitrary or just an empty whim of credulity, in short. Especially in a world where we find responsibly, rationally free morally governed creatures. Such as we are.

    Of course, logic of being is an exploration of ontology and a pointer to cosmology, major facets of a sub-discipline now often dismissed with ill-advised contempt: metaphysics. But then, this is an un- or even anti- philosophical age.

    A warning, as the worst metaphysics of all is an unexamined, incoherent worldview; that predictably leads to a destructively foolish cultural agenda.

    KF

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