Intelligent Design

The $68,584 Question

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There is such a thing as a professional “ethicist,” and as of this writing the median annual income of a clinical ethicist is $68,584. Here is one job description for such a position:

Offers guidance to patients, their families, and professional staff on ethical, legal and policy issues and concerns stemming from clinical interactions between health care professionals and patients. Provides guidance to the institutional ethics committee pertaining to policy formulation and educational and case review activities. Develops institutional policies concerning ethical issues such as “do-not-resuscitate” and “withdrawal of life-support”. Requires a master’s degree or doctorate related to health ethics and at least 5 years of experience in the field.

I can understand how a theist who believes in the objective reality of ethical norms could apply for such a position in good faith. By definition he believes certain actions are really wrong and other actions are really right, and therefore he often has something meaningful to say.

My question is how could a materialist apply for such a position in good faith? After all, for the materialist there is really no satisfactory answer to Arthur Leff’s “grand sez who” question that we have discussed on these pages before. See here for Philip Johnson’s informative take on the issue.

After all, when pushed to the wall to ground his ethical opinions in anything other than his personal opinion, the materialist ethicist has nothing to say. Why should I pay someone $68,584 to say there is no real ultimate ethical difference between one moral response and another because they must both lead ultimately to the same place – nothingness.

I am not being facetious here. I really do want to know why someone would pay someone to give them the “right answer” when that person asserts that the word “right” is ultimately meaningless.

205 Replies to “The $68,584 Question

  1. 1
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Barry, please explain to me why a person without any theistic beliefs cannot have any ethics? Yes, in a random sampling of atheists you will have a wide variation in ethical understandings. I accept this. But in a random sampling of theists you will get the same thing.

    Ethics and morals are about an agreed upon set of rules that a society tries to live by. They are not passed down from on high. I will admit that, historically, religions have played a large role in indoctrinating these “rules” into society, but they have also had a history of enforcing them, and not always in a manner that we would accept by today’s standards. But, there is no evidence that the decline in religion has resulted in a reduction in ethical and moral behaviour. By most measures, the US is more religious than Canada, but Canada has a much lower rate of crime and violence, even in the bigger cities. And even within Canada, these rates have been declining at the same time that religion has been on the decline.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Acartia-bogart at 1, Canada always had a much lower rate of crime and violence than the United States,irrespective of claimed religious values either way. The historical reasons are interesting, but need not detain us now. Also, all religious measures for Canada should separate secularist Quebec from the anglophone majority for more accurate results.

    The rate is declining due to the aging of the population. As Canadian demographer David Foot put it: 15 year-olds throw stones; 50 year-olds do not.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Barry, it doesn’t help that – Acartia_bogart’s claims notwithstanding – secular atheists have been vociferous in their support of euthanasia.

    The Dutch listened to the secularists.

    Recently a Dutch woman was euthanized because she did not want to go to a “nursing home”:
    http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/a.....manded.php

    The death doctors received a slap on the wrist for that, presumably so they would know enough to keep it quiet next time.

    Didn’t want to live in a nursing home? I have personally been on the front lines of this specific issue because many seniors, at least where I live, imagine that they are being moved to a living tomb. They are quite surprised when they discover the reality.

    The claim is usually untrue but promoted by euthanasia advocates, the majority of whom are secular atheists in my experience.

    For example, I can’t begin to take my old man to all the stuff he could do at the local seniors’ home. If it’s a tomb, it’s a pretty busy one – it’s crowdsourced care.

    My point? The believer in nothing (except of course, lethal injections) would be very risky in the position you describe. He can prey on the many common confusions people have about late life lifestyles, to paint a picture of misery that is usually untrue and need never be true, at least in a civilized society.

    Yes, there comes a point where a given medical intervention will not truly help the patient, young or old. An experienced, traditionally ethical physician will know when that point has been reached.

    Patients can be kept pain-free and largely discomfort-free anyway, up to the end, if that is the goal (comfort care). But it is only a goal for the traditionally ethical physician, I expect. Others may have other goals. I fear them, with good reason.

    For the safety of all, DNR and withdrawal of life support need a clear ethical justification in each individual case. They are often the right answer near the end, but not always. What are we trying to protect, to prevent?

    For example, just because a person is 85, and has a heart attack, doesn’t mean a medic should write DNR on the chart. My mom had a serious heart attack at 85. She was too old for surgery, so was treated with medications. We recently celebrated her 90th birthday, when we put on a well-attended gala for her at the retirement home.

    I am glad that no one was pestering us to get involved with end-of-life decisions. We’re just not advanced enough yet here, I guess. 😉

  4. 4
    Acartia_bogart says:

    News: “The rate is declining due to the aging of the population.”

    That is just spinning the data. It is true that the population is aging but the decrease in theistic beliefs has increased the most in the younger age groups. Whether it is overshadowed by the aging population, I don’t know. But you can’t ignore it.

    My point is simply that the claim that non theists can’t be moral and ethical is simply a load of excrement that is not supported by any evidence.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    Acartia_bogart:

    Barry, please explain to me why a person without any theistic beliefs cannot have any ethics?

    Why should he?

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Acartia_bogart:

    My point is simply that the claim that non theists can’t be moral and ethical is simply a load of excrement that is not supported by any evidence.

    Your point has nothing to do with the OP. Around here we call that a red herring.

  7. 7
    News says:

    Acartia-bogart at 4: To the extent that a population is aging, one can afford to assume that violence will decline irrespective of any other factor. If you believe that secularism is in some way relevant, it is up to you to make the case for it explicitly. I need defend nothing, merely point to the Statistics Canada data.

    (Hint: You made a mistake citing Canada in a dispute with a Canuck; common error, find a different hobby horse to flog next time out.)

  8. 8
  9. 9
    Acartia_bogart says:

    News: “Barry, it doesn’t help that – Acartia_bogart’s claims notwithstanding – secular atheists have been vociferous in their support of euthanasia.”

    This, again, is a load of excrement. You word this as if atheists are in favour of Logan’s Run style euthanasia. Which is just misrepresenting the facts and fear mongering on the same level as the Obamacare death panels. Many people, not just atheists, are in favour of assisted suicide under very clear restrictions. Those restrictions being that the person involved is the one who makes the decision, that they are mentally capable of making that decision, that they are not coerced or pressured, and that they are aware of all the options (eg., pain management strategies, etc.).

    Can it be abused, or can individuals slip through the cracks? Of course. And some will. We a know this. But if you can show me any human endeavour that is immune to this risk, I would love to hear about it.

    The opposition to this is not ethical or moral, it is religious (suicide is a sin and all that crap). We are not talking about putting the elderly on ice floes, we are talking about giving people the free will to make decisions about the end of their lives. And that decision should not be based on an old man’s interpretation of a mouldy old book.

  10. 10
    HeKS says:

    @Acartia_bogart #4

    You said:

    My point is simply that the claim that non theists can’t be moral and ethical is simply a load of excrement that is not supported by any evidence.

    Who on earth made that claim? Nobody I saw. The claim is not (and never has been) that non-theists can’t be moral and ethical people. That’s an extreme caricature of the claim. The claim is simply that the atheist materialist, however moral and ethical he may be in practice, cannot provide a satisfactory, objective basis for moral values and duties. Fortunately, there is no rule of nature that requires atheist materialists to live lives that are consistent with their foundational philosophies.

  11. 11
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Mung: “Your point has nothing to do with the OP. Around here we call that a red herring.”

    How do you figure this? The OP was claiming that a non theist can’t have a consistant ethical grounding. I questioned this. How is this a red Clupea?

    News: ” If you believe that secularism is in some way relevant, it is up to you to make the case for it explicitly.”

    No it isn’t. The OP brought up the claim that secularists are not qualified to establish policies on ethics so it is up to the OP author to make the case for it explicitly. Which they haven’t done. Not by a long stretch.

  12. 12
    Acartia_bogart says:

    HeKs, did we read the same article?

    From the OP: “I can understand how a theist who believes in the objective reality of ethical norms could apply for such a position in good faith. By definition he believes certain actions are really wrong and other actions are really right, and therefore he often has something meaningful to say.”

    And, by definition he is implying that a non-theist does not believe that certain actions are right or wrong.

    He then said: ” Why should I pay someone $68,584 to say there is no real ultimate ethical difference between one moral response and another because they must both lead ultimately to the same place – nothingness.”

    Where is the evidence that an atheist believes that there is no ethical difference between one response and another? Just your claim.

  13. 13
    Tim says:

    AB,

    Stop shifting around. In post #1 you said no ethics, now in post #11 you say no ethical grounding. Barry was clear and we all know what he is talking about.
    Also, you are mistaken. Your mistake lies in the fact that Barry left plenty of room for ethical grounding. For example, a utilitarianism based on hegemony would be a basis for ethics. Sure, most all of us know that it is a, if I may, “sucky” grounding, but it is still a grounding. I get it. It’s no fun getting painted into a corner and finding out that you yourself are holding the brush.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Barry, please explain to me why a person without any theistic beliefs cannot have any ethics?”

    Actually atheists think that they have morals which are above reproach. In fact they think that their morals are better than almighty God’s morals. ,,, In fact, one of the most common arguments by atheists against God is the ‘argument from evil’. Basically the ‘argument from evil’ from atheists is best summed up by these following quotes:

    “atheists have their theology, which is basically: “God, if he existed, wouldn’t do it this way (because) if I were God, I wouldn’t (do it that way).”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....85691.html

    “One of the great ironies of the atheist mind is that no-one is more cock-sure of exactly what God is like, exactly what God would think, exactly what God would do, than the committed atheist. Of course he doesn’t believe in God, but if God did exist, he knows precisely what God would be like and how God would behave. Or so he thinks”,,,”
    Eric – UD Blogger

    In fact, the ‘argument from evil’ was used by Charles Darwin in his book, ‘Origin of Species’,,,

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action;,,,
    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    And the argument from evil continues to be used by Darwinists today,,, . In this following video Dr. William Lane Craig is surprised to find that evolutionary biologist Dr. Ayala uses theological argumentation in his book to support Darwinism and invites him to present evidence, any evidence at all, that Darwinism can do what he claims it can:

    Refuting The Myth Of ‘Bad Design’ vs. Intelligent Design – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    Here, at about the 55:00 minute mark in the following video, Phillip Johnson sums up his, in my opinion, excellent lecture by noting that the refutation of his book, ‘Darwin On Trial’, in the Journal Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, was a theological argument about what God would and would not do and therefore Darwinism must be true, and the critique from Nature was not a refutation based on any substantiating scientific evidence for Darwinism.

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – lecture video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    In fact, in the twisted world of Darwinian reasoning, Dr. John Avise used the fact that mutations are overwhelmingly detrimental, which is actually a powerful scientific argument against Darwinism, as a theological argument for Darwinism since, according to Darwinian theology, God would never allow such things as detrimental mutations:

    “Another compilation of gene lesions responsible for inherited diseases is the web-based Human Gene Mutation Database (HGMD). Recent versions of HGMD describe more than 75,000 different disease causing mutations identified to date in Homo-sapiens.”
    John C. Avise – Inside the Human Genome: A Case for Non-Intelligent Design – Pg. 57

    I went to the mutation database website cited by John Avise and found:

    Mutation total (as of 2014-05-02) – 148,413
    http://www.hgmd.cf.ac.uk/ac/

    Contrary to what Dr. Avise may believe, such an overwhelming rate of detrimental mutations is NOT a point of evidence in favor of Darwinism! In fact, it is a very powerful scientific argument against Darwinian claims (M. Behe, J. Sanford),,, That this fact would even have to be pointed out to Darwinists is a sad testimony to how warped Darwinian thinking truly is in regards to the science at hand….

    In the following quote, Dr. John Avise explicitly uses Theodicy to try to make the case for Darwinism:

    It Is Unfathomable That a Loving Higher Intelligence Created the Species – Cornelius Hunter – June 2012
    Excerpt: “Approximately 0.1% of humans who survive to birth carry a duplicon-related disability, meaning that several million people worldwide currently are afflicted by this particular subcategory of inborn metabolic errors. Many more afflicted individuals probably die in utero before their conditions are diagnosed. Clearly, humanity bears a substantial health burden from duplicon-mediated genomic malfunctions. This inescapable empirical truth is as understandable in the light of mechanistic genetic operations as it is unfathomable as the act of a loving higher intelligence. [112]” – Dr. John Avise – “Inside The Human Genome: A Case For Non-Intelligent Design”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....it-is.html

    There you have it. Evil exists and a loving higher intelligence wouldn’t have done it that way.
    At about the 55:00 minute mark in the following video, Phillip Johnson sums up his, in my opinion, excellent lecture by noting that the refutation of his book, ‘Darwin On Trial’, in the Journal Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, was a theological argument about what God would and would not do and therefore Darwinism must be true, and the critique from Nature was not a refutation based on any substantiating scientific evidence for Darwinism that one would expect to be brought forth in such a prestigious venue:

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – lecture video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    Many more examples of theology parading as science could be brought forth, but the main problem with the argument from evil from Darwinists, besides the sheer hubris of Darwinists presupposing that they have more knowledge than God, is that the argument from evil collapses in on itself. As the following video clearly shows,,,

    Student (Albert Einstein) Vs. Professor – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3qjDF9ksJU

    ,as the preceding video clearly shows, evil cannot exist without an objective standard of good. i.e. evil is a departure from the good way things ‘ought’ to be.
    Thus the ‘argument from evil’ presupposes an objective, ‘good’, morality to be a real in its premises. Yet atheistic materialism holds that morality is a subjective illusion that emerged from some material basis. Dr. Cornelius Hunter sums up the incoherency inherent in the argument from evil like this,,

    “The strength of materialism is that it obviates the problem of evil altogether. God need not be reconciled with evil, because neither exists. Therefore the problem of evil is no problem at all.,,, And of course since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil-the very thing the materialist seems to deny. The argument (from Theodicy) that led to materialism is exhausted just when it is needed most. In other words, the problem of evil is only generated by the prior claims that evil exists. One cannot then conclude, with Dawkins, that there is ‘no evil and no good’ in the universe.,,,
    The fact that evolution’s acceptance hinges on a theological position would, for many, be enough to expel it from science. But evolution’s reliance on metaphysics is not its worst failing. Evolution’s real problem is not its metaphysics but its denial of its metaphysics.,,,
    Cornelius Hunter – Darwin’s God – pg. 154 & 159

    Verse and Music:

    Philippians 4:8
    Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

    Blameless – Dara Maclean – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHUEQvP9u94

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    correction: sorry for the repeat on the Phillip Johnson video

  16. 16
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Tim, it must be nice to hide behind symantics. But the post was very clear. Barry could understand why a theist would qualify for this job but that a materialist (CreationistSpeak for atheist, much like ‘Darwinist’ is CreationistSpeak for anyone who thinks that evolution is real) would be a hypocrit if he applied. Please explain to me how I could interpret this in any other way than that an atheist isn’t capable of doing the job. Keep in mind that Robert (a woman’s place is in the home) Byers is a theist and I am not.

    I would certainly welcome a clarification from Barry.

  17. 17
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77: “Actually atheists think that they have morals which are above reproach. In fact they think that their morals are better than almighty God’s morals.”

    BA77, I don’t presume to know what all born again Christians, Catholics, creationists, Moslems, Jews, or even other atheists think. You must have a very special gift. Was it given by god? Or are you just stereotyping, like Barry would admit, if he was honest (which I think, basically, he is).

  18. 18
    News says:

    Acartia-bogart at 9 does approve of lethal injections. Why do I owe myself a chocolate for having guessed that?

    All the rubbish about “very clear restrictions” has repeatedly been shown to be, well, rubbish. Things are out of control in Holland, for example, because far more people are always wanted dead than want to die.

    No one bothered to set that woman straight about seniors homes when they could just give her a lethal injection.

    Where I live that’s forbidden (until the “progressives” get elected again). So someone would just have to set her straight about seniors’ homes and insist that she at least try respite care for a few days. (The last time I tried that, the person ended up picking out a nice, sunny room for herself five days later and never returned to her basement apartment. 😉 )

    That is why murder was forbidden in the first place. Not because the “wrong people” might get murdered. Everyone turns out to be the wrong people in the end.

  19. 19
    Acartia_bogart says:

    News, if you don’t mind me asking, where do you live?

  20. 20
    Tim says:

    Semantics? Barry did NOT write of qualification. He wrote of acting in good faith. That is the question the material (potential) ethicist has to answer, and, being and ethicist at that pay grade, should be able to answer.

    I can easily explain why you shouldn’t interpret this as “an atheist isn’t capable of doing the job.” You are writing about qualifications.

    Barry is asking for a good faith explanation; that is what this OP is about.

  21. 21
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Tim. OK, I will play it your way. Why can’t an atheist accept the job in good faith (ignoring the ‘faith’ concept)? Is it because you ‘believe’ that they can’t have ethics and morals that are the equal of those of the average theist?

    I am an atheist and I will match my ethics and morals up against yours any day, and twice on Tuesday. I might not compare well to Ghandi or the Dhali Lama, but they would never judge my worth based solely on my theology (or lack thereof).

    Admit it. You are applying your stereotypes (ignorance) of atheists to every individual atheist because you feel that you are superior due to your theology. Do you have any evidence to support this generalization?

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    Acartia_bogart:

    I would certainly welcome a clarification from Barry.

    I don’t see anything at all vague or equivocal about what Barry wrote. What is it that you think needs clarification and why ought Barry provide one?

    By the way, why don’t you take a stab at answering the question he posed in the OP?

    Acartia_bogart:

    Why can’t an atheist accept the job in good faith (ignoring the ‘faith’ concept)?

    Shouldn’t we ignore the ‘good’ concept as well?

    Acartia_bogart:

    Why can’t an atheist accept the job?

    An atheist could accept the job, but they shouldn’t.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    OK, Arcadia_Bogart, I will try to make it plain for you. When giving ethical advice, the atheist cannot say to his paying client, “here is why you should do this.”

  24. 24
    tjguy says:

    Heks said:

    Who on earth made that claim? Nobody I saw. The claim is not (and never has been) that non-theists can’t be moral and ethical people. That’s an extreme caricature of the claim. The claim is simply that the atheist materialist, however moral and ethical he may be in practice, cannot provide a satisfactory, objective basis for moral values and duties. Fortunately, there is no rule of nature that requires atheist materialists to live lives that are consistent with their foundational philosophies.

    EXACTLY! I was going to write the same thing, but you explained it very well.

    Some atheists may have a thought out standard by which they seek to live, but I doubt it is very rigid. He knows in his heart that his standard is just a made up arbitrary one so really it is no big deal if he chooses to ignore it or to change it.

    Plus, I doubt there are many things he really desires to do that end up on his “no-no” list.

    I would love to hear what atheists think of ridiculing others, gossip, unkind words, rude words, impure thoughts, pride, unforgiveness, drunkenness, adultery, lying, dishonesty, cheating on taxes by not reporting all your income, lying about kids ages for cheap tickets, loving your neighbor as yourself, etc.

    Are these things right or wrong?

    Why?

    What does it matter if he breaks his own arbitrary code of conduct? Who does he confess to?

    Why can’t he just change his code of conduct to include the “sin” he committed? Then it is no longer wrong!

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    When giving ethical advice, the atheist cannot say to his paying client, “here is why you should do this.”

    The atheist ethicist could ask the client about the client’s beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong, and then advise the client to do what is consistent with their beliefs about what is good and bad, right and wrong.

    Then when asked to justify why they gave the advice they did they could say because it was consistent with what the client believed about what is good and bad and right and wrong.

    Not sure why that would require any advanced degree though.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    I am an atheist and I will match my ethics and morals up against yours any day, and twice on Tuesday. I might not compare well to Ghandi or the Dhali Lama, but they would never judge my worth based solely on my theology (or lack thereof).

    Admit it. You are applying your stereotypes (ignorance) of atheists to every individual atheist because you feel that you are superior due to your theology. Do you have any evidence to support this generalization?

    ,,,But of course nobody can match the morals of an atheist. Nobody, not even God, is as moral as an atheist. Don’t believe me???,,, Just check out Dawkins condemning God as morally evil at the beginning of the following video:

    Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins Interview – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc

    As was made abundantly clear in the preceding video, many times atheists, even though they cannot ground objective morality within their materialistic worldview, will try to claim that God, as He is portrayed in the Old Testament, is morally evil.
    In fact Richard Dawkins, in his cowardly refusal to debate William Lane Craig, upon Craig’s tour of the UK in the fall of 2011, said he would not debate Craig because Dr. Craig supported genocide/infanticide in the Bible. This ‘moral’ tactic, to try to cover his cowardice to debate Dr. Craig, backfired terribly for Dawkins, because it turns out that Dawkins, hypocritically, supports infanticide when he personally sees it as the morally right thing to do,,

    “Another example might be suppose you take the argument in favor of abortion up until the baby was one year old, if a baby was one year old and turned out to have some horrible incurable disease that meant it was going to die in agony in later life, what about infanticide? Strictly morally I can see no objection to that at all, I would be in favor of infanticide…..I think I would wish at least to give consideration to the person who says ‘where does it end?’ ”
    Richard Dawkins

    Richard Dawkins Approves Infanticide, not William Lane Craig! (mirror: drcraigvideos)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmodkyJvhFo

    Richard Dawkins: ‘immoral’ not to abort if foetus has Down’s syndrome – August 2014
    http://www.theguardian.com/sci.....ome-foetus

    Of related humorous note:

    Atheist Professor Larry Moran, who believes naturalism/materialism to be true, had previously denied the existence of moral absolutes, (and in that regards he was consistent). Yet, here’s Professor Moran’s new moral absolute, in all its resplendent glory:

    “It is totally wrong, all the time, to discriminate against someone based on their sexual preferences… There is NEVER a time when an enlightened society should tolerate, let alone legalize, bigotry.”

    How fitting that Professor Moran picked that particular sin to declare off-limits for criticism! He is a pure Romans 1 poster boy. He suppresses the truth in unrighteousness by denying that God exists, then “gives approval to those who practice” exhibit A in God’s list of sins that the suppression of truth leads to.

    Romans 1:18–20
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    Romans 1:26-28
    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

    Thus Professor Moran not only concedes that moral absolutes exist, but also proves, unbeknownst to himself, that these moral absolutes are based in the God of the Bible!

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    Mung

    The atheist ethicist could ask the client about the client’s beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong, and then advise the client to do what is consistent with their beliefs about what is good and bad, right and wrong.

    Begs the question.

    Why should the client act on his own beliefs? They might be wrong?

    Then when asked to justify why they gave the advice they did they could say because it was consistent with what the client believed about what is good and bad and right and wrong.

    Begs the question.

    Why is that a good thing to tell someone to follow his own belief system?

  28. 28
    Acartia_bogart says:

    All of these holier than thou attitudes against atheists but nobody has asked the difficult question. Do theists act more ethically than atheists? Theists, according to everything that has been said here, are ethically and morally superior to atheists because they believe that they have been provided with an objective set of morals and ethics to live by. Does the evidence support this opinion? Then how do you explain the long list of misbehaving televangelists? The child molesting priests? The church hierarchy that covered up the child molesting priests? The behaviour of priests and nuns in the Canadian residential school system? The priests who steal from the collection plate to feed their gambling habit. The Westboro Baptist church? Isis? And these are only the theists who are supposed to set the example for behaviour amongst their ‘flock’. Does anybody really think that the run-of-the-mill theists are better behaved?

    Let’s all be honest, if it is possible. Theists are no better or worse than atheists with respect to morality and ethical behaviour. If you disagree, feel free to provide evidence to the contrary.

  29. 29

    AB said:

    I am an atheist and I will match my ethics and morals up against yours any day, and twice on Tuesday.

    Match yours and mine up against what? You say that as if there is some kind of objective standard that will determine which of us has a better morality.

  30. 30

    AB said:

    Theists are no better or worse than atheists with respect to morality and ethical behaviour.

    You say that as if there is some objective standard by which to compare atheist and theist behavior.

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    AB and your moral standard for condemning those acts commited bt Theists as evil comes from where exactly??? You can’t even account for your own consciousness in your materialistic worldview, much less your own morality!!! Are you just borrowing Theistic morals so as to condeme theists as immoral???
    And for your information, although Theists are, just like everybody else, sinners (I know I’m certainly not perfect), and have certainly committed sin against God, atheists are certainly not saints either. In fact when compared side by side with Theists, atheists have a far worse track record than theists.

    The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens – pg. 240
    Excerpt: “The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead at the bloody hands of fifty-two atheists…..The historical record of collective atheism is thus 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianity’s worst and most infamous misdeed, the Spanish Inquisition.”
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    Chairman MAO: Genocide Master
    “…Many scholars and commentators have referenced my total of 174,000,000 for the democide (genocide and mass murder) of the last century. I’m now trying to get word out that I’ve had to make a major revision in my total due to two books. I’m now convinced that that Stalin exceeded Hitler in monstrous evil, and Mao beat out Stalin….”
    http://wadias.in/site/arzan/bl.....de-master/

    also of note:

    Atheism’s detrimental effect on mortality and morality (section 11)
    http://creation.com/atheism

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

  32. 32
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @ 29, 30

    Good point! 🙂

    Cannibals may think it’s fine to eat another person.
    Would AB say their behavior is wrong? How come?
    Based on what?
    That it’s gross and scary? Apparently not to them.

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    Arcadia_Bogart

    Theists are no better or worse than atheists with respect to morality and ethical behaviour.

    Define better. Define worse. Your words are empty and without meaning. That is the point of the post. You could not, in good faith, presume to give ethical advice because you cannot differentiate between good behavior and bad behavior.

  34. 34
    Acartia_bogart says:

    WJM: “Match yours and mine up against what? You say that as if there is some kind of objective standard that will determine which of us has a better morality.”

    No, that is my point. Nobody, including theists, can objectively demonstrate that anybody’s morality is superior than anybody else’s. And using theistic belief as some type of barometer for morality is simply pointless.

    I was wondering when BA77 would try to bring up the body count of atheists versus theists. But, as he knows, theists (especially Christians) are playing with a stacked deck. The Christian logic is that if someone commits an atrocity, regardless of their entire life history, they can’t be classified as a Christian because a true Christian would never do something like that.

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    Huh??? What???,,, I stated:

    “Theists are, just like everybody else, sinners (I know I’m certainly not perfect),”

    and you stated,,,

    “The Christian logic is that if someone commits an atrocity, regardless of their entire life history, they can’t be classified as a Christian because a true Christian would never do something like that.”

    since you clearly are not even reading what I wrote but are making up your own arguments, I’m off to bed. StephenB is far mor qualified to deal with you than I am anyway.

  36. 36
    Barry Arrington says:

    AB @ 34: “Nobody, including theists, can objectively demonstrate that anybody’s morality is superior than anybody else’s.”

    That statement is not true. But you believe it to be true, and as a result you have effectively demonstrated the point of the OP. Thank you.

  37. 37
    Acartia_bogart says:

    StephenB: ” You could not, in good faith, presume to give ethical advice because you cannot differentiate between good behavior and bad behavior.”

    Again with the symantics. Yes, my judgement of good and bad is not based on faith. It is based on logic, reason and experience, within the context of living in a society. But do you seriously think that my ideas of what is good and bad will be much different than yours? If I were to hazard a guess at where we differ, assuming that you are Judeo-Christian, would centre around things like homosexuality/same sex marriage, pre-marital sex, birth control (maybe), taking the lord’s name in vain, etc.

    Can you think of any morals/ethics that are uniquely theistic?

  38. 38
    Dionisio says:

    BA77 @ 31

    …, atheists are certainly not saints either

    The word ‘either’ doesn’t belong in there.
    You correctly stated that we are all sinners, regardless of our philosophical worldview.
    However, atheists are not saints for sure, 100% certainty, but you are a saint, if you truly believe Christ is your Savior and Lord.
    Check the origin and meaning of that word in the NT again.
    🙂

  39. 39
    StephenB says:

    Arcadia_Bogart

    The child molesting priests?

    Is child molestation a bad thing? .

    The church hierarchy that covered up the child molesting priests?

    Was that wrong?

    The priests who steal from the collection plate to feed their gambling habit.

    Is that something they should not do?

    Isis?

    Is their behavior evil?

  40. 40
    HeKS says:

    @Acartia_bogart #12

    You asked:

    HeKs, did we read the same article?

    Good question. You said:

    From the OP: “I can understand how a theist who believes in the objective reality of ethical norms could apply for such a position in good faith. By definition he believes certain actions are really wrong and other actions are really right, and therefore he often has something meaningful to say.”

    And, by definition he is implying that a non-theist does not believe that certain actions are right or wrong.

    I suppose that’s one way to read it … to say that it is due to being a theist that the person in question, by definition, believes certain things are really right and really wrong.

    Another subtly different way to read it is that someone who “believes in the objective reality of ethical norms” (as theists do), by definition, believes that certain things are really right and others really wrong. That, obviously, is the more sensible way to read the comment. It also benefits from being obviously true, since, under this reading, the latter actually is the definition of the former.

    And, of course, the article then goes on to make it very clear that the ultimate issue under discussion is not simply whether a materialist has an opinion about whether anything is really right or really wrong, but about the materialist’s inability to offer satisfactory grounding for that opinion.

    As Barry said:

    My question is how could a materialist apply for such a position in good faith? After all, for the materialist there is really no satisfactory answer to Arthur Leff’s “grand sez who” question that we have discussed on these pages before. . . . After all, when pushed to the wall to ground his ethical opinions in anything other than his personal opinion, the materialist ethicist has nothing to say. Why should I pay someone $68,584 to say there is no real ultimate ethical difference between one moral response and another because they must both lead ultimately to the same place – nothingness.

    You continued:

    He then said: ” Why should I pay someone $68,584 to say there is no real ultimate ethical difference between one moral response and another because they must both lead ultimately to the same place – nothingness.”

    Where is the evidence that an atheist believes that there is no ethical difference between one response and another? Just your claim.

    First of all, I think it’s fairly clear that he was being somewhat facetious, or at least hyperbolic, since he’s not claiming the materialist would literally say that in that setting. Did you notice that I drew attention to Barry’s repeated use of the qualifier, “ultimate”? The question here is of the ultimate grounding of moral claims. The materialist can give any moral opinion he likes and he is free to think things are really right and really wrong. The problem is that he has nothing upon which to ultimately ground his moral opinions. If someone disagrees with him, they need merely to ask, “sez who?” There is no satisfying answer that can be given on a materialist worldview. The moral opinions are, at best, only grounded in other opinions that can be just as easily rejected as accepted.

    As for your question about what evidence there is that an atheist believes there’s no ethical difference between one response and another, as I’ve already said, the surface level opinion is not the point. That said, there are obviously many atheist materialists who assert that there is no such thing as objective moral values and duties. Surely you’re aware of this. For just one example, have you read Jerry Coyne lately? There is no real good or evil, there’s no free will, and nobody has any moral responsibility for any action they take because they are merely meat robots operating according to the dictates of genetic determinism. Now, you may disagree with his perspective, as may any number of other atheists, but his is the most straightforward conclusion to be derived from the materialist worldview. Those who reject this conclusion typically do so because they either haven’t thought through the necessary implications of materialism or because they have but were unwilling to accept them and so attempt to offer admittedly difficult and strained attempts to avoid them.

    In conclusion, I will simply repeat what I said before:

    Fortunately, there is no rule of nature that requires atheist materialists to live lives that are consistent with their foundational philosophies.

    We might even say, “Thank God.”

    Take care,
    HeKS

  41. 41
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77: “since you clearly are not even reading what I wrote but are making up your own arguments,”

    I guess that you didn’t write this:

    ” In fact when compared side by side with Theists, atheists have a far worse track record than theists.”

    And I guess that you didn’t proceed to mention “atheist” atrocities. Clearly, you are not reading what you write.

    Barry: “AB @ 34: “Nobody, including theists, can objectively demonstrate that anybody’s morality is superior than anybody else’s.”

    That statement is not true. But you believe it to be true, and as a result you have effectively demonstrated the point of the OP. Thank you.

    Barry, you are absolutely correct. I should have said any group’s (eg., atheists or theists) rather than anybody’s.

  42. 42
    HeKS says:

    @Acartia_bogart #41

    Whether you want to apply your comment to “anybody” or “any group” is irrelevant. The same problem holds. Not only is it not possible on materialism to objectively demonstrate (or even argue) that the morality of one group is better or worse than another, but it is impossible to objectively demonstrate that the morality of any group or person is either good or bad at all, because there is no objective standard against which their morality can be measured.

    Furthermore, there is no basis for limiting the range of “groups” to simply “atheists or theists” (though perhaps you didn’t intend to, since I notice you used e.g. rather than i.e.) Your comment could be applied to any group of any size. By what standard do we measure the actions of the Nazis as a group? Or the Soviet Communist Party in their promotion of Marxism-Lenninism and the rampant suffering and death that atheistic ideology caused? Or the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church? Or the behavior of any of the professed Christians and theists that you listed in comment 28? On materialism, there is none. A materialist can say he disagrees with these things, but he can’t offer any coherent reason for why his opinion should be considered normative and why anyone should feel compelled to submit to it.

    In comment 28 you said:

    All of these holier than thou attitudes against atheists but nobody has asked the difficult question. Do theists act more ethically than atheists? Theists, according to everything that has been said here, are ethically and morally superior to atheists because they believe that they have been provided with an objective set of morals and ethics to live by. Does the evidence support this opinion? Then how do you explain the long list of misbehaving [theists]?

    As I’ve already said, whether or not one group acts more ethically, on average, than the other is not at all the point. The point is not whether it’s possible for a person to abandon the logically necessary implications of their own worldview and adopt an opinion that is inconsistent with those foundational beliefs. Of course they can.

    The point is simply this: On theism, all those bad things you listed theists as doing can legitimately be called bad, wrong, evil, vile, and whatever other negative descriptive words you want to apply to those actions, because there is an objective standard of good and bad against which they can be measured and the committing of those sins involves people acting in a way that is objectively inconsistent with the requirements and necessary implications of the worldview they claim to hold.

    On materialism, however, those things can only be considered unpopular, socially unacceptable, and contrary to your personal tastes. If a materialist were to do any of those things you listed, he or she is not acting in a way that is inconsistent with the principles and logically necessary implications of their ultimate worldview. They may be acting in a way that is inconsistent with their own subjectively determined moral code, but that is quite obviously not the same thing. Subjective standards can be altered or simply ignored. And is there anything really wrong with ignoring your own moral code? Sez who?

    HeKS

  43. 43
    StephenB says:

    Arcadia_Bogart

    Yes, my judgement of good and bad is not based on faith. It is based on logic, reason and experience, within the context of living in a society.

    The experience of living in society cannot provide a moral code because you must choose from the many codes that society offers. Thus, the question becomes, by what standard do you make that choice? It cannot be logic and reason, because logic and reason take you straight to the natural moral law and the rational order of the universe, both of which you reject. There are no logical arguments on behalf of subjective morality.

    But do you seriously think that my ideas of what is good and bad will be much different than yours?

    Yes, and they will be life and death issues.

    If I were to hazard a guess at where we differ, assuming that you are Judeo-Christian, would centre around things like homosexuality/same sex marriage, pre-marital sex, birth control (maybe), taking the lord’s name in vain, etc.

    Yes, the desire to engage in an unfettered, libertine life-style is one of the main reasons that people become atheists. That is why most atheists support abortion. Since 1980, well over 1,000,000,000 babies have been slaughtered worldwide. That is about as life and death as you can get.

    Also, the desire to attain unfettered power leads to atheism. Accordingly, atheistic morality denies the inherent dignity of the human person. For theists, everyone is entitled to a decent life because they are made in God’s image, through which they can claim “natural rights.”

    For atheists, there is no such thing as inherent dignity or no such thing as a natural right. Accordingly, atheists usually support the power of the state to decide who will be given or denied rights. That standard also leads to a loss of life that typically counts in the hundreds of millions.

    Of course, the problem of eternity looms large as well. Typically, atheists cannot bear the idea that they will someday face a Divine judge. That is why, so often, they try to remake society into their own image and likeness. Misery loves company. It helps them to forget about the horrible fate that likely awaits them.

  44. 44
    rich says:

    Barry: “That statement is not true. But you believe it to be true, and as a result you have effectively demonstrated the point of the OP. Thank you.”

    Did I miss the part where you showed it to be false? Would you mind going through it again?

    Thanks!

  45. 45
    Andre says:

    AB

    Are you searching for truth? If so I beg you to be true! Nobody says that atheists don’t have morals, of course you do but here is what you need to think about what are those morals grounded in? Your personal opinion? Society’s opinion? other’s opinion? If you say yes then its time for you to admit that those type of subjective opinions mean that morals can change anytime anyone wants to change it. Do you understand what that means? Think about it for a while and realize its implications!

    Think about it! Really think about it!

  46. 46
    Andre says:

    AB

    Take 14 minutes and watch this if you want to understand our position.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9fR1vSxNEQ

  47. 47
    JWTruthInLove says:

    It helps them to forget about the horrible fate that likely awaits them.

    Atheists are fools to take trinitarian, islamic, and similar dogmas as the only religions available. There are religions around, which do not scare children into submission and do not claim, that people people who don’t share a specific worldview deserve to be tortured forever. Hell is one of the most ridiculous ideas there is, besides Darwinism and Mormonism.

  48. 48
    Andre says:

    JWTruthinLove

    I beg to differ people hate Christianity because it has a central claim that says….. “Nobody gets to the Father but through me” And even though all people are welcome to become Christians, other ways are not, to be a Christian means denouncing all other perceived paths and only to commit to this single path. Christianity is exclusive and that is why people find it so repulsive!

  49. 49
    Andre says:

    JWTruthinLove

    I hope this will convey it in a manner I can not

    http://www.scriptureinsights.com/Exclusive.html

  50. 50

    AB said:

    No, that is my point. Nobody, including theists, can objectively demonstrate that anybody’s morality is superior than anybody else’s. And using theistic belief as some type of barometer for morality is simply pointless.

    Your point in challenging a comparison between your morals & ethics against anyone else’s is to make the point that there’s no way to meaningfully gauge which is the better ethical or moral behavior? Isn’t that the very point that Mr. Arrington made in the first place – that moral relativists such as yourself have no grounds by which to inform others and make rulings on how others should behave, since (to you) how one “should” act is simply a matter of subjective preference?

    You’ve just proven his point! You cannot take such a job because to you there’s no objective means by which to determine the difference between good and bad morality/ethics.

  51. 51

    AB said:

    Barry, you are absolutely correct. I should have said any group’s (eg., atheists or theists) rather than anybody’s.

    What difference does it make if it’s a group or individuals? You’re still applying for a job where it is your responsibility to determine qualitative ethical differences between choices that, in your view as stated above, have no objective qualitative distinction.

  52. 52

    AB asks:

    Then how do you explain the long list of misbehaving [theists]?

    You seem to be confusing the existence of an objective moral standard with the ability to obey that standard. Accepting a standard as objective doesn’t mean it’s any easier to obey it, it just means it’s necessary to obey it.

  53. 53
    bornagain77 says:

    It is interesting to note that one of the main reasons that Young Earth Creationists (YECs) disagree with Old Earth Creationists(OECs) is because of their disagreement on the ontological status of objective morality. In YEC it is held that it is impossible for death to occur in the world temporally prior to the fall of man. Ken Ham sums up the YEC position on the impossibility of death preceding the fall of man quite well in the following short video,,,

    Death Before Sin? – Ken Ham – video
    https://answersingenesis.org/death-before-sin/

    Whereas in OEC it is held that it is possible for death to occur in the world temporally prior to the fall of man, whilst still being a result of the fall of man. Dr. William Dembski sums up the OEC quite well in the following article:

    Old Earth Creationism and the Fall, William Dembski – Christian Research Journal, volume 34, number 4(2011).
    Excerpt: My solution (to Theodicy) in my book “The End of Christianity is to argue that, just as the effects of salvation at the cross reach both forward in time (saving present day Christians) and backward in time (saving Old Testament saints), so the effects of the fall reach forward in time as well as backward. What makes the argument work is the ability of God to arrange events at one time to anticipate events at a later time.,,,
    http://www.equip.org/PDF/JAF4344.pdf

    I hold that the OEC position is more consistent towards Theism than the YEC position is in regards to the ontological status of morality. ,,,
    Theism holds that objective morality is grounded in the perfect nature of God’s being. Yet God is outside space-time, matter and energy. In fact God created space-time, matter and energy during the Big Bang. Thus since objective morality is grounded in the perfect nature of God’s being, and since God is outside space-time, matter and energy, then the fall of man, (i.e. the separation of God from man), should be expected to effect the entirety of space-time, matter and energy. The YEC position, i.e. the view that death can only exist in the world after the fall of man is, IMHO, to take a naive, almost a materialistic, view towards the ontological status of objective morality in its relation to physical reality, and is to fail to fully appreciate the moral ans physical attributes of just Who was sinned against by man.

    But do we have scientific evidence that morality arises from outside space-time, as would be expected in Theism? And more importantly towards resolving the conflict between YECs and OECs, do we have evidence that man’s free will decisions can ‘reach back in time’ so as to effect the past and thus provide, scientifically, a plausible mechanism by which the fall of man can reach back in time and cause death to enter the world prior to man’s moral transgression against God?
    The answer to both of those questions is Yes!

    That morals that arise outside of space-time and are grounded within the perfect nature of God’s transcendent being, is established by the following evidence:

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

    Can Your Body Sense Future Events Without Any External Clue? (meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010) – (Oct. 22, 2012)
    Excerpt: “But our analysis suggests that if you were tuned into your body, you might be able to detect these anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds beforehand,,,
    This phenomenon is sometimes called “presentiment,” as in “sensing the future,” but Mossbridge said she and other researchers are not sure whether people are really sensing the future.
    “I like to call the phenomenon ‘anomalous anticipatory activity,’” she said. “The phenomenon is anomalous, some scientists argue, because we can’t explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense. It’s anticipatory because it seems to predict future physiological changes in response to an important event without any known clues, and it’s an activity because it consists of changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin and nervous systems.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....145342.htm

    As well, the following experiment, from Princeton University no less, is very interesting in that it was found that ‘perturbed randomness’ precedes a worldwide ‘moral crisis’:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE1haKXoHMo

    Mass Consciousness: Perturbed Randomness Before First Plane Struck on 911 – July 29 2012
    Excerpt: The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened – but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.,,
    Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers. ‘It’s Earth-shattering stuff,’ says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the ‘black box’ phenomenon.
    http://www.network54.com/Forum.....uck+on+911

    Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research – Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena – peer reviewed publications
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html

  54. 54
    bornagain77 says:

    Thus, since the emotional reactions happen before the violent images are even viewed, or before the worldwide tragedies even occurred, then we actually have very good empirical evidence supporting the assertion that objective morality exists outside space-time and is grounded in the perfect nature of God’s being. Moreover, the atheistic materialist is left without a clue as to how such ‘prescient morality’ is even possible for reality.

    As to the second question, i.e. ‘do we have evidence that man’s free will decisions can ‘reach back in time’?’, we now have scientific evidence for that as well,,,

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    “Thus one decides the photon shall have come by one route or by both routes after it has already done its travel”
    John A. Wheeler

    Alain Aspect speaks on John Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – video
    http://vimeo.com/38508798

    Genesis, Quantum Physics and Reality
    Excerpt: Simply put, an experiment on Earth can be made in such a way that it determines if one photon comes along either on the right or the left side or if it comes (as a wave) along both sides of the gravitational lens (of the galaxy) at the same time. However, how could the photons have known billions of years ago that someday there would be an earth with inhabitants on it, making just this experiment? ,,, This is big trouble for the multi-universe theory and for the “hidden-variables” approach.
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2.....r.html.ori

    The Experiment That Debunked Materialism – video – (delayed choice quantum eraser)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xKUass7G8w

    “It begins to look as we ourselves, by our last minute decision, have an influence on what a photon will do when it has already accomplished most of its doing… we have to say that we ourselves have an undeniable part in what we have always called the past. The past is not really the past until is has been registered. Or to put it another way, the past has no meaning or existence unless it exists as a record in the present.”
    – John Wheeler – The Ghost In The Atom – Page 66-68

    In fact, the preceding delayed choice experiment was recently refined to highlight the central importance of the observer in the experiment.

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    i.e. The preceding experiment clearly shows, and removes any doubt whatsoever, that the ‘material’ detector recording information in the double slit is secondary to the experiment and that a conscious observer being able to consciously know the ‘which path’ information of a photon with local certainty, is of primary importance in the experiment. Here is a good quote that sums up the ‘startling’ results:

    “If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.”
    Asher Peres, Delayed choice for entanglement swapping. J. Mod. Opt. 47, 139-143 (2000).

    You can see a more complete explanation of the startling results of the experiment at the 9:11 minute mark of the following video

    Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser Experiment Explained – 2014 video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6HLjpj4Nt4

    Thus, we actually have very good scientific evidence that shows that morality arises outside of space and time, as is held in Theism, and we also have very good evidence that man’s present free will choices have a tangible effect on the past,, (just as is held in the OEC theodicy that was highlighted by Dr. William Dembski).

    Verse and music:

    Mark 10:18
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.”..

    Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpYeekQkAdc

  55. 55
    Barry Arrington says:

    Rich @ 44:

    Barry: “That statement is not true. But you believe it to be true, and as a result you have effectively demonstrated the point of the OP. Thank you.”

    Did I miss the part where you showed it to be false? Would you mind going through it again?

    No, but you did apparently miss the point of the OP.

  56. 56
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AB @ 34

    “Nobody, including theists, can objectively demonstrate that anybody’s morality is superior than anybody else’s.”

    Rich #44

    Did I miss the part where you showed it to be false? Would you mind going through it again?

    You first have to accept that there is such a thing as “morality”. AB has been firm in his acceptance of that.

    The other option was referenced in the OP:

    Arthur Leff’s “grand sez who” question

    According to Leff, there is no way to determine if there are any real moral values at all, and no way to assess them as good or bad. In his view, “napalming babies” is an act with no moral value good or bad.

    So, to prove something about morality, you have to start with the existence of morality. You accept that morality exists for some reason. It can’t be a physical object that you measure because nobody has that object called “morals”. It’s an intellectual concept and therefore is proven by different means than by physical science.

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    Re A-B @ 1 ,

    . . . opening words in the very first coment:

    Barry, please explain to me why a person without any theistic beliefs cannot have any ethics?

    Notice, what BA ACTUALLY stated, the issue of grounding in light of the IS-OUGHT gap:

    My question is how could a materialist apply for such a position in good faith? After all, for the materialist there is really no satisfactory answer to Arthur Leff’s “grand sez who” question that we have discussed on these pages before. See here for Philip Johnson’s informative take on the issue.

    After all, when pushed to the wall to ground his ethical opinions in anything other than his personal opinion, the materialist ethicist has nothing to say. Why should I pay someone $68,584 to say there is no real ultimate ethical difference between one moral response and another because they must both lead ultimately to the same place – nothingness.

    I am not being facetious here. I really do want to know why someone would pay someone to give them the “right answer” when that person denies that the word “right” is ultimately meaningless.

    Notice, BA’s emphasis on grounding.

    If this were a first time problem, I would say it is a matter of misreading, but in fact it is a STANDARD tactic of materialists to twist the issue of grounding of ethics into how dare you say we cannot behave ethically.

    The issue of ethical breakdown IS important, when the grounding of ethics is undermined in a culture, but the grounding question cannot be properly brushed aside by twisting it into something it is not.

    Indeed, this sort of persistent strawman tactic illustrates exactly the undermining of ethical standards that the question of want of grounding raises.

    And, I would think grounding is always a pivotal issue, for any serious discussion or praxis.

    KF

  58. 58
    Mung says:

    Incredibly enlightening, reading through all these posts.

    Arcatia_bogart:

    All of these holier than thou attitudes against atheists but nobody has asked the difficult question. Do theists act more ethically than atheists?

    That’s not the difficult question.

    Arcatia_bogart:

    Can you think of any morals/ethics that are uniquely theistic?

    A_b scores yet another point for the theists.

  59. 59
    Axel says:

    A_C #1

    ‘Barry, please explain to me why a person without any theistic beliefs cannot have any ethics? Yes, in a random sampling of atheists you will have a wide variation in ethical understandings. I accept this. But in a random sampling of theists you will get the same thing.’

    The first point you seek to make in your first post to this thread – anyone’s post to it – is palpably false. Theists (and their religions and churches), however, individually idiosyncratic in their beliefs will share much more common beliefs, really, by definition within the religions and between them, than atheists among themselves.

    In that sense the jibe we often make that atheists have their own perverse, often fundamentalist (in a negative sense) religion is a naughty hyperbole. Creating an atheist religion would be like herding cats. All they agree on is what they don’t like or want… and we know what that is – which brings me to my next point. Little Albert in the video-clip provided I believe by BA, pointed out much the same thing to his teacher, about cold being the absence of heat, and darkness of light. Can’t remember what religious point his teacher was making, but it was on that theme; I know God’s sustaining love was in the punch-line. It is moreover akin to Aquinas’ point about sin’s being the absence of virtue.

    However, it is also important to realise the significance of the derivation of the term, religion – from the latin to bind: ‘religere’. Even in their diversity, theists are commonly bound, at least in principle, to hold to certain tenets of belief; whereas for the atheist, that would be almost anathema. Ethics, morality are an ad hoc, anecdotal matter, a continual work in progress/regress, alternation, whatever, because purely personal.

    To us, theists, freedom’ involves responsibilities; to atheists, in principle, and notwithstanding their burblings to the contrary, they want to feel free to exploit the free will God gave them to the fullest, in anywhichway they like. Or if they don’t, they won’t agree on the boundaries.

    In our post Christian society, the churches’ Gospel message has no doubt become increasingly blurred by liberals, although that is itself in response to the alignment of the conservatives with the well-heeled, to the detriment of the poorer folk – this, in flat contradiction to the burden of scripture in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Nevertheless, enough of it still underpins even our society’s informal ethos of shared beliefs to suggest that the mustard plant of Christianity has not entirely been starved of nutrients. Indeed, surely, the atheists’ own potentially ever-changing landscape of personal beliefs will draw quite heavily on, for example, the Ten Commandments – but as aliens, temporary visitors to them – not liable for ‘conscription into the military’ or ‘taxation’ or any kind of ‘imposts’, or obligations of any kind.

    BA:

    Genesis, Quantum Physics and Reality
    Excerpt: Simply put, an experiment on Earth can be made in such a way that it determines if one photon comes along either on the right or the left side or if it comes (as a wave) along both sides of the gravitational lens (of the galaxy) at the same time. However, how could the photons have known billions of years ago that someday there would be an earth with inhabitants on it, making just this experiment? ,,, This is big trouble for the multi-universe theory and for the “hidden-variables” approach.
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2…..r.html.ori

    It’s reminiscent of the theory (or rather, ‘untimely insight’) of a theorist apparently much admired by Einstein, that the light from a star in a distant galaxy must have known there would be an observer to observe it, before setting out on its path to his eyes, all those billions of light years away. I think it may be bound up with (or, rather, vice versa) my assertion that light or its agency must possess divine omniscience and omnipotence, in order for it to always hit an observer at its absolute speed.

  60. 60
    DavidD says:

    The materialist world hates traditional values and traditional lifestyles in general. Here is a piece by Feminist Amanda Marcotte who is a Brooklyn-based writer, DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. She slammed the traditional Home Cooked Dinner in this piece:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_.....src=fol_tw

    Here is Virginia Farmer Joel Salatin’s response to her slam of traditional family values:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com.....z3CMWDucey

  61. 61
    anthropic says:

    Silver Asiatic 56

    You said: “Arthur Leff’s “grand sez who” question

    According to Leff, there is no way to determine if there are any real moral values at all, and no way to assess them as good or bad. In his view, “napalming babies” is an act with no moral value good or bad.”

    Actually, Leff condemned napalming babies as immoral, as well as certain other acts. But he freely acknowledged that there was no grounding for these moral intuitions, since with God gone any human made system of right & wrong could be met with “sez who.”

    That was the dilemma: We need an unevaluated evaluator to give grounding to our (correct) moral intuitions, but with God off the scene no such entity is available.

  62. 62
    Barry Arrington says:

    DavidD @ 60. I found the Slate piece amusing in a sad way. In our house my wife does ZERO cooking. If the stove is turned on one can be sure I am the one standing in front of it. My wife, of course, does other chores. Laundry, for example, is her exclusive province into which I am forbidden to step. In lambasting a stereotype, Marcotte has herself stereotyped. As I said, amusing in a sad way.

  63. 63
    Silver Asiatic says:

    anthropic #61

    Yes, that’s the atheistic dilemma. Certain actions are considered immoral but there’s no way to validate that. As the wikipedia article quotes:

    I will put the current situation as sharply as possible: there is today no way of ‘proving’ that napalming babies is bad except by asserting it (in a louder and louder voice), or by defining it as so, early in one’s game, and then later slipping it through, in a whisper, as a conclusion.

  64. 64
    drc466 says:

    (O/T) A brief YEC response to ba77 @53:

    I hold that the OEC position is more consistent towards Theism than the YEC position is in regards to the ontological status of morality.

    Some problems with the idea of eternal existence of death due to man’s sin affecting all of space-time:
    1) Contradicts plain reading of scripture (Rom 5:12 et. al.)
    2) Contradicts tone/tense of rest of curse (Gen 3)
    3) Comes perilously close to denying Adam had free will
    4) Contradicts cause/effect basis of the Law (eye before an eye?)
    5) Even if true, no reason to prefer 4.5Byr over 6 days

  65. 65
    bornagain77 says:

    In defense, I note that I appealed directly to scientific evidence to support the plausibility of my OEC position and you appealed to biblical exegesis.,,, I disagree with your biblical exegesis!

    I’m not going to debate YECs on their interpretation of the bible. IMHO, it is a useless endeavor since, as far as I can tell, their personal interpretation of the bible comes way before the scientific evidence for an old earth does.

    As to common ground in scientific evidence where we may find agreement, Dr. Paul Giem, a YEC, recently made this video on Quantum Mechanics:

    Quantum Weirdness and God 8-9-2014 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=N7HHz14tS1c#t=1449

    I suggest that YECs would have a much easier time procecuting their case for God if they dropped trying to force fit General Relativity into a 6000 year framework and focused on the ‘weirdness’ of Quantum mechanics that everyone accepts.

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables – Scott Aaronson
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

  66. 66
    Acartia_bogart says:

    DavidS: “The materialist world hates traditional values and traditional lifestyles in general.”

    Which traditional values are you talking about? The traditional value that it was OK to persecute homosexuals? The traditional value that the wife was subservient to the husband? The traditional value that ‘sinners’ should be shunned? The traditional value that interracial and interfaith relationships were wrong?

    Traditional values have never been carved in stone, unless you believe that Moses dude. But since nobody else saw what was written on those tablets, I guess we have to take his word for it.

  67. 67
    anthropic says:

    AB 66, on what basis do you tell an Islamist that crushing homosexuals to death under a heavy wall is wrong? On what basis do you tell a wife beater he is doing evil? On what basis do you tell a racist that they are immoral for condemning interracial relationships?

    You surely are revolted by what ISIS is doing: Rape & sexual slavery for women, beheading Christian children, crucifying Muslims who disagree with their ideology. But if you were to say to them that what they do is wrong, they can simply respond, “Sez who?” “Who are you to tell us what is right and wrong?”

    As Arthur Leff knew, without an unevaluated evaluator there is no way to convincingly demonstrate a basis for morality or law. Even when we know something is wrong, we have no grounding for that belief, and hence no right to tell others to stop it.

    Of course, we still do, even materialists, as you have just demonstrated. We are moral beings and believe in objective moral standards, no matter how much we deny it. The difference is that theists have a warrant for objective moral standards, while materialists do not.

  68. 68
    Mung says:

    Meanwhile, Arcatia_bogart still has no clue as to why not being able to think of any morals/ethics that are uniquely theistic fails as a criticism of the theistic position and in fact supports the theistic position.

  69. 69
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Anthropic: “AB 66, on what basis do you tell an Islamist that crushing homosexuals to death under a heavy wall is wrong?”

    By the same basis that I tell a Christian that crushing a “witch” to death under a heavy rock is wrong. So, please, tell me again how theist values are objective and somehow better than an atheist’s.

  70. 70
    StephenB says:

    Arcadia_Bogart,

    You keep proving the point of the post. Each time someone asks you to provide the basis for your morality, you evade the issue.

    What you don’t understand is that we already know that you have no basis. We are amused by the fact that you don’t know it.

  71. 71
    Mung says:

    Barry, I am morally opposed to you banning atheists/materialists from posting here, but for the life of me I don’t know why.

    After all, you aren’t really banning them. You’re just making it so that certain words don’t appear here that have their origin from some ip address or other.

    But lest we forget, the only thing worse than a hypocritical atheist is a hypocritical Christian. Again, I have no idea why that is true, but I am sure it is. I’m sure our atheist friends would agree, but I’m not sure why.

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    “What you don’t understand is that we already know that you have no basis. We are amused by the fact that you don’t know it.”

    I’m not amused by it, I think it’s pathetic. Who was it who said, “know thyself”?

  73. 73
    drc466 says:

    ba77 @65,

    You are certainly correct that YEC’s place the literal interpretation of the Bible above any interpretation of scientific data. In my defense, you did offer up that you felt OEC better fit Theism, an explicitly ideological point. If it will help, I will drop my first 4 points, and leave the 5th – even if you accept your premise, it does not provide evidence for 4.5Byr over 6 days. Then my point becomes a very limited one that your evidence for the ability to “reach back in time” doesn’t necessarily provide any indication of how long that time period is.

    BTW, I enjoy your posts even when I don’t always agree with them – I think we find lots of common ground, but the supremacy of OEC v YEC based on the studies of QM isn’t going to be an example :).

  74. 74
    Mung says:

    Arcatia_bogart:

    So, please, tell me again how theist values are objective and somehow better than an atheist’s.

    Why? Why do you even care? Do you even know what you’re asking for?

    First, you are asking for a reason, but you cannot provide any reason why anyone ought to provide you with a reason while at the same time projecting to theists that they are somehow deficient for failing to give you a reason.

    So, please, tell me again how theist values are objective and somehow better than an atheist’s.

    So, please, tell us theists what makes anything objective?

    Better yet, tell us theists why “objective” is better than “not objective (whatever that may mean).”

    Or are you a subjectivist?

    So, please, tell me again how theist values are objective and somehow better than an atheist’s.

    You’ve conflated separate issues. Basically you’re a sophist. Anyone reading your posts here for any amount of time can see that.

    So your questions are:

    Q1) How is it that some values can be objective and other values can be subjective?

    See how this has nothing to do with who believes or has those values? There is no such thing as “theist values” and there is no such thing as “atheist values.” but you’re probably not interested in logical fallacies, because you have no reason why you ought not engage in fallacious reasoning.

    Q2) Why are objective values (aka theist values) better than subjective values (aka atheist values)?

    The question ought to answer itself.

    Q3) Why are some values better than others?

    The question ought to answer itself.

  75. 75
    Mung says:

    drc466:

    You are certainly correct that YEC’s place the literal interpretation of the Bible above any interpretation of scientific data.

    But why?

    It could be because the Spirit was the source of the inspired writings, but was it not also the Spirit that moved over the face of the waters?

    The inspired text was inspired, but the inspired creation was not inspired. How so?

  76. 76
    rich says:

    Well, well done theists! You’ve subjectively chosen to follow the perhaps existent purported author of / knower of objective morality. Unless you’re part of that sect that got bits wrong. Or those *other* theists.

    Mung: “but you’re probably not interested in logical fallacies, because you have no reason why you ought not engage in fallacious reasoning.

    Q2) Why are objective values (aka theist values) better than subjective values (aka atheist values)?”

    Would begging the question be one of those fallacies, Mung?

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    BA: Pausing for a moment, it is refreshing to see the directness of Prof Wm B Provine in his well known 1998 Darwin Day address at U Tenn:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    This is a double whammy.

    First, the denial of a foundation for ethics per evo mat is openly declared. Where, post Hume’s Guillotine and rhetorical “surpriz’d” at IS and OUGHT, the only place to find a foundation for OUGHT is in a worldview foundation IS that is inherently moral and grounding of OUGHT. There is little reason to think that electrons, protons, Neutrons, photons etc are such, nor a blind chance and necessity driven process held to move from hydrogen to hairless apes.

    (There is but one serious candidate to be such an OUGHT, the inherently good Creator God, a maximally great and necessary being. Hence the famous words in the 2nd para of the US DOI, that certain morally freighted truths are self evident, that men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . . )

    Secondly, absent genuine, responsible freedom, we cannot be moral. Or for that matter, reasonable, rational and genuinely knowing.

    And of course the general consensus on the binding nature of ought is merely a delusion foisted on us by a blind evolutionary chain of RV + NS –> DWM aka “Evolution,” then we are facing a general delusion claim. That undermines the reliability and capacity of rational and responsible thought on such premises. Including, necessarily — but consistency or coherence is not a noted intellectual virtue of evolutionism — evo mat.

    More of the inescapable incoherence of evolutionary materialism.

    Courtesy, RV + NS –> DWM, aka “Evolution”

    KF

  78. 78
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Mung: “First, you are asking for a reason, but you cannot provide any reason why anyone ought to provide you with a reason while at the same time projecting to theists that they are somehow deficient for failing to give you a reason.”

    I’m sure that this makes sense to somebody. No, I change my mind. This doesn’t make sense to anybody. I really have to start drinking at noon like you do. Maybe, then, this will make sense. But probably not.

    So, one more try. Why is the average theist’s ethical and moral standards better (more objective) than the average atheist’s? Of, more significantly, why is this concept important to theists? It only important to a theist because it allows them the false perception of moral superiority over atheists. If this allows you to sleep better at night, go for it.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Plato, c 360 BC, in The Laws Bk X, was dead on target about the foundations and implications of an evo mat worldview:

    >> 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, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and 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. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily “scientific” view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and 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. (Cf. here for Locke’s views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic “every man does what is right in his own eyes” chaos leading to tyranny. )] 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 leads to the promotion of amorality], 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; cf. dramatisation here], 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 tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them. >>

    2300 years ago, the matter was clear.

    Hasn’t changed since.

    Only difference, is, we have implanted consciences [which if not systematically misled, warped, besotted or benumbed point us to duty] that in turn speaks to our being under Law. Thence the Who who Sez aright, with the right to say so. But also, as creatures with responsible freedom, we may choose a-wrong.

    Hence, the perennial challenge to acknowledge and turn from the wrong towards the right.

    KF

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    A_B, in addition to persisting in a strawman misrepresentation of the grounding of morality on evo mat issue in the OP, you have gone on to the “theists are bad people” argument, in short you led a red herring across the track pointing to inconvenient truth, dragged it off to a strawman soaked in ad hominems and proceeded to try to set it alight to cloud, confuse, polarise and poison the atmosphere. Predictable, sadly predictable. You have only succeeded in underscoring the force of the point, which is evidently so unwelcome you will resort to any means to draw attention away from it. Let us know when you have a cogent answer to what prof Provine inadvertently implied. KF

  81. 81
    Mung says:

    Arcatia_bogart:

    So, one more try. Why is the average theist’s ethical and moral standards better (more objective) than the average atheist’s?

    Why ought anyone even bother to attempt to provide you with an answer to that question?

    I tried, you poo poo’d it. So you can’t say no one even tried.

    But you never answered why anyone should even bother.

    Instead, you resorted to ad hominem. Not that you, with your superior moral values, should care about that!

    Arcatia_bogart:

    Of, more significantly, why is this concept important to theists? It only important to a theist because it allows them the false perception of moral superiority over atheists. If this allows you to sleep better at night, go for it.

    Yes, and it is obvious that it is utterly unimportant to you. Which explains why you keep harping on it. Sleep well.

    It’s important to theist’s because it demonstrates quite clearly how atheists are liars and hypocrites.

    And everyone, of course, wants to know why atheists ought not be portrayed as liars and hypocrites.

    Do you have some objective reason why atheists/materialists should not be branded as lairs and hypocrites and child abusers?

  82. 82

    Is a morality that boils down to subjective, personal preference really something worth arguing about? One wonders why materialists bother. Do they also try to talk people out of their favorite color or flavor of ice cream?

  83. 83
    Mung says:

    Arcatia_bogart, can you provide any reason why any theist ought to respond to your questions?

    What are you going to appeal to, other than your own personal preference?

  84. 84
    Dionisio says:

    in addition to persisting in a strawman misrepresentation of the grounding of morality on evo mat issue in the OP, you have gone on to the “theists are bad people” argument, in short you led a red herring across the track pointing to inconvenient truth, dragged it off to a strawman soaked in ad hominems and proceeded to try to set it alight to cloud, confuse, polarise and poison the atmosphere. Predictable, sadly predictable. You have only succeeded in underscoring the force of the point, which is evidently so unwelcome you will resort to any means to draw attention away from it. Let us know when you have a cogent answer to what prof Provine inadvertently implied.

    !!!

  85. 85
    Acartia_bogart says:

    K: “A_B, in addition to persisting in a strawman misrepresentation of the grounding of morality on evo mat issue in the OP, you have gone on to the “theists are bad people” argument”

    I don’t know what you are reading because at no point did I say that theists are bad people. I just said that atheist are no better, nor worse, than theists. But I like that you were able to bring all of the creationist buzz words (ad hominems, red herring, straw man) into one sentence.

    Mung: “Why ought anyone even bother to attempt to provide you with an answer to that question?”

    Personally, I don’t care one way or the other. But since it was essentially the obverse of the question that Barry was asking, I don’t see where your objection is coming from.

  86. 86
    groovamos says:

    Acadia_Bogart: So, one more try. Why is the average theist’s ethical and moral standards better (more objective) than the average atheist’s?

    OK what if a handsome famous NFL player is seriously injured and is in the hospital. So a particularly attractive nurse asks the patient if there is anything she can do for his comfort, and the patient, particularly bored and lonely, has an interesting proposition. The nurse on her off time complies, in the hospital room. She is found out and is fired. She continues to visit the patient for more of the same after finding a new job.

    Now is it likely a medical ethicist of the “progressive”, atheist position with the usual ‘let it slide’ mentality of those kinds of people, would advise that young nurse at her new place of employment to take the same course of action as that a traditionally theistic ethicist would?

  87. 87
    Mung says:

    Acartia_bogart, the morally superior atheist:

    I really have to start drinking at noon like you do.

    Given that you have no ethical reason why you ought not engage in ad hominem, what constrains you? Obviously, nothing.

    You can make up anything about anybody, declare it to be fact, and there is no reason you ought not do so.

    Do you agree or disagree?

  88. 88

    Personally, I don’t care one way or the other. But since it was essentially the obverse of the question that Barry was asking, I don’t see where your objection is coming from.

    It’s not an objection. It’s a question. If morality is subjective, and Mr. Arrington subjectively considers materialists amoral and unfit to be ethicists, why did you object? If we subjectively consider all atheists hopelessly immoral, why are you objecting after you agree it’s all a matter of personal preference?

    Let me refer you to my maxim:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    Why are you arguing here? Is it objectively wrong to consider atheists immoral? To consider them less moral than theists? To consider them unfit for duty as ethicists? No? Then why are you trying to argue others out of that view?

    You’re complaining about the personal preference of others when all you have to support your own moral views is the exact same principle – personal preference.

  89. 89
    Mung says:

    Mung: “Why ought anyone even bother to attempt to provide you with an answer to that question?”

    Acartia_bogart: “Personally, I don’t care one way or the other.”

    Given your declaration that you don’t care one way or another, how do you explain your insistence on a response? You obviously care, which directly contradicts your assertion that you don’t care. You’re a liar.

    Acartia_bogart: “But since it was essentially the obverse of the question that Barry was asking, I don’t see where your objection is coming from.”

    But given that you don’t care, one way or another, why do you care?

    Acartia_bogart: “But since it was essentially the obverse of the question that Barry was asking, I don’t see where your objection is coming from.”

    I deny your assertion that “it was essentially the obverse of the question that Barry was asking.”

    That’s where my objection is coming from.

    But given that you don’t care one way or another, why are you even bothering to post here at UD?

  90. 90
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Mung: “But given that you don’t care one way or another, why are you even bothering to post here at UD?”

    Let’s just call it a guilty pleasure. But a bigger question is, since you think that my views have no rational basis, why do you feel obliged to respond to my comments?

    And a question for Barry. Someone was recently blocked from commenting for calling you a liar. Is this sanction only applied to non-creationists?

    Mung said: “You obviously care, which directly contradicts your assertion that you don’t care. You’re a liar.” if I cared, that would hurt.

  91. 91
    AnimatedDust says:

    Fascinating discussion. I have spent hours
    reading it. However, it seems to me that A_B is assuming the position of a superior tennis player who stands at the center of the baseline and by his superior play is causing all of the UD heavy hitters to have to run all over the court.

    Of all the substantive arguments that you make, he disregards them at his pleasure and hits the ball to yet another corner, and you willingly respond and dutifully hit it back.

    You seem oblivious to the fact that he cares nothing about your substantive answers and is merely here for his own facile amusement. His targets constantly move– his onjections constantly change. He is unconvinced at all because he is after all, your garden-variety atheist who believes himself at this moment in time to be intellectually superior to the lot of you.

    Why do you keep playing tennis?

    Atheists will never really accept defeat even after their eternal choice is actualized upon their death. Thereafter, they will continue to claim any number of ridiculous arguments as to why they have been wronged by the all-powerful creator they denied for their entire earthly existence.

    There, their captive audience of the like minded will all howl in agreement at the utter unfairness of their conscious eternal choice.

    Until then, you all run, breathlessly, hitting the ball right back at them, waiting for them to come up with another question the send you breathlessly running after it.

    Give an atheist a thousand reasons for the existence of God he will demand 1001. It never ends.

    When will you figure that out?

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    A_B: I continue to be exceedingly busy but glanced at your onward what are you talking about remark. In response, kindly cf my first remark in this thread at 57, yesterday morning:

    _________

    >> Re A-B @ 1 ,

    . . . opening words in the very first coment:

    Barry, please explain to me why a person without any theistic beliefs cannot have any ethics?

    Notice, what BA ACTUALLY stated, the issue of grounding in light of the IS-OUGHT gap:

    My question is how could a materialist apply for such a position in good faith? After all, for the materialist there is really no satisfactory answer to Arthur Leff’s “grand sez who” question that we have discussed on these pages before. See here for Philip Johnson’s informative take on the issue.

    After all, when pushed to the wall to ground his ethical opinions in anything other than his personal opinion, the materialist ethicist has nothing to say. Why should I pay someone $68,584 to say there is no real ultimate ethical difference between one moral response and another because they must both lead ultimately to the same place – nothingness.

    I am not being facetious here. I really do want to know why someone would pay someone to give them the “right answer” when that person denies that the word “right” is ultimately meaningless.

    Notice, BA’s emphasis on grounding.

    If this were a first time problem, I would say it is a matter of misreading, but in fact it is a STANDARD tactic of materialists to twist the issue of grounding of ethics into how dare you say we cannot behave ethically.

    The issue of ethical breakdown IS important, when the grounding of ethics is undermined in a culture, but the grounding question cannot be properly brushed aside by twisting it into something it is not.

    Indeed, this sort of persistent strawman tactic illustrates exactly the undermining of ethical standards that the question of want of grounding raises.

    And, I would think grounding is always a pivotal issue, for any serious discussion or praxis. >>
    __________

    Following up BA’s internal links, we see Wikipedia speaking of Leff on the grand sez who (after the clip on “napalming babies”):

    . . . Leff attempts to directly address whether a normative morality can exist without God. [2] Leff answers the question in the negative. Leff states that absent an ultimate authority figure (i.e. God) handing down moral laws from on-high there is no reason for any person to prefer one set of behavior identified as “moral” to another. Leff terms this “the Grand Sez Who.” In particular, it is impossible to resolve the conflict between the rights of the individual and the power of the collective, even though much of the time we can pretend that, for instance, the Constitution tells us where to draw the line. There are bound to be cases where we are left on our own, with no authoritative referee; there is no “brooding omnipresence in the sky”, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., whom Leff quotes approvingly.

    Philip Johnson, also linked, observes:

    The Biden-Thomas exchange reflected at the partisan political level a problem that permeates the literature of legal philosophy. I call this problem the modernist impasse. Modernism is the condition that begins when humans understand that God is really dead and that they therefore have to decide all the big questions for themselves. Modernism at times produces an exhilarating sense of liberation: we can do whatever we like, because there is no unimpeachable authority to prevent us. Modernism at other times is downright scary: how can we persuade other people that what they want to do to us is barred by some unchallengeable moral absolute?

    Yale Law Professor Arthur Leff expressed the bewilderment of an agnostic culture that yearns for enduring values in a brilliant lecture delivered at Duke University in 1979, a few years before his untimely death from cancer. The published lecture”titled “Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law””is frequently quoted in law review articles, but it is little known outside the world of legal scholarship. It happens to be one of the best statements of the modernist impasse that I know. As Leff put it,

    I want to believe”and so do you”in a complete, transcendent, and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe”and so do you”in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to discover the right and the good and to create it.

    The heart of the problem, according to Leff, is that any normative statement [–> i.e. a genuinely binding OUGHT] implies the existence of an authoritative evaluator [–> i.e. a genuinely grounding IS]. But with God out of the picture, every human becomes a “godlet””with as much authority to set standards as any other godlet or combination of godlets. [–> hence, the pivotal point that either there is no basis for OUGHT . . . including fundamental rights . . . beyond might and manipulation, or else there is a world-foundational IS capable of shouldering that awesome weight. There is precisely one serious candidate . . . ] For example, if a human moralist says “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” he invites “the formal intellectual equivalent of what is known in barrooms and schoolyards as ‘the grand sez who?’“ Persons who want to commit adultery, or who sympathize with those who do, can offer the crushing rejoinder: What gives you the authority to prescribe what is good for me ? . . .

    This is of course the precise state of play since Plato in The Laws Bk X, as was cited in 79 above and as has been brought to your attention and that of other evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers any number of times, including above and over the past several weeks.

    Almost without exception, it is ignored in haste to rush on to distractive rhetorical tactics.

    It is also quite clear from the above thread and the points as highlighted that you distorted the substance of the OP in literally the first words of the first comment of the thread of comments.

    It is further quite clear from above as happened across yesterday, that you proceeded to try to poison the well by repeated arguments, that theists are generally immoral, evil and barbarous, through the typical one sided and misleading litany of talking points commonly used by today’s street-corner Village Atheists 2.0.

    All of this, in the teeth of repeated attempts by several commenters to draw your attention to the substantial . . . and highly material . . . issue of the grounding of morality on evolutionary materialism.

    A challenge that has remained unmet by evolutionary materialist atheists since at least 360 BC, per the above cited challenge from Plato in The Laws, Bk X, which highlighted radical relativisation of values and knowledge, inherent amorality and the opening of the door to the nihilist’s “might and manipulation make ‘right’ . . .” credo, carried by ruthless domineering factions.

    Your continued insistence on such tactics is of course, a par for the course case in point of said manipulative, ruthless, domineering behaviour.

    Your behaviour aptly, inadvertently but tellingly, underscores the point BA has made in his OP.

    And it is a plain manifestation of the trifecta of fallacies that are all too familiar from too many evo mat objectors here at UD or in the penumbra of objector sites: red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and ignited to cloud, distract, polarise and poison the atmosphere for discussion of a central and highly momentous issue for our civilisation: where do we find an IS that grounds OUGHT, in a world where lab coat clad evolutionary materialism too often dominates thought.

    It is time for a more sober, more responsible response from evo mat advocates and their fellow travellers and enablers.

    KF

  93. 93
    Andre says:

    AnimatedDust

    Well said and absolutely true, no theist ever convinced me of God’s existence, God did that.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    AD: That resort to rhetorical gamesmanship — to manipulation — is exactly and tellingly revealing of the force of the underlying grounding challenge and the lack of responsibility on the part of too many evo mat advocates and fellow travellers. I will not bother to give the short word label for speaking with disregard to truth in the hope that what is said or suggested is accepted as true . . . but that is a material issue as well, and utterly revealing of the hollowness of the evo mat agenda. KF

  95. 95
    Cabal says:

    What is the source of the ethical behavior seen in so many animal species, dogs, horses, elephants, dolphins?

    I believe many presumably atheistic animal species treat their young better than some presumably Christian humans treat their young.

    Christians don’t have a monopoly on ethics; we find ethical and unethical behaviour everywhere we find people – regardless of religion. If your religion says it is ok to chop heads of, that’s what you do.

    What about the many examples of unethical behavior by prominent Christian leaders, clergy, politicians?

    I believe some self-declared Christians suffer an intellectual scotoma.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As one of the distractive tactics in discussion threads is to bury inconvenient remarks in irrelevancies, let me again draw attention tot the substantial point from 79 above:

    ______________

    >> Plato, c 360 BC, in The Laws Bk X, was dead on target about the foundations and implications of an evo mat worldview:

    >> 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, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and 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. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily “scientific” view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and 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 leads to the promotion of amorality], 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; cf. dramatisation here], 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 tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them. >>

    2300 years ago, the matter was clear.

    Hasn’t changed since.

    Only difference, is, we have implanted consciences [which if not systematically misled, warped, besotted or benumbed point us to duty] that in turn speaks to our being under Law. Thence the Who who Sez aright, with the right to say so. But also, as creatures with responsible freedom, we may choose a-wrong.

    Hence, the perennial challenge to acknowledge and turn from the wrong towards the right. >>
    _______________

    The perennial ducking, dodging, side-tracking and atmosphere poisoning tactics we see instead of responsible serious grappling with pivotal issues speak volumes.

    Let me grab another bit of history, where Locke went in Ch 2 of his 2nd Treatise on civl gov’t, when he set out to ground rights and justice, namely “The Judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker” in his 1594+ Ecclesiastical Polity:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80

    Ideas have consequences, and so do irresponsible evo mat and fellow traveller rhetorical games.

    KF

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: A_B’s label, name-call and dismiss tactic in reply to highlighting a pattern of distractive atmosphere poisoning rhetoric commonly resorted to by evo mat advocates and fellow travellers in and around UD for years and years, is simply a further manifestation of the same tactic. Where of course, he is also repeating by insinuation a slander that design Thought is “Creationism in a Cheap Tuxedo.” He full well knows or should know that this is false labelling, but he obviously, sadly, is now addicted to speaking with disregard to the truth. He is unlikely to pay any attention to correction just now, but the onlooker needs to recognise the tactics in play and what they imply on the force of the point made in the OP. KF

  98. 98
    Cabal says:

    Coincidence? Today at Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....114230.htm

    I am in the habit of reading Science Daily every day. Nothing under the sun is alien to scientists, even human and animal behavior.

  99. 99

    AD asks:

    When will you figure that out?

    Many of us have figured it out. What atheists/materialists deny is often the obvious, which no argument can penetrate. We often comment not for the sake of those who have no intention or capacity for meaningful debate, but perhaps for others not closed off to sound argument that might be lurking.

    Reading such arguments here and in similar such places helped me move from atheism to theism.

    It seems to me that your comments are much like theirs, assuming a superior position and presuming to scold us for participation in a venue designed for such debate even in ignorance of our own motivations for doing so.

  100. 100
    Dionisio says:

    Andre @ 93

    Well said and absolutely true, no theist ever convinced me of God’s existence, God did that.

    🙂

    “…flesh and blood has not revealed this to you…” [Matthew 16:17]

  101. 101
  102. 102
    Silver Asiatic says:

    We often comment not for the sake of those who have no intention or capacity for meaningful debate, but perhaps for others not closed off to sound argument that might be lurking.

    Agreed. I want to say that I appreciate Acartia_bogart, Graham2, Mark Frank and others [are there any others left?] who participate here and engage in arguments. The ad hominems and ridicule are not pleasant but at least they’re taking the time to respond. I think UD has lost a bit in engagement with opposition lately. Admittedly, some opponents were rightly banned. Others tend to dominate a discussion (RDFish). But I have some sympathy for A_B, for example, when he is virtually alone against the entire UD community here. It’s difficult to respond to 15 different people simultaneously.
    But the benefit for us is not only the hope of convincing him, and the good hope that lurkers will benefit — but also, we get a chance to keep improving our arguments. We can learn a lot. Yes, it’s like Whack-a-Mole but sometimes there are worthwhile criticisms that we can encounter.
    Also, on a personal level, it’s good to handle angry opposition and try to calm it down — there are some character-building opportunities along the way.
    Trying to get an atheist to be more open to the ID evidence is a challenge – but it does happen, in small steps.
    True, there’s always a way to squirm out of a solid argument, but over time, even hardened-atheists will soften their position. Some will concede major points.
    I’ve seen atheists move from hard-materialism to deism via discussions like this on-line.
    Not every atheist is immune to good argumentation.
    I also don’t agree that it necessarily takes a miracle from God for someone to be convinced of the existence of an intelligent designer (the goal of ID). If that was the case, then ID should include a campaign of prayer for opponents – but ID is a science project that uses reason, observations and arguments. That’s really sufficient for anyone to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation for the universe and nature.
    Yes, to move to a belief in some kind of Christianity or other theistic religion requires more than arguments.
    But I wouldn’t give up hope on the power of discussion.
    The great philosophers of the past won people over to a theistic view and they didn’t use revelation or scriptures to do it. That’s the challenge for ID and I think it’s worth working on it.

  103. 103
    Silver Asiatic says:

    If you look at the questions posed to A_B, the toughest ones include the little word “why”.

    The problem is that ID is looking at the Big Why. That’s the discussion of origins. But if you answer the question as if it’s a Small Why, then the main point never registers.
    If you start out by concluding “there is no Big Why”, then it’s harder to find ultimate answers.

    We point out, “there is no grounding of morals” in the atheistic view. That statement looks at something ultimate – not something subjective and ephemeral.

    “Why should you be concerned about moral violations?”
    “Why do you engage UD on this issue?”
    We’re looking at the Big Why – the philosophical or scientific origins of what’s going on.

    When there is nihilism at the origin – then there is no answer to any ultimate questions.

    Some atheists made that clear (Provine, Nietzsche, Sartre) – but almost nobody lives up to the idea.

    To hear this … “Yes, I blatantly lie in my conversations because lying is not morally different than the truth”.

    That would be refreshing to hear. However, now try to convince anyone that lying has the same moral value as truth.

    To convince someone of that, you have to use reasoning – which is based on valuing truth as radically higher than falsehood.

    It’s virtually impossible to live consistently as an atheistic-materialist. That’s the problem. So everyone who adopts that view is compromised.

  104. 104
    MrCollins says:

    Let’s get things straight, There’s one real question that has been left unanswered.

    Do they also try to talk people out of their favorite color or flavor of ice cream?

    As to the original post, most people could do the job that could handle the stress. You would mostly be helping people choose their own choices as long as they were within the legal and policy standards of the medical facility.

    Most of the law and policies are made from premade decisions and the ethicist is there to help people figure out what their choices are and the different ways they can go about them.

    Now, they theory is mostly that the lawyers and policy makers have already made their decisions on the ethics and choices available. I’m not sure how the theist, atheist decisions would go, but most likely it’ll go based off of existing criteria and social norms. As a Christian, my morals are based on the Bible and my best ability to interpret it. So, if I were a lawyer or policy maker, then I’d be the one with the actual decision on how things are supposed to go.

    Perhaps a fun direction to take the conversation would be how the legal precedents are evolving with the changing beliefs and seeing just how fragile the pieces of paper we write our laws on are. Those are the ones that really need to be here having these ethics discussions.

  105. 105
    AnimatedDust says:

    WJM @97. Please forgive me. It was not my intention to come at this in any way close to A_B and his ilk. I reflect now in the light of morning how I could have sounded that way and I regret my tone. I have finally found a place that has the intellectual heavy lifting that I have thirsted for in these debates and they do serve the most useful purpose of enlightening the undecided and spectatorial among us with the necessary grist for meaningful decision making.

    Again, my apologies.

  106. 106
    drc466 says:

    A UD parable:

    Long ago, there was a machine, with only two buttons. The Red button was Evil, and was an offense to GOD and His nature. The Green button was Good, and reflected the Holy nature of GOD. Because Man ate from the tree of the knowledge of Buttons, Man knew that he should only press the Green button. In addition, GOD wrote an instruction manual explaining WHY man should only press the Green button.
    For thousands of years, GOD-believers pressed the buttons. Because men do bad things, some of the time they pressed the Green button, but sometimes they pressed the Red button. As time passed, some people were born who didn’t know about GOD, or didn’t believe in GOD.
    Over time a new field of study grew up around why men should press the Green button and not the Red button – men called it “Ethics”. And lo, one could earn $68,584 teaching which button to push!
    And the GOD-believers knew they should press the Green button, because…GOD. But they were confused – what reason would men who didn’t believe in GOD give, for why they should only press the Green button?

    “Everyone knows you should only press the Green button!”
    But why is it better to press the Green button?
    “Are you saying we don’t know how to press the Green button? You’re so dumb!”
    No – we want to know why you think it is better to press the Green button?
    “GOD-believers press the Red button just as often as we do!”
    But why is it better to press the Green button?
    “My intuition, that GOD didn’t put in me, tells me to press the Green button!”
    But what if someone else’s intution tells them to press the Red button? Why should they press the Green button?
    “You clearly don’t understand! You GOD-believers are so stupid! Now where’s my check?”

  107. 107
    BM40 says:

    [are there any others left?]

    while we’re at it: Where is DaveScot?

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    BM, try WUWT . . . the other place he used to hang out at. KF

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I wouldn’t worry about any shortage of objectors to the design inference, new or recycled. And if we make any serious blunder or leave any opening, there will be any number showing up to swarm down. Actually, if we say anything that can be twisted to seem to be an opening, cf comment no 1 above.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I’ll bet there will be no objectors to take up Plato’s remark or Locke’s cite of Hooker — which is a capital case of ideas with consequences, here, modern liberty and democracy. KF

  111. 111
    Barry Arrington says:

    A_B:

    And a question for Barry. Someone was recently blocked from commenting for calling you a liar. Is this sanction only applied to non-creationists?

    A_B, perhaps I should clarify the moderation policy for you. Banning may occur if someone FALSELY accuses another participant of being a liar.

  112. 112
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Kairosfocus:

    Where of course, he is also repeating by insinuation a slander that design Thought is “Creationism in a Cheap Tuxedo.” He full well knows or should know that this is false labelling, but he obviously, sadly, is now addicted to speaking with disregard to the truth

    K, as you well know, I am simply using the strategy intentionally used by creationists when describing evolutionary theory. Creationists insist on using (probably through direct instruction) the term Darwinism to describe evolutionary theory. My use of the term creationist is far more accurate to reality than your use of the term Darwinism. ID, no matter how you define it, requires a designer (i.e., creator). All Darwin proposed was one mechanism that is known to occur (i.e, natural selection). All he knew was that natural selection relied on the availability of variation within a population, but he had no idea where it came from. He did not even rule out Lamarckism. Since then, Mendel’s work became known, DNA and RNA was discovered, population genetics became better understood, genetic drift was discovered, neutral theory was proposed, numerous gene shuffling processes were discovered, mutagenic chemicals and radiation were discovered, horizontal gene transfer was discovered, the importance of sex became better understood. And I am sure that I am missing other mechanisms that are important to evolution.

    In spite of knowing that it is inaccurate, UD and UD commenters continue to use the Darwinism term to refer to evolutionary theory. In a previous post, I have asked if UD has a style guide for it’s contributing authors (I would be very surprised if it didn’t) and if instructions are provided for the use of the Darwinism term. Since you are one of the contributing authors, I will certainly accept any answer you give to this.

  113. 113
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A_B: Darwinism refers to the theory that all the development of biological life can be reduced to mutations and natural selection. It’s the view that Richard Dawkins still holds.

    What you’re saying is that theory has been falsified. It’s not true that “all the development” of biological life can be reduced to Darwinian processes.

  114. 114
    Acartia_bogart says:

    SA:

    A_B: Darwinism refers to the theory that all the development of biological life can be reduced to mutations and natural selection. It’s the view that Richard Dawkins still holds.

    What you’re saying is that theory has been falsified. It’s not true that “all the development” of biological life can be reduced to Darwinian processes.

    Your first sentence is simply wrong. Darwin never suggested that the development of life can be reduced to mutations and natural selection. How could he have given that nobody knew what mutations were. And the statement about Dawkins is a gross oversimplification of his views. He definitely thinks that selection is the most important mechanism but he also acknowledges that genetic drift is one of the drivers of change, something that was never proposed by Darwin.

    It has been a long time since I read Darwin’s work but I will take your word that he proposed that the development of life can be reduced to a source of variation in the population and natural selection (we will ignore the idea of sexual selection as it it just a variation on natural selection). If this is true, then pure Darwinism was falsified in the early part of the last century. Which is why I argue that referring to current evolutionary theory as Darwinism is misleading, and in the case of its use by creationists, intentional misrepresentation.

    But falsification of the specific details of his theory is not evidence for creationism any more than it is evidence for astral projection or leprechauns. As new information became available, evolutionary theory has been modified. And it will continue to be modified as additional information is collected.

  115. 115
    HeKS says:

    @Silver Asiatic #113

    It seems to me that “Darwinism”, or perhaps “Neo-Darwinism”, might be better described as the theory that the mechanism of Natural Selection acting on Random Mutations (the originally unknown source of Darwin’s ‘variations’) has played the central or primary role in bringing about the full array of diversity we see in the world of life.

    Darwin’s supporters often insist that even Darwin knew that Natural Selection was not the ONLY engine of evolution, and they take the same position today. They say that Natural Selection is central, but that other mechanisms of evolution can help stuff along.

    Regarding Neo-Darwinism, I think it’s important to note that this view of evolutionary theory is not only upheld by certain prominent atheist evolutionists and theistic evolutionists, but that it is essentially equivalent to THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION as it is presented to the public in the popular media. The popular media does not present evolutionary theory in terms of self-organization, or ‘natural genetic engineering’, or talk about pre-adapted genetic toolkits, or much of anything else. The theory of evolution, as it is presented to the public for consumption, is almost exclusively of a Neo-Darwinian sort, appealing to hardcore gradualism and long waiting periods for minor genetic mutations to build up to big morphological changes over evolutionary time.

    Why is “Evolution” presented to the public this way? Because it offers the most plausible-sounding story for the masses who don’t really have any awareness at all what is happening at the biochemical level. Not even a slightly informed layman’s understanding. The attraction of Neo-Darwinism as a picture of evolution is that it basically allows people to picture living organisms as instances of playdough, where, starting from an undifferentiated blob of malleable dough, you can gradually move from one shape into another, over and over, in tiny increments. If you can visualize life that way, what could be more plausible than the Neo-Darwinian picture of evolution?

    If proponents of evolutionary theory (and by this I mean those who think that all aspects of life can be explained by recourse only to material mechanisms) would like proponents of ID to spend less time focusing on the specifically Neo-Darwinian picture of evolution, then they should start turning their severe criticisms and insults toward the media outlets who continue to encourage belief in evolution on the basis of the plausibility of Neo-Darwinism to the uninitiated. But they will be in no rush to do this, because the desired goal is to have people believe in “Evolution”, not to have people properly understand the types of evolutionary models and mechanisms that they have turned to upon the failure of Neo-Darwinism.

    I think it’s also important to note that the REASON we still have prominent evolutionists, like Dawkins, who adhere to the Neo-Darwinian model is because they strongly believe that only the Neo-Darwinian model is capable of offering some kind of plausible explanation for the addition of large amounts of new functional information to the genome, whereas the post-Darwinian models tend to take the presence of the genetic information for granted and/or offer no plausible-sounding explanation for how it might have come about in the first place.

  116. 116
    Silver Asiatic says:

    HeKS – that was very informative, thank you.

    I’ll ask A_B to look at this …

    If proponents of evolutionary theory (and by this I mean those who think that all aspects of life can be explained by recourse only to material mechanisms) would like proponents of ID to spend less time focusing on the specifically Neo-Darwinian picture of evolution, then they should start turning their severe criticisms and insults toward the media outlets who continue to encourage belief in evolution on the basis of the plausibility of Neo-Darwinism to the uninitiated. But they will be in no rush to do this, because the desired goal is to have people believe in “Evolution”, not to have people properly understand the types of evolutionary models and mechanisms that they have turned to upon the failure of Neo-Darwinism.

    I’ll take it a step further (and reply to AB directly). It’s not just the media outlets — its the biological community itself. There was, supposedly, a THEORY OF EVOLUTION that claimed something in Darwin’s time and then later as the Neo-Darwinian view. We often see what a struggle it is merely to find out exactly what those theories proposed. But they did make claims about the development of all biological life on the planet — supposedly having found the mechanisms to explain the same. Now, Darwinism has been falsified. So, along with what you suggest, this fact has been covered-up by the scientific community — for reasons you presented so well.

  117. 117
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A_B #114

    Thanks for your reply. I accept your corrections to my initial statements.

    It has been a long time since I read Darwin’s work but I will take your word that he proposed that the development of life can be reduced to a source of variation in the population and natural selection (we will ignore the idea of sexual selection as it it just a variation on natural selection). If this is true, then pure Darwinism was falsified in the early part of the last century.

    Yes, that’s the point. I could ask you to do this, but I will take it on myself, namely … I am going to search the academic literature in mainstream biology to find validation for your statement highlighted above.
    This should be fairly straight-forward. Darwin’s evolutionary theory has been falsified.

    Which is why I argue that referring to current evolutionary theory as Darwinism is misleading, and in the case of its use by creationists, intentional misrepresentation.

    If I can find abundant academic resources that indicate clearly that Darwinian evolution has been scientifically falsified, what you say will carry even more weight.
    I shouldn’t get any opposition from the biological community by affirming that Darwinian theory was falsified in the early 20th century.

    But falsification of the specific details of his theory is not evidence for creationism

    I said nothing about creationism here. Darwinian theory has been falsified. That’s the first point.

    As new information became available, evolutionary theory has been modified.

    True. The theory stated something. Then data contracted the theory. Thus the theory was falsified. Then a new theory was advanced.

    Now we have another theory of evolution. From my research, there is little agreement in the scientific community about what that theory is.

  118. 118

    AnimatedDust @ 105

    No problemo.

    I have a deep appreciation for the likes of BA77, KF, StephenB, niwrad, gpuccio, UB and others who over years, patiently pound such repetitious, ill-informed and ill-considered objections into dust, and I’m probably too defensive of them.

    Someone has to play tennis with these guys to reveal to the crowd that they got no game. I wish I had their patience.

  119. 119
    kairosfocus says:

    A_B:

    That is now the turnabout accusation tactic (one of the compounding forms of the ad hominem phase of the trifecta . . . ), and FYI fallacies are fallacies, they are not something to tag “Creationists” or other demonised, stereotyped groups with, for consignment to rhetorical purgatory.

    Where, the compound fallacy in question . . . the trifecta pattern of red herrings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and ignited was OBSERVED IN THE FIELD, and descriptively tagged with that name based on events here at UD.

    As a sign of what you have become involved in, notice that the grounding of morality challenge in the OP is no longer a topic being addressed?

    Notice, secondly, that from the first words of the first comment you tried to drag away focus to something else, then proceeded to set up caricatures of theistic thinkers (and now Creationists as well) which were repeatedly used to try to poison the atmosphere?

    If you find my simple describing of a process that can be directly demonstrated from the thread above — I have not time for a point by point — to be something you object to, think about the caricatures and stereotypes you have projected unto others.

    And then think about the original subject, the grounding challenge of bridging the IS-OUGHT gap in worldviews and the astonishing fact that for 2350 years, the lack of grounding of morality has stood unresolved by evo mat thinkers, but they seem not to wish to see a serious problem with that.

    I think you need to pause, and think again, very, very carefully, sir. In that process, I would take Locke’s citation of Hooker as he set out to ground the framework of rights and justice in community as a foundation for just government very seriously, especially in light of Plato’s warning as also cited.

    If you want a relevant historical antecedent, reflect on the career of Alcibiades to see what a man with hollowed out morality can become.

    KF

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    For the onlookers: The IS-OUGHT gap issue and the associated question of grounding morality is one of the biggies in philosophy and ethics, as a branch thereof, thus also for policy, politics and life. It is a highly significant issue that one of the most prestigious worldviews in our civilisation has severe challenges with that issue, as well as with grounding the life and work of the mind. Namely,lab coat clad evolutionary materialism conjoined with the epistemological stance known as scientism. As in science holds a monopoly or a near monopoly on serious matters of knowledge . . . which (as an epistemological claim about science, not a statement of science itself) is self referentially incoherent. KF

  121. 121
    HeKS says:

    @Silver Asiatic #117

    The problem with trying to find admissions that Neo-Darwinism has been falsified are multitudinous, but here are a couple…

    Darwin’s theory of evolution did not only propose a mechanism of evolution in the form of Natural Selection, but it also put forward an overall picture of life and evolutionary history in the form of Universal Common Ancestry (UCA) and a unified Tree of Life. The picture of a single Tree of Life should be considered falsified by the evidence, but this is one aspect of “Darwinism” that cannot be allowed to fall, since its falsification would necessitate multiple origins of life, which not even those most sanguine over the ability of natural forces to account for life’s origin are prepared to accept.

    What probably needs to be understood in all this is that post-Darwinian models are primarily proposing new or additional mechanisms of evolution rather than a whole new theory of evolution. Evolution is claimed to be a “fact” because UCA is believed to be a true representation of nature (naturalists don’t really have any choice on this point), but the mechanism is widely in dispute. No mechanism (and no combination of mechanisms) has been shown to be capable of generating the type of novel genetic information necessary to bring about the full diversity, and especially the disparity, of life, but since UCA is held to tenaciously and treated as unquestionable, figuring out the mechanism is really considered to just be a matter of hammering out the details. In this regard, all evolutionary models are in some sense “Darwinian” to one degree or another, in that they seek to elucidate the means by which the picture of nature made popular by Darwin could have come about. Proponents of ID have addressed both the general picture of UCA as well as the various proposed mechanisms, both Neo-Darwinian and post-Darwinian.

    Another problem with finding admissions that Neo-Darwinism has been falsified relates back to what I said in my last post. Ultimately the goal of evolutionists, particularly atheist evolutionists, is to simply have people believe in “Evolution”, period. The details are unimportant. The agenda is what is key. They have a culture war to win.

    Furthermore, this tactic works. You have no idea how many smart, rational people I talk to about “Evolution” who have no idea that Neo-Darwinism has largely fallen out of favor. In fact, they don’t even believe it when they’re told. And when asked to offer arguments for their concept of evolution, the arguments are exclusively Neo-Darwinian. I would venture, without much risk, that the vast, vast majority of the public who claims to believe in “Evolution” views that term as synonymous with what we’d call Neo-Darwinism. Furthermore, they believe in “Evolution” because the specifically Neo-Darwinian picture of it sounds plausible to them. If the bulk of them suddenly became informed that this plausible-sounding version of “Evolution”, the one they see dogmatically preached on PBS and the COSMOS series, the one that is celebrated in the same breath as Intelligent Design is dismissed as religion and “creationism”, is pretty much wrong, the damage to the secular agenda would likely be catastrophic. That’s why even committed materialists like Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmirini got the kinds of comments they did when they challenged the Neo-Darwinian mechanism of evolution, which they describe in their book, What Darwin Got Wrong:

    We’ve been told by more than one of our colleagues that, even if Darwin was substantially wrong to claim that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution, nonetheless we shouldn’t say so. Not, anyhow, in public. To do that is, however inadvertently, to align oneself with the Forces of Darkness, whose goal is to bring Science into disrepute.

    (Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong, p. xx (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).)

    And yet, as far back as 1980 we have people like Stephen Jay Gould declaring that Neo-Darwinism is effectively dead, in spite of the fact that it persisted as orthodoxy in science text books (and popular media). Some 34 years later, it continues to persist as orthodoxy in both venues.

    Personally, I find it highly disingenuous when evolutionists complain that ID proponents spend a lot of time debunking Neo-Darwinism, as though they are only attacking some outdated picture of “Evolution” that nobody even believes anymore. If ID proponents paid attention to this criticism and focused exclusively on post-Darwinian mechanisms, the evolutionists would be thrilled, because they would go right on ignoring criticism on the basis of the philosophical assertion that science can only entertain mechanistic causes, but the risk of the public at large finding out that the picture of “Evolution” that made it plausible to them was false would be significantly reduced, if not entirely removed, and the materialist agenda could just keep chugging away.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  122. 122
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Silver Asiatic, we both know that you are simply playing word games here. But they can be fun.

    Using the rephrasing of your question (that you accepted as meeting your intended meaning),

    …that the development of life can be reduced to a source of variation in the population and natural selection

    this stated assumption is wrong (i.e., false, falsified if you insist). I don’t deny this, and I don’t think that you will find many evolutionists who would deny it either. So far, we are both in agreement, I think.

    But the question wasn’t about whether or not natural selection was a major driving force in evolution, the fundamental aspect of Darwin’s theory. It was about whether it was the only driving force. And since we know this not to be the case, it must be concluded that the assumption is false. But this was known, and accepted by most evolutionary biologists, back in the first half of the last century when the new-synthesis (neo-Darwinism, if you will, although I think that it is a stupid term) was proposed. This simply took Darwin’s theory and adjusted it for the fact that natural selection doesn’t account for all change. Much in the same way that Kepler and Galileo modified Copernicus’s theory, and Newton further modified Kepler’s.

    With regard to trying to find scientific acknowledgements that Darwin’s theory has been falsified, see if you can find published claims that the theories of Copernicus, Kepler, and Newtonian physics have been falsified while you are at it. After all, they have all been demonstrated to have some wrong assumptions (like the assumption that natural selection is responsible for all diversity, although I am still taking you at your word that this was truly Darwin’s claim). Any time a theory is modified, and the modification generally accepted, this is acknowledgement that there was a weakness in the previous model. But a modification of a theory is not the same as a falsification of a theory. Copernicus’ theory, once generally accepted, falsified the Ptolomeic theory, largely because the two are completely incompatible. You can’t say the same for Darwin’s original theory and modern evolutionary theory. Although the modern theory is significantly different than Darwin’s theory, natural selection is still a significant part of it..

  123. 123
    Axel says:

    Mung #83:

    ‘Arcatia_bogart, can you provide any reason why any theist ought to respond to your questions?’

    ‘What are you going to appeal to, other than your own personal preference?’
    ————–

    mung, it’s quite comical to think that A_C is stumped, not by extremely-closely reasoned, philosophical challenges, but by a simple question that you posed in a perfectly plain, vernacular register, such as: ‘What time is it?’

    Namely: ‘What are you going to appeal to, other than your own personal preference?’

  124. 124
    HeKS says:

    @Acartia_bogart #122

    I’m a little confused by your position.

    Is natural selection acting on random genetic mutations (i.e. the Neo-Darwinian mechanism) still a significant part of modern evolutionary theory, or is it disingenuous and misleading for proponents of ID to criticize Neo-Darwinism and the Neo-Darwinian mechanism as if it were a significant part of the modern picture of evolutionary theory?

    Both claims can’t be true.

    And you’ll note that I’ve even had to make some adjustments to the wording of your claims just to make them more closely resemble reality. For example, proponents of ID typically refer to “Neo-Darwinism” rather than simply to “Darwinism”. On the rare occasions they use the latter, it should usually be understood as the former, unless they’re making a historical reference to Darwinian theory prior to the modern synthesis.

    Furthermore, “Neo-Darwinism” is not the recognition that there are more mechanisms at play in evolution than simply Natural Selection. “Neo-Darwinism” is the combination of Darwinism with Mendelian Genetics, also referred to as “The Modern Synthesis” or “Synthetic Theory”.

    Now, whether or not Natural Selection remains a significant part of modern evolutionary theory depends almost entirely on who you ask. As I pointed out in a previous post, it basically IS modern evolutionary theory in the eyes of the media and the public in general. Among scientists its role in evolution varies from being one of preeminence to being a background player barely worthy of mention.

    Among those who consider Natural Selection to play the most important role of all, they do so because they think no other mechanism can possibly account for the creation of large amounts of novel genetic information or mimic the effects of purposive design that we see all around us in nature. Reflecting this view, we have people like Alex Rosenberg making a statement like this:

    There is only one physically possible process that builds and operates purposive systems in nature: natural selection….Darwinian natural selection is the only process that could produce the appearance of purpose.

    Evolutionary models that forego the centrality of Natural Selection don’t really offer any meaningful or plausible-sounding mechanisms for the creation of novel genetic information. The problem of the origin of biological information is largely ignored or swept out of view and, instead, the existence of that information is merely taken for granted and what is proposed is primarily a means of recombining pre-existing functional information.

    I tend to agree with those people who say that no other proposed mechanism other than Darwinian Natural Selection can offer a plausible-sounding explanation for the origin of biological information and the appearance of purposive design in nature. I disagree with them, however, in their belief that Natural Selection can actually do these things rather than simply offer just-so stories that make the claimed efficacy of the Neo-Darwinian mechanism sound plausible to the uninitiated.

  125. 125
    Mark Frank says:

    I only just read this and I am not going to read the 124 preceding comments – so I apologise if someone has already made the point.

    I suspect Barry’s OP is based on a faulty idea of what an ethicist does. I am sure it is not his/her job to tell medical staff, patients and families what is the right thing to do. That would be incredibly patronising and lead to terrible problems if their own principles were very different from the person they were advising. It would be like Richard Dawkins coming along and telling the pregnant mother she ought to have an abortion because the child is disabled. I am sure their job is to help the people involved decide what is the right thing to do by pointing out precedents, consequences, different ways of looking at things etc.

  126. 126
    Acartia_bogart says:

    HekS, as correctly mentioned by many people on UD, natural selection cannot create new information, it can only increase its frequency within a population. The source of the information is mutation and any other mechanism that can change the arrangement of base pairs in the DNA, which are many. In Darwin’s day, he did not know what the source of this information (variation) was. He thought that heredity was a blending, and he did not rule out the heredity of acquired characteristics. It turns out that he was wrong on one, and partially correct on the other.

    But the key component of his theory is natural selection. The modern synthesis is simply a theory that combines natural selection and population genetics (I.e., Medelian genetics). By definition, genetic drift is s part of this, although I honestly don’t recall whether it was identified as such at the time. Since then, there has been new information that has modified the theory and/or clarified the relative importance of different mechanisms.

    You asked if it is pointless for ID to question the significance of natural selection. The answer is, no, it is not pointless. Evolutionists are doing this all the time. That is what neutral theory is all about. Much of the current scientific debate is about the relative significance of selection and drift in the evolutionary process. But I have never read any serious proposition that natural selection should be effectively removed from the theory. So, yes, natural selection remains a significant part of the current theory.

    My view is simply that constantly attacking the significance of natural selection does not provide any advantage to the ID cause because it does not address the source of the variation (I.e, the result of intentional design, or the result of un-directed natural processes like mutations, HGT, recombination, transposition, etc.) which should be where ID places their effort. Even if natural selection is proven to be ineffective (not that this is likely) the ID argument is not strengthened. You still have not provided any addition evidence for a designer.

  127. 127
    Mung says:

    Mark Frank:

    I am sure their job is to help the people involved decide what is the right thing to do by pointing out precedents, consequences, different ways of looking at things etc.

    So if a young unmarried pregnant girl thinks her only option is to get an abortion, the ethical thing to do would be to compassionately explain to her that there are other available options?

  128. 128
    Mark Frank says:

    #127 Mung

    So if a young unmarried pregnant girl thinks her only option is to get an abortion, the ethical thing to do would be to compassionately explain to her that there are other available options?

    Very likely yes – depending on the detail of the situation – but that does not follow from my comment which is about what I think an ethicist’s job is.

  129. 129
    StephenB says:

    Mung: So if a young unmarried pregnant girl thinks her only option is to get an abortion, the ethical thing to do would be to compassionately explain to her that there are other available options?

    Mark

    Very likely yes – depending on the detail of the situation – but that does not follow from my comment which is about what I think an ethicist’s job is.

    There is no such thing as a disinterested or neutral ethicist. Indeed, you have just taken a moral position. In effect, you have argued that it is right to give the woman’s desires preference over the the life of the child if she knows all the options. So, we are back to the point of the post. If you are the ethicist, you cannot, as a materialist provide any moral justification for holding that position. So you shouldn’t take the money

  130. 130
    HeKS says:

    Hi Acartia_bogart,

    Thanks for your reply at #126. Let me address a few points.

    You said:

    HekS, as correctly mentioned by many people on UD, natural selection cannot create new information, it can only increase its frequency within a population. The source of the information is mutation and any other mechanism that can change the arrangement of base pairs in the DNA, which are many.

    I think you may have misunderstood the point of my comment when I referred to those people, committed evolutionists themselves, who think that only Darwinian Natural Selection (NS) can offer a plausible-sounding explanation for the origin of biological information. I agree with you that the theory holds it is the mutations that offer the raw material of evolution. Nonetheless, those who view NS as playing the primary role in evolution hold that it is NS that ultimately produces functional units of biological information from the raw mutational grist. The point is not simply to have an ongoing supply of random base pair substitutions, which overwhelmingly degrade functional information, but to have new units of functional biological information that actually do something useful. Those who hold NS to be central to evolution think that NS is what allows for an ultimately useful output from the random mutational input.

    You continued…

    But the key component of his theory is natural selection. The modern synthesis is simply a theory that combines natural selection and population genetics (I.e., Medelian genetics).

    Two comments here.

    First, as I said earlier, Darwin’s theory had two key components. On the one hand, he offered a general picture of the history of life such that all organisms were linked through Universal Common Ancestry and could be represented on a single, unified Tree of Life. On the other hand, he proposed a mechanism by which this Descent with Modification could have come about, namely, Natural Selection acting on random variations.

    Second, I’m not sure why you’re repeating back to me the description of Neo-Darwinism (i.e. The Modern Synthesis) that I just gave to you.

    Consider…

    Acartia_bogart #122:

    [T]he new-synthesis (neo-Darwinism, if you will, although I think that it is a stupid term) . . . simply took Darwin’s theory and adjusted it for the fact that natural selection doesn’t account for all change.

    HeKS #124:

    “Neo-Darwinism” is not the recognition that there are more mechanisms at play in evolution than simply Natural Selection. “Neo-Darwinism” is the combination of Darwinism with Mendelian Genetics, also referred to as “The Modern Synthesis” or “Synthetic Theory”.

    Acartia_bogart #126:

    The modern synthesis is simply a theory that combines natural selection and population genetics (I.e., Medelian genetics)

    Do you see what you did there?

    You continued:

    You asked if it is pointless for ID to question the significance of natural selection. The answer is, no, it is not pointless. Evolutionists are doing this all the time.

    That’s actually not exactly what I asked. I asked whether it was disingenuous and misleading for proponents of ID to criticize Neo-Darwinism, which includes both the mechanism of Natural Selection and the concept of Universal Common Ancestry. As you may recall, you used rather inflammatory language in an earlier comment when you said in comment #114:

    [R]eferring to current evolutionary theory as Darwinism is misleading, and in the case of its use by creationists, intentional misrepresentation.

    Now, as I pointed out, ID proponents don’t refer to all current evolutionary theory as “Darwinism”, but they do refer to the mechanism of Natural Selection acting on random genetic mutations as “Neo-Darwinism”. Furthermore, the term “Darwinism” can also encapsulate the concept of Universal Common Ancestry, and it doesn’t even need the “Neo” attached to it. Also, I don’t know if you are one of those people who falsely refers to ID as “creationism” (a tactic that indicates either deception on the part of the person using it or else complete ignorance of the defining features of both concepts), so I don’t know whether you were intending to claim that ID proponents were intentionally misrepresenting the facts when they criticize “Neo-Darwinism”. Frankly, it’s a little hard to suss out what exactly a person is saying when numerous parts of their statement don’t accurately reflect reality.

    It seems based on your recent comments, however, that you recognize there’s nothing misleading or disingenuous about criticizing the efficacy of the “Neo-Darwinian mechanism”, which is something that is happening all the time in the scientific literature. And since ID proponents do not refer to all aspects of modern evolutionary theory as “Darwinism” or claim that NS is the only proposed mechanism of evolution, they aren’t actually guilty of any of the things you said were misleading and intentional misrepresentations of the facts, so it’s a little hard to figure out what you were talking about or what you were trying to claim.

    You continued:

    That is what neutral theory is all about. Much of the current scientific debate is about the relative significance of selection and drift in the evolutionary process. But I have never read any serious proposition that natural selection should be effectively removed from the theory. So, yes, natural selection remains a significant part of the current theory.

    “Effectively removed”? Perhaps not. But some have certainly indicated that it ought to be removed from center stage and relegated to a seat in the “nosebleeds”. And yet, for others it remains of primary importance. And, as I said, it basically IS equivalent to “The Theory of Evolution” as far as the popular media, school textbooks and the public at large is concerned. The point being that it is perfectly appropriate for proponents of ID to shine a bright light on its innumerable deficiencies and do so often.

    My view is simply that constantly attacking the significance of natural selection does not provide any advantage to the ID cause because it does not address the source of the variation (I.e, the result of intentional design, or the result of un-directed natural processes like mutations, HGT, recombination, transposition, etc.) which should be where ID places their effort. Even if natural selection is proven to be ineffective (not that this is likely) the ID argument is not strengthened. You still have not provided any addition evidence for a designer.

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say it’s not likely that Natural Selection will be proven to be ineffective. It already has been proven to be ineffective for anything beyond helping to fix minor improvements into a population (often in a cyclical fashion) or helping to eliminate seriously deleterious mutations from the mix. It certainly can’t account for major morphological novelty, such as the creation of new body plans. And its necessarily gradualistic nature doesn’t remotely coincide with the fossil evidence. This has been known for at least 30 years now and all the evidence we have supports that conclusion. People like Jerry Fodor don’t seem to think much of NS. I don’t think PZ Myers has much use for it either. Lynn Margulis wasn’t a fan after she seriously considered the evidence. As I’ve said a few times now, the main reason that people like Dawkins and others continue to give NS the central role in evolution is because they think no other mechanism can take the raw material of random mutations and ultimately produce a result that gives the overwhelming impression of purposive design that we see all around us. For that reason, they think NS just has to be central to evolution, even in the absence of confirming evidence and the presence of disconfirming evidence. Dawkins, for example, has explicitly admitted that his confidence in NS is a kind of faith statement that he bases on his opinion that Darwin’s theory makes so much sense to him. In Dawkins’ own words about NS:

    There cannot have been intermediate stages that were not beneficial. There’s no room in natural selection for the sort of foresight argument…It doesn’t happen like that. There’s got to be a series of advantages all the way…If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem, not natural selection’s problem. Well I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my part since the theory is so coherent and so powerful

    If you actually follow Dawkins’ logic in this interview, we are apparently supposed to understand that the Neo-Darwinian picture of evolution is sound and warrants belief because the mechanism is powerful and we are supposed to believe that faith in the power of the mechanism is warranted because the theory is so sound.

    Moving beyond this issue, however, I find your comments very odd when you say:

    Even if natural selection is proven to be ineffective … the ID argument is not strengthened. You still have not provided any addition evidence for a designer.

    I find this statement odd not because it is incorrect but because I can’t think of single proponent of ID who would disagree with it. You seem to be pretty active on this site, so surely you must realize that the case for ID goes beyond simply a criticism of NS. ID has presented a negative case against NS and all the other currently proposed mechanisms of evolution, as well as against the more general concept of Universal Common Ancestry (though some, like Behe, accept UCA with the caveat that it is the product of design up to a certain level), but it has also offered a positive case for design.

    Have you actually read the books of people like Meyer and Behe, as opposed to just the ill-conceived reviews written by people who seem to have either failed to read the books themselves or else are cursed with particularly poor reading comprehension?

    Take care,
    HeKS

  131. 131
    Mark Frank says:

    Stephenb

    There is no such thing as a disinterested or neutral ethicist. Indeed, you have just taken a moral position. In effect, you have argued that it is right to give the woman’s desires preference over the the life of the child if she knows all the options. So, we are back to the point of the post. If you are the ethicist, you cannot, as a materialist provide any moral justification for holding that position. So you shouldn’t take the money

    As I tried to explain in my comment – this is my personal moral opinion – it is nothing to do with what an ethicist’s job is. An ethicist’s job, as I understand it, is  helping people come to their own decision about the ethics which of difficult situations within the legal and procedural framework of the country/hospital/etc.

  132. 132
    StephenB says:

    Mark:

    An ethicist’s job, as I understand it, is helping people come to their own decision about the ethics which of difficult situations within the legal and procedural framework of the country/hospital/etc.

    You are missing two points. First, the task of the ethicist is to consider both the legal and moral ramifications of any course of action, including whether or not the laws that bind them are ethical. Second, the ethicist cannot help anyone come to a moral decision without taking a moral position of his own. He cannot help anyone decide anything by remaining morally neutral or disinterested. Thus, the materialist, who can provide no moral justification for any position that he takes, is useless in that capacity.

  133. 133
    Acartia_bogart says:

    The abortion example is an emotion laden one. My personal opinion is similar to Mark’s in this respect. But let’s pick one that is in more of a grey zone. What if the same woman went to the doctor (not pregnant, but married) and asked for birth control. What, ethically, should the doctor do?

    My view is that it is incumbent on the doctor to provide accurate information on the options, including the potential risks associated with each option. But the final choice should be up to the woman. And there are many Christians, who supposedly believe in the objective reality of ethical norms, who would agree with this approach.

    But a catholic would not, even though they also believe in the objective reality of these ethical norms.

    And if you were a staunch opponent of abortion, you might be OK with discussing the use of condoms and diaphragms but not IUDs and the pill because the first two prevent fertilization but the other two don’t.

    And what about the husband? Is it ethically incumbent on the doctor to refuse to provide birth control unless the husband agrees, or is his obligation only to his patient?

    I honestly don’t see why a person of faith would be better at these issues than an atheist. And, in many cases, the atheist would approach it more objectively.

    And if you want to get into a really sensitive issue, what about drug trials? What are the faith based ethics around providing a possibly life saving drug to some patients and a placebo to others. But that is for another day b

  134. 134
    Silver Asiatic says:

    HeKS #124

    Thanks for a detailed and very insightful reply. You did far better with that than I could. [Note to KairosFocus – a good candidate here for a guest OP?].

    There is clearly an agenda that is being promoted and a belief system defended. This does explain why there is so much deliberate ambiguity around what “evolutionary theory” actually is. The theory, which was wide sweeping, can be reduced to merely a single mechanism that allows for adaptations, and the belief remains that “evolution is true”.

    I’ll conclude that “Darwinism” is actually the theory that all biological life developed by physical processes alone from its very first cellular origin (it’s interesting that multiple origins would create a problem also).

    That’s Darwinism — and that’s evolution. It doesn’t matter how many and what precise mechanisms might work — the evolutionary story is a materialist story about life on earth. With that, nobody in the biological community is going to accept that “Darwinism has been falsified” because that basically means “evolutionary theory is false”.

    But since Darwinian mechanisms have proven to be such a weak explanation, there is some resistance to that particular term. “Evolutionary theory” would be preferred because that is a lot more vague and can incorporate a multitude of contradictory and incomplete ideas.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Also called Darwinian theory.”

    Darwinian theory is evolution. And evolution is the “theory” that all species of organisms arise and develop through natural, material processes alone and that these processes and organisms show no evidence of having been designed by intelligence.

  135. 135
    Box says:

    Acartia_bogart: My view is that it is incumbent on the doctor to provide accurate information on the options, including the potential risks associated with each option.

    The question is why that your view? Your morality is based on what?

    Acartia_bogart: But the final choice should be up to the woman.

    Again, why?

  136. 136
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A_B #122

    Silver Asiatic, we both know that you are simply playing word games here.

    Well I believe this discussion has been about word games, hasn’t it? You don’t like the term Darwinism. But I also find it a problem that you don’t know what it means.

    After all, they have all been demonstrated to have some wrong assumptions (like the assumption that natural selection is responsible for all diversity, although I am still taking you at your word that this was truly Darwin’s claim).

    As above, I’m surprised you’re taking my word for anything regarding the theories you’re defending (and you’re claiming that modern evolutionary theory is merely a modification of Darwinism). You don’t know what Darwinism is — but you’re certain the term is not appropriate for ID theorists to use.

    Here’s Wikipedia:

    “Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Also called Darwinian theory.”

    Notice, it doesn’t say “natural selection alone”.
    So, why can’t Darwinism include some of the other mechanisms?
    From what I see – the term is perfectly appropriate for “evolutionary theory”. Or I’ll put it this way, you’ve provided no convincing evidence that the term should not be used.

  137. 137
    Mung says:

    I am considering hanging out my “Amateur Ethicist” shingle.

    As an amateur ethicist, would it be unethical of me to charge for my services?

    Recognizing my status as an amateur, I intend to restrict myself to helping my patients answer only the truly tough questions. e.g., Should I buy a Mounds, or an Almond Joy?

    But should I buy the Mounds and steal the Almond Joy? That’s out of my league.

    However, as a potential practicing ethicist I for some strange reason think I ought to be able to distinguish ethical questions from those that are unrelated to ethics. But how do I manage to do that? Which questions raise ‘ethical’ issues and which do not? What if I advise someone on a truly ethical matter and get it wrong? Can I lose my license?

    Not that I care, mind you. When it comes right down to it I was only offering my personal opinion. I can’t be held legally liable.

  138. 138
    Mark Frank says:

    Stephenb

    You are missing two points. First, the task of the ethicist is to consider both the legal and moral ramifications of any course of action, including whether or not the laws that bind them are ethical.

    You seem to be very sure about what the job of an ethicist entails – where did you learn this? I am less sure, but as I understand it the job is to help the doctors/patients/etc people involved “consider both the legal and moral ramifications of any course of action” and come to a decision about the right thing to do. I guess this may very occasionally include getting them to consider whether or not the laws that bind them are ethical but I would imagine most of the time the laws  would not be challenged. No doubt there is still plenty of room for interpretation within those laws. In any case it would not be the ethicist’s job to consider whether the laws were moral from his/her point of view.

    Second, the ethicist cannot help anyone come to a moral decision without taking a moral position of his own. He cannot help anyone decide anything by remaining morally neutral or disinterested. Thus, the materialist, who can provide no moral justification for any position that he takes, is useless in that capacity.

    Why not? You assert this with no proof.  I would guess that it would be a disadvantage having strong and inflexible moral opinions of your own.  If for example the patient has a strong religious background that is different from yours (e.g. they refuse a blood transfusion for their child) then their decision may well be something you disapprove of and yet to do the job you might have to accept this. (It is of course utter rubbish that the materialist can provide no moral justification for any position he takes. I have provided countless counter-examples to this inane statement over the years and you just ignore them. But in this case it is irrelevant.)

  139. 139
    StephenB says:

    SB: the ethicist cannot help anyone come to a moral decision without taking a moral position of his own. He cannot help anyone decide anything by remaining morally neutral or disinterested. Thus, the materialist, who can provide no moral justification for any position that he takes, is useless in that capacity.

    Mark:

    Why not? You assert this with no proof.

    Even if the ethicist believes that he should provide only factual and conceptual input and refrain from taking a moral position, he has, by virtue of that decision, taken a moral position, namely that he shouldn’t inject his morality into the situation. It is impossible for a functioning ethicist not to take a moral position. Since he is bound to take a moral position, and since, as a materialist, he cannot provide a rational justification for taking that position, he shouldn’t accept payment for his services.

    I would guess that it would be a disadvantage having strong and inflexible moral opinions of your own. If for example the patient has a strong religious background that is different from yours (e.g. they refuse a blood transfusion for their child) then their decision may well be something you disapprove of and yet to do the job you might have to accept this.

    You seem to have lost track of the above argument. I just argued that it is impossible to function as an ethicist without taking a moral position. You just disputed that argument. Your task, then, is to provide an example where an ethicist can function and take no moral position.

    (It is of course utter rubbish that the materialist can provide no moral justification for any position he takes. I have provided countless counter-examples to this inane statement over the years and you just ignore them. But in this case it is irrelevant.)

    A materialist can provide no rational justification for any moral position he takes. If you would like to argue against the point, feel free to do so.

  140. 140
    kairosfocus says:

    SA & HeKS:

    I glanced here and saw the isdea of a guest post. HeKS, go to my handle, click, use the contact, then let’s talk.

    The next few days to the weekend will be max-busy ones, so next week.

    (The local silly season peaks, uh oh, I may have even bigger headaches next week on policy matters . . . but then, I will NEED a break.)

    All best

    KF

  141. 141
    kairosfocus says:

    A-B:

    Pardon some painful words, but they are necessary. That people are often highly emotive over issues of OUGHT, vs what they do, may well reflect that gap and the underlying significance of implications of being under moral government.

    That some want to downgrade an unborn child to the level of a bit of unwanted growth to be excised . . . and you know that is a fact . . . speaks volumes on the issue of dehumanising the intended victim. I would suggest, here, that conscience be listened to, not benumbed, beguiled or squelched.

    OUGHT is real, and it means we live in a world with a foundational IS who grounds OUGHT.

    I say that, as for thousands of years, the only serious candidate for such an IS, has been the inherently good creator God, a maximally great and necessary being. We are truly “without excuse.”

    And that may explain the intensity when many set out to do or to desensitise to doing the utterly indefensible.

    And sorry, that may be painful but necessary . . . one of my former murderer friends would suggest that the time to pause and think twice is before something horrible and irreversible is done.

    He would add, if you have done the unthinkable and so are guilty, face it and seek forgiveness, reformation and transformation, don’t try to pretend “a nuh nutten.”

    There is no profit in gaining the world and forfeiting your soul, your core being . . . which directly entails that the worth of just one human life is greater than the wealth of a world.

    That is what we are trifling with.

    KF

  142. 142
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    Even if the ethicist believes that he should provide only factual and conceptual input and refrain from taking a moral position, he has, by virtue of that decision, taken a moral position, namely that he shouldn’t inject his morality into the situation.

    That is not a moral position. It is the job description. He may think he is morally bound to have an opinion but his job description says otherwise. It is not uncommon for jobs to require people to do things they think immoral.

    You seem to have lost track of the above argument. I just argued that it is impossible to function as an ethicist without taking a moral position. You just disputed that argument. Your task, then, is to provide an example where an ethicist can function and take no moral position.

    I think I just did that but until you can grasp the difference between what someone is required to do as part of their job and what they think is morally right I think we can make little progress.

    A materialist can provide no rational justification for any moral position he takes. If you would like to argue against the point, feel free to do so.

    You added the weasel word “rational” which then leads to a tedious debate about what justifications are rational and the same old stereotyped positions.  I don’t want to go down that route.

  143. 143
    Box says:

    Does it make sense for a person who is colorblind to apply for a job as color adviser?

  144. 144
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    Pardon but SB is right.

    While you are likely to resort to the habitual studious ignoring tactic or the equally habitual “I cannot make sense of” talking point, it must be pointed out that your proposed moral neutralism is not substantially different from the amorality directly entailed by evolutionary materialism.

    Which, opens the door to the nihilist’s credo, might (and manipulation) make ‘right.’

    This has been exposed, highlighted and warned against on the record since Plato in The Laws Bk x, 2350 years ago.

    I need not point out the history, ancient and modern.

    Please, think again.

    KF

  145. 145
    kairosfocus says:

    Box: A Colour-blind person who acknowledges the fact can use instruments to guide him. But, he will always be dependent. On the subject of morality, precisely because it is so directly personal, we are all partly colour-blind . . . have planks in our eyes. We need help, not only from each other but in the end from the IS who grounds OUGHT. But, we live in an arrogantly “Sez who” world that clings to self-serving absurdities. We have no excuse. I wish, that people could look in the face of the same former murderer fried and see the haunted look that says, If only I could go back and undo what I did; now, I can only live as a warning and sign of hope for forgiveness and reform. KF

  146. 146
    Box says:

    Does it make sense for a blind person to apply for a job as traffic control officer?

  147. 147
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #144

    Your comment is short and comprehensible – thanks.

    However, like SB you seem not to be able to differentiate between what an ethicist is expected to do as part of their job and what they (or anyone else) believes to be morally right.

    I am saying that as I understand it an ethicist’s job is not to have an opinion about what is right or wrong but

    a) help people interpret man-made laws and other rules and precedents

    b) help people come to a decision about ethically tricky decisions – very tricky as many people are involved with potentially different ideas about what is right and wrong.

    It may help to imagine that the ethicist has a very clear cut set of ethical beliefs based on their religion – like you, StephenB and Barry. The ethicist’s job (as I understand it) would require such a person to put those beliefs to one side and listen to the ethical beliefs of the participants – including hospital boards and the law of the land. You might argue that this is a moral stance but let’s be clear it is not the moral stance of the person being employed – it is the moral stance of the person who wrote the job description. Given that job description, it would appear that someone without very strong a priori views on right and wrong would be better equipped to do the job – but it is not necessary.

  148. 148
    Box says:

    Mark Frank: help people come to a decision about ethically tricky decisions – very tricky as many people are involved with potentially different ideas about what is right and wrong.

    While discussing ‘ethically tricky decisions’, the reflective materialist is staring in the abyss – he believes that whatever is discussed is totally nonsensical and whatever he says carries no weight whatsoever. A materialist discussing ethically tricky decisions is as absurd as a colorblind person discussing pastel tints.

  149. 149
    Josh says:

    BA77@65

    I believe Paul is a YLC (Young Life Creationist) based on Genesis 1:1-2 among other things;

    1 In the beginning of God’s preparing the heavens and the earth —
    2 the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness [is] on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters.
    YLT
    A YLC believes that life on earth is approximately 6000 years old.
    The Bible does not say how long what became “earth” had existed, just that it did exist before Day .

    A plain reading of the text solves many problems.

  150. 150
    HeKS says:

    @kairosfocus #140

    I’m not seeing any contact link when I click on your name. I get taken to a website, but I don’t see a contact link.

  151. 151
    Silver Asiatic says:

    HeKS – at the very bottom of that page there is a link (the very last link) for the author and you’ll find the address there.

  152. 152
    Mung says:

    Does it make sense for a person who is colorblind to apply for a job as color adviser?

    That would depend on the job description.

    Does it make sense for a blind person to apply for a job as traffic control officer?

    That too would depend on the job description.

    😉

  153. 153
    StephenB says:

    SB: Even if the ethicist believes that he should provide only factual and conceptual input and refrain from taking a moral position, he has, by virtue of that decision, taken a moral position, namely that he shouldn’t inject his morality into the situation.

    That is not a moral position. It is the job description.

    A job description that calls for an ethicist to abstain from taking any moral position is, itself, a moral position. First, it prevents the ethicist from giving moral direction by imposing an official policy of moral relativism on him and his clients. Second, it requires him to remain silent about the justice of the civil laws that his organization is being asked to follow. Third, it ignores the fact that the job description serves a broader and more important purpose—the organization’s reason for being, which always has a moral component. An ethicist cannot avoid taking a moral position. It is not possible. A materialist ethicist, therefore, who cannot avoid taking a moral position, should not accept payment for his services since he can provide no rational justification for any position he takes.

    He may think he is morally bound to have an opinion but his job description says otherwise. It is not uncommon for jobs to require people to do things they think immoral.

    His job description supports the organization’s purpose, which always has a moral component.

    ..

    until you can grasp the difference between what someone is required to do as part of their job and what they think is morally right I think we can make little progress.

    We are not discussing “someone,” we are discussing a professional ethicist.

    SB: A materialist can provide no rational justification for any moral position he takes. If you would like to argue against the point, feel free to do so.

    You added the weasel word “rational” which then leads to a tedious debate about what justifications are rational and the same old stereotyped positions. I don’t want to go down that route.

    “Rational” is the definitive term. The materialist has no rational grounding for his position. He can only appeal to his feelings and preferences. His alleged morality is totally without foundation. It isn’t a question about whether you want to go down that route. There is no route for you to travel. There is no argument to be made.

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    You added the weasel word “rational” which then leads to a tedious debate about what justifications are rational and the same old stereotyped positions. I don’t want to go down that route.

    “Rational” is the definitive term. The materialist has no rational grounding for his position. He can only appeal to his feelings and preferences. His alleged morality is totally without foundation. It isn’t a question about whether you want to go down that route. There is no route for you to travel. There is no argument to be made.

  155. 155
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Kairos focus #141: “Pardon some painful words, but they are necessary..,”

    I guess the point is, painful for whom? And necessary for whom? Or is it ‘who’? I am never sure. Since I think that you are wrong in your belief of the existence of objective values dispensed from on high, the rest of your words are meaningless to me.

    But let’s go right back to Barry’s original point:
    “I can understand how a theist who believes in the objective reality of ethical norms could apply for such a position in good faith…
    My question is how could a materialist apply for such a position in good faith? “

    Since most hospitals do things that are counter to some theistic rules (e.g., abortions, tubal ligation, vasectomies, stem cell research, blood transfusions, not telling a husband about a wife’s medical treatments, etc.), the bigger question would be how a theist could apply for this position in good faith. After all, everything I listed violated the rules of one theistic belief or another.

    However, a non-theist, who believes that ethical norms are, and should be, determined by society, which admittedly includes a religious component, could apply for this position in good ‘faith’ (using the secular use of the word, not the religious).

  156. 156
    Mark Frank says:

    #152 SB

    A job description that calls for an ethicist to abstain from taking any moral position is, itself, a moral position.

    That may be true. But that is the moral position of the person who wrote the job description, or the organisation, not the ethicist. The ethicist could have moral principles which are totally at odd with the job description. My inclination would be to say that someone with strong a priori moral principles such as yourself would be very uncomfortable performing a job which involved setting your own moral principles aside.

  157. 157
    kairosfocus says:

    SB continues to be right. KF

  158. 158
    Mark Frank says:

    KF, SB

    I am intrigued. Assuming the ethicists job is as I describe – help people come to their own ethical decision and avoid imposing your own ethical views

    a Would you be comfortable doing the job?

    b Do you think an atheist would be less good at it than a theist?

  159. 159
    Box says:

    Mark Frank: Do you think an atheist would be less good at it than a theist?

    An honest atheist, advising his clients, would say: listen up people, there is no right and wrong, so it doesn’t matter at all what your decision will be. So do whatever the hell you want, or don’t.

  160. 160
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Box: “An honest atheist, advising his clients, would say: listen up people, there is no right and wrong, so it doesn’t matter at all what your decision will be. So do whatever the hell you want, or don’t.”

    I am constantly amazed about how ignorant some theists can be about atheists and their motives/ethics/morals/purpose/etc., yet how thoroughly complete they think their understanding of us is. It must be comforting to know everything.

  161. 161
    Daniel King says:

    It must be comforting to know everything.

    It’s a God-given gift.

  162. 162
    StephenB says:

    Mark

    Assuming the ethicists job is as I describe – help people come to their own ethical decision and avoid imposing your own ethical views.

    a Would you be comfortable doing the job?

    It’s interesting that you characterize the act of sharing one’s ethical views as “imposing” one’s ethical views.

    Impose

    —force (something unwelcome or unfamiliar) to be accepted

    —take advantage of someone by demanding their attention or commitment.

    To share, to persuade, or to provide good reasons for believing in an idea is not to “impose” that belief. Liberal atheists use that word to chill speech and intimidate those who would dare disagree with them about objective morality–even as those same liberal atheists remake secular institutions so that they can impose their own world view of subjective morality on everyone else.

    But to answer your question, no. I would only be comfortable if I could help people to understand what they ought to do and encourage them to do it. (Notice that I didn’t say I would try to force them to do it or impose my views on them.) The real intellectual challenge is not to teach people the natural moral law. They already know it, at least in some primitive form. The real challenge is to help them better understand that law and apply it in complex situations where there is more than one possible moral solution. If I could not tell the truth about objective morality, I would want no part of it.

    b Do you think an atheist would be less good at it than a theist?

    I don’t think that an atheist who doesn’t believe in moral truths would be very effective at explaining the option of sacrificing everything–including one’s career, reputation, or even one’s life–for the sake of a moral truth.

  163. 163
    HeKS says:

    @Acartia_bogart #159

    Box: “An honest atheist, advising his clients, would say: listen up people, there is no right and wrong, so it doesn’t matter at all what your decision will be. So do whatever the hell you want, or don’t.”

    I am constantly amazed about how ignorant some theists can be about atheists and their motives/ethics/morals/purpose/etc., yet how thoroughly complete they think their understanding of us is. It must be comforting to know everything.

    A_b,

    While I can’t speak definitively for Box, it seems to me his (her?) comments should be understood in the context of the issue raised in the OP.

    In other words, in referring to an “honest atheist”, I don’t think Box is referring simply to an atheist who truly admits their own personal opinion about morality, in which case he would be implying that all atheists think objective morality doesn’t exist and those who don’t admit that are lying.

    Rather, by “honest atheist”, I think Box means an atheist who has truly thought through and accepted the logically necessary implications of their basic, materialist worldview and are subsequently open about those implications to others.

    As an example we might cite someone like Will Provine, who has rejected any notion of objective morality or free will not because that is simply his personal opinion but because he rightly recognizes it as the necessary conclusion of his atheistic, materialist, evolutionary worldview. Provine further acknowledges that Darwin himself recognized these to be the logically necessary conclusions of his own theory about the history of life. Provine is an “honest atheist” in the sense Box uses that term because he has unflinchingly considered what his worldview demands that he conclude and he is very open about those implications to anyone he talks to about the subject.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  164. 164
    Acartia_bogart says:

    HeKS, I accept the fact that theists believe that god provided objective morality is real. But I argue that they are nothing more than a set of rules that various societies over the centuries have established because they are beneficial to an individual’s and a society’s ability to survive and thrive. If I chose whatever morals benefit me at any given time then I agree that this would be subjective morality. It would also make me a sociopath. But if I adopt a set of morals that society has shown to be effective in ensuring the long term survival of that society, then my morals have been selected objectively.

    If morals are truly objective and given by god, why do different religions, and even different sects within the same religion, not have the same objective morals?

    I would be lying if i tried to claim that my morals are not strongly influenced by Christian morals. But I simply don’t believe that they were dictated by any god.

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    MF: I have one minute. Your ethics practice client (presumably, lying on the couch) is Adolf Hitler, and he is seeking support on the euthanasia-eugenics law that was at the time linked to the Scientific “consensus,” but in several years on our time line would lead to genocide. On what principles and with what objectivity and neutrality about the IS-OUGHT grounding issue would he be advised. KF

  166. 166
    kairosfocus says:

    A_b: The Moral Yardstick 1 case . . . it is self evidently wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a young child for sexual gratification and pleasure is based on the shocking fate of a young boy I knew. Take a trip with me to visit with the still grieving — and formidable — father, the surviving brothers and friends and explain in their presence that binding rights were not really violated, we are not really under moral government, and they need to just get over it. (All you are doing is underscoring the moral absurdity of evolutionary materialism and how it is forced to hold that there is nothing more than might and manipulation make ‘right.’) KF

  167. 167
    Mark Frank says:

    SB:

    But to answer your question, no. I would only be comfortable if I could help people to understand what they ought to do and encourage them to do it.  …… If I could not tell the truth about objective morality, I would want no part of it.

     

    I don’t think that an atheist who doesn’t believe in moral truths would be very effective at explaining the option of sacrificing everything–including one’s career, reputation, or even one’s life–for the sake of a moral truth.

    That may be true. But that was not the question I asked. I think my point is made. If the ethicist’s job is what I think it is then someone who believes that morality is at heart a subjective opinion (which is not the same as having no rational justification) would actually be better suited to the job than someone who was convinced there was an objective moral truth and they knew what that truth was.

  168. 168
    Mark Frank says:

    KF

    I have one minute. Your ethics practice client (presumably, lying on the couch) is Adolf Hitler, and he is seeking support on the euthanasia-eugenics law that was at the time linked to the Scientific “consensus,” but in several years on our time line would lead to genocide. On what principles and with what objectivity and neutrality about the IS-OUGHT grounding issue would he be advised.

    I don’t recognise this job – it doesn’t seem to bear much relationship to the job of ethicist as I understand it.  You seem to be inventing a job which is to give ethical direction to people and using that to replay the old objective/subjective debate.  I am sorry I have played that too many times.

  169. 169
    StephenB says:

    Mark

    I think my point is made.

    No, your point has been refuted.

    If the ethicist’s job is what I think it is then someone who believes that morality is at heart a subjective opinion (which is not the same as having no rational justification) would actually be better suited to the job than someone who was convinced there was an objective moral truth and they knew what that truth was.

    The ethicist’s job is not what you think it is.

    From Wikipedia:

    “An ethicist is one whose judgment on ethics and ethical codes has come to be trusted by a specific community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgement.”

    You have tried to re-define the ethicist’s role as that of a moral relativist and then claim–surprise, surprise–that a moral relativist would do a better job of being a moral relativist than a theist. On the contrary, it is not the ethicist’s job to avoid taking moral stands or refrain from giving ethical advice. That would be like defining an umpire as someone who avoids calling balls and strikes.

    It is impossible for an ethicist to function as a moral relativist. Among other things, he must support the purpose of the organization, which always has a moral component. Among other things, he must pass judgment on the civil laws that affect the organization, all of which have a moral component. No one who believes that morality is a subjective opinion could function in that kind of environment.

  170. 170
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus:

    Your ethics practice client (presumably, lying on the couch) is Adolf Hitler, and he is seeking support on the euthanasia-eugenics law that was at the time linked to the Scientific “consensus,” but in several years on our time line would lead to genocide. On what principles and with what objectivity and neutrality about the IS-OUGHT grounding issue would he be advised.

    Mark

    I don’t recognise this job – it doesn’t seem to bear much relationship to the job of ethicist as I understand it. You seem to be inventing a job which is to give ethical direction to people and using that to replay the old objective/subjective debate. I am sorry I have played that too many times.

    Mark, by your own account of his job description, the ethicist’s role is to help people find their own moral position and to refrain from imposing his own moral views.

    Accordingly, and again by your own account of his job description, the ethicist cannot pass judgment on Hitler’s subjective opinions about morality.

    Since Hitler has, indeed, found his own way, you can congratulate yourself for staying true to your job description–either for helping him form his moral code or for staying out of the way while he forms it on his own.

  171. 171
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    The ethicist’s job is not what you think it is.
    From Wikipedia:
    “An ethicist is one whose judgment on ethics and ethical codes has come to be trusted by a specific community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgement.”
    You have tried to re-define the ethicist’s role as that of a moral relativist and then claim–surprise, surprise–that a moral relativist would do a better job of being a moral relativist than a theist. On the contrary, it is not the ethicist’s job to avoid taking moral stands or refrain from giving ethical advice. That would be like defining an umpire as someone who avoids calling balls and strikes.

    I made it very clear that my statement was based on an assumption about what the ethicist’s job is.  If you want to discuss whether that is an accurate description of the job that is a different dispute. My conditional claim remains true.

    It is impossible for an ethicist to function as a moral relativist. Among other things, he must support the purpose of the organization, which always has a moral component.

    A moral relativist is perfectly capable of supporting the moral purposes of an organisation – indeed he/she is better equipped to do this than a moral objectivist as this involves making moral decisions relative to the moral framework of the organisation.  (In practice moral relativists do have their own views and may find their subjective opinion differs from that of the organisation – but they are likely to find it easier than an obectivist to put aside their moral views and work according to the organisation’s).

    Among other things, he must pass judgment on the civil laws that affect the organization, all of which have a moral component. No one who believes that morality is a subjective opinion could function in that kind of environment.

    Whatever his job I am sure he doesn’t have to pass judgement on the law. That’s political campaigning!

    Turning to the interesting issue of what medical ethicists actually do. I am surprised that all of a sudden Wikipedia is taken to be an authoritative source given the things the ID community has said about it in the past. However, the definition you refer to is of the generic term ethicist which is not even a job much less the specific job medical ethicist. There is no entry for medical ethicist in Wikipedia although there is one for medical ethics. So looking elsewhere:

      http://www.sharecare.com/healt.....l-ethicist
     

    Katrina Bramstedt, PhD, Health Education, answered
    A medical ethicist is also sometimes called a clinical ethicist or bioethicist. These are healthcare professionals with either a PhD or MD/DO and advanced fellowship training who specialize in helping patients, families, and medical teams solve medical ethics dilemmas.
    ……
    Patients, families and medical teams can request an ethics consultation whenever they need help with moral distress or ethical decision-making.

      Or this blog entry which appears to be written by a medical ethicist: http://www.amc.edu/BioethicsBl.....thicist-do

    Clinical ethicists should not act as final judges about what is right or wrong in a specific case. Instead, they should function as informers and guides about the case’s ethical dimensions, as well as the ethical supportability of different solutions.

  172. 172
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I again don’t have much time, it’s crunch time — even on insomnia power. But, the attempt above to use street corner pundit caricatures of theism in order to poison the well need a reminder on historically relevant matters.

    Y’see, modern liberal democracy was a designed system of gov’t and Locke was a chief architect. He understood that rights, justice and governance are deeply pervaded by ethical issues and considerations. And so, when he addressed grounding core government values and visions in his famous 2nd Treatise on Civil Govt, in ch 2 sect 5, he cited as follows from “the judicious [Anglican Canon, Richard] Hooker” in his 1594+ Ecclesiastical Polity:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    That is a very good in a nutshell argument of core Judaeo-Christian ethics, complete with the insight that it is evident to the normal man or woman of reasonably clean and functioning conscience and mind.

    You have to benumb and cow and blind and warp people for them to become ignorant of this.

    Which is exactly what is happening in our civilisation at the hands of those whose ethics boils down to might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    (As a litmus test of this, see if such are willing to acknowledge the substance and significance of Hooker’s summary as cited by Locke, or more to the point whether they can show passing familiarity with what Jesus of Nazareth taught the world in the Sermon on The Mount. If they fail this test and instead resort to litanies of well-poisoning and ad hominem or mocking ridicule laced strawman caricatures, let them know that you see exactly what they are doing, what, and what this reveals about what they are . . . and who they inadvertently serve.)

    KF

    PS: Hitler on the relativist ethicist’s office couch circa 1936 – 9, is a good test of the espoused principles . . . and it seems to have been clearly failed. The example is actually based on stuff I looked at for curriculum architecting of Engineering Programmes, where one of the pivotal case studies was the abuse of engineering and science for aggressive war and genocide. Someone, designed the rifles, machine guns, arty pieces, aircraft, tanks, rockets, propellants and explosives . . . defensible as needed in a world of possible aggressors, but then perverted into aggression. Someone developed Zyklon B and Sarin etc, IIRC originally as insecticides, but then toxicity to humans emerged (was there KZ prisoner testing?) and someone turned Zyklon B into the gas used at Auschwitz, and Tabun and Sarin into the first notorious nerve gases. (BTW, guess what Baygon is, though not so toxic to humans . . . but read the label warnings!) Someone adapted trucks to gas people in the back compartments. Someone designed the fake shower system at Auschwitz. And more. I came away from the exercise concluding that every scientist or engineer, medical doctor, Lawyer, Journalist, Educator etc in training should do an “X in Society” course, addressing ethics, professional principles informed by ethics, and linked civics with real life historical cases. For instance, was it okay to work for a firm building slaver ships 250 years ago? Or, to work in a cigarette factory today? Or, to promote abortion of millions of unborn children on demand mislabelled as “choice” and even “reproductive rights”? Or, to indoctrinate in scientism and evolutionary materialist ideology dressed up in a lab coat, complete with loaded redefinitions of science? Or, to pretend that there is no material difference between Adam marrying Eve and his “marriage” to Steve, or to both, or even to Fido? Or, or, or . . . ?

  173. 173

    AB said:

    But I argue that they are nothing more than a set of rules that various societies over the centuries have established because they are beneficial to an individual’s and a society’s ability to survive and thrive.

    Beneficial how? According to whom, and by what standard? You say this as if there is some kind of objective standard of “beneficial” that a “society” refers to in order to determine what would be “beneficial”.

    If I chose whatever morals benefit me at any given time then I agree that this would be subjective morality. It would also make me a sociopath. But if I adopt a set of morals that society has shown to be effective in ensuring the long term survival of that society, then my morals have been selected objectively.

    No, that’s just you subjectively choosing the long-term survival of a society as the basis of your personal moral code. If someone else chooses religious scripture or political/social power for their group or “do as thou will” as the basis of their moral code, that’s them doing the same thing as you – subjectively choosing the basis of their moral code.

    You’re just trying to avoid the subjective nature of your choice of morality by insinuating there may be an objective means by which to evaluate its success; however, beyond the generic platitude of “beneficial to society” you have yet to define that benefit, where it comes from and how it is really measured, and who it really affects and how.

    It appears you are equating “long-term survival of society” with “beneficial to society”; does this mean that you can adopt any behavior as “moral” as long as it can be demonstrated to you to increase the survivability of a society? Also, please refer us to where you actually get your morals from and describe how you came to have them? If they are based on some objective scientific literature, as you seem to be claiming, then certainly you can define them and refer us to their objective support of whatever morals you have.

    A question: if convincing evidence could be shown to you that the long-term survival of your society would benefit by eliminating the concept of individual freedom and personal rights, outlawing political dissent and religious practices; having strict, militarized border security, and developing a strong nationalistic identity through childhood education, could you adopt that “morality” as your own?

    If morals are truly objective and given by god, why do different religions, and even different sects within the same religion, not have the same objective morals?

    Because humans misinterpret and misunderstand objectively real things all the time. Why should morality be any different?

    I would be lying if i tried to claim that my morals are not strongly influenced by Christian morals. But I simply don’t believe that they were dictated by any god.

    You might refine your understanding of theistic morality. Not all theists hold that god “dictates” morality. Some, like me, believe that morality is an absolute characteristic of god and so is not commanded or dictated, but rather is sewn into the nature of existence. IOW, it’s a natural law morality, something god cannot change, and something humans do their best to interpret and understand but often fail at and make mistakes.

  174. 174
    Box says:

    Talking about honesty, atheist philosopher A.Rosenberg:

    First, nihilism can’t condemn Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or those who fomented the Armenian genocide or the Rwandan one. If there is no such thing as “morally forbidden,” then what Mohamed Atta did on September 11, 2001, was not morally forbidden. Of course, it was not permitted either. But still, don’t we want to have grounds to condemn these monsters? Nihilism seems to cut that ground out from under us.
    Second, if we admit to being nihilists, then people won’t trust us. We won’t be left alone when there is loose change around. We won’t be relied on to be sure small children stay out of trouble.
    Third, and worst of all, if nihilism gets any traction, society will be destroyed. We will find ourselves back in Thomas Hobbes’s famous state of nature, where “the life of man is solitary, mean, nasty, brutish and short.” Surely, we don’t want to be nihilists if we can possibly avoid it. (Or at least, we don’t want the other people around us to be nihilists.)
    Scientism can’t avoid nihilism. We need to make the best of it. For our own self-respect, we need to show that nihilism doesn’t have the three problems just mentioned—no grounds to condemn Hitler, lots of reasons for other people to distrust us, and even reasons why no one should trust anyone else. We need to be convinced that these unacceptable outcomes are not ones that atheism and scientism are committed to. Such outcomes would be more than merely a public relations nightmare for scientism. They might prevent us from swallowing nihilism ourselves, and that would start unraveling scientism.
    To avoid these outcomes, people have been searching for scientifically respectable justification of morality for least a century and a half. The trouble is that over the same 150 years or so, the reasons for nihilism have continued to mount. Both the failure to find an ethics that everyone can agree on and the scientific explanation of the origin and persistence of moral norms have made nihilism more and more plausible while remaining just as unappetizing.
    [A.Rosenberg, The Atheist Guide to Reality, ch.5]

    HeKS #163, thank you for clarifying my unpolished argument. 🙂

  175. 175
    Mark Frank says:

    SB #170
      Just noticed this:

    Mark, by your own account of his job description, the ethicist’s role is to help people find their own moral position and to refrain from imposing his own moral views.
    Accordingly, and again by your own account of his job description, the ethicist cannot pass judgment on Hitler’s subjective opinions about morality.
    Since Hitler has, indeed, found his own way, you can congratulate yourself for staying true to your job description–either for helping him form his moral code or for staying out of the way while he forms it on his own.

    Why do you write make these rather obvious over-simplifications? Sometimes I think you just want to disagree for the sake of it. An ethicist is not some kind of moral life-coach. As I understand it he/she is there to deal with all the people involved in real medical problems.

    What I actually wrote was:

    a) help people interpret man-made laws and other rules and precedents

    b) help people come to a decision about ethically tricky decisions – very tricky as many people are involved with potentially different ideas about what is right and wrong.

    (Of course there must be lots more to the job – I bet much of it is quite routine and bureaucratic)

    * Laws and rules in most current regimes would  preclude any euthanasia/eugenics law that Hitler might propose. If the laws and rules did permit/endorse a Hitlerian approach to euthanasia/eugenics then an ethicist might well have a moral problem working for that state/organisation. It would not be part of his/her job in that organisation to pass judgement on the laws and rules.

    * A real ethicist would need to take account of everyone involved not just the proto-Hitler and find a solution acceptable to everyone. In a medical situation one of the people involved is the person to be treated. I doubt they would accept Hitler’s version of what should happen to them.

  176. 176
    kairosfocus says:

    MF: We are peaking circa 1936 – 9, when AH and co based their eugenics laws on laws in force elsewhere, and the eugenics thinking reflected the then current sense of what “Science sez”. AH is on the couch in your office and you have your sheepskin as an ethicist trained in the finest schools of Germany. What do you say, why? (And remember, there is relevant record and documentation as to what people with relevant qualifications said and did.) KF

  177. 177
    Mark Frank says:

    #176 KF

    I don’t suppose ethicists have couches and quite possibly not offices. Nor does there appear to be a medical problem. So I am really not sure what my hypothetical job is.

    Before I could answer your question I would need to know:

    * Who do I work for?
    * What is my job?
    * What is AH doing there?
    * What is he saying?

  178. 178
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, I am of course modelling off Jung and Freud — though the latter of course would not be seen by AH. AH is there for counsel on the ethics of his intended euthanasia and eugenics law and other linked things, with some indication that others are expressing concern that he is on the cusp of great good or evil. And at that time that is about what his physician noted. So, let us say he has been referred by his physician. KF

  179. 179
    Mark Frank says:

    KF – so this nothing do with being an ethicist.

    There is no job description or employer that I have to respond to. I am assuming that I don’t know what will actually happen so I won’t murder him, but I have the same ethical views I currently hold. In that case I would do my best to persuade him to change his mind (and probably leave the country). This would be based on my subjective (but rational and reasoned) aversion to his ideas.

    What has all this proved that we didn’t discuss before?

  180. 180
    kairosfocus says:

    MF: I just got back into air conditioning, and pause for a minute in the mad rush. I’d say what you have not said but have implied proves much. Please reconsider. KF

  181. 181
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AH is “morally committed” to his path of action. He offers many positive benefits for his plan and shows widespread support of society for it.

    I would do my best to persuade him to change his mind (and probably leave the country).</blockquote.

    Given his level of commitment to those ideas and his belief in the good results they will achieve, I'd think you'd only reach a stalemate, at best. He might even have better arguments than you do. Is that possible?

    With that, you'd either be won over to his side or leave the country. Either way, he'd have one less voice opposing him.

    Again, he's got sincerely held belief. It's supported legally and by popular vote. He shows, what he believes to be, many positive benefits in his plan. He should have just as much right to carry out his beliefs as anyone else does, given moral relativism.

    I think the point may be that it takes a higher degree of certainty to take very strong actions (exerting force to stop someone) on one's belief — than what relativism would provide.

  182. 182
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Sorry – one more time with correct quoting

    AH is “morally committed” to his path of action. He offers many positive benefits for his plan and shows widespread support of society for it.

    I would do my best to persuade him to change his mind (and probably leave the country).

    Given his level of commitment to those ideas and his belief in the good results they will achieve, I’d think you’d only reach a stalemate, at best. He might even have better arguments than you do. Is that possible?

    With that, you’d either be won over to his side or leave the country. Either way, he’d have one less voice opposing him.

    Again, he’s got sincerely held belief. It’s supported legally and by popular vote. He shows, what he believes to be, many positive benefits in his plan. He should have just as much right to carry out his beliefs as anyone else does, given moral relativism.

    I think the point may be that it takes a higher degree of certainty to take very strong actions (exerting force to stop someone) on one’s belief — than what relativism would provide.

  183. 183
    Mark Frank says:

    #180 KF

    I just got back into air conditioning, and pause for a minute in the mad rush. I’d say what you have not said but have implied proves much. Please reconsider.

    I am delighted that you are being so concise – but this is taking things a bit far. My opinions are based on decades of consideration and many long and tedious debates here and elsewhere. I will reconsider if/when someone contributes something new.

  184. 184
    Mark Frank says:

    #182 SA

    I think the point may be that it takes a higher degree of certainty to take very strong actions (exerting force to stop someone) on one’s belief — than what relativism would provide.

    It is quite possible that someone who is certain they know the objective truth about what should be done will on average take stronger actions that someone who does not (indeed this  is often the source of many nasty conflicts when two groups each with their own different certainty about the objective truth collide).  None of this is relevant to whether objectivism is a true description of morality.

  185. 185
    Silver Asiatic says:

    MF

    None of this is relevant to whether objectivism is a true description of morality.

    Ok, I wasn’t commenting about objectivism and I’m sorry I didn’t read the earlier parts of the discussion. I made a comment about the problem inherent in relativism.
    I think relativism avoids a nasty conflict with AH by allowing him to carry on his campaign for global domination.
    I’d think a moral relativist would grant him the right to live out his sincerely held moral beliefs.
    We might say that people who are dying in prison camps are not really engaged in a nasty conflict. They’re quietly subdued by a greater force.

  186. 186
    Acartia_bogart says:

    AB said:

    But I argue that they are nothing more than a set of rules that various societies over the centuries have established because they are beneficial to an individual’s and a society’s ability to survive and thrive.

    Kairosfocus responded:

    A_b: The Moral Yardstick 1 case . . . it is self evidently wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a young child for sexual gratification and pleasure is based on the shocking fate of a young boy I knew. Take a trip with me to visit with the still grieving — and formidable — father, the surviving brothers and friends and explain in their presence that binding rights were not really violated, we are not really under moral government, and they need to just get over it. (All you are doing is underscoring the moral absurdity of evolutionary materialism and how it is forced to hold that there is nothing more than might and manipulation make ‘right.’) KF

    How long do you think that a society that condones (or simply ignores) the kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of children would last? And if you think that it would last, provide an example. Thank you for making my point for me.

  187. 187
    StephenB says:

    Mark:

    What I actually wrote was:

    a) help people interpret man-made laws and other rules and precedents

    b) help people come to a decision about ethically tricky decisions – very tricky as many people are involved with potentially different ideas about what is right and wrong.

    To that, you added the game-changing stipulation that the ethicist does not inject his own views of right and wrong into the situation.

    Accordingly, all your protests above are meaningless. There are only three ways to resolve “trickiness”–The natural moral law, decision by consensus, and decision by fiat. Absent the objective moral law, what most of the people (or the most powerful people) want, they will get.

    The fact remains that by your standard, the ethicist can legitimately work with Hitler to resolve the tricky problem of Jews by killing them. Hitler was not without his ethical advisers.

  188. 188
    Silver Asiatic says:

    How long do you think that a society that condones (or simply ignores) the kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of children would last? And if you think that it would last, provide an example.

    Forced copulation has been observed in
    ducks, lizards, monkeys, fruit flies, crickets, orangutans, chimpanzees, and countless other species.

    Those societies have been around for a very long time.
    Dolphins kill their own babies and other species babies.
    If it’s good enough for them, it shouldn’t be a problem for the human species, right?

  189. 189
    Acartia_bogart says:

    SA:

    Forced copulation has been observed in
    ducks, lizards, monkeys, fruit flies, crickets, orangutans, chimpanzees, and countless other species.

    Those societies have been around for a very long time.
    Dolphins kill their own babies and other species babies.

    Which of these do not also occur amongst humans? Respond to this after your next meal of veal or lamb chops.

    I learn something new every time I frequent UD. For example, I wasn’t aware that lizards, fruit flies and crickets formed societies akin to humans.

  190. 190
    Phinehas says:

    A_B:

    *Goalposts —————->*

  191. 191
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Phinehas: “*Goalposts —————->*”

    What moving goalposts? I have always stated that humans are animals. The only difference being the complexity of the brain and the additional capabilities that this makes possible. One of which is the ability to extrapolate possible consequences of our behaviour and actions beyond that capable of chimps orangutans, monkeys, dolphins, crickets, lizards and fruitflies.

  192. 192
    kairosfocus says:

    A_B, you tried to shift the issue on the table on the question of the objectively binding nature of OUGHT. Believe you me your seminar room tactics would not impress father, surviving brothers and friends. Nor, should it. Remember, this is no hypothetical. KF

  193. 193
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Kairosfocus: “A_B, you tried to shift the issue on the table on the question of the objectively binding nature of OUGHT. Believe you me your seminar room tactics would not impress father, surviving brothers and friends. Nor, should it. Remember, this is no hypothetical. KF”

    As much as I appreciated your patrician condescending tone, I have no idea what point you are trying to get across. I have been very consistent here.

  194. 194
    StephenB says:

    Arcadia_Bogart to Kairsfocus

    As much as I appreciated your patrician condescending tone, I have no idea what point you are trying to get across. I have been very consistent here.

    He means that you cannot redefine “objective” to mean something “outside” of one individual but “inside” a group of individuals. Objective means distinct from or outside of all subjects, individual subjects and collective subjects.

  195. 195
    Acartia_bogart says:

    StephenB: “He means that you cannot redefine “objective” to mean something “outside” of one individual but “inside” a group of individuals.”

    Who says that I redefined anything? It seems to me that you are redefining it. . If a hundred people look up at the sky and say that it is blue, that is as objective as you saying that some undefineable, unknowable god-type being dictated a list of objective morals to people who didn’t transcribe them for centuries, and then had them translated through several languages.

  196. 196
    StephenB says:

    AB:

    Who says that I redefined anything? It seems to me that you are redefining it. If a hundred people look up at the sky and say that it is blue, that is as objective as you saying that some undefineable, unknowable god-type being dictated a list of objective morals to people who didn’t transcribe them for centuries, and then had them translated through several languages.

    A moral code that humans discover is objective; a moral code that humans create is subjective.

  197. 197
    Mark Frank says:

    To anyone who is interested ….

    Barry has started another thread on the same subject (no idea why). So I will be following that one from now on.

  198. 198
    franklin says:

    SB

    A moral code that humans discover is objective; a moral code that humans create is subjective.

    How does one determine, objectively, when a moral code is discovered or created?

  199. 199
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers,

    Please, notice the radical relativist, might and manipulation make ‘right’ premise in action . . . albeit in the mild form of the use of rhetorical tactics of obfuscation?

    To cut across the fog of rhetoric, simply ask whether that child from 30 years ago had a right to his life, to his body and to be left in peace to pursue his ordinary business of walking home from school.

    We must understand that a child has no eloquence to plead for himself, and no strength to fight off an attacker. He has no might and no ability to manipulate such an attacker.

    So, the underlying issue is, do we actually have real rights, rooted in our inherent value and nature as human beings. The evolutionary materialists cannot have any way to found such rights, other than on might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    Which is the classic credo of the nihilist, and which has been known to be that ever since Plato warned against it in The Laws Bk X.

    So, let us not be fooled by clever rhetoric clouding what we here confront.

    KF

  200. 200
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: And the very fact that they so earnestly demand that they are right, and that we are wrong and particularly wrong to “impose” on them a demand for justifying their claims shows an underlying moral claim “you unfair me.” They also imply that we have a duty of care to seek and serve the truth and the right.

    All of which fit in precisely with the course of discovery of objective core rights and duties that Locke highlighted in Ch 2 of his 2nd treatise of Civil Govt, which we can notice, is being studiously avoided by the evolutionary materialism advocates. Even as they demand, show your basis for your claim.

    Here, in a work that is foundational to the justification of democratic self government, to ground rights and duties under the civil peace of justice and just government, Locke cites “the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker,” In his 1594+ Ecclesiastical Polity:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    The consensus holds form Aristotle to Hooker and Locke, and is embedded in the foundation of law, justice and democratic self government.

    But the fern-seed spotters are failing to see or respond to the Elephant in the middle of the room.

    Inadvertently telling.

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Notice how the whole exercise in relativist ethics counselling has folded in the face of the prospect of Adolf Hitler on the Couch, c 1036 – 39. That is revealing on how it trades on borrowing the lingering but fading memory of the Judaeo-Christian consensus. Fading in large part because the self same evolutionary materialism with its implications of radical relativism and amorality, is being dressed up in a lab coat and pushed on us as scientifically backed fact, fact FACT. When, in fact, it cannot ground mind much less morality, and struggles to get to the origin of life, floundering hopelessly in the face of FSCO/I. Indeed, it is self-refuting.

  202. 202
    Andre says:

    Hi Barry

    I don’t want to Hi-jack your thread but how about us asking our materialist friends this question in an OP…..

    If materialism is true, and extinctions happen all the time why are you guys so pedantic about climate change and the possible extinction of the human race? Is extinctions not Natural laws?

    Or at least something to that effect if you understand what I mean……

  203. 203
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AB

    Which of these do not also occur amongst humans? Respond to this after your next meal of veal or lamb chops.

    You were looking for an example of a society – with the claim that it wouldn’t last if those things were permitted.

    What moving goalposts? I have always stated that humans are animals.

    I learn something new every time I frequent UD. For example, I wasn’t aware that lizards, fruit flies and crickets formed societies akin to humans.

    That is moving goalposts. You wanted an example of a society. Now you change it to “societies akin to humans”.

    There are a few things going on here:

    1. You’re assuming that a society is something that needs to be preserved. So, you’re assigning a value to society. But as long as the human species exists, it will have a society, just like dolphins and lizards have a society.

    2. You may be talking about a “good society”. But evolution doesn’t promise any such thing. A society of rapists and child-killers (dolphins) does what it needs to do for the survival of the species. In the evolutionist view there is no better or worse society.

    3. You seem to be valuing human society, or humans for that matter, as superior to fruit flies. But both species are accidental products of evolution. All evolution is concerned about is reproductive success – and not even that. There is no need for humans or human society to survive according to evolution.

    4. Your main point, I think, is that what we traditionally view as immoral behavior (rape, etc) has to be curtailed because “society won’t last” otherwise. But as 1-3 above, you haven’t shown why society should last, and I showed that animal societies last quite well with rape, torture and child-killing. So, that’s not a convincing enough reason why we shouldn’t allow such things.

    The only difference being the complexity of the brain and the additional capabilities that this makes possible. One of which is the ability to extrapolate possible consequences of our behaviour and actions beyond that capable of chimps orangutans, monkeys, dolphins, crickets, lizards and fruitflies.

    You’re assuming that those insects and animals do not know the consequences of their behaviors. But even if not, the consequences of gang rape by dolphins may be positive to their society. They continue to do it. More to the point, evolution is not concerned with consequences of behavior.
    The only thing of importance is … actually, nothing is of importance.

    That’s the key point you’re missing in this entire discussion.

    We are, supposedly, driven by evolution. We will either survive as a species or not. Evolution doesn’t care either way. We do not know, and cannot know, what evolutionary consequences occur if we allow rape and torture.
    We might survive longer as a species if we allow them (as dolphins have). You don’t know this.
    We might go extinct – but so what? This might lead to the evolution of another species like humans, who will be glad that we’re extinct.
    So, rape and torture would be a good thing for them.

    You’re applying many assumptions of good and bad to behavior. You’re trying to discuss the value of things — whether or not a society lasts, for example.

    But none of this has meaning in evolutionary terms.

    I think you need to embrace what you profess and believe. Evolution is not directed to a goal. We do not know what is good or bad. Evolution does not forbid any action or behavior. There are no consequences. But better than this, in my view, you should realize that nihilism carries very severe consequences. You obviously have enough moral sense, received from your Christian background, to know that an evolutionary philosophy is absurd. It doesn’t work.

    Our human reason does show consequences – not in evolutionary terms, but rather in terms of conscience.
    Even regarding human reason, many still proclaim nihilism and they merely ignore the consequences.

  204. 204
    Mung says:

    It’s not as if the atheists/materialists/relativists here are asserting that objectivity is any better than subjectivity. Right?

  205. 205
    Mung says:

    It’s not as if the atheists/materialists/relativists here are asserting that objectivity is any better than subjectivity. Right?

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