Intelligent Design

RDFish is an Idiot

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In my last post I challenged materialists to answer the following challenge:

Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

My challenge to materialists was to show how any of the conclusions I’ve reached based on materialist premises are not in fact compelled by those premises.

RDFish responded with a comment you can read for yourself (comment 23), the gist of which was “normal people agree that evil things are evil.” RDFish’s response is stupefyingly idiotic. I felt dumber for having read it. It obviously begs the question. But more importantly for my purposes, RDFish ran away from the question posed in the OP and tried desperately to change the subject.

Why did RDFish not simply respond to the OP? Simple. Because the question posed is unanswerable.

I answered RDFish harshly (comments 29 and 45). If you are going to come onto these pages to debate the issues, a certain level of good faith is required. When you beg the question; avoid the question posed in the OP; and try to change the subject, expect to be called on it, sometimes quite harshly.

RDFish seems to be laboring under the assumption that I was defending objectivism. I don’t know why he should think that, because I never said a single word about that subject. The OP is about the logical conclusions compelled by metaphysical premises. Whether those premises are warranted (I don’t believe they are) is an argument for another day.

The point of the OP is to get reductive materialists to admit that they don’t get to use words like “morally wrong,” “evil,” “bad,” “immoral,” or “wicked,” in any sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain.” Until the reductive materialist understands this, he has not understood the first thing and nothing he says will make the least bit of sense.

RDFish, now hear this. I will try to say it in words adopted to the meanest understanding and maybe you will get it this time: A reductive materialist is cheating when he uses those morally-freighted words in any sense other than “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.” A message to all reductive materialists: Stop cheating.

UPDATE:

In the comments to this post as of the time I write this, one materialist (Lack of Focus) has made a lame effort to change the subject just as RDFish did. When I shut him down he ran away.

Where are you Mark Frank, mahuna, goodusername, Seversky, RDFish, Graham2, Jerad, Piotr, Popperian, velikovskys and the rest of our opponents? Do the collective lot of you have no courage to comment on a post in which I reject all attempts to change the subject and insist that you face the consequences of the premises you push?

If every time I was faced with the consequences of my premises I either tried to change the subject or wet my pants and ran away, I think I would reexamine my premises. That’s just me though.

SA’s Comment at 20 is spot on and I add it to the OP:

Materialist morality – “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.”

The only thing I’d change is the term ‘prefer’. There’s a moral component in that term. If I prefer one thing, then there’s a reason. We could be coded, somehow, to prefer certain things.

I think a better term would be “to select”. But even that implies free will – a choice. Maybe better would be something like “to adhere to”.

“that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to adhere to.”

We’re just obeying the electro-chemical processes. It’s not even a preference or a selection of choices. We just do what we do. Whatever we did, is what we did.

The river flows downhill. The sand forms dunes. A jellyfish lands on the beach. A tree grows a new branch. A bunny rabbit hops along the bunny trail. A spider traps a fly. A human being imprisons and tortures a child in sex-slavery. Things just happen. Electro-chemical processes cause whatever, and it just is.

Not good or evil. Molecules, planets spin around. Human beings tell lies, drop atom bombs, create prison states.

That’s materialism. Nothing much more to talk about than that really.

But for some reason we can argue about this topic for months and the materialists can’t seem to accept what the idea really is.

If you can’t accept it, or can’t accept the necessary consequences — the best response is to no longer be a materialist. Pick another philosophical idea that makes more sense.

Under AS’s clarification, the formulation in the OP would be changed to:

Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There are only the acts the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain impel him to commit competing with the acts the electro-chemical processes every other person’s brain impels him to commit.

That sounds about right. Materialists, is AS wrong? If so, kindly demonstrate why you believe that (he said ironically as if a bag of chemicals can have “beliefs”).

194 Replies to “RDFish is an Idiot

  1. 1
    lack of Focus says:

    “I answered RDFish harshly (comments 29 and 45). If you are going to come onto these pages to debate the issues, a certain level of good faith is required.” [bolding mine]

    As is displayed by the author of this OP in its title:

    RDFish is an Idiot

  2. 2
    Box says:

    When one adheres to a self-referentially incoherent philosophy it affects one’s intellect. A.Rosenberg is capable of arguing that “thinking about stuff is impossible” or that consciousness is just an “illusion”. At youtube one can see him actually say this silliness and, while watching him, one cannot help expecting a correction by means of self-reflection:

    ** wait a minute, I’m not making sense at all …**

    But it doesn’t happen. Which is in need of an explanation.
    My guess is that a certain imperviousness towards self-reflection is ‘acquired’ by those who adhere to a self-referentially incoherent philosophy. Probably it’s a process – it grows on a person – which culminates in a situation that such a person can sit down and think “I don’t exist, there are only particles in motion” and there will be no protest, only … silence.

    Denying the existence of good and evil and in the next sentence say …

    RDFish: All reasonable people with a normal moral sense agree that puppy torture is evil.

    … is typical unreflective behavior completely in line with what Rosenberg does. We see it all the time. It’s symptomatic.

  3. 3
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    I don’t think RDFish is an idiot just that he struggles with logic from time to time.

    He once spent days trying to prove to me that squares could be circles and has never abandoned that claim as far as I can tell

    So I tend to take his posts with a grain of salt.

    peace

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    (NOTE: no ones cares what amateur psychologists think.)

    The scary/ threatening part is that if neo-darwinian evolution is right then morals are an illusion most likely designed by the weak (less fit) to suppress the strong (fittest). I would say that Barry just wants you to understand that.

  5. 5
    lack of Focus says:

    Barry, if you are willing to refrain from childish name calling, I will attempt to answer your question.

    At the source of your question is whether morality is objective or subjective. Your statement about them being caused by the chemical interactions in the brain is a red herring. Regardless of the source of our morals, they are affected by the chemical reactions in the brain. There are numerous examples of a person’s behaviour changing as the direct result of physical changes to the brain.

    I agree that we tend to act as if our morality is objective, but the fact that this morality has changed dramatically over time and between societies (Everything from adult sacrifices, to child sacrifices, to abortion, to homosexuality, to cannibalism), i cant accept that there are a set of externally imposed moral values. Even within our own societies there are internal inconsistencies, even in a single individual, in our morality. A person may believe that killing is morally unacceptable, but think that capital punishment or war are morally acceptable.

    Until someone can rationally explain all of the inconsistencies in what is and has been morally acceptable, I think that our commonly held morality is is best explained by societal interactions rather than some poorly explained external source of morality.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    wallstreeter43 says:

  8. 8
    SteRusJon says:

    Jim says “…and let the idiots bury each other?”

    So he recognizes that some are idiots. Why then does he object to calling a spade a spade and an idiot an idiot when they present the evidence so clearly? If RDFish wishes not to be thought to be idiotic, he should refrain from such idiotic commentary. A wise individual would, I think, take Barry’s challenge to heart and think on the issues instead of repeating the same old refrain for us, all the while, completely missing the point.

    Uncommondescent is a venue for both defending the ID view as well as attacking the shortcomings of the opposing view. Not only must the ID view be lifted up, but the opposing view point must be shown to be on all counts defective. The opposing view is rooted in a particular worldview. All the consequences of that worldview are fair game. Pinning the opponents to the mat (I note they are like unto greased pigs.) on the inconsistencies of the morality issues that spring from that worldview is permissible, even necessary, in my opinion. It goes to showing that another facet of the opponent’s foundational worldview premises are defective.

    I am not a one dimensional person. I am interested in science as well as how it is intertwined with the ethical/theological aspects of my own worldview. I greatly appreciate the discussion of all these issues as they relate to each other. There are few, maybe no, other places where all these aspects are ruminated on in so far as they impact one another.

    May I suggest, Jim, if you are not interested in all the various and sundry discussions, you skip over those not to your taste.

    Sic’em, Barry!

    Stephen

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Lack of focus @ 5

    At the source of your question is whether morality is objective or subjective.

    Gaaah! Dude, I mean seriously? Well, at least you lived up to your name.

    Are all materialists incapable of focusing on a simple question and answering it? From the responses we get on this sight it certainly seems like it.

    Focus, your stupidity has even less excuse than RDFish’s. Did you even read the OP before you tried to respond to it? Because the OP specifically says:

    RDFish seems to be laboring under the assumption that I was defending objectivism. I don’t know why he should think that, because I never said a single word about that subject. The OP is about the logical conclusions compelled by metaphysical premises. Whether those premises are warranted (I don’t believe they are) is an argument for another day.

    Let me say this again. The OP is not about whether objective morality is true. The OP asks a simple question. Please, set your name aside and try to focus on it:

    Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    Here is the challenge lack of focus:

    Show how any of the conclusions I’ve reached based on materialist premises are not in fact compelled by those premises.

  10. 10
    lack of Focus says:

    Well Barry, since you are incapable of having a discussion without name calling, I will simply say that we agree to disagree, and move on to have discussions with people who can behave like mature adults.

    Cheers.

    Barry responds: Coward. If you ever grow a pair and find the courage to examine your beliefs at a very basic level, come back and we’ll talk. I won’t be holding my breath.

  11. 11
    ppolish says:

    13 billion “years” ago all was good. Impossibly good according to modern physics/cosmology. Laws were laid down and everything followed the Laws. I would argue no free will. Probably that way for billions and billions of “years”. The good old “days”.

    Then free will emerged. And evil sigh. But good responded to the challenge. Evil responded back. Go good go.

  12. 12
    Tim says:

    Barry takes aim at their hocus pocus,
    With a syllogistic barrage, whose cross-hairs, whose locus,
    Meets just over the head of their ken,
    So instead of playing ball
    They run like Lack of Focus.

  13. 13
    Mapou says:

    There is a whole slew of things that materialism is unable to explain besides free will. For examples, materialism cannot explain our infatuation with music, beauty and the arts, none of which are properties of matter. Materialism cannot explain color and taste sensations. There is nothing red, blue, salty or sweet in sensory stimuli. All stimuli (discrete sensory signals) look exactly the same when travelling down an axon. They look exactly the same when they reach the neocortex. Yet we experience them as being different.

    Materialism is the religion of the holy emergence from dirt, whereby everything created itself. It is the most pathetic religion on planet Earth. To call materialists idiots is an insult to idiots everywhere.

  14. 14
    es58 says:

    Bertrand Russell said, “I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical values but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don’t like it.”

    Russell’s likes and dislikes aside, the 1st part of the statement shows that there is no *logical* argument to show that ethical values are other than subjective. Despite how much he dislikes it, Russell is stating that there is, as far as logic can tell, neither objective good nor evil.

    So, please take up the counter arguments with him.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    es58 @ 14:

    In all seriousness, I would love to hear what a reductive materialist has to say about the challenge in the OP. That the greats like Russell could not come up with anything does not necessarily mean there is nothing that can be said. But the fact that a very very smart (but ultimately foolish) man spent his entire life thinking about the question and came up with bupkis is, if nothing else, portentous.

    Here is what I despise: Happy face reductive materialism that says “we can have our reductive materialism and our morality too.” Only a liar, a coward, or an idiot (or some combination of the three) says this.

  16. 16
    Blue_Savannah says:

    It’s been my experience that most people who subscribe to materialism, don’t fully understand the repercussions of it. When faced with said repercussions, they resort to making such comments as “normal people agree that evil things are evil.” Sorry materialists, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. 😉

  17. 17
    Robert Byers says:

    Someone is right and someone wrong.
    Materialists can’t answer about moral foundations.
    What can they say?
    Its either a cosmic moral or just human consent.
    Can’t get around it!
    Pinned them.
    Now the Supreme court with its rejection of Gods laws and mans consent.

  18. 18
    Jerad says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

  19. 19
    Mark Frank says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

  20. 20
    RDFish says:

    Barry is obviously incapable of participating in a reasoned debate, so I’ll direct my response to other interested readers.

    The ideas regarding materialism and morality here at UD are confused in more than one way. For starters, the type of “materialism” that people here love to hate hasn’t been believed by most educated people in over a century, and still nobody here bothers to consider what the term is supposed to mean in an age when the fundamental ontology of our hardest science describes immaterial fields and probability waves, and when local realism itself is incompatible with experimental results.

    But let me focus on just one pernicious befuddlement: Whatever problems you think “materialism” implies for moral theory cannot be avoided by adopting some other metaphysics.

    Perhaps you think “materialism” implies that moral judgements are mere personal preferences. I wouldn’t characterize them that way of course (since I, like most people, am unable to choose what I believe to be moral or immoral), but I’ll accept the terminology arguendo. And in that case, Every moral precept is a mere personal preference, and it doesn’t matter what your views on metaphysical ontology are.

    You might want to argue that some moral precept is objective because it reflects human nature and what is good for it, but the idea that this is the criterion for moral goodness is itself mere personal preference. You might argue that some moral precept is objective because it’s found in holy scripture, authored by a transcendent being, but it is merely your personal preference to believe that this somehow confirms those precepts as objectively grounded.

    And so on. For every reason one might want to provide for holding some principle to be a moral good, one can always ask why we ought to consider it objectively morally binding. And so there are no objective moral principles, only ones that are mere personal preferences.

    Here’s the bottom line:
    Just because somebody says that some moral principle is objective does not make it so.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  21. 21
    Piotr says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

  22. 22
    Bob O'H says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

  23. 23
    JD Welbel says:

    You are correct insofar as I can tell. “Good” and “Evil” appear to be human constructs with no objective reality to speak of, outside of the metaphoric meanings we place upon these terms, of course of course.

  24. 24
    Bob O'H says:

    “Good” and “Evil” appear to be human constructs with no objective reality to speak of

    That’s the way I view the world (rightly or wrongly). But that’s a long way from Barry’s assertion that we believe that

    There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.”

    Shakespeare’s plays are human constructs, but they still exist.

  25. 25
    Hangonasec says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

  26. 26
    lack of Focus says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

  27. 27
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The best response to the challenge would be to recognize that materialism does not provide a sufficient basis for understanding life or reality itself.

    But aside from that:

    Materialist morality – “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.”

    The only thing I’d change is the term ‘prefer’. There’s a moral component in that term. If I prefer one thing, then there’s a reason. We could be coded, somehow, to prefer certain things.

    I think a better term would be “to select”. But even that implies free will – a choice. Maybe better would be something like “to adhere to”.

    “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to adhere to.”

    We’re just obeying the electro-chemical processes. It’s not even a preference or a selection of choices. We just do what we do. Whatever we did, is what we did.

    The river flows downhill. The sand forms dunes. A jellyfish lands on the beach. A tree grows a new branch. A bunny rabbit hops along the bunny trail. A spider traps a fly. A human being imprisons and tortures a child in sex-slavery. Things just happen. Electro-chemical processes cause whatever, and it just is.

    Not good or evil. Molecules, planets spin around. Human beings tell lies, drop atom bombs, create prison states.

    That’s materialism. Nothing much more to talk about than that really.

    But for some reason we can argue about this topic for months and the materialists can’t seem to accept what the idea really is.

    If you can’t accept it, or can’t accept the necessary consequences — the best response is to no longer be a materialist. Pick another philosophical idea that makes more sense.

  28. 28

    RDFish,

    Unless you are a solipsist, then you must agree that there is categorical between perception and internal preference. We may prefer our brick walls soft, but our perception of them as an objective commodity doesn’t care what our preference is; a brick wall is what a brick wall is.

    You are apparently assuming your conclusion that the moral data we experience is not acquired via a perception of an objectively existent commodity – like a brick wall, but much more subtle, more like a fundamental force.

    If you are saying that we simply prefer to believe that an external world exists, and that all our perceptions boil down to subjective, personal preferences, then you are arguing for a form of solipsism against which there is no argument – we all live in Plato’s Cave and yes, this could all be an internal delusion. However, I’d like to remind you that nobody acts like a rationally consistent solipsist (except, perhaps, the insane).

    If, however, you agree that there is a categorical distinction between (1) things we consider to be personal preference, and (2) things we consider to be perceptions of objectively existent phenomena, then the disagreement between subjectivists and objectivists is about what category morality falls under, and whether we have a perceptive sense, like the conscience, that can “see” the moral landscape, or if there is no moral landscape at all and all that exists are personal preferences and predilections.

    Insisting that morality boils down to a preference and not a perception of an objective commodity is argument by fiat – assuming your conclusion.

    Since neither you or I know if morality is in fact a set of preferences or a set of perceptions, the debate must proceed by logically examining the potentials and entailments of both premises to see how they hold up to logical scrutiny and experience. In that way, we may be able to logically ascertain which is the more sound view.

  29. 29

    It’s always amusing to watch those who consider morality entirely subjective get all morally outraged about the behavior of others – as if their own personal morality was some sort of standard by which others should behave.

    Under their existential philosophy, Mr. Arrington behaves the way he does because of the same reason anyone does – happenstance accumulations of interacting molecules. Do they expect Mr. Arrington to exert some kind of top-down, conscious control over his actions? That would imply that consciousness was an acausal cause – that he has libertarian free will to do other than what his blindly interacting molecules dictate.

    Here are the materialists, saying “we prefer you to behave as we prefer, not as you prefer, and we’re not going to respond until you behave as we prefer”. Are they attempting to coerce or blackmail Mr. Arrington, as if he cares whether or not they present “arguments” for their view? What makes them think that insisting on a different outcome from the interaction-of-molecules-that-is-Mr.-Arrington will effect a different outcome? Surely, not experience. But then, we cannot expect rational behavior from mere collections of interacting molecules, can we?

    If they prefer to give their argument, why not give it and simply let Mr. Arrington behave as he prefers?

    Once again, no sane people act as if materialism is true, and no sane people act as if morality is a subjective commodity.

  30. 30
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM @ 28:

    Insisting that morality boils down to a preference and not a perception of an objective commodity is argument by fiat – assuming your conclusion.

    I disagree. As the OP (and many people before me) argues, the conclusion follows ineluctably from the premises of reductive materialism. There is no error in the logic. If the premises are true, the conclusion follows. Whether the premises are true is, of course, another question (they are not).

    The point of this OP has been to try to get the materialists to admit the conclusions compelled by their premises. As I said in comment 15, I despise “cake and eat it too” slap-dash consequence free materialism.

    UPDATE: After I posted this I saw your comment 29, from which it appears we do not disagree after all. Perhaps I misunderstood your comment 28. Would you please clarify for my benefit?

  31. 31

    Correction @28 – *Unless you are a solipsist, then you must agree that there is categorical difference between perception and internal preference,”

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish:

    Every moral precept is a mere personal preference . . .

    How refreshing. Finally a little forthrightness.

    JD Welbel thank you for your candor as well.

  33. 33
    Joe says:

    Bob O’H:

    Shakespeare’s plays are human constructs, but they still exist.

    Imbecile. That they exist is OBJECTIVE. If materialism is right then “good” and “evil” are subjective, ie an illusion. That means they don’t really exist at all. Unless of course you also think that magic is real…

  34. 34
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob O’H @ 24

    Shakespeare’s plays are human constructs, but they still exist.

    I am not sure what your point is Bob. Mount Rushmore is a human construct and it exists as well. The issue is not whether something called “morality” exists in some sense. The issue, of course, is in what sense it exists. And you’ve admitted that it exists in the sense I suggest materialists must in the OP. OK, but I don’t know why the “Shakespeare” comment makes you feel better.

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Getting rid of the useless sniveling and whining is a benefit to readers.
    Putting Zach in moderation for trolling and deliberate obtuseness is also another positive from this thread.

    Now, if opponents want to address the issue … that’s what the OP is looking for.

  36. 36
    Jerad says:

    UD Editors: Jerad compared us to the Nazis. He is now in moderation. If he cares to post a comment on substance, we will let it out. But we are really tired of his whining and sniveling.

  37. 37
    Eugen says:

    Materialist behavior “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain made me do.”

    That sounds pretty “robotic” to me.

    Robots don’t know what they are or that everything they do is repeating. Robots execute prepared instructions. They are not aware of themselves or the instructions.

    If humans are the special case of self aware bio-robots they would be aware what their next instruction-thought would be 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 months ahead. Humans are not aware and don’t know what their thoughts will be in 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 months ahead, therefore humans are not robots but a free minded creatures. Being robot and self aware at the same time contradicts each other.

  38. 38

    Why won’t those who defend materialism just address the question? Why are they so obsessed with anyone’s behavior?

    Under materialism, how is morality anything fundamentally different from: “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.”

    If the concept of materialism is wrong, how so? If the conclusion of what it means is wrong, how so?

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM @ 39

    Indeed. Why do the materialists on this site scurry like bugs when one lifts a rock every time we insist they address the logical consequences of materialism.

  40. 40
    Barry Arrington says:

    Jerad:

    In a post that was not released from moderation (because did not address any substantive issue), Jerad asks me what I am afraid of.

    I am not afraid of a debate Jerad. What I am sick to death of, however, is the bad faith of materialists like you. Every time someone tries to pin you down, you deflect, change the subject, resort to ad hominem, or otherwise run for cover. It looks like someone is afraid alright. But it is not me.

    That should give you pause. I doubt that it will.

  41. 41
    Bob O'H says:

    Bary @ 35 – my point is that good and evil do exist, as ideas. Just as Shakespeare’s plays exist as ideas (and not just as ink stains on paper). But these are all mental constructs: physically Shakespeare’s plays are just a lot of ink stains on a lot of pieces of paper, but we create meaning from them and this is why my bound collection of paper and yours are both “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” even though they are not the same pieces of paper.

    So, I don’t think anyone denies that concepts do exist, and these can include the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. I don’t see any reason why a materialist can’t describe an act or a person as ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

    I’d also suggest that these are not just personal preferences. We are social animals, and morals are one way society keeps itself operating (and perhaps a way some in authority maintain their power, but I think that would be more controversial!). Concepts like good and evil can thus be seen as ways of delimiting behaviour that is acceptable and unacceptable to society, so that this who are ‘good’ are praised, and those who are ‘evil’ condemned.

    My understanding of US law (which, admittedly mainly comes from 20 seasons of Law and Order) is that one test for whether someone is mentally competent to stand trial is if they know that what they did was wrong. I think it’s clear from this that good and evil are not just personal preferences: people can decide that something is wrong (evil, even) and still do it. So the concepts must be more than personal preference.

  42. 42
    Andre says:

    Chemical reactions obey the laws of nature they prefer nothing.

  43. 43
    Andre says:

    Bob H

    Perhaps it’s time to being honest with yourself. A man does not know what a crooked line is unless he knows what a straight line is…. Good and evil are not ideas. Because if they are you have no say about my ideas that raping woman and killing babies are good. Those are my ideas how do we test that yours is correct?

  44. 44
    Andre says:

    Bob H

    I can justify rape and torture from a materialistic view. I’m spreading my genes and I’m getting rid of the competition and I take pleasure in doing so because my memes are selfish.

  45. 45
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob @ 42:

    It is astounding to me that you really don’t seem to understand that you are trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    You admit that “morality” is nothing more than “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impel me to adhere to.”

    Then you turn right around and act as if morality is some objective commodity.

    WJM is again proved correct. No one acts as if materialism is true. I would add Barry’s corollary to WJM’s dictum:

    Not only does no one act as if materialism is true; the vast majority of those who adhere to materialism steadfastly avert their gaze from the logical contradiction between adhering to materialism and acting as if morality is an objective commodity.

    Why do they refuse to address that contradiction? So that their head does not explode from the dissonance that would be caused by holding two logically contradictory ideas at the same time, which they would have to admit if they did address it. It takes a lot of courage to embrace nihilism. Most people don’t have that much courage, especially the materialists who comment on this site.

  46. 46
    Bob O'H says:

    Andre – in what sense could you test that an idea is correct? Doesn’t that imply some external means of validation?

    I have my own ideas about what that external validation would be (and I’d hope it’s not too difficult to work out what it is, based on what I wrote, although I appreciate you might not agree with my answer). But I’d be interested to know what yours ideas are.

  47. 47
    Box says:

    Bob O’H,
    Under the assumption that you are a materialist, you are stealing theistic concepts.

    Bob O’H: Bary @ 35 – my point is that good and evil do exist, as ideas [you should say “electro-chemical processes in the brain”]. Just as Shakespeare’s plays exist as ideas (and not just as ink stains on paper). But these are all mental constructs [“electro-chemical processes in the brain”]: physically Shakespeare’s plays are just a lot of ink stains on a lot of pieces of paper, but we create meaning [“electro-chemical processes in the brain”] from them and this is why my bound collection of paper and yours are both “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” even though they are not the same pieces of paper.

    So, I don’t think anyone denies that concepts [“electro-chemical processes in the brain”] do exist, and these can include the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. I don’t see any reason why a materialist can’t describe an act or a person as ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

    The reason is that if good and evil are reducible to electro-chemical processes in the brain, there is no good and evil in any meaningful way. Moreover if electro-chemical processes in the brain are behind the steering wheel, so to speak, there is no responsibility in any meaningful way.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    Barry, are you doing a practical demonstration on the subject of how we are morally governed, so that even those whose worldviews deny that possibility find themselves under it and naturally — even angrily — expect others to be like that? If that is a material part of the why of this thread, I can see its point. Not my way, but then a mild but sharply painful swat on the gluteus maximus can often have a wonderful effect on a recalcitrant child. KF

  49. 49
    RDFish says:

    RDFish:Every moral precept is a mere personal preference . . .
    Barry: How refreshing. Finally a little forthrightness

    Apparently you finally realize that we agree! Every moral precept is a mere personal preference, period. So what is all the fuss about? Was everyone here just too much of an idiot to realize this earlier?

  50. 50
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF @ 49: Having raised three children, I have often noted the resemblance between the antics of the materialists who post on this site and those of a recalcitrant child.

  51. 51
    Box says:

    RDFish: Every moral precept is a mere personal preference.

    Let me fix that for you:

    RDFish: Under materialism every moral precept is a mere personal preference.

  52. 52
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish @ 50. No, the issue has always been whether the opponents who post on this site will fully embrace the nihilism their metaphysical premises compel. It took you a while to do so. Others have yet to do so.

  53. 53
    Barry Arrington says:

    Box @ 48. As I’ve said before, the really astonishing thing is that Bob acts as if he does not understand this. Of course, only a psychopath actually understands the conclusions compelled by materialist premises and then actually acts on them. I guess we should be relieved that Bob is not a psychopath.

  54. 54
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM

    Why won’t those who defend materialism just address the question? Why are they so obsessed with anyone’s behavior?

    And Barry is not obsessed with people’s behaviour?!! The OP and almost all of Barry’s comments make direct reference to the behaviour of those dreadful materialists. Now and again you must expect some kick-back.

    I am more than happy to talk to you about it. I just find Barry is bad for my temper.

    Under materialism, how is morality anything fundamentally different from: “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.”

    Under subjectivism morality is a set of a particular type of preferences. That’s what subjectivism means. It is not necessarily a consequence of materialism though. You can be a materialist and an objectivist (e.g. a utilitarian) and you can be a dualist and a subjectivist. Of course, as I have said many times, those preferences are not idle whims – they are grounded in reasons (although not ultimate reasons) and deep common features of human nature such as compassion and a desire to see justice done.

    As I am arguing on the other thread your preference for NLM is in the end also a “preference”.

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    The ideas regarding materialism and morality here at UD are confused in more than one way. For starters, the type of “materialism” that people here love to hate hasn’t been believed by most educated people in over a century, and still nobody here bothers to consider what the term is supposed to mean in an age when the fundamental ontology of our hardest science describes immaterial fields and probability waves, and when local realism itself is incompatible with experimental results.

    There you go again, throwing words around as irresponsibly as ever without defining them. What do you mean when you use the term “immaterial field?” Are you referring to something that transcends space/matter/energy? If so, how do you know that it transcends space/time/energy? If not, why did you use the term, “immaterial?”
    .

    You might want to argue that some moral precept is objective because it reflects human nature and what is good for it, but the idea that this is the criterion for moral goodness is itself mere personal preference.

    Your objection is illogical. As I pointed out earlier, moral precepts are, indeed, objective because they reflect human nature and what is good for it. The existence of goodness is a logical prerequisite for a moral code. If morality is defined as what is good for human nature, then it is objective by definition. Only the words and the concepts that describe it are subjective—not the human nature or the morality that is being described. In fact, humans did not “prefer,” select, or socially construct the morality proper to their human nature: It is a reality that precedes any subjective choice they make, both logically and chronologically. That is what makes it objective. Of course, you can deny that any such objective reality exists, but you cannot rationally deny the fact that, if it exists, it is objective. Yet you continue to try. Why?

    You might argue that some moral precept is objective because it’s found in holy scripture, authored by a transcendent being, but it is merely your personal preference to believe that this somehow confirms those precepts as objectively grounded.

    More nonsense. If it is authored by a transcendent being, then it is objective by definition. The transcendent being is the objective reality that designs the objective code. The subject, the creature, did not make it up. That is why it is not subjective. Do you have some kind of mental block on this subject?

    Meanwhile, you continue to avoid the logic of OP. Why?

  56. 56
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark @ 55:

    Why do you steadfastly refuse to address the actual question posed by the OP?

    As I said at 46, my guess is so your head does not explode from the dissonance that would be caused by holding two logically contradictory ideas at the same time, which you would have to admit if you did address it. It takes a lot of courage to embrace the nihilism your premises compel. You apparently do not have sufficient courage.

    That’s just a guess. The one thing that is not a guess is that you refuse to say “yay” or “nay” to the question posed in the OP. You steadfastly avert your gaze from it. That’s sad.

  57. 57
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank:

    As I am arguing on the other thread your preference for NLM [Do you mean NML (natural moral law?] is in the end also a “preference”.

    No. Whether I prefer the Natural Moral Law or not has nothing at all to do with what it contains. The Natural Moral Law precedes humans; they have nothing to do with its substance. Subjective morality creates the substance of its own code. Humans make it up and define it.

    Objective morality: The code precedes human choices.

    Subjective morality: Human choices precede the code.

  58. 58
    Box says:

    Why don’t we see anyone arguing for emergentism? Why is no one telling Barry “morality is an emergent property, just like consciousness and it’s irreducible to electro-chemical processes in the brain”? Are there no “non-reductive-materialists” at this forum?
    And if there are only reductive materialists at this forum, why not simply admit that Barry is indeed correct to say that morality reduces to electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain?

  59. 59
    Mark Frank says:

    #58 SB

    Rather than conduct the argument on two threads in parallel why not comment on what WJM and I have written on the other thread?

  60. 60
    StephenB says:

    Mark, you brought it up on this thread, so I responded to it on this thread.

  61. 61
    Bob O'H says:

    Box q 48 –

    Under the assumption that you are a materialist, you are stealing theistic concepts.

    If good & evil are theistic concepts, then what else can I do but use them?

    The reason is that if good and evil are reducible to electro-chemical processes in the brain, there is no good and evil in any meaningful way.

    I would disagree – Mount Rushmore was originally an idea, and people found it meaningful enough to carve it out of a mountainside. The idea existed as an idea in a way that was meaningful enough for people to act on it. In a similar way people find the ideas of good and evil meaningful enough to act on them (for example to kill those they believe are evil).

  62. 62
    RDFish says:

    Barry,

    No, the issue has always been whether the opponents who post on this site will fully embrace the nihilism their metaphysical premises compel. It took you a while to do so. Others have yet to do so.

    You refuse to even acknowledge the most fundamental and fatal problem with your argument. You close your eyes and plug your ears and shout “RDFish is an idiot!” because you can’t bear the truth: Your morality is nothing but mere personal preference.

    Go ahead, try to argue your way out of it instead of just calling people names and deleting their posts. You can’t of course, but you could at least try to show what makes your particular personal preference regarding morality any more objective than anyone else’s.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  63. 63
    Bob O'H says:

    Why don’t we see anyone arguing for emergentism? Why is no one telling Barry “morality is an emergent property, just like consciousness and it’s irreducible to electro-chemical processes in the brain”? Are there no “non-reductive-materialists” at this forum?

    For myself, I didn’t want to discuss the ontogeny of good & evil: it’s hard enough getting people here to understand what I’m trying to say, without bringing in new aspects.

  64. 64
    REC says:

    Barry is correct. Materialists must say “there is no such thing as “good”” if Barry defines “good” is defined as coming from God or some other transcendence.

    If “good” is the product of our genetics, our experiences and learning, and the ability of society to come together and maximize our desires and preferences while minimizing that which we find hurtful, then there is “good” in the materialist world.

    I’m not sure how you look at history-ancient or recent, and detect a transcendent uniform moral order. I see things I would never want done to me done to human beings–including things that were considered morally good. I see a long struggle of some individuals to be granted their preferences not to be enslaved or discriminated against.

  65. 65
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish: Your morality is nothing but mere personal preference.

    This may or may not be true.

    But it is a non-response to the OP of this thread and the other to which it refers.

    Yet, you guys still can’t see it. Or refuse to admit it.

    Amazing.

  66. 66
    ppolish says:

    RDfish, “personal preference” is very important. It is the foundation of free will. Choose wisely, as there are good choices and bad choices.

  67. 67
    Bob O'H says:

    Box @59 –
    I should add a bit to my comment at 64. Even if we argue that morality and good & evil are emergent properties, they are still emergent from the brain (or brains), so I’m not sure it really helps much. One way or another they are still mental constructs.

  68. 68
    ppolish says:

    Bob O’H, “mental constructs” are fundamental to ID. Mind with a capital M at the core of ID.

  69. 69

    RDFish said:

    You refuse to even acknowledge the most fundamental and fatal problem with your argument.

    Mr. Arrington hasn’t provided an argument in defense of objective morality, RDFish. His challenge is entirely about materialistic morality, and what it necessarily boils down to logically.

    What objective morality boils down to is entirely irrelevant to this thread’s OP. Thus, problems with objective morality, even if valid, cannot respresent a “fatal flaw” in Mr. Arrington’s argument.

  70. 70
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM @ 70.

    And that is why the heading of this post is “RDFish is an Idiot.” He does not seem to be able to grasp that very simple concept.

    Consequently, instead of addressing the OP, he relentlessly pushes an irrelevant tu quoque counter and then preens himself as if he has addressed the “fatal flaws” inherent in the argument of the OP. It is amazing to watch.

  71. 71
    Box says:

    Bob O’H: If good & evil are theistic concepts, then what else can I do but use them?

    One can only validly use those concepts that are grounded by one’s worldview. If one’s worldview doesn’t allow for the existence of ghosts it doesn’t make sense if one speaks of ghosts as if they exist.

    Bob O’H: For myself, I didn’t want to discuss the ontogeny of good & evil: it’s hard enough getting people here to understand what I’m trying to say, without bringing in new aspects.

    I assume you mean ontology of good & evil. This OP is all about the ontology of morality given materialism. Anything else is of no importance.

  72. 72
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob O’H @ 62

    If good & evil are theistic concepts, then what else can I do but use them?

    This is kind of the point of the OP Bob. If you reject theistic premises, then you don’t get to use conclusions drawn from those premises.

    Conversely, if you embrace reductive materialism’s premises, you are stuck with the entailments of those premises.

    Gaaaah! (again). Why is this so hard to understand. It is very very very simple.

  73. 73
    Joe says:

    RDFish:

    Your morality is nothing but mere personal preference.

    Not according to theists, fishy. To theists morality comes from above and has nothing to do with personal preference.

  74. 74
    Joe says:

    REC:

    If “good” is the product of our genetics, our experiences and learning, and the ability of society to come together and maximize our desires and preferences while minimizing that which we find hurtful, then there is “good” in the materialist world.

    Then “good” is whatever we want it to be.

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    Bob O.H

    If good & evil are theistic concepts, then what else can I do but use them?

    You can define them so we know how you are using them.

    but we create meaning from them and this is why my bound collection of paper and yours are both “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” even though they are not the same pieces of paper.

    The goal in reading Shakespeare, I should think, is not to create your own meaning out of the text, but to apprehend the meaning that the author intended to convey.

    So, I don’t think anyone denies that concepts do exist, and these can include the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. I don’t see any reason why a materialist can’t describe an act or a person as ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

    Both good and evil are inextricably tied to purpose. A thing is good if it operates the way it was designed or intended to operate. A good can opener can open cans; a good pencil can write. A pencil is a bad can opener and will destroy itself if it tries to act like one. So it is with humans. If they were designed to act like humans, they will destroy themselves if they try to act like animals; they will not have attained the purpose for which they were intended. What is good for animals is not always good for humans. On the other hand, if, as the materialist would have it, humans were not designed for a purpose, then there can be no such thing as a good or bad act; no observing or violating a code; no advancing or retarding the process of moral development; no success or failure at achieving a final destiny.

    I’d also suggest that these are not just personal preferences. We are social animals, and morals are one way society keeps itself operating (and perhaps a way some in authority maintain their power, but I think that would be more controversial!). Concepts like good and evil can thus be seen as ways of delimiting behaviour that is acceptable and unacceptable to society, so that this who are ‘good’ are praised, and those who are ‘evil’ condemned.

    Societies are not all the same. How do you know a good society, which praises good behavior, from a bad society, which praises bad behavior? Indeed, that is one of the ways you can judge one from the other. In a good society, it is easy to be good and hard to be bad; in a bad society, it is easy to be bad and hard to be good.

  76. 76
    Bob O'H says:

    Box, I don’t see a problem with a materialist concept of good and evil. It’ll obviously have different groundings to the theistic one, but the decisions on when someone or an act is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ will, for many or most cases, be the same as the theistic decision. Being pragmatic about such things, I reckon if we can all agree something is evil (or good), that’s what’s important.

  77. 77
    Silver Asiatic says:

    REC

    If “good” is the product of our genetics, our experiences and learning, and the ability of society to come together and maximize our desires and preferences while minimizing that which we find hurtful, then there is “good” in the materialist world.

    But if we can use the same term to describe any possible human behavior, then we can say that there is “good” but also we have to admit that the term doesn’t define anything.

    Genetics – doesn’t specify that any action is good or not. The death of an organism is neither “good”, nor evil in genetic terms. It just is a chemical process.

    Maximizing desires and preferences – which have been created by genetic/chemical programming, is not necessarily good or evil. Society itself has no goal or purpose. What is hurtful for some, is a preference for others.

    So, it’s difficult to talk about good and evil from a materialist perspective. The tendency is always to move to a higher level order, where actions are judged somehow by something other than ‘electro-chemical processes’.

    But I’ll agree also that the term “good” can be used in a materialist context, but I would insist that it’s a meaningless term that can validly (if meaningless terms can have valid uses) be applied to any chemical or biological action.

    Is the competition for resources “good”? Is speciation “good”? Survival advantages, loss of function leading to new traits, adaptation to environment leading to extinctions? Are these good or evil?

    Ok, I’ll answer – they’re neither. They just are actions.

    From a theistic perspective there is good and evil because there is an ultimate meaning and purpose to human actions. There is a direction towards a goal. Moving towards the goal is good. Moving away is evil.

    There is no goal in materialism. Therefore there can be no good or evil – it’s moving towards or away from a non-existent goal and therefore non-measurable.

  78. 78
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry #57

    Why do you steadfastly refuse to address the actual question posed by the OP?

    See here.

    UD Editors: Mark, you are not fooling anyone you know. If you had a response to the OP, you would put it up PDQ. That you have not means you do not. Your protestations along the lines of “Barry is a meany” are silly. Why don’t you put me in my place by destroying my argument? I will tell you why. Because you can’t.

  79. 79
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    You refuse to even acknowledge the most fundamental and fatal problem with your argument. You close your eyes and plug your ears and shout “RDFish is an idiot!” because you can’t bear the truth: Your morality is nothing but mere personal preference.

    I have already corrected this error. Barry’s morality is not a product of his preferences. It is, by definition, a product of the “laws of nature and Nature’s God.”

    It preceded him both logically and chronologically. It is logically impossible to produce objective morality from one’s preferences.

    Go ahead, try to argue your way out of it instead of just calling people names and deleting their posts. You can’t of course, but you could at least try to show what makes your particular personal preference regarding morality any more objective than anyone else’s.

    There is nothing to argue. Your claim is refuted.

    Objective morality: The code precedes human choices.

    Subjective morality: Human choices precede the code.

    Learn to live with your error.

  80. 80
    JD Welbel says:

    As far as I know, there is no proof of the existence of “laws of nature and Nature’s God”. There is ample rhetoric, evidence for and against and belief aplenty on all conceivable sides; but, no actual proof, by definition.

  81. 81
    Barry Arrington says:

    JD @ 81.

    So you embrace nihilism (see your comment at 23). I can respect that even while disagreeing with your conclusions. Your stance is courageous, if also bleak and sad (and wrong). At least you don’t try to push the logical impossibility of having your cake and eating it too like some of the cowards who comment on this site.

  82. 82
    JD Welbel says:

    I don’t feel sad, nor is my outlook bleak. There is a great deal I do not know and I suspect that to be the case for everyone else.
    It seems to me that my stance is only wrong in a specific context, and i’m okay with that. It is the correct stance for me at this point in space-time.

  83. 83
    StephenB says:

    JB @81

    As far as I know, there is no proof of the existence of “laws of nature and Nature’s God”.

    I don’t think anyone is making that argument. If you don’t accept the self-evident truth of objective morality (self evident in itself, but not immediately and fully self evident to all people), that is your choice.

    The point is this: If morality comes from God and nature, then it is objective; if it doesn’t, then it is subjective. Materialism cannot produce morality. Pain and pleasure, yes—good and evil, no.

  84. 84
    Barry Arrington says:

    JD @ 83:

    I don’t feel sad, nor is my outlook bleak.

    Then you have not thought very much about the implications of your worldview.

    There is a great deal I do not know and I suspect that to be the case for everyone else.

    Certainly that is the case. But we are not talking about what you say you don’t know. We are talking about what you say you do know. You say you “know” that:

    There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only your personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    It is not possible to hold a more bleak existential worldview than the one that you say you know is true. If you don’t understand this, I suspect that you don’t really “know” this at all. I suspect you have not really thought about these issues beyond a surface level. I suspect you are a young person spouting what some teacher told him was the “sophisticated” thing to spout.

    It seems to me that my stance is only wrong in a specific context, and i’m okay with that. It is the correct stance for me at this point in space-time.

    You are deeply confused. Your position is either correct or it is incorrect. It cannot be correct at this moment in space-time and incorrect at some other. This also confirms my first impression that you are a young person spouting with no reflection at all the fashionable idiocies of contemporary post-modern poppycock.

    I suggest that you take a moment to consider the contradictions inherent in your views. I take back what I said earlier. You are not courageously facing the bleak conclusions of existentialism. You are just spouting nonsense and that you really have not thought about at all.

  85. 85
    Hangonasec says:

    StephenB @84

    Materialism cannot produce morality. Pain and pleasure, yes—good and evil, no.

    Why not? If it can produce physical sensations that one avoids or seeks, there is no particular reason to suppose it cannot produce emotional ones as well. That which by common understanding is called ‘evil’ tends to have the common quality of causing harm to others which generally, though not universally, produces a deeply-felt negative sensation, irrespective of our metaphysical proclivities. So we try to minimise that harm, caused by ourselves and by others.

  86. 86
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hagonasec @ 86.

    For the reasons stated in the OP. If you disagree with the reasoning of the OP, you need to tell us why.

  87. 87
    JD Welbel says:

    you attributed a quote to me which was not mine:

    There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only your personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    i did not say this

    UD Editors: No, but in comment 23 you said you agreed with it.

  88. 88
    JD Welbel says:

    Also Barry,

    Nothing I have said confirms my age or experience

  89. 89
    JD Welbel says:

    Making it personal is of no interest to me
    I’m not here to attempt to destroy anyone else’s reality tunnels or take apart their logic (I am no logician). Learning about others’ ideological landscapes and discussing their implications is an interest of mine as well as sharing my own observations for comment and discussion.

  90. 90
    JD Welbel says:

    Barry @85

    I do find it interesting that you only respect my perspective if I “courageously face the bleak implications of existentialism”

    I have considered the implications of my worldview and I do not consider it bleak at all nor am I “deeply confused”

    It seems to me that the ultimate conclusion of my particular flavor of “existentialism” holds that any belief is as good as any other. I believe in what works for me and if that changes so be it.
    contradiction does not bother me.

  91. 91
    lack of Focus says:

    SB: “The point is this: If morality comes from God and nature, then it is objective; if it doesn’t, then it is subjective. Materialism cannot produce morality. Pain and pleasure, yes—good and evil, no.”

    If life originated and evolved through materialistic mechanisms, then it is responsible for morality. As I said to Barry, we agree to disagree. I can live with that.

  92. 92
    JD Welbel says:

    and Barry,
    just for the unofficial record, despite your seemingly unhelpful disposition for one with such an rosy outlook (due to your belief in God, of course of course) i do respect your position (if not your tactics). Your beliefs work for you at this juncture in space-time. Your beliefs might change, might they not, if faced with new information?
    I have no qualms with you or your ilk, I knew full well what I was getting into with an Original Post of this nature

  93. 93
    StephenB says:

    lack of focus

    If life originated and evolved through materialistic mechanisms, then it is responsible for morality.

    If life originated and evolved solely through materialistic mechanisms, morality is not possible.

    As I said to Barry, we agree to disagree. I can live with that.

    It is one thing to simply disagree without providing a good reason. It is quite another thing to provide a good reason for disagreeing.

  94. 94
    Hangonasec says:

    BA @87.

    Hagonasec @ 86.
    For the reasons stated in the OP. If you disagree with the reasoning of the OP, you need to tell us why.

    I was responding to the specific claim by SB that ‘materialism’ can account for pain and pleasure, but not for our general emotional response to harm done to others. The OP does not address this point, so it’s no answer to point to it. It talks instead of ‘preferences’, which is not how most people perceive their moral impulse, except in the vague sense that we ‘prefer’ to avoid uncomfortable sensations.

  95. 95
    Barry Arrington says:

    JD

    “contradiction does not bother me.”

    Then you are fool not worth bothering with.

  96. 96
    velikovskys says:

    SB:
    The point is this: If morality comes from God and nature, then it is objective;

    Why Nature? If God created nature then morality comes from God alone unless nature has free will.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    JD Welbel

    It seems to me that the ultimate conclusion of my particular flavor of “existentialism” holds that any belief is as good as any other. I believe in what works for me and if that changes so be it.
    contradiction does not bother me.

    You appear to believe that no such a thing as truth exists. Do I read you right? If so, why do you believe that? Who persuaded you to believe it?

  98. 98
    Hangonasec says:

    StephenB @95

    If life originated and evolved solely through materialistic mechanisms, morality is not possible.

    I ask again: why not? Being well-disposed towards others, and deprecating socially disruptive behaviours, can enhance the survival of a social species. What evolutionary principle precludes this?

  99. 99
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hangonasec @ 95

    It talks instead of ‘preferences’, which is not how most people perceive their moral impulse.

    Don’t you see that that is exactly the point? What most people “perceive” is exactly beside the point. I want to you to focus on what actually is, not on what someone who has not thought about it might or might not believe. And if the OP is correct, materialism really does lead to those conclusions. If you believe otherwise, it is up to you to argue for that belief.

  100. 100
    Barry Arrington says:

    hangonasec @ 99:

    Gaaaaaaaah! (again).

    Read the OP again. Try to read it slowly and let it sink it. Materialist do not get to use the phrase “socially disruptive behaviours” to mean anything other than “that which I personally do not prefer because of impulses generated by the electro-chemical impulses in my brain.

    Why can’t you understand that? It is very simple.

  101. 101
    lack of Focus says:

    SB: “If life originated and evolved solely through materialistic mechanisms, morality is not possible.”

    An assertion with no evidence to support it.

    “It is one thing to simply disagree without providing a good reason. It is quite another thing to provide a good reason for disagreeing.”

    Why? He hasn’t provided a good reason for me to agree. All I have heard is a claim based on unproven assumptions followed by words like “idiot”, “fool”, “stupid”, etc. I am willing to discuss this with anyone who approaches the discussion with a certain level of good faith.

    Barry opened the discussion in bad faith. He asks a question that is along the same line as “have you stopped beating your wife?”, and only allowing a yes or know answer. There is a term for this type of question, and Barry knows it, and uses it, very well.

  102. 102
    StephenB says:

    velikovskysan

    Why Nature? If God created nature then morality comes from God alone. Else one could say that since God created man as He created nature, ,morality comes from man and God.

    God is the cause of both human nature and the morality proper to it. However, the morality of human nature is possible only if human nature exists. Human nature takes logical precedence over the morality of human nature.

    Without an objective way to determine what that objective morality is ,all human morality is subjective.

    No, that is not correct.

    There is such a thing as objective truth, which is the object of knowledge, and there is such a thing as a process for knowing objective truth, but there is no such thing as an objective process for knowing.

    The existence of objective morality does not depend on our ways of coming to know it, but our way of coming to know it does depend on the existence of objective morality. The existence of objective morality takes logical precedence over our ways of knowing about objective morality.

    More broadly, metaphysics take logical precedence over epistemology. A thing can exist without your knowing about it, but you can’t know about a thing unless it exists.

  103. 103
    RDFish says:

    Hi WJM,

    Mr. Arrington hasn’t provided an argument in defense of objective morality, RDFish.

    And he never will, William, because such a defense is impossible of course.

    His challenge is entirely about materialistic morality, and what it necessarily boils down to logically.

    As I’ve already explained:

    RDFish: The ideas regarding materialism and morality here at UD are confused in more than one way. For starters, the type of “materialism” that people here love to hate hasn’t been believed by most educated people in over a century, and still nobody here bothers to consider what the term is supposed to mean in an age when the fundamental ontology of our hardest science describes immaterial fields and probability waves, and when local realism itself is incompatible with experimental results.

    But let me focus on just one pernicious befuddlement: Whatever problems you think “materialism” implies for moral theory cannot be avoided by adopting some other metaphysics.

    What objective morality boils down to is entirely irrelevant to this thread’s OP.

    The OP attempts to deride materialism by (ridiculously) claiming that it entails subjectivism. It is hard to imagine how you conclude this is entirely irrelevant to a discussion of objectivism vs. subjectivism 🙂

    Thus, problems with objective morality, even if valid, cannot represent a “fatal flaw” in Mr. Arrington’s argument.

    There are so many different flaws in what Barry writes it is difficult to know where to start, but I will mention that his idea that materialism entails subjectivism (especially in the cartoonish form in which he presents it!) is rubbish. There is only one “materialist premise”, which is that there exists nothing that is not material, and there is nothing contradictory about holding to this and to objectivism at the same time. Materialism can’t actually succeed in defending objectivism any more than any other metaphysics, because moral objectivism is indefensible. But the idea that it entails subjectivism is thoroughly confused.

    If you don’t understand why, I will give you a simple example: A materialist may believe that an objective moral code has been given to us by a material being that lives in another dimension, and argue that this somehow compels us to accept this morality as objectively true. I imagine you’ll reject this, as I do, as a good moral theory, but it isn’t any worse than any other attempt to provide an objective ground for morality, and it certainly is a materialistic theory. QED.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  104. 104
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    What do you mean when you use the term “immaterial field?”

    “Material” means “made of matter”. Fields are not made of matter, hence they are not material, alternatively “immaterial”. Clear enough?

    As I pointed out earlier, moral precepts are, indeed, objective because they reflect human nature and what is good for it.

    Why should people do what is good for human nature? Show why this is objectively true.

    If morality is defined as what is good for human nature, then it is objective by definition.

    Two mistakes here: 1) You have no way of objectively showing what is “good” for human nature, and 2) You have no way of objectively showing why that has anything to do with what we ought to do.

    Of course, you can deny that any such objective reality exists, but you cannot rationally deny the fact that, if it exists, it is objective.

    Your argument is that IF objective morality exists THEN it exists? Would you like to try that one again?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  105. 105
    JD Welbel says:

    StephenB @98

    you are correct. based on my research, observations and conversations with friends and others, my current best belief system could be described as a form of Model Agnosticism.

    Different models for different muddles etc.

    No one person persuaded onto this slippery solipsistic slope, although I have gotten a lot out of various writers along the way

  106. 106
    Barry Arrington says:

    lack of Focus @ 102

    You say I have asked a “have you stopped beating your wife” sort of question in the OP. Let’s examine that statement:

    In the OP I first set forth the conclusions to which I understand reductive materialist premises lead as follows:

    Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    Then I say:

    My challenge to materialists was to show how any of the conclusions I’ve reached based on materialist premises are not in fact compelled by those premises.

    Why is my challenge a “have you stopped beating your wife” sort of question? If you believe the conclusions I’ve reached based on materialist premises are not in fact compelled by those premises, then explain it.

    I know it is so much easier to whine about how I am so unfair to try to pin you down and not let you have your cake and eat it too. But why don’t you try to put on your big boy pants and face the argument squarely?

  107. 107
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish @ 104:

    immaterial fields and probability waves

    Is that a train I hear in the distance? Something is certain going “woo woo woo woo woo”

  108. 108
    JD Welbel says:

    Barry @96

    Actually; fool or not, though I may be, It renders me far less easily bothered by what appears to be a world full of contradictions. Am am no expert, like yourself, on matters logical. My way, nevertheless, works well for me. I am cheerful most of the time, good humored and fascinated by the world around me.

  109. 109
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish @ 104:

    It is hard to know whether your arrogance is exceeded by your stupidity or the other way around. Either way your posts are toxic to rational discourse.

    I see you have yet to address the question posed in the OP. Of course, you can’t meet that challenge, and therefore you slip into your usual mode of “I’m just too smart to even bother trying to argue with the rest of you.” You disgust me.

  110. 110
    Piotr says:

    If life originated and evolved solely through materialistic mechanisms, morality is not possible.

    Of course moral standards are possible without your favourite god’s stamp of approval. “Subjective” doesn’t mean arbitrary, egoistic, or independent of what is valued by other people. We are conditioned both biologically and culturally to differentiate our objectives, choices and actions between “right” (to be sought) and “wrong” (to be avoided), and we broadly agree which are which (though the agreement is rarely perfect, or there would be no moral disputes).

    The right ones are those which resolve or minimise unnecessary frictions in social groups, produce satisfaction rather than suffering, and guarantee our material as well as emotional safety and comfort. If followed by most people, they enhance both individual and collective survival and well-being. That’s enough justification. There will always be “cheaters” trying to take advantage of other people’s cooperative instincts without playing by the rule, and societies will predictably attempt to eliminate such behaviour by discouraging or punishing the offenders. It’s a self-regulating system.

    Personally, I do what I consider right. It makes me feel well and I don’t give a damn if you think my feeling is less real because I don’t believe it’s grounded in theology or some other form of metaphysics. In fact, I bet it’s just as real as yours. We’ve been through practically identical discussions before. Barry, in particular, offers these “challenges” at regular intervals and doesn’t seem to be interested in the responses — it’s just another opportunity for him to sermonise on the alleged self-contradictions of the subjectivist approach, and to pity its adherents. He may call me “an idiot” if a patronising attitude towards other people boosts his self-esteem — I’ll be in good company.

  111. 111
    Joe says:

    Piotr:

    We are conditioned both biologically and culturally to differentiate our objectives, choices and actions between “right” (to be sought) and “wrong” (to be avoided), and we broadly agree which are which (though the agreement is rarely perfect, or there would be no moral disputes).

    That is because our existence has nothing to do with materialism.

  112. 112
    Barry Arrington says:

    Piotr @ 111.

    Barry, in particular, offers these “challenges” at regular intervals and doesn’t seem to be interested in the responses . . .

    That is not true at all. I would be interested in your response to the OP Piotr if you had enough courage to give one. It is a pity that you don’t. Instead, you go on blithely using words with meanings you have no right to ascribe to them given your premises. And you appear to be too invincibly stupid to understand that.

  113. 113
    Piotr says:

    #113 Barry,

    Who are you to claim ownership of words and their meanings? Humpty Dumpty?

  114. 114
    0812681 says:

    Materialists do not seem to understand that, if God doesn’t exist, then life/existence itself does not have a actual purpose. If life/existence does not have a actual/objective purpose, then one cannot decide what is good or evil.

    One can only decide what good/evil with regard to a purpose. For materialists/non-theists, a actual/objective purpose to life/existence is lacking.

    Of course, people can imagine/create/make up all kinds of purposes for life, along with their ideas of good and evil. But they would only fooling themselves to make themselves happy/feel better, and morality would become a mere human construct, just like some worldviews/religions are (Islam, Budhism, Hinduism etc etc..) No wonder why God condemnes idolatry.

    Morality can only be grounded in the person who IS the actual purpose and uncaused cause, of all existence and life.

    You can invite Him to become a part of your life when you just put faith in Jesus Christ.

    But you can also choose to run from Him, as long as you’re you’re still alive, at least. I don’t recommend it though.

    But you can’t hide, no matter how clever you think you are. Stop hiding behind your arguments, it’s futile!
    Like Adam when he was in the bushes, hiding from God.

    Genesis 3:9
    And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

    In the same way God could be asking you: Where are you?

    Come out of bushes, and answer the question. Speak it out, talk to Him. Have faith that, if He exists, he will hear you.

    God will give you grace and reveal himself to you, if you have the right attitude. Don’t be like Stalin.

    I recommend you to read the Gospels, starting with the Gospel of Marc. It is the shortest and most simple of all four.

  115. 115
    lack of Focus says:

    Barry: “But why don’t you try to put on your big boy pants and face the argument squarely?”

    Since you have asked me in a semi-civil fashion, I will respond.

    Your question implies that learning and habituation has no impact on behaviour (and our personal morals), which is self evidently false. If we are brought up by a-holes, the probability is that we will be as well. If we are brought up to behave helpfully and altruistically, we will probably do so as well. . It all boils down to the wiring and chemistry of the brain, which we all know is plastic, but not ultimately so. And this is affected, to a large extent, by the social interactions that we experience while growing up. Reducing these desire (instincts, urges, whatever you want to call them) to “preferences” is a complete misrepresentation of how our morality and desires work.

    Our “preferences”, as you call them, are mitigated and affected by several generations of experience. Those “preferences” that served our ancestors well are more likely to persevere.

    Now, if you can respond to this without being abusive, I am wling to continue. If not, have a nice life.

  116. 116
    0812681 says:

    in relation to post #115

    Richard Dawkins Straw Mans William Lane Craig AND Fails Elementary Logic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1cfqV2tuOI

  117. 117
    goodusername says:

    The point of the OP is to get reductive materialists to admit that they don’t get to use words like “morally wrong,” “evil,” “bad,” “immoral,” or “wicked,” in any sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain.”

    In what way do non-materialists believe that morality exists that materialists don’t believe it exists? What are the requirements to be permitted to use such words?

    Very very few people actually live as if materialist metaphysics were actually true. And those people who do we call psychopaths.

    I can only imagine a psychopath possibly believing this.
    Most people live as if they are social beings with empathy – since that’s what they are.

  118. 118
    Box says:

    Goodusername:
    In what way do non-materialists believe that morality exists that materialists don’t believe it exists? What are the requirements to be permitted to use such words?

    Why is this not perfectly clear? A worldview must be able to ground / to accommodate for the things one talks about. If one’s worldview does not ground ‘free will’ it doesn’t make sense to talk about ‘responsibility’ as if it is real. If one’s worldview does not allow for ‘life after death’ it doesn’t make sense to talk about ‘heaven and hell’ as if they are real. If one’s worldview reduces morality to electro-chemical processes in the brain it doesn’t make sense to speak of good and evil. There are no electro-chemical processes that are “good” or “evil” in any meaningful way.

    [edit: Barry, maybe you have to write an OP about this elementary subject. Provide some simple examples about worldview, terms and grounding. Because NOT ONE of them seems to understand.
    Hard to believe? Yes, same here.]

  119. 119
    ebenezer says:

    Piotr @ 114:

    Methinks from your comment at 111 that you are the one who should be paying extra.

    You define “right” “choices and actions” thus:

    The right ones are those which resolve or minimise unnecessary frictions in social groups, produce satisfaction rather than suffering, and guarantee our material as well as emotional safety and comfort.

    Having said that, you go on as though such standards, determined as they must necessarily be by supposedly unguided natural processes possessing no more moral authority than does any particularly educated cabbage, had any bearing on individuals other than those which respond to the work of such processes (whoever decides, e.g., that an action “[produces] satisfaction rather than suffering”) or voluntarily subscribe to them (whoever decides to sit back, say “Yes, I think this will work”, and then be content with this “self-regulating system”).

    At best this is equivocation. Is “right” what the electro-chemical impulses in my brain so determine at the moment? Entirely otherwise, is it a standard I can logically impose on anybody else? In life as in UD comment threads, you don’t defensibly get to have it be both.

  120. 120
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry,

    RDF: immaterial fields and probability waves
    BA: Is that a train I hear in the distance? Something is certain going “woo woo woo woo woo”

    Excellent! You have now demonstrated a complete ignorance of modern physics to complement your bizarre confusions regarding metaphysics and moral theory. And this on top of your infantile tantrums – you really are quite a perfect representative of the ID movement!

    I see you have yet to address the question posed in the OP. Of course, you can’t meet that challenge, and therefore you slip into your usual mode of “I’m just too smart to even bother trying to argue with the rest of you.”

    I’ve already laid your misguided OP to rest. Materialism simply does not entail subjectivism, or any other aspect of moral theory, as any freshman philosophy student could tell you. Look up utilitarianism if you can’t think of a philosophy that is traditionally objectivist and compatible with materialism.

    You disgust me.

    I so wish Christians would take their religion seriously.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  121. 121
    goodusername says:

    Hi Box,

    If one’s worldview reduces morality to electro-chemical processes in the brain it doesn’t make sense to speak of good and evil. There are no electro-chemical processes that are “good” or “evil” in any meaningful way.

    I agree that morality is the product of our minds – I don’t believe morality would exist in a universe of mindless rocks and gas – but that also goes for many other things, like beauty, love, etc that people seem to have no problem accepting is real.
    It certainly seems meaningful to me to say that certain things are morally abhorrent – such as the torture of a child – even though such a feeling is a product of my mind, but then so is the love I have for my wife.

    It’s also still unclear to me in what way you believe that morality exists that I don’t believe it exists.

  122. 122
    0812681 says:

    with regard to post #115

    Of course, according to your preferences, you could replace the word ”God” with ”the designer”, and ”existence/life” with ”the design”.

    Because ID theory is NOT the same as biblical creationism, ID theory, being based on logic, philosophical truths and scientific facts, allows far more freedom of faith.

    Whereas materialist/atheists have hijacked science, and used it to marginalize any belief in God/a designer. This has resulted in societies/governments adhering to moral relativism/ utilitarianism.
    And most materialists/nontheists have been following the herd for years, decades even.

    Don’t follow the sheep, follow the shepherd.

    In the Gospel of John, ch.10, verse 11, Jesus says: ”I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

  123. 123
    Hangonasec says:

    BA @100:

    hangonasec @ 99:

    Gaaaaaaaah! (again).

    Read the OP again. Try to read it slowly and let it sink it. Materialist do not get to use the phrase “socially disruptive behaviours” to mean anything other than “that which I personally do not prefer because of impulses generated by the electro-chemical impulses in my brain.

    Why can’t you understand that? It is very simple.

    Read MY post again, veeery slowly, and make some effort to understand it. If a species benefits from sociality (‘benefit’ being simply enhanced survival and reproduction) then modes that enhance the benefits (so defined) of sociality will be favoured; modes that diminish it will be disfavoured. This is a good few miles away from my meaning ‘socially disruptive behaviour’ to be ‘that which I personally do not prefer because of impulses generated by the electro-chemical impulses in my brain’. If a tendency to psychopathy arises and spreads in a species, it does not matter what I think of it, it will damage the group. Oops, I’ve done it again. Affect in a manner not conducive to survival, I mean, so sorry for my use of terms clearly marked FOR THEISTS ONLY.

  124. 124
    0812681 says:

    @ RDFish #120

    Materialism simply does not entail subjectivism, or any other aspect of moral theory, as any freshman philosophy student could tell you. Look up utilitarianism if you can’t think of a philosophy that is traditionally objectivist and compatible with materialism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism

    Well, utilitarianism doesn’t help you much either. Because if rape or murder would help achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then rape and murder would be a good thing.

    Let’s say the rape of your wife, mother, sister or daughter would help achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Would you still say rape is a good thing?

    Or let’s say the murder of father, brother or son, would help achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number, because he was going to be the next Hitler or Osama Bin Laden. Would you recommnend people to murder him? Would you murder him yourself? Would you say it is a good thing that he must be murdered?

    You’re trying to defend the indefensible. Give it up, man.

  125. 125
    Barry Arrington says:

    Piotr @ 114:

    Who are you to claim ownership of words and their meanings?

    I don’t claim to own words and assign them private meaning. My comment at 111 was based on elementary logic that is equally available to all and on which you do not have even a tenuous grasp.

  126. 126
    Barry Arrington says:

    lack of Focus @ 116. You don’t understand the most elementary principles about the metaphysics you claim to espouse. I have tried hard to educate you. You have resisted those attempts with a mulish obstinacy. My efforts are wasted on you.

  127. 127
    Barry Arrington says:

    goodusername asks at 118 quotes this from the OP.

    The point of the OP is to get reductive materialists to admit that they don’t get to use words like “morally wrong,” “evil,” “bad,” “immoral,” or “wicked,” in any sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain.”

    Then he asks:

    What are the requirements to be permitted to use such words?

    Sigh. The requirement to use those words in a sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain” is to reject materialists premises. Then and only then can you use those words as if they have objective meaning.

  128. 128
    Barry Arrington says:

    At 120 RDFish continues to demonstrate his idiocy (not unlike the days and days he spent stamping his foot; getting red in the face; and insisting that a circle can be square).

    RDFish, you seem to believe a Christian should be immune to disgust at the sight of your grotesque antics. I can’t imagine why.

  129. 129
    Barry Arrington says:

    goodusername @ 121:

    I don’t believe morality would exist in a universe of mindless rocks and gas.

    Progress! Now all you have to do is understand (as Box tried to point out) that under materialist premises you (and all other humans) are not, in principle, any different from rocks and gas.

    It certainly seems meaningful to me to say that certain things are morally abhorrent – such as the torture of a child – even though such a feeling is a product of my mind, but then so is the love I have for my wife.

    On materialist principles, the torture of the child and the love of your wife are equally meaningless. Why is that so hard for you to grasp. Particles in motion are not cruel. Neither do they feel love. You may think you do. But there is no real you to think that; it all an illusion foisted on you by your genes.

    It’s also still unclear to me in what way you believe that morality exists that I don’t believe it exists.

    Again (and again and again and again and again; will it ever sink in?), Box believes his morality is different from yours because he rejects the idea that the torture of the child and the love of your wife are equally meaningless. He rejects the idea that his perception of these things is an illusion foisted on him by his genes. He believes cruelty is a real thing. He believes that love is a real thing.

  130. 130
    0812681 says:

    @ Hangonasec #123

    Read MY post again, veeery slowly, and make some effort to understand it. If a species benefits from sociality (‘benefit’ being simply enhanced survival and reproduction) then modes that enhance the benefits (so defined) of sociality will be favoured; modes that diminish it will be disfavoured. This is a good few miles away from my meaning ‘socially disruptive behaviour’ to be ‘that which I personally do not prefer because of impulses generated by the electro-chemical impulses in my brain’.

    I ask you the same questions I asked RDFish.

    Let’s say the rape of your wife, mother, sister or daughter enhanced survival and reproduction. Would you still say rape is a good thing?

    Or let’s say the murder of your father, brother or son, would enhanced survival and reproduction, because he was going to be the next Hitler or Osama Bin Laden. Would you recommnend people to murder him? Would you murder him yourself? Would you say it is a good thing that he must be murdered?

    My guess is that your preference is that they need not be raped, nor murdered.

    So I think Barry has understood you very well.

  131. 131
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hangonasec at 123.

    You have yet to say why someone should care what the electro-chemical impulses caused by your brain impel you to prefer. You think it should be obvious that we should agree with you when you say those electro-chemical impulses have impelled you to say that survival and reproduction should be preferred. It is not. You are a bag of chemicals on materialist principles, and the universe is indifferent to your existence.

  132. 132
    SteRusJon says:

    lack of Focus

    I fail to see how replacing Barry’s term “preferences” with something like “compulsions,” as you seem to be suggesting in your comment 116, does anything to mitigate the conclusion of the OP that the materialist’s position entails that, what passes for morality, “can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.”?

    Are you trying a “slight of hand” to divert from the core difficulty? Please do, at least try to, focus. Remember, in the materialistic worldview, it is electro-chemical processes all the way back.

    By the way, I think Barry was being gracious toward you by using the word “preferences.” “Compulsions” is probably more accurate in that the person’s mental state, in a reductive materialistic world, is not chosen but is determined or indeterminate/randomized, if you invoke quantum mechanics.

    Stephen

  133. 133
    goodusername says:

    Barry,

    Progress! Now all you have to do is understand (as Box tried to point out) that under materialist premises you (and all other humans) are not, in principle, any different from rocks and gas.

    To psychopaths perhaps. But I personally don’t feel empathetic towards rocks and gas, as I do towards feeling, sentient beings.

    Sigh. The requirement to use those words in a sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain” is to reject materialists premises. Then and only then can you use those words as if they have objective meaning.

    Well, yes, I gather that much from your posts – and the premises one must accept in order to use those words are…?

  134. 134
    lack of Focus says:

    lack of Focus @ 116. You don’t understand the most elementary principles about the metaphysics you claim to espouse. I have tried hard to educate you. You have resisted those attempts with a mulish obstinacy. My efforts are wasted on you.”

    Don’t fret Barry. The error was mine. I made the false assumption that you were capable of having an honest and civil discussion; respond to questions honestly asked; address evidence reasonably presented or propositions proposed. Obviously I was mistaken.

    I wish you well. But I see no point in trying to have a conversation with someone who has no intention of reciprocating. If you see this as cowardice on my part, I can live with it, given the source.

  135. 135
    REC says:

    “You have yet to say why someone should care what the electro-chemical impulses caused by your brain impel you to prefer.”

    Because with shared genetics, and in some cases culture and education, they might be the very same preferences I share.

    Barry seems unable to grasp that materialists believe society and culture and values do exist, playing out on our material brains. It is like saying I can’t watch a digital movie, because it is just electrons and stuff.

    “Random” interestingly keeps getting thrown in. Again, I’d argue our brains are quite conditioned by genetics and learning to produce non-random outcomes. What is the fitness of an irrational brain? Come on.

  136. 136
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Why should people do what is good for human nature? Show why this is objectively true.

    To be good is, by definition, to operate and behave as designed by a source from the outside. The purpose of the can opener and the pencil was decided upon by their designers—not by the can opener and the pencil.

    Accordingly, the pencil should write and the can opener should open cans. The pencil should not try to open cans. They should not try to change their natures. That is what it means to be bad—to act contrary to your nature.

    Similarly, if humans were designed by an outside source, they should behave the way they were designed and intended to behave. That is what we call morality. If morality doesn’t mean that, then it doesn’t mean anything. If humans act against their nature, then they are bad humans. That is my definition of good and bad. I didn’t invent it.

    What is your definition of a normal moral sense? What is your definition of morality? What is your definition of good? What is your definition of evil? You use these words on a regular basis but I have no reason to believe that you know what you mean when you use them. Do you?

    1) You have no way of objectively showing what is “good” for human nature, and 2) You have no way of objectively showing why that has anything to do with what we ought to do.

    We are speaking about a DEFINITION of objective good. A definition is not something that you prove. It is something that you use to explain what you mean.

    Meanwhile, you can’t “objectively show” anyone anything. Objectivity has nothing to do with demonstrations or ways of knowing.

    Your argument is that IF objective morality exists THEN it exists? Would you like to try that one again?

    Sigh!!You are tempting my lower nature. I am not trying to prove that objective morality exists. I am simply telling you what it means. Do you know the difference between a definition and a demonstration? You can’t know why materialism can’t produce objective morality unless you know what morality means.

    Perhaps you would become more familiar with the difference if you could learn to define your own terms. What do you mean by a “normal moral sense?” What do you mean by “morality.” What do you mean by “good?” What do you mean by “evil?”

    Of course, you could also answer the question of the OP. But we are beginning to give up hope that you will even try.

  137. 137
    lack of Focus says:

    Sterus, I think compulsion is the wrong word as well. Possibly ingrained comes closer, but still not perfect. Preference implies that we can easily change our moral values based on the condition. Compulsion is often used in a negative connotation.

    I am 57 years old. In my infancy I was influenced dramatically by my parents. During my youth, this influence was expanded to my peers, teachers and, dare I say, religious leaders. Does Barry really think that these influences do not affect the “wiring”, and, therefore, the chemical interactions in our brain that significantly affect our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and moral values? Sorry, but the evidence simply doesn’t support him.

    Our strongly held moral values have changed over time, from society to society, and within an individual. Most people today would view ritualistic cannibalism as being morally abhorrent. But when and where it was practiced it was done so out of respect and love. So, who is right?

    But to get back on track, the claim by Barry that the materialist’s position entails that, what passes for morality, “can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain”, is a vast oversimplification. And Barry knows this. But the electro-chemical processes that occur in the brain are dramatically affected, modified and limited by our experiences. And given that the majority of people within a society are exposed to similar (but definitely not identical) experiences, it is not surprising that we share many of the same “beliefs” about good and bad. That does not make them inherent, or absolute, or god given.

    So saying that a materialist would have to conclude that our morals are simply a matter of our preference at the time is either an ignorant statement or a willful lie.

  138. 138
    REC says:

    “To be good is, by definition, to operate and behave as designed by a source from the outside.”

    By definition!

    To be good is to behave in a manner that optimizes the preferences of the community and minimizes suffering (contra-preferences).

    “the pencil should write and the can opener should open cans. The pencil should not try to open cans. They should not try to change their natures.”

    And who determines your nature? Your slave owner? Your parents? Are you a pencil or a can opener? Is this freedom? What an oddly fascist screed.

  139. 139
    ebenezer says:

    REC @ 136:

    Because with shared genetics, and in some cases culture and education, they might be the very same preferences I share.

    And…?

    At the point where I disagree that my genetics give me the same preferences as yours give you, that justification falls flat—and I do. At the point where culture informs moral standards, it is right for politically ambitious individuals to destroy millions of harmless citizens, if they can but find (or rule so as to create) a fitting culture—and they have. At the point where education ensures that I share your preferences, we’re simply seeing that those high enough up in the educational establishment can impose their personal feelings about how a particular class of animals (materialists would say) should, having through an Incredible Stroke Of Dumb Luck become conscious of themselves, behave—and guess what? They can!

    Barry seems unable to grasp that materialists believe society and culture and values do exist, playing out on our material brains. It is like saying I can’t watch a digital movie, because it is just electrons and stuff.

    You absolutely can watch a digital movie, and because the digital movie was produced by an intelligent cause, you’ll even get to make sense of it and describe it in more meaningful terms than “just electrons and stuff”. To compare that to “values” which by one’s own admission are nothing more than chemical reactions and how we see those reactions “playing out on” our brains is to risk a mangled metaphor. Thankfully metaphors aren’t Sentient, so that’s OK… although, really, what’s to say that sentience makes anything worthy of special treatment?

    And the great thing about what “plays out on” our brains is that it’s not guaranteed to be consistent across all brains, which makes it anyone’s guess which brain-playings-out are acceptable for imposing on everyone else and calling “right”. To ascribe anything “right” or “wrong” to what our brains come up with, having begun with materialist premises, is to take the cannon of Logic and aim it squarely at the foot of one’s unquestionable Philosophy.

    “Random” interestingly keeps getting thrown in. Again, I’d argue our brains are quite conditioned by genetics and learning to produce non-random outcomes. What is the fitness of an irrational brain? Come on.

    Define “rational”! No, really. Let’s define “rational”:

    based on or in accordance with reason or logic

    What is the fitness of your brain if it decides to eliminate fellow humans once they become disabled or incapacitated or helpless? What is the fitness of your brain if it decides to turn the other cheek—give your cloak in addition to your coat—go two miles instead of one—do good to them that hate you?

    If we’re taking “rational” and “non-random” to mean “logically understood to be beneficial” and bringing up fitness, then a world of very right-sounding things becomes untenable. We’re not, though: we’re talking about right and wrong. In a world where matter is all that there is, what is non-random about what “genetics” tells us is “right”? What unchanging absolute backs up what “learning” tells us is “wrong”?

  140. 140
    velikovskys says:

    SB:

    God is the cause of both human nature and the morality proper to it.

    Got it, God is the ultimate source of morality.

    However, the morality of human nature is possible only if human nature exists.

    I would have guessed the objective morality always existed since it is a good and God encompasses all good ,actual or possible.

    Human nature takes logical precedence over the morality of human nature.

    If the source of morality is the essence of God it would seem to precede all else.

    There is such a thing as objective truth, which is the object of knowledge, and there is such a thing as a process for knowing objective truth, but there is no such thing as an objective process for knowing.

    Rather you mean it is your subjective belief is there is such a thing as objective truth and there is no objective way to know it.

    The existence of objective morality does not depend on our ways of coming to know it, but our way of coming to know it does depend on the existence of objective morality.

    You seem to be switching between objective truth and objective morality. I do not think they are interchangeable, an possible objective truth is there is no objective morality. I agree if objective morality exists, it always has and if it doesn’t exist we can’t know it.

    The existence of objective morality takes logical precedence over our ways of knowing about objective morality.

    Without knowing it exists we can’t know it exists?

    More broadly, metaphysics take logical precedence over epistemology. A thing can exist without your knowing about it, but you can’t know about a thing unless it exists.

    Unless you are just making stuff up, but of course existence of objects is indepedent of human knowledge or discovery would be impossible.

  141. 141
    0812681 says:

    @ rec #139

    To be good is to behave in a manner that optimizes the preferences of the community and minimizes suffering (contra-preferences).

    Wich community, the one back in the days of Nazi Germany? or one where ISIS runs the show? Or the one where Mother Theresa runs the show?

    And who determines your nature? Your slave owner? Your parents? Are you a pencil or a can opener? Is this freedom? What an oddly fascist screed.

    The designer, duh! Well, you actually have freedom..
    So, let’s say, you have a chainsaw, you can ignore the instructions/manual on how to use it, and try clipping your toenails with it.

    It’s your reasoning that’s quite odd. Please excuse StephenB for getting dragging into it.

  142. 142
    0812681 says:

    @ velikovskys

    You seem to be switching between objective truth and objective morality. I do not think they are interchangeable, an possible objective truth is there is no objective morality. I agree if objective morality exists, it always has and if it doesn’t exist we can’t know it.

    If objective/absolute truth doesn’t exist, neither does objective morality exists.

    Because if objective/absolute truth would not exist, then life/existance(=the design) would have no objective/actual purpose. And if there would be no objective/actual purpose, then there would be no objective morality (whereby to judge anything to be good or evil).

    You need to know what/where the target is to be able to aim (for it).

  143. 143
    0812681 says:

    Much for love and respect for Barry, WJM and StephenB, because the time they put in all these threads. It’s takes a lot of time/patience to propely deal with some of these nontheist folks.

    I’m out. Goodnight

  144. 144
    ebenezer says:

    lack of Focus @ 138:

    Does Barry really think that these influences do not affect the “wiring”, and, therefore, the chemical interactions in our brain that significantly affect our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and moral values? Sorry, but the evidence simply doesn’t support him.

    I didn’t see where Mr. Arrington disagreed with that. The point seems rather to be that we can’t rationally impose the results of our chemical interactions on everyone else!

    And if “these influences do” indeed “affect the ‘wiring’”, that’s all the more reason for the materialist to rebel if he so chooses! Nothing is objectively “right” or “wrong” about chemical interactions—they happen, and that is all. Someone who’s experienced different influences, under this assumption, will have different “moral values,” which may even completely conflict with mine; my influences don’t make my values any more valid than his. (Contrariwise, if a Creator made me and told me what to and not to do, I can think, feel, and believe anything I want, but that won’t change the Creator’s authority over me.)

    Our strongly held moral values have changed over time, from society to society, and within an individual. Most people today would view ritualistic cannibalism as being morally abhorrent. But when and where it was practiced it was done so out of respect and love. So, who is right?

    Is this not an agreement with the OP?

    But the electro-chemical processes that occur in the brain are dramatically affected, modified and limited by our experiences. And given that the majority of people within a society are exposed to similar (but definitely not identical) experiences, it is not surprising that we share many of the same “beliefs” about good and bad. That does not make them inherent, or absolute, or god given.

    It also does not make them right or wrong. Experiences don’t make our “beliefs” right or wrong. Electro-chemical processes don’t make them right or wrong.

    So saying that a materialist would have to conclude that our morals are simply a matter of our preference at the time is either an ignorant statement or a willful lie.

    It’s not, no: if one accepts materialism, one cannot logically point to anything other than preference as a judge of morals. The materialist knows better, right? He knows that his beliefs and values and feelings are nothing more than chemicals having an electrical celebration; they’re not to be trusted to get anything right. If he ventures across a more-pleasant system of moral judgment than what his experiences have formed in him, he is free to claim it as his own, and no one (least of all himself) can challenge him. The only time when his morals are not “a matter of… preference” is when he sees them as determined by something more than chance and matter and time—and then he is no materialist.

  145. 145
    StephenB says:

    SB: The existence of objective morality takes logical precedence over our ways of knowing about objective morality.

    velikovskys

    Without knowing it exists we can’t know it exists?

    No, you are not even trying. You can’t know that it exists unless it already exists.

    There is no reason to correct all your other comments, which reflect basically the same kind of confusion.

  146. 146
    Andre says:

    Bob H

    Box, I don’t see a problem with a materialist concept of good and evil. It’ll obviously have different groundings to the theistic one, but the decisions on when someone or an act is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ will, for many or most cases, be the same as the theistic decision.

    In materialism there is no grounding of good and evil, its false, what are you grounding it in? What is your unchanging standard? They are not the same, you’re stealing the concept from theism and trying to declare it yours…. Materialism is incoherent, you know it yet you defend it? Why is that?

  147. 147
    Andre says:

    lack of focus

    Does Barry really think that these influences do not affect the “wiring”, and, therefore, the chemical interactions in our brain that significantly affect our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and moral values? Sorry, but the evidence simply doesn’t support him.

    Do you believe Non material things can influence chemical reactions? You’re a closet theist mate! Chemical reactions obey the laws of nature, if it was not the case science as a way of knowledge would be impossible…….

  148. 148
    Andre says:

    REC

    the pencil should write and the can opener should open cans. The pencil should not try to open cans. They should not try to change their natures.”

    And who determines your nature? Your slave owner? Your parents? Are you a pencil or a can opener? Is this freedom? What an oddly fascist screed.

    But we are not pencils or can openers are we? You determine your own nature. You choose Good or evil.

  149. 149
    StephenB says:

    REC

    To be good is to behave in a manner that optimizes the preferences of the community and minimizes suffering (contra-preferences).

    Sorry, REC, you have provided a contradictory standard:

    We have two communities:

    Community A accepts slavery (The United States in the early 20t Century)

    Community B rejects slavery (The United States in the late 20th Century)

    So, according to your definition, a good person behaves in a way that accepts slavery and also in a way that rejects slavery.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
    Another problem with your definition is that its first part can be in conflict with the second part. Supporting community preferences could increase rather than decrease suffering.

    That is why my definition of good is rational and your definition is irrational.

    However, I congratulate you for having the courage to at least put something out there.

    Your comrades are afraid to provide a definition for morality, or good, or evil.

  150. 150
    ENich says:

    I stand in the middle most times, but this, this is where I observe the side (materialism) to the left of me disintegrate into madness. I’ve seen this more times than I care to remember. A man (me) sitting on the sidelines watching it unfold is truly a bizarre thing to behold. It is astonishing that the materialists here cannot see the implications of their worldview. You folks are borrowing capital so blatantly and obviously. As an onlooker, it’s kind of odd you miss these issues being pushed in your maw. Are present faculties that numb? It leaves me with a strange feeling of some spiraling aberration. It is eerie to see some learned beings take this route. I cannot hold to this worldview or flirt with it any longer, it is fruitless. What an abyss.

  151. 151
    RDFish says:

    Hi 0812681,

    Well, utilitarianism doesn’t help you much either. Because if rape or murder would help achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then rape and murder would be a good thing.

    At least the crowd is consistent here in their abject inability to debate these issues coherently. In your case, you’ve comically mistaken my comment to Barry for some sort of endorsement for or appeal to utilitarianism; of course it was no such thing, but rather merely an example of a philosophy that is compatible with both objectivism and materialism. Good grief.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  152. 152
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry,

    I repeat: I’ve already laid your misguided OP to rest. Materialism simply does not entail subjectivism, or any other aspect of moral theory, as any freshman philosophy student could tell you. Look up utilitarianism if you can’t think of a philosophy that is traditionally objectivist and compatible with materialism.

    You are a coward for never responding to my arguments, and a child for your silly tantrums.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  153. 153
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    To be good is, by definition, to operate and behave as designed by a source from the outside.

    That is merely the definition that you personally prefer to use.

    The purpose of the can opener and the pencil was decided upon by their designers—not by the can opener and the pencil.

    It’s morally wrong to use a can opener as a fishing weight?

    Similarly, if humans were designed by an outside source, they should behave the way they were designed and intended to behave.

    By what objective standard do you decide that humans should behave in this fashion? In what objective moral standard do you read that humans should not rebel against their designers?

    That is what we call morality. If morality doesn’t mean that, then it doesn’t mean anything.

    You think you can win a debate by simply declaring that your definitions of these words are correct and everyone else’s are not. You can’t win a debate that way.

    If humans act against their nature, then they are bad humans. That is my definition of good and bad. I didn’t invent it.

    Right – lots of different people have come up with this independently. But it was their mere personal preference to have chosen this definition instead of others, and it is merely your personal preference too.

    What is your definition of a normal moral sense?

    The faculty that human beings have for perceiving moral qualities.

    What is your definition of morality?

    Beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.

    What is your definition of good? What is your definition of evil?

    These words defined by our moral sense itself – that which we perceive as good is good, and as evil is evil.

    You use these words on a regular basis but I have no reason to believe that you know what you mean when you use them. Do you?

    Obviously so.

    We’ve been here before. In my view, moral perceptions are akin to other perceptions of abstract qualities, such as humor. People find certain behavior funny, and other behavior not funny; analogously, people find certain behaviors moral or immoral. Humor elicits certain responses from people – laughing, smiling, and so on. Immoral behavior elicits certain responses too – approval, outrage, etc.

    It isn’t hard to understand.

    I am not trying to prove that objective morality exists.

    If objective morality does not exist, why do you attack subjectivism?

    Of course, you could also answer the question of the OP. But we are beginning to give up hope that you will even try.

    I’ve done that several times now. There is nothing about materialism that entails subjectivism.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  154. 154
    Andre says:

    RDFish

    Materialism simply does not entail subjectivism

    This is the best joke all week…… What is materialism unchanging standard? What is it grounded in? Please do tell…..

  155. 155
    Piotr says:

    StephenB

    To be good is, by definition, to operate and behave as designed by a source from the outside.

    By definition? Who and where has ever defined goodness in this way? In my lexicon, this is merely the definition of blind obedience.

    But of course you can take Abraham’s approach. God tells me to kill my child… well, God knows better, and who am I to protest? Killing children is OK if mandated by a source from the outside.

  156. 156
    Andre says:

    Piotr

    Nice projection there…….

  157. 157
    RDFish says:

    Hi Andre,

    RDFish: Materialism simply does not entail subjectivism
    Andre: This is the best joke all week……What is materialism unchanging standard? What is it grounded in? Please do tell…..

    The joke is on you, I’m afraid.

    Different objectivist theories rely on different standards of course. Which objectivist moral philosophy that is compatible with materialism would you like to discuss? We could start with something well-known like utilitarianism, or Kant’s ethics, or even the objectivism of Ayn Rand.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  158. 158
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 128 –

    Sigh. The requirement to use those words in a sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain” is to reject materialists premises. Then and only then can you use those words as if they have objective meaning.

    Putting aside objectivist materialist moralities (whose existence have been pointed out above) for the moment, why should we have to use these words in a way that has objective meaning? Why can’t we use them is a way that is subjective, but have meanings that are accepted by (societal) consensus?

  159. 159
    Box says:

    RDFish: Which objectivist moral philosophy that is compatible with materialism would you like to discuss? We could start with something well-known like utilitarianism, or Kant’s ethics, or even the objectivism of Ayn Rand.

    If those are genuine materialistic ethical theories, then do tell us how an Utilitarian, Kantian or an “Objectivist” (Ayn Rand) would respond to Barry’s statement:

    Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    It’s okay to say: “I haven’t got the faintest idea, it seems that Barry’s statement encompasses and refutes any materialistic attempt of grounding morality.”

  160. 160
    Andre says:

    RDFish

    Different objectivist theories rely on different standards of course.

    I re-read this about five times just to make sure….. if the standards are different RDfish then there is nothing objective, I can not for one minute believe you think that true. You are not that daft……..

    Something is objective when it is an unchanging standard not differing standards!

  161. 161
    Piotr says:

    If you read it once or twice (or another five times) again you may eventually notice the difference in suffixes:

    objective : objectivist

  162. 162
    Mark Frank says:

    #161 Andre

    Another way of putting it is that over the millenia from Aristotle to G.E. Moore there have been many, many different “objectivist” theories of ethics such as NML, Kantian categorical imperatives and utilitarianism. They all claim to be objective in the sense that they propose criteria for what is good or bad which are not a matter of personal opinion. Our point is that they are not really objective because there is no objective way of deciding between them.

  163. 163
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    box says,

    If those are genuine materialistic ethical theories, then do tell us how an Utilitarian, Kantian or an “Objectivist” (Ayn Rand) would respond to Barry’s statement:

    I say,

    They are not materialistic theories and not compatible with materialism. Apparently RDFish is confounding atheism with materialism.

    You can be an atheist and objectivist at the same time if you ground your ethics in something transcendent outside yourself.

    However a materialist does not have that option because he does not believe in the transcendent by definition.

    This is pretty simple stuff. There should be no controversy here

    peace

  164. 164
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    Emergentism is a counterexample to your claim. It’s a materialist claim, but states that consciousness can *not* be “reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.”

    Materialism states that all phenomena supervene on the physical, not that they can necessarily be reduced to the physical.

  165. 165
    Mark Frank says:

    #164 5MM

    And you can be a materialist and objectivist (to the extent that objectivism is possible – see #163) if you ground your ethics in something material – like utilitarianism.

  166. 166
    Box says:

    Mark Frank #165, do tell us how an Utilitarian would respond to Barry’s challenge:

    Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.

    It’s okay to say: “I haven’t got the faintest idea, it seems that Barry’s statement encompasses and refutes any materialistic attempt of grounding morality.”

  167. 167
    Eugen says:

    Materialists secretly borrow ideas on morality from religions. There should be setup like this for materialist proponents:

    1. You have only atoms and their energy interactions to start
    2. Build a case for your morality from that

  168. 168
    niwrad says:

    Materialists should thank Barry Arrington and the other IDers for dealing with these topics. The persons who really help us are not those who condescend with our errors, rather those who put us before our own contradictions and incoherencies.

  169. 169
    Mark Frank says:

    #168 niwrad

    The persons who really help us are not those who condescend with our errors, rather those who put us before our own contradictions and incoherencies.

    I have been providing that service to you guys for about a decade and never had a word of thanks!

  170. 170
    0812681 says:

    @ RDFish #152

    you’ve comically mistaken my comment to Barry for some sort of endorsement for or appeal to utilitarianism; of course it was no such thing, but rather merely an example of a philosophy that is compatible with both objectivism and materialism.

    No, you’re wrong. Utilitarianism CANNOT be compatible with both objectivism and materialism. So you really gave a flawed example.

    Here’s why. Read it carefully.
    Moral objectivism implies/assumes there is a objective purpose to existence/life/the design. But on materialism there is no objective purpose to life/existence/the design. As a result, materialism will always lack an objective moral standard whereby to judge anything good or evil.

    Materialists/nontheists have to imagine/make up a purpose to life/existence/the design, in order to have a moral standard whereby to judge anything good or evil.

    People are free to imagine/make up any kind of purpose for life they want, though, but then their position wouldn’t be objective no more. Materialism always leads to subjectivism.

    Therefore, objectivism and materialism are INCOMPATIBLE. So you’re simply wrong, or just ignorant of how flawed your way of reasoning is.

    Stop trying to defend the indefensible, or you will actually prove the title of the OP to be true.

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    I am always unhappy with strong, condemnatory labels. I believe that we are finite, fallible, morally and intellectually struggling, too often in unrecognised error, too often too proud to acknowledge cogent correction, far too often ill-willed and even outright irrational. Never mind when we are rushing lemming-like over a cliff . . . maybe, especially when we are doing that.

    I repeat: all of us.

    All.

    We all must get up day by day and fight with our inner fool.

    If, we are wise, or hope to be wise.

    That said, sometimes strong denunciation — the adult equivalent of a couple of stinging (but not abusive) whacks across the glutes for a recalcitrant child — is necessary. (Some days past, a certain tart-tongued member of the local assembly had to be brought up sharp and short on an apparently alcohol-fuelled diatribe that played games with earlier defamation under immunity of parliament; for instance.)

    So, I don’t like the tone set for this thread, but must respect that in the judgement of a very experienced attorney at law, it is a sad necessity. A judicial reprimand on record, in effect.

    Maybe, some folks will wake up to the realities of a priori evolutionary materialism and where it points as a consequence. Never mind how these days it loves to dress up in a lab coat and call itself “Science.”

    I think Eugen has put the matter succinctly:

    Materialists secretly borrow ideas on morality from religions. There should be setup like this for materialist proponents:

    1. You have only atoms and their energy interactions to start
    2. Build a case for your morality from that

    Back in the days when it used to wear philosophers’ robes, 2350 years ago, Plato exposed what is going on in The Laws, Bk X:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”)], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them.

    Sobering words, if we will heed them.

    Words of warning, I repeat yet again, knowing full well just how often they have been studiously ignored or impatiently dismissed.

    And I can with my mind’s eye see the shades of Plato, Socrates and Alcibiades gravely nodding as they hover at my shoulder.

    Nor is that all.

    Evolutionary materialism undermines basic rationality, in fact the above is a reflection of its underlying self referential incoherence.

    That I have long discussed on record here.

    As one clip, Reppert notes:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    Pearcey is just as strong, in her recent Finding Truth:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . .

    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.”

    What, then, is wisdom?

    Eighty and more years ago now, Haldane hit the nail squarely on the head:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    So, BA may be brusque in the OP, but just perhaps is was earned by stubborn refusal to heed softer words.

    And, maybe, now that the 2 x 4 across the head has got attention, maybe we need to actually listen to the underlying analysis that highlights the problem.

    KF

  172. 172
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I think I need to point out that there is a huge difference between the worldview stance moral objectivism, and the actual issue, moral truth as objective reality. Objectivity of moral truth and possibility therefore of objective moral knowledge and standards. Where, on my considered view, to dismiss objectivity of certain moral principles as actually true, is to plunge over the cliff into utter self referential incoherence by way of implying grand and general delusion of our intellectual capacity. More is at stake than we may think.

  173. 173
    kairosfocus says:

    As the Greeks said, a word to the wise is sufficient . . .

  174. 174
    Box says:

    Eugen:

    Materialists secretly borrow ideas on morality from religions. There should be setup like this for materialist proponents:

    1. You have only atoms and their energy interactions to start
    2. Build a case for your morality from that.

    I cannot agree more. And behold the kindness on our part! Although our opponents insist that only particles in motion exist we don’t ask of them to ground consciousness, free will, reason and responsibility-BECAUSE we know that they cannot. We kindly allow them to use these concepts because we know that if we don’t discussion is impossible-since our opponents would not be able to utter a single word.
    But still, despite all that is granted to them, they come up empty-which underscores the utter impotence of materialism.

  175. 175
    Mark Frank says:

    KF

    I am always unhappy with strong, condemnatory labels.

    Like “RDFish is an Idiot”?

  176. 176
    Silver Asiatic says:

    MF 163

    Our point is that they are not really objective because there is no objective way of deciding between them.

    They are objective because they reference something external to the person. So, that’s something different from subjectivism. The authority of an objective system is in the source of the objective values – those can be assessed and deliberated. The same cannot be done for subjectivist morals.

    The choice of one objectivist code or system, versus another is a ‘subjective’ decision. But all choices we make are subjective, so that’s not really telling us much.

    The main thing is the difference between objective codes and subjectivism. From that, a person can judge both the meaning and rightness of the code itself, as well as the authority of the source of the code.

    In subjectivism, the authority or law-giver, is the individual person. The law-maker, judge, defendant, prosecutor, and the one giving punishment or reward are all the same person.

    In objective morals, the code comes from a source external to the person, and is established and promoted as a moral code for reasons of its integrity or compliance with a philosophical principle or it’s divine authority.

    The choice of doing good or bad is based on future goals.

    A materialist objective code could be established, but it would be irrational and illogical since materialism cannot speak of purpose, meaning or goals. Materialism cannot even speak of truth or the need for consistency – so there could never be any rationally-justified reason for anyone to adhere to an objective code.

    I don’t think materialism even entails subjectivism because a subjectivist morality still requires free choice and assumes there is some purpose or goal.

    The point of the OP is that there is no need for a moral code within materialism. Chemical processes we call ‘life’ just do things. There is no choice or need to discern a good from evil act. Human acts are all of the same neutral value. Even things that don’t promote fitness are not ‘evil’. The extinction of a species is not good or evil – it just happens.

    Even the idea that there is a ‘person’ (which is a theological term originally) as an individual making subjective decisions is inconsistent with materialism.

    Rain clouds don’t decide to give off precipitation. They don’t make a subjective moral choice to do that.

    Rationality itself is inconsistent with materialism since to be rational, one has to make choices and decide on the truth of things.

    Chemicals don’t care about truth or falsehood. In fact, there cannot be any falsehood in materialism. There is only what is. A falsehood is something imaginary that does not exist in matter. Materialism cannot create falsehoods – things with no material reality.

  177. 177
    Joe says:

    fishy:

    There is nothing about materialism that entails subjectivism.

    There is nothing about materialism that entails morality. With materialism morality is just an illusion bandied about by those who need help to survive.

  178. 178
    Hangonasec says:

    BA @132:

    You have yet to say why someone should care what the electro-chemical impulses caused by your brain impel you to prefer.

    Who said I’m asking them to? It is enough, in the first instance, that I care. What is it with theists and their insistence that morality is all about the control of others? It has that element, of course, because a desire to avoid harm to others will naturally extend towards preventing such harm by other elements in the world – falling trees, toxic food additives and knife-wielding psychopaths among them. But I am explaining my view of the way in which the fundamental sense of ‘materialist morality’ may arise, not a reason why anyone should agree with me on what is and what isn’t specifically Right-or-Wrong.

    You think it should be obvious that we should agree with you when you say those electro-chemical impulses have impelled you to say that survival and reproduction should be preferred.

    No. You are confusing my statement of a possible origin for the existence of a moral sense in humans with what one ‘should’ individually do given that we have such restraints by common agreement. We can all bin a list of actions into ‘good’, ‘evil’, and ‘neither’, whatever our metaphysical premises, because as English speakers we understand the kinds of qualities that render the labels appropriate. Individuals may not concur on every single one (Masturbation anyone? Homosexuality? Contraception?) but find, when we compare notes, that we do indeed ‘prefer’ many of the same things.

    Differential survival/reproduction associated with traits is one reason why they can become prevalent in a population. But a morality thus originated would not impel one to maximise survival and reproduction as the driver of moral imperatives. If social cohesiveness itself were a driver for improved reproductive success of members, it would not require that individuals consciously choose to maximise that success. Indeed such strategies can backfire if that is the aim. If someone decides to take a shortcut and superficially improve their reproductive success directly, by rape, killing, etc, they may find that they ultimately left fewer descendants by doing so, because the net gain does not offset the net loss over the long term. And either way, you can’t derive an ought from an is.

    It is not. You are a bag of chemicals on materialist principles, and the universe is indifferent to your existence.

    I dare say it is. I’m not, though. There are things I value – people, landscapes, species as well as the individuals within them, certain patterns of cloud and sunshine … and honesty, kindness, goodwill etc. I don’t have to be made of eternal spirit for these things to matter. I just have to be aware of them, and the positive sensations they engender. Of course at this point one trots out the boogeyman who mythically gets the same positive sensations from child-torture. You could always try telling them they’re objectively wrong. That should do the trick.

  179. 179
    Roy says:

    UD Editors: Sniveling and whining deleted from this comment. Nothing is left over.

    There are problems with this approach. Not only does it render any and all complaints about censorship elsewhere ineffective, but those unsympathetic with the editors may not believe that the deleted comments were as characterised.

    Roy

  180. 180
    Hangonasec says:

    0812681 @131

    I ask you the same questions I asked RDFish.

    Let’s say the rape of your wife, mother, sister or daughter enhanced survival and reproduction. Would you still say rape is a good thing?

    […]

    My guess is that your preference is that they need not be raped, nor murdered.

    So I think Barry has understood you very well.

    No, and neither have you. Please see my more detailed response above, but fundamentally, I don’t see how either of you can get “survival and reproduction are what should be maximised”, still less “rape is good”, from what I wrote regarding the origins of the moral sense under a materialist scenario. But I doubt any restatement will rectify that comprehension issue, so if that’s what you think I said …

  181. 181
    REC says:

    “Sorry, REC, you have provided a contradictory standard:

    We have two communities:
    Community A accepts slavery (The United States in the early 20t Century)
    Community B rejects slavery (The United States in the late 20th Century)
    So, according to your definition, a good person behaves in a way that accepts slavery and also in a way that rejects slavery.”

    I assume you mean the 19th century for A–and is it interesting you exclude the slaves themselves and abolitionists from the “community.”

    Good is when society maximizes the preferences of all. In the south, with few slaveowners and many slaves, were preferences optimized? Your example fails my standard.

    This comment also cuts you worse than me. What transcendent universal standard let religious people who thought they it was morally right to own slaves, or led them to fight for a stratified society?

    Maximizing preferences in society means struggle–religions, serfs, slaves, minorities, women, gays all have had to fight, often with the help of others, to maximize their happiness. Isn’t this a more consistent view of history? What universal version of “good” do you see emerge from history?

  182. 182
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hangonasec @ 179.

    If you ignore corrections you will continue to wallow in error. You seem to insist on ignoring corrections. But I will try one more time.

    I am explaining my view of the way in which the fundamental sense of ‘materialist morality’ may arise, not a reason why anyone should agree with me on what is and what isn’t specifically Right-or-Wrong.

    You have yet to say why someone should care that the electro-chemical impulses of your brain have impelled you to prefer some view of the way a sense of “materialist morality” may arise.

  183. 183
    Piotr says:

    #126 Barry,

    I don’t claim to own words and assign them private meaning. My comment at 111 was based on elementary logic that is equally available to all and on which you do not have even a tenuous grasp.

    So you insist that I go on blithely using words with meanings I have no right to ascribe to them given my premises (and elementary logic). Could you please offer a concrete example of such illegal use instead of a blanket condemnation?

  184. 184
    Silver Asiatic says:

    It is said that morality guides us to actions that give pleasure or social welfare or cooperation. Those are good actions. And we avoid ‘bad’ actions that cause pain, disruption of society, etc.

    That’s why a materialist morality doesn’t make any sense.

    Organisms just do things. Chemicals make them do certain actions and avoid others.

    To suddenly call that ‘morality’ is absurd.

    Whatever an organism does, is the thing that it does. It moves towards one thing and away from another.

    Why would an organism do something it “shouldn’t” do?

    Is there some sort of evolutionary Judge or Court that convicts mutations for causing something ‘bad’?

    There is no way to commit an evil act in the materialist model. Try as you might, you can’t do anything evil.

    Chemical processes cannot choose to do ‘the wrong thing’.

    Even just theoretically, why would any organism ‘choose’ what it is programmed to avoid?

    Does the bird make a choice each day: Eat something and live or don’t eat anything? Obviously, the bird eats something every day. It never decides to do ‘the wrong thing’ and not eat anything at all. It moves towards food and away from predators. There’s no morality in that.

    So, there’s no reason to even talk about morality in the materialist view. “Good” is anything we do. “Evil” is anything we don’t do. Therefore, there are no evil acts.

    If we do the thing, we were programmed to do it.

    That’s the insanity of materialism. Supposedly, we do things we are programmed not to do.

    So, we do the impossible. An evil act would be impossible.

    We are programmed to do whatever we do. We don’t possess any programming that would enable us to do what we’re not programmed to do.

    It’s like saying if software did something it was not capable of doing by its own code, that would be ‘an evil act’.

    We’re programmed (supposedly) to do all the things we do. It doesn’t matter the reason. Materialists call this “morally good actions”. We take care of ourselves, eat, sleep – we take care of the community, etc. We are programmed to move towards these things. We are programmed to avoid other things. We can’t do them.

    As has been said, calling any of this ‘morality’ or even using the terms ‘good and evil’ is stealing concepts from religion. Morality is totally unnecessary and illogical in the materialist view.

  185. 185
    Barry Arrington says:

    Piotr @ 184. Seriously? That is what the entire OP and thread have been about. Are you really saying you have not tripped to it? Astounding.

  186. 186
    tarmaras says:

    @MAPOU

    “There is a whole slew of things that materialism is unable to explain besides free will. For examples, materialism cannot explain our infatuation with music, beauty and the arts, none of which are properties of matter. Materialism cannot explain color and taste sensations. There is nothing red, blue, salty or sweet in sensory stimuli. All stimuli (discrete sensory signals) look exactly the same when travelling down an axon. They look exactly the same when they reach the neocortex. Yet we experience them as being different”
    ——————————–

    Spot on. If you don’t mind I would add like to signal one more objection to the materialist viewpoint, as described by Ashish Dalela in a blog post

    “Problems in Materialism

    The problem in materialism is that it seems to work very well when we describe individual objects, but fails when we describe object collections. If you begin with $1 notes, and count 100 of them individually, it seems that $100 is built up from $1 notes. It appears that $1 notes are real and $100 is just a made up thing from these notes. But if you begin with the value of $100 and divide into smaller parts, it seems that there are many ways to divide it into different denominations. Each such division creates interdependent parts; i.e. if you choose to have $10 notes, then you must only have 10 of them.

    The problem of materialism is that when we study object collections, we find that there are still individuals but they are not independent. If they are not independent, then how do we define their existence? How do we define an individual that depends on the other individuals which in turn depend on this first individual?

    The problems of holism in science are too many to list here; they appear in many areas of physics (such as atomic theory and statistical mechanics), they appear in mathematics (because numbers are properties of collections), they appear in computing theory (because the meaning of a program is defined as a whole) and they appear in biology (because the functions in a living being are defined collectively).”

    http://www.ashishdalela.com/20.....n-reality/

  187. 187
    kairosfocus says:

    TM, a light bulb just went hot. I suddenly see that many objectors don’t see that macrostates — which are clusters of microstates defined on consistency with a lab level observable bulk state — are real. Likewise, I think they have a problem with the reality of a functional system standing on the wiring diagram connectivity and interaction of its parts, which in turn is information-rich with the info being quantifiable and specified on structured chains of Y/N q’s yielding say x functionally specific bits. I suspect they think those wholes are fictional ghosts, dismissible to convenience as fairy tales. Boy, are they wrong! For a lot of things it is the reality of the whole that leads to the fabrication and assembly of the parts to instantiate. Then onwards, to maintain. Pardon a side-point. KF

  188. 188
    WALTO says:

    I don’t know what def of “materialism” you like, but it seems to me very restrictive, since it can’t allow propositions, states of affairs, numbers, sets, etc. in addition to “goods” and “bads” (unless those are understood as biological events, which I agree with you is a mistake). However, once you start letting that kind of stuff in–which I’m guessing that many people who you label as “materialists” do–there’s no particular problem with goods and evils.

    The confusion I think the OP makes here is conflating subjective with person-derived. Many artifacts of human beings are not, for that reason, subjective. So, e.g., we may define goods as Hobbes did (roughly, objects of desire). Then some items are (objectively) good, and some are not. We can then also define “right” in a similar fashion if we wish to. In any case, one can hold that there are objective goods without being a Hobbesian in this way, and still not agree with theism, a position which I take you to be arguing for above. In a word, the whole OP is a mess of confusions and category mistakes.

  189. 189
    Mark Frank says:

    SA #177

    The choice of one objectivist code or system, versus another is a ‘subjective’ decision. But all choices we make are subjective, so that’s not really telling us much.
    The main thing is the difference between objective codes and subjectivism. From that, a person can judge both the meaning and rightness of the code itself, as well as the authority of the source of the code.

    What code or standard do you use to judge the meaning or rightness of the code?

  190. 190
    Roy says:

    To be good is, by definition, to operate and behave as designed by a source from the outside. The purpose of the can opener and the pencil was decided upon by their designers—not by the can opener and the pencil.

    Accordingly, the pencil should write and the can opener should open cans. The pencil should not try to open cans. They should not try to change their natures. That is what it means to be bad—to act contrary to your nature.

    Based on the above, nuclear weapons, thumbscrews, claymore mines and syringes containing heroin, cyanide or anthrax are all good; and a copy of the bible that stops a bullet is bad.

    I reject your philosophy.

    Roy

  191. 191
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, you already know the answer: plumbline, self-evident logical and moral truths, linked to the process of comparative difficulties across alternatives. For instance just as it is self evidently and undeniably so that error exists, just so it is implied that a system that implies that there are no moral errors is falsified. Even, if it implies that all are equally error or that, equivalently, it is might and manipulation that prop up a “consensus” as to what is or is not ‘right.’ In short, radical relativism and subjectivism stumble coming out the start-gates as a first moral truth is, moral errors — not just moral differences — and therefore knowable moral truths, exist. Moral yardstick 1 being, to kidnap, bind, torture, rape and murder a young child for pleasure [which would be a sick, perverted demonic pleasure . . . and always remember, C, the still grieving father is still around, as are that child’s brothers and nephews] is self evidently morally wrong. KF

  192. 192
    harry says:

    Silver Asiatic @185

    Exactly. Any objective analysis of materialism will reveal that it allows for no such things as morality, immorality, or free will.

    That there are in fact non-material realities can be demonstrated as follows:

    Let’s say we have gathered 100 people who have never assembled a 5 speed bicycle. Let’s further say that we give each of them a box containing the parts and the necessary tools. To some we convey the assembly instructions using audible speech. Each of these speaks a different language and receives the instructions from one who speaks their language. To others we convey the instructions using pictures; others receive written instructions in their native language; still others receive the instructions via sign language; others read them in Braille.

    They all assemble a 5 speed bicycle successfully. They received the instructions via radically different mediums. Some received them via photons, others via sound waves, others via their tactile systems by reading Braille. The concepts of which the instructions were comprised are obviously realities distinct from the physical media by which they were conveyed. Just as obviously the same realities were received by all of them. Materialists, of what matter did those conveyed realities consist?

  193. 193
    kairosfocus says:

    Roy, has it ever dawned on you that U-235, screws and threads, chemicals capable of explosion, etc have a proper purpose that means that at best, say a nuke weapon is only morally defensible as a lesser of two evils given ruthless aggressors? Or, have you forgotten that Hitler was trying to build nukes . . . and the bombs of the 1940’s were developed through the Manhattan Project in response to that? Indeed, that is why Einstein — a pacifist but recognising the reality of the potential horror of Hitler with a nuke — wrote to Roosevelt. Please, think soberly. KF

  194. 194
    Barry Arrington says:

    Comments on this thread are closed. Further comments on the topic should be placed on the “A Lesson in Rational Discourse for RDFish” thread.

Comments are closed.