Intelligent Design

The “is-ought” problem. Is it a true dichotomy or a deceptive bluff?

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It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you do know that just ain’t so. — Mark Twain

According to the overrated philosopher, David Hume, we should not try to draw logical conclusions about objective morality based on our knowledge of the real world. This was his smug way of claiming that humans are incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Through the years, his devoted followers have tweaked his message into a flat out declaration: We cannot derive an “ought to” (a moral code) from the “is.” (the way things are). Just to make sure that we don’t misunderstand, they characterize this formulation as “Hume’s Law.”

The only problem with this philosophy is that it is tragically, clumsily, and inexcusably—wrong. On the contrary, we can learn a great deal about the moral law from the observable facts of nature as long as we acknowledge the point that some truths are self-evident.

Unfortunately, hyper-skeptics cannot grasp this point because they first fail to understand that morality is a measure of, and is dependent on, what is good. If there is no (objective) good, then morality cannot exist. But we know that some things, such as life, are obviously good for humans – universally, absolutely, and objectively good. It is the same for goods that flow from life, such as the desire to survive and reproduce. As would be expected of objectively good things, they exist in a hierarchy, which means that we can differentiate between lower goods (wants) and higher goods (needs).

People want food that is pleasing to the palate, for example, but they need food that meets their nutritional requirements. The latter good is more important than the former, even if it is not perceived to be so. If one allows his desire for pleasure to overpower his desire for good health, he will eventually lose the capacity to be pleased and the opportunity to be healthy. It is self-evident to any rational person that the desire for long-term health is a higher good than the desire for momentary pleasure.

So it is with sex. Humans may want to experience immediate physical gratification, but if they ignore the higher needs, such as the desire for love and respect, they will harm themselves and others. Sexual responsibility is less about submitting to the technology of birth control and more about responding to the challenge of self-disciplined behavior.

Again, through nature, we learn that the good of procreation is made possible by the complementarity of the species. That is why a marriage is properly defined as the union of one man and one woman: the difference between them allows them to unite in one flesh. Two members of the same sex cannot become one flesh because it is the complementarity that makes the oneness possible. From Biology, we also discover that sex has a specific function, which means that it can be misused by those who do not respect its intended purpose.

From the all this information about the “is,” (complementarity and biology) we can derive four distinct moral conclusions: [a] Men should not have sex with men. [b] Women should not have sex with women. [c] Same sex marriage cannot and does not exist. [d] Any law that defines so-called “gay marriage” as a true marriage is an evil lie and should be resisted.

In a broader sense, the lower goods, such as fun, pleasure, and delight, are designed as an incentive for pursuing the higher goods, such as love, self-esteem, self-control, meaning, and purpose, which are the ones that matter most in any discussion of morality. Because we really need them, they are good for us and we ought to have them. As Mortimer Adler says, we ought to desire whatever is really good for us and nothing else.

From the testimony of social scientists, we learn that humans are social beings, so we may safely conclude that they ought to reproduce, build families and establish communities. In every area of life, there are legitimate moral needs that ought to be pursued and illegitimate wants that ought to be eschewed.

Moral growth, therefore, involves a definitive behavioral strategy: We should learn to like what is good for us and to dislike what is bad for us. In other words, we should form good habits so that they will crowd out the bad habits. Nature not only teaches us about the need for virtue, it also helps us to acquire it through practice. Psychologists tell us that it takes three to six weeks to form a new habit.

The take home message, then, should be clear: Beware of the hyper-skeptical doctrine that goes by the name of Hume’s “law.” The so-called “is – ought” dichotomy is a deceptive bluff. It poses no intellectual challenge to the natural moral law or the human capacity to apprehend it.

 

 

128 Replies to “The “is-ought” problem. Is it a true dichotomy or a deceptive bluff?

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    But we know that some things, such as life, are obviously good for humans – universally, absolutely, and objectively good. It is the same for goods that flow from life, such as the desire to survive and reproduce.

    From which one can conclude that rape is good if it leads to a child (and the mother who was raped doesn’t die, of course).

    Yes, morality can difficult.

  2. 2
    johnnyb says:

    I think the “is-ought” is useful for talking about a *particular* type of “is”. It also shows why other types of is’s are important.

    What I mean is that if, by “is”, you mean the precise physical makeup of nature – matter, possitions, velocities, then it is 100% true. You cannot derive an ought based solely on a physicochemical makeup of matter.

    Now, if position, velocity, etc. were the only is’s available, then that would mean that there were no oughts at all, or at least none that we could detect. Therefore, morality would be fruitless.

    However, if you allow “is” to include other types of things – spiritual things – then you can derive oughts from is’s, not in the least because some oughts *are* is’s. That is, if the moral structure of the world is an “is”, then you can derive oughts from is’s.

  3. 3
    StephenB says:

    SB: But we know that some things, such as life, are obviously good for humans – universally, absolutely, and objectively good. It is the same for goods that flow from life, such as the desire to survive and reproduce.

    Bob

    From which one can conclude that rape is good if it leads to a child (and the mother who was raped doesn’t die, of course).

    Bad logic, Life is good for a fetus. Life is also good for a mother. That doesn’t mean that rape, a bad act, is a good act if it happens to produce a positive effect along with all the obvious bad effects. Bad acts can produce some positive consequences, just as good acts can produce some negative consequences.

    Yes, morality can difficult.

    That is why I am here to help.

  4. 4
    StephenB says:

    johnnyb

    What I mean is that if, by “is”, you mean the precise physical makeup of nature – matter, possitions, velocities, then it is 100% true. You cannot derive an ought based solely on a physicochemical makeup of matter.

    Yes, there is a narrow bands of “is(s)” from which we cannot derive a moral conclusion. Another example would be this: We cannot derive an ought to from the is by simply observing the way humans behave.

    I would add, though, that we can derive an ought to based on the purposeful arrangement of matter. Hence, the example of the complementarity of the sexes.

    However, if you allow “is” to include other types of things – spiritual things – then you can derive oughts from is’s, not in the least because some oughts *are* is’s. That is, if the moral structure of the world is an “is”, then you can derive oughts from is’s.

    Advocates for the is/ought “problem” use the word “is” without qualification. That is the whole point – to say that we cannot apprehend the natural moral law regardless of which “is” we may turn to. Otherwise, there would be no point it characterizing it as a law and an argument against natural law or our capacity to apprehend it. You will notice that they never said that we can know morality in this way but not in that way. Their claim is that we cannot know it at all. If they can open it up to all the “is(s”, then so can I. Indeed, I submit that we do, indeed, live in a moral universe.

  5. 5
    Allan Keith says:

    On the contrary, we can learn a great deal about the moral law from the observable facts of nature as long as we acknowledge the point that some truths are self-evident.

    Yes, there are self evident truths. If I die before puberty I will not have children is a self evident truth. But the fact that there are self evident truths does not translate into “morality must be objective”.

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    SB,

    When I use is/ought, I mean that IF metaphysical materialism is a true account of reality, then there can be no morality whatsoever. Particles in motion are amoral. Therefore, if all of reality consists of nothing but particles in motion, all of reality is amoral.

    Of course, that is a big IF. It is self-evident that we are morally governed. That is one of many reasons to reject metaphysical materialism.

    Thus, I use the formulation in two ways: (1) to show that materialists are on a fool’s errand if they believe they can ground a morality that amounts to more than “I prefer” in their premises; and (2) to show that their premises must be false, because they lead to absurd conclusions.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    I see that Allan and Bob have weighed in. They have been trying for years to demonstrate that their materialist morality is grounded in something more firm than glandular impulses. So far they have failed. Let’s see what they come up with this time.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    Barry

    When I use is/ought, I mean that IF metaphysical materialism is a true account of reality, then there can be no morality whatsoever. Particles in motion are amoral. Therefore, if all of reality consists of nothing but particles in motion, all of reality is amoral

    Right. If materialism is true (the secular “is”) then there can be no morality. I think kf uses it the same way. Indeed, so do I. It is a perfectly legitimate way to argue.

    Of course, that is a big IF. It is self-evident that we are morally governed. That is one of many reasons to reject metaphysical materialism.

    Right again. Of course, my aim is to show that we can know we are morally governed by pointing to higher and lower levels on the moral scale.

    Thus, I use the formulation in two ways: (1) to show that materialists are on a fool’s errand if they believe they can ground a morality that amounts to more than “I prefer” in their premises; and (2) to show that their premises must be false, because they lead to absurd conclusions.

    Yes, again, this is a good way to go, and it obviously works. You let them assume that the prescriptive cannot be connected to the descriptive and defeat them on that basis. Of course, I am trying to show that that the descriptive can be connected with the prescriptive and that the universe screams moral design. I don’t think there is any conflict between our views – only our methods.

  9. 9
    StephenB says:

    SB: On the contrary, we can learn a great deal about the moral law from the observable facts of nature as long as we acknowledge the point that some truths are self-evident.

    Allan

    Yes, there are self evident truths. If I die before puberty I will not have children is a self evident truth. But the fact that there are self evident truths does not translate into “morality must be objective”.

    It does if the self-evident truth in question happen to be a moral truth. That life is a good thing for humans is an objective moral truth.

  10. 10
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    They have been trying for years to demonstrate that their materialist morality is grounded in something more firm than glandular impulses.

    As opposed to the morality from a nebulous Christian god that commands us to kill homosexuals, women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents? Feel free to explain why your morality is better than mine.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Atheistic materialists/Darwinists deny the reality of objective morality and say that all morality is, ultimately, subjective and illusory.

    Of course, as regulars on UD know, the Atheist/Darwinist constantly defeats his own argument against the reality of objective morality by the many times he uses ‘the argument from evil’ to try to argue against the reality of God.

    Simply put, if good and evil exist, God exists!

    If Good and Evil Exist, God Exists: – Peter Kreeft – Prager University – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xliyujhwhNM

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    Ever since Darwin, one of the top (self-defeating) arguments from atheists against God has been the argument from evil:

    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; as Dilley observes:,,,
    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

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014
    Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise’s Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous “God-wouldn’t-have-done-it-that-way” arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,,
    ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky’s essay “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1973).
    Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky’s essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes:
    “Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist’s arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky’s arguments.”,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89971.html

    Elite Scientists Don’t Have Elite Reasons for Being Atheists – November 8, 2016
    Excerpt: What I found was 50 elite scientists expressing their personal opinions, but none had some powerful argument or evidence to justify their opinions. In fact, most did not even cite a reason for thinking atheism was true.,,,
    The few that did try to justify their atheism commonly appealed to God of the Gaps arguments (there is no need for God, therefore God does not exist) and the Argument from Evil (our bad world could not have come from an All Loving, All Powerful God). In other words, it is just as I thought it would be. Yes, most elite scientists and scholars are atheists. But their reasons for being atheists and agnostics are varied and often personal. And their typical arguments are rather common and shallow – god of the gaps and the existence of evil. It would seem clear that their expertise and elite status is simply not a causal factor behind their atheism.
    Finally, it is also clear the militant atheism of Dawkins is a distinct minority view among these scholars.
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/elite-scientists-dont-have-elite-reasons-for-being-atheists/

    And although the fact that atheists themselves appeal to morality to try to argue against the reality of God is more than enough to validate the Christian Theists contention that morality is, in fact, objectively real, nowadays we can go one step further and appeal directly to empirical evidence to support the reality of objective morality.

    For instance, since unguided Darwinian processes have never shown the origination of a single gene/protein, then it is very interesting to note that the genetic responses of humans are intelligently designed in a very sophisticated way so as to differentiate between hedonic and ‘noble’ moral happiness:

    Human Cells Respond in Healthy, Unhealthy Ways to Different Kinds of Happiness – July 29, 2013
    Excerpt: Human bodies recognize at the molecular level that not all happiness is created equal, responding in ways that can help or hinder physical health,,,
    The sense of well-being derived from “a noble purpose” may provide cellular health benefits, whereas “simple self-gratification” may have negative effects, despite an overall perceived sense of happiness, researchers found.,,,
    But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers.
    Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in the stress-related CTRA gene expression profile. In contrast, hedonic well-being was associated with a significant increase in the CTRA profile. Their genomics-based analyses, the authors reported, reveal the hidden costs of purely hedonic well-being.,,
    “We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ‘empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically,” she said. “At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....161952.htm

    And although Atheists will often maintain that (subjective) morality must be taught to us as children, even toddlers display a highly developed sense of ‘moral justice’:

    The Moral Life of Babies – May 2010
    Excerpt: From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long argued that we begin life as amoral animals.,,,
    A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.,,,
    Despite their overall preference for good actors over bad, then, babies are drawn to bad actors when those actors are punishing bad behavior.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05.....&_r=0

    In fact, a caring, loving, touch from the baby towards the mother’s uterine wall is found very early on in a baby’s development:

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

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    As well, loving others is shown to have a significant beneficial effect on our own health as well as on the health of those we choose to love:

    ABC News – The Science Behind the Healing Power of Love – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t1p-PwGgE4

    Study finds it actually is better (and healthier) to give than to receive – February 4, 2013
    Excerpt: A five-year study by researchers at three universities has established that providing tangible assistance to others protects our health and lengthens our lives.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....thier.html

    Whereas social isolation is shown to have a tremendous negative impact on our health:

    The Secret to Living Longer may be Socialization – TED video
    https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_pinker_the_secret_to_living_longer_may_be_your_social_life/transcript?language=en

    Social isolation and its health implications January 2012
    Excerpt: Studies show that social isolation and/or loneliness predict morbidity and mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other diseases. In fact, the body perceives loneliness as a threat. Research from the University of California suggests that loneliness or lack of social support could triple the odds of being diagnosed with a heart condition. Redford Williams and his colleagues at Duke University directed a study in 1992 on heart patients and their relationships. They discovered that 50% of patients with heart disease who did not have a spouse or someone to confide in died within five years, while only 17% of those who did have a confidante died in the same time period.12
    http://www.how-to-be-healthy.o.....lications/

    Along that line of evidence, “those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%.”

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/02/can-attending-church-really-help-you-live-longer-study-says-yes/364375001/

    Besides this physical evidence, we also now have evidence that our sense of morality transcends space and time:

    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

    It is also interesting to note that all the preceding empirical findings pretty much fit hand in glove with what the Christian Theist would presuppose about objective morality:

    Matthew 22:36-40
    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Of final note, Despite what is commonly believed, of someone trying to be ‘good enough’ to go to heaven, in reality both Mother Teresa and Hitler fall short of the moral perfection required to meet God’s perfect standard.

    Only Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life. And only he can ‘impart’ the moral perfection on us that is required for us to dwell in the presence of the infinitely good, just, and holy God. This imparting of moral perfection onto us is known as propitiation:

    Falling Plates (the grace of propitiation) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlx11BxF24

    That Jesus has the right to replace our sin with His righteousness so that we might forever dwell with God in heaven is evidenced by the fact that the words “The Lamb” are found on the Shroud of Turin:

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

    2 Corinthians 5:21
    God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan Keith at 10.

    You are wrong. God has never commanded me to do any of those things. But if God commanded someone to kill homosexuals, women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents, would that be objectively bad?

    Presumably, you will answer “no” since you have repeatedly informed us that objective morality does not exist.

    Why should anyone care about your glandular impulses about these matters? I can’t think of a good reason.

    So, to answer your question, the morality that I espouse is better than the morality that you espouse, because by “morality” I mean something more than “my glandular impulses.”

  14. 14
    Allan Keith says:

    BA77@11 and 12, nice example of the Gish gallop, Trump tirade, Mullings meander…

    Just joking. I will respond when you provide something of worth to respond to.

  15. 15
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    You are wrong. God has never commanded me to do any of those things.

    But he commanded thousands of others to do so. You obviously didn’t get the memo.

    But if God commanded someone to kill homosexuals, women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents, would that be objectively bad?

    You should ask people who believe in objective morality. As someone who believes in objective morality, I must conclude that if god commanded this, you would have to believe that it is objectively good.

    So, to answer your question, the morality that I espouse is better than the morality that you espouse, because by “morality” I mean something more than “my glandular impulses.”

    Yet the morality that you “espouse” would justify the stoning of homosexuals, women who are not virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents if the voice in your head told you to. I will stick to my subjective morality, thank you.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan:

    You keep arguing as if killing those people is objectively bad and then you say you will stick to your subjective morality.

    It always amazes me when people like you don’t seem to realize their arguments absolutely depend on affirming the very thing they are attempting to deny.

    Allan, when you can give me a reason why I should care about the products of your glandular impulses, drop me a memo.

    In the mean time, keep on arguing as if the term “my morality” means something more than “the product of my glandular impulses.” Maybe one of these days you will trip over the contradiction between the unspoken premises of your arguments and the conclusions you espouse.

  17. 17
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    You keep arguing as if killing those people is objectively bad and then you say you will stick to your subjective morality.

    No. I argue that killing them is subjectively bad. It is you that is confused on the issue. Your bible says that killing homosexuals is objectively good, yet you are not willing to admit this.

    It always amazes me when people like you don’t seem to realize their arguments absolutely depend on affirming the very thing they are attempting to deny.

    Does not your argument depend on denying that killing homosexuals is a good thing? Or are you going to affirm the scriptures you so firmly believe in and support the killing of homosexuals? Your morality is really very… contradictory?

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan,

    I am not going to argue theology with you. Your ignorance when it comes to a proper interpretation of the Bible is invincible. You can keep trying to change the subject, but everyone knows that is what you are doing.

    “No. I argue that killing them is subjectively bad.”

    Those words mean that your glandular impulses impel you not to prefer killing them. I am sure you will agree that what your glandular impulses impel you not to prefer is meaningless to me and certainly not binding in any meaningful sense. Yet you treat your preference as if it should be my preference too. Again, you are arguing for objective morality even as you deny that it exists.

    Everyone knows you believe killing those people is really, objectively bad. We know that because the whole reason you keep trying to throw it in my face is that you believe it is objectively bad and therefore objectively morally indefensible. [Never mind that you keep trying to ascribe to me a position that I do not hold.]

    You are not treating it as a matter of subjective preference at all. You would never dream of throwing my subjective preference for beagles in my face by comparing it with your subjective preference for poodles.

  19. 19
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    I am not going to argue theology with you.

    That would be wise.

    Those words mean that your glandular impulses impel you not to prefer killing them.

    If mischaracterization of my argument makes it easier to counter it, who am I to complain. It is your site.

    Everyone knows you believe killing those people is really, objectively bad. We know that because the whole reason you keep trying to throw it in my face is that you believe it is objectively bad and therefore objectively morally indefensible.

    Actually it is really quite simple. I believe that it is wrong for me to kill someone just because they find love and pleasure in the company of someone of the same sex, because I think it would be wrong for someone to kill me just because I find love and pleasure in the company of someone of the opposite sex. A completely subjective “preference” (although calling it a ‘glandular preference’ is an obvious juvenile rhetorical game).

  20. 20
  21. 21
    mike1962 says:

    Bob O’H @1

    A more general question:

    Why shouldn’t the strong exploit the weak?

  22. 22
    mike1962 says:

    Allen Keith: Your bible says that killing homosexuals is objectively good, yet you are not willing to admit this.

    Actually, this was part of the Law of Moses that was only intended for Israel, not the world in general. Most Orthodox Jews acknowledge this. Christians differ on this (I otherwise have no comment), but the Torah was never intended for the world at large, only Yahweh’s covenant people.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Arrington per Allan Keith’s post at 14.

    I ask that Allan Keith be removed from UD if he continues his trollish behavior towards me. This is the second time he has responded in such a juvenile manner towards one of my posts.

  24. 24
    Allan Keith says:

    Mike,

    Actually, this was part of the Law of Moses that was only intended for Israel, not the world in general.

    I realize this. But was it not an instruction from god? The same god as the Christian god? The inerrant god?

    My only point is that the scriptures against homosexuality come from the same parts of scripture that prescribe the punishment. Jesus doesn’t say a word about homosexuality. If he changed his mind about the punishment, how do you know that he didn’t change his mind about the sin?

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    Readers,

    Allan Keith can’t help himself. He quotes the golden rule at 19 as if it is an objectively good moral rule, and so it is. And his whole purpose in quoting it is because he believes it is a superior rule to his (imagined) rule Christians hold. And then he says his adherence to that rule is merely a subjective preference.

    Once again Allan appeals to objective moral rules even as he denies they exist. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Barry: I am not going to argue theology with you.

    Allan: That would be wise.

    Barry: Indeed, wise in the same way that not trying to each a pig to sing is wise. It does no good and it annoys the pig.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan, if you want to continue posting on this site, you will apologize to BA77 for your trollish post at 14.

  27. 27
    john_a_designer says:

    Several years ago on a different site I got into a discussion about same sex marriage.

    Our interlocutor responded to a question in the OP.

    Here’s an answer to your question… There is nothing “essentially true” about marriage. Marriage is what we agree it is (or what most of us agree it is.)
    There is no “essential truth” about anything.

    I replied:

    It is self-refuting to say there is ”no ‘essential truth’ about anything.” Didn’t you notice that you’re making an essential [indeed universal] truth claim about truth. Furthermore it takes the legs out from under every argument you have been making. Why should I even consider an argument that’s not true?

    This is why I have given up trying to argue with moral subjectivists. They don’t understand the irrationality of their argument. Logic 101 says you can’t prove anything deductively unless you begin with a factually true or self-evidently true premise. Again, the premise there is “no ‘essential truth’ about anything,” is self-refuting, which is basically the argument the subjectivist is making about moral truth. All the subjectivist has are moral opinions he believes are true for him. However, no-one else is obligated to accept his moral opinions. The subjectivist is then left with a morality that has no moral obligation. What value is such a moral system?

  28. 28
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    Allan, if you want to continue posting on this site, you will apologize to BA77 for your trollish post at 14.

    Nah. I don’t think so. Most of your long threads in the last few years have been due to me, or others like me, disagreeing with the creationist view.
    Good luck with batshitcrazy77 and Gordon Mullings, the intellectual brain trust of UD. Hopefully nobody dislocates a shoulder patting themselves on the back. But, they are getting older.????

    Bye bye. I have a life to get back to.

    But don’t worry. I still have six unused socks.

    UD Editors: Allan is no longer with us. His unused socks will be booted in due course too.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    Allan Keith

    Your bible says that killing homosexuals is objectively good, yet you are not willing to admit this.

    The bible does not say that killing homosexuals is an objectively good thing. If you disagree, I will ask you to quote the chapter and verse you had in mind.

    Meanwhile, if God kills or orders the killing of anyone, or any group, for whatever reason He chooses, it is his moral privilege as Creator to take back the life he has given to the creature. It is not theirs to keep, but it is his to either preserve or take away. You seem to be confused about the ownership issue.

    Indeed, all God has to do to kill anyone is to simply withhold the sustaining power that has been keeping that person alive. You don’t appreciate your humble role as a creature, but that is what you are (and what I am). A wise man is grateful for the life he has been given, but you seem to think you (or others) are entitled to it. You (or the homosexuals that you weep over) are entitled to nothing.

    The thing God cares about most is where you spend eternity, not how many days you spend on this earth. It may well be that those who live a long life will lose their souls while those who depart early will be saved. Perhaps he times their death to their advantage. God has perfect knowledge about what the ultimate consequences of his acts might be. You cannot know any of these things.

    The only thing that you really have complete control over are the moral choices that you make every day, and it is those choices that will determine your ultimate destiny.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    OLV @ 20,

    Thank you. The thread you cited does not contain quite the same subject matter as my current offering. There is some some similarity, however, in the sense that both discuss elements of moral hierarchies and the kind of language that reflect them, such as “better,” safer,” “more beneficial,” etc.

  31. 31
    MatSpirit says:

    Barry @13: “But if God commanded someone to kill homosexuals, women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents, would that be objectively bad?”

    Yes, just as bad as God supposedly killing the first born in every family in Egypt, even though the vast majority of families had absolutely no influence on the Pharoah and after the Pharoah had already decided to release the Israelites at least twice until God hardened his heart and forced him to prolong the captivity until God had a chance to show off his power by murdering all those kids. A lot more than died at Columbine.

    What in the world makes you think God has good morals? Certainly not reading the Bible. Do you think it was moral for God to allow Satan to kill all of Job’s children? How about if it was your children? Do you think letting Job and his wife have more children made up for murdering his original kids?

    Richard Dawkins is not just flapping his gums when he says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” He’s read the Bible. You should try it sometime.

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    MatSpirit @ 31:

    I see you believe morals are objective. Good. Objective morals are, by definition, based on a transcendent moral standard. You and I as humans have no ability to create a transcendent moral standard. A transcendent moral standard can be created only by a transcendent being.

  33. 33
    john_a_designer says:

    Barry Arrington,

    MatSpirit @ 31:

    I see you believe morals are objective.

    Does he? I doubt it.

  34. 34
    Barry Arrington says:

    John @ 33.

    He says that certain actions he condemns are objectively wrong. Sounds like he believes morals are objective.

  35. 35
    rado says:

    The origin of the concepts of good and bad is our ability to feel pleasure and pain. That which gives us or others pleasure we call good, that which causes us or others pain we call bad. If we couldn’t feel pleasure and pain, good and bad would make no sense.

    So in that sense good and bad are absolute, but the complexity of life makes them subjective and relative like most other things – some experiences are better or worse than others. Some believe that pleasure is a sin (bad), others that self-inflicted pain is a virtue (good).

  36. 36
    Bob O'H says:

    StephenB @ 3 –
    first, sorry for the delay in replying – between visiting a farming shop, shouting at English footballers and interviews I’ve been busy. Anyway –

    Bad logic, Life is good for a fetus. Life is also good for a mother. That doesn’t mean that rape, a bad act, is a good act if it happens to produce a positive effect along with all the obvious bad effects. Bad acts can produce some positive consequences, just as good acts can produce some negative consequences.

    But a mother who has been raped doesn’t (usually) lose her life. And she (and her rapist) have reproduced, which are both, according to you, good, and indeed higher goods. So what are the “bad effects”? You write

    But we know that some things, such as life, are obviously good for humans – universally, absolutely, and objectively good. It is the same for goods that flow from life, such as the desire to survive and reproduce. As would be expected of objectively good things, they exist in a hierarchy, which means that we can differentiate between lower goods (wants) and higher goods (needs).

    So if survival and reproduction are higher goods, what about these unstated “bad effects”? They would seem to be lower goods, as they are not needs. Or is there some other higher good that you have missed out?

  37. 37
    john_a_designer says:

    Barry @ 34,

    From what I have seen from what he has said here in the past (when he occasionally parachutes in,) MatSpirit only believes in MatSpirit. He doesn’t offer any basis for interpersonal moral obligation or universal human rights… He is only here to tear down what other people– specifically, theists– believe. He has no solutions for the moral crisis to that confronts the human race. But he does feel smug, self-righteous and morally superior to other people… That’s what I would guess that he really believes. If I’m wrong he is more than welcome to explain to us what he really thinks and believes. Will he? I doubt it.

  38. 38
    bornagain77 says:

    of related note, William Lane Craig has done fairly extensive work on “The Moral Argument” which has now been distilled into this easy to understand animated video:

    The Moral Argument
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxiAikEk2vU

    Also of note from Dr Craig’s animated video series:

    Suffering and Evil: The Logical Problem
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k64YJYBUFLM&index=7&list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX

    Suffering and Evil: The Probability Version
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxj8ag8Ntd4&list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX&index=8

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    John,

    Yes, that is my experience too. But he said it was objectively wrong. Maybe he changed his mind.

    BTW, MatSpirit, I see you quote Dawkins as follows:

    Richard Dawkins is not just flapping his gums when he says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction . . .

    Is that the same Richard Dawkins who wrote:

    some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

    Hmmm? Incoherent much?

  40. 40
    StephenB says:

    Bob O’H

    But a mother who has been raped doesn’t (usually) lose her life. And she (and her rapist) have reproduced, which are both, according to you, good, and indeed higher goods. So what are the “bad effects”?

    A woman who has been raped must endure many bad (evil) effects, such as loss of confidence, loss of self-esteem, compromised health, negative circumstances under which the pregnancy takes place etc. Even though life is an objective good, the circumstances surrounding its beginnings can be very bad.

    So if survival and reproduction are higher goods, what about these unstated “bad effects”? They would seem to be lower goods, as they are not needs. Or is there

    Life is an objective good and the desire to survive and reproduce are also objectively good. However, any good desire can be made bad by human choice. For example, the desire to reproduce (the sex drive) can easily degenerate into a lustful desire to use someone solely for sexual gratification. The desire to survive, which is naturally good, can degenerate into cowardice, leading a person to betray his country. Humans are really good at turning naturally good things into bad things.

    Lower goods exist for the sake of higher goods. For example, the good of pleasant taste exists for the higher good of staying nourished and remaining alive. The good of sexual pleasure exists for the higher good of producing children, forming families, and building communities. Any lower good can be perverted if separated from the reason for its existence.

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    As Mr. Arrington noted at post 39, in the following quote Richard Dawkins outlines the amoral basis that is at the root of the Darwinian worldview.

    “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
    – Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

    Besides morality, “nothing but pitiless indifference” necessarily rules out that our lives have any intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose as well.

    But does “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”???

    I hold that modern science has answered that question with a resounding no.

    Even Richard ‘selfish gene’ Dawkins’s own area of expertise, genetics, tells us that, as was mentioned in post 11, that the genetic responses of humans are intelligently designed in a very sophisticated way so as to differentiate between hedonic and ‘noble’ moral happiness:

    Human Cells Respond in Healthy, Unhealthy Ways to Different Kinds of Happiness – July 29, 2013
    Excerpt: Human bodies recognize at the molecular level that not all happiness is created equal, responding in ways that can help or hinder physical health,,,
    The sense of well-being derived from “a noble purpose” may provide cellular health benefits, whereas “simple self-gratification” may have negative effects, despite an overall perceived sense of happiness, researchers found.,,,
    But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers.
    Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in the stress-related CTRA gene expression profile. In contrast, hedonic well-being was associated with a significant increase in the CTRA profile. Their genomics-based analyses, the authors reported, reveal the hidden costs of purely hedonic well-being.,,
    “We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ‘empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically,” she said. “At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....161952.htm

    Moreover, even though Dawkins, in his quote, implicitly denied that our lives has any intrinsic meaning or purpose, every molecule of our bodies screams that we have meaning and purpose for our lives. As Denis Noble noted in the following article, “it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language—words like “goal,” “purpose,” “meaning,” “correct/incorrect,” “success/failure,” etc.”

    “the most striking thing about living things, in comparison with non-living systems, is their teleological organization—meaning the way in which all of the local physical and chemical interactions cohere in such a way as to maintain the overall system in existence.
    Moreover, it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language—words like “goal,” “purpose,” “meaning,” “correct/incorrect,” “success/failure,” etc.”
    – Denis Noble – Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics of the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford.
    http://www.thebestschools.org/.....interview/

    In the following article, Stephen Talbott challenges scientists and philosophers to “pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness”

    The ‘Mental Cell’: Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! – Stephen L. Talbott – September 9, 2014
    Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”.
    Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness 1.
    One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....ell_23.htm

    Thus, if it is impossible for molecular biologists to speak of molecular biology for any length of time without using language that directly implies goal directed purposes, i.e. teleology, then it is hardly fair for Richard Dawkins, and other Darwinists, (such as Provine, Coyne, and Myer), to falsely claim that science has rendered any claims for intrinsic meaning and purpose for our live superfluous. As stated previously, every molecule of our bodies screams that we have a intrinsic meaning and purpose for our lives.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    Perhaps Dawkins, instead of molecular biology, was referring to the Copernican principle, sans Hawking, when he said, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”???

    “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.,,,”
    – Stephen Hawking – 1995 TV show, Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken,

    But the Copernican Principle, and/or the Principle of Mediocrity, has now been overturned by both General Relativity and by Quantum Mechanics:

    Einstein himself stated, The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems].”

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    Fred Hoyle and George Ellis add their considerable weight here in these following two quotes:

    “The relation of the two pictures [geocentrism and geokineticism] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view…. Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is ‘right’ and the Ptolemaic theory ‘wrong’ in any meaningful physical sense.”
    Hoyle, Fred. Nicolaus Copernicus. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1973.

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis – W. Wayt Gibbs, “Profile: George F. R. Ellis,” Scientific American, October 1995, Vol. 273, No.4, p. 55

    As Einstein himself notes, there simply is no test that can be performed that can prove the earth is not the center of the universe:

    “One need not view the existence of such centrifugal forces as originating from the motion of K’ [the Earth]; one could just as well account for them as resulting from the average rotational effect of distant, detectable masses as evidenced in the vicinity of K’ [the Earth], whereby K’ [the Earth] is treated as being at rest.”
    –Albert Einstein, quoted in Hans Thirring, “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation”, Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29, 1921
    http://galileowaswrong.com/com.....onference/

    “We can’t feel our motion through space, nor has any physical experiment ever proved that the Earth actually is in motion.,,,
    If all the objects in space were removed save one, then no one could say whether that one remaining object was at rest or hurtling through the void at 100,000 miles per second”
    Historian Lincoln Barnett – “The Universe and Dr. Einstein” – pg 73 (contains a foreword by Albert Einstein)
    https://books.google.com/books?id=Y4njDAAAQBAJ&pg=PT73&lpg=PT73

    Even Stephen Hawking himself, who claimed that we are just chemical scum on an insignificant planet, stated that it is not true that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong,,, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”

    “So which is real, the Ptolemaic or Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest.
    Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”
    Stephen Hawking – The Grand Design – pages 39 – 2010

    Even individual people can be considered to be central in the universe according to the four-dimensional space-time of General Relativity,,,

    You Technically Are the Center of the Universe – May 2016
    Excerpt: (due to the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the 4-D space-time of General Relativity) no matter where you stand, it will appear that everything in the universe is expanding around you. So the center of the universe is technically — everywhere.
    The moment you pick a frame of reference, that point becomes the center of the universe.
    Here’s another way to think about it: The sphere of space we can see around us is the visible universe. We’re looking at the light from stars that’s traveled millions or billions of years to reach us. When we reach the 13.8 billion-light-year point, we’re seeing the universe just moments after the Big Bang happened.
    But someone standing on another planet, a few light-years to the right, would see a different sphere of the universe. It’s sort of like lighting a match in the middle of a dark room: Your observable universe is the sphere of the room that the light illuminates.
    But someone standing in a different spot in the room will be able to see a different sphere. So technically, we are all standing at the center of our own observable universes.
    https://mic.com/articles/144214/you-technically-are-the-center-of-the-universe-thanks-to-a-wacky-physics-quirk

    Whereas, on the other hand, in Quantum Mechanics it is the measurement itself that gives each observer a privileged frame of reference in the universe. As the following researcher commented, “”It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    In fact, in quantum mechanics humans are brought into the laws of physics at the most fundamental level instead of humans being a result of the laws of physics as Darwinists had falsely imagined us to be.

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    Richard Conn Henry who is Professor of Physics at John Hopkins University states “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.”

    “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial, and have fears and agonies that are very similar to the fears and agonies that Copernicus and Galileo went through with their perturbations of society.”
    Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/quantum.enigma.html

    In further establishing our centrality in this vast universe, in the following video, physicist Neil Turok states that we live in the middle, or at the geometric mean, between the largest scale in physics and the smallest scale in physics:

    “So we can go from 10 to the plus 25 to 10 to the minus 35. Now where are we? Well the size of a living cell is about 10 to the minus 5. Which is halfway between the two. In mathematical terms, we say it is the geometric mean. We live in the middle between the largest scale in physics,,, and the tiniest scale [in physics].”
    – Neil Turok as quoted at the 14:40 minute mark
    The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything – Neil Turok Public Lecture – video (12:00 minute mark, we live in the geometric mean, i.e. the middle, of the universe)
    https://youtu.be/f1x9lgX8GaE?t=715

    Here is a picture that gets his point across very clearly:

    The Scale: 10^-35m to 10^-5m to 10^25m – picture
    http://www.timeone.ca/wp-conte.....-scale.jpg

    Thus, contrary to what Richard Dawkins and other Darwinian Atheists would like us to believe, the fact of the matter is that the universe we observe has, at bottom, precisely the properties we would expect to see if our lives do indeed have intrinsic value, meaning, purpose and significance.

    In short, NO ONE is insignificant in God’s eyes but everyone has intrinsic value, meaning and purpose:

    Psalm 113:7
    He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the trash heap

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    If he changed his mind about the punishment, how do you know that he didn’t change his mind about the sin?

    LoL!

  44. 44
    OLV says:

    StephenB (30):

    Thanks for your comment.

    Both kairosfocus and you use the term “Is-Ought” but do they mean the same for both of you? Are they valid concepts for both of you?

    Thanks again.

  45. 45
    PaoloV says:

    OLV @ #44:

    To me “Is” refer to how things are in this world while “Ought” refers to Eden or heaven.

    How things are and how they were meant to be.

  46. 46
    MatSpirit says:

    Barry @ 31: ee, Barry, you asked a question, “But if God commanded someone to kill homosexuals, women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents, would that be objectively bad?”

    I answered, “Yes…” and went on to say it was as bad as God allegedly murdering the first born child in every family in Egypt. I also mentioned that the vast majority of those families had no influence what so ever over the Pharoah’s actions with the implication that all the murders were entirely gratuitus. I also mentioned that Pharoah had decided, on his own, to release the Israelites at least twice and that God had deliberately hardened Pharoah’s heart so God could continue wreaking havoc and destruction on the country.

    Frankly, I was sort of expecting some sort of a reply. Do you doubt me? I can provide chapter and verse if you do.

    Do you have some kind of extenuating evidence? Something that justifies the murder of thousands of children? I’d like to hear it. I’ll bet a lot of others would like to hear you justify murdering children too.

    I asked some other questions too, but the most important one was, “What in the world makes you think God has good morals?

  47. 47
    MatSpirit says:

    Barry @31: “I see you believe morals are objective.”

    Well, I do, but I don’t think you understand what “objective” means. Google “objective” and here’s the first reply you’ll get:

    1. (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
    “historians try to be objective and impartial”

    synonyms: impartial, unbiased, unprejudiced, nonpartisan, disinterested, neutral, uninvolved, even-handed, equitable, fair, fair-minded, just, open-minded, dispassionate, detached, neutral

    In other words, morality should be based on facts, not how you feel about it. For instance, would you like to have your oldest child murdered? I’m going to guess the answer is no. So don’t do it, even if you’re God and you really, really want to show off your power. Have you got a bet going with Satan about how faithful Job will be when everybody he loves is killed? Then don’t murder his children. He wouldn’t like it, the children wouldn’t like it and winning an idle bet with Satan is not near enough justification!

    And what was with killing the first born of every Egyptian family’s cattle? That’s just perverse. Next time you pray, tell God He should be ashamed.

  48. 48
    MatSpirit says:

    Mike 1962 @ 22:
    “Allen Keith: Your bible says that killing homosexuals is objectively good, yet you are not willing to admit this.

    Actually, this was part of the Law of Moses that was only intended for Israel, not the world in general. Most Orthodox Jews acknowledge this. Christians differ on this (I otherwise have no comment), but the Torah was never intended for the world at large, only Yahweh’s covenant people.”

    Wow! So the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) only count if you’re Jewish! I didn’t know that. Someone should tell Judge Roy Moore this. Here the poor man lost his job putting copies of the Ten Commandments in his courthouse and almost none of the people in his district are Jewish. The tragedy!

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    OLV

    Both kairosfocus and you use the term “Is-Ought” but do they mean the same for both of you? Are they valid concepts for both of you?

    Yes, kf and I both think of the “is” as the way things are (or the way the world is) and the “ought” as objective morality (how people ought to behave). The former is often referred to as descriptive whereas the latter is referred to as prescriptive.

    The question is this: Can we learn anything about the “ought to” from information provided to us by the “is?” Can we make a logical transition from the “is” to the “ought?” Are the two related in some way? Or, are they totally disconnected, as Hume and his followers insisted.

    Of the two words, “is” is actually more difficult to define because it can be thought of generally as anything that exists or in a more narrow fashion as the world of matter (physics/chemistry) or the world of human behavior. Since my adversaries define it in more general terms (everything that is) then so do I. (I am not sure how Kairosfocus would define it).

    And the definition does make a difference because, in my judgment, we can learn about morality from the “is” if by is we mean certain aspects of nature or human nature, as I pointed out in my post; but we cannot learn about morality from the “is” if by is we mean the principles of physics and chemistry or the different ways people happen to behave.

  50. 50
    MatSpirit says:

    Radio @ 35:
    The origin of the concepts of good and bad is our ability to feel pleasure and pain. That which gives us or others pleasure we call good, that which causes us or others pain we call bad. If we couldn’t feel pleasure and pain, good and bad would make no sense.

    So in that sense good and bad are absolute, but the complexity of life makes them subjective and relative like most other things – some experiences are better or worse than others. Some believe that pleasure is a sin (bad), others that self-inflicted pain is a virtue (good).”

    Radio, you’ve found the most important step in figuring out if something is good or bad: What are it’s effects on someone? Does it help them or hurt them?

    Throw in a few tools like the Golden Rule and you’re well on your way to a sound moral code.

    Of course, if you’re trying to accommodate the Bible’s description of God’s character, the world we live in with its various disasters and the claim that God is highly intelligent, knows literally everything and is Good, you’re going to have to do the kind of logic chopping you see so much of of on this blog.

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    Mat Spirt

    Do you have some kind of extenuating evidence? Something that justifies the murder of thousands of children? I’d like to hear it. I’ll bet a lot of others would like to hear you justify murdering children too.

    For what it is worth, I addressed that question @29.

  52. 52
    StephenB says:

    Mat Spirit

    The origin of the concepts of good and bad is our ability to feel pleasure and pain.

    No it isn’t. Please defend that proposition.

  53. 53
    MatSpirit says:

    Barry @ 39:
    “BTW, MatSpirit, I see you quote Dawkins as follows:

    Richard Dawkins is not just flapping his gums when he says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction . . .

    Is that the same Richard Dawkins who wrote:

    some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

    I’ve had to chide Mrs. O’Leary for this a couple of times:

    READING COMPREHENSION!

    Note where Dawkins says “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all FICTION . . .”

    That word means that God doesn’t actually exist.

    The universe, on the other hand, does definitely exist and it is non-sentient. That means it does not even know you exist and if you get in its way, the things Dawkins describes above will happen to you.

    Read twice and answer once or continue to lead with your chin.

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    Barry @31: “I see you believe morals are objective.”

    Mat Spirit

    Well, I do, but I don’t think you understand what “objective” means. Google “objective” and here’s the first reply you’ll get:

    Sorry, but you are the one who does not know what objective means in this context.

    1. (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
    “historians try to be objective and impartial”

    That is one definition, but it is not the one that applies in this context.

    There is a subject (the investigator) and an object (the object of the investigation.) Thus, we have the subject/object relationship.

    In terms of morality, subjective means coming from the subject; objective means coming from outside the subject. That is why subjective morality is always changing and objective morality never changes.

    Unless there is an objective good, there can be no morality. Subjective morality says that there is no such thing as objective good, and therefore no foundation for objective morality. Objective morality, by contrast, says that the good does exist, from which the principles of objective morality are taken.

    Subjective morality comes from the mind of the individual, the “subject” or the investigator; objective morality comes either from the principles of nature and ultimately, the mind of God, (the “object” of the investigation).

    So your claim to believe in objective morality seems a little conflicted. Do you believe in it or not?I

  55. 55
    MatSpirit says:

    Bornagain77, thanks for the William Lane Craig link in Msg 38. It reminded me of the C.S. Lewis quote you gave us in Msg 11:

    ““My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity”

    What I don’t understand is how an adult 20th Century English man could get through the major portion of his life without ever pulling a string tight and thus producing an admirable straight line to compare a crooked line to.

    There are plenty of ways of comparing good and evil and just and unjust that he should at least heard of – things like comparing how he felt just before and just after getting punched in the nose, for instance, could give him insight into both. For that matter, his beloved mother died when he was a very young child and it affected him terribly. Surely he could compare his feelings before and after her death to get a very powerful comparison between good and evil.

    Why do some people, including apparently Dr. Craig, need God to tell them if losing their mother is good or bad? Most of us figure that out by ourselves.

  56. 56
    Marfin says:

    Rado & Matspirit – Pain is bad pleasure is good is the most idiotic statement I have heard in many a year.
    And the golden rule do unto others , what if doing unto others caused you pain do you still do unto others,and what if you dont want to do unto others are you still obligated to do so. please save your armchair philosophy for the other materialist sheep you hang around with.

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    MatSpirit claims:

    There are plenty of ways of comparing good and evil and just and unjust that he should at least heard of – things like comparing how he felt just before and just after getting punched in the nose, for instance, could give him insight into both. For that matter, his beloved mother died when he was a very young child and it affected him terribly. Surely he could compare his feelings before and after her death to get a very powerful comparison between good and evil.

    Hmmm, the fatal problem for you, the Darwinian materialist, in all this is that material particles are completely amoral, “pitilessly indifferent”.

    And yet you are referring to subjective conscious experience, i.e. ‘feelings’, in order to try to derive some primitive measure of what may be good and what may be evil.

    Yet, the existence of subjective conscious experience is even more impossible for Darwinian materialists to ever explain than the existence of good and evil are. ,, It is SO HARD, i.e. impossible, to explain that it is commonly referred to as the “hard problem’ of consciousness.

    Thus the problem of differentiating what may be good and what may be evil becomes that much more acute for you, the Darwinian materialist, in that you, #1, have no material basis for saying anything is good or evil in the first place, and, #2, you have even less of a basis for the subjective consciousness, i.e. feelings, that you wish to use as a measure for determining whether something may be good or may be evil.

    Whereas I, the Christian Theist, have no problem whatever accounting for either morality or subjective conscious experience in that the existence of both are taken as a given in my starting presuppositions.

    Isaiah 50: 4-6
    ,,, He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ears, and I have not been rebellious, nor have I turned back. I offered My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard. I did not hide My face from scorn and spittle.

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

    2 Corinthians 5:21
    God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

  58. 58
    Barry Arrington says:

    As usual, the materialist skips right past the main question.

    Let’s review my exchange with MatSpirit:

    MatSpirit quotes Dawkins:

    Richard Dawkins is not just flapping his gums when he says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction . . .

    Barry points out that is the same Dawkins who wrote:

    The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

    MatSpirit ignores the incoherence of his position and says:

    but the most important one was, “What in the world makes you think God has good morals?

    No, Mat. There is an even more basic and important question that absolutely must be answered before that question even makes sense to ask. Is your boy Dawkins correct when he says that on the materialist view, there is “no evil, no good”? After all, you are the one who brought Dawkins into the mix. Are you going to abandon him now?

    You have to answer this question Mat, before I can answer yours. Because if Dawkins is correct, and there is “no good” asking if God has “good” morals is literally meaningless. The ball is in your court.

    BTW, the obvious answer is that materialist premises absolutely drive Dawkins’ conclusion. If materialism is correct, then so is Dawkins.

  59. 59
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is a BBC article (a “secular” source) which discusses the difference between moral subjectivism vs. objectivism. Consider just one of the points the article makes:

    “If I approve of something, it must be good”

    >Subjectivism seems to tell us that moral statements give information only about what we feel about moral issues.

    >If the simplest form of subjectivism is true then when a person who genuinely approves of telling lies says “telling lies is good” that moral statement is unarguably true. It would only be untrue if the speaker didn’t approve of telling lies.

    >So under this theory it seems that all the speaker has to do to prove that lying is good is to show lots of evidence that they do indeed approve of lying – perhaps that they tell lots of lies and feel good about it, indeed are surprised if anyone criticises them for being a liar, and that they often praise other people for telling lies.

    >Most people would find this way of approaching ethics somewhat unhelpful, and wouldn’t think it reflected the way in which most people talk about ethical issues.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/in.....vism.shtml

    The objectivist would argue that there must be a real standard of honesty that applies universally to all members of society. Indeed, society would break down if people weren’t obligated to be honest and tell the truth. Think of government, criminal justice or commerce. When people are dishonest our basic institutions begin to break down.

    We have a number of interlocutors who show up here who proudly self-identify as moral subjectivists. How can we trust anything any of them say if they are not obligated to be honest and tell the truth? Why would they be obligated if there is no real standard of honesty?

  60. 60
    bornagain77 says:

    Since presuppositions are weighing so heavily in this debate on morality, it bears worth repeating that the materialist’s primary presupposition of ‘realism’, (i.e. the belief that material reality exists apart from conscious observation), is now severely questioned, if not falsified, by Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, Leggett’s Inequality, and Contexuality:

    A few notes to that effect:

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured.
    Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, which involves a moving object that is given the choice to act like a particle or a wave. Wheeler’s experiment then asks – at which point does the object decide?
    Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    Despite the apparent weirdness, the results confirm the validity of quantum theory, which,, has enabled the development of many technologies such as LEDs, lasers and computer chips.
    The ANU team not only succeeded in building the experiment, which seemed nearly impossible when it was proposed in 1978, but reversed Wheeler’s original concept of light beams being bounced by mirrors, and instead used atoms scattered by laser light.
    “Quantum physics’ predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, PhD student at the Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    An experimental test of non-local realism – 2007
    Simon Gröblacher, Tomasz Paterek, Rainer Kaltenbaek, Caslav Brukner, Marek Zukowski, Markus Aspelmeyer & Anton Zeilinger
    Abstract: Most working scientists hold fast to the concept of ‘realism’—a viewpoint according to which an external reality exists independent of observation. But quantum physics has shattered some of our cornerstone beliefs. According to Bell’s theorem, any theory that is based on the joint assumption of realism and locality (meaning that local events cannot be affected by actions in space-like separated regions) is at variance with certain quantum predictions. Experiments with entangled pairs of particles have amply confirmed these quantum predictions, thus rendering local realistic theories untenable. Maintaining realism as a fundamental concept would therefore necessitate the introduction of ‘spooky’ actions that defy locality. Here we show by both theory and experiment that a broad and rather reasonable class of such non-local realistic theories is incompatible with experimentally observable quantum correlations. In the experiment, we measure previously untested correlations between two entangled photons, and show that these correlations violate an inequality proposed by Leggett for non-local realistic theories. Our result suggests that giving up the concept of locality is not sufficient to be consistent with quantum experiments, unless certain intuitive features of realism are abandoned.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....05677.html

    Should Quantum Anomalies Make Us Rethink Reality?
    Inexplicable lab results may be telling us we’re on the cusp of a new scientific paradigm
    By Bernardo Kastrup on April 19, 2018
    Excerpt: ,, according to the current paradigm, the properties of an object should exist and have definite values even when the object is not being observed: the moon should exist and have whatever weight, shape, size and color it has even when nobody is looking at it. Moreover, a mere act of observation should not change the values of these properties. Operationally, all this is captured in the notion of “non-contextuality”: ,,,
    since Alain Aspect’s seminal experiments in 1981–82, these predictions (of Quantum Mechanics) have been repeatedly confirmed, with potential experimental loopholes closed one by one. 1998 was a particularly fruitful year, with two remarkable experiments performed in Switzerland and Austria. In 2011 and 2015, new experiments again challenged non-contextuality. Commenting on this, physicist Anton Zeilinger has been quoted as saying that “there is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure [that is, observe] about a system has [an independent] reality.” Finally, Dutch researchers successfully performed a test closing all remaining potential loopholes, which was considered by Nature the “toughest test yet.”,,,
    It turns out, however, that some predictions of QM are incompatible with non-contextuality even for a large and important class of non-local theories. Experimental results reported in 2007 and 2010 have confirmed these predictions. To reconcile these results with the current paradigm would require a profoundly counterintuitive redefinition of what we call “objectivity.” And since contemporary culture has come to associate objectivity with reality itself, the science press felt compelled to report on this by pronouncing, “Quantum physics says goodbye to reality.”
    The tension between the anomalies and the current paradigm can only be tolerated by ignoring the anomalies. This has been possible so far because the anomalies are only observed in laboratories. Yet we know that they are there, for their existence has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, when we believe that we see objects and events outside and independent of mind, we are wrong in at least some essential sense. A new paradigm is needed to accommodate and make sense of the anomalies; one wherein mind itself is understood to be the essence—cognitively but also physically—of what we perceive when we look at the world around ourselves.
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/should-quantum-anomalies-make-us-rethink-reality/

    The Death of Materialism – InspiringPhilosophy – (Material reality does not exist without an observer) video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM0IKLv7KrE
    Materialism has been dead for decades and recent research only reconfirms this, as this video will show. This video was reviewed by physicist Fred Kuttner and Richard Conn Henry. A few other physicists reviewed this but asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    i.e. Planck, Schroedinger, and Heisenberg’s Theistic presupposition, that Consciousness is primary, has been born out experimentally:

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    Max Planck (1858–1947), the main founder of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.

    “The concept of the objective reality of the elementary particles has thus evaporated…”,,,; “The idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist, independently of whether or not we observe them,,, is impossible.,,, We can no longer speak of the behavior of the particle independently of the process of observation”
    – W. Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, Harper and Row, New York (1958)

  61. 61
    Mung says:

    The objectivist would argue that there must be a real standard of honesty that applies universally to all members of society.

    And that standard would be that we ought to say of things that are true that they are true, and that we ought to avoid saying of things that are true that they are false.

    And also, that standard would be that we ought to say of things that are false that they are false, and that we ought to avoid saying of things that are false that they are true.

    And every atheist/materialist/anti-id/anti-religion I have ever encountered holds this to be true as can be seen in almost every comment they make here and elsewhere.

    It’s sad, really.

  62. 62
    Kas says:

    Ironically, in order to argue that there are no moral absolutes, one must deny one’s own nature, because no one can live that way, and once you’ve denied your own nature, then there’s no reason to accept your conclusions on anything, including the proposition that there are no moral absolutes.

    ____________________

    Darwin made it impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

  63. 63

    JAD @ 59:

    “How can we trust anything any of them say if they are not obligated to be honest and tell the truth?”

    We can’t.

  64. 64

    Kas @ 62: Well said. Love the tagline.

  65. 65
    Kas says:

    Thanks Truth Will Set You Free @ 64.

    One day I was looking at leaf bugs (see the link below) and pondered how common such camouflage is in nature among biological organisms. For all those life forms to obtain just the sort of camouflage they need by mutations that occurred without the corresponding benefit as a goal struck me as so improbable that it’s essentially impossible.

    Only a God could set things up so that these and other wonderful life forms could emerge via Darwinian processes, while without God “Mount Improbable” is really “Mount Impossible”.

    http://www.wildborneo.com.my/i.....031009.jpg
    ____________________

    Darwin made it impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

  66. 66
    john_a_designer says:

    J.L. Mackie (1917-1981) was an atheist professor of philosophy at several prominent universities including Oxford University. He was a champion of moral antirealism which denies the existence of objective moral values. He refers to his main argument as “error theory.

    Here is a brief description of what he means by error theory:

    “There are no objective values.” So starts the first chapter of J.L. Mackie’s book, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, where he argues that there are no objective, universally prescriptive moral facts.

    His view is a cognitivist view, which means that our moral judgments express believes that have truth-value, but it is not an example of moral realism. Mackie argued that all of our moral judgments and beliefs are false. This is why it is called “Error Theory.” How does he argue for this position?

    His argument combines a conceptual claim about our moral judgments and an ontological claim about the existence of moral facts.

    1) Conceptual claim: Our moral concepts are concepts of universally prescriptive, categorical facts in the world.

    2) Ontological claim: There are no such facts in the world.

    Since there is nothing in the world that corresponds to our beliefs about moral facts, our moral beliefs and claims are all false. That is why Mackie’s view is called Error Theory, because we are literally in error.

    https://hendricks87.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/mackies-error-theory/

    The following is a video that refutes error theory.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkVR99xX5XI

    Here is one of the arguments it gives:

    A Form of Mackie’s Argument:

    P1- If naturalism and empiricism are likely, then torturing children for fun is not morally wrong.

    P2- Naturalism and empiricism are likely.

    C- Torturing children for fun is not morally wrong.

    Reversing Mackie’s Argument:

    P1- Torturing children for fun is morally wrong.

    P2- If error theory is correct, “torturing children for fun is morally wrong” is not true

    C- Therefore, there is a problem with error theory.

    It includes a podcast by an atheist philosopher who rejects anti-realism. As a Christian theist I cannot disagree with his logic. However, I would still argue that atheistic naturalism/materialism does not provide a sufficient basis for moral obligations. But in fairness he really doesn’t touch on that issue.

  67. 67
    OLV says:

    StephenB (49):
    That’s a clear explanation.
    Thanks.

  68. 68
    john_a_designer says:

    J.L. Mackie argued that moral values don’t exist because if they existed they would be “queer.” This is his so-called queerness argument against moral realism.

    Mackie writes:

    If there were objective values, then they would be entities or qualities or relations of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe. Correspondingly, if we were aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else.

    Personally, I have never liked the word objective when it comes to ethical discourse. When I can I prefer to use terms like moral facts or moral truths. However, objective is the common parlance among ethical theorists.

    The reason I don’t like it is that some people think we are using the word in the most literal sense. They think that if morals are objective they exist somewhere out there in space like rocks, mushrooms and frogs or protons, electrons and quarks. That’s not what we mean.

    Moral values and obligations are abstract “objects” (there’s the misleading term again) that exist in our minds. In that sense they are subjective, because that’s how we apprehend them, with our minds not our senses. However, moral values are socially quite useless if they do not carry binding interpersonal obligations. It is those interpersonal moral obligations that are “objective.”

    Maybe the best analogy to as to how moral values exist comes from the world of mathematics. What exactly are numbers? Where do they exist? Like moral values they are abstract objects which exist in our minds.

    Numbers for example have properties that are either true or false. For example, it’s true the numbers 1, 3 and 5 are odd and 2, 4 and 6 are not… that the numbers 9, 16 and 25 are perfect squares. Those examples are easy to see. But what about the number 179426369 is this a prime number? It either is or it is not. Your subjective opinion about whether it is or not does not make any difference. Whatever the truth is, it is an objective truth. In other words, truths about abstract objects like numbers or moral values are objective because they do not rely on someones subjective opinion.

    I know what the truth is, do you?

    Like Mackie someone could say that prime numbers are “a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe.” But just because they strike someone subjectively as being strange or queer, it doesn’t follow that they don’t exist.

  69. 69
    MatSpirit says:

    In Msg 58, Barry asks, ” Is your boy Dawkins correct when he says that on the materialist view, there is “no evil, no good”? ”

    Dawkins is saying that the unthinking universe is neither good or evil.  Only an intelligent being has the mental power required to have a moral code.  At a minimum, you have to know what a moral code is, have the ability to anticipate the results of your actions and be able to compare those anticipated results to your moral code to see if your actions are moral.

    You claim that God is intelligent.  That means He is capable of all the above.   Do you think God was good or evil when He murdered those Egyptian children?   I think that was a rotten thing to do, thoroughly evil, and I don’t see any extenuating circumstances. 

    So again, what’s your opinion?

  70. 70
    StephenB says:

    Mat Spirit

    You claim that God is intelligent. That means He is capable of all the above. Do you think God was good or evil when He murdered those Egyptian children?

    I already answered that question @58. You promptly ignored it.

    I think that was a rotten thing to do, thoroughly evil, and I don’t see any extenuating circumstances.

    You just contradicted yourself again, even more so than with Barry. First, you say that evil doesn’t exist. Then you accuse God of evil behavior.

  71. 71
    john_a_designer says:

    PS (#68) However, I agree with Mackie that atheistic naturalism does not provide a sufficient basis for interpersonal moral obligations which includes universal human rights. On the other hand, it’s very dangerous, as Mackie claims, to argue that we invent right or wrong. Whose standard of right or wrong? Based on what? Someone’s subjective opinion? How do we decide whose opinion is better unless we have a higher moral standard? But where does that standard come from?

  72. 72
    MatSpirit says:

    “StephenB @ 70:
    “Mat Spirit:

    You claim that God is intelligent. That means He is capable of all the above. Do you think God was good or evil when He murdered those Egyptian children?

    I already answered that question @58. You promptly ignored it.”

    Msg 58 is from Barry.  You probably meant Msg 51, where you referred me to Msg 29.

    Msg 29 is addressed to Allen Keith, where you start by saying Allen is wrong because  the Bible doesn’t use the exact phrase, “objectively good” to describe murdering homosexuals.  That’s trying to win an argument with word games.    Then you say it’s God’s “moral privilege” to kill anybody he likes for any reason.  Perhaps you meant Satan?

    Your “explanation” turns out to be a cheap debater’ s trick and a few breathtakingly inane claims with no attempt to support those claims or tie them together into some kind of argument.

    So, yes,  I’ve been ignoring you.

    StephenB:
    “MatSpirit: ” I think that was a rotten thing to do, thoroughly evil, and I don’t see any extenuating circumstances.

    You just contradicted yourself again, even more so than with Barry. First, you say that evil doesn’t exist. Then you accuse God of evil behavior.”

    No, I don’t say that, you and Barry SAY that I say that and then you both attack the words I didn’t say.  Another cheap debating trick.

    Evil is deliberately or carelessly doing something that is both bad and unnecessary.

    Rado:

    I see that I twice referred to you as “Radio”.  I’m sorry, that was spell check and I was too sleepy to catch it.

    Marfin:
    Pain and anything that adversely effects the well being of a sentient creature is bad.  Pleasure and anything that increases the well being of a sentient creature is good.  That’s all referenced to the creature feeling the pain or experiencing the loss of well being of course.  A rabbit being killed and eaten by a coyote is very, very bad for the rabbit, but for the coyote it means her pups will  eat tonight and that’s  good for them.

    You won’t always want to do things just because they’re good.  The long term consequences may be bad such as diabetes from eating too much sugar.  Sometimes you’ll do something that’s bad, such as getting a painful shot, because not doing it will lead to much worse consequences such as death.

    It would take a small book to explore all the ramifications of this theory of good and bad and nobody on this blog would read it.

    As for not wanting to do something that’s good for others if it causes you pain, try asking yourself, What would Jesus do? According to the Bible, He was reluctant to die on the cross.

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    Mat Spirit

    Your “explanation” turns out to be a cheap debater’ s trick and a few breathtakingly inane claims with no attempt to support those claims or tie them together into some kind of argument.

    If God creates something from nothing, then he owns it. God is the Creator and you are a humble creature. You are not responsible for your own existence, so any time you have on this earth is a gift that you didn’t earn. It isn’t yours to keep. It is God’s to give or take away. If you disagree, then go ahead and provide a counter argument if you can.

    So, yes, I’ve been ignoring you.

    Of course. You ignore all refutations until you are shamed into responding.

    I think that was a rotten thing to do, thoroughly evil, and I don’t see any extenuating circumstances.

    SB: You just contradicted yourself again, even more so than with Barry. First, you say that evil doesn’t exist. Then you accuse God of evil behavior.”

    No, I don’t say that, you and Barry SAY that I say that and then you both attack the words I didn’t say. Another cheap debating trick.

    When you are refuted, you claim you didn’t say what was attributed to you, but then you conveniently forget to cite what you DID say. The reason you do that is because when we examine the exact words you used, it becomes obvious that the accusation was right all along and you are just stalling or buying time.

    Evil is deliberately or carelessly doing something that is both bad and unnecessary.

    There you go again. As a materialist, you deny that anything is “bad,” which is just another word for evil. So you are saying that badness doesn’t exist but, nevertheless, God did something bad. Don’t you even know your own philosophy? For you, the universe just is, there is no good and bad.

    Of course, if you want to say that evil and badness do exist, then you are saying the God exists, because good or bad, right or wrong can only exist if God exists.

  74. 74
    MatSpirit says:

    The mind of a fundamentalist is a wonderful thing. You reply to a message where I explain what bad and evil are by claiming I said that “badness” doesn’t exist.

    Meanwhile, a cat seems to have Barry Arrington’s tongue.

    Barry, we’re still waiting to hear if you think killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Egyptian children is as bad as killing “homosexuals, women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and children who disrespect their parents”.

    I’ve already stated that i think it is. What do you think?

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    Mat Spirit

    You reply to a message where I explain what bad and evil are by claiming I said that “badness” doesn’t exist.

    You said that bad is synonymous with pain and good is synonymous with pleasure. Thus, you reject any objective code that defines either good or bad. Pain and pleasure are subjective. That means that you don’t think evil or bad exists in an absolute sense. Indeed, by your definition, it is good for God to destroy children if it gives him pleasure (which of course, it doesn’t) and it is bad for them if it gives them pain. If it happens quick and they feel no pain, then it is no longer bad for them. Under that scenario, there are no acts that are unconditionally bad. The same act can be good for one person and bad for another. Thus rape is good for the rapist and bad for the person who is raped. Totally irrational.

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, see why it is so important to first see that there are abstract, necessarily existing mathematical entities and/or facts, starting with the natural numbers? That is, abstract BE-ing is a facet of reality. In some cases at least, self evident and not just necessary. This sets a context to address the logic and study of BE-ing, ontology. In this case, we then see that objective realities and responsible, reasonable warrant for acknowledging same allow us to transcend the perceptions (sometimes — but not always, essentially arbitrary opinions) of subjects; which marks the way in which objective truth moves beyond subjectivity. Subjects may know objectively, through rational, responsible warrant. Where, of course, evolutionary materialistic objectors face the dilemma that mathematical realities are at the heart of the core sciences. Once such are acknowledged, much else melts away in the pattern of objections. In this context, oughts can be warranted as true, i.e. correctly describing duties of morally governed, responsibly rational creatures; sometimes even to self-evident certainty. Such duties are abstract and are no more reducible to arrangements of components of computational substrates than are numbers. In this context, the IS-OUGHT gap is about ultimate warrant of duty in a unified coherent world, which can only be done at world root level. The error of attempting to reduce reality to physical aspects then comes out in how even mathematics falls apart as an aspect of reasoning. For example, one mere configuration of computational components is PHYSICALLY, causally bound to another, not by the abstract ground-consequent force of logical warrant — and that is before we touch on inductive grounding. So, yes, we traipse into truly foundational concerns here. KF

  77. 77
    MatSpirit says:

    KF, Barry seems to be A.W.O.L, Perhaps you can answer the question. Is killing homosexuals, brides who aren’t virgin and children who are disrespectful of their parents as bad as killing one child in every Egyptian family?

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, I suggest that — given relevant general considerations on the nature of ethics — you need to start with fundamental issues that are prior to particular moral (or rhetorical) concerns. Specifically, with generally framed warrant for oughtness; there is no point trying to warrant oughtness within a framework that implies that might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘truth,’ ‘reason,’ ‘warrant,’ knowledge’ etc, including knowledge on issues of oughtness including ‘good,’ ‘bad’ and ‘worse.’ Here, we start with, how is the is-ought gap bridged, given that it is central to moral government, which we cannot evade starting with duties of care to truthfulness and sound reasoning? Absent a clear resolution of such from your apparent side, there is no basis for any responsible discussion, much less one on matters of philosophical theology and linked ethics and points of concern including matters that are often raised by those more concerned to play at putting God in the dock and/or Christian-baiting than serious discussion on matters that are outside the usual remit of this blog. That, is how broken discourse now is in our civilisation, and the breaking came from your side. So, no, I will not try to build without a foundation where there is common ground for moral government in a world where we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed. Your side broke it, your side now needs to fix it. Just as, your side has utterly undermined rationality and even ontology to the point that what IS, is open for debate even with mathematics. I have already put on the table a moral plumbline test, the unfortunately real-world case that it is self-evidently wrong and evil and wicked to waylay, kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child on the way home from school. This case can help fix the rot, by clarifying duty and its roots. Likewise, for cause, I have little confidence in the moral judgements made in an age where many who wish to embark on topics such as you raise are implicated in enabling the ongoing worst holocaust in history, the slaughter of a million more of our living posterity in the womb at the rate of another million per WEEK; on a baseline of 800+ millions over 40+ years. For cause, I consider that the mindset behind such is debased and utterly bankrupt. So, when we are satisfied that we are on the same page, there is reason for confidence that we can have a responsible discussion; otherwise, it is a waste of effort to try to debate the difference in ontological status between God and man, the issues of nations becoming plagues on the earth when the cup of their iniquity has brimmed over, the willful hardness of heart to moral duty, the judgements of consequences of moral follly, the role of prophetic warning and of protecting wider humanity from a spreading taint, or the whys and wherefores of civil codes, much less the way our day views moral perversities and the onward willful destruction of foundational institutions such as marriage, etc. KF

    PS: Those who wish to discuss theological and biblical ethics issues are advised that for instance Dr William Lane Craig maintains an answering service. So do others. A read of Rom 1 – 3 may also help some.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: it seems the 20-minute adjustment period clock is broken and needs to be fixed. KF

  80. 80
    Bob O'H says:

    kf @ 78 – is that a yes or a no?

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    B’OH, I have just now come back from dealing with bureaucrats etc, which underscored just how important it is to have common ground and mutuality as a context for seemingly simple answers and warrant. Your side broke it, so now your side must fix it, so we can proceed. Do you care to do so? KF

    PS: I just had people denying that a suitable driver’s licence is a valid travel document and/or ID.

  82. 82
    Bob O'H says:

    kf – I’ve no idea what you mean about my side breaking it. MatSpirit asked a simple question, but you don’t seem willing or able to give a simple answer.

    FWIW, I’ve no idea about your drivers licence, but frankly my UK licence shouldn’t be a valid travel document.

  83. 83
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    FWIW, I’ve no idea about your drivers licence, but frankly my UK licence shouldn’t be a valid travel document.

    Really? You shouldn’t be able to use your driver’s license as a valid ID to board an airplane?

  84. 84
    ET says:

    MatSpirit:

    Is killing homosexuals, brides who aren’t virgin and children who are disrespectful of their parents as bad as killing one child in every Egyptian family?

    That all depends. In the case of the Egyptian children it was their own Pharaoh who called out their death sentence.

  85. 85
    ET says:

    If you are warned that the punishment for X,Y or Z is death, then it is your fault what happens to you if you commit X,Y or Z.

  86. 86
    Mung says:

    ET:

    You shouldn’t be able to use your driver’s license as a valid ID to board an airplane?

    You need to keep up with the times.

  87. 87
    Mung says:

    Bob O’H:

    kf @ 78 – is that a yes or a no?

    Ought it be one or the other?

    MatSpirit asked a simple question, but you don’t seem willing or able to give a simple answer.

    So?

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: MS asked a question with a huge quantity of back-loading — something not amenable to simplistic yes/no answers, which is what I pointed out and explained above. Frankly, I am not even confident that he has a sufficiently in-common understanding of good and evil, rationality or even reality to have a sober discussion on basis of morality, much less to go on to deal with theological matters that run beyond UD’s usual remit. The breakdown, historically, came from what seems to be his side of the fence; that’s why I am saying, you broke it, you fix it — and I went so far as to give a key, plumbline, self-evident truth that allows an approach to fixing. Also, pointing to the fatal flaw in the computational substrate approach. KF

    PS: Local driver’s licences are travel documents, used for travel. My note is, that that incident alluded to in brief is a yardstick on a very intense week just past.

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me again put on the table what the relativists evidently will do and say anything but address:

    _________________

    >> normally responsive people will at least grudgingly respect the following summary of core, conscience attested morality from the pen of Paul:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . .

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV, “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    Where, John Locke, in grounding modern liberty and what would become democratic self-government of a free people premised on upholding the civil peace of justice, in Ch 2 Sec. 5 of his second treatise on civil Government [c. 1690] cites “the judicious [Anglican canon, Richard] Hooker” from his classic Ecclesiastical Polity of 1594 on, as he explains how the principles of neighbour-love are inscribed in our hearts, becoming evident to the eye of common good sense and reasonableness:

    . . . 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 and alluding to Justinian’s synthesis of Roman Law in Corpus Juris Civilis that also brings these same thoughts to bear:] 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, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. if a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.>>
    _________________

    It is clear that there is no cogent relativist response to the objectivity or the grounding of moral governance. Indeed, it looks a lot like animosity motivates attempts to undermine what they do not like, while trying to manipulate then through lawfare to usurp the sword of justice and impose will to power.

    Long, grim history paid for in blood and tears serves as a warning, if we will heed it,

    KF

  90. 90
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus,

    Bob O’H,

    I answered Mat Spirit’s question early on 58. He had no response. He is just trolling around.

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    @58 is a post by Barry.

  92. 92
    Bob O'H says:

    ET @ 83 – No. It’s not meant to be an ID.

    Mung @ 87 – well, yes. It could be something more complicated, but then I would expect kf to explain that it is more complicated. Instead he obfuscates, and then says that it’s up to other people to do things first. It seems strange that he’s unable to make a statement about good and evil because, in his view, some other people have wrong views?

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: Why have you misrepresented what I said as obfuscation? I draw your attention to my 78 (which is i/l/o my 76):

    MS, I suggest that — given relevant general considerations on the nature of ethics — you need to start with fundamental issues that are prior to particular moral (or rhetorical) concerns. Specifically, with generally framed warrant for oughtness; there is no point trying to warrant oughtness within a framework that implies that might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘truth,’ ‘reason,’ ‘warrant,’ knowledge’ etc, including knowledge on issues of oughtness including ‘good,’ ‘bad’ and ‘worse.’ Here, we start with, how is the is-ought gap bridged, given that it is central to moral government, which we cannot evade starting with duties of care to truthfulness and sound reasoning? Absent a clear resolution of such from your apparent side, there is no basis for any responsible discussion, much less one on matters of philosophical theology and linked ethics and points of concern including matters that are often raised by those more concerned to play at putting God in the dock and/or Christian-baiting than serious discussion on matters that are outside the usual remit of this blog. That, is how broken discourse now is in our civilisation, and the breaking came from your side. So, no, I will not try to build without a foundation where there is common ground for moral government in a world where we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed. Your side broke it, your side now needs to fix it. Just as, your side has utterly undermined rationality and even ontology to the point that what IS, is open for debate even with mathematics. I have already put on the table a moral plumbline test, the unfortunately real-world case that it is self-evidently wrong and evil and wicked to waylay, kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child on the way home from school. This case can help fix the rot, by clarifying duty and its roots. Likewise, for cause, I have little confidence in the moral judgements made in an age where many who wish to embark on topics such as you raise are implicated in enabling the ongoing worst holocaust in history, the slaughter of a million more of our living posterity in the womb at the rate of another million per WEEK; on a baseline of 800+ millions over 40+ years. For cause, I consider that the mindset behind such is debased and utterly bankrupt. So, when we are satisfied that we are on the same page, there is reason for confidence that we can have a responsible discussion; otherwise, it is a waste of effort to try to debate the difference in ontological status between God and man, the issues of nations becoming plagues on the earth when the cup of their iniquity has brimmed over, the willful hardness of heart to moral duty, the judgements of consequences of moral follly, the role of prophetic warning and of protecting wider humanity from a spreading taint, or the whys and wherefores of civil codes, much less the way our day views moral perversities and the onward willful destruction of foundational institutions such as marriage, etc.

    I trust that it is now sufficiently clear that I am objecting to a rhetorical trap driven by utter undermining of the basis for responsible, reasonable discussion. Your side broke it, your side must fix it if there is to be a basis for discussion.

    And to point out this is just the opposite of obfuscation or evasion.

    KF

    PS: It should be clear that the brokenness applies to IS and OUGHT alike, leading to utter chaos.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, is that what is now 54? KF

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: I also draw your attention to 89, in which I argue that there is a framework of self-evident principles of the natural moral law that can give a point of beginning. They help us understand is, ought and the world-roots level fusion that must obtain for such law to be more than a fatal grand delusion that utterly undermines responsible, rational, morally governed freedom. KF

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: my local Driver’s Licence is meant as a photo ID and OECS region travel document, complete with data link that comes of mag stripe. It uses holographic features to defeat fraud and includes my signature also; holograms may be the best on balance authentication of documents as legitimate. It gives my address of residence (which is one word) and other available docs — utility bills etc confirm. The DL was validated on Passport in terms of further data that is also regionally accessible. I suspect Immigration Officers would be able to pull up scans of my P/P application, birth certificate, police notifications, etc etc etc. So, I have reason for my comment about bureaucratic nonsense. KF

  97. 97
    ET says:

    Bob O’H- In many places the driver’s license is the only ID. And that ID has been OK to use to board planes since ID’s have been required.

  98. 98
    Mung says:

    ET:

    Bob O’H- In many places the driver’s license is the only ID. And that ID has been OK to use to board planes since ID’s have been required.

    You need to keep up with the times.

  99. 99
    john_a_designer says:

    I find it ironic that Bob O’H accuses kf of obfuscation. However, I do think kf makes the issue much more complicated than it needs to be. I think we should start with some basic premises and propositions rather than a long confusing laundry list.

    As a moral realist I would argue that unless there are real binding moral obligations interpersonal morality and universal human rights make absolutely no sense in real practical terms. If morality is simply based on individual subjective opinions and group think how is anyone obligated to accept it as binding? For example, if human rights are not really fundamental, universal and binding obligations, what good are they? Aren’t they just delusions? And if backed with the force of law, what “right” does anyone have to force a delusion on anyone else? It becomes doubly absurd when a person does this knowingly, which is what the anti-realist is doing.

    On another thread, “As astrology goes mainstream, will Big Science start to accommodate it?”
    Seversky, argued:

    As I said, atheists can construct rational worldviews and moral codes. It’s just that they cannot appeal to the unquestionable authority of some deity to support them.

    I asked: “As an atheist, are you morally obligated to be honest and tell the truth?”

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/as-astrology-goes-mainstream-will-big-science-start-to-accommodate-it/#comment-661037

    My point is, why should I take anything an atheist says seriously if he isn’t obligated to tell the truth? And, how can I trust anything an atheist says if he believes there is no thing as moral truth? If there is no such thing as moral truth how can I be sure he is telling the truth in the most trivial common sense way?

    If there is no such thing as moral truth then according to anti-realist all we’re left with are just arbitrary subjective opinions. How are an atheists subjective opinions (or anyone else’s) be binding on everyone else? Again, from an antirealist view, moral obligations are just delusions. That’s all they can be.

  100. 100
    ET says:

    Mung needs to come up with a new line. Driver’s licenses have been used as valid ID’s since their inception. They are still used as such everywhere. Only recently has the TSA made an issue out of using them due to some trust issues with some States.

  101. 101
    Bob O'H says:

    kf @ 93 – Your post at 78 is a nice illustration of the problem. You are asked a direct question, and you don’t even attempt to answer it. Instead we get a wall of text about a “generally framed warrant for oughtness” (whatever that is!). Rather than provide an answer, you end up arguing (as far as I can tell – your language is convoluted) that you can’t make a moral judgment because you disagree with someone else’s views on morals.

  102. 102
    Mung says:

    Bob O’H:

    …you can’t make a moral judgment because you disagree with someone else’s views on morals.

    That’s not what he said.

  103. 103
  104. 104
  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: I was asked a LOADED question, and pointed out that the effect of the loading was such that I have cause to lack confidence that there is sufficient in-common at worldviews level to address it with profit. And certainly, to take it up as though we can assume responsible, rational freedom under the in part self-evident law of our nature. I also pointed out where the trouble came from and suggested, you broke it you fix it. I have subsequently pointed to how we can set about building the required in-common. If you disagree, kindly explain to us how on evolutionary materialistic scientism oughtness can be coherently addressed such that we do not end in might and manipulation make ‘right’/ ‘truth’/ ‘logic’/ ‘warrant’/ ‘knowledge etc. Indeed, how we rise beyond GIGO-limited blindly mechanical computational substrates to responsibly and rationally free mind and the like. When the heavy worldviews lifting is done, we can then responsibly address issues in philosophical theology etc with some hope of success. Things that are going to pivot on things such as naturally evident creation-order purpose — e.g. the NECOP of the mind is to seek, warrant and acknowledge truth towards wisdom. Where, evil then is the wrenching, privation or frustration of some entity subject to responsible rational freedom — thus, moral government — out of alignment with its appropriate end; typically leading to chaos. KF

  106. 106
  107. 107
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus,

    Mung,

    You are right. My answer to Mat Spirit’s question was @29, not @58

  108. 108
    Bob O'H says:

    kf – perhaps if you had simply written “that is a loaded question, so I am not going to answer it” things might have been clearer. At least then we would have known why you were refusing to answer it. I’m afraid your writing is often obtuse: I appreciate that you understand what you write, but I suspect for most readers it is almost opaque.

    If you think there is a problem because both sides have widely differing views, so can’t understand each other, I think the solution is to try to bridge that gap, rather than refusing to do anything other than accusing the other side of being wrong, and saying they should sort it out. if you don’t want to discuss, fine. But if you do, the onus on you to find common ground.

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H:

    Nope, there is an answer to be developed in due course, but the first phase is that we have to be on the same page. Unfortunately, the key problem is a worldviews one and that by definition is not simple.

    Thus, why I have pointed out the issue and that those who got us into the problem are the ones who need to get us out of it again — and no, this is one where they have to work this out and see for themselves, they will not see it if we tell them, as we have any number of times. Trying to turn back the burden to ethical theism does not work; evolutionary materialism has too often assumed a default it has no right to. Until you have felt the full force of the question, the significance of the answer will be lost on you.

    If, on evolutionary materialistic premises, you have an ability to ground morality, bridging IS-OUGHT other than might and/or manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘reason,’ ‘knowledge etc, that is a start.

    Likewise, there is a problem of grounding reason that transcends blind, GIGO-limited cause-effect, non-rational chains in computational substrates.

    Failing which, the question is not only loaded but ill-founded, committing the fallacy of the kidnapped premises.

    Notice, I have already put on the table a way to identify self-evident truths of the natural moral law, and in that context have offered a definition of evil and by implication, of good. Such will be crucial onward.

    KF

    PS: Note my 76 again:

    see why it is so important to first see that there are abstract, necessarily existing mathematical entities and/or facts, starting with the natural numbers? That is, abstract BE-ing is a facet of reality. In some cases at least, self evident and not just necessary. This sets a context to address the logic and study of BE-ing, ontology. In this case, we then see that objective realities and responsible, reasonable warrant for acknowledging same allow us to transcend the perceptions (sometimes — but not always, essentially arbitrary opinions) of subjects; which marks the way in which objective truth moves beyond subjectivity. Subjects may know objectively, through rational, responsible warrant. Where, of course, evolutionary materialistic objectors face the dilemma that mathematical realities are at the heart of the core sciences. Once such are acknowledged, much else melts away in the pattern of objections. In this context, oughts can be warranted as true, i.e. correctly describing duties of morally governed, responsibly rational creatures; sometimes even to self-evident certainty. Such duties are abstract and are no more reducible to arrangements of components of computational substrates than are numbers. In this context, the IS-OUGHT gap is about ultimate warrant of duty in a unified coherent world, which can only be done at world root level. The error of attempting to reduce reality to physical aspects then comes out in how even mathematics falls apart as an aspect of reasoning. For example, one mere configuration of computational components is PHYSICALLY, causally bound to another, not by the abstract ground-consequent force of logical warrant — and that is before we touch on inductive grounding. So, yes, we traipse into truly foundational concerns here

    . . . then my 78:

    I suggest that — given relevant general considerations on the nature of ethics — you need to start with fundamental issues that are prior to particular moral (or rhetorical) concerns. Specifically, with generally framed warrant for oughtness; there is no point trying to warrant oughtness within a framework that implies that might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘truth,’ ‘reason,’ ‘warrant,’ knowledge’ etc, including knowledge on issues of oughtness including ‘good,’ ‘bad’ and ‘worse.’ Here, we start with, how is the is-ought gap bridged, given that it is central to moral government, which we cannot evade starting with duties of care to truthfulness and sound reasoning? Absent a clear resolution of such from your apparent side, there is no basis for any responsible discussion, much less one on matters of philosophical theology and linked ethics and points of concern including matters that are often raised by those more concerned to play at putting God in the dock and/or Christian-baiting than serious discussion on matters that are outside the usual remit of this blog. That, is how broken discourse now is in our civilisation, and the breaking came from your side. So, no, I will not try to build without a foundation where there is common ground for moral government in a world where we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed. Your side broke it, your side now needs to fix it. Just as, your side has utterly undermined rationality and even ontology to the point that what IS, is open for debate even with mathematics. I have already put on the table a moral plumbline test, the unfortunately real-world case that it is self-evidently wrong and evil and wicked to waylay, kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child on the way home from school. This case can help fix the rot, by clarifying duty and its roots. Likewise, for cause, I have little confidence in the moral judgements made in an age where many who wish to embark on topics such as you raise are implicated in enabling the ongoing worst holocaust in history, the slaughter of a million more of our living posterity in the womb at the rate of another million per WEEK; on a baseline of 800+ millions over 40+ years. For cause, I consider that the mindset behind such is debased and utterly bankrupt. So, when we are satisfied that we are on the same page, there is reason for confidence that we can have a responsible discussion; otherwise, it is a waste of effort to try to debate the difference in ontological status between God and man, the issues of nations becoming plagues on the earth when the cup of their iniquity has brimmed over, the willful hardness of heart to moral duty, the judgements of consequences of moral follly, the role of prophetic warning and of protecting wider humanity from a spreading taint, or the whys and wherefores of civil codes, much less the way our day views moral perversities and the onward willful destruction of foundational institutions such as marriage, etc.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me bring forward my argument from 89:

    >> normally responsive people will at least grudgingly respect the following summary of core, conscience attested morality from the pen of Paul:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . .

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV, “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    Where, John Locke, in grounding modern liberty and what would become democratic self-government of a free people premised on upholding the civil peace of justice, in Ch 2 Sec. 5 of his second treatise on civil Government [c. 1690] cites “the judicious [Anglican canon, Richard] Hooker” from his classic Ecclesiastical Polity of 1594 on, as he explains how the principles of neighbour-love are inscribed in our hearts, becoming evident to the eye of common good sense and reasonableness:

    . . . 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 and alluding to Justinian’s synthesis of Roman Law in Corpus Juris Civilis that also brings these same thoughts to bear:] 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, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. if a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.>>

    I went on to note:

    It is clear that there is no cogent relativist response to the objectivity or the grounding of moral governance. Indeed, it looks a lot like animosity motivates attempts to undermine what they do not like, while trying to manipulate then through lawfare to usurp the sword of justice and impose will to power.

    Long, grim history paid for in blood and tears serves as a warning, if we will heed it,

    Note too, 105, where I said:

    I was asked a LOADED question, and pointed out that the effect of the loading was such that I have cause to lack confidence that there is sufficient in-common at worldviews level to address it with profit. And certainly, to take it up as though we can assume responsible, rational freedom under the in part self-evident law of our nature. I also pointed out where the trouble came from and suggested, you broke it you fix it. I have subsequently pointed to how we can set about building the required in-common. If you disagree, kindly explain to us how on evolutionary materialistic scientism oughtness can be coherently addressed such that we do not end in might and manipulation make ‘right’/ ‘truth’/ ‘logic’/ ‘warrant’/ ‘knowledge etc. Indeed, how we rise beyond GIGO-limited blindly mechanical computational substrates to responsibly and rationally free mind and the like. When the heavy worldviews lifting is done, we can then responsibly address issues in philosophical theology etc with some hope of success. Things that are going to pivot on things such as naturally evident creation-order purpose — e.g. the NECOP of the mind is to seek, warrant and acknowledge truth towards wisdom. Where, evil then is the wrenching, privation or frustration of some entity subject to responsible rational freedom — thus, moral government — out of alignment with its appropriate end; typically leading to chaos.

    I guess I can now add that we must understand how marginal and fragile ANE societies were, leading to much harsher measures to deal with chaotic behaviours of various kinds that attacked life or family stability. Note, for example, they simply did not have resources to support large long-term prison populations and reversion to criminality on release. Nor could they tolerate a high incidence of family feuds.

    In that context, if you were guilty of criminality that could not be covered by fines or forced labour as compensation, frankly, you were going to be treated for cause as a mortal enemy of the society. Survival was on the line and the margin for generosity was thin. If you threatened that margin, your life was forfeit, for cause.

    That explains a lot, and it brings to bear issues of lesser evils and regulating the hardness of men’s hearts.

    For example, lex talionis was a RESTRICTION on punishment: punishments and fines must be proportional to the crime, not in great excess. Today, we can afford to be a lot more lenient. (But if the chaotic nonsense that runs like a wild, hellish fire through our civilisation triggers collapse, we are going to see a much harder time. And we seem to be oblivious to the implications of nukes and other weapons lying around.)

    But to get to this in a more substantial way, we have to first ground reason, morality, justice and more; justice being a specifically moral issue.

    KF

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: God help us, we have to restore the plausibility of reason itself! Even Mathematics is under pressure. We are playing with hellish matches we do not begin to understand.

  112. 112
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On subjectivist and relativist Ethics from a textbook

    Excerpted chapter summary, on Subjectivism, Relativism, and Emotivism, in Doing Ethics 3rd Edn, by Lewis Vaughn, W W Norton, 2012. [Also see here and here.] Clipping:

    . . . Subjective relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one approves of it. A person’s approval makes the action right. This doctrine (as well as cultural relativism) is in stark contrast to moral objectivism, the view that some moral principles are valid for everyone.. Subjective relativism, though, has some troubling implications. It implies that each person is morally infallible and that individuals can never have a genuine moral disagreement

    Cultural relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one’s culture approves of it. The argument for this doctrine is based on the diversity of moral judgments among cultures: because people’s judgments about right and wrong differ from culture to culture, right and wrong must be relative to culture, and there are no objective moral principles. This argument is defective, however, because the diversity of moral views does not imply that morality is relative to cultures. In addition, the alleged diversity of basic moral standards among cultures may be only apparent, not real. Societies whose moral judgments conflict may be differing not over moral principles but over nonmoral facts.

    Some think that tolerance is entailed by cultural relativism. But there is no necessary connection between tolerance and the doctrine. Indeed, the cultural relativist cannot consistently advocate tolerance while maintaining his relativist standpoint. To advocate tolerance is to advocate an objective moral value. But if tolerance is an objective moral value, then cultural relativism must be false, because it says that there are no objective moral values.

    Like subjective relativism, cultural relativism has some disturbing consequences. It implies that cultures are morally infallible, that social reformers can never be morally right, that moral disagreements between individuals in the same culture amount to arguments over whether they disagree with their culture, that other cultures cannot be legitimately criticized, and that moral progress is impossible.

    Emotivism is the view that moral utterances are neither true nor false but are expressions of emotions or attitudes. It leads to the conclusion that people can disagree only in attitude, not in beliefs. People cannot disagree over the moral facts, because there are no moral facts. Emotivism also implies that presenting reasons in support of a moral utterance is a matter of offering nonmoral facts that can influence someone’s attitude. It seems that any nonmoral facts will do, as long as they affect attitudes. Perhaps the most far-reaching implication of emotivism is that nothing is actually good or bad. There simply are no properties of goodness and badness. There is only the expression of favorable or unfavorable emotions or attitudes toward something.

    KF

  113. 113
    Bob O'H says:

    Nope, there is an answer to be developed in due course, but the first phase is that we have to be on the same page.

    Right. And that means both sides need to communicate with each other. Telling the other side that it’s their fault and they need to fix it isn’t going to work (especially when the message is hidden in some extremely verbose prose).

    FWIW, I agree that MatSpirit’s question at 77 was loaded, but I think it was loaded in an interesting way, because it suggests that there are acts which MatSpirit considers immoral, but which you consider moral (I guess b<y virtue of who carried them out). You could use that to acknowledge that there is a difference in how these acts are judged, and then explain how you come to your conclusion. If you can do that so readers understand a bit more about your world view (regardless of whether they agree with it), then you will have helped to bridge that gap.

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H:

    Pardon, but on the table is an evident case of self-referential incoherence compounded by amorality opening the door to nihilism; evolutionary materialism. Such is a fatal flaw, and it directly sets up a problem whereby those who advocate or enable it end in might and manipulation making ‘truth’ ‘right’ ‘rights’ ‘logic’ ‘knowledge etc.

    That is a problem, which has to be faced; on long experience, our pointing it out makes little impression. It needs to be faced by those who advocate or enable, on a live case.

    Here, we have a challenge being put up to the God described in the Bible, which pivots on what good vs evil, and bad vs worse [i.e. lesser of evils] are. Underneath, it implies access to knowledge on morality, thus to moral truth and to warrant. So, it implies living in a world where there are moral truths that can be warranted.

    Instantly, big worldview problems which materially affect the underlying case.

    And, on track record, resistance to correction. So, we are left to: you broke it, you fix it.

    If MS et al can actually provide a coherent world root framework for responsible, rational freedom on evolutionary materialist premises, they would have a leg to stand on. Such would also be a breakthrough. But, I am not holding my breath, and duly note that if they had answers they would have long since been triumphantly announced.

    This is a case where sustained silence on a core issue speaks.

    I will continue to make a case cumulatively from my side, but I have little basis for confidence that the other side will be seriously responsive to claims made by theists. (Recall, ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked have never been taken off the table by Dawkins et al. That’s part of the “you broke it . . . “)

    Now you go on to: >>[MS] suggests that there are acts which MatSpirit considers immoral, but which you consider moral (I guess b>

    You will observe that this pivots on what is immoral vs what is CONSIDERED — perceived — immoral. So, the gap between perception and warranted, credible truth is on the table. Are there objective moral truths?

    If not, then all there are is battling perceptions and might and manipulation to establish first rhetorical dominance then to impose on the ground by in the end force. Where, in the mix there lurks the implication that there is no question that we find ourselves perceiving moral duties as binding obligations. Thus, we see the issue of grand, pervasive delusion, utterly undermining credibility of the mind. Such then ties in with the further problem of going beyond a GIGO-limited, blind cause-effect driven computational substrate to responsibly and rationally free contemplation, warrant and conclusion. Self-referential incoherence, in short.

    So far, we see no serious answers from an evolutionary materialistic perspective, and that needs to be noted.

    This leads to the position: you need legs to stand on to make your case, going right back to “you broke it . . . ”

    At this point, we see that one alternative has a basic framework for responsible, rational, contemplative, morally governed freedom — notwithstanding that we are finite, fallible, struggling and too often ill-willed. The other, evidently, does not.

    Similarly, one side can address what is good or evil, and what is a lesser of evils in a world of such creatures. So far, silence on the other side.

    All of this goes to balance on comparative, worldview level difficulties.

    Now, too, I find it interesting that you have been in effect unresponsive to a key part of the puzzle I have put on the table. Let me clip from 110 above:

    . . . we must understand how marginal and fragile ANE societies were, leading to much harsher measures to deal with chaotic behaviours of various kinds that attacked life or family stability. Note, for example, they simply did not have resources to support large long-term prison populations and reversion to criminality on release. Nor could they tolerate a high incidence of family [ –> i.e. clan] feuds.

    In that context, if you were guilty of criminality that could not be covered by fines or forced labour as compensation, frankly, you were going to be treated for cause as a mortal enemy of the society. Survival was on the line and the margin for generosity was thin. If you threatened that margin, your life was forfeit, for cause.

    That explains a lot, and it brings to bear issues of lesser evils and regulating the hardness of men’s hearts.

    For example, lex talionis was a RESTRICTION on punishment: punishments and fines must be proportional to the crime, not in great excess. Today, we can afford to be a lot more lenient. (But if the chaotic nonsense that runs like a wild, hellish fire through our civilisation triggers collapse, we are going to see a much harder time. And we seem to be oblivious to the implications of nukes and other weapons lying around.)

    But to get to this in a more substantial way, we have to first ground reason, morality, justice and more; justice being a specifically moral issue.

    Notice, I here point to the issue of civil penalties and defence of the civil peace of justice. When survival of the community is marginal and acts that undermine it are on the table, there is a reason why those who have become destructive will find themselves responded to as mortal enemies of the community and in some cases viewed as traitors to it and/or to their clans. So, the issue has moved beyond abstract right/wrong to the real world implication of Kant’s Categorical Imperative: were evils to become widespread, they would undermine and could even destroy community life, leading to utter chaos and devastation of life-prospects.

    But such then brings out that we mark a difference between the abstract principle of right vs wrong and the civil code that defends a community from the destructive impact of spreading evils. The issue of impact and ability to tolerate a certain degree of chaos varies with times and circumstances, also just how widespread a phenomenon is. In that context, we must further reckon with the issue of the inherent instability of free democratic communities; which tend towards ruinous anarchy which repels to the pole of restoring order at any price.

    A good example is provided through an incident in the gospels:

    John 8 Amplified Bible (AMP)
    The Adulterous Woman

    8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came back into the temple [court], and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began teaching them.

    3 Now the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in the center of the court, 4 and they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women [to death]. So what do You say [to do with her—what is Your sentence]?”

    6 They said this to test Him, hoping that they would have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and began writing on the ground with His finger.

    7 However, when they persisted in questioning Him, He straightened up and said, “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    8 Then He stooped down again and started writing on the ground.

    9 They listened [to His reply], and they began to go out one by one, starting with the oldest ones, until He was left alone, with the woman [standing there before Him] in the center of the court.

    10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

    11 She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”] [AMP]

    Notice, we are some 1400 years beyond Moses and there is no civil danger of a clan war over the behaviour of this woman; though the abuse of her case could have triggered grave injustice — if Jesus simply said yes or no,he would be impaled on horns of a deadly dilemma: [A] stone — rebel vs. Rome (and a crucifixion), [B] do not stone — rebel vs Moses (and a lynching).

    This, of course, also shows the nature of loaded questions demanding simplistic yes or no answers.

    We also have a far more settled and relatively prosperous society in C1 Judaea, Samaria and Galilee, so while the moral principle remains, the civil-clan danger does not. And indeed, in Jesus’ own case, Joseph was inclined to quietly divorce his betrothed wife Mary on presumption of adultery. (Betrothal was far stronger than engagement, it was a clan agreement of unconsummated marriage towards setting up a new household and required a divorce to break it.)

    That is, Joseph would have left Mary to be a lifelong charge on her clan (with her child), in defence of his own integrity. But, on the strength of a Divine revelation, he accepted the social disgrace and carried forward the marriage to the setting up of a new household.

    So, now, we see Jesus’ response in light of a new circumstance: he first exposed the accusers by using writing in the dust(which doubtless many common people would struggle to read — my guess is, he used Hebrew text in a day when the common speech was Aramaic). This scattered the accusers who obviously realised they could be publicly exposed.

    Then, he turned to the woman, who was patently guilty.

    He then opened the window of gracious, redemptive mercy: turn from your life of sin, Veronica. (Or, so, tradition tells us she was named.)

    This stands by sharp contrast with how he took a whip to the Temple Money-changers and their tables. Likely, twice.

    Mere words were not enough to deal with entrenched, established corruption of a key national and spiritual institution, the Temple.

    Thirdly, I am always exercised by his response in Mt 19 on divorce law.

    He contrasts creation order with civil law regulation of a social order constrained by the hardness of men’s hearts and the need for progressive enlightenment and reformation. Without sufficient community support, laws become unenforceable and invite contempt to the state. That happened in the US with prohibition of alcohol, and may be happening again — at likely worse cost — with various drugs starting with ganja/marijuana.

    So we see that in the beginning God made us male and female [the reproductive unit at the heart of the family], and for this cause a MAN shall leave his family of origin and cleave to his WIFE, forming a new one-flesh union. Thus, the next generation. Jesus sets the principle: what God joins, let not man sever. This echoes the prophet Malachi speaking in the name of the Lord: “I hate divorce.”

    So, we see a picture in which an evil is regulated [not instituted] in civil law, in order to restrain worse evils. But always, the moral principle remains and the spiritual challenge to turn to the right, repairing the damage done through the wrongs.

    In this context of a distinction between civil code in defence of community stability and survival and the principle driven issues of justice, morality, righteousness and reform, we can then strike a more balanced understanding.

    Taking the case of adultery discovered at the point of consummation as a part of the wedding feast as a slice of the cake with all of the ingredients, we see that such is clan-agreement betrayal. Such adultery [or just unjustified accusation] could easily trigger clan war in a situation of societies that were far more fragile and marginal than ours are today. Indeed, at a later time in Arabia, there was an incident with Mohammed’s wife Aisha that had to be rapidly defused, swords were already drawn.

    In short, adultery was clan treason, not just ill advised indulgence.

    (Note the case of David and Bathsheba, where his adultery led to conspiracy and murder, then to undermining his moral authority and ultimately to civil war. Ahitophel, the counsellor who turned against David was Bathsheba’s grandfather and doubtless clan lord.)

    So, we can see why adultery faced the sort of penalty listed: betrayal of the clans was a survival issue.

    But that is not the whole story, it is also a spiritual violation, relative to the creation order of marriage and due loyalty to the ultimate Lord. As such, spiritual measures of repentance and reform are also needed.

    And, it is utter folly for us to imagine we can now traipse in and willy-nilly rewrite creation order based principles. This includes all forms of undermining marriage and family, and it includes the ongoing holocaust of living posterity in the womb on pretence of rights of a woman to kill her unborn child. I add, it also includes the notion that marriage is a mere social arrangement and so we are free to redefine it in defiance of creation order. And more.

    KF

  115. 115
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let us note from 2350+ years ago:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: There was a cut-off in 114 likely due to an open tag symbol after a b. Let me go back to the clip from 113: >>I agree that MatSpirit’s question at 77 was loaded, but I think it was loaded in an interesting way, because it suggests that there are acts which MatSpirit considers immoral, but which you consider moral (I guess by virtue of who carried them out).>>

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: I answer the wider awful Christendom/God as moral monster claim at 101 level here: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....l#u9_intro

    –> And BTW, the edit comment feature is utterly broken.

  118. 118
    Bob O'H says:

    Here, we have a challenge being put up to the God described in the Bible, which pivots on what good vs evil, and bad vs worse [i.e. lesser of evils] are.

    Indeed. And your response is to refuse to defend God.

  119. 119
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: First, God does not need me to defend him! Also, before raising debate talk-points on such matters as are above, advocates or enablers of evolutionary materialism need to ground responsible rational morally governed freedom; or else they are implicitly grounding their case on might and manipulation making ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ justice,’ ‘knowledge’ etc. Not a promising start. That is already a key result. What I have also done is to take time to focus the prior question, what is good/evil, better/worse. Until we are on the same page on the nature of morality, onward questions cannot be soundly addressed. Next, perhaps it has escaped your notice that I started from several self evident moral truths and a plumbline case, to set the stage for resolving that. I have put up a definition in that light, having also noted on the comparative difficulties challenges faced by evolutionary materialism. Then overnight and earlier today, I have addressed the implications of civil code i/l/o ANE circumstances, contrasting moral principles and civil code requirements in fragile, marginal societies. I have also gone on to speak to a key case, adultery, pointing out the implication of clan and inter-clan agreement betrayal under ANE circumstances c 1400 BC vs c 30 AD. Specific cases are on the table and — through the case of divorce — the principle of regulating an evil in order to avert a greater one. KF

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    On Mat Spirit’s question, the issue put forward is whether or not one kind of killing is better or worse than another. As I pointed out @29, everything turns on the why.

    Even with humans, to kill in self defense is a totally different thing than to commit murder. Indeed, in that narrow context, first degree murder is worse than second degree murder. So the amount of evil is inseparable from the intentions behind the act – and, of course, the nature of the act.

    It is no different with God. Everything turns on the reason that he takes the life that he has given. In the broader sense, he is entitled to take any life he chooses because every creature’s beginning (and continued existence) depends on him anyway. So there is nothing unjust in God’s decision to take back what belongs to him.

    Further justification is found in the fact that God knows exactly what he is doing and why he is doing it. Because he is all knowing, he knows the ultimate consequences of his every act and every human act. From the standpoint of one’s eternal destiny, to die early might be better than to live a long life, depending on the state of his soul. God takes these and many other things into account in making his decisions.

    Also he must make calculations for man’s free will and allow it to play out. The God of the Old Testament is working through a developmental history that finds its culmination in the New Testament. The reason God’s behavior in the (O.T.) can seem harsh is because the direction of salvation history is established early, which means that God may have to take drastic action against those who disobey him at critical times in the process.

    These extreme actions are always preceded by repeated warnings, sometimes for hundreds of years. Critics are totally unaware and unconcerned about the kind of patience involved in holding back for so long. In many cases, it is a response to certain continued outrageous actions, such as child sacrifice.

    In fact, some cultures can (and did) become so ugly and so sinful, that restoration is (was) impossible, which means that the only option is to simply eliminate them. Atheists cannot understand the idea that a culture can be so bad that nothing can be done for it because they have no standard for measuring the degree of evil involved.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    SB,

    yes that is a valid philosophical-theological view, one informed by the sort of considerations I put up yesterday on ANE societies.

    We fail to appreciate, too often, that absent serious resources tracing to economic development and growth, linked technologies that facilitate government and mass education, etc, societies cannot sustain large prison institutions and cannot tolerate habitual criminality. Given fragility, those societies and constituent clans/families are going to have a threshold where one becomes a mortal enemy and will be subject to death as penalty, starting with things like brigandage. If there is a danger of hereditary war, then that mortal enmity will attach to the clan or at higher level the opposed state and its hard core clans.

    (In my onward linked I give the case of how attempted destruction of the jews was a result of a nigh on 1,000 year continuation and compared Rome vs Carthage which was an extension of the Canaanite-Phoenecian culture. BTW, some aspects of current conflict in the ME have this character.)

    Yes, there is failure to note that some “nations” can become plagues on the earth, spreading ruinous contagion, often tied to aspects of paganism and/or decadence of the core elites — ritual child sacrifice being a pretty good index of that level of degeneration. Ritualisation or entrenching of sexual perversities is another. So, we need to understand the difference between moral principle and civil law with penalties i/l/o the issues of the times. By C1 in Palestine, we see where fragility is less [though brigandage and rebellion or civil war are big issues], and we actually see famine relief efforts in the mid 40’s. In earlier times that would imply what Hitler et al in effect imposed on Russia, mass die-off from effects of starvation.

    I already spoke to betrothal as unconsummated marriage [requiring divorce to break it] and a clan-clan agreement, so that adultery was treason and could trigger feud. At royal level, we have record of how it contributed to civil war in the house of David. By the time of Joseph and Mary, a quiet divorce and in effect becoming a lifelong dependent on the clan, was a serious option.

    All of this sets a context for understanding the impact of say the case in John 8, of the woman dragged before Jesus to set up a deadly dilemma, and Jesus’ strategy in handling it. Which, in turn, is a major precedent for Christian moral thought and for the principle of redemptive transformation. Mary Magdalene (likely also Mary of Bethany) multiplies the case.

    Meanwhile, all along, we must note how silent advocates and enablers of evolutionary materialism have been on the IS-OUGHT gap and the need to resolve it at world-roots. The only serious option actually on the table remains the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. I suspect, some of what has come out helps to fill in the substance of this compressed summary. For instance, reasonable and evident nature show that we are not dealing with arbitrary imposition.

    They also highlight that schemes such as evolutionary materialism that undermine reason and the moral government of that reason, are destructive.

    KF

  122. 122
    Bob O'H says:

    StephenB – thanks for that explanation. The “for the greater good” explanation makes some sense (it’s the trolley problem writ large!), although I wonder about this argument:

    It is no different with God. Everything turns on the reason that he takes the life that he has given. In the broader sense, he is entitled to take any life he chooses because every creature’s beginning (and continued existence) depends on him anyway. So there is nothing unjust in God’s decision to take back what belongs to him.

    Which seems to be very close to a “might makes right” argument. Is it necessary for the rest of your argument?

  123. 123
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    And your response is to refuse to defend God.

    As if we need to defend God. What is wrong with you?

  124. 124
    ET says:

    MatSpirit’s question in 77 has been answered in 84 and 85

  125. 125
    StephenB says:

    Bob O’H

    Which seems to be very close to a “might makes right” argument. Is it necessary for the rest of your argument?

    It is not necessary for the rest of my argument. However, the might makes right argument rests on the idea that no objective moral code exists.

    There are two ways to think of God’s “punishment.” If a group (or an individual) decides to keep breaking the commandments, there is a natural consequence to that behavior independent of God’s direct action. In the bible, for example, there is the punishment where God “turns them over to a reprobate mind.”

    In effect, all he is doing is withdrawing Divine help and allowing the sinner to have his own way and suffer the consequences of his actions- by allowing effects to follow causes. Essentially, that is what hell is all about. In the end, God finally says, “OK, have it your own way. Thy will be done.”

    So it is with Adam and Eve. Their “punishment” was, in many respects, the predictable and natural consequence of breaking trust with God and losing the relationship that kept their lives in tact.

    There is another sense in the Old Testament, less common, where God takes direct action and metes out a specific punishment, and of course, many of these are reported in the bible. In this case, it isn’t God’s might or power (might makes right) that justifies the action but rather God’s justice. It is simply a matter of giving each person or group its due. All things, good and bad, have a price. That is the nature of justice.

  126. 126
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus @121

    Yes, there seems to be a limit on how much evil a society can absorb before is self-destructs. Indeed, when one studies the trajectory of cultures that come and go, the graph always appears to be the same: Cultures rise, and cultures fall.

    I don’t know of a single one that ever found its way back. As you often say, though, we have the opportunity right now to break this trend, but it appears that the adults in the room cannot get everyone else on board. So the descent continues.

    Obviously this is in direct contrast to “Pendulum theory,” which says that when a culture reaches a certain point in its descent, it automatically “swings back” in the other direction in order to compensate for its immoral excesses. I know a lot of people who console themselves with this idea, but I don’t think the evidence bears it out.

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, a pendulum may oscillate for minor swings, but a violent swing may break it. KF

  128. 128
    Eugen says:

    “Of the twenty-two civilizations that have appeared in history, nineteen of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the United States is in now.”

    ? Arnold Joseph Toynbee

    I think this quote applies to all Western nations. There are nations in East Europe who try to preserve traditional values but I don’t know for how long.

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