Intelligent Design

Myers and Dawkins: A pox on both their houses

Spread the love

I’ve been quiet on UD for a while, but after seeing the (however qualified) praise VJ Torley has handed Myers for his limp-wristed opposition to a moralizing Richard Dawkins, I feel the need to offer another view.

Myers deserves no praise for his opposition to Dawkins on the issue of the morality of (mandatory) aborting children with Down Syndrome, and people who are pro-life do themselves a disservice by choosing to offer him even an ounce of respect on this issue. In this case, the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy.

I’ll keep this succinct. First, Myers is not rushing to the defense of children with Down Syndrome.

Ask him if he thinks a woman who aborts a child with Down Syndrome is immoral. All evidence indicates he would say no, it is not.

Ask him, for that matter, whether it’s immoral for a woman to abort a child who is perfectly healthy. Again, the evidence indicates he would say no.

In fact, you may want to ask him if there are any situations in which a woman’s decision to have an abortion is immoral. My guess is he would say no, because a woman’s choice on this matter is sacrosanct, and she is the highest and exclusive authority when it comes to deciding when, whether and how to end the life of her child, so long as it meets the arbitrary distinction of still being inside of her at the time. Or maybe he at least follows Singer in allowing for some time after birth as well.

To put this in perspective: on the one hand we have Richard Dawkins, who apparently defends the morality of abortion whenever a woman damn well pleases, but who sometimes thinks abortion is in fact morally obligatory. On the other hand we have PZ Myers, who instead believes that a woman can do whatever she wants in this case, ‘humanity’ be damned. There is little to cheer here.

Now, one may point out that, at the very least, Myers would apparently argue that children with Down Syndrome are – if their mothers, in their mercy, decide not to obliterate them – still ‘human’, and possibly owed some moral consideration after their birth and in light of that fact. In response to that, I’d like to quote William J Murray:

PZ makes the exact same mistake Dawkins makes; he exhorts an objective moral value even while he denies they exist:

(…)

To claim that an act is in itself immoral necessarily refers to some form of objective morality. You cannot say what is moral or immoral for others to do if morality is indeed subjective; only the individual can say what is moral for themselves.

No one can argue or act as if morality is subjective. To insist that it is subjective is the height of foolishness.

I think Murray is right about this. And I likewise think it follows that if Murray is right, then we can ill afford to give either Dawkins or Myers praise for (at best) mistakenly fumbling their way towards the most meager example of a good moral choice that may be in line with an objective morality. Instead, we should remind both of them – they gave up moral language worth caring about in their embrace of not just atheism, but a materialistic atheism, for which (despite Sam Harris’ cries to the contrary) room does not exist for a meaningful morality.

Myers is not on the side of angels. Myers, at absolute best, is on the side of Myers, or whatever subjectively pleases Myers at this moment. Let’s not, even for a moment, pretend it can be otherwise. A materialist atheism does not allow for anything more than that.

45 Replies to “Myers and Dawkins: A pox on both their houses

  1. 1
    News says:

    It’s not so much Myers is on the side of the angels (but you should see his logo at ScienceBlogs, in case anyone missed it*)

    If anyone is even so much as “not shouting for the death of” a person with Down syndrome as a matter of moral necessity, these days one must consider it a victory.

    * http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....hresholds/

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Contrary to what Dawkins, Myers, and other atheists would like to claim, each human being is, by all rights from what we ‘scientifically’ know, a miracle from God.

    One Body – animation – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDMLq6eqEM4

    Introduction to Cells – Anatomy – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFuEo2ccTPA

    The Miracle of Development Part 1 – Origins with Dr. Paul A. Nelson – video – April 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD9qMvz6T90

    “Open any textbook on embryonic development and you will find the language of wonder and astonishment”
    Paul Nelson – paraphrase

    Although many complex steps involved in embryonic development are elucidated in textbooks, as to how a single fertilized cell of over a billion protein molecules turns into a human of trillions of cells, at roughly a billion trillion protein molecules total, nobody, and I repeat NOBODY, has a solid clue as to how this ‘miracle’, (and I am not using that word lightly), is actually pulled off.

    HOW BIOLOGISTS LOST SIGHT OF THE MEANING OF LIFE — AND ARE NOW STARING IT IN THE FACE – Stephen L. Talbott – May 2012
    Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,,
    Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling… and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained.
    The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?”
    The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary.
    Two systems biologists, one from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany and one from Harvard Medical School, frame one part of the problem this way:
    “The human body is formed by trillions of individual cells. These cells work together with remarkable precision, first forming an adult organism out of a single fertilized egg, and then keeping the organism alive and functional for decades. To achieve this precision, one would assume that each individual cell reacts in a reliable, reproducible way to a given input, faithfully executing the required task. However, a growing number of studies investigating cellular processes on the level of single cells revealed large heterogeneity even among genetically identical cells of the same cell type. (Loewer and Lahav 2011)”,,,
    And then we hear that all this meaningful activity is, somehow, meaningless or a product of meaninglessness. This, I believe, is the real issue troubling the majority of the American populace when they are asked about their belief in evolution. They see one thing and then are told, more or less directly, that they are really seeing its denial. Yet no one has ever explained to them how you get meaning from meaninglessness — a difficult enough task once you realize that we cannot articulate any knowledge of the world at all except in the language of meaning.,,,
    http://www.netfuture.org/2012/May1012_184.html#2

    Talbott is certainly not alone in his assessment;

    Epigenetics and the “Piano” Metaphor – January 2012
    Excerpt: And this is only the construction of proteins we’re talking about. It leaves out of the picture entirely the higher-level components — tissues, organs, the whole body plan that draws all the lower-level stuff together into a coherent, functioning form. What we should really be talking about is not a lone piano but a vast orchestra under the directing guidance of an unknown conductor fulfilling an artistic vision, organizing and transcending the music of the assembly of individual players.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....54731.html

    Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70

    Mathematician Alexander Tsiaras on Human Development: “It’s a Mystery, It’s Magic, It’s Divinity” – March 2012
    Excerpt: ‘The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us. It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.’
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....57741.html

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Alexander Tsiaras is not exaggerating the wonder being dealt with in embryological development in the least. The complexity being constructed is simply ‘beyond belief’:

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 2012
    Excerpt: “This is bad news. Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.”,,,
    Even with shortcuts like averaging, “any possible technological advance is overwhelmed by the relentless growth of interactions among all components of the system,” Koch said. “It is not feasible to understand evolved organisms by exhaustively cataloging all interactions in a comprehensive, bottom-up manner.” He described the concept of the Complexity Brake:,,,
    “Allen and Greaves recently introduced the metaphor of a “complexity brake” for the observation that fields as diverse as neuroscience and cancer biology have proven resistant to facile predictions about imminent practical applications. Improved technologies for observing and probing biological systems has only led to discoveries of further levels of complexity that need to be dealt with. This process has not yet run its course. We are far away from understanding cell biology, genomes, or brains, and turning this understanding into practical knowledge.”,,,
    to read more go here:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    In fact, just to coherently explain how a single protein folds, much less how a billion trillion protein molecules come together into a human body, is something that is beyond explanation:

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

    Thus, despite the sheer hubris of Darwinists to declare that they morally know who gets to live and who gets to die before they are even born (and sometimes even after they are born, P. Singer), the fact of the matter is that the complexity being dealt with in molecular biology is far, far, beyond anything man has ever encountered before, and is certainly far from being understood,,,, much less are Darwinists anywhere close to giving us a rational explanation as to how that unfathomable complexity, of how a single cell can turn into trillions of cells functioning as a single cohesive whole, came about.

    Thus, despite what Darwinists dogmatically claim to the contrary as to the ‘expendability’ of unborn babies when it is inconvenient, the plain truth of the matter is that everyone of us, no matter how pretty, ugly, smart or dumb, are fearfully and wonderfully made by God:

    Verse and Music:

    Psalms 139:14-15
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

    MercyMe – Beautiful
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vh7-RSPuAA

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    News,

    If anyone is even so much as “not shouting for the death of” a person with Down syndrome as a matter of moral necessity, these days one must consider it a victory.

    I disagree. Especially when Myers is, as near as I can tell, arguing against the moral necessity of killing people with Down Syndrome due to the moral necessity of abortion freedom uber alles.

    Think about it this way: if a woman decides to kill her unborn child because she has Down Syndrome and she personally considers it a moral necessity to do so, given what he’s said, Myers has no problem with that and doesn’t think she did anything wrong. His problem is with telling her she has a moral obligation, or pressuring her.

    Think about it another way: if one person said there’s a moral obligation to abort the handicapped, but another person said that’s ridiculous because there are no moral obligations at all, would that be a victory? (Yes, I know, Myers isn’t making that claim. It’s a comparison, for any onlooker itching for a contradiction.)

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    supplemental notes:

    Twin fetuses learn how to be social in the womb – October 13, 2010
    Excerpt: Humans have a deep-seated urge to be social, and new research on the interactions of twins in the womb suggests this begins even before babies are born.,,,
    The five pairs of twins were found to be reaching for each other even at 14 weeks, and making a range of contacts including head to head, arm to head and head to arm. By the time they were at 18 weeks, they touched each other more often than they touched their own bodies, spending up to 30 percent of their time reaching out and stroking their co-twin.,,,
    Kinematic analyses of the recordings showed the fetuses made distinct gestures when touching each other, and movements lasted longer — their hands lingered. They also took as much care when touching their twin’s delicate eye region as they did with their own. This type of contact was not the same as the inevitable contact between two bodies sharing a confined space or accidental contacts between the bodies and the walls of the uterus,,,
    The findings clearly demonstrate it is deep within human nature to reach out to other people.
    http://phys.org/news/206164323.....-womb.html

    Of note: the same caring, loving, touch from the baby towards its twin is found when the baby strokes the mother’s uterine wall:

    Wired to Be Social: The Ontogeny of Human Interaction – 2010
    Excerpt: Kinematic analysis revealed that movement duration was longer and deceleration time was prolonged for other-directed movements compared to movements directed towards the uterine wall. Similar kinematic profiles were observed for movements directed towards the co-twin and self-directed movements aimed at the eye-region, i.e. the most delicate region of the body.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0013199

    the following study, completely contrary to what atheists/materialists would presuppose beforehand, shows that morality is embedded in reality on a much deeper ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, quantum level than they would expect.

    Quantum Consciousness – Time Flies Backwards? – Stuart Hameroff MD
    Excerpt: Dean Radin and Dick Bierman have performed a number of experiments of emotional response in human subjects. The subjects view a computer screen on which appear (at randomly varying intervals) a series of images, some of which are emotionally neutral, and some of which are highly emotional (violent, sexual….). In Radin and Bierman’s early studies, skin conductance of a finger was used to measure physiological response They found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared! Recently Professor Bierman (University of Amsterdam) repeated these experiments with subjects in an fMRI brain imager and found emotional responses in brain activity up to 4 seconds before the stimuli. Moreover he looked at raw data from other laboratories and found similar emotional responses before stimuli appeared.
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....Flies.html

    There is simply no coherent explanation that a materialist/atheist can give as to why morally troubling situations are detected prior to our becoming fully aware of them or before they even happen. The materialist/atheist simply has no beyond space and time cause to appeal to explain why this phenomena should happen!

    Whereas as a Theist, especially as a Christian Theist who believes that the Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again to pay for our moral transgressions against God’s moral perfection, i.e. paid for our sins, I would fully expect that ‘objective’ morality would have such a deep, and ‘spooky’, beyond space and time effect since, of course, I hold that God, who is morally perfect, upholds the universe in its continued existence, and since I also hold that we have ‘transcendent souls’, created by God, ‘in His image’, that are able to sense the perfect objective morality of God.

    A few more notes:

    Autistic Savant Stephen Wiltshire Draws the City Of Rome From Memory – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVqRT_kCOLI

    Derek Paravicini on 60 MINUTES – Autistic Savant – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NVW3-5V9SQ

    Kim Peek – The Real Rain Man – mega-savant – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wjgMtNF3Ms

    Is Integer Arithmetic Fundamental to Mental Processing?: The mind’s secret arithmetic
    Excerpt: Because normal children struggle to learn multiplication and division, it is surprising that some savants perform integer arithmetic calculations mentally at “lightning” speeds (Treffert 1989, Myers 1903, Hill 1978, Smith 1983, Sacks 1985, Hermelin and O’Connor 1990, Welling 1994, Sullivan 1992). They do so unconsciously, without any apparent training, typically without being able to report on their methods, and often at an age when the normal child is struggling with elementary arithmetic concepts (O’Connor 1989). Examples include multiplying, factoring, dividing and identifying primes of six (and more) digits in a matter of seconds as well as specifying the number of objects (more than one hundred) at a glance. For example, one savant (Hill 1978) could give the cube root of a six figure number in 5 seconds and he could double 8,388,628 twenty four times to obtain 140,737,488,355,328 in several seconds. Joseph (Sullivan 1992), the inspiration for the film “Rain Man” about an autistic savant, could spontaneously answer “what number times what number gives 1234567890” by stating “9 times 137,174,210”. Sacks (1985) observed autistic twins who could exchange prime numbers in excess of eight figures, possibly even 20 figures, and who could “see” the number of many objects at a glance. When a box of 111 matches fell to the floor the twins cried out 111 and 37, 37, 37.
    http://www.centreforthemind.co.....hmetic.cfm

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    also of note:

    Although the girl in the following videos was written off as hopelessly retarded by everyone who saw her (and would have been killed for her own good by Dawkins and by Myers, if the mother would have allowed, although I wonder if even they, besides just hypothetically talking about killing an unborn baby, would be so callous as to actually pull off the act of pulling a baby out of the womb and killing it as Grosnell did), reveal that there was/is indeed a gentle intelligence, a “me”, a “soul’, within Carly that was/is trapped within her body. And that that “me” was/is unable to express herself properly to others because of her neurological disorder.

    Severely Handicapped Girl Suddenly Expresses Intelligence At Age 11 – very moving video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZVV4Ciccg

    A bit deeper, more personal, glimpse as to what it feels like to be autistic is here:

    Carly’s Café – Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmDGvquzn2k

    I like the following video in which Carly, who was written off as hopelessly retarded by everyone who knew her, explains to a panel of astonished doctors why autistic people ‘stem’:

    Carly’s Voice – Never Give Up! – What is Stemming? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2BocHlD1eM

  7. 7
    vjtorley says:

    Hi nullasalus,

    Interesting post. If you’re going to criticize PZ Myers’ moral code, however, you’d better get his position right. You quote William J. Murray as claiming that Myers doesn’t believe in objective morality. In that case, you might like to read this post:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/ph.....ty-gotcha/

    In his post, Myers claims to believe in an “objective humanist morality,” based on four rules:

    1. In order for an action to be morally good, it has to be in someone’s interest.

    2. If one or more of the parties participating in an action does not consent, then the action is bad by default.

    3. Actions that cause harm to others should be avoided.

    4. Actions that are socially stigmatized should be heavily restrained, if they are performed at all.

    PZ Myers contends that although these rules are not absolute or invariable, they are nonetheless objective rules, and not just feelings. As he puts it: “It is not a subjective morality; I do not reject torture of toddlers or anyone else because I think it is icky (although, of course, I do), but because it breaks my moral code.” So when you write: “Myers, at absolute best, is on the side of Myers, or whatever subjectively pleases Myers at this moment,” I think you are being somewhat unfair to his true position.

    That said, I think Myers would do well to read John Finnis’ Natural Law and Natural Rights. Strangely, Myers appears to think that theists get their moral code simply from reading the Bible.

  8. 8
    nullasalus says:

    VJ Torley,

    If you’re going to criticize PZ Myers’ moral code, however, you’d better get his position right.

    I do get his position right, because ‘his position’ is determined in large part by his metaphysical commitments. He’s an atheist and a materialist – once you’ve got that in the hopper, what you’re able to get is largely determined. Myers may disagree, but I’m not concerned with his simple disagree, but his arguments.

    I’ll drop the temptation to point out the contradictions present real and possible in Myers’ list, and go to the heart of the matter on that front: the ability to come up with a list, even a personal moral code, does not establish a belief in objective morality. People seem to forget that even avowed nihilists can come up with rules they will follow – those rules will be arbitrary, but they will still be rules.

    Further, even the quote you supply from Myers doesn’t do much to deflect things. He says ‘this isn’t subjective, it’s my moral code’? Does he not realize that a moral code doesn’t become objective by default? Let him say his moral code is objective. Then let’s hear what makes it objective. I think you’re going to find that the only way he makes any headway on that point is by redefining both or either ‘morality’ or ‘objective’ until its distance from a subjective morality is opaque.

    Myers’ moral code is yet another thing that pleases him at the moment. If his code leads to a conclusion he dislikes (For instance, if people don’t want to pay for abortions funded by the state, which would seem to violate 2, or at the least make forcing them to pay taxes to fund abortion ‘bad by default’), then the code will change.

  9. 9
    Barb says:

    If a baby with Down syndrome should be aborted, does Dawkins think that Stephen Hawking’s mother should have also aborted him? Is motor neuron disease worse than Down syndrome? Why or why not?

  10. 10

    In his post, Myers claims to believe in an “objective humanist morality,” based on four rules:

    In that post Meyers doesn’t even explain how his list is “objective”. Does he think that just writing it down makes it “objective”? He just calls it “objective”. Perhaps he should call it compatibilist objective morality.

  11. 11

    Most atheist/materialists are loathe to admit the ramifications of subjective morality. One wonders, why does Meyers even bother trying to counter the theist argument that materialist morality is subjective? Why does it trouble him that his morality is just whatever happens to suit him?

    Laughably, all it takes for Meyers to find a comfortable zone of self-deceit is to simply insert the word “objective”, with absolutely no explanation or support, before the words “humanist morality” and he’s satisfied.

  12. 12
    velikovskys says:


    Wjm:

    In that post Meyers doesn’t even explain how his list is “objective”. Does he think that just writing it down makes it “objective”? He just calls it “objective”

    Perhaps he thinks it is based on self evident truths

  13. 13
    Acartia_bogart says:

    WJM: “One wonders, why does Meyers even bother trying to counter the theist argument that materialist morality is subjective?”

    Morality has always been subjective, even amongst Christians. Many states have the death penalty, usually in states with strong Christian roots) and some don’t. The Catholic Church is opposed to birth control but turn a blind eye to it.

    The biggies, killing, stealing and lying are societal, not religious. In fact, the vast majority of our morals are society driven (necessary). They may vary from one culture to another, but not fundamentally.

  14. 14
    nullasalus says:

    veliovskys,

    Perhaps he thinks it is based on self evident truths

    Perhaps he does. Let him make that argument, and we can then have a nice little discussion about what could possibly ground those truths or how to explain them.

    As it stands, at least based on what’s provided here, he hasn’t even done that much.

    Acartia,

    Morality has always been subjective, even amongst Christians.

    So much for Myers’ “objective morality” claim then, eh?

    By the by – disagreement about a matter does not suffice to make the actual fact of a matter subjective.

    The biggies, killing, stealing and lying are societal, not religious.

    According to who? And since when? And what does this have to do with anything?

    I’m not interested in following you down a philosophical rabbit hole you’re ill-equipped to navigate. Myers saying “My morality isn’t subjective – I have rules!” doesn’t make his morality objective. If he’s offered a defense of his view that establishes it as objective, offer it. If you don’t think he does, then just admit Myers’ morality is objective and step aside.

  15. 15

    AB:

    The question is not if humans perceive and interpret morality subjectively, of course we do. We perceive and interpret everything subjectively.

    The question is whether or not what we are perceiving and interpreting subjectively is itself objectively existent or subjective in nature.

    If morality is itself subjective, then we have no moral responsibility and can do whatever we want, and all “enforcement” of moral values is simply a case of might makes right. It is only if morality is itself an objective commodity that carries with it necessary (inescapable) consequences that morality is anything worth debating or caring about.

  16. 16
    Acartia_bogart says:

    N: “”The biggies, killing, stealing and lying are societal, not religious.

    According to who? And since when? And what does this have to do with anything?”

    These have been observed to be essentially universal amongst different societies. Even cultures that practiced human sacrifices did so in a ritualistic fashion and did not condone it on an individual basis.

    Nobody argues that humans don’t benefit by living in communities. Successful communities develop behaviours and rules that maximize these benefits. Those that develop behaviours and rules that are deleterious to community living to not survive.

    Whether this means that morals are objective, I can’t say. Maybe their are other rules that work just as well.

  17. 17

    AB said:

    These have been observed to be essentially universal amongst different societies. Even cultures that practiced human sacrifices did so in a ritualistic fashion and did not condone it on an individual basis.

    Nobody argues that humans don’t benefit by living in communities. Successful communities develop behaviours and rules that maximize these benefits. Those that develop behaviours and rules that are deleterious to community living to not survive.

    Whether this means that morals are objective, I can’t say. Maybe their are other rules that work just as well.

    1. Can you direct me to a definition of “morality” that supports your implication that it is about “maximizing social benefits”?

    2. What benefits are you talking about? That’s a pretty vague term. Can you be more specific?

  18. 18
    Moose Dr says:

    The morality of abortion is not scientific. The morality of abortion is morality by popular opinion. If the scientific community knew how to honestly look at the data, they would be standing four-square against abortion. The fact that they don’t proves that they look at their science through the filter of popular opinion. This, of course, is the core problem being addressed by the ID community.

  19. 19
    nullasalus says:

    Acartia,

    These have been observed to be essentially universal amongst different societies. Even cultures that practiced human sacrifices did so in a ritualistic fashion and did not condone it on an individual basis.

    What does the condoning of a culture have to do with anything? And how many of those cultures, when they did have such restraints, did so with reference to religious rules? How many of them violated those rules repeatedly?

    Nobody argues that humans don’t benefit by living in communities. Successful communities develop behaviours and rules that maximize these benefits. Those that develop behaviours and rules that are deleterious to community living to not survive.

    Actually, I do argue that, because I want to know what you mean by ‘benefit’. Objectively better or worse? According to what standard? I generally know what my objective judgments of ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ are, what grounds them, etc, if I am in fact right. Where do you ground your ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’? You get the same problem that you got with morality.

    Will you take a show of hands? Please do. We’ll retroactively justify a whole lot of things that way – and the standard still won’t be grounded in anything more than popular appeal. One more version of might makes right.

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    2. If one or more of the parties participating in an action does not consent, then the action is bad by default.

    So abortion is bad.

    3. Actions that cause harm to others should be avoided.

    Abortion should be avoided.

    Myers seems to accept harm to self is somehow different from harm to others and vice versa.

    He also doesn’t seem to grasp the difference between good/evil and right/wrong.

  21. 21
    lpadron says:

    VJT,
    I’m probably totally off here but in what sense is Myers’ moral code objective? How can it be?

  22. 22
    Dr JDD says:

    Why is there observed centrality and commoness to different societies in what they deem right and wrong? THIS is the question you should be asking A_B and other atheists. Seriously, think about it. Why is there such common agreement despite randomness, chaos and disorder? This makes no sense in the framework of evolution.

    However, the Judeo-Christian worldview clearly says that a moral code is imprinted on the hearts and minds of mankind. The inherent moral code only makes sense in a worldview that can explain why we see this. Anyone who is truly honest with evolution and it’s implications cannot escape the fact that such a unity of morality across societies is not expected.

  23. 23
    Acartia_bogart says:

    N: “Actually, I do argue that, because I want to know what you mean by ‘benefit’.”

    Increase the probability of survival and producing viable offspring. Now that I have defined benefit, please define morality. Is it absolute or is it conditional and open to subjective interpretation? Is killing always immoral? Is stealing always immoral? Are there some things that are more immoral than others? Is actively preventing the implantation of a fertilized ovum in a uterus immoral? Is lying always immoral? Is having pre-marital sex immoral? Is homosexuality immoral? Is assisted suicide immoral? Is suicide itself immoral?

    I suspect that if you survey ten people, you will get ten different answers. Does that mean that morality is subjective?

    Right and wrong will always be a personal decision that is affected by societal pressures. In any society, an overall consensus of right and wrong is agreed upon, even if it is not codified in laws and documented rules. There will always be sociopaths in society because, in small numbers, they can thrive. But no society can survive if the majority are sociopaths.

  24. 24

    I see that, when challenged, AB offers no support for his “social benefit” definition of morality. He/she just plucks whatever meaning he/she feels like, and keeps repeating the same materialist mantras over and over. Such mantras make it easy for his ilk to deceive themselves with emotional pleading and denialism instead of actually applying critical thought to their worldview.

    If right and wrong are always a personal decision, then there’s nothing innately wrong with torturing children for personal pleasure, and if a person feels it is good, then it is good, in the only sense that anything can be good.

    For the materialist, it all boils down to might makes right.

  25. 25
    nullasalus says:

    Acartia,

    Increase the probability of survival and producing viable offspring. Now that I have defined benefit, please define morality.

    Not so fast.

    All you defined there was an outcome. You gave me nothing – nada, nyet – as far as determining whether those outcomes were morally good or bad, just or not.

    And you’re not going to be able to on a materialist atheist metaphysics.

    I suspect that if you survey ten people, you will get ten different answers. Does that mean that morality is subjective?

    Nope. Why in the world would you think so?

    Right and wrong will always be a personal decision that is affected by societal pressures.

    Not at all. No more than what is or isn’t any other kind of fact will ‘always be a personal decision that is affected by societal pressures’, despite people’s views and opinions about, say, scientific topics, varying often times from person to person.

    Either way, Murray is correct. It’s right back to ‘might makes right’, and permutations thereof. So what’s wrong with calling a spade a spade here? Wait, I asked about a ‘wrong’. Will you be backing up your view with might?

  26. 26
    Mung says:

    Myers deserves no praise for his opposition to Dawkins on the issue of the morality of (mandatory) aborting children with Down Syndrome

    Why don’t you say something I can disagree with? =P

    Someone the other day questioned why we have such a focus here at UD on atheism and materialism.

    Could it be because they provide the best examples of wrong-headed thinking, self-contradiction, cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy?

    And it is from this stance that the primary objections to ID seem to surface, so it’s quite relevant to the purpose of this site (imo).

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    We remind man that there is no lawmaker other than himself.

    – Jean Paul Sartre

  28. 28
    KRock says:

    Excellent post nullasalus.

    Myers is looking at his “self proclaimed” objective moral code in the same mannar that Sam Harris’s tried to lay out in his book, “The Moral Landscape,” where everyone has their own private objective moral code.

    Imagine everyone having their own private language and demanding that people listen to them, it just doesn’t follow. Even Micheal Ruse has said that Harris’s book is, and I quote, “of little value.”

  29. 29
    velikovskys says:

    Null,
    Perhaps he does. Let him make that argument, and we can then have a nice little discussion about what could possibly ground those truths or how to explain them.

    As I understand it, the fact that they are self evident is sufficient to assume objectivity. After all if something is self evident to all non psychopaths, it is essentially objective to humans.

    The introduction of a subjective divine Lawgiver seems to introduce into morality non self evident truths as moral truths. For instance, it does not seem self evidently true that it is right for any intelligent agent to drown children for the actions of their parents.

  30. 30
    Joe says:

    Strange that many people who want to be pro-choice deny the existence of free will.

  31. 31
    jstanley01 says:

    Strange that so many Christians who say they believe that abortion is murder are offering the murderers counseling instead of lobbying for their prosecution and punishment under law.

    If abortion is murder, then logically every women who has an abortion ought to be prosecuted on the exact same legal basis as mothers who commit infanticide or child homicide.

    If not then why not? Logically, please.

  32. 32
    Dr JDD says:

    JStanley – it is very clear that you do not understand much of the Christian faith and certainly have not read or understood the Bible.

  33. 33
    nullasalus says:

    veil,

    As I understand it, the fact that they are self evident is sufficient to assume objectivity. After all if something is self evident to all non psychopaths, it is essentially objective to humans.

    And you can tell they’re psychopaths because they reject such things. 😉

    As I said – let Myers make that argument if he wishes. Then we can go on and have a nice conversation about self-evident truths, what explanation they can be of them, how to possibly ground them, etc.

    jstanley,

    If not then why not? Logically, please.

    ‘Guys guys wait a second if Christians think murder should be punishable by law then why are there Christians who minister to murderers in prison huh? CHECK AND MATE.’

  34. 34
    Upright BiPed says:

    I’m glad to se nullasalus posting here again. The more the better, I say…

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    It’s rather humorous, to me at least, to see the charge that UD is an “echo chamber.”

    That’s never been my experience here.

    And it’s these differences of opinion that are entertained here and discussed here that continue to make this site worth visiting.

    I agree with UPB @34.

  36. 36
    anthropic says:

    Null 33

    Actually, Christians believe that every human being past the age of accountability deserves death, because every human being has sinned. The wages of sin is death, you know. All have sinned and fallen short.

    Maybe you’ve heard?

    Jesus also made it quite clear that when we curse someone, we are murdering them in our spirit. When we lust, we are committing adultery in our hearts.

    So while Christians stand up for the defenseless unborn, they also understand that most folks who abort do not fully understand that the fetus is a real human being. After all, materialists keep telling them that it’s not a human being, so it’s not murder.

    Christians such as my wife do counseling both to women who are considering abortion and to those who heeded the advice of “progressive” folks and killed their baby in the womb. Despite the drumbeat of materialist rationalizations, many find that their conscience bothers them after the fact. That’s where forgiveness comes in, from God and from the self.

  37. 37
    velikovskys says:

    null:
    And you can tell they’re psychopaths because they reject such things.

    Catch 22

  38. 38
    velikovskys says:

    jstanley01:

    Strange that so many Christians who say they believe that abortion is murder are offering the murderers counseling instead of lobbying for their prosecution and punishment under law.

    To be fair,potential murderers and many Christians are doing whatever they can to eliminate the choice of a legal abortion.

    anthropic:

    Actually, Christians believe that every human being past the age of accountability deserves death, because every human being has sinned. The wages of sin is death, you know. All have sinned and fallen short.

    Lots of children die before the age of accountability, therefore they committed no sins, and since you believe death is punishment, how is the punishment of the innocent with death justified?

  39. 39
    Dr JDD says:

    veilikovskys @38

    Lots of children die before the age of accountability, therefore they committed no sins, and since you believe death is punishment, how is the punishment of the innocent with death justified?

    This is a good point and one that non-Christians always stumble upon. This is due to two things:
    1) misunderstanding what “death” is in its truest most ultimate sense
    2) lack of comprehension of “absence from the body” in the material sense

    WRT #1: it is quite clear that the passage cited (Rom 6:23) in context is referring to “apart from the mortal body”, i.e. in spiritual terms. The Bible also teaches that a physical death and separation from God is the normal route for those who are found with sin. The term death can be used for both but has separate meaning (i.e. contrasted to eternal life wtih God). It is appointed to man to die once, and all humans will die a physical death (well, most, depending on your eschatological view). We deserve a physical death because of sin but also a spiritual one. So that is the distinction – one might die a physical death before an age of accountability however they may then have eternal life (as their sin ‘nature’ inherited through humaness is covered by Jesus’ sacrifice).

    WRT #2: this is the perspective that is infinitely misunderstood. If one has a perspective that this life is all there is, then yes, this seems absurd and cruel and horrible and hard to rationalise with a God. However when you consider eternity, and existing in a perfected spiritual state (with a “resurrected body”) then the two cannot be compared. As Paul said, to live is Christ to die is gain. That outweighs any suffering or cruelity that exists in this physical life, with this mortal body.

    But all my atheistic friends find this absurd and cannot grasp it – because in their mindset this life is all there is and the best experience you can have. It is a completely different perspective and without that faith and hope, I can understand why people do not understand this perspective.

  40. 40
    velikovskys says:

    Jdd,
    The term death can be used for both but has separate meaning (i.e. contrasted to eternal life wtih God).

    I am familiar with that concept as a result of twelve years of Catholic education.

    It is appointed to man to die once, and all humans will die a physical death (well, most, depending on your eschatological view). We deserve a physical death because of sin but also a spiritual one.

    So those children in the womb are not by any means innocent, they are guilty of sin and already condemned to death. In some cases that death can be accompanied by excruciating pain before they even reach the age of exercising their free will.

    So that is the distinction – one might die a physical death before an age of accountability however they may then have eternal life (as their sin ‘nature’ inherited through humaness is covered by Jesus’ sacrifice).

    Too bad that sacrifice could not help the physical death issue, now that would be convincing.

    If one has a perspective that this life is all there is, then yes, this seems absurd and cruel and horrible and hard to rationalise with a God

    That depends on which subjective God one chooses, but for a God which values human life would be absurd and cruel even with the eventual reward.

    That outweighs any suffering or cruelity that exists in this physical life, with this mortal body.

    Then life is even more pointless than with an atheistic view. At least for atheist,life is valuable because of its uniqueness, your view makes it akin to someone slamming your hand in a car door repeatedly then expecting gratitude when they stop.

    It is a completely different perspective and without that faith and hope, I can understand why people do not understand this perspective.

    Yes because it sounds like rationalization, life would be absurd without an afterlife,therefore there is an afterlife.

    Thanks for the interesting thoughts

  41. 41
    KRock says:

    @ velikovskys #40

    “Too bad that sacrifice could not help the physical death issue, now that would be convincing.”

    It did! Jesus’ death was a physical resurrection, not a spiritual one. And so every Christian will likewise have their own bodily resurrection, (Romans 8:23).

  42. 42
    Dr JDD says:

    @ velikovskys:

    Thanks for your comments. I can sympathise with much of what you say as from human logic. Without any supernatural revelation that I could trust I would largely come to similar conclusions as yourself. That is where our worldviews no doubt part: I believe, through careful examination, that the Bible is the inerrant revealed Word of God. Penned by men through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It in fact makes that claim, therefore examining that claim is important. I would encourage you to do that yourself over accepting “indoctrination” from others.

    So those children in the womb are not by any means innocent, they are guilty of sin and already condemned to death. In some cases that death can be accompanied by excruciating pain before they even reach the age of exercising their free will.

    Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

    Too bad that sacrifice could not help the physical death issue, now that would be convincing.

    Romans 5:12 – “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned”
    I Corinthians 15:22 – “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
    Romans 6:4-10 – “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”

    That depends on which subjective God one chooses, but for a God which values human life would be absurd and cruel even with the eventual reward.

    See above, Romans 8:18 and others. Jesus was apparently perfect and without sin. Yet He had to suffer and die. Until you embrace Rom 8:18 then physical death and pain will not make sense. This is one of my original points, people cannot fathom how unimaginably greater the second life and second physical body will be in comparison to this one.

    Yes because it sounds like rationalization, life would be absurd without an afterlife,therefore there is an afterlife.

    Actually, the rationalist argument would be without any evidence of an afterlife, it is a mere fanciful unbased hope to make us feel better about death and dying. You could argue a soul could exist and consciousness could remain, but there is no rational reason to assume that except one based on our own hope and none of us have been there. Except Jesus, who died and rose again and appeared to humans. So the question is whether you believe that actually happened, and also whether you believe that the Bible is God’s Word and revelation to humans. That is what it hinges on – if you believe that (and I personally think the evidence is overwhelmingly strong for it) then you have a logical reason for accepting an afterlife, both good and bad. If we have no revelation from someone who has died and come back to life and been there, or from someone in that domain of life (if it exists) then we are only basing it on our own fanciful hopes. So it comes down to how you view Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ and His historic veracity.

    In fact, the whole (true) Christian faith is completely illogical and differs from all other systems of religion in a fundamental way, which adds weight it is not of man. The whole of true Christianity is founded on the fact that mankind are all born sinners, they cannot acheive the level that is required of them to enter into God’s presence, and need a Saviour who is God Himself to take penalty for wrong doing and unholiness, to impute holiness upon them and die a spiritual death to be made new and have the capabilities of doing right/”good”. Every other religion including the false ones branching out from Christianity all say that you need to do something and you need to acheive in order to be good enough. That is man’s system – we can be good enough to reach God. However the Bible teaches the opposite, a stumbling block to the Jew [religious] and foolishness to the Greek [wise of the age].

    Isaiah 55:8 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

  43. 43
    Silver Asiatic says:

    #40 velikovskys

    So those children in the womb are not by any means innocent, they are guilty of sin and already condemned to death. In some cases that death can be accompanied by excruciating pain before they even reach the age of exercising their free will.

    You’re assuming a few things here:
    1. Pain is totally meaningless and is something that everyone, universally, would always choose to avoid
    2. Since pain is meaningless and cannot have a good purpose, nobody would ever desire to suffer it.
    3. If an innocent person experienced pain, that would always be an injustice
    4. Nobody could be grateful for having experienced pain, whether it was a just-punishment or received in innocence.
    5. The experience of temporal pain is so horrendous, that there is nothing that could ever compensate for it. There is no reward that could ever justify the endurance of pain.
    6. The fact that a person has been created – brought into existence, carries with it no obligations. It carries expectations, privileges, demands and rights – but no obligation of gratitude for having been created at all.

    You’ve had Catholic education, so that’s good. To get some insights, I’d suggest a review of the lives of the saints, especially martyrs. There are hundreds of them – and the key topic you’ll find in them is an understanding of pain. You’ll also find a lot of innocence also. People who suffered lots of pain and yet were innocent. You’ll notice a certain attitude towards pain in the saints also. This will go against most of the assumptions I listed above. I’ll suggest also the theology of the cross and what that means.

    At least for atheist, life is valuable because of its uniqueness, your view makes it akin to someone slamming your hand in a car door repeatedly then expecting gratitude when they stop.

    I don’t see how atheism indicates that life is unique and therefore has value. In that view, life is accidental. It’s available in countless forms and has no value over non-living matter.

    However, if life is a gift from God and is designed for an eternity of happiness after a brief time on earth — then it obviously has huge value. Since each person is loved individually, it’s not only life that is unique – but each individual person.

    But regarding the slamming of the hand, could you explain that further and how you arrived at that analogy? I’m not following that part. From the statement: “As Paul said, to live is Christ to die is gain” where did you get the idea that God tortures people pointlessly?

  44. 44
    tjguy says:

    @ velikovsky

    Lots of children die before the age of accountability, therefore they committed no sins, and since you believe death is punishment, how is the punishment of the innocent with death justified?

    JDD did a good job responding, but I would add that there really are NO innocent people anywhere. The Bible says that we have all sinned. In some way, we are all responsible for the sin of Adam. So there are two types of sin – original sin and sin that we commit ourselves. Because we all sinned “in Adam”, we are all sinners and born with a sin nature separated from God. We are God’s enemies from birth. We are not born with a clean slate that later on becomes corrupted by poor moral choices.

    So when any of us suffers from the effects of the ‘curse’ that resulted from Adam’s sin, no one can claim to be purely innocent, even those under the age of accountability.

    Plus, even if their sin is not held against them because of their ignorance or the age of accountability, they still did sin and are so are not truly innocent.

    People like to claim they are innocent and do not deserve the bad things that happen to them, but they forget that no one is innocent. We are all born as sinners deserving the righteous wrath of God against that sin. Failing to understand this is a big reason that many have rejected God as a “big meanie in the sky”. Even their life is a gift from God that they do not deserve! If we really got what we deserve, we would all be eternally condemned because we have all sinned. No one earns eternal life. We have earned death. Eternal life can only be received as a gift of God’s grace.

  45. 45
    velikovskys says:

    “Too bad that sacrifice could not help the physical death issue, now that would be convincing.”

    It did! Jesus’ death was a physical resurrection, not a spiritual one. And so every Christian will likewise have their own bodily resurrection, (Romans 8:23).

    It is just our bad luck we are not God.

Leave a Reply