Intelligent Design

Was Killing Babies Good?

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I have a question for our materialist interlocutors. As Georgi Boorman summarizes in this article, in many ancient cultures killing certain babies was an acceptable, even lauded, practice. Here’s my question: You say that morality is a social construct; which means that “good” means what the people of a society collectively deem to be good. If that is so, was it an affirmatively good thing when an ancient pagan killed a baby girl because she was a baby girl instead of a baby boy?

73 Replies to “Was Killing Babies Good?

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    Affirmatively good thing by who’s standard? Not by my own standards, certainly.

  2. 2
    lantog says:

    UD Editors: Comment deleted for violation of this UD policy.
    If you want to argue scriptural exegesis, go to another site. If you want to comment on the topic raised in the OP, by all means do so.

  3. 3
    chris haynes says:

    UD Editors: Attempted hijacking of thread deleted. Does anyone want to address the topic raised in the OP?

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    Not by my own standards, certainly.

    Good for you. Suppose you had lived in an ancient pagan society where killing babies was considered good by nearly everyone. Suppose you were the lone holdout, the only one in the whole society who insisted it was not good. Would you have been right and everyone else wrong?

  5. 5
    Ed George says:

    I believe that killing babies for any reason is wrong. But, admittedly, I am basing this on current standards and a lifetime of living in our modern privileged society. I can’t say for certain if I would hold the same belief if I lived amongst these ancient pagans.

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed George:

    I believe that killing babies for any reason is wrong.

    Good for you Ed.
    I ask you the same question I asked Bob: Suppose you had lived in an ancient pagan society where killing babies was considered good by nearly everyone. Suppose you were the lone holdout, the only one in the whole society who insisted it was not good. Would you have been right and everyone else wrong?

  7. 7
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry – I would think I was right, of course.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    I would think I was right.

    Yes, we already know that. That was assumed in the question. The question is this: Would you have been right and everyone else wrong?

  9. 9
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Let’s make it a bit simpler:

    … that morality is a social construct; which means that “good” means what the people of a society collectively deem to be good

    Do you agree with this definition?

    The answer to the question you’ve been avoiding hinges on this definition. Tell us if the definition is correct and we can deduce the answer to the subsequent question for ourselves.

  10. 10
    hazel says:

    re 9: as kf has pointed out, if that definition were true, reform would never be possible. It seems to me, in part from my own internal experience and in part from my empirical knowledge of people and societies, that people draw on an inward source of moral judgment in addition to the cultural views which embody the moral judgments of their society.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hazel,

    people draw on an inward source of moral judgment

    And I take it you point this out to make clear that your inner light would have led you to condemn the practice.

    Good for you Hazel,
    Now, I will ask you the same question I asked Bob and Ed: Suppose you had lived in an ancient pagan society where killing babies was considered good by nearly everyone. Suppose you were the lone holdout, the only one in the whole society who insisted it was not good. Would you have been right and everyone else wrong?

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    Dear readers,
    Notice how all three of our interlocutors (Bob, Ed, and Hazel) have studiously avoided answering the question posed.

  13. 13
    vmahuna says:

    Peace & joy. I spent the morning with my grandchildren. They NEVER discuss politics or economics or world history. I simply LOVE babies. Holding a young human who is less than 1 year old is one of the most wondrous things in the whole world. Staring back into their eyes while they’re still trying to figure out what’s going on outside Mom is entirely Magick. And having them wrap their whole hand around one of your fingers is one of the foundational events in human society.
    One the many cases for infanticide was that a mother could not FEED 2 (or more) babies, and so one of a set of twins was killed, typically by “exposure” (abandoning the child at some distance from the nearest town). Greek and Roman literature contain many tales about an abandoned twin who was rescued by a chance passerby. I’m sure the mothers cried their hearts out when the selection was made, and innocent baby was sent off to her or his death.
    There are other cultures in which it was a basic principle that a woman’s first SURVIVING child HAD TO BE male. So when the new baby was determined to be female, the baby died.
    Making such horrible decisions a matter of “law” surely solved SOME of the agony of sending your innocent baby to death.
    BUT… Morality is ENTIRELY subjective and varies by, among other things, the material development of the society making up the morality. So, before the Christian (i.e., CATHOLIC) missionaries converted the Norsemen, the Vikings routinely killed (typically by exposure on the beach at LOW tide) any baby born to a SLAVE. The Norsemen did NOT murder their OWN children (although there may have been exceptions for obvious cripples). Killing the offspring of slaves was a population control measure. Once they STOPPED killing the offspring of their slaves (whose fathers were undoubtedly Norsemen), the Lower Class exploded, and classic Viking society died: there were too many mouths to feed, and EVERYBODY needed to get back to farming.
    Etc., etc. There is NO fixed, universal “morality”. And people who DETERMINEDLY ignore History and Philosophy to argue for some particular version of Right & Wrong are, well, Confused. And Ignorant (i.e., “unacquainted with the facts). So I’ll stop bothering to write comments on any new lunacies.

  14. 14
    Ed George says:

    BA

    I ask you the same question I asked Bob: Suppose you had lived in an ancient pagan society where killing babies was considered good by nearly everyone. Suppose you were the lone holdout, the only one in the whole society who insisted it was not good. Would you have been right and everyone else wrong?

    The February 4 2019 me would say that yes the ancient pagan me was right and everyone else was wrong. Would the ancient pagan me say the same thing? The premise of your question would necessitate that I would. Unless, of course, the ancient pagan me was a pathological liar. But assuming that we don’t know what the ancient pagan me would believe, the more interesting question is whether or not the ancient pagan me would believe that killing these babies is wrong. Like everyone here, I would hope that the ancient pagan me would believe that it is wrong, but the only honest answer is, “I don’t know”.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Vmahuna, in regards to your claim that “There is NO fixed, universal “morality” I suggest that you read Mr. Arrington’s referenced article, which states among other things,,,

    Infanticide Is The Historical Hallmark Of A Pagan Culture
    Judeo-Christian principles helped to form our culture, and Christianity is deeply pro-life. Until now, restraining evil as Christianity defines it bound Americans together with a common creed.
    Excerpt: Judeo-Christian Morality (alone) Has Saved Us from Much Evil
    Excerpt: Northam’s endorsement of infanticide by exposure is only shocking because we have lived in a rare cultural moment in which infanticide is considered abhorrent. This extraordinary development is no accident. A sense of morality about life and death is not the product of evolution over the last 2,000 years. Rather, humanity’s progress out of death culture is due to nothing less than Judeo-Christian influence.,,,
    Christianity Deeply Shaped the Early Days Of America
    Infanticide was outlawed in colonial America. The earliest recorded execution for infanticide was in 1648 in Massachusetts. Similar court cases from the 17th and early 18th century are found in Maryland, Maine, Virginia, and New York. Abortion was also a prosecutable offense. Between 1670 and 1807, there were 51 convictions of infanticide in Massachusetts.
    The seriousness with which our forefathers considered the murder of children was not due to the influence of the “great” philosophizing of Aristotle, Seneca, or Cicero. It was due to the Christian faith. It is Christians who have historically run orphanages, adoption agencies, and pregnancy clinics. It is Christians who advocate most fiercely for heartbeat bills and abolition. It is Christians out on the sidewalk, day after day, begging women not to kill their babies and offering to connect them with church members who are willing to adopt. Christians take seriously the biblical command to “look after the orphan and widow in their distress.”
    Where the kingdom of God* invades, death flees, both spiritually and physically. Where populations dwell in spiritual darkness, death finds favor. How can I know this for sure? How do I know our contemporary revulsion toward infanticide is not simply the result of human “progress” over the last two millennia? Because when Christianity is aggressively suppressed within a culture, as it has been under Communist and Socialist regimes, society chokes on the stench of death.
    Recent Godless Regimes Did Not Value Human Life,,,
    http://thefederalist.com/2019/.....s-of-yore/

  16. 16
    hazel says:

    FYI: I don’t participate in threads where posts are deleted because they are deemed tangential.

    I would have some things I’d like to say, but not under these circumstances.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed George

    the only honest answer is, “I don’t know”.

    Ed, your honesty is refreshing, horrifying as well, but also refreshing. Most materialists are unwilling to admit that their premises lead inexorably to conclusions, like yours, that whether sex selection baby killing is good is an open question depending on the circumstances.

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hazel,

    I don’t participate in threads where posts are deleted because they are deemed tangential.

    Liar. You don’t participate in threads where the horrifying consequences of your worldview are exposed for all to see. You use the “deletion” excuse for exiting the thread as a flimsy pretext. You should follow Ed George’s example Hazel. Have the courage of your convictions.

  19. 19
    Ed George says:

    BA

    Ed, your honesty is refreshing, horrifying as well, but also refreshing. Most materialists are unwilling to admit that their premises lead inexorably to conclusions, like yours, that whether sex selection baby killing is good is an open question depending on the circumstances.

    First, I am not a materialist. Secondly, my conclusion was not that whether sex selection baby killing is good is dependent on circumstances. I believe that it is bad under all circumstances, past and present. My point was that if we lived in those ancient pagan times none of us could guarantee that we would hold the same opinion about baby killing that we hold today. That doesn’t change the nature of whether it is good or bad, that is unchangeable, what it speaks to is the fact that we are fallible in what we perceive to be good and bad. And it is these perceptions of good and bad that can change depending on circumstances.

  20. 20
    ET says:

    The ancient pagan was ignorant and only ignorance can justify the killing of babies, including the unborn.

  21. 21
    Ed George says:

    ET

    The ancient pagan was ignorant and only ignorance can justify the killing of babies, including the unborn.

    I don’t think that anyone is claiming that the ancient pagans were not ignorant with respect to killing babies. But that begs the question, what will our distant descendants think that we were ignorant of with respect to morality and good and bad? Surely we are not immune from similar ignorances.

  22. 22
    ET says:

    Hi Ed- Given the scale of abortions today we are as ignorant as those pagans. Given the state of evolutionism in academia, we revel in our ignorance. That is what our not-so-distant descendants will be saying.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Hazel holds that,,,

    “that people draw on an inward source of moral judgment in addition to the cultural views which embody the moral judgments of their society.”

    That Hazel did not reference God in her comment is telling. Hazel, although she often claims she is not an atheist, has consistently argued for atheistic positions. Moreover, Hazel when pressed on exactly what her specific worldview is, has steadfastly refused to directly state exactly what her worldview is.

    Thus, that Hazel did not reference God in her comment is telling. It tells us that she is basically drawing upon her own moral intuition, and apparently compromising her own moral intuition, when need be, to conform to the society around her, and is not looking to God so as to form the basis of her moral judgments. Again, she stated,,,

    “that people draw on an inward source of moral judgment in addition to the cultural views which embody the moral judgments of their society.”

    That Hazel does not look directly to God as the basis of her morality but looks to her own moral intuition, as well as the morality of the society around her to form the basis of her morality, is a very slippery slope for her to base her moral foundation upon. Indeed, it is downright dangerous,

    Proverbs 14:12
    There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

    Unlike man’s morality, which is fallible, and which is often subject to whatever the prevailing, i.e. ‘progressive’, cultural whims of the day are, God’s morality is absolutely perfect and certainly never subject to change according to prevailing cultural whims.

    And, as the article that Mr. Arrington highlighted in the OP made clear, only when cultures were finally based on a Judeo-Christian worldview were those cultures finally able to rise above the moral depravity of ‘culturally accepted’ infanticide. To this day, ‘epidemic’ infanticide, especially among females, is commonly practiced in China and even in India where it was outlawed.

    And although it is often falsely taught that the middle ages of Christian Europe were the supposedly ‘dark ages’ after the Greek and Roman civilizations collapsed, the truth is that Christianity saved western civilization from the ‘dark ages’ of the moral depravity of the Greeks and the Romans. As the following ancient historian commented, “In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.”

    Tom Holland: Why I was wrong about Christianity – 2016
    It took me a long time to realise my morals are not Greek or Roman, but thoroughly, and proudly, Christian.
    Excerpt: The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.
    “Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and ­oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.
    “We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.
    Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.
    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/religion/2016/09/tom-holland-why-i-was-wrong-about-christianity?fbclid=IwAR0QqBmBxdpkHh_iiXlJX-UbwShtej-wnB721Z1eULApM6fuxSUzSjnBJA8

    Indeed Christianity, and the presuppositions therein, lay at the founding of modern science, and many other modern institutions that many people in America currently take for granted,

    21 Positive Contributions Christianity Has Made Through the Centuries By D. James Kennedy (excerpted from “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?”)
    (1) Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
    (2) Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started for Christian purposes.
    (3) Literacy and education for the masses.
    (4) Capitalism and free enterprise.
    (5) Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment.
    (6) The separation of political powers.
    (7) Civil liberties.
    (8) The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times.
    (9) Modern science.
    (10) The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
    (11) The elevation of women.
    (12) Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic.
    (13) Higher standards of justice.
    (14) The elevation of common man.
    (15) The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache.
    (16) High regard for human life.
    (17) The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
    (18) The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages.
    (19) Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
    (20) The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel.
    (21) The eternal salvation of countless souls.
    https://verticallivingministries.com/tag/benefits-of-christianity-to-society/

    Thus for Hazel to state that she looks to her own moral intuition and that of the culture around her, instead of looking to God, to form her own personal moral judgments, is for her to be completely ignorant of the fact that she lives in a country whose moral foundations, as well as most all of its major institutions, were laid upon the ‘perfect morality’ of the Judeo-Christian worldview, and were certainly not laid upon the very fallible moral intuitions of man.

    Hazel is hardly alone in her ignorance. The universities that Christianity itself established in America, have forgotten, via the false revisionist history of atheists, from whence America and they themselves have come.,,, So much so that Obama himself falsely stated this,,

    In His Farewell Address, President Obama Misrepresented the American Founding – January 11, 2017
    Excerpt: “One thing he said about the American founding was especially troubling. Mr. Obama traced “the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders” to the Enlightenment. It was that movement, which he defined as “a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression” and build a world order based on “the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.”
    This spin is common in the leftist canon, but it is historical revisionism of the highest rank.,,,
    The wisdom of the Bible and the clarity of natural law gave the founding generation the guidance they needed to frame a government suitable for an imperfectible but dignified humanity characterized by moral self-restraint and “a firm reliance on Divine Providence.”
    The shout of defiance in the President’s farewell address, that man can be made perfect through human cooperation with the “arc of history,” runs counter to the philosophy of the founding of our country and the text of the Constitution.”
    https://stream.org/in-his-farewell-address-president-obama/

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

    Only eighteen years after the Pilgrims landed in the New World, Harvard College, the first of the Ivy League schools, was established for the sake of educating the clergy and raising up a Christian academic institution to meet the needs of perpetuating the Christian faith. All of the Ivy League schools were established by Christians for the sake of advancing Christianity and meeting the academic needs of the New World. No better summary of this effort can be offered than the one provided by the founders themselves:,,,
    https://christianheritagefellowship.com/the-christian-founding-of-harvard/

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed

    First, I am not a materialist.

    And yet you toe the materialist time every single time. If you are not a materialist, you will do until one gets here. And I will treat you as such.

  25. 25
    Brother Brian says:

    BA77

    That Hazel did not reference God in her comment is telling.

    Yes, it tells me that she didn’t mention God.

    Hazel, although she often claims she is not an atheist, has consistently argued for atheistic positions.

    Where has she claimed not to be an atheist?

    Moreover, Hazel when pressed on exactly what her specific worldview is, has steadfastly refused to directly state exactly what her worldview is.

    Which contradicts the previous sentence that she claims not to be an atheist. Which, in itself, is very telling.

    Is she not entitled to discuss the subjects she is interested in without being forced to get into a theological cat fight?

  26. 26
    hazel says:

    Thanks, BB. “theological cat fight”: I like that! 🙂

  27. 27
    Ed George says:

    BA

    And yet you toe the materialist time every single time. If you are not a materialist, you will do until one gets here. And I will treat you as such.

    How exactly have I towed the materialist line? I would be interested to hear.

    But getting back to the issue being discussed, can you honestly say that if you were raised in your proposed ancient pagan times that you wouldn’t believe that sex selecting baby killing wasn’t a good thing?

  28. 28
    Brother Brian says:

    Hazel

    Thanks, BB. “theological cat fight”: I like that! ????

    Those weren’t my original words. But I thought that mentioning contesting male genital dimensional measurements would drive BA77 into an apoplectic fit. 🙂

  29. 29
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed

    can you honestly say that if you were raised in your proposed ancient pagan times that you wouldn’t believe that sex selecting baby killing wasn’t a good thing?

    Can you miss the point of the OP by a wider margin? It’s like you are shooting at a target due north of you by pointing your gun due south. *palm forehead*

  30. 30
    Ed George says:

    BA@29, Is it possible that you were not very good at presenting the point of your OP?

    But, just for interest sake, are you willing to answer my question?

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed at 30.
    Is it possible that the influences in a person’s life could, hypothetically, lead them to commit error? Yes. Here is the difference. Unlike you, I am able to say unreservedly that sex selection baby killing is wrong in all places, at all times, in all circumstances. You allow that if enough people consider it to be good, it would be, by virtue of that fact, good.

  32. 32
    Ed George says:

    BA

    Unlike you, I am able to say unreservedly that sex selection baby killing is wrong in all places, at all times, in all circumstances.

    As opposed to when I said

    I believe that it is bad under all circumstances, past and present.

    You allow that if enough people consider it to be good, it would be, by virtue of that fact, good.

    Where did I say that? All I have said is that any of us raised in an ancient pagan society that accepted that sex selective baby killing was good might also be deluded into believing that it is good. If you deny this then you are lying to yourself.

  33. 33
    Seversky says:

    I have a question for our materialist interlocutors. As Georgi Boorman summarizes in this article, in many ancient cultures killing certain babies was an acceptable, even lauded, practice. Here’s my question: You say that morality is a social construct; which means that “good” means what the people of a society collectively deem to be good. If that is so, was it an affirmatively good thing when an ancient pagan killed a baby girl because she was a baby girl instead of a baby boy?

    Much like Bob O’H wrote, it was an affirmatively good thing for them then but it is certainly not an affirmatively good thing for me now. Who is right? As far as I can see, there is no absolute standard against which to measure it.

  34. 34
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed,
    You have never addressed the question in the OP, much less answered it. You keep going on and on about what you would think about this or that. The question that you steadfastly refuse to face is this: If you had been the only person who believed sex selection baby killing was wrong, would you have been right and everyone else wrong?
    Prediction: More blithering about what 2019 Ed feels in his viscera instead of answering the question.

  35. 35
    ScuzzaMan says:

    re 9: as kf has pointed out, if that definition were true, reform would never be possible. It seems to me, in part from my own internal experience and in part from my empirical knowledge of people and societies, that people draw on an inward source of moral judgment in addition to the cultural views which embody the moral judgments of their society.

    Hazel,

    This is a good and trenchant point. And it raises a subsequent question:

    WHERE did the theory of tabula rasa come from? Because it is the basis of the presumption that right and wrong are merely temporary opinions based on cultural conditions. It is the basis of all the current repetition, shouting, de-platforming, banning, and silencing of dissent against the liberal agenda; the theory being that if nobody ever hears a contrary view then everyone will accept and assimilate and practice the liberal agenda.

    The problem is that it is simply not true.

    And the fact is, that the possibility of reform (of “improvement”, or “progress”) is that it necessarily admits of the AT LEAST equal possibility of deform, of degradation, of regress.

    Given the second law of thermodynamics, the possibility of regress is actually an overwhelming probability, and the only possibility of reform is by definition a very straight and narrow path.

    As the geneticists will tell you, there’s an amazingly few workable ways to form complex proteins, while there’s an incomprehensibly large proportion of ways in which it doesn’t work at all, and the organism dies.

    Death, you should understand, and particularly pertinent to the thought experiment of the OP, is universally understood to be the ultimate regression.

  36. 36
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 8 –

    Yes, we already know that. That was assumed in the question. The question is this: Would you have been right and everyone else wrong?

    To ask again what I asked at 1, by who’s standard?

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: so, it is the Leff fallacy of the grand sez who vs the objectivity of moral knowledge. See the OP: https://uncommondescent.com/ethics/logic-and-first-principles-10-knowable-moral-truth-and-moral-government-vs-nihilistic-manipulation/ KF

  38. 38
    hazel says:

    UD Editors: Comment deleted. Hazel said he was refusing to comment on this thread. We are helping him keep his word.

  39. 39
    Bob O'H says:

    KF – I have no idea what the Leff fallacy is: googling for “Leff fallacy” and searching your link for Leff doesn’t help.

  40. 40
    ScuzzaMan says:

    To ask again what I asked at 1, by who’s standard?

    And to nail that slippery reply to the wall – again – I will point out the following:

    if the answer depends on whom you ask, then you’re answering the question of objective morality in the negative. The necessary implication of your response is that morality is subjective. In other words, you’re consenting not only to the pagan murder of babies, but you are consenting that they would also be right to kill you for showing insufficient enthusiasm for the worship of their deity.

    And since self-negation is the ultimate rebuttal, you once again demonstrate both the practical and philosophical emptiness of your pose. Even as you protested you would be contradicting yourself.

    Please don’t kill me – I’m just a sincere believer in the subjective nature of all morality!

    You’re a leaf on the wind, cf. Ephesians 4: 14.

  41. 41
    Bob O'H says:

    Scuzzaman –

    In other words, you’re consenting not only to the pagan murder of babies, but you are consenting that they would also be right to kill you for showing insufficient enthusiasm for the worship of their deity.

    Again, right by who’s standard? Not by mine, certainly. By your standard?

  42. 42
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    Here is what KF is referring to.

  43. 43
    Barry Arrington says:

    ScuzzaMan,
    Bob also follows the logic of materialism, as the exchange in this post demonstrates. Holocausts are not Bob’s cup of tea, but they are the Nazis’ cup of tea. And Bob assures us there is no standard to judge between his and the Nazis’ tea preferences. Bob is a teacher. Presumably he is teaching this crap to his students. God help us.

  44. 44
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 42 – is it possible to provide a summary in less than 22 pages? In his first paragraph, Leff describes a paradox, but I don’t know what you & kf mean by a fallacy:

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

    I think he does nicely nail the essence of the discussion.
    Barry @ 43 – I’ve asked the same question 3 times – by who’s standard? So far the question has been ignored. If you don’t have an answer to that, then please say so and we can move on. If you do have an answer, then please give it and we can move on.

  45. 45
    Ed George says:

    BA

    Ed,
    You have never addressed the question in the OP, much less answered it.

    I have addressed it to my satisfaction. I have no need nor desire to address any question to the satisfaction of everyone else.

  46. 46
    ScuzzaMan says:

    By a standard discoverable through logic and first principles.

    You are welcome to disavow either or both.

    Please do, for “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

  47. 47
    john_a_designer says:

    What is the point of moral subjectivists like Bob or Serversky in even being here? If nobody is right about morality then moral subjectivists like them certainly cannot be right. So why do they persist? What are they trying to prove?

    The only reason that I can think of is that they are self-centered and intolerant. Of course, what else would you expect from a moral subjectivist?

    Obviously moral objectivists do not believe that everybody is right about morality (that’s the point of an objective transcendent standard) but it does not follow from that that nobody is right about morality. The latter is self-refuting because it’s making a universal truth claim about moral truth which is doing exactly what the subjectivists are claiming cannot be done.

    If they were really intellectually honest about their so-called beliefs Bob and Seversky would move along because there is nothing to say here. So called moral subjectivism is basically moral nihilism, which is about nothing. Therefore, they have nothing to say.

  48. 48
    Bob O'H says:

    JAD – if I’m correct that there is no objective morality, then (as far as I can see), I am right by my standards, and possibly by your, or Barry’s, or Scuzzaman’s. If I’m wrong, then I’d like to know what this objective morality is, and how I can know that it is an objective morality, as opposed to a subjective morality that is strongly believed by its adherents.

    You write that the only reason you can think that Seversky & I are here is “that [we] are self-centered and intolerant”. I don’t understand the logic behind this. We are not trying to force our morality onto you – we don’t believe that it is the One True Morality, so in a free society the only way we can get you to accept our moral views is by discussion and persuasion.

  49. 49
    Ed George says:

    I have never understood the passion with which some people argue over objective morality. I happen to believe in objective morals but that not all moral values are objective. And how we interpret even objective moral values is definitely subjective.

    For example, if you had asked me thirty years ago if homosexuality was immoral and perverted I would have argued that that was an objective truth. Today, however, I don’t hold that view. Millions of people have changed their views on the morality of homosexuality. So the question is, is homosexuality objectively immoral and we are just deceiving ourselves? Or were we deceiving ourselves thirty years ago when we believed that it was objectively wrong?

  50. 50
    ET says:

    Ed George:

    For example, if you had asked me thirty years ago if homosexuality was immoral and perverted I would have argued that that was an objective truth.

    It is. It even goes against nature. If natural selection were an actual force it would have eliminated that trait.

    Millions of people just don’t care any more. They are tired of fighting against the irrational left.

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: The grand sez who implicitly assumes that especially moral claims can never be true beyond opinion and/or imposition by might and manipulation, thus can be discarded to convenience by attacking the man and claiming that appeals to authority are fallacious — classic, nihilistic cultural marxist agit prop stunts. This manifestly and dangerously fails on multiple levels; cf here for some discussion. Indeed, it is corrosive to civilisation, given the context of enabling of the ongoing worst holocaust in history. KF

  52. 52
    ET says:

    If the a-mats are right then objective morality doesn’t exist. However if the a-mats were right then we wouldn’t exist, either. 😎

    Bob asks what is the objective morality?

    Start with the Ten Commandments, Bob.

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, there is a thread as just linked that is open where what seems a habitual topic on your part can be discussed. It has been open for some days and your absence is duly noted. Kindly observe the linked major paper and book at points 27 and 29 in comment 18. KF

  54. 54
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Bob

    how I can know that it is an objective morality

    A scientist might advise that you do the experiment. The experiment of encountering God on a personal basis has been repeated so many times only the basest arrogance leads us to discount it out of hand.

    But until you do it yourself you no more know if it is true or false than the latest medical “innovation”:

    …even the ideal influenza vaccine, matched perfectly to circulating strains of wild influenza and capable of stopping all influenza viruses, can only deal with a small part of the ‘flu’ problem because most ‘flu’ appears to have nothing to do with influenza. Every year, hundreds of thousands of respiratory specimens are tested across the US. Of those tested, on average 16% are found to be influenza positive.

    “…It’s no wonder so many people feel that ‘flu shots’ don’t work: for most flus, they can’t.
    –Peter Doshi, BMJ 2013; 346:f3037

    (Yes, I used “innovation” as a euphemism for “fraud”. There’s a crisis of repeatability in modern science because people are starting to catch on that science is no more reliable than scientists. Do the experiment yourself. It is the only way to know.)

  55. 55
    Ed George says:

    KF

    Kindly observe the linked major paper and book at points 27 and 29 in comment 18. KF

    This OP is about objective morality and objective truth. My example is completely on topic.

    ET

    It is. It even goes against nature. If natural selection were an actual force it would have eliminated that trait.

    I understand that it is your opinion that it goes against nature, but who determines what nature entails? Not you and not me. The best we can say is that we don’t know.

    With regard to it being eliminated by natural selection it would first have to be heritable. I have not read any research that concludes that same sex attraction is heritable. The bigger question tends to be whether it becomes fixed during fetal development (ie born with it) or during the first few years after birth (ie acquired).

    Maybe my conclusion that it is not objectively wrong is, itself, wrong. But that brings back the fact that whether we perceive something to be objectively wrong depends on the circumstances and experiences that the individual is exposed to.

  56. 56
    ET says:

    Ed George:

    I understand that it is your opinion that it goes against nature, but who determines what nature entails?

    Except it isn’t my opinion. And nature is screaming back at us with the diseases and afflictions that come with it

    With regard to it being eliminated by natural selection it would first have to be heritable.

    Genetic entropy

  57. 57
    Bob O'H says:

    ET @ 50 – if homosexuality goes against nature, how come we see it in so many species?

  58. 58
    ET says:

    Hi Bob @ 57- That is easy to explain from an ID perspective- genetic entropy, ie a corruption of the original design. However, the wide distribution of zero-fitness individuals seems to fly in the face of natural selection.

  59. 59
    Bob O'H says:

    Scuzzaman @ 54 – I’m having difficulty seeing how having a personal relationship with God can be objective. Also, which God? The Jewish God? The Sunni one? The Shi’ite God? Or perhaps a Christian one: Roman Catholic? One of the Orthodox churches? Anglican? Plymouth Brethren (they’re the guys who told my dad that he was the Devil, because he was going out with my mum)? Baptist? Mormon? There are just so many to chose from, all with different ideas. And once I do, which articles of faith are objectively moral?

    If having a personal relationship with God leads to objective morality, then presumably everyone who has had this personal relationship will agree on moral matters. Have they written down this agreement somewhere?

  60. 60
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    Also, which God? The Jewish God? The Sunni one? The Shi’ite God? Or perhaps a Christian one: Roman Catholic? One of the Orthodox churches? Anglican? Plymouth Brethren (they’re the guys who told my dad that he was the Devil, because he was going out with my mum)? Baptist? Mormon? There are just so many to chose from, all with different ideas.

    Same God- the God of Abraham- worshipped differently.

  61. 61
    ScuzzaMan says:

    A man who claims to value scientific principles and practices but refuses to do a simple experiment to answer a question he claims is important, cannot be taken seriously.

    But just to give you a small unearned clue, Bob:

    Whichever one answers.

    P.S. Bob, by your reasoning, all science experiments are subjective. Oops.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the lurking realities is that when a crooked yardstick is made the standard under false colour of law, then people of conscience and principle will face the demand that they enable evil; evil sits in judgement of the good. The radical agendas now running rampant in our civilisation are patently incompatible with freedom, starting with conscience. The demand that I taint my conscience to survive or get ahead or thrive, is evil: what is one profited in gaining the world at the expense of one’s soul, and woe to him through whom offences come. I repeat, as a claimed right is foremost a moral claim, to properly claim such you must be manifestly, demonstrably in the right. The alternative, will not end well. Again and again, it is manifest that ships of state all across our civilisation have set out on voyages of folly, starting with the worst holocaust in history, which is warping our key institutions of influence and governance. Such cannot end well. KF

    PS: I have already pointed to discussions and references that need to be seriously engaged.

  63. 63
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    The radical agendas now running rampant in our civilisation are patently incompatible with freedom, starting with conscience.

    Banning pederastry in Ancient Greece would have been considered a radical agenda. The Civil War was fought over the radical anti-slavery agenda. Banning child labour was the result of a radical agenda. Allowing women to vote was the result of a radical agenda. Allowing interracial marriages was the result of a radical agenda. Allowing blacks to sit at the front of the bus was the result of a radical agenda. A five day work week was the result of a radical agenda. Not jailing homosexuals was the result of a radical agenda.

    The point I am making is that today’s radical agenda is often tomorrow’s concept of a just society.

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, the first established evil of our day, the central cancer sending out metastases is the holocaust of our living posterity in the womb. 800+ millions in 40+ years, mounting up at about another million per week. This has utterly corrupted our views, values and institutions until we now have the passage or attempted passage of laws to essentially abort children during child birth. That is how sick and warped we are, and things are so bad that every dirty trick of agit prop, media lynching and more up to perversion of law and legislatures are now routinely used to further enable the worst holocaust in history. Where, as mass blood guilt is the most corrupting single influence, it is utterly unsurprising to see the undermining of basic moral truth, moral knowledge and soundness in law and society — especially when matters connected to sexual behaviour are in the stakes. Your attempt to play with the term “radical agenda” needs to be assessed against that backdrop. In point of fact, the turning from ever so many long established evils was by the grounding of principle and the heart-softening influence of gospel ethics. What is at work today is instead the very opposite principle, the dismissal of objective moral truth, the resort to relativism and subjectivism (by which the would-be reformer is automatically in the wrong), thence to the nihilistic principle that might and/or manipulation make right. That is why crooked yardsticks are now being set up under false colour of law and demand conformity. That is the agit prop strategist’s dream, as if crookedness in the established standard for straightness then what is genuinely so cannot pass the demand to conform to crookedness. That is a nightmare, and it is why our civilisation’s ships of state are ever more determinedly heading out on voyages of folly. Such will not, cannot, end well. Our grandchildren, in desperate plight at the foot of cliffs, will rightly call us accursed. KF

    PS: The hit on Rao (an indo-American woman).

  65. 65
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@64, I am very comfortable with the direction civilization is heading. Abortions are on the decline, the more mysogenystic and homophobic aspects of religious doctrine are being questioned, and many of those doing the questioning are the religious people themselves. Discrimination under the false color of religious freedoms are being confronted. Violence is on the decline. Tolerance is on the increase. Infant mortality is low, life expectancy is high, education and healthcare are available to more and more people.

    Obviously there will be some bumps along the way, Trump being the most recent. What you see as the decline of a civilization I see as the maturing of a civilization. You can choose to resist it kicking and screaming, but that is totally counterproductive. You would be better served by helping guide the changes.

  66. 66
    Bob O'H says:

    ScuzzaMan – I’m sorry, but I’m a statistician, and I just did a power analysis. Such an experiment (with an n of 1) would be extremely underpowered. I’m also not sure what it would tell be about objective morals, which is what I’m asking about. This is especially troubling as you acknowledge that I could get a variety of results, depending on who is listening, so how can I objectively know that the answers are objectively the right ones?

    You can deride me as a scientist, but I’m still not going to do an experiment which is so poorly designed as to be useless. It’s mimicking a situation which has occurred many times, with a wide variety of results, and there is no indication that the results I would get would be more reliable. The answers to my concerns about this reliability have been to acknowledge it, without giving a solution. Why would I waste my time doing an experiment if it’s not going to answer the question I’m asking?

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, your response unfortunately is revealing. For example, would you have been comfortable to hear that the rate of the holocaust of Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians etc was lower than previously? The issue is not rates (and about a million more victims per week globally cannot reasonably be deemed an acceptable rate), it is that we have distorted our civilisation and law, benumbed our consciences and are enabling the mass killing of our living posterity in the womb under false colour of law. Such blood guilt warps thinking, and your response in the face of telling numbers is an index of our civilisation’s moral collapse. As for resort to loaded assertions such as X-phobia, i.e. characterising principled objection as irrational, religiously motivated fear, that also reflects the moral collapse of our times. (If you don’t know that there are serious principled objections to the gender-bender perversities of our time with now what 112 claimed “genders” on the table and many other signs that something is drastically wrong, then that is already decisive.) Where, if you are so insensitive to the rising tide of bias, discrimination and worse that targets freedom of conscience, that also speaks sad volumes; perhaps the in-progress mother of all lawsuits on that subject will help wake some of us up. Our civilisation is in deep trouble, complacency will not help. KF

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: pardon but wrong framing. Did you notice, that just to argue, you pivot on an assumed, known duty to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness etc? Have you pondered what would happen were that duty dismissed by the population at large so that people now habitually lied and would blandly insist that 2 + 2 = 6 if it were to their perceived advantage, etc? Have you pondered the implications of such a perceived, pervasive duty that governs our thought-life being delusional, an empty perception with nothing behind it? Grand delusion and self-referential collapse of our vaunted rationality. In short, we have every good reason to take seriously that we are under moral government starting with our thought life. The real framing issue then is, what sort of world can ground the rational, responsible, morally governed freedom of creatures such as we are? The answer is, that — on pain of ungrounded ought — the IS-OUGHT gap can only be bridged at the root of reality. We need a source of the world adequate to cause such a world as we find ourselves in, complete with fine tuned cosmos, cell based life that uses coded, complex algorithms, and morally governed creatures. That requires a necessary and powerful being independent of external enabling causal factors that is also inherently good. KF

  69. 69
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    For example, would you have been comfortable to hear that the rate of the holocaust of Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians etc was lower than previously?

    I would definitely be comforted by that information if it was true. Wouldn’t you?
    The issue is not rates…
    When attaining zero abortions is a completely unattainable goal then rates are critical. If you saw a train load of Jews heading to a concentration camp and you had the opportunity to save only two of them, would you not do anything because rates aren’t the issue? What you call rates translates into individual lives. Individual lives are always important.

    Such blood guilt warps thinking, and your response in the face of telling numbers is an index of our civilisation’s moral collapse.

    I don’t feel any blood guilt. And I don’t see any moral collapse of society. If anything, I see a civilization improving its moral behavior. The stigma of teen sex and teen pregnancy has been reduced. Abortion rates are on the decline. The stigma around same sex attraction has been reduced. Racial tensions, although there is still much work to be done, are reducing. Discrimination cloaked under the justification of religious freedom is being confronted. Children are now being taught fact based knowledge about sex, not the puritanical judgement based approach that emphasized scare tactics. Women are approaching an equal footing with men with respect to full participation in our society. Violence is on the decline. Global travel and the ease of global communication is removing the innate fear we have of others. This is not the collapse of a civilization, it is the rising up of a civilization.

    Where, if you are so insensitive to the rising tide of bias, discrimination and worse that targets freedom of conscience, that also speaks sad volumes;…

    The fact that we no longer blindly accept discrimination based on the justification of freedom of conscience or freedom of religion is a good thing. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion were historically used as justification for many acts of discrimination, including the subjugation of women and the ban on interracial marriage. How can we be certain that some of the discriminations now justified using freedom of conscience and freedom of religion are not equally unjustifiable?

    complacency will not help.

    I agree. That is why I actively fight against some of these discriminations.

  70. 70
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Why would I waste my time doing an experiment if it’s not going to answer the question I’m asking?

    You comment like a man with plenty of time to waste.

    The experiment doesn’t cost anything except a little time and would assuredly consist of less waste than any single comment here.

    It’s OK, I knew you weren’t ever going to do it, and I know why, too.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, the only comforting news on a holocaust in progress would be restoration of justice, which involves STOPPING the shedding of innocent blood and ACCOUNTING for how such could ever have been advanced under false colour of law. A global truth, reconciliation and reformation commission would be an excellent way to address the latter. KF

    PS: There is a reason why you may not notice the accelerating moral disintegration of our civilisation. Sadly, it has to do with the corrosive, benumbing effects already highlighted. My native land has a proverb: fire deh pon mus mus tail but him think seh ah cool breeze deh deh.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    Do you see what you imply:

    The fact that we no longer blindly accept discrimination based on the justification of freedom of conscience or freedom of religion is a good thing

    This is first a dismissal of already offered grounding of moral truth and knowledge, as well as obvious refusal to seriously ponder already linked discussions that lay out legal, genetic, socio-cultural, ethical etc evidence and argument. In effect just on your sneering dismissal, we are invited to hold that once someone’s conscience and duty to God and to truth, evidence, right reason, prudence, fairness etc are at odds with your politically correct notions, agenda or imposition, such must be swept away as blind without further consideration. Moreover, this implies targetted religious discrimination on the presumption that religiously motivated or linked views can never be reasonable or responsible, being presumed to be empty, blind adherence to myths and superstitious prejudices. Given abundant and readily accessible evidence to the contrary (e.g. cf. a 101 here on in context), such is of course, plainly turnspeech, toxically loaded projection on your part.

    Sorry, it does not work that way.

    And, again, we see directly from you further evidence of just how far wrong our civilisation is going today.

    So, that you are by your own admission blind and deaf to the shipwreck shoals ahead, we have good reason not to take your objections, dismissals and sneering at the despised, stereotyped, scapegoated religious other seriously. Save, as evidence of deep-rooted, conscience-numbing hostility.

    KF

  73. 73

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