Intelligent Design

Why Do Atheists Deny Objective Morality?

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In a recent exchange in this post William J. Murray said to frequent commenter Bob O’H:

all you (and others) are doing is avoiding the point via wordplay. We all act and expect others to act as if these things are objective and universally binding, the ability to imagine alternate systems notwithstanding.

That is precisely correct, as illustrated by my exchange with goodusername in the same post.  First, at comment 12 GUN professed to not even know what the word “right” means:

GUN:  “What would it even mean to give a “right” answer to a morality question?”

I decided to test this:

Barry @ 13:

Suppose the following exchange:

GUN: Hey, Barry is is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure?

Barry: Yes, GUN, it is.

Did I supply a “right” answer to a moral question?

 

GUN replied at 15: “Such a thing certainly shocks my sense of empathy, and so I would fight to stop such a thing, as would most others. So the answer is right in that sense.”

First GUN insisted he does not even know what “morally right” means.  But when confronted with an undeniable self-evident moral truth he had to walk it back and admit he did in fact know what the right answer is.  But, as WJM points out, he tried to obscure the obvious point with wordplay.  So I called BS on him.

GUN’s antics are just the latest of hundreds I have seen over the years.  It is amazing.  They know that no sane person can live his life as if what they say were true.  Yet they absolutely insist on saying it anyway.   Why do they do that?  Simple.  Because they want to ignore the dictates of morality when it suits them.  Atheist Aldous Huxley was very candid about this:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption . . . The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves . . . For myself . . . the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality.  We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.

Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means: An Inquiry Into the Nature of Ideals and Into the Methods Employed for Their Realization (1937), 272-73

Huxley wanted to reserve the option of sleeping with his neighbor’s wife.  So, no objective morality.

 

 

 

371 Replies to “Why Do Atheists Deny Objective Morality?

  1. 1
    StephenB says:

    Huxley

    We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.

    Barry

    Huxley wanted to reserve the option of sleeping with his neighbor’s wife. So, no objective morality.

    Absolutely right. This is the big secret that hides behind hyperskepticism and epistemologically driven morality. Subjectivism begins below the belt.

  2. 2
    Dick says:

    To answer the question posed by the title of the post, they deny it because their atheism demands that they do. Their syllogism runs as follows:
    1.If there is no God there can be no objective moral obligations. 2. There is no God, therefore 3. there are no objective moral obligations.
    If they acceded to the claim that objective moral obligations exist they’d have to give up premise 2, and this many of them simply will not do.

  3. 3
    goodusername says:

    First, at comment 12 GUN professed to not even know what the word “right” means:

    Specifically, the question was what do those who say that morality is objective mean by the term?

    Here was the question:

    Although, I’m now sure what “objective” even means when referring to morality.
    What would it even mean to give a “right” answer to a morality question?

    It’s a question I often ask, and I’ve received an interesting mix of very different answers in the past. By some people’s definition I am an objectivist, and sometimes I’m a subjectivist.

    I myself lean towards the view that morality is subjective for reasons described here (which is the same post where I posed my question):
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/would-moral-subjectivists-agree-to-math-and-logic-subjectivism/#comment-648209

    As I explained in that post, I believe the reason why morality exists is because of empathy and certain desires – such as the desire to live, not be robbed, etc.

    And so when I see such things occuring to others, I say that such things are wrong/evil.

    Barry responded to the above question with this:

    Suppose the following exchange:
    GUN: Hey, Barry is is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure?
    Barry: Yes, GUN, it is.
    Did I supply a “right” answer to a moral question?

    I thought the question was a bit odd since I had already explained why I would say it is evil in the very post where he got the question. But I played along and answered the question anyway, pretty much repeating what I’d already said, in the hope that Barry might actually answer my question:

    Such a thing certainly shocks my sense of empathy, and so I would fight to stop such a thing, as would most others. So the answer is right in that sense. If there’s another way it is right, I don’t know what that would be.

    In the past Barry claimed that materialists, in fact, don’t get to say that something is evil, so I expected some explanation for why what I said is insufficient to call something evil, and (hopefully) explain what objectivists mean when they say something is wrong/evil.

    Instead, I got this response:

    So you do know what it means to give a “right” answer to a morality question. Now having established that you are full of crap, we can safely disregard pretty much everything else you have to say.

    I took this to mean that the explanation I gave for why something is evil is the same as the answer he would give – i.e. I gave the “right answer”.
    In other words, it sounded like Barry was saying that my answer was sufficient to be a moral objectivist – and in fact I was “full of crap” for even suggesting that anything else was required to be an objectivist.

    This suprised me because Barry in the past had always maintained – for reasons still unclear to me – that materialists don’t get to say that certain things are wrong or evil, but now he was affirming that I did get to say that certain things are wrong or evil.

    When, in surprise, I asked “So that’s all that’s meant by objective morality?”

    Barry’s response was “There you go with the crap again. You know for a certain fact that statement is not true, but you can’t seem to stop yourself.”

    So first I was full of crap for suggesting that something more than what I provided was needed to be a moral objectivist, and now I’m full of crap for suggesting the opposite. 🙂

    Now Barry says:

    First GUN insisted he does not even know what “morally right” means. But when confronted with an undeniable self-evident moral truth he had to walk it back and admit he did in fact know what the right answer is.

    First, it should be obvious that when I asked the question, that I was asking what an objectivist means by morally right. I certainly wasn’t saying that *I* don’t know what I mean by morally right because I already explain what I mean by morally right in the very post where he got the question!

    Remarkably, Barry apparently interpreted the question to mean that I was actually asking him what he thinks I mean by “morally right”. How or why anyone would interpret it that way is beyond me.

    Second, I don’t know what he thinks I “walked back” when – again – I just repeated what I originally said in the post where he got the question.

    Anyway, I believe that the foundation of morality for both Christians and atheists is the same – empathy. Most Christians would view “torturing an infant for personal pleasure” was evil even if there was nothing in the Bible that could be interpreted as banishing such a thing. And most Christians would still view such a thing as evil even if they ceased being a Christian.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    GUN @ 3: “Don’t believe your own eyes. Believe me.”

    You are utterly shameless GUN.

    You said you don’t know what it means to give a “right” answer to a morality question. Then you assured me that I had given a right answer to a morality question. No matter how you spin it, you are tying to have it both ways.

  5. 5
    critical rationalist says:

    Barry, I’l asking yet again: how have you managed to infallibly identify a source of objective morality, infallibly determine when to defer to it and managed to infallibly interpret it?

    For example, there are books that were left out of the Bible.

    From this article….

    “Some scholars assert that the selection of books in the New Testament was rather arbitrary, and that the emergence of orthodox or ‘traditional’ Christianity was based not on its merit but on the politics of the winning side.”

    Gnosticism comes from the Greek word for gnosis which means knowledge. It is a religion that claims to have secret knowledge above and beyond what most people have associated with religion. It includes ideas like what really counts is the spiritual. All matter is evil. God did not create creation, underling gods did. That creation was so flawed that matter will not be redeemed in you. This means that Jesus did not inhabit the flesh. There is no incarnation. It also means that there is no major discussion of sin and it also means that when the resurrection comes it will only involve your spirit going back to God. There is no resurrection of the body.

    Why do you not defer to those books instead of, or in addition to, the books that are officially in the Bible? How did they get excluded in the first place? IOW, it’s unclear how you can distinguish your idea of what God, justice, reception, etc. is from some supposed infallible source.

    Reason always has its say first.

    But, by all means, feel free to explain how you’ve managed to escape it.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

  6. 6
    StephenB says:

    GUN

    Although, I’m now sure what “objective” even means when referring to morality.
    What would it even mean to give a “right” answer to a morality question?

    The problem with this formulation is that the second question is entirely different from the first one. Only the first question makes sense. If you had stayed with it, you would not have created so much confusion.

    When we discuss objective morality we are simply referring to the morality proper to human nature, which is obviously an objective reality in itself. Among other things, the nature of a human being is to use his faculties of intellect and will to make decisions that will help him obtain those things that are objectively good for him. Thus, morality must be an objective set of guidelines to help humans achieve an objective end (what is good for them).

  7. 7
    JSmith says:

    So, Barry wins the argument because someone used the word “right”.

    When your only argument for something revolves around arguing over what a word really means, you are wallowing with the pigs for the best slop. But since Barry is the head hog, KF, WJM and SB will have to settle for sloppy seconds.

  8. 8
    jdk says:

    StephenB writes,

    When we discuss objective morality we are simply referring to the morality proper to human nature, which is obviously an objective reality in itself.

    As we have been discussing, conclusions follow from premises. Stephen assumes, because it is “obvious” to him, that an objective human nature exists that has the qualities (more assumptions) from which he can conclude objective morality exists. This is a closed system that is somewhat analogous (see note below) to the three geometries issue that I have been discussing in the other thread. He assumes in his premise (“objective” human nature) that which is necessary for his conclusion.

    To one for whom Stephen’s assumptions are not obvious, the conclusion about objective morality has no weight. His line of reasoning is internally self-consistent, much as each of the three geometries are, but that in itself is not evidence that his view is in fact consistent with, or an accurate description of, reality, nor is it evidence that other equally self-consistent views about the nature of human beings and their moral sense can’t exist.

    To carry the analogy further, Stephen/Barry/kf/wjm et al claim that one who doesn’t accept their premises and resulting conclusions about morality are being inconsistent if they even use the word “ought” and its associates. The problem with this argument is that it is applying criteria from one system to another, and then claiming that system B is faulty because it doesn’t meet the criteria of system A.

    This is sort of like a person on a Euclidean plane saying to one on a sphere, “You can’t really call this figure a triangle because the sum of its angles is not 180°” The objection is irrelevant: we don’t expect triangles to have angle sums equal to 180° on a sphere.

    Likewise, those of us who deny objective morality have other ways of understanding human beings moral sense and judgments, so the claim that our system of thought is faulty because it has no objective moral criteria is irrelevant.

    Note: I’m aware that all analogies are incomplete, and meant to be “food for thought”, suggesting similarities and differences to discuss, but not meant to state absolute parallels. Of course, there are certain significant ways in which mathematical systems such as the three geometries are not like our beliefs and understandings about human nature.

  9. 9
    goodusername says:

    StephenB,

    To explain how morality is objective would help to explain what an objectivist means when they say the answer to a moral question is right or not. And vice versa. Thus the two statements are obviously related, and there shouldn’t be any confusion, as it’s clear that the question meant “right answer” in an objective sense.

    But to put the two statements in a wider context (and why there should be an even less chance of confusion), in the post where the questions came from (the link is in #3) I begin by envisioning a machine that answers objective questions. It gives answer to math questions, and questions as to which rock is larger, heavier, etc.
    I then mention the difficulty of envisioning such a machine that answers questions on morality and mention that this points to subjectivity. It’s then that the two statements appear. The statements are in the context of a machine that gives right answers to objective questions.

    If (somehow) there was still any confusion, that should evaporate as the whole second half of the post was an explanation of how *I* (and IMO we) get answers to moral questions, and also an explanation for why I believe it points to morality being subjective.

    Thus the crux of the question was an attempt to have moral objectivists explain how they believe morality differs from moral subjectivists.

    When we discuss objective morality we are simply referring to the morality proper to human nature, which is obviously an objective reality in itself. Among other things, the nature of a human being is to use his faculties of intellect and will to make decisions that will help him obtain those things that are objectively good for him. Thus, morality must be an objective set of guidelines to help humans achieve an objective end (what is good for them).

    That’s an interesting description of morality because I think it’s one that virtually all (certainly most!) materialists/atheists would agree with (for the most part). Even most atheist parents teach their children morality because 1) they don’t want their children harming others and 2) it will generally lead to a happier more fulfilling life. In other words, it is good for them.

  10. 10
    Origenes says:

    Dick @2

    You are right of course. And why is that we are still having discussions about it? For atheists there is no ethics other than personal preference and/or the contingent rules of society. An atheist is ultimately a nihilist wrt ethics.

    In a world where physics fixes all the facts, it’s hard to see how there could be room for moral facts. In a universe headed for its own heat death, there is no cosmic value to human life, your own or anyone else’s. Why bother to be good? …
    First, nihilism can’t condemn Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or those who fomented the Armenian genocide or the Rwandan one. If there is no such thing as “morally forbidden,” then what Mohamed Atta did on September 11, 2001, was not morally forbidden. Of course, it was not permitted either. But still, don’t we want to have grounds to condemn these monsters? Nihilism seems to cut that ground out from under us.
    Second, if we admit to being nihilists, then people won’t trust us. We won’t be left alone when there is loose change around. We won’t be relied on to be sure small children stay out of trouble.
    Third, and worst of all, if nihilism gets any traction, society will be destroyed. We will find ourselves back in Thomas Hobbes’s famous state of nature, where “the life of man is solitary, mean, nasty, brutish and short.” Surely, we don’t want to be nihilists if we can possibly avoid it. (Or at least, we don’t want the other people around us to be nihilists.)
    Scientism can’t avoid nihilism. We need to make the best of it.
    ….
    To avoid these outcomes, people have been searching for scientifically respectable justification of morality for least a century and a half. The trouble is that over the same 150 years or so, the reasons for nihilism have continued to mount. Both the failure to find an ethics that everyone can agree on and the scientific explanation of the origin and persistence of moral norms have made nihilism more and more plausible while remaining just as unappetizing.
    [Rosenberg, ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’, ch. 5]

  11. 11
    J-Mac says:

    CR @5

    What you are referring to is The Apocryphal; books and church teachings written to support and secure the churches interests, which have nothing to do with the fundamental teachings of the bible. That’s why they are not included or printed separately from the main bible…

    Just to emphasize your point, the catholic church wanted to include those books with the bible because:

    “…This was in part because the Apocrypha contained material which supported certain Catholic doctrines, such as purgatory, praying for the dead, and the treasury of merit…”

    In other words, those writings support the teachings the church made up for control, like purgatory…

    I don’t know where teachings like internal tournament and purgatory fit, but they don’t fit with any morality I know about and definitively not with God’s….

  12. 12
    HeKS says:

    StephenB #6

    When we discuss objective morality we are simply referring to the morality proper to human nature, which is obviously an objective reality in itself. Among other things, the nature of a human being is to use his faculties of intellect and will to make decisions that will help him obtain those things that are objectively good for him. Thus, morality must be an objective set of guidelines to help humans achieve an objective end (what is good for them).

    StephenB,

    I don’t know if I’m just totally misunderstanding you, but if not, what you’re describing is some kind of objective utility, not objective morality.

    When we talk about objective morality, we’re talking about a moral standard that exists independent of human opinion or human nature. It is the claim that there are some things that are really morally wrong, and they would still be wrong even if every human on earth (or every intelligent being in the universe) were somehow fooled or brainwashed into thinking they were right.

    That following this objective moral standard happens to be conducive to long-term human flourishing is certainly more than mere coincidence, but it is not the conduciveness to human flourishing that serves as the objective ground and basis for the moral standard. Human flourishing cannot merely designate itself as a moral good, as though it were picking itself up by its bootstraps. Without some higher order context, there is no reason to designate human flourishing as a moral good, or a moral anything. It would just be one of many logically possible outcomes, none of which would have any objective moral status at all. What serves as the foundation for the objective moral standard is the essential nature of the being that lies at the root of reality and that caused and permeates all existence.

  13. 13
    rvb8 says:

    Answer:

    “Because, ‘objective’ morality doesn’t change with time, culture, or religious interpretation of dodgey texts.”

    It is inculcated, and does not change, very bad for human advancement; when slavery was ok the Jews/Christians/Muslims, cheered!

    Subjective morality is malleable, evolves with human culture, and is not bonded to strict scriptural interpretation. Thus, making it perfectly in sinc with the idea of evolution!

    Why Barry? The same tired old non-questions?

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS @ 12

    Yes, you misunderstand SB. Stephen would be the first to admit that from an ontological perspective, morality is objective. But in the comment to which you allude SB is engaging not in ontology but in a standard Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law epistemological analysis. In that analysis, how do we know what is good? A being is good when it conforms to its end — its telos. A knife is for cutting. A good knife is one that cuts well. The analysis scales to humans. A good human is one that conforms to the telos — the human nature — created by God.

    Feser has a good discussion of it here.

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    .As we have been discussing, conclusions follow from premises. Stephen assumes, because it is “obvious” to him, that an objective human nature exists that has the qualities (more assumptions) from which he can conclude objective morality exists.

    You misunderstand. I am not arguing for the existence of objective morality, though I could. I am answering the question about what it means. I presented no arguments in defense of a real human nature, though I could. I presented no arguments that such a thing as “the good,” exists, though I could. I simply explained what it means when one refers to objective morality–from an A/T perspective, as Barry perceptively pointed out.

  16. 16
    HeKS says:

    Barry @14

    Hi Barry,

    I understand how that reasoning works in terms of identifying what is objectively good for a human, and what it means to identify something as a good example or instance of something, which is something that effectively fulfills its purpose or reaches its goal. But it seems to me that what was initially being asked was what is meant when we refer to “objective morality”. The first statement from GUN was:

    Although, I’m no[t] sure what “objective” even means when referring to morality

    (I’m assuming he meant “not” rather than “now”)

    As for Feser, I agree with some of his stuff and not with others. An understanding of human nature can make it possible for us to make ethical judgments based on the agreed upon and desirable goal of human flourishing, and our nature therefore gives us a kind of natural insight into a moral standard, playing a role in moral epistemology. However, ethics cannot tell us that to act unethically is also to act immorally. We can have ethics without God, but we can’t have morality without God. Not even a little.

    So I guess it comes down to what is actually being asked here.

    P.S. Just to be clear, I’m using “ethics” here to refer to a human-developed system of judgments based on discoverable facts about what contributes to human flourishing. When I talk about “morality” I’m talking about a deeper aspect of reality. A kind of super-ethic that forms part of the fabric of existence. Ethical judgments may or may not be consistent with the objective moral standard. Actions that humans may deem ethical would only be good if they are actually consistent with the moral standard. And so we’re talking about two levels of objectivity here. One that is based on what seem to be objective facts we can discover about how to reach a particular goal that we desire, and another that imprints directly on reality how the world ought to be and how humans ought to behave.

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    GUN

    But to put the two statements in a wider context (and why there should be an even less chance of confusion), in the post where the questions came from (the link is in #3) I begin by envisioning a machine that answers objective questions. It gives answer to math questions, and questions as to which rock is larger, heavier, etc.

    OK. I will reread your comments with that perspective and background information in mind.

  18. 18
    StephenB says:

    HeKS @12,

    Barry summarized my points very well @14. I cannot improve on it.

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    GUN

    That’s an interesting description of morality because I think it’s one that virtually all (certainly most!) materialists/atheists would agree with (for the most part). Even most atheist parents teach their children morality because 1) they don’t want their children harming others and 2) it will generally lead to a happier more fulfilling life. In other words, it is good for them.

    Well, yes, I think you have a point when you say that a materialist/atheist could go along with part of it insofar as happiness is something that all men seek. However, I don’t think the materialist would agree with the major ingredients in the formula, i.e, that there is an objective good that defines human happiness or that the moral code that sets the guidelines is not a product of human effort.

  20. 20
    goodusername says:

    HeKS,

    I’m assuming he meant “not” rather than “now”

    Oops, yes, thanks!

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    HeKS

    We can have ethics without God, but we can’t have morality without God. Not even a little.

    I agree. No morality is possible without God. In keeping with that point, there can be no objective good for humans to pursue unless God put it there and gave man the mental and volitional tools to attain it. The pursuit of the good, after all, is not just a single moral act; it is a journey with an end in mind (man,s ultimate end, which is God). A good act, therefore, is defined as one that propels us in the right direction (toward our end) and a bad act is defined as one that sends us retreating in the wrong direction (away from our end). If morality doesn’t mean that, then it doesn’t mean anything.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    CR (et al):

    We have already repeatedly discussed that our faculties and perceptions need not be infallible to reason correctly and even to warrant certain limited plumb-line truths as self-evident.

    All we need is sufficient reliability and understanding guided by duty to truth, sound logic, fairness etc.

    For concrete and decisive instance, it is self-evident and beyond responsible, rational doubt that:

    2 + 3 = 5,

    as, per direct patent demonstration:

    || + ||| –> |||||

    The basic capability to establish SET’s is therefore demonstrated by direct, instructive example.

    QED.

    Period.

    Finis.

    The long running rhetorical song and dance of irresponsible, reckless selective hyperskepticism to pretend otherwise collapses.

    The real issue is, what are some relevant SET’s, and particularly, are there cases of moral SET’s.

    (Further song and dance exposing anti-Christian bigotry are just so much noise-making that is little more than Internet Atheist soapbox talking points, known to go beyond the reasonable remit of UD but intended to try to taint through guilt by invidious association.)

    For weeks now, it has been clearly pointed out — but studiously ignored or dismissed on various fallacies of distraction — that a first moral SET is that our intellectual life is inescapably under the moral government of duties to truth, sound logic, fairness etc.

    Once a responsible person of sufficient understanding based on experience and reflection sees that claim s/he will acknowledge it as patently true. Also, as necessarily true on pain of reducing reason to cynical manipulation and deceit, through the soft nihilism of might and/or manipulation make ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘knowledge’ ‘rights’ ‘justice’ etc. Where, such nihilism is patently absurd, indeed it is blatant civilisation-suicidal lunacy.

    Further to such, we have yet again seen a sadly real-world, yardstick, instructive case in point: it is self-evidently evil to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child for sick pleasure. Corollary: if we were to have come across this outrage in progress we would have been duty-bound to come to the rescue or at least bawl out for help.

    The consistent evasiveness, ill-disguised irritability and weasel-words in response to this case demonstrate to the discerning eye that objectors know better than their rhetoric to try to blunt the force of this case.

    This case and similar ones warrant us in recognising several yardstick principles and axiomatic postulates including several forms of the Categorical Imperative and the Golden Rule of neighbour-love. The inherent dignity and quasi-infinite worth of the morally governed individual, leading to recognised inherent and unalienable rights such as life and liberty to fulfill a reasonable vision of one’s calling in life. The need for nurturing, protective community (starting with sound family) to support human thriving from conception to senescence. And more.

    The consistent rhetorical attacks to the contrary therefore reveal themselves as soft nihilism, disrespect for neighbour and even verging on misanthropy.

    Perhaps, it is time to reconsider and reform thought and ways.

    KF

    PS: Where I would take the above line of reasoning, as was recently headlined here at UD:

    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 — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, 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; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. 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.

    (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “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 .”)

    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.

  23. 23
    critical rationalist says:

    I don’t know where teachings like internal tournament and purgatory fit, but they don’t fit with any morality I know about and definitively not with God’s….

    That they do not fit with the morality you know about isn’t in question. What I’m questioning is, how do you know the morality you “know about” is the right one, in contrast to your own views on what a perfectly good being would expect from us?

    How do you know they are definitely God’s morality, as opposed to your view about what God’s morality would be? It’s unclear how you can tell the difference.

    Reason always has its say first.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, kindly observe the just above. KF

  25. 25
    critical rationalist says:

    To reformulate my question: What is the difference between “I believe the correct response to this moral problem is X” and “Morality is objective and I believe I believe the objectively correct response to this moral problem is X”

    Why should any be more compelled to accept the former than the latter?

    If you lack infallible access to the supposed objective moral foundation, then how can it help you when facing a concrete moral problem?

    If moral isn’t about helping actual people in actual problem situations then what does it mean to have a moral problem? Why should anyone care abut your morality?

    It’s as if someone trying to solve the problem of how to resolve moral problems by claiming they know they are true objectively. But that doesn’t actual solve the problem.

    It merely obscures what’s going on, which seems to me to be, well, immoral because it attempts to destroy a way of correcting errors.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you have been present all along when the difference between belief, perception or opinion and knowledge was discussed: warrant. Much of the rest is simply re-statement of the already sufficiently answered. KF

  27. 27
    tribune7 says:

    GUN

    what do those who say that morality is objective mean by the term?

    That there is purpose for our existence and that there are universal rules that all must follow — and to which all will be accountable — to achieve this purpose.

    Frankly, I don’t see how an atheist can believe in objective morality.

    Maybe a skeptic who isn’t quite sure as to what is going on but knows in his heart that this is bad and this is good, but a hard-core, dogmatic atheist who denies God on principle and encourages others to do the same, can’t see it.

  28. 28
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS @ 16

    Ethical judgments may or may not be consistent with the objective moral standard.

    Correct.

    Actions that humans may deem ethical would only be good if they are actually consistent with the moral standard.

    Correct.

    And so we’re talking about two levels of objectivity here. One that is based on what seem to be objective facts we can discover about how to reach a particular goal that we desire, and another that imprints directly on reality how the world ought to be and how humans ought to behave.

    Incorrect.

    There is only one objective moral standard. When we reason to the Good, we are reasoning not to a goal that we desire. We are reasoning to the human telos, and that telos, as you say, has been imprinted on reality by God. In other words, humans ought to behave in a way that moves them toward the end for which they were created.

  29. 29
    HeKS says:

    Barry @28

    HeKS: And so we’re talking about two levels of objectivity here. One that is based on what seem to be objective facts we can discover about how to reach a particular goal that we desire, and another that imprints directly on reality how the world ought to be and how humans ought to behave.

    Incorrect.

    There is only one objective moral standard. When we reason to the Good, we are reasoning not to a goal that we desire. We are reasoning to the human telos, and that telos, as you say, has been imprinted on reality by God. In other words, humans ought to behave in a way that moves them toward the end for which they were created.

    Barry, I think you’re missing my point.

    What I was saying was that one who denies the existence of God – and therefore that God designed human nature with any particular telos in view – can still develop and adhere to an ethical system based on an objective measure of what contributes to human flourishing. There is an objective aspect to this, in that some things really do detract from human flourishing and some things really do contribute to it. The problem, however, is that they CONFUSE this with an objective morality that creates moral values and duties.

    People like Sam Harris and Michael Shermer do this all the time. They confuse the fact that there is an objective basis for determining certain things that help human flourishing and certain things that hurt it with a foundation for objective morality that places a duty on humans whereby they ought to do that which contributes to human flourishing rather than that which detracts from it. In reality, these are two completely different things. There is no logical inconsistency between saying that A) There are certain things that objectively contribute to human flourishing, and B) We have no duty whatsoever to do that which contributes to human flourishing rather than that which detracts from it. Hence my point that I’m talking about two different kinds or levels of objectivity. That atheists can have access to the one does not advance them one iota towards having access to the other, and prominent atheists confuse this all the time.

    I might also point out that while I agree with this statement from you:

    When we reason to the Good … [w]e are reasoning to the human telos, and that telos, as you say, has been imprinted on reality by God. In other words, humans ought to behave in a way that moves them toward the end for which they were created.

    I would nonetheless point out that that which contributes to human flourishing and that which moves humans toward their proper telos is not necessarily the same thing, so gaining knowledge of those things that objectively contribute to human flourishing does not, in all cases, necessarily point to the proper moral standard for human behavior. Again, the idea that these two things necessarily correspond is one of the failings of people like Sam Harris. It results in a false redefinition of “Good” as meaning something like, “that which contributes to the greatest human flourishing”.

  30. 30
    john_a_designer says:

    From the Aldous Huxley quote cited in the OP:

    We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.

    Notice how Huxley smuggles in the idea of universal human rights. He has the right of “sexual freedom” and we are now obligated to respect that as a right. But how am I or anyone else obligated to respect his personal subjective view opinions about sexual morality? If it’s a subjective moral view point there is no interpersonal obligation.

    Notice how he also tries to coopt a universal idea like justice: ”we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.” But justice is something which needs to apply to society as a whole. How can a subjectivist say anything about justice? How can his moral thinking apply (be morally binding) to anyone other than himself?

  31. 31
    tribune7 says:

    was that one who denies the existence of God – and therefore that God designed human nature with any particular telos in view – can still develop and adhere to an ethical system based on an objective measure of what contributes to human flourishing.

    Human flourishing is a subjective concept. Does it mean infanticide for those born with birth defects a la the Romans? Does it mean racial purity as per the Nazis (and Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League?) Dose it mean Hindu bride burning? Does it mean population control? A caste/class system as per Indian and England and Huxley’s Brave New World? Central economic planning? Central planning with the goal of populating distant solar systems?

    What does “human” flourishing objectively mean?

  32. 32

    According to a/mat faith and philosophy, morality is subjective to each person (and to each group of like-minded people). I have no trouble with that type of thinking, but I do find it odd when a/mats act as if their particular standard of morality is (or should be) true for everyone else… as if their opinion is fundamentally superior to other opinions.

    Quite silly, actually.

  33. 33
    Origenes says:

    HeKS @29

    HeKS: There are certain things that objectively contribute to human flourishing …

    Do you think that everyone can agree on what “human flourishing” is? It seems to me that if we do not — if everyone has her/his own subjective opinion on what it means — then we have no objectivity.

  34. 34

    tribune 7 @ 31: Good points.

    HeKs @ 29: What exactly is the objective measure of human flourishing?

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    HeKS

    What I was saying was that one who denies the existence of God – and therefore that God designed human nature with any particular telos in view – can still develop and adhere to an ethical system based on an objective measure of what contributes to human flourishing.

    Would you not agree that human flourishing comes in different forms and also in different degrees? I submit that the issue is not — do you flourish? – so much as it is — how do you flourish? The atheist who develops the natural virtue of industry by working hard will not necessarily grow in love or make the kinds of sacrifices that will benefit others

    There is an objective aspect to this, in that some things really do detract from human flourishing and some things really do contribute to it. The problem, however, is that they CONFUSE this with an objective morality that creates moral values and duties.

    One can develop the natural virtue of patience, which is objectively good, for the purpose of seeking revenge, which is objectively bad. What a person does matters, but why he does it matters more. So if an atheist thinks he is doing some objectively moral good by practicing a natural virtue, he is right in that limited context, but if he refuses to pay tribute to his Creator, then his understanding of morality and the nature of his moral duties are fatally incomplete, so much so, that he is more wrong than right and is moving away from his final end.

    There are certain things that objectively contribute to human flourishing, and B) We have no duty whatsoever to do that which contributes to human flourishing rather than that which detracts from it. Hence my point that I’m talking about two different kinds or levels of objectivity. That atheists can have access to the one does not advance them one iota towards having access to the other, and prominent atheists confuse this all the time.

    One can flourish in a spiritual sense and not flourish economically, and vice versa. Indeed, I would take it one step further. Objectively, the moral code binds us to do what is good even if we do NOT flourish economically, or socially, or in many other ways. That is the stuff that makes saints and it goes by the name, “heroic virtue.” Of course, the ideal is to grow in ALL the virtues, but circumstances dictate which ones are needed most. A principled martyr who wastes away in a prison camp for the love of God is flourishing spiritually like no one else—as long as he doesn’t hate his enemies. In that case, he is racing toward his final objective. Physically and socially, however – well, I don’t need to finish the sentence, do I?

  36. 36
    HeKS says:

    Tribune7, Truth Will Set You Free, Origenes,

    I don’t know if I’m not being clear or if you guys are just misreading me 🙂

    Of course it’s true that what constitutes “human flourishing” in some grand and absolute sense is open to debate and subjective. That’s why I didn’t say that humans can objectively determine ALL things that are conducive to human flourishing vs those that aren’t. But clearly we can figure out SOME things objectively, right? For example, we can be pretty sure that stabbing someone in the chest or poisoning them is not conducive to their flourishing, right? On the other hand, giving the proper antibiotics to someone suffering from a bacterial infection is conducive to their flourishing, right? Giving a starving person food is more conducive to their flourishing than continuing to allow them to starve, right? I mean, surely you’re not trying to argue that we simply can’t know anything about what promotes human health and happiness and reduces human suffering, right? We can’t necessarily foresee the long-term impact on human flourishing that any particular action might have (the old idea that maybe the person you saved from starving to death was the next Hitler), but there can be an objective factual basis for determining some things that, on average, reduce human suffering and increase human health and happiness.

    However, the whole reason I’m drawing attention to this is to point out the error atheists often make when talking about objective morality, which is that they confuse the existence of an objective, fact-based method for determining some things that, on average, contribute to human flourishing with an objective basis for morality and for moral values and duties. They argue along the lines of, “We don’t need God for objective morality because we can use science to objectively determine what contributes to human flourishing.” However, no matter how true a claim it might be that science can be used to objectively determine things that contribute to human flourishing (whether completely true or only partially true), the overall claim is completely false, because the mere ability to objectively determine things that contribute to human flourishing does absolutely nothing to establish an objective basis for any moral value to human flourishing or any moral duty to behave in a way that contributes to it. For that, you need God.

    So all I’m doing here is addressing an argument I’ve often heard for the possibility of objective morality in the absence of God that has been used by prominent atheists. The argument is wrong. It is based on confusion and it redefines moral terms into utilitarian ones.

  37. 37
    HeKS says:

    StephenB @35

    I can’t tell if you think you’re disagreeing with me 🙂

    I don’t think I disagree with anything you said there. Indeed, you seem to be elaborating on the very thing I said at the end of my comment #29:

    I would nonetheless point out that that which contributes to human flourishing and that which moves humans toward their proper telos is not necessarily the same thing, so gaining knowledge of those things that objectively contribute to human flourishing does not, in all cases, necessarily point to the proper moral standard for human behavior. Again, the idea that these two things necessarily correspond is one of the failings of people like Sam Harris. It results in a false redefinition of “Good” as meaning something like, “that which contributes to the greatest human flourishing”.

    If you disagree with me on some point I’ve made, perhaps you can specify exactly what you disagree with. For example:

    Do you disagree that it is possible, based on objective facts, for humans to determine SOME things that, on average, contribute to human health and happiness and reduce human suffering?

    Do you disagree that it is possible for humans to create an ethical system geared towards applying this limited knowledge in an effort to increase human health and happiness and reduce human suffering?

    Do you disagree that some prominent atheists have cited the possibility of the two prior points as a basis for objective morality in the absence of God?

    Do you disagree that in so doing these atheists are making an error and failing to see that these possibilities do absolutely nothing to bridge the gap between IS and OUGHT?

    Take care

  38. 38
    Origenes says:

    HeKS: For example, we can be pretty sure that stabbing someone in the chest or poisoning them is not conducive to their flourishing, right?

    Right, not to “their flourishing”. However it could be conductive to the flourishing of the atheist. Moreover, why should an atheist care about “their flourishing”?

    HeKS: … but there can be an objective factual basis for determining some things that, on average, reduce human suffering and increase human health and happiness.

    Why should an atheist care about anything but his own flourishing?

  39. 39
    john_a_designer says:

    I think HeKs is making some good points. There are atheists who honestly try to find a naturalistic (objective) ground for morality.

    For example, Sam Harris, one of the so-called “new atheists”, has written a book entitled, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.

    In a 2010 interview with Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, Harris laid out some of his reasons for writing his book.

    “I think the biggest challenge we’re facing is finding some way to create a global civilization based on shared values. We have to converge on the same kind of economic and political and social goals and so forth. We have to begin giving similar answers to the most important questions in human life; and the only way forward to do that I see is to begin to talk about morality and human values very much in the context of our growing scientific understanding of ourselves in the world….”

    Well those are commendable goals. They all sound very reasonable and they all pull at our heart strings. But how is Harris going to accomplish those goals?

    “Morality and value clearly relates to human and animal well-being,” Harris explains, “and our well-being emerges out of the laws of nature; it depends on the way the universe is…. all of these domains fall within the purview of science.”

    However, right out of the gate Harris is in trouble. He begins making the same mistakes others have made by trying to base a system of morality on nature. He does not do the proper philosophical due diligence to even get his argument off the ground.

    For example, Harris does not explain how our morals and ethics (which are purposeful) can be grounded by a purposeless natural process. By definition naturalistic Darwinian evolution is purposeless. But a universal and objective moral or ethical sense cannot be explained without purpose. So, how then does a purposeless process give rise to purpose? When Harris says that “our well-being emerges out of the laws of nature; it depends on the way the universe is…” he is making the claim that the universe has a goal and a purpose, namely, human well-being. That simply doesn’t fit with the kind of atheistic naturalism he professes to believe in.

    Harris also stumbles, maybe out of ignorance, on the problem first identified by David Hume, of ‘how one derives an ought from an is?’ Darwinian evolution is about survival of the fittest– the strong dominating the weak. So, on the one hand, you have a will-to-power ethic where the powerful make up all the rules; or on the other, anarchic kind or moral relativism. If survival of the fittest is the only real goal of natural evolution then obviously the former, will-to-power ethic, is the better choice. So if the powerful make up the rules so that they can freely exploit the weak who is to say that is wrong?

    Thirdly as a committed materialist Harris is also a committed determinist. But he is not just your typical garden variety determinist he is an absolute determinist who rejects not only freewill but any kind of compatibilism. But with such a view Harris has not just dug himself into a hole, but he has fallen into a bottomless pit from which there is no escape. “Ought” implies can. But if all my thoughts, desires, beliefs and actions can be reduced neurophysiology that allows no room for any kind of intentionality or free choice, how can I be held morally responsible for any of my actions or behavior? I don’t see that Harris has any way out.

    Finally, Harris concedes that his proposal is still a work in progress. In other words, someday science may be able to define human morality. Internet blogger Richard Deem observes, “Contrary to the book’s subtitle, Harris doesn’t even attempt to show how science could be used to determine moral values. Instead, he is constantly referring to possible future scientific research that might aid in such a determination.” In other words, someday science might able to ground moral values. For now, I guess, you will just need to accept it by faith.

  40. 40
    StephenB says:

    StephenB @35

    I can’t tell if you think you’re disagreeing with me ????

    I thought *you were disagreeing with me* and my abbreviated formulation of objective morality. So I was just stretching out on what I said earlier, (*I forgot the formula for indicating a smiley face, so just note that I am smiling)*.

    Do you disagree that it is possible, based on objective facts, for humans to determine SOME things that, on average, contribute to human health and happiness and reduce human suffering?

    No. I agree with you. However, the point of defining objective morality with the present emphasis was to mark the difference between subjective morality and objective morality, not the difference between objective morality and psuedo-objective morality as described by atheists.

    Do you disagree that in so doing these atheists are making an error and failing to see that these possibilities do absolutely nothing to bridge the gap between IS and OUGHT?

    I am especially glad that you asked this question. I think that the so-called Is-ought dichotomy is misunderstood and overblown. When philosophers claimed that you cannot get to the ought from the is, they meant that you cannot take down-on-the-ground facts and derive morality from that information alone. I agree with that point, but its importance is greatly overestimated. Metaphysically, there is NO gap between the IS and the OUGHT. How things are (the is, our nature, our purpose, God’s existence etc.) does, indeed, determine how we ought to act. In fact, we can and we must derive the ought to from the is in that sense, and it is the only sense that matters. The whole idea of the so-called IS-OUGHT “controversy,” was to make us forget that metaphysical truth determines moral truth. In my judgment, David Hume was not a great thinker. He was a sophist of the first order.

  41. 41
    StephenB says:

    HeKS

    Do you disagree that some prominent atheists have cited the possibility of the two prior points as a basis for objective morality in the absence of God?

    I understand. But their denial of free will invalidates everything else that they say. There is no objective morality without free will. Besides, and as you have indicated, it is logically impossible to derive morality from scientific “facts” or even scientific theories. As I stated earlier, you cannot get an ought to from that kind of “is,” but you can most definitely get an ought to from the metaphysical “is.”

  42. 42
    tribune7 says:

    HeKS

    However, no matter how true a claim it might be that science can be used to objectively determine things that contribute to human flourishing (whether completely true or only partially true), the overall claim is completely false, because the mere ability to objectively determine things that contribute to human flourishing does absolutely nothing to establish an objective basis for any moral value to human flourishing or any moral duty to behave in a way that contributes to it. For that, you need God.

    So all I’m doing here is addressing an argument I’ve often heard for the possibility of objective morality in the absence of God that has been used by prominent atheists. The argument is wrong. It is based on confusion and it redefines moral terms into utilitarian ones.

    Well, OK then. We agree. 🙂

  43. 43
    HeKS says:

    origines @38

    Right, not to “their flourishing”. However it could be conductive to the flourishing of the atheist. Moreover, why should an atheist care about “their flourishing”?

    My point, as I’ve consistently been saying, is that there is no reason why they should (in the sense of ought) care about the other person’s flourishing. That is precisely my point. The point is that without God you can make up an ethical system that reflects an objective utility, but it cannot reflect an objective morality.

    Do you understand?

  44. 44
    StephenB says:

    HeKS

    Do you disagree that it is possible for humans to create an ethical system geared towards applying this limited knowledge in an effort to increase human health and happiness and reduce human suffering?

    They can fashion any ethical system that they like, but it doesn’t count as objective morality if it doesn’t draw from THE objective morality. Its really subjective morality in a cheap tuxedo. Example: Atheists propose to increase human health and happiness in women by killing their babies. Its all about increasing human comfort at the expense of morality in the name of morality.

  45. 45
    Origenes says:

    HeKS @43

    Okay, now I understand your point. I was confused by your usage of the term ‘ethical’. For me ethics without a valid basis is not ethics.

  46. 46
    asauber says:

    Because Atheists like their sins.

    Of course, everyone likes (in a sense) their sins, but Atheists like their sins in a way such that they regard their sins as something not to be opposed (like a Christian would regard them), but idols to be maintained in some way.

    ‘Cause there’s no God, right? I mean, who dares tell me what I should do?

    Andrew

  47. 47
    HeKS says:

    StephenB @44

    They can fashion any ethical system that they like, but it doesn’t count as objective morality if it doesn’t draw from THE objective morality. Its really subjective morality in a cheap tuxedo. Example: Atheists propose to increase human health and happiness in women by killing their babies. Its all about increasing human comfort at the expense of morality in the name of morality.

    YES!!! YES!!! That’s what I have been saying 😀

  48. 48
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS,

    The point is that without God you can make up an ethical system that reflects an objective utility, but it cannot reflect an objective morality.

    Yes, and all such systems fail. All A-Mat ethical systems boil down to utilitarian consequentialism. The problem is that some tradeoffs are immoral no matter how much net happiness or health is increased.

    Suppose a super-being were to come to you this evening and give you a satisfactory guaranty that you could eliminate all cancer in the entire world. All you have to do to achieve that otherwise laudable goal is torture this toddler to death.

    I suspect many A-Mats would agonize over that tradeoff. Surely one small life and the pain the toddler would endure for a short while is worth ending the suffering of millions.

    The objectivist is not tempted at all. The answer is easy. Fiat justitia ruat caelum. “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

    Notice that appeals to “empathy” do no good here. Empathy cuts both ways. In order to take the deal, you must suppress your empathy for the toddler. In order to refuse the deal, you must suppress your empathy for people sick with cancer. So which way does empathy cut? Both and neither? Do we try to weigh how much empathy is suppressed with each choice and choose the one that involves suppressing empathy the least? That is where we started — it has boiled down to utilitarian consequentialism. No, murder always leads away from the telos, and that is why it is never a moral option.

    Another example. Sophie’s choice is no choice at all. The moral person always refuses to give material cooperation with evil and that choice is exactly that. The only moral choice is to refuse to choose. But both children will die instead of one, the A-Mat says. Surely it is moral to participate in the evil if your goal is to save a life. No, it is not.

  49. 49
    J-Mac says:

    CR @23
    How do you know they are definitely God’s morality, as opposed to your view about what God’s morality would be? It’s unclear how you can tell the difference.

    Mat 11:9

    “Wisdom is proved to be right [vindicated] by what she does or the results”

  50. 50
    OldArmy94 says:

    If I were an atheist, I would suppose that morality is nothing more than the tides of the times and that it’s easier to swim along than to fight them. Of course, you CAN challenge them in the same way that I might attempt to paddle against the rising tide; however, it is much less strenuous to let the currents guide you.

  51. 51
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR, you have been present all along when the difference between belief, perception or opinion and knowledge was discussed: warrant. Much of the rest is simply re-statement of the already sufficiently answered. KF

    Yes, KF. You presented dictionary definitions and referenced the epistemological idea that knowledge is justified, true belief. Ok, then let me reformulate again….

    What is the difference between “I believe the correct response to this moral problem is X” and “Morality is objective; I believe the epistemological idea that knowledge is justified, true belief; and I believe the objectively correct response to this moral problem is X.”

    Still not seeing it. Again, why should any be more compelled to accept the former than the latter?

    What does a “reasonable doubt” mean other than a lack of reasonable criticisms? Please be specific.

    We have already repeatedly discussed that our faculties and perceptions need not be infallible to reason correctly and even to warrant certain limited plumb-line truths as self-evident.

    ?And, I have repeatedly pointed out, nothing in that discussion conflicts with my position. For example…..

    For concrete and decisive instance, it is self-evident and beyond responsible, rational doubt that:
    2 + 3 = 5,

    Are you claiming this somehow incompatible with 2+3=5 being an idea that we current lack good criticism of. If so, what good criticisms do we have of it?

    And, why did you pick that particular example as a concrete and decisive instance out of all those you considered? Did you not quickly stop and try to question which ways or reasons they might be conceivably false?

    Apparently, one of the ideas you think is immune to criticism is the very idea that some ideas are immune to criticism, because you still haven’t addressed either of these in any significant way, other than to simply disagree for some yet to be disclosed reason.

  52. 52
    critical rationalist says:

    Tribune7, when asked what objective morality is….

    That there is purpose for our existence and that there are universal rules that all must follow — and to which all will be accountable — to achieve this purpose.

    Barry, is that what you think objective morality is?

    KF, what say ye?

  53. 53
    steve_h says:

    My answer to “Is it always evil to torture a child for pleasure?” is “Yes, always”

    My reasoning: Sometimes people do things which harm others, cause suffering, death etc.
    Sometimes they do those things to avoid greater harm, greater suffering, more deaths.
    Sometimes they do it for thier own personal gain, or pleasure.

    Even as an atheist, I can see that causing harm to others for pleasure is not conducive to living a comfortable life, free of constant fear and misery especially when I or people close to me might be the ones suffering that harm.

    And emotionally, the thought of death, torture and suffering are, well, kinda upsetting if you are not a psychopath. To some of us torture and death belong in a wholly different category to eating the wrong flavour ice cream — although it can be difficult to communicate that to some people and I can’t write it using the symbols of formal logic.

    Still it’s useful to have a word that describes acts such as killing and torturing for pleasure and the people that commit such acts as they describe exactly the kinds of acts and people most of us most want to avoid; Such a word is “evil”.

    AFAIAC, torturing babies for pleasure is always evil simply because that is what the word “evil” means; It’s pretty much a tautology which is why people usually bring up that rather than one of their other dislikes (eg homosexuality) when aguing for objective morality.

    The same word has some other definitions based on supernatural characters that I don’t believe in but still serve well to illustrate the same concepts. People from different religions featuring different supernatural characters will disagree on the details, but I think the cases where they pretty much all agree will fall under the simplistic definition used by the atheist (and offered as an alternative by many dictionaries)

    That we all agree that torturing babies for pleasure is evil doesn’t prove that morality is objective – it only shows that we can use words to convey meanings. But the meanings are not absolute. What counts as harmful may vary from person to person in the details, and what counts as mitigating factors will vary from person to person, religion to religion, era to era.

    I think the word “evil” loses some meaning the way people like Barry throw it around. If Barry tells you that someone is evil what have you learned about them? Nothing really. Maybe that person tortures babies; maybe they kill people for fun; maybe they round up the people they hold responsible for a savior’s death and kill them in concentration camps and then try to blame Darwin or Wallace; maybe when they see somebody in a life-threatening situation whom they could rescue, they point and laugh and then walk away (“not my job”); maybe they have disagreed with Barry on the internet about abortion; maybe they want to prevent mentally ill people from buying, hording and shooting semi-automatic weapons at other people; or raise taxes for the rich to help improve the living standards of the most vulnerable people in thier society. The only way to know for sure is to ask the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury or Barry himself.

    Luckily, he and everyone who believes in absolute morality just happen to have opinions exactly in accordance with the objective standard of God – even when those beliefs clash with those of the other moral absolutists.

    Barry:Suppose a super-being were to come to you this evening and give you a satisfactory guaranty that you could eliminate all cancer in the entire world. All you have to do to achieve that otherwise laudable goal is torture this toddler to death

    And yet Christianity is founded on the idea of torturing a 30-something innocent to death on a cross to spare everyone (except people who are not his own group of followers, i.e most of us) from the “cancer” of eternal torture in hell which he helped establish. Is the toddler in question being nailed to a cross? If so, the answer is apparently whatever “forget justice” translates to in Latin.

  54. 54
    HeKS says:

    Barry @48

    Yes, and all such systems fail. All A-Mat ethical systems boil down to utilitarian consequentialism. The problem is that some tradeoffs are immoral no matter how much net happiness or health is increased.

    What exactly do you think I’m arguing? Do you think I disagree with this? If so, let me redirect you to the second article I ever wrote here:

    Reply To An Argument Against Objective Morality: When Words Lose All Meaning

    In particular, start with the paragraph that reads…

    That said, I’m not sure how you think we can criticize the idea of torturing an innocent child and discard it without assuming the existence of objective moral truths. You could discard it as something that doesn’t personally appeal to you, but you couldn’t discard it as something that is objectively wrong such that there would be any basis for compelling someone else not to do it.

    …and continue with the five paragraphs that follow it.

  55. 55
    harry says:

    steve_h @53,


    And yet Christianity is founded on the idea of torturing a 30-something innocent to death on a cross to spare everyone (except people who are not his own group of followers, i.e most of us) from the “cancer” of eternal torture in hell which he helped establish.

    That is sick.

    The triune God – Father, Son and Spirit – are an entirely happy community of love from all eternity. They had no need of humanity. It was out of sheer generosity and love that they created humanity so that the Trinity of love could share their divine life and joy with us forever.

    Making humanity into something other than pre-programmed robots – making us into beings in the image of God, i.e., with an intellect and free will – would cost God very much. If a human being was to be a “who” like God is, and not a robotic “what,” there would have to be the possibility of evil. If we aren’t really free to deny the Truth and to do evil, then we aren’t really free to respond to God’s goodness and love, either.

    God, knowing full well that creating us would lead to Him having to redeem us, did so anyway. The price of our redemption was the humiliating, agonizing death of His Son.

    God created us out of sheer generosity and love. He didn’t have to do that. He redeemed us out of astounding generosity and love. He didn’t have to do that, either. God is good.

    Our true destiny is to eternally share in God’s divine life and love. That is why we have immortal souls. We were made to live forever. We are free to choose to deny the Truth and to do evil, i.e., we are free to choose Hell forever. There isn’t a soul in Hell who didn’t choose to be there; each suffers the frustration of being forever unfulfilled, and knowing that that was their own choice. That is the primary pain of Hell.

    And we are also free to live according to the Truth and experience eternal joy.

    The choice is yours.

  56. 56
    OldAndrew says:

    BA @14

    SB is engaging not in ontology but in a standard Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law epistemological analysis.

    A what what?

    The irony. Paul wrote,

    See to it that nobody enslaves you with philosophy and foolish deception, which conform to human traditions and the way the world thinks and acts rather than Christ.

    He used the Greek word “philosophy” writing to a Greek audience, places it alongside “foolish deceptions,” and points out the human origins of said philosophy. In other words, the scriptures are big and weighty, and all that philosophy was dust on the scales.

    But all the smart people were into it, so if you wanted to impress people and seem intelligent you went along. Sounds like some other modern teachings.

    Flash forward and you have individuals such as Thomas Aquinas who couldn’t care less what Paul thought – the guy who wrote a chunk of the Bible. They love their Greek philosophy. They study it, write about it, and try to meld it with Christianity. Because the Bible just isn’t good enough unless you mix it with some of that refuse that Paul warned Christians about.

    And what does that get you? A standard Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law epistemological analysis.

    Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom—but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

    And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom.

    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.

    Who regards the Bible as a description of objective morality? It offers a low opinion of philosophers like Aristotle. How contemptible for someone like Thomas Aquinas, who should have known better, to be enamored with him, place his words alongside the Bible, and teach them to Christians.

  57. 57
    john_a_designer says:

    What the moral subjectivist is really trying to argue is that there are no moral truths about anything. However, it is self-refuting to say there is “no ‘moral truths’ about anything,” because in doing so you’re making a universal truth claim about truth which takes the legs out from under the very argument you are trying to make. Short of being omniscient how can anyone even make such a claim? Besides that it runs contrary to our experience as human beings that there are some things that are really wrong, that civilized societies cannot exist without a standard of justice and we and society are capable of moral improvement.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    SB (Attn HeKS): As we are morally governed, en-conscienced creatures with intelligence and reasoning capability, we can recognise, warrant and acknowledge significant moral truths. However for such truths to find sufficient grounds in reality, we must recognise the IS-OUGHT gap in the ontological sense and that the issue of ungrounded ought can only be resolved at the world-root. This is the context in which I have argued that the only serious candidate — consistently, proposed alternatives fail at comparative difficulties — is the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, rational service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. This postulate then finds significant epistemic warrant from the facts of our morally governed nature and the need to adequately, coherently ground such a striking feature of our nature and identity as a class of contingent beings. Onward, it points to our being creatures with a purpose that will be partly at least intelligible, thus allowing evils to be understood as frustrating or perverting out of that proper end. Evils, consequently will be ruinous, often succeeding in part only because such patterns are not universal. Attempts to twist our moral government into frames where by implication if not by open recognition, might and/or manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘rights,’ ‘knowledge,’ ‘justice’ etc stand exposed as ruinously absurd. KF

  59. 59
    HeKS says:

    KF @58

    Agreed. I wanted to respond to SB on the IS-OUGHT gap issue because it seems like one area where we might actually disagree. I’ll try to find some time to get to that.

  60. 60
    StephenB says:

    HeKS, let me address what I perceive to be your most important objection:

    An understanding of human nature can make it possible for us to make ethical judgments based on the agreed upon and desirable goal of human flourishing, and our nature therefore gives us a kind of natural insight into a moral standard, playing a role in moral epistemology. However, ethics cannot tell us that to act unethically is also to act immorally. We can have ethics without God, but we can’t have morality without God. Not even a little.

    I agree. Let me explain, though, why the telos explanation rises above ethics. I submit that there are five things that are self-evidently *good* for humans—[a] to seek the good, including their highest good, God, [b] to survive, [c] to perpetuate the species, [d] to live in community, and [e] to use our intellect and will for making moral decisions. These are not simply *agreed upon or desirable goals,* by which we hope to make life better (ethics), they are *metaphysically justified goals,* designed by our creator to lead us to our ultimate good, God (morality).

    The first good, seeking our highest good, informs us, among other things, that we are morally obliged to learn about our Creator, conduct an intelligent search for which religious truth claims are credible, and pray for guidance and strength. Accordingly, we strive to place worldly pursuits in the right context and resist the worldly temptation to make little gods out of power, money, and comfort.

    The second good, to survive, guides us, among other things, to take care of our physical bodies and preserve our natural environment. If our survival is a natural good, it follows that our neighbor’s survival is good as well. That means that we should not kill people through wanton violence, or kill reputations with slander, or kill relationships with cruel speech.

    The third good, to perpetuate the species, speaks, among other things, to the morality of birth control and abortion. It is good that humans can act as co-creators with God and with this power comes a tremendous responsibility, including the obligation to honor the nuclear family and to resist the evil of homosexual behavior.

    The fourth good, to live in community, tells us do those things that promote the common good or the general welfare and avoid those things that militate against them. We should not take things that do not belong to us. What kind of a community could we have if everyone decided to start stealing? We should not commit adultery for the same reason. It isn’t just that we perceive the damage it would do (ethics), it is, more importantly, that God created us as social beings that operate best (have the best chance of being saved) a well-ordered society.

    The fifth good, the capacity to use our minds and wills to make wise decisions, informs us, among other things, that we have the power to decide our eternal fate even when we live an inferior temporal existence. We are not what we feel, nor are we even what we think. We are what our decisions have made of us. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

    In each case, we are really discussing the natural moral law. I could say much more about each *good,* but I am sure you get the idea. So, I will provide a concise summary:

    Ethics = agreed upon and desired goals

    Morality = metaphysically justifiable goals

  61. 61
    StephenB says:

    KF, HeKS,

    I will address the IS-OUGHT problem sometime later, unless it comes up again in the natural course of events. I suspect that there is semantic disconnect rather than a philosophical disagreement, but maybe not. Stay tuned.

  62. 62
    HeKS says:

    SB,

    I guess where my confusion lies with respect to my first comment is that you said you were describing what objective morality IS but then you seemed to go on to actually describe a way by which we might get to KNOW and EXPRESS (through our behavior) its particular dictates.

    In other words, you seemed to be indicating that you were about to talk about moral ontology and then you went on to discuss something that fell more in the realm of moral epistemology. To describe what objective morality IS is to describe the nature and source of its existence. My concern was that by trying to describe what objective morality IS by reference to the indications and purposes of human nature you’re setting the stage for the kind of confusion we see in the arguments of people like Sam Harris, who claim to believe in objective morality and claim it is dictated by what we can discover about the drivers of human flourishing through science.

    Barry said I misunderstood you, but he said that by way of this comment:

    But in the comment to which you allude SB is engaging not in ontology but in a standard Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law epistemological analysis.

    But that was my point. I understood you to be making a statement about moral epistemology, but prefaced by a statement that suggested you were about to address moral ontology. It’s not that I thought your comments were wrong with respect to epistemology … it’s merely that they WERE about epistemology, and GUN seemed to be asking about ontology.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS & SB, I suggest that ethics and morals are inevitably and inextricably intertwined and entangled. Yes, one may have codes of ethics that purport to lay out good praxis but such codes can be corrupted, just as laws and courts can be corrupted. The point is moral soundness. KF

  64. 64
    john_a_designer says:

    StephanB @ 40.

    I am especially glad that you asked this question. I think that the so-called Is-ought dichotomy is misunderstood and overblown. When philosophers claimed that you cannot get to the ought from the is, they meant that you cannot take down-on-the-ground facts and derive morality from that information alone. I agree with that point, but its importance is greatly overestimated. Metaphysically, there is NO gap between the IS and the OUGHT. How things are (the is, our nature, our purpose, God’s existence etc.) does, indeed, determine how we ought to act. In fact, we can and we must derive the ought to from the is in that sense, and it is the only sense that matters. The whole idea of the so-called IS-OUGHT “controversy,” was to make us forget that metaphysical truth determines moral truth. In my judgment, David Hume was not a great thinker. He was a sophist of the first order.

    I think there are two basic approaches to natural law:

    #1. Naturalistic natural law, which presupposes that human beings and human morality is a result of a long mindless and purposeless natural process.

    #2. Theistic natural law, which presupposes that human beings and their moral conscience were somehow created by an eternally existing transcendent mind.

    If you think about it there is less of a problem deriving an “ought from an is” with #2 than there is with #1. Furthermore, it is hard to see how with #1 you can have objective moral values, true social justice or universal human rights. In that regard the subjectivist is completely right.

  65. 65
    JSmith says:

    I can’t believe that this objective versus subjective discussion is still going on. Let me summarize the arguments on both sides.

    For objective morality:
    Self-evident truths, Plato’s cave, IS-OUGHT, and other philosophical nonsense. Supported by self-righteous hissy fits and labelling anyone who disagrees with them a Nazi, scoffing, Orwellian, disgusting, hypocritical, Simpering coward.

    For subjective morality:
    The ability of humans to think rationally and abstractly, and an ability to reason out likely consequences of our actions. The well understood impact of early teaching, repetition, reinforcement and feedback on our deeply held beliefs. This, supported by thousands of years of human history and the unbiased use of our five senses.

    The objective side really has to pull up the socks.

  66. 66
    ET says:

    I can’t believe that materialistic atheists talk about morals because if they are right then morals don’t exist and whatever happens, happens. As long as you and yours survive and reproduce tat is all that counts. Nothing else matters.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, per fair comment, you have for some time now clearly shown that you are a committed subjectivist and radical relativist who comes to the table with considerable animus against the Christian faith and ethical tradition. You have clearly sought to tax that faith and tradition with major responsibility for the Nazi holocaust, and seem to fear that any discussion of objective moral truth is an effort to impose totalitarian domination prone to repeat something like the holocaust. You have expressed deep irritation at the pointing out of the holocaust of unborn, living posterity in the womb, now growing at about 1 million further victims per year on a base of 800+ millions since the early 1970’s. You have expressed similar irritation regarding the citation of actual cases that show self-evident moral truth, especially that of the self-evidently evil nature of an act of kidnapping, binding, sexual assault and murder of a young child for pleasure. You insist on conflating how we learn some moral principles in family or community with the issue of objective warrant for same, as well as the further question of truth. You dismiss the warning passed on to us by Plato in his parable of the cave and thousands of years of serious discussion of the IS-OUGHT gap as “nonsense.” We therefore have every right to regard you as not a serious participant in discussion, and though we may have and do continue to express reservations on harsh language used, in fact as at now, you have made yourself a poster-child of irresponsible commentary on a soberingly serious matter. You would be well advised to reconsider how you have intervened above, and in recent weeks. Meanwhile, if you do not find this topic to your taste, the solution is quite simple: no-one forces you to read or comment. However, the obsessiveness with which you have intervened suggests that you realise deep down that we are morally governed, that it is important, that duties of care to truth, sound logic etc are vital to reasoning and more. All of this has been highlighted previously in your presence but brushed aside. It seems you need to reconsider your views. KF

  68. 68
    JSmith says:

    JS

    For objective morality:
    Self-evident truths, Plato’s cave, IS-OUGHT, and other philosophical nonsense. Supported by self-righteous hissy fits and labelling anyone who disagrees with them a Nazi, scoffing, Orwellian, disgusting, hypocritical, Simpering coward.

  69. 69
    john_a_designer says:

    Let me quote myself. This is something I have said before at least a couple of different times on a couple of different threads:

    I try to avoid getting involved in discussions or debates with any of our regular interlocutors because I don’t believe they are being intellectually or ethically honest. The logic here is really very basic and straightforward: If there are no true interpersonal moral standards or obligations how can we trust anything anyone says or asserts? I don’t think that we can. To have an honest discussion or debate you need some kind of interpersonal, or “transcendent,” standard of truth and honesty– even if it’s a traditional or some kind of “conventional” standard. Why would I trust somebody else’s subjective standard for honesty and truth when he starts out by arguing there is no standard of truth or honesty?

    In other words, telling the truth and being honest only makes sense if there is an objective standard of truth and honesty. That’s a self-evident truth, therefore, any viable system of morality must be based on the fact that there really is moral truth.

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, actually the first approach is little more than dressing up amorality and soft nihilism to make such seem somehow palatable. KF

    PS: This has long been well-known, here is Plato (in one of the key texts certain objectors so despise):

    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].

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, we were there, we saw your repeated insinuations, innuendoes and invidious associations. We noticed your unresponsiveness to actual citation of the core Christian ethics teaching. We saw how you resorted to the hermeneutic of suspicion against Christianity and Christians in general. We saw your evasiveness in the face of demonstrations of self-evident truth and particularly moral ones. We saw the obvious animus and irritation that are present again in this thread. And, to crown all, having repudiated self-evident or objective duties to truth etc you are now resorting to trying to bind such on us in a context where you have repudiated such against yourself. We take due note and draw our conclusions on how we have to act with prudence in the face of what you have come to represent. KF

  72. 72
    JSmith says:

    JS

    JS

    For objective morality:
    Self-evident truths, Plato’s cave, IS-OUGHT, and other philosophical nonsense. Supported by self-righteous hissy fits and labelling anyone who disagrees with them a Nazi, scoffing, Orwellian, disgusting, hypocritical, Simpering coward.

    KF in response

    JS, per fair comment, you have for some time now clearly shown that you are a committed subjectivist and radical relativist…[and so on]

    Thank you for demonstrating that my summary of the arguments used to support objective morality was accurate. Your comment couldn’t have been a clearer demonstration of this even if I had written it myself.

  73. 73
    ET says:

    JS the hypocrite is putting words into other people’s mouths.

    Thank you, William Spearshake, for proving materialists and morals don’t mix.

  74. 74
    Molson Bleu says:

    ET “JS the hypocrite is putting words into other people’s mouths.”

    You are free to behave as you like but your last few comments are not appreciated by those of us who are theists and believe in objective morality. And, if I may point out, only lends credence to JSmith’s comment about the objective morality arguments that are presented here (see @65).

  75. 75
    groovamos says:

    I was a moderately conservative kid, aged 18~19, not religious, but believing in God. And with a certain uncomfortable fascination with young girls who would “do it”. I knew I would never date one even though the “sexual revolution” so-called, was stirring, mostly about the naked women magazines at the time. But of course it was OK for guys to be sexually loose at that time. Well guess what, the revolution, so-called, was right about to explode into the south as it did in the rest of the country, and I found myself in the increasingly leftist milieu at Vanderbilt. And what a treat for a young guy, you could go out with girls who were increasingly willing to “do it” on a wide scale, and the whole thing was OK according to the Left, and to be celebrated. In fact, us young uns were, without realizing it, forming a pact, and the deal was sealed so to speak, with something we loved, sex. Or more accurately pleasure provided by sexual license. All we felt any obligation about was not towards the opposite sex, but towards those who gave us the OK, the leftists, and so we became very comfortable with their deal. It was so easy. Easy sex. Pretty soon I became an atheist as were most of my friends.

    So as the years went by yours truly went from one broken relationship to the next although pretty successful in sexual “conquests” as the term is used. But a failure at relationships, and eventually developed a phobia around sex and women. And so I came back to spirituality and embarked on some powerful therapeutic endeavors, where it became apparent that the phobias were related to deep existential issues that have been described over the ages in the world’s scriptures.

    Observing the convulsions in our society at the present moment makes me feel like the same thing is happening to our culture as has happened with me, and some of the acting out being defended on this forum is just further evidence of what is going on. The materialists are behaving as if their best hope for their life is for oblivion at the end. It is in a word, nuts.

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, you just added brazenly setting up and knocking over a strawman. KF

    PS: Just to remind on my actual caution a little earlier today — which you just further substantiated:

    per fair comment, you have for some time now clearly shown that you are a committed subjectivist and radical relativist who comes to the table with considerable animus against the Christian faith and ethical tradition. You have clearly sought to tax that faith and tradition with major responsibility for the Nazi holocaust, and seem to fear that any discussion of objective moral truth is an effort to impose totalitarian domination prone to repeat something like the holocaust. You have expressed deep irritation at the pointing out of the holocaust of unborn, living posterity in the womb, now growing at about 1 million further victims per year on a base of 800+ millions since the early 1970’s. You have expressed similar irritation regarding the citation of actual cases that show self-evident moral truth, especially that of the self-evidently evil nature of an act of kidnapping, binding, sexual assault and murder of a young child for pleasure. You insist on conflating how we learn some moral principles in family or community with the issue of objective warrant for same, as well as the further question of truth. You dismiss the warning passed on to us by Plato in his parable of the cave and thousands of years of serious discussion of the IS-OUGHT gap as “nonsense.” We therefore have every right to regard you as not a serious participant in discussion, and though we may have and do continue to express reservations on harsh language used, in fact as at now, you have made yourself a poster-child of irresponsible commentary on a soberingly serious matter. You would be well advised to reconsider how you have intervened above, and in recent weeks. Meanwhile, if you do not find this topic to your taste, the solution is quite simple: no-one forces you to read or comment. However, the obsessiveness with which you have intervened suggests that you realise deep down that we are morally governed, that it is important, that duties of care to truth, sound logic etc are vital to reasoning and more. All of this has been highlighted previously in your presence but brushed aside. It seems you need to reconsider your views.

    In response to an attempt to snidely dismiss, I further cautioned:

    we were there, we saw your repeated insinuations, innuendoes and invidious associations. We noticed your unresponsiveness to actual citation of the core Christian ethics teaching. We saw how you resorted to the hermeneutic of suspicion against Christianity and Christians in general. We saw your evasiveness in the face of demonstrations of self-evident truth and particularly moral ones. We saw the obvious animus and irritation that are present again in this thread. And, to crown all, having repudiated self-evident or objective duties to truth etc you are now resorting to trying to bind such on us in a context where you have repudiated such against yourself. We take due note and draw our conclusions on how we have to act with prudence in the face of what you have come to represent.

    There is more serious substance to this discussion and your derailing effort will fail.

  77. 77
    ET says:

    Molson Bleu- please buy a vowel. It is NOT OK for JSmith or anyone to change what people say. That is morally bankrupt. And it is also true that morals, with respect to materialistic atheists, are total nonsense and unwarranted baggage.

    As for what JSmith posts, well, it doesn’t read very well and it sure doesn’t seem to be able to comprehend what it does read.

  78. 78
    john_a_designer says:

    I have no problem with JSmith or any other naturalist materialist believing in moral subjectivism.

    According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948:

    “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

    The U.S. State Dept. (and I assume many other countries as well) affirms the U.N. declaration right. Most legal scholars I think would agree that “freedom of thought, conscience and religion (belief)” also affirms the rights of atheists and secularists to not believe.

    However, I don’t see how the moral subjectivist is in a position to tell anyone else what to think and believe. It’s irrational to think that your subjective opinions are morally binding on anyone else. It’s silly and foolish to argue that they are. If they’re subjective then your opinions apply only to you. No one else is obligated to even consider them. Furthermore, to argue that moral subjectivism is true is self-refuting. (See my earlier comment @ #57.)

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-do-atheists-deny-objective-morality/#comment-648486

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, my problem is increasing disconnect from duty to truth, sound logic etc, leading to benumbed conscience and mind out of connect with reality. BTW, did I mention that we are dealing with folks who object to seeing truth as what says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not? Then bring in media and education system narrative dominance, multiplied by critical mass in key decision-making or influencing institutions and spiral of silencing on the streets etc. Lemmings headed for the cliff. And in my book, that is serious reason to take a stand. KF

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: How to go over the cliff, with special reference to the Peloponnesian war:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  81. 81
    JSmith says:

    KF

    JS, you just added brazenly setting up and knocking over a strawman. KF

    And what strawman are you referring to? I provided an observation that the arguments against subjective morality are largely lame philosophical arguments peppered with more than a few character attacks on those who disagree with you. You respond to this with a character attack and double downing on lame phylisophical arguments. I have yet to see anyone present concrete, observable evidence that supports your objective morality world.

    I disagree with you about how to reduce abortions. But you have not presented an alternative that has been shown to reduce abortions. I disagree with you calling abortions a holocaust because I don’t believe that an early stage fetus has the same right to life as you and I. And when I point out the inconsistency in your reluctance to charge a woman with murder, you simply deny the inconsistency but do not provide a rational reason.

    Your IS-OUGHT argument is circular. I think that you OUGHT to pay your taxes, and I don’t have to resort to some god to ground that OUGHT. The same can be said for all other OUGHTS you can present.

    You argue about the existence of self-evident truths as if that is proof of self-evident moral truths. The one does not necessitate the other. Nobody is arguing that there are no self-evident truths.

    And I have done all this without resorting to an attack on someone’s character. Can you say the same?

  82. 82
    john_a_designer says:

    kf, I was being somewhat facetious and ironic. I mean if JS were truly a subjectivist we shouldn’t be hearing from him at all because what he believes applies only to him. IOW I don’t bother people who bother me… so why is JS bothering us?

    Obviously he and the other so-called moral subjectivists who keep showing up here are being disingenuous. An “honest” to moral subjectivist would be a nihilist. Someone who has an agenda has not come to terms with his nihilism; he is an anarchist. Unchecked those people do pose a threat to society because they have nothing constructive to offer. The problem is how do you reason with those kind of people when their “reasoning” it so self-referential?

  83. 83
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    I provided an observation that the arguments against subjective morality are largely lame philosophical arguments

    Your premise was For subjective morality: The ability of humans to think rationally and abstractly, and an ability to reason out likely consequences of our actions.

    Your evidence was The well understood impact of early teaching, repetition, reinforcement and feedback on our deeply held beliefs. This, supported by thousands of years of human history and the unbiased use of our five senses.

    We repeatedly point out examples via the ancients and the moderns were humans don’t, individually or en mass, think rationally albeit perhaps abstractly and the consequences of their actions lead to disaster.

    Your premise is beyond flawed and no amount of reason, logic, evidence or example is able to make you see that. It is like throwing pebbles at a brick wall. Ponder that.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, doubling down and projection. Prudence dictates that we hold you and those like you to be manipulative soft nihilists and recognise that power unwisely ceded to such hands will be ruinous. Mutinous ship of state ruinous — and BTW, that is not mere philosophical “nonsense,” it is grounded in the history of Athens’ collapse through the Peloponnesian war. You seem to think that you can gain advantage be expecting us to implicitly acknowledge duty to truth and sound logic etc while you can evade recognition of the inescapable moral government implied by actually having such duties. In short, you are caught out clinging to self-serving absurdity. KF

  85. 85
    ET says:

    I disagree with you calling abortions a holocaust because I don’t believe that an early stage fetus has the same right to life as you and I.

    And yet without those early stages there isn’t any you and I. Being a human is a process with a beginning and an end. To say the beginning is meaningless and can be done away with is moral cowardice. The beginning is when humans are the most vulnerable and in need of care, not threat of death just because.

    And when I point out the inconsistency in your reluctance to charge a woman with murder, you simply deny the inconsistency but do not provide a rational reason.

    Not every case would be the same. The charge would depend on the evidence, of course.

  86. 86
    Martha K says:

    Forgive me if this has been asked before, but are both sides of this debate using the same definition of objective with respect to morality? The only reason I as is because, from what I have read here, both sides appear to be arguing about different things.

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, beyond a certain point, having given evidence, argument, reason, explanation, correction and remonstrance, such must be named for what they have shown themselves to be and confronted with the manipulator’s dilemma: gaming the system only works where there can be a community of trust to parasite off. But if the manipulative soft nihilism spreads far enough, the system collapses. They have locked themselves out of the community of reasonable, responsible discussion and will be treated as such. Right now JS is desperately trying to recirculate arguments that have been patiently corrected over and over, and is multiplying that with an avalanche of accusations. His failed track record is what condemns his views. Yet again, it seems. KF

  88. 88
    JSmith says:

    T7

    We repeatedly point out examples via the ancients and the moderns were humans don’t, individually or en mass, think rationally albeit perhaps abstractly and the consequences of their actions lead to disaster.

    So, the fact that moral values have changed dramatically over time is proof of objective morality? And you are calling my logic flawed?

  89. 89
    JSmith says:

    JS

    ….I provided an observation that the arguments against subjective morality are largely lame philosophical arguments peppered with more than a few character attacks on those who disagree with you.

    KF responds

    JS, doubling down and projection. Prudence dictates that we hold you and those like you to be manipulative soft nihilists and recognise that power unwisely ceded to such hands will be ruinous….

    I couldn’t ask for better responses to prove my point.

  90. 90
    Seversky says:

    Why Do Atheists Deny Objective Morality?

    Speaking personally, because I don’t think there is any such thing. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there is any morality worth having. I do. But I think it’s something we have to work out for ourselves, something we can work out for ourselves.

    What do I mean by ‘objective’? I mean that which is held to exist regardless of whether it is being conceived or perceived by conscious beings such as ourselves.

    Suppose our planet were hit by a huge asteroid – a “planet-killer”. All life on Earth – not just humanity – would be obliterated, wiped out as if it had never existed. Do you really think that rules about human beings not coveting their neighbor’s wife or making graven images are still somehow imprinted in the fabric of the universe, that they were for billions of years before we existed and will be for billions of years after we’ve gone? Or would our beliefs have gone with us? Isn’t it just hubris or wishful thinking to believe that this vast Universe cares one jot about us or how we behave?

    But we care about how we behave towards one another because it affects us all. I don’t see why I have to keep belaboring this point but the reason why we try to put a stop to psychopaths who want to rape and murder for their own perverted pleasure is because none of us want either ourselves or our loved ones to be a victim of such vile person and that’s more than sufficient justification for deciding it’s “wrong”.

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, SB repeatedly, patiently explained and addressed reasonable concerns, to no avail. JS proves just how unreasonable and unresponsive he is in the face of holocaust. Speaking of, c 1945, the Allies faced a nation that had been involved in war crimes of unprecedented degree. I have to acknowledge precedents in Belgium and Namibia. Should they try a sizable proportion of the nation as war criminals or direct aiders and abetters? What if they had set out to summarily try then shoot upwards of a million men? The only reasonable conclusion was to try the leaders and the most outrageous cases as major war criminals — and I took time to borrow and read volumes of that gut-churning multi-volume work from my Uni Library. I still recall the hideous blue covers, or is it that I now associate that shade with the horrors within. BTW, after 40 years I was the sole borrower. Then, the Allies recognised diminished responsibility of those involved at lesser and lesser degree, then seek to reform a nation. It has worked to significant degree. With the vcurrent global holocaust proceeding at a million more victims per year on a total far exceeding 800 million since the early 70’s, we see that even JS did not know that by the time awareness of pregnancy has set in, we are past the fig leaf of an alleged undifferentiated mass of cells. Shades of Haeckel and his fraudulent recapitulationism — which I remember being used in a documentary I saw in the ’70’s. The dehumanisation of targets game, as you rightly point out, fails. But we need to deal with diminished responsibility and structured deception pivoting on oh, they don’t look enough like us, they cannot have rights like us. For shame. Instead, let us acknowledge our global guilt, let the history books teach the truth, and move on to do better. KF

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, do you really think that preening yourself on clever twists of rhetoric and turnabout tactics can save you at this stage? WE WERE THERE, WE SAW YOU IN ACTION OVER WEEKS. Description backed up by case after case is not false accusation, it is a final call to you to wake up and do better. One you obviously have no intent to heed. Sad. KF

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, clever but inaccurate definition. Objective truth is a degree of truthfulness where per warrant we are confident that a claimed truth is not merely a perception under serious suspicion of delusion. For instance || + ||| –> |||||. Which also happens to be self-evident, a higher degree. Likewise, on historical record and traces we are confident that there was a ruler of Rome, Julius Caesar. And another of Greece, Alexander the Great. When it comes to moral truths, we can start with the fact that you expect us to respond to the moral government of duties to truth, sound logic etc. You do not dismiss that as delusion and say let’s have a contest as to who is the cleverest manipulator. KF

  94. 94
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    So, the fact that moral values have changed dramatically over time is proof of objective morality? And you are calling my logic flawed?

    You are citing “thousands of years of human history and the unbiased use of our five senses” as proof that humans act rationality and in consideration of consequences. It is extremely flawed logic.

    Further you willfully ignore our point that moral values have not changed but that human beings act in violation of eternal designed morality.

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    Trib, recall how studiously JS and CR tried to game their way around the self-evident truth that error exists? They seem to refuse to acknowledge that people can err on truths, and that in many cases people do what is wrong in hope of an advantage. Some, find themselves addicted to evil (try drug addiction). Beyond, there is the matter of acting under false colour of law like Nazi defenders who said they followed legal authorities and laws. How we forget the significance of recognising that a higher law, the law of our morally governed nature told the same people that mass murder is wrong. And so forth. KF

    PS: another reminder of the “nonsense” JS would dismiss, here from Cicero:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

  96. 96
    tribune7 says:

    KF

    The reason why the ancients like Cicero and Plato ring true today — for those that actually read them — is that human nature has not changed a whit.

    JS has trouble comprehended what was vile then is vile today.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    HeKS

    I guess where my confusion lies with respect to my first comment is that you said you were describing what objective morality IS but then you seemed to go on to actually describe a way by which we might get to KNOW and EXPRESS (through our behavior) its particular dictates.

    Perhaps this is the passage that you had in mind:

    “Among other things, the nature of a human being is to use his faculties of intellect and will to make decisions that will help him obtain those things that are objectively good for him.”

    Notice that I didn’t say anything about *how* humans know what is good (epistemology), only that they have the capacity for it. It is their nature (ontology) to know the good. All I was trying to say, or at least imply, is that the moral code is accessible to humans so they don’t have to rely on their imagination, fall back on subjective ethics, or rely on the truths of revelation to know it. Since subjectivists on this site continually say that we cannot know objective morality, we need to remind them from time to time that such is not the case.

    Objective morality is, of course, inextricably tied to the purpose and the intent of the law-giver, in the same way that the purpose of a pen is tied to the intent of its designer. I don’t always mention God, but it seems evident that anything made with a purpose requires the existence of an intelligent agent. However, the *what is* of the moral law exists as a code, but there is something else we must say about it. It *is* not only a code; it is decidedly a knowable code.

    With respect to Sam Harris and others, I don’t think there is any way we can prevent them from cleaving to half truths and treating them as whole truths. As I mentioned earlier, objectively good moral habits can be formed for objectively bad reasons. One can learn the virtue of patience by planning sweet revenge against his enemy. An atheist could twist that comment and make it appear that I think revenge is a good thing. And so it goes.

  98. 98
    JSmith says:

    T7

    You are citing “thousands of years of human history and the unbiased use of our five senses” as proof that humans act rationality and in consideration of consequences. It is extremely flawed logic.

    If misreprenting my comments make it easier to support your opinion, don’t let me stop you. Where did I say that we always act rationally and in consideration of possible consequences?

  99. 99
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Further you willfully ignore our point that moral values have not changed but that human beings act in violation of eternal designed morality.

    Disagreeing is not willfully ignoring. You and KF and fellow travellers of your ilk see a highly variable moral system (over time and amongst current society) and attribute it to some societies acting in violation of objective and eternal moral values. Willfully ignoring the more likely explanation. That there are no objective and eternal moral values.

  100. 100
    JSmith says:

    KF

    WE WERE THERE, WE SAW YOU IN ACTION OVER WEEKS. Description backed up by case after case is not false accusation, it is a final call to you to wake up and do better. One you obviously have no intent to heed. Sad. KF

    I will stand on my record. I supported every one of my claims with evidence. Have you countered them with equally compelling evidence?

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, indeed your record speaks, of your failure. The thing about a worldview level error is that it is normally self-reinforcing. Especially if you have made a crooked yardstick your standard for the straight, accurate and upright. What is genuinely such will NEVER match crookedness. Your only hope is to seek out plumb-line truths that are naturally straight and upright. But, when you were confronted with self-evident truths in general, you played evasive games until a grudging half-concession was wrenched out of you. But that was cleverly worded not to acknowledge that such exist and that you had cases in front of you. Cases that included: || + ||| –> |||||, and we already know that you want to use another advantageously but not for yourself: error exists. Yes it exists but our fallibility does not imply that every argument can be pushed in the suspect category and discarded when the conclusion is inconvenient. That trick is likely how the game is being played. As for moral SET’s you remain adamant. Ironically, above you yet again imply that moral government is binding on us through duties of care to truth, sound reasoning etc. But you imply a self-serving exception that reveals the critical incoherence and absurdity. In effect, you imply that you are superior to such a law, you are strong enough to manipulate and impose such on others. All you have ended up doing is convincing us that you are a soft nihilist, willing to manipulate to impose will to power. Game over. KF

  102. 102
    StephenB says:

    JS

    I provided an observation that the arguments against subjective morality are largely lame philosophical arguments peppered with more than a few character attacks on those who disagree with you.…

    I, for one, am not a big fan of extravagant exercises in name calling. I prefer to address bad ideas and leave the character assassination out of it. That is why I choose to refute you errors rather than to attack you personally.

    However, you continue to miss the irony: Your outrage obviously stems from a strong conviction that your adversaries have violated some objective standard of right and wrong. Otherwise, there would be no reason to be offended.

    If morality is subjective, as you claim, then your adversaries are entitled decide the morality of name calling for themselves, which means you have no reason to complain, inasmuch as they are acting on *your* principles. Don’t you get it?

  103. 103
    JSmith says:

    SB

    I, for one, am not a big fan of extravagant exercises in name calling.

    And I have not suggested otherwise.

    However, you continue to miss the irony: Your outrage obviously stems from a strong conviction that your adversaries have violated some objective standard of right and wrong. Otherwise, there would be no reason to be offended.

    You mistake amusement with outrage. When people resort to attacking character rather than the substance of an argument, you know that they don’t have any evidence or rationale to argue with. Or they are just insecure little individuals who derive self worth from demeaning others.

    If morality is subjective, as you claim, then your adversaries are entitled decide the morality of name calling for themselves, which means you have no reason to complain, inasmuch as they are acting on *your* principles. Don’t you get it?

    Obviously, some here have already decided that name calling is morally acceptable. Even though I feel that calling people names is morally unacceptable, something drummed into me as a kid, I would never try to stop someone from doing it to me because I also believe that it says more about the name caller. And not in a favourable way. However, if I saw that name calling was affecting someone else, I would intervene. As, I assume, you would as well.

  104. 104
    EricMH says:

    Seems self evident that objective morality exists. If a society kills its existing children, refuses to create new children, parties away its finances, and commits suicide once said finances are gone, then it will shortly cease to exist. What is so controversial?

  105. 105
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    If misreprenting my comments make it easier to support your opinion, don’t let me stop you.

    If quoting you verbatim makes it easier to explain your position, you won’t stop me.

  106. 106
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    You and KF and fellow travellers of your ilk see a highly variable moral system (over time and amongst current society) and attribute it to some societies acting in violation of objective and eternal moral values. Willfully ignoring the more likely explanation. That there are no objective and eternal moral values.

    So when we point out that ancient societies sacrificed children to idols and modern societies killed millions for racial aesthetics, and that these things are in violation of an eternal moral order and you say no they are not and we point out that you are saying no they are not, why do you take offense?

  107. 107
    StephenB says:

    Eric MH

    Seems self evident that objective morality exists. If a society kills its existing children, refuses to create new children, parties away its finances, and commits suicide once said finances are gone, then it will shortly cease to exist. What is so controversial?

    Objective morality is, indeed, self evident. Subjectivists do not deny it because they believe it doesn’t exist. They deny it because they don’t want it to be true.

  108. 108
    JSmith says:

    T7

    If quoting you verbatim makes it easier to explain your position, you won’t stop me.

    Please do.

  109. 109
    JSmith says:

    T7

    So when we point out that ancient societies sacrificed children to idols and modern societies killed millions for racial aesthetics, and that these things are in violation of an eternal moral order and you say no they are not and we point out that you are saying no they are not, why do you take offense?

    Since I don’t think these acts are in violation of any objective, eternal moral order, why would I take offence of anyone pointing out to me what I believe? Do you want me to say it again? Hitler did not violate any objective, eternal moral order when he killed millions. Mesoamerican societies were not violating any objective, eternal moral order when they sacrificed children. Bin Laden didn’t violate any objective, eternal moral order when he brought down the World Trade towers. Dozens of priests didn’t violate any objective, eternal moral order when they raped little boys, and church authority did not violate any objective, eternal moral order when they covered up for the priests. But they all certainly violate the moral values that I have developed from childhood.

  110. 110
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Objective morality is, indeed, self evident. Subjectivists do not deny it because they believe it doesn’t exist. They deny it because they don’t want it to be true.

    I took Eric’s comment to be sarcasm. But maybe I was wrong.

  111. 111
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    But they all certainly violate the moral values that I have developed from childhood.

    So with the right amount of counter development say orchestrated sitcoms, planted news stories, and appropriately processed popular music you could find yourself amenable to child rape, correct? Why not?

  112. 112
    JSmith says:

    T7

    So with the right amount of counter development say orchestrated sitcoms, planted news stories, and appropriately processed popular music you could find yourself amenable to child rape, correct? Why not?

    I don’t know. Ask the pedophile priests.

  113. 113
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    I don’t know. Ask the pedophile priests.

    You don’t know? You never consider the possible personal consequences of your subjective morality?

  114. 114
    Seversky says:

    StephenB @ 106

    Eric MH

    Seems self evident that objective morality exists. If a society kills its existing children, refuses to create new children, parties away its finances, and commits suicide once said finances are gone, then it will shortly cease to exist. What is so controversial?

    Objective morality is, indeed, self evident. Subjectivists do not deny it because they believe it doesn’t exist. They deny it because they don’t want it to be true.

    Subjectivists do deny it because they don’t believe objective morality is self-evident or that it exists outside human consciousness. Objectivists explain the denial away to themselves in that way because the alternative would undermine much of what they need to believe.

  115. 115
    JSmith says:

    T7

    You don’t know? You never consider the possible personal consequences of your subjective morality?

    All the time. And maybe if the thousands of Christians who were complicit in the holocaust had considered the possible consequences of their objective morality, the holocaust may have been prevented. Or maybe if the people who jailed homosexuals had have thought about what they were told was an objective moral truth, centuries of persecution of homosexuals might have been prevented.

  116. 116
    OldAndrew says:

    This perfectly illustrates why this subject doesn’t deserve the attention it’s getting. Regarding child-molesting priests:

    JS:

    But they [including the aforementioned child-molesting priests] all certainly violate the moral values that I have developed from childhood.

    T7:

    So with the right amount of counter development say orchestrated sitcoms, planted news stories, and appropriately processed popular music you could find yourself amenable to child rape, correct? Why not?

    This demonstrates, perfectly, what no one can deny: The belief or disbelief that objective morality exists is not a factor that determines whether a person rapes children or commits other immoral acts.

    The absurdity of this discussion is that it elevates the basis we perceive for our morals far above what we actually do. You don’t torture children and you never would, but you don’t not do it for the same reason that I don’t do it.

    People argue that the moral subjectivist (I hate even typing something so inane) would accept molesting children if taught different morals, while ignoring that some moral objectivists molest children anyway. So do some moral subjectivists.

    It’s not about whether objectivism or subjectivism is right. It’s just that knowing whether someone is an objectivist or a subjectivist is a really lousy indicator of whether they will molest children.

    Imagine you have some bizarre emergency and you have to entrust care of your child to a random stranger. This where the rubber hits the road. What’s the first question you’re going to ask? Are you a moral objectivist or subjectivist? Is that the second question you’d ask? The third?

    All this fuss over objective morality is just another way of saying that I don’t care whether you actually act morally or not. You’re not right if you don’t accept my objective morality – in other words, you’re not right until you share my religious beliefs.

    I happen to think that everyone should share my religious beliefs. I actually mean that. But comparing them to Hitler because they don’t would be profoundly stupid. So would be asserting that you should accept my religion because it’s a self-evident objective reality. (I guarantee you the next step after that is an argument over competing self-evident objective realities – in other words, my religion vs. yours.)

    Here’s a more useful question to obsess over. Why do some moral objectivists and subjectivists molest children while other moral objectivists and subjectivists don’t?

  117. 117
    vividbleau says:

    Sev RE 89

    “Speaking personally, because I don’t think there is any such thing. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there is any morality worth having. I do. But I think it’s something we have to work out for ourselves, something we can work out for ourselves.

    What do I mean by ‘objective’? I mean that which is held to exist regardless of whether it is being conceived or perceived by conscious beings such as ourselves.”

    So what’s this “morality” that you speak of that doesn’t exist? How can something exist that doesn’t exist? I wish the subjectivists would quit hijacking the language by using a word that describes something that does not exist to them and call it what does exist ie personal preference. Can we at least be a bit honest here?

    Vivid

  118. 118
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    All the time. And maybe if the thousands of Christians who were complicit in the holocaust had considered the possible consequences of their objective morality, the holocaust may have been prevented. Or maybe if the people who jailed homosexuals had have thought about what they were told was an objective moral truth, centuries of persecution of homosexuals might have been prevented.

    You say you don’t believe in objective morals yet you judge others for things that you find — at this moment — immoral. I think your motivation is personal and emotion based. It has nothing to do with the pursuit of truth.

  119. 119
    tribune7 says:

    OA

    You are saying that social acceptance of subjective morality is irrelevant. Is that what you believe?

    People argue that the moral subjectivist (I hate even typing something so inane) would accept molesting children if taught different morals,

    That’s actually happened in history. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pederasty_in_ancient_Greece Are you saying culture and social mores don’t matter?

  120. 120
    JSmith says:

    VB

    So what’s this “morality” that you speak of that doesn’t exist? How can something exist that doesn’t exist? I wish the subjectivists would quit hijacking the language by using a word that describes something that does not exist to them and call it what does exist ie personal preference. Can we at least be a bit honest here?

    And we go full circle. The ‘subjective morals are nothing more than personal preference’ argument. We all have a sense of morality, a sense of what is right and wrong. And we all react to violations of these “values” in the same way, at a gut level. That is not being questioned. What we are talking about is where these moral values come from. Some say that God made them. They are the objective morality crown. Others say that they are derived from humans themselves through teaching, experience, reinforcement, feedback, instinct, etc. They are the subjective morality crowd. Not to be confused with moral relativists.

    The theists argue that without objective moral truths we would have anarchy and we would frolic with the lemmings as we go over the cliff to ruin. Their predictions of a society that only had subjectively derived moral values are always dire. Things like tyranny, wars, anarchy, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. But they never mention the fact that it could also result in a welcoming, mutually beneficial society. One that values diversity. One that values freedom. One that values the equality of women. One that accepts homosexuality as normal. The one thing that can, and does, stand in the way of these values being realized are people who blindly accept that their moral values are objectively true.

    If societies are based on objective moral values, we would expect to see less diversity amongst cultures than we see today, and than we have seen over time. If societies are based on subjective moral values we would expect to see a huge variety of differences; many failed experiments, many moderately successful, and some very successful.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, apparently, you still do not recognise that what you have been arguing pretty directly boils down to might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge,’ ‘rights,’ etc. In short, you are clinging to an absurdity. You also simultaneously expect us to adhere to standards that you impose by strength of your rhetoric etc. Then, you seem to continually wish to intimidate through guilt by invidious association. Not to mention, refusing to acknowledge the significance of error exists for deep moral error to exist; thus the need for correction based on self-evident truth as only a plumb-line has sufficient natural power to overcome determined commitment to using a crooked yardstick. Further, at each point where we have expressed our discomfort with the action of others, you continue to try to play the guilt by association card. Now, too, ethics is a branch of philosophy, but when we point to relevant philosophical considerations, you try to brush aside what you clearly have no cogent answer to with the rhetorical force of empty terms such as ‘nonsense.’ All of this and more adds up to locked in, self-reinforcing, worldview level error. We therefore now exert the right of prudent protective action. KF

  122. 122
    StephenB says:

    JS

    And maybe if the thousands of Christians who were complicit in the holocaust had considered the possible consequences of their objective morality, the holocaust may have been prevented.

    You have stated many times that society determines its own morality subjectively through its own governmental processes. That is what the German society did, which means that they passed your test for morality. Why, then, do you carry on as if you think it was immoral.

  123. 123
    EricMH says:

    Objective morality is the claim there are objective patterns to human flourishing and happiness. I don’t know of anyone who would deny such a common sense proposition.

  124. 124
    tribune7 says:

    Objective morality is the claim there are objective patterns to human flourishing and happiness. I don’t know of anyone who would deny such a common sense proposition.

    It’s not as common sense as you think. One human might find a particular behavior makes him flourishing and happy even though it makes another abjectly miserable. A group of people might find a behavior that makes them flourish and happy while making a much larger group miserable. What is to say they are wrong?

    Or maybe even more to the point a group might find something that makes them flourishing and happy but makes a smaller group miserable. Who says they are wrong?

  125. 125
    OldAndrew says:

    This would all work so much better if framed as a positive statement rather than as an attack.

    People isolated by time, geography, and culture often arrive at similar conclusions regarding what is right and wrong. We call them “morals.” Although the details vary and people at times disregard those morals, the commonalities are striking.

    Morals are different from the behaviors of animals, and have no evolutionary explanation (assuming that one assumes other behaviors do have evolutionary explanations.)

    For the most part animals behave selfishly, which contrasts with moral behavior.

    Even more striking, humans evaluate decisions according to their morality. They may choose to follow it or to ignore it. Animals don’t appear to choose whether to act according to their instincts.

    Humans exhibit this moral capacity which, unlike animal behavior relies on abstract knowledge, is not selfish, and is not followed instinctively. This is strong evidence that human moral capacity is not the result of any evolutionary process.

    It’s not scientific evidence. Most evidence of things that matter isn’t. It is a piece of circumstantial evidence that, combined with lots of other evidence, could lead a reasoning person to conclude that humans were designed apart from animals and given this ability that we mostly seem to share.

    Whether or not a person reaches that conclusion depends largely on what conclusion they want to reach. That includes me. So there’s not much point in beating anyone up over it.

    If we have reached that conclusion, then we no longer have to wonder why atheists talk about what is right and what is wrong. They do so for exactly the same reason that we do.

    If you can make the case that morals come from somewhere, that can lead to making a case for where they come from. But when addressing atheists it makes no sense to argue the conclusion – that the source of morals is objective and eternal – when you haven’t established the premise that they come from somewhere at all.

    This discussion goes in circles because it’s an attempt to force the conclusion without establishing the premise. It’s unreasonable and ultimately just antagonistic, eventually turning into an excuse for self-righteous posturing.

  126. 126
    JSmith says:

    SB

    You have stated many times that society determines its own morality subjectively through its own governmental processes. That is what the German society did, which means that they passed your test for morality. Why, then, do you carry on as if you think it was immoral.

    Each of us has established our own assemblage of moral values. If there is enough commonality within a society, government may enact some into the legal system. But something being accepted as morally right or wrong does not mean that everyone has to agree. Myself and most of western society think that it is morally right for same sex couples to get married if they want to. KF disagrees.

    When I say that societies determine what values they agree to live by, I was not passing a moral judgment on it, just that this is how societies function. Some societies adopt a set of values that is consistent with mine and I would judge those societies to be, by and large, moral societies. I would include Canada, the Scandinavian countries and s few others in this group. Some countries have adopted a set of values that are not consistent with mine and I would judge them to be less moral. But even within societies that I would judge to be moral societies, they may have some policies or values that I might consider immoral.

  127. 127
    EricMH says:

    @tribune7, whether or not someone is mistaken about whether they are flourishing is besides the point.

  128. 128
    EricMH says:

    @OldAndrew, we can establish there are objective patterns to human flourishing without any recourse to source, just as we can establish objective patterns to physical phenomena without any recourse to why the patterns exist.

  129. 129
    kairosfocus says:

    OA,

    pardon but you make a great error.

    It is of course self-evident that error exists — but that is yet again one of the things that some objectors have hotly contested even in the face of simple, decisive demonstration of the undeniable truth.

    Likewise, it is a commonplace fact that we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed, so it is unsurprising that determined evildoers will do what they wish to do to gain access to victims.

    But that is not the reason why we have been concerned to point to truth, especially self-evident truth and particularly moral cases. The first reason is, truth says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. That is, seeking truth — an accurate map — is the sane response to reality.

    In that context, history is replete with those who have sought to gain advantage from clinging to error. And indeed, we can see that if individuals and communities can be induced to somehow make a crooked yardstick their culturally entrenched standard for what is straight, accurate and upright, what is actually such will never measure up to that standard. So, when we see the sort of reaction we have seen — ‘philosophical nonsense’ — to a classic parable illustrating the point, The Parable of the Cave, that is a big red warning flag.

    We also live in a day of agit-prop operators who seek to divide and rule by way of inducing key sectors of our civilisation to do just this: adopt the crooked yardstick standard.

    The only defence strong enough to expose and break that — short of going over the cliff in civilisational collapse, which seems to be palpably near (and which no sane person would counsel as a corrective) — is self evident truth, including moral SETs.

    For, a plumb-line is undeniably naturally straight [true is the literal word used] and plumb, which will instantly expose the crooked yardstick for what it is, twisted.

    A dangerous, even suicidal standard.

    But even in the face of such an exposure, there will be those who have been sufficiently indoctrinated that they will refuse to look or will manufacture reasons to dismiss the plumb-line. Indeed another objector tried to appeal to side forces of gravity, not realising that they will be immaterial for such a case. Indeed, that is exactly why the plumb-line has become a proverbial term.

    Now, we have no naive expectation that setting up a plumb-line will open the minds of those sufficiently determined to object. Indeed, here are two Dominical sayings, the first from the very Sermon that expresses the core of Christian ethics, and the second showing the exact effect of making a crooked yardstick one’s standard:

    Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. 23 But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness!

    John 5: 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me [and continue in your unbelief]. [AMP]

    These two directly echo the point in the parable of Plato’s Cave. And as Sepphoris of the Dekapolis was the town where Jesus likely worked as a Carpenter, the echo is probably deliberate.

    One can reach a point where BECAUSE one is told the truth, s/he will reject it. That is ultimate blindness and corruption of heart, conscience and mind.

    Such an issue underscores the importance of commitment to truth despite how some will react to it.

    And indeed, there is a far more direct — and patently real-world, historical — echo of Plato’s Parable of the Cave and his Parable of the Mutinous Ship of State, in Acts 27. This is a case where the sound lessons of history were bought with blood and tears, so those who dismiss, neglect or willfully reject them doom themselves to pay the same coin over and over again.

    Paul, on his way to Rome as an appeals prisoner (in the face of bribery and assassination plots), is aboard a ship that through contrary winds has ended up in Fair havens. At Ship’s Council, he warns on the experience of three prior shipwrecks and the common prudence of experience, that an attempt to slip 40 miles down coast to a nicer port was an imprudent risk. He was obviously brushed off by the force of the ship owner and his bought and paid for sailing master; the majority went along. Doubtless the argument ran like, oh it’s only mid-October, we can get where we want in an afternoon. Risk is negligible. (I instantly hear very direct echoes from 20 years ago here.)

    When a south wind came up, the ship sailed. About half-way, it was seized in the typhonic winds of an early winter storm and was headed for the sandbars off the Libyan and Tunisian coasts as we would now term them. They managed to drag off to starward and drifted to Malta, a name that is pregnant with meaning: haven. But once they were there, anchored off a beach at midnight with storm waves still coming, the very same technico’s who had given ruinous council plotted how to abandon ship and helpless passengers while saving themselves. Paul detected the plot and the Officer in charge cut away the boat.

    In short, this is not at all a matter of pointless idle debate on matters that make no difference.

    Our civilisation is in peril, and we desperately need means of sound discernment in the crisis.

    That, is what is being objected to.

    The implications are pretty plain.

    KF

  130. 130
    OldAndrew says:

    T7, regarding cultures that condone abuse of children:

    That’s actually happened in history. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pederasty_in_ancient_Greece

    Guess who thought it was a “wise” idea? Aristotle:

    and the lawgiver has devised many wise measures to secure the benefit of moderation at table, and the segregation of the women in order that they may not bear many children, for which purpose he instituted association with the male sex.

    (That’s just an irrelevant side point because I searched for his name in the Wikipedia article you linked. It’s just that Aristotle has come up a few times and I thought I’d point out that Thomas Aquinas was a student of and advocate for someone who thought that sex with boys was okay, even wise.)

    Are you saying culture and social mores don’t matter?

    They matter a whole lot. So do individual morals. That’s an understatement because I don’t know what matters more.

    But believing (or not) that the morals we follow have an objective source is not what determines whether people will act morally. If anything is self-evident, I think everyone should be able to agree on that.

    I’m not saying that the difference between belief or disbelief in objective morality doesn’t matter either. All I’m saying is that if that belief isn’t an indication of what a person would actually do, then why use it as a basis for making accusations about the character of other people?

  131. 131
    OldAndrew says:

    OA, pardon but you make a great error.

    Forgive me, I’m not trying to be difficult. But could you sum it up for me?

    These two directly echo the point in the parable of Plato’s Cave. And as Sepphoris of the Dekapolis was the town where Jesus likely worked as a Carpenter, the echo is probably deliberate.

    I’m stunned. You strike me as a rather religious person yourself. Jesus constantly quoted the scriptures. He was wise beyond comprehension. He said that he didn’t speak his own thoughts, but those God taught him.

    Are you suggesting that with all of that, his wisdom and knowledge was so limited that he had to resort to plagiarizing or even alluding to Plato? Because Plato mentioned darkness and light?

    The corruption of Christianity, of which both Jesus and Paul warned, was well underway when men began trying to harmonize it with the teachings of Greek philosophy. Jesus planted wheat and now the field is full of weeds. We can’t truly appreciate the scriptures at all if we think they need any help from Plato.

  132. 132
    JSmith says:

    OA

    But believing (or not) that the morals we follow have an objective source is not what determines whether people will act morally. If anything is self-evident, I think everyone should be able to agree on that.

    I have stated a very similar thing several times. I said that it was objectively true (self-evidently true) that we all have this strong sense of morality, sense of right and wrong. That our reaction to any violation, whether by us or by others, hits us at a gut level. The only thing that we differ in is the origin of these moral values that our sense of morality reacts to.

    In spite of this the arguments against my suggestion is that subjectively derived morals are no different than a preference for ice cream flavour. Or, if I believe in subjective morality how can I call the holocaust immoral?

  133. 133
  134. 134
    StephenB says:

    JS

    Each of us has established our own assemblage of moral values. If there is enough commonality within a society, government may enact some into the legal system. But something being accepted as morally right or wrong does not mean that everyone has to agree.

    If a society passes a law, it hardly matters if everyone agrees. What matters is that those who comply will be rewarded and those who don’t comply will be punished. Yet you have no standard by which you can differentiate between a just laws and an unjust law. All you can say is that some societies pass laws that you like and other societies pass laws that you don’t like. This is totally irrational.

  135. 135
    tribune7 says:

    EricMH, whether or not someone is mistaken about whether they are flourishing is besides the point.

    There is no mistake. One guy is eating and has lots of wives, the other guy is skin and bones and on his last legs.

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    [Continuing:]

    The core of Christian ethics: https://uncommondescent.com/darwinism/the-core-of-christian-ethics-for-those-inclined-to-put-god-in-the-dock/

    Subjectivity vs objectivity and the importance of self-evident moral principles: https://uncommondescent.com/atheism/on-subjectivity-vs-objectivity-of-moral-principles-and-the-importance-of-self-evidently-true-moral-principles/

    –> As a check will reveal, the root focus on my return to more active posting has been grounding core ideas, especially knowledge.

    –> Issues on subjectivism, relativism and fallibilism etc came up in response to objections and OP’s are often headlined comments.

    –> Until these issues are addressed, no progress will be possible on scientific debates or on sound reformation, as the heart of the problem is clearly a strident rejection of knowledge, first principles of right reason and first principles of responsibility

    Sobering.

  137. 137
    tribune7 says:

    OA

    I thought I’d point out that Thomas Aquinas was a student of and advocate for someone who thought that sex with boys was okay, even wise

    So did the Protestants: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_scholasticism

    Aristotle influenced the age.

    But believing (or not) that the morals we follow have an objective source is not what determines whether people will act morally. If anything is self-evident, I think everyone should be able to agree on that.

    I don’t think this discussion is about individuals but societies. Obviously, one strongly raised with a certain set of social values will likely follow those values regardless of his philosophy as to their source.

    I’m not saying that the difference between belief or disbelief in objective morality doesn’t matter either.

    When someone is insisting it doesn’t matter, someone is required to point out that it does.

    All I’m saying is that if that belief isn’t an indication of what a person would actually do, then why use it as a basis for making accusations about the character of other people?

    I don’t think I’ve done that.

  138. 138
    OldAndrew says:

    Issues on subjectivism, relativism and fallibilism etc came up in response to objections and OP’s are often headlined comments.

    Until these issues are addressed, no progress will be possible on scientific debates or on sound reformation

    I’m afraid I don’t follow this at all. How do moral subjectivism or relativism prevent scientific debate? If someone accepts moral objectivism based on belief in God then what is the scientific debate even for?

    One of the key premises of Intelligent Design is that it is not contingent on any religious beliefs. One could be an atheist (and hence, a moral subjectivist) and the reasoning is still valid.

    You seem to be saying the exact opposite, that not only is the moral objectivism relevant to Intelligent Design, but that accepting it is a requirement before moving on to ID. You’ve tied moral objectivism to your religion, which means you’re tying your religion to ID.

    Mixing the two is very harmful to the discussion of ID. People google “Intelligent Design,” read the twisted Wikipedia page, and then come and see these truly bizarre discussions that support Wikipedia’s claim that ID is about religion. This is shooting ID in the foot with an AK-47.

  139. 139
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    Or, if I believe in subjective morality how can I call the holocaust immoral?

    No, it’s how can you authoritatively, definitively, eternally call the holocaust immoral.

  140. 140
    OldAndrew says:

    I’m going to play atheist for a moment. Actually I’m going to play both sides.

    Me: The holocaust was immoral.

    Moral objectivist: You don’t believe in God or have any objective source for your morals, so how can you really say that?

    Me: I’m not sure. If you asked me to pinpoint an objective reason and explain how it’s objective, I couldn’t. But I still believe that the holocaust was seriously evil.

    MO: See, you can’t say why it’s wrong. Holocausts happen because of people like you.

    Me: Holocausts happen because of people like me who think genocide is evil?

    MO: You don’t get to say that! How can you say it’s evil without objective moral standards?

    Me: I’m not sure. If you asked me to pinpoint an objective reason and explain how it’s objective, I couldn’t. But I still believe that the holocaust was seriously evil.

    MO: See, you can’t say why it’s wrong. Holocausts happen because of people like you.

    Me: Holocausts happen because of people like me who think genocide is evil?

    MO: You don’t get to say that! How can you say it’s evil without objective moral standards?

    Me: I’m not sure. If you asked me to pinpoint an objective reason and explain how it’s objective, I couldn’t. But I still believe that the holocaust was seriously evil.

    MO: See, you can’t say why it’s wrong. Holocausts happen because of people like you.

    Interjecting voice of sanity: Holocausts happen because of people who commit genocide, not because of people who believe it’s evil but can’t point out a precise, objective reason.

    MO: Aristotle!

    Me: Holocausts happen because of people like me who think genocide is evil?

    MO: You don’t get to say that! How can you say it’s evil without objective moral standards?

    Me: I’m not sure. If you asked me to pinpoint an objective reason and explain how it’s objective, I couldn’t. But I still believe that the holocaust was seriously evil.

    MO: See, you can’t say why it’s wrong. Holocausts happen because of people like you.

    Me: Holocausts happen because of people like me who think genocide is evil?

    MO: You don’t get to say that! How can you say it’s evil without objective moral standards?

    Me: I’m not sure. If you asked me to pinpoint an objective reason and explain how it’s objective, I couldn’t. But I still believe that the holocaust was seriously evil.

    MO: See, you can’t say why it’s wrong. Holocausts happen because of people like you.

    Me: Holocausts happen because of people like me who think genocide is evil?

  141. 141
    tribune7 says:

    OA

    Holocausts happen because of people who commit genocide, not because of people who believe it’s evil but can’t point out a precise, objective reason.

    Holocausts happen because someone thought it was right and there wasn’t enough people in places of influence to tell them otherwise.

    Why do you think the Holocaust happened? Or the Holodomor or the Killing Fields?

  142. 142
    J-Mac says:

    Would holocaust be called immortal, evil or genocide if the Nazis won the war?

    What would it be called, if they had?

    Would objective morality change its meaning?

    The great majority of Nazis claimed to be Christian…

    Would it have any effect how they would view holocaust and morality if they had won the war?

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    J-M,

    you full well know what something is and what it is called are utterly different; what is wrong is not suddenly right because someone with power calls evil good and good evil, a pretty direct biblical text BTW. As for the insistent attempt to suggest that the Nazi Holocaust was a natural outworking of Christian faith, ethics and their influence on civilisation, I again remind of what that ethics actually foundationally teaches:

    Rom 13:8 [b]Owe nothing to anyone except to [c]love and seek the best for one another; for he who [unselfishly] loves his neighbor has fulfilled the [essence of the] law [relating to one’s fellowman]. 9 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 statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law. [AMP]

    Then, I again draw attention to the German Christian of Jewish ethnicity, Heine, 100 years before the Nazis, on the implications of the apostasy even then begining to gather momentum in centres of learning:

    Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [–> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . do not overlook the obvious], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame [–> an irrational battle- and blood- lust]. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world.

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [–> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [–> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831]

    Provine, too, provides highly relevant context:

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

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    That should be clear enough, save for those determined to push the Dawkins type narrative.

    Those who persist in those tactics by way of undermining the need to recognise objective moral truth and especially self-evident plumb-line truth, flag themselves.

    KF

  144. 144
    vividbleau says:

    JSmith RE 119

    “And we go full circle. The ‘subjective morals are nothing more than personal preference’ argument. We all have a sense of morality, a sense of what is right and wrong.”

    What morality can you possibly be referring to? I will ask again how can this “morality” exist when it doesn’t exist?

    “And we all react to violations of these “values”

    Hey call them values, at least this is not hijacking language but they cannot possibly refer to “ moral” anything since morals and morality don’t exist. Now personal values do exist because persons objectively exist and they value certain things, they value that which they prefer.

    “ That is not being questioned. What we are talking about is where these moral values come from”

    Ahh no! I am asking how something that does not exist (morality) exist? Values exist such as “ I value peace and quite” but “ morality” objectively does not exist. To not exist objectively is to have no existence at all.

    Vivid

  145. 145
    vividbleau says:

    “And we go full circle. The ‘subjective morals are nothing more than personal preference’ argument.”

    Are there any “ values” that you can think of that you don’t personally prefer? Do your values exist “ objectively “ whether you personally hold to those values? If they don’t objectively exist apart from you then they only exist because you exist, they just happen to be the values you prefer.

    The same thing applies to what you call morality, they only exist because you exist and they just happen to be what you prefer. They have no meaning or or actual existence but you do,they are just labels you put on things you prefer.

    Vivid

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, the summary given is a strawman. Subjectivism and relativism go to personal, familial and community influences, reducing moral truth and moral government to values. Likely with a strong injection of the fallibilism agenda as I pointed out: if “everything” is fallible and there are disagreements, then objectivity and serious warrant must be abandoned. This is soft form amorality and nihilism at work, leading to manipulation of “values,” and to constructing scapegoating narratives targetting those who do not buy into the agenda; typically backed by a galloping irrationalism that dismisses first principles of right reason as suspect and that will predictably find any excuse to lock out contrary evidence and inconvenient facts. Bring on board the Internet atheist factor, mix in lurid one sided narratives that can only portray the real and imagined sins of Christendom while busily assigning the good done or contributions made to any other possible sources, then raise the ghost of Torquemada and suggest that Nazism and wider Fascism are natural outworkings of Christianity. The result is, that agit-prop operators and lawfare activists are having a field day, leading our civilisation to ruin. The way in which the ongoing holocaust of living posterity in the womb at a million further victims every week on a global base of 800+ millions since the early 70’s is the critical indicator of just how evil a day this is. KF

  147. 147

    When a self-described moral subjectivist can actually act as if morality is essentially a personal preference or subjective value, then they’ll have an argument. Until then, it’s nothing but hypocrisy.

    Would any of us think it is right to force anything else we consider a personal preference or subjective value on others? Would it be acceptable to knock someone’s bowl of vanilla ice cream off the table because you find vanilla offensive? Would you consider banning all kinds of music except the genre you prefer? Would any moral subjectivist be willing put their lives at personal risk to stop someone from wearing blue shoes?

    Nope. We would consider it wrong and foolhardy to act as if it was acceptable to force personal, subjective values and preferences on others, or to risk our own safety or lives to defy or prevent others from doing things that fall into those categories.

    Insisting that morality is subjective is a self-induced delusion that is utterly contradicted by their own behavior. But, when we live in a time where a old white male can self-identify as a purple eggplant, denying objective reality is the name of the nihilistic game.

  148. 148
    tribune7 says:

    J-Mac

    The great majority of Nazis claimed to be Christian…

    Professing Christianity was an obstacle to advancing in the party. What you say is possible — about 10 percent of Germany belonged to the party at the end of the war — but I’m curious as to where you get your information. The Nazis were by principle anti-Christian. Part of their Master Plan was the destruction of Christianity.

    Would it have any effect how they would view holocaust and morality if they had won the war?

    To answer your question in the context of this thread, they would view the destruction of the Jewish race as a great moral victory. Would it be?

  149. 149
    tribune7 says:

    Vivid

    Ahh no! I am asking how something that does not exist (morality) exist?

    Really well said. Great point.

  150. 150
    J-Mac says:

    KF @142

    Of course you and I know what is right and what is wrong…
    That wasn’t my Question!

    Had the Nazis won the war, and Christianity continued to be the dominating religion in the third Reich, as it was during the war, would they agree with the history written by the victors?

    As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”

    Since what is moral and what is not would be decided by the victors, Christianity would have to agree with the Nazis’ view of whether holocaust was moral or not…

    So, since the victors decide who the bad guy was and who was the good, Christianity would have to agree with the victors view or face the consequences…

    Not much has changed today when we look at Russia…
    The Orthodox Church supports Putin in exchange for protection, which means minorities are facing gradual discrimination… If you are not Orthodox Christian, you are not safe in Russia…

    Let’s just imagine that Putin does what Hitler did in 1930 and creates his own “holocaust”, and sends all those not supporting his regime to Siberia where many would face death…

    Would this be moral or immortal?

  151. 151
    tribune7 says:

    J-M

    Had the Nazis won the war, and Christianity continued to be the dominating religion in the third Reich, as it was during the war, would they agree with the history written by the victors?

    Your premise is incorrect. If the Nazis won, Christianity would have been destroyed. The irreligious anti-Christian element in Germany was the dominant factor just as it is many U.S. institutions. The second best selling book, after Mein Kampf, in Nazi Germany was Alfred Rosenberg’s “The Myth of the Twentieth Century” which was an anti-Christian screed.

  152. 152
    ET says:

    JS:

    I said that it was objectively true (self-evidently true) that we all have this strong sense of morality, sense of right and wrong.

    Abortions are clearly wrong and yet we still allow them on a mass scale.

    Myself and most of western society think that it is morally right for same sex couples to get married if they want to.

    What does that have to do with morals? The definition of marriage had to be changed. That alone tells you someone was up to no good.

  153. 153
    Seversky says:

    vividbleau @ 116

    So what’s this “morality” that you speak of that doesn’t exist? How can something exist that doesn’t exist? I wish the subjectivists would quit hijacking the language by using a word that describes something that does not exist to them and call it what does exist ie personal preference. Can we at least be a bit honest here?

    It depends on what you understand by “exist”. The Lord Of The Rings exists in objective, physical reality as books and movies. Middle Earth, the Shire, hobbits, etc exist only in the minds of the author and the audience for his works.

    There are any number of written works out there discussing morality but there is no good reason to think that morality exists anywhere but in the thoughts of those who are thinking about it.

    You should also stop using the demeaning term “personal preference” for subjective moral judgments. I can assure you I feel just as strongly about psychopaths who want to rape and murder children as you do and it goes way beyond personal preference. I just don’t see a need to make an unwarranted claim for objectivity to justify it.

    As for honesty, if Christians want to assert some sort of authority for their particular moral beliefs, they need to address the quite appalling behavior of their God and his proxies as described in the Old Testament. Perhaps it is time such accounts were purged from Scripture.

  154. 154
    JSmith says:

    VB

    What morality can you possibly be referring to? I will ask again how can this “morality” exist when it doesn’t exist?

    A prime example of the ‘claim the word as your own’ tactic. Homosexuals can’t marry because marriage is between opposite sex couples. Subjective morality can’t exist because morality is objective. Just for curiosity, I looked up several definitions of the word ‘moral’. The word ‘objective’ is not found in any of them. An example is given below.

    Moral: Concerned with or derived from the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society.

    When you are willing to have an honest discussion, I will be available. But if you are going to continue to use these dishonest tactics, I will simply say, g’day.

  155. 155
    JSmith says:

    KF

    Vivid, the summary given is a strawman.

    Me calling you a green blooded, purple skinned alien doesn’t make you one. You calling my observation a strawman doesn’t make it one. It is just an observation. You can either prove it wrong or confirm it. So far you have done nothing but confirm it.

  156. 156
    JSmith says:

    JM at 149, if the Nazis had of won the war, and if Christianity survived, I suspect you would see another verse or two added to the bible along the lines of:

    Hiedler 1:13 And God commanded the Bavarians to gas all of the Jews, man, woman and child, for they were unrepentant in their sins.

    Hiedler 1:14 And God commanded the Bavarians to gas all homosexuals, as they have sinned in God’s eyes.

  157. 157
    OldAndrew says:

    T7

    Why do you think the Holocaust happened? Or the Holodomor or the Killing Fields?

    I hesitate to even answer this in the context of this discussion, because it has nothing to do with moral subjectivism and objectivism, but whatever answer I give, someone else is going to pivot it back to that.

    These things happen because people have an innate inclination toward doing what is wrong. That manifests itself in both the small mistakes we make every day and the occurrence of shocking evil involving millions of people or just two.

    (If anyone responds to that with, “How can you say it’s evil?” it will demonstrate an astonishing capacity to be both confrontational and boring.)

    This coexists with our conscience, which pokes and prods us to do what is right instead.

    The question is which one wins. Beyond that I won’t try to explain why people did what they did because I can’t rationalize evil. Stanley Milgram did some interesting research that didn’t address the root cause, but shed some light on how some people can be persuaded to do evil things.

  158. 158
    kairosfocus says:

    JS,

    The referenced description was indeed a strawman caricature.

    Dismissive Claim: “And we go full circle. The ‘subjective morals are nothing more than personal preference’ argument.”

    Vivid:

    Are there any “ values” that you can think of that you don’t personally prefer? Do your values exist “ objectively “ whether you personally hold to those values? If they don’t objectively exist apart from you then they only exist because you exist, they just happen to be the values you prefer.

    The same thing applies to what you call morality, they only exist because you exist and they just happen to be what you prefer. They have no meaning or or actual existence but you do,they are just labels you put on things you prefer.

    KF:

    Subjectivism and relativism go to personal, familial and community influences, reducing moral truth and moral government to values. Likely with a strong injection of the fallibilism agenda as I pointed out: if “everything” is fallible and there are disagreements, then objectivity and serious warrant must be abandoned. This is soft form amorality and nihilism at work, leading to manipulation of “values,” and to constructing scapegoating narratives targetting those who do not buy into the agenda; typically backed by a galloping irrationalism that dismisses first principles of right reason as suspect and that will predictably find any excuse to lock out contrary evidence and inconvenient facts. Bring on board the Internet atheist factor, mix in lurid one sided narratives that can only portray the real and imagined sins of Christendom while busily assigning the good done or contributions made to any other possible sources, then raise the ghost of Torquemada and suggest that Nazism and wider Fascism are natural outworkings of Christianity. The result is, that agit-prop operators and lawfare activists are having a field day, leading our civilisation to ruin. The way in which the ongoing holocaust of living posterity in the womb at a million further victims every week on a global base of 800+ millions since the early 70’s is the critical indicator of just how evil a day this is.

    WJM:

    When a self-described moral subjectivist can actually act as if morality is essentially a personal preference or subjective value, then they’ll have an argument. Until then, it’s nothing but hypocrisy.

    Would any of us think it is right to force anything else we consider a personal preference or subjective value on others? Would it be acceptable to knock someone’s bowl of vanilla ice cream off the table because you find vanilla offensive? Would you consider banning all kinds of music except the genre you prefer? Would any moral subjectivist be willing put their lives at personal risk to stop someone from wearing blue shoes?

    Nope. We would consider it wrong and foolhardy to act as if it was acceptable to force personal, subjective values and preferences on others, or to risk our own safety or lives to defy or prevent others from doing things that fall into those categories.

    Insisting that morality is subjective is a self-induced delusion that is utterly contradicted by their own behavior. But, when we live in a time where a old white male can self-identify as a purple eggplant, denying objective reality is the name of the nihilistic game.

    KF

  159. 159
    kairosfocus says:

    OA, what makes shocking evil, evil? Why should others join you in that opinion, especially given fallibility and obviously divergent views on say the three holocausts named above? KF

  160. 160
    JSmith says:

    KF

    The referenced description was indeed a strawman caricature.

    It may have been a caricature but it certainly wasn’t a strawman. A caricature is nothing but an exaggeration of reality. But, when I start seeing comments that do not conform to my observation, I will be happy to change my summary accordingly.

  161. 161
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, we have been there, we see what you have argued, we see the wider context, at least one of the three commenters was in fact an open nihilist on much the same grounds. Your portrayal of the reply to relativism is clearly a strawmannised distortion, even just on the issue of subjectivisation from moral truths and principles held on a warrant to values and preferences held through social power and individual idiosyncracies. KF

  162. 162
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me clip a chapter summary from Doing Ethics 3rd Edn, by Lewis Vaughn, W W Norton, 2012.

    Subjectivism, Relativism, and Emotivism

    Chapter Summary

    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.

    See the problems?

    PPS: Also see: http://faculty.wwu.edu/gmyers/ehe.relat.html and http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/.....tivism.htm

  163. 163
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    As for honesty, if Christians want to assert some sort of authority for their particular moral beliefs, they need to address the quite appalling behavior of their God and his proxies as described in the Old Testament.

    It is only appalling to those who do not trust God’s Judgement nor understand the context of the alleged appalling acts.

    The Ten Commandments would be a good place to start for objective morals.

  164. 164
    ET says:

    And the way society is going now I would expect the following verse to be added:

    Roe 1:1 Let them who choose to abort or remove the growing clump of cells that infects their womb, for it is not Human.

    from there we get:

    Roe 1:2 Let them who choose to abort or remove the growing clump of cells that infects their society, for it is not Human.

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS: Apparently, even after weeks of argument and specific correctives it has not registered with JS that arguments regarding worldviews, self-evident principles of reason, first truths and self evident moral principles are not about “Christian morality.” They are about that moral government and that linked logical government that constitute laws of our nature as responsibly and rationally free contingent creatures. Specifics of Greek history and thought, Cicero the Roman, Justinian’s Jurisconsults in Corpus Juris Civilis, John Locke and Richard Hooker et al come in at a secondary level by way of showing key points in the relevant history of ideas and development of modern liberty and democracy. Biblical themes have been touched on to clear the air in the face of a long sustained accusation. KF

  166. 166
    tribune7 says:

    OA

    These things happen because people have an innate inclination toward doing what is wrong.

    I don’t think you mean it like this but some of the comments you have made can be read as “so let them.”

    My belief is that you should contest, exhort and correct. Hitler had objective values. The people who let him get away with it had subjective values whether in Berlin cabarets, British literature or American corporate boardrooms.

    A society must recognize that values are universal. Then the debate becomes what are they and who declares them to be.

    Ironically, the only consistent opponent Hitler had was the Catholic Church.

  167. 167
    JSmith says:

    T7

    A society must recognize that values are universal.

    I would agree that a society should encourage universal acceptance of shared values, and tolerance of some that are less universally shared. But that is a value judgement based on the knowledge that societies that have done so tend to be more successful.

    Then the debate becomes what are they and who declares them to be.

    My, how subjective of you. 🙂

    Ironically, the only consistent opponent Hitler had was the Catholic Church.

    Right from 1933 when the church became the first country to recognize Hitler’s authority as a sovereign power.

    The church’s role during Hitler’s rein is hotly contested. Some criticize that it didn’t do enough to prevent the holocaust. Others argue that to try to do more would have actually put more Jews at risk. Hindsight is 20:20.

  168. 168
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    My, how subjective of you. ????

    Not if I’m not the authority providing the values. Remember, Hitler was wrong, evil, eternally immoral and would have been even if he won World War II.

    Right from 1933 when the church became the first country to recognize Hitler’s authority as a sovereign power.

    Germany was recognized by every nation in the world when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. Not one including the U.S. broke off relations. Hitler didn’t become full-blown dictator until the death of von Hindenburg in 1934.

  169. 169
    goodusername says:

    William J Murray,

    When a self-described moral subjectivist can actually act as if morality is essentially a personal preference or subjective value, then they’ll have an argument. Until then, it’s nothing but hypocrisy.
    Would any of us think it is right to force anything else we consider a personal preference or subjective value on others? Would it be acceptable to knock someone’s bowl of vanilla ice cream off the table because you find vanilla offensive? Would you consider banning all kinds of music except the genre you prefer? Would any moral subjectivist be willing put their lives at personal risk to stop someone from wearing blue shoes?

    Even if I believed that chocolate ice cream was objectively better than strawberry ice cream (I’m not so sure it’s not!) why would I feel compelled to prevent others from eating strawberry? If others want to eat an objectively inferior flavor of ice cream – so what?

    Subjectivism vs objectivism is irrelevant in the decision to interfere here.

    Now, if I came across a man on the street punching a kid in the face, I would indeed feel compelled to interfere.

    I have no idea what the kid’s taste in music or what his favorite color is, but I can be pretty sure that he doesn’t like being punched in the face. And because I have empathy, it pains me to see the kid being punched in the face. One may as well ask me not to do anything if the man were punching me in the face.

    Subjectivism vs objectivism is irrelevant in the decision to interfere here.

    By interfering, I’m not acting as if morality is objective – I’m acting as if humans generally share certain desires (e.g. the desire to not be punched in the face) and empathy.

  170. 170
    vividbleau says:

    Sev
    “It depends on what you understand by “exist”. “

    Pretty simple Sev objective existence. Using your definition in 89 that which is held to exist regardless of whether it is being conceived or perceived by conscious beings such as ourselves.

    “There are any number of written works out there discussing morality but there is no good reason to think that morality exists anywhere but in the thoughts of those who are thinking about it.”

    And these thoughts would exist regardless of whether it is being conceived or perceived by conscious beings such as ourselves?

    “You should also stop using the demeaning term “personal preference” for subjective moral judgments. “

    Hey the truth hurts even if it offends your sensibilities.

    “I can assure you I feel just as strongly about psychopaths who want to rape and murder children as you do and it goes way beyond personal preference.”

    I have no doubt you feel just as strongly as the objectivist about psychopaths. This is because even in your denial you know raping and murder are objectively wrong. It is wrong regardless of whether it is being conceived or perceived by conscious beings as ourselves. But I hear ya, you really, really, really have a strong personal preference that these actions not be done.

    “As for honesty, if Christians want to assert some sort of authority for their particular moral beliefs, they need to address the quite appalling behavior of their God and his proxies as described in the Old Testament. Perhaps it is time such accounts were purged from Scripture.”

    Yawn

    Vivid

  171. 171
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Not if I’m not the authority providing the values. Remember, Hitler was wrong, evil, eternally immoral and would have been even if he won World War II.

    So, if the government, or a dictator decides on the values, then they are objective? I’m pretty sure that is not what KF and others have in mind when they talk about objective moral values.

    Germany was recognized by every nation in the world when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933.

    The Vatican signed their neutrality pact in 1933. Poland did so in 1934. It wasn’t until 1938 until other countries started doing the same. I am not suggesting any evil intent by the pope. Just very poor judgement.

  172. 172
    vividbleau says:

    JSmith

    “When you are willing to have an honest discussion, I will be available. But if you are going to continue to use these dishonest tactics, I will simply say, g’day.”

    Hey I just asked a question that you just ignored, went on a rant that had nothing to do with my question , and then you accuse me of using dishonest tactics? Sheesh

    I will let the onlookers judge who is using dishonest tactics.

    Vivid

  173. 173
    JSmith says:

    VB

    I will let the onlookers judge who is using dishonest tactics.

    OK. I will play it your way.

    How can objective morality exist when it doesn’t exist? I await your answer.

  174. 174
    OldAndrew says:

    Me:

    (If anyone responds to that with, “How can you say it’s evil?” it will demonstrate an astonishing capacity to be both confrontational and boring.)

    KF

    OA, what makes shocking evil, evil?

    There’s no end to it, is there? I happen to believe that objectives are moral. If I didn’t I’d say that it’s evil because I say so. Do you reject my authority to make that determination? I reject your authority to question my morals. I have no idea who you think you are, or why, but enough. I dismiss your questioning.

  175. 175
    StephenB says:

    OldAndrew

    I thought I’d point out that Thomas Aquinas was a student of and advocate for someone who thought that sex with boys was okay, even wise

    I thought I would point out that you are blowing smoke again. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle refers to homosexuality as a form of “brutality” (1138b30) — a vice so beneath human nature that those who engage in it are like beasts.

  176. 176
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    So, if the government, or a dictator decides on the values, then they are objective?

    Of course, albeit not necessarily moral. Think about it. Are laws requiring you to stop at red lights subjective or objective? Regarding morality only the Creator can establish a purpose for us hence universal, eternal morality.

    The Vatican signed their neutrality pact in 1933. Poland did so in 1934. It wasn’t until 1938 until other countries started doing the same.

    What you said (to quote you directly) was Right from 1933 when the church became the first country to recognize Hitler’s authority as a sovereign power.

    Hitler’s authority was instantly recognized by basically every nation in the world the moment he assumed it.

    Regarding the Reichskonkordat that was not a neutrality pact but a attempt to maintain the Church’s independence in Germany. Several concordats had been signed the previous decade with other nations.

  177. 177
    OldAndrew says:

    OA

    These things happen because people have an innate inclination toward doing what is wrong.

    T7

    I don’t think you mean it like this but some of the comments you have made can be read as “so let them.”

    Thank you, because that’s not what I meant or what I said. The question was why the holocaust happened, not what would have prevented it. That humans have an innate tendency toward doing what is selfish is a reality but not an excuse.

  178. 178

    GUN said:

    Subjectivism vs objectivism is irrelevant in the decision to interfere here.

    Sure it is relevant, but I understand you cannot see how it is.

    By interfering, I’m not acting as if morality is objective – I’m acting as if humans generally share certain desires (e.g. the desire to not be punched in the face) and empathy.

    1. Given that the man committing the abuse feels differently than you and perhaps has a different perspective about the nature of morality (let’s say not based on empathy), what exactly is it that gives you the right to interfere in the moral exchanges of others?

    2. Are you saying empathy is a universal commodity and the feelings one has through it are somehow objective, binding, and enforceable on everyone?

    3. If I was an obviously wealthy person walking by a hungry, homeless person and you notice I don’t give that person any food or money to buy food, and if you had no money or food to give that homeless person yourself, would you feel okay about personally using force to make me give him money or food? If not, why not?

  179. 179
    OldAndrew says:

    Aristotle

    I mean (A) the brutish states, as in the case of the female who, they say, rips open pregnant women and devours the infants, or of the things in which some of the tribes about the Black Sea that have gone savage are said to delight-in raw meat or in human flesh, or in lending their children to one another to feast upon-or of the story told of Phalaris.

    These states are brutish, but (B) others arise as a result of disease (or, in some cases, of madness, as with the man who sacrificed and ate his mother, or with the slave who ate the liver of his fellow), and others are morbid states (C) resulting from custom, e.g. the habit of plucking out the hair or of gnawing the nails, or even coals or earth, and in addition to these pederasty [lit: “the of sexual intercourse for males”]; for these arise in some by nature and in others, as in those who have been the victims of lust from childhood, from habit.

    Aristotle contrasted homosexuality with ‘brutish states’ like cannibalism or eating unborn children. He said homosexuality was a “morbid” habit like biting your nails, and that for some it was their nature. Homosexuality is like biting your nails? There’s some objective morality.

    But ultimately I don’t care what he said. I said, and maintain, that anyone who mixes Greek philosophy with scripture, attempts to support or supplement the scriptures with said philosophy is adulterating the word of God with dirt.

    Thomas Aquinas was such an individual. By so elevating the teachings of a philosopher alongside the scriptures he eliminates himself from having anything meaningful to say about the scriptures.

    Jesus and the apostles warned that for a time the congregation would become corrupted. Satan would sow weeds among the wheat. They didn’t incorporate the teachings of men into their writings. They warned against it. The obsession with Greek philosophers didn’t come until years later, around the time when “church fathers” began wearing robes and giant hats and the congregation had split into factions, losing any connection with its origins. It’s apostasy.

  180. 180
    goodusername says:

    William J Murray,

    Given that the man committing the abuse feels differently than you and perhaps has a different perspective about the nature of morality (let’s say not based on empathy), what exactly is it that gives you the right to interfere in the moral exchanges of others?

    What do you mean by “right” here? Legally? Philosophically?

    But, really, I don’t care if I have the right or not (whatever it means) – I’m going to interfere. I’d feel compelled to interfere, just as I’d feel compelled to defend myself. And it’s the way that I’d be able to live with myself.

    Are you saying empathy is a universal commodity and the feelings one has through it are somehow objective, binding, and enforceable on everyone?

    Not universal, but nearly so. Not sure what you mean by the feelings being objective: I really do feel the feelings, so they are real (if that’s what you mean).
    I wouldn’t say the feelings are binding, but certainly compelling.

    If I was an obviously wealthy person walking by a hungry, homeless person and you notice I don’t give that person any food or money to buy food, and if you had no money or food to give that homeless person yourself, would you feel okay about personally using force to make me give him money or food? If not, why not?

    I think it would depend on the severity of the situation.

  181. 181
    StephenB says:

    Old Andrew quoting Aristotle on homosexuality (capital letters for emphasis are mine):

    These states are brutish, but (B) others arise as a result of DISEASE (OR IN SOME CASES, AS MADNESS), as with the man who sacrificed and ate his mother, or with the slave who ate the liver of his fellow), and others are morbid states (C) resulting from custom, e.g. the habit of plucking out the hair or of gnawing the nails, or even coals or earth, and in addition to these PEDERASTY [LIT; THE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE FOR MALES]; for these arise in some by nature and in others, as in those who have been the victims of lust from childhood, from habit.

    Notice that he equates homosexuality and pederasty with disease and madness.

    But ultimately I don’t care what he said.

    That would seem to be the case since you claimed that he supports man sex with boys, even though your own quote contradicts that claim. Just because homosexuality was a mainstream reality in much of Greece doesn’t mean that the greatest minds, like Aristotle, supported it. They didn’t.

    I said, and maintain, that anyone who mixes Greek philosophy with scripture, attempts to support or supplement the scriptures with said philosophy is adulterating the word of God with dirt.

    It is one thing to “mix” Greek philosophy with the scriptures, but it is quite another thing to use reason, logic, and faith to explain, interpret, and illuminate, the scriptures. In fact, the word “trinity” is not explicitly in the bible, but it is implicit in many passages. We know about it because we integrated faith with reason to establish Christian doctrine. Faith is higher than reason, but it is not the enemy of reason. Aquinas made that point clear. The one thing we do not want is an irrational interpretation of the word of God.

  182. 182
    StephenB says:

    OldAndrew

    Jesus and the apostles warned that for a time the congregation would become corrupted. Satan would sow weeds among the wheat. They didn’t incorporate the teachings of men into their writings. They warned against it. The obsession with Greek philosophers didn’t come until years later, around the time when “church fathers” began wearing robes and giant hats and the congregation had split into factions, losing any connection with its origins. It’s apostasy.f

    I appreciate and applaud your outrage against those who corrupt the word of God by mixing it with heretical formulations. The Gnostics were busy trying to do just that almost out of the gate. They even wrote their own fake gospels. Still, St. John, in his Gospel, used such Greek terms as “Logos” to dramatize Christ’s role as the Creator and as the seat of rationality. The Church Fathers did not consist of heretics, they fought the heretics. There are more than a dozen major heresies and they all have names.

  183. 183
    OldAndrew says:

    SB

    You don’t seem to be reading this.

    These states are brutish, but (B) OTHERS arise as a result of disease (or, in some cases, of madness, as with the man who sacrificed and ate his mother, or with the slave who ate the liver of his fellow), and OTHERS are morbid states (C) resulting from custom, e.g. the habit of plucking out the hair or of gnawing the nails, or even coals or earth, and in addition to these pederasty [lit: “the of sexual intercourse for males”];

    After discussing brutish states, he says that others arise as a result of disease, and he gives examples. Then he says others are morbid states, like homosexuality and nail-biting.

    it is quite another thing to use reason, logic, and faith to explain, interpret, and illuminate, the scriptures.

    So the writings of Aristotle, hundreds of years before the Greek scriptures, illuminate them? Nonsense. Why would the scriptures require illumination from Aristotle? That doesn’t begin to make sense unless you start from the assumption that Aristotle has to fit in there somewhere.

    It also contradicts the scriptures themselves. Why would Paul tell Christians to be on guard against worldly philosophies if his own writings required those philosophies to “illuminate” them? Are you saying that without Aristotle we would lack proper understanding of the scriptures? If you are, you’re very wrong. If you’re not, then you’ve failed to justify why you need Aristotle in the picture.

    It also devastates your claim to have some understanding of objective morality. You claim to derive it from the scriptures, but then you indicate that you “illuminate” that source of objective morality with the teachings of those that very same objective morality explicitly discredited.

    As a result your reasoning is not internally consistent. Why should anyone give weight to words about objective morality from someone who contradicts his own source?

    Your “Christian doctrine” is far from universal. To each his own. Mine includes the scriptures and excludes Aristotle, Plato, their fence-straddling disciples, and the new doctrines they introduced hundreds of years after the scriptures were written.

  184. 184
    StephenB says:

    Correction on 180:

    “Disease and madness” should be replaced with “Morbid states,” but the point remains the same.

  185. 185
    StephenB says:

    After discussing brutish states, he says that others arise as a result of disease, and he gives examples. Then he says others are morbid states, like homosexuality and nail-biting.

    That is correct. I caught the misprint @183, but the point remains the same. Aristotle did NOT support man sex with boys. Please retract that claim.

  186. 186
    StephenB says:

    So the writings of Aristotle, hundreds of years before the Greek scriptures, illuminate them? Nonsense. Why would the scriptures require illumination from Aristotle? That doesn’t begin to make sense unless you start from the assumption that Aristotle has to fit in there somewhere.

    The scriptures are illuminated both by faith and reason. Aristotle discovered logic. Reason is not the enemy of Scripture. God does not ask us to believe things that are unreasonable.

  187. 187
    StephenB says:

    It also devastates your claim to have some understanding of objective morality. You claim to derive it from the scriptures, but then you indicate that you “illuminate” that source of objective morality with the teachings of those that very same objective morality explicitly discredited.

    No. I didn’t claim to derive objective morality from scripture. Objective morality is derived from self evident truths, but it is made specific in the scriptures. That is why the natural moral law is consistent with divine revelation.

    As a result your reasoning is not internally consistent. Why should anyone give weight to words about objective morality from someone who contradicts his own source?

    No contradiction. The NML is consistent with the Word of God, though the former comes from reason and the latter from revelation.

    Your “Christian doctrine” is far from universal. To each his own. Mine includes the scriptures and excludes Aristotle, Plato, their fence-straddling disciples, and the new doctrines they introduced hundreds of years after the scriptures were written.

    To each his own????? Are you now proposing biblical and moral relativism? You need to stop writing and start thinking. Read and meditate on what I said. Don’t just react.

  188. 188
    OldAndrew says:

    The Church Fathers did not consist of heretics, they fought the heretics.

    You see heroes. I see rebels. That every writing about such men describes them as students of Greek philosophy weighs heavily against them. The only references to such philosophy in the Bible were warnings. They were to be regarded as foolishness. To say that they should actually illuminate or help us to understand the scriptures cannot be reconciled with the scriptures.

    Gnostics, “church fathers” – they’re all the same.

  189. 189
    OldAndrew says:

    To each his own????? Are you now proposing biblical and moral relativism?

    Good grief, that’s tired. No, I’m proposing that if someone thinks that Greek philosophy has any place in a discussion of the scriptures, I can’t force them to see reason. It’s like Darwinism vs. ID. You can’t make someone get it.

  190. 190
    StephenB says:

    So the writings of Aristotle, hundreds of years before the Greek scriptures, illuminate them? Nonsense.

    Have you never heard of Aristotle’s “Golden Mean?”

    Have you also read these Scriptures that say the same thing:

    Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. – Philippians 4:5 NKJV

    And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. – 1 Corinthians 9:25a NKJV

    Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. – Proverbs 25:28 NKJV

    And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; – Ephesians 5:18 KJV

    For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty. – Proverbs 23:21a NKJV

  191. 191
    StephenB says:

    OA

    Gnostics, “church fathers” – they’re all the same.

    Unbelievable.

  192. 192
    OldAndrew says:

    No. I didn’t claim to derive objective morality from scripture. Objective morality is derived from self evident truths.

    You get points for honesty. You don’t get objective morality from scripture, you get it from what you judge to be self-evident. I know that includes that genocide and child torture, and I’m sure I’m with you on a lot of other things.

    But to assert that what you perceive to be self-evident is objective reality? No. That’s as subjective as it gets, even when you’re right.

    Personally I don’t regard myself as wise enough to base what’s right and wrong on what’s self-evident to me. I have to get mine from the Bible.

  193. 193
    OldAndrew says:

    Have you never heard of Aristotle’s “Golden Mean?”

    Are you actually saying that we can’t truly understand the words of those Bible verses you cited without help from Aristotle’s Golden Mean? Did Paul add a footnote after “Let your moderation be known unto all men” that said, “Read Aristotle, then you’ll know what I meant?”

    You just inserted Aristotle into a list of scriptures, effective equating them. He didn’t add anything. If he added anything I’d reject it because it came from Aristotle, not from the Bible. If he didn’t add anything, then, well, we don’t need him, do we? It’s as if you bought stock in Aristotle and want it to go up. I bought stock in the Bible and I haven’t diversified.

    Aristotle mentioned homosexuality in the same sentence as nail-biting. So having “illuminated” the scriptures with Aristotle, have we determined that homosexuality is as harmless as nail-biting, or have we determined that nail-biters shall not enter the Kingdom of God?

    Why would I elevate the writings of Aristotle if I have to examine every word he wrote to determine which agree with the Bible and which don’t? And I start trying to understand what in the Bible any differently so that it fits with Aristotle, then I’ve lost my way. So no, Aristotle illuminates nothing and adds nothing.

    Do you disagree? Disagree using the Bible. Show me where the Bible says that I should use Greek philosophy to understand it.

  194. 194
    OldAndrew says:

    Aristotle did NOT support man sex with boys. Please retract that claim.

    I retract my claim. He said that man sex with boys was a bad habit like nail biting, but that it’s in some people’s nature.

  195. 195
    StephenB says:

    You get points for honesty. You don’t get objective morality from scripture, you get it from what you judge to be self-evident. I know that includes that genocide and child torture, and I’m sure I’m with you on a lot of other things.

    I think we agree on most things. Please let me clarify, though. I get objective morality from both scripture, which I take on faith, and the natural moral law, which can be derived from self evident truths. One comes from revelation, the other comes from reason. The difference is that the bible can take me to the highest place, reason cannot. Reason tells me that God exists. Reason tells me that I may not commit murder. The bible tells me the same thing, but it also tells me much more. God is in three persons. Not only can I not commit murder, I also may not murder reputations will slander or murder friendships with cruel speech. The bible surpasses reason and Aristotle in every way, but that doesn't mean that the latter cannot be useful. I cannot depend solely on reason; it only gets me so far. After that, faith must take over and illuminate my reason.

    But to assert that what you perceive to be self-evident is objective reality? No. That’s as subjective as it gets, even when you’re right.

    All self evident truths are in the realm of objective morality, including law of non-contradiction, law of identity, law of causality, principle of sufficient reason, and the natural moral law. I don’t just perceive that a thing cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same sense, I know it to be objectively true. It would be true even if I, the subject, had never existed.

  196. 196
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    A conversation implies a response. And you have yet to respond to the specific questions in #61 and #62.

    You still haven’t explained how reason does not have its say, first.

  197. 197
    OldAndrew says:

    SB,

    Reason tells me that God exists. Reason tells me that I may not commit murder. The bible tells me the same thing, but it also tells me much more.

    You’ve failed to demonstrate where Aristotle comes in. You seem determined to justify his seat at the table. He doesn’t get one. He had his own ideas. Some of them intersect with the Bible. Whatever does we don’t need, because it’s in the Bible. Whatever doesn’t is his opinion, sort of like Dear Abby. She gets things right once in a while.

    Among the damaging effects of the admiration of secular philosophers is that the drifting congregation felt the need to establish its own canon of wise men, just as the Israelites learned to build idols from the Canaanites. The Greeks had Plato and Aristotle. They had Origen and Aquinas, who happened to be students of Plato and Aristotle. The blind led the blind.

  198. 198
    StephenB says:

    OA

    Are you actually saying that we can’t truly understand the words of those Bible verses you cited without help from Aristotle’s Golden Mean? Did Paul add a footnote after “Let your moderation be known unto all men” that said, “Read Aristotle, then you’ll know what I meant?”

    I place the Scriptures higher than Aristotle because it is the word of God. However, after learning from Aristotle that virtue is the midpoint between two extremes, I can understand the meaning of moderation better than if I had not read Aristotle. The bible doesn’t tell me explicitly that courage is the midpoint between recklessness and cowardice. Aristotle does. So I can use the information to understand the Scriptural teaching on virtue more profoundly. If Aristotle were to say something that contradicts the Scriptures, I would ignore him, because the scriptures come first.=

    It’s as if you bought stock in Aristotle and want it to go up. I bought stock in the Bible and I haven’t diversified.

    Good Metaphor!!! (though that is not my position.)

    Aristotle mentioned homosexuality in the same sentence as nail-biting. So having “illuminated” the scriptures with Aristotle, have we determined that homosexuality is as harmless as nail-biting, or have we determined that nail-biters shall not enter the Kingdom of God?

    No, we would characterize Aristotle’s position as inferior to the bible and recognize that he doesn’t know enough in this case to help us. Even a close friend can say something that will help you to understand the bible better because we often get different subjective meanings from objective truths. That doesn’t mean that they displace the bible as the authority..

    Why would I elevate the writings of Aristotle if I have to examine every word he wrote to determine which agree with the Bible and which don’t?

    Don’t elevate them, just use them the same way yo8 would use anything that it truthful. Truth illuminates truth because truth has unity. If something is true, then it is true. If the bible says I have a soul, and if Aristotle tells me the same thing, that is important to know. It tells me that God’s word makes sense from the perspective of reason, which makes it DIFFERENT from all other religions, So we can use reason to show that the Christian religion is true and the other religions are false.

    Do you disagree? Disagree using the Bible. Show me where the Bible says that I should use Greek philosophy to understand it.

    The bible is the highest authority but it is not the only authority. Human reason is limited, but it can be very helpful. So saith the Scriptures.
    .
    But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God (Job 13:3).

    “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

    Paul reasoned with Unbelievers, even alluding to their “unknown god.”
    .
    They came to Ephesus, and he [Paul] left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews (Acts 18:19)

    Jesus asked His disciples to make a thoughtful decision about Him. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15

    And so it goes.

    Islamists fly airplanes into buildings because they do not integrate their faith with reason. Indeed, they don’t use their reason well enough to show them that their religion is false. If a faith system contradicts reason, you should not believe it. Period,

  199. 199
    OldAndrew says:

    However, after learning from Aristotle that virtue is the midpoint between two extremes, I can understand the meaning of moderation better than if I had not read Aristotle.

    Unless he’s wrong. Hard to say, because what he wrote isn’t in the Bible. So now what the Bible says is explained by something that may or may not be true. There’s still an implication that our understanding of the Bible is incomplete without some words of wisdom from Aristotle. It isn’t. As the above demonstrates, attempting to introduce him is at best useless, or at worst clouds our understanding of what is true with what isn’t.

    If the bible says I have a soul, and if Aristotle tells me the same thing, that is important to know. It tells me that God’s word makes sense from the perspective of reason, which makes it DIFFERENT from all other religions

    That’s the problem. The Bible says this. Does it make sense from the perspective of reason? Let’s see what Aristotle says. Aristotle said that homosexual sex was like nail biting. Apparently in this case the Bible doesn’t make sense from the perspective of reason, because it doesn’t agree with Aristotle.

    What has Aristotle added? At best, nothing. At worst one might start rethinking how they understand what the Bible says so that it fits better with Aristotle.

    But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God (Job 13:3).

    Read the book to its ending. There’s a twist.

    God

    Who is this that is muddling a discussion without knowing anything about it?

    Job

    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

    Job was a wise man, surely more so than Aristotle. But not longer after Job said the words you quoted, God spent some time setting him straight regarding human wisdom versus God’s. Job got the point.

    Come now, let us reason together

    Surely you don’t suggest that this was God asking to be informed by the wisdom of men.

    Paul reasoned with Unbelievers, even alluding to their “unknown god.”

    When Paul reasons with someone and it’s recorded in the Bible, that’s the Bible. It makes a case for reason from the Bible. I don’t see how it makes a case for Aristotle.

    Jesus asked His disciples to make a thoughtful decision about Him. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15)

    He asked them to express themselves. He already knew what they thought, but he dignified them by allowing them to say it. He also set an example for others to teach by asking questions. How does him asking or them answering suggest that we need Aristotle or that he’s even helpful?

    Islamists fly airplanes into buildings because they do not integrate their faith with reason.

    So if we kept the scriptures and ditched Aristotle, Christians would fly planes into buildings? Because the Bible says to fly planes into buildings and Aristotle says not to?

    The scriptures cast no positive light on philosophies of men. The only explicit mentions are warnings. You have quite a high hurdle to overcome to justify that we should use them to expand our understanding of the scriptures, or even consider them worthwhile. You haven’t justified it at all. In fact, you’ve underscored the danger that the scriptures themselves warn of.

  200. 200
    Jul3s says:

    “You seem to be saying the exact opposite, that not only is the moral objectivism relevant to Intelligent Design, but that accepting it is a requirement before moving on to ID. You’ve tied moral objectivism to your religion, which means you’re tying your religion to ID.

    Mixing the two is very harmful to the discussion of ID. People google “Intelligent Design,” read the twisted Wikipedia page, and then come and see these truly bizarre discussions that support Wikipedia’s claim that ID is about religion. This is shooting ID in the foot with an AK-47.”

    Just thought this excellent comment by OldAndrew needed to be repeated. This site and evolutionnews.org claim ID is based on science but you all spend far more time defending your religious beliefs. Most of you here are doing a massive disservice to ID.

    Here’s some suggestions:
    Shut up about morality, euthanasia, “materialism”, “naturalism”, “human exceptionalism”. If you still want to talk about philosophy, the only discussion that needs to be here is about the anti-design bias that many people have.
    Talk about actual RESEARCH in biology and how it contradicts orthodoxy or supports design.
    Talk about testable predictions or implications of ID. For example, biology at its heart is information processing technology. The designer was obviously much smarter than us but chose carbon to be chemical basis over silicon. This implies that sci-fi dreams of making silicon AIs that are superior to us won’t work.

    I doubt that anything will change for the better though because most of you here only seem to care about promoting your religious/cultural’/political viewpoints.

  201. 201
    OldAndrew says:

    Jul3s,

    Shut up about morality

    Well said. That’s what I’m going to do.

  202. 202
    StephenB says:

    OA

    Unless he’s wrong. Hard to say, because what he wrote isn’t in the Bible.

    Aristotle isn’t wrong. I can go through all the virtues and show you how they represent a mid point between two extremes. This is consistent with biblical teaching even though it is not made explicit in the bible. Try reading Dante sometime. If you think that all you need to learn is in the bible, you will not be well served. Many aspects of the truth are not in the bible.

    So now what the Bible says is explained by something that may or may not be true. There’s still an implication that our understanding of the Bible is incomplete without some words of wisdom from Aristotle.

    That’s just a silly strawman. Aristotle is merely an example, a symbol of reason. We can do without Aristotle, but cannot do without reason, even though you seem to be contemptuous of it. You asked me for evidence from the bible that we are to use our reason and I provided it. Then you start obsessing over Aristotle again. A reasonable person would accept the evidence in context and acknowledge the point.

    As the above demonstrates, attempting to introduce him is at best useless, or at worst clouds our understanding of what is true with what isn’t.

    You want to separate faith from reason. You will never get much truth that way. But it doesn’t cause me any grief. Just keep shooting from the hip and ignoring your education if you like. Dismiss reason at every turn if it makes you feel better. Ignore biblical commentaries, sneer at orthodox theologians, and militate against the Church Fathers, all of whom have much to teach you. Maybe you can persuade people by relying solely on your faith and your emotions. If you can do it, more power to you.

  203. 203
    kairosfocus says:

    OA, I asked a question that is highly relevant, what makes shocking evils evil. Your over the top reaction is less than helpful. KF

  204. 204
    HeKS says:

    StephenB @96

    HeKS: I guess where my confusion lies with respect to my first comment is that you said you were describing what objective morality IS but then you seemed to go on to actually describe a way by which we might get to KNOW and EXPRESS (through our behavior) its particular dictates.

    Perhaps this is the passage that you had in mind:

    “Among other things, the nature of a human being is to use his faculties of intellect and will to make decisions that will help him obtain those things that are objectively good for him.”

    It was that and the sentence before it … and the question you were responding to. I don’t want to belabor the point here or get nit-picky … I’m just trying to point out what caused my confusion and may cause confusion for others. Consider GUN’s two questions, and particularly the first, which you then seem to be responding to:

    GUN: Although, I’m no[t] sure what “objective” even means when referring to morality.
    What would it even mean to give a “right” answer to a morality question?

    SB: The problem with this formulation is that the second question is entirely different from the first one. Only the first question makes sense….

    So it seemed you were about to answer the first question about what “objective” means when we’re talking about objective morality. And then you went on to say:

    When we discuss objective morality we are simply referring to the morality proper to human nature, which is obviously an objective reality in itself.

    So here you seemed to say you were explaining what “objective” means with respect to morality, but then you said that it just refers to the morality that is proper to the human nature and, it seems, it is the human nature that is objective. Of course, it’s true that the human nature is objective. But when talking about the objectivity of morality, we’re not simply referring to the objectivity of the human nature. Instead, we’re referring to the way in which that moral standard that is proper to the human nature is itself objective, independent of the human nature.

    You continued:

    Among other things, the nature of a human being is to use his faculties of intellect and will to make decisions that will help him obtain those things that are objectively good for him. Thus, morality must be an objective set of guidelines to help humans achieve an objective end (what is good for them).

    So it seemed like throughout the whole thing the objectivity was tied to the human nature and what is good for it, rather than describing the basis for morality itself being objective independent of human nature.

    Again, like I’ve said before, it’s not that I think anything you were saying here was wrong really … it’s just that it all seems like an answer to a question other than “what does ‘objective’ mean when referring to morality“.

    When we talk about what “objective” means when referring to morality, we’re talking about that which grounds morality within reality apart from any human nature or mind.

    Do you understand where I’m coming from now? If not, that’s fine. I’m not gonna beat this dead horse anymore 🙂

  205. 205
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, 195, I have spoken to these matters this time around since November. You know or should acknowledge that, and particularly the framework that distinct identity grounds the first principles of right reason as instant corollaries, also number. I long since pointed one and all here on on worldviews. In the weeks since Novemeber, it is you who have tried to exert radical fallibilism against self evident first principles of reason, repeatedly ending in absurdities as would be expected. BTW, 61 and 62 supra are not from you. KF

  206. 206
    kairosfocus says:

    Jul3s, pardon some observations. UD is not solely about strictly scientific topics and while indeed we often look at science and tech news and will do more of that as time goes on there are other relevant topics. However, in dealing with long-time objectors, we find that there are root, worldview level problems driving the deadlock on scientific discussions, so it is necessary to address such, including what is knowledge, what is information, how is theoretical scientific knowledge warranted, the issue of responsible rational freedom and moral government of reason, and more, including what is emerging as the destructive impact of radical fallibilism, subjectivism, relativism and emotivism on the thought patterns of many who object to ID. These have to be properly sorted out, and this discussion will naturally be the sort of sausage-making mess of a natural exchange rather than the orderly play-out in a textbook which comes along after the fact. Conflation of grounding ethics and reason with imposition of religion is a good example of the need to make and recognise key distinctions. Also, you will see that consistently it is objectors of various stripes who try to inject Bible discussions and “evil Bible” accusations to drag matters off reasonable focus. Some of these need to be answered here, others need to be redirected elsewhere. Above, there is an exchange between someone who seems to reject creedal Christian faith and theological thought informed by philosophical analysis of key concepts, with contamination with philosophical notions and someone who is trained in philosophy and in theological matters. All of these issues have major social and cultural implications — and BTW, it is increasingly recognised that scientists, engineers and technologists of various types have major moral responsibilities, which often will be addressed in something like an “Engineer in Society” type course in a modern degree programme. KF

  207. 207
    kairosfocus says:

    PS, from current front page:

    Intellectual termite watch: Numbers are “social constructs”

    Lack of a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) leaves physicists frustrated

    Could a gorilla mom consciously protect her baby?

    Spiders and ants independently developed baskets for carrying sand

    “Confounding”: Moths and butterflies predate flowering plants by millions of years

    Evolution News: Don’t be fooled by protein design claim

    Father of neo-Darwinism (Fisher’s theorem) Ronald Fisher critiqued at his own memorial?

    Darwinism vs. mathematics in a post-modern world

    Animal minds: Australian birds that use fire as a tool

    Airspacemag: Cool it with the space alien speculations. But what about using a design inference?

    Experimental physicist Rob Sheldon on the recent merely “plausible” origin of life find

    My recent sci-tech OP’s, just as a sample:

    An Unhappy New Year for computers and smart devices: the Meltdown & Spectre flaws in Intel, AMD and ARM processors

    Correcting Wikipedia on ID

    Guest Post — Template-Assisted Ligation: A New OOL Model

    What is “information”?

    Upright Biped’s summary on information systems in cell based life

    Ramesh Raskar on slow motion light — at a trillion [10^12] frames per second

    Is Mathematics a Natural Science? (Is that important?)

    FFT: Antikythera, Paley, Crick, Axe, the “first computer” claim and the design inference on sign

    BTB & FFT: Is it true that “ID has no . . . recognised scientists, predictive qualities, experiments, peer reviewed publications, evidence, or credibility scientifically”?

    RVB8 tries to dismiss ID as failed science

    Selensky, Shallit, & Koza vs artificial life simulations

    GP on the Origin of Body Plans [OoBP] challenge

  208. 208
    vividbleau says:

    JSmith

    VB I will let the onlookers judge who is using dishonest tactics.

    SJ OK. I will play it your way.

    How can objective morality exist when it doesn’t exist? I await your answer

    Hmmm let me get this straight for those who maybe following along.

    I asked you a straightforward question.

    You did not answered my question

    Because I asked a question you accused me of using dishonest tactics.

    You failed to point out why by me merely asking a question is a dishonest tactic.

    I left it up to the readers to judge who is the one being disingenuous

    You respond but no where in your response do you answer my question rather you pose a question of your own to me before giving me the courtesy of answering my question

    Once again I will leave in the readers hands as to which one of us is being disingenuous.

    Vivid

    .

  209. 209
    Jul3s says:

    @ Kairosfocus

    As I already said, the only topic relevant here apart from the science is the fact that many people have an anti-design bias. Pointing out that people’s worldviews are biased against the best explanation is enough. Yes, detractors talk about religion as a way of attacking ID, but you do not need to take the bait. If they talk about the philosophical or cultural implications of ID, you can simply say “too bad. I follow the evidence, implications be damned”. Sadly, you don’t.

    Your mission in life can be to promote your worldview, I understand that. But using this site to argue with OA, claiming that since he rejects the idea that Aristotle is right and/or relevant to salvation, he therefore rejects reason is ridiculous. You are inviting readers to believe that ID is inseparable from a religious/cultural/political worldview and agenda. So if any visitor doesn’t align with you politically, you are giving them a great excuse to just ignore everything you say on the grounds that you are biased and that ID is therefore not legitimate. You openly admit that you use ID to further a cultural agenda. Regardless of what that agenda is, this undermines the dispassionate objectivity of ID. Can’t you see the damage you’re doing? No wonder you people get called creationists in cheap tuxedos.

    You people are frankly a disgrace. Not because of your beliefs but because you can’t help but display your beliefs in a setting which puts people off unless they already agree with you.

    This is a sad state of affairs. I think eventually ID will win but despite your efforts, not because of them.

    I have a challenge for UD. For an entire month, all posted stories can only be about the results of scientific studies. Does ID have enough scientific and emperical substance to it to go that long without promoting a certain culture? I am certain that it does, but I am equally certain that you won’t be able to resist going off on some tangent about “human exceptionalism” and “objective morality” for more than 5 minutes.

  210. 210

    GUN re @179:

    Is morality necessarily derived from empathy? IOW, if I develop behavioral parameters based on a set of rules that serves my own personal desires, is that by definition in your view ***not*** morality?

    Also, is there any penalty or downside for ignoring my empathy?

  211. 211
    ET says:

    Jul3s- The science of ID has been discussed over and over again. The nonsense of materialistic evolutionism has been discussed over and over again. Nothing has ever been presented that demonstrates evolutionism has the science and ID doesn’t.

    Now only new discoveries get discussed as all else has been discussed already. So UD fills the time with the “other” stuff that applies to our lives.

  212. 212
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    I was mistaken. The comments in question are actually #51 and #52.

    What’s problematic is your continued reference to the definitions of words, as if that is some kind of argument.

    Words are shortcuts for ideas. And we should be willing to use adopt the terminology of others when having a discussion.

  213. 213
    OldAndrew says:

    You asked me for evidence from the bible that we are to use our reason and I provided it.

    No, I asked you for evidence that we need help from Greek philosophers to reason on the Bible, and you pivoted to stating the obvious, that we need to reason. (Nice try, conflating anti-Aristotle with anti-reason. Because Aristotle is reason and the Bible isn’t, right?)

    Try reading Dante sometime. If you think that all you need to learn is in the bible, you will not be well served. Many aspects of the truth are not in the bible.

    It’s impossible to take that position without placing Dante, Plato, Aristotle, even Dan Brown on a level with the Bible.

    You really don’t grasp the gulf between the Bible and Dante or Aristotle, do you? One of the whole points of teaching using the Bible is that you can contrast God’s wisdom with that of men. There are a million books written by smart people. If the Bible is just one more book in a pile of books then you can’t really trust any of it.

    When you dilute and contaminate the Bible with teachings of Aristotle and the like then there’s no reason to have confidence that what you’re understanding or teaching is the elevated thinking of God as opposed to the thoughts of men.

    You dilute it further in that including the teachings of men implicitly distrusts the Bible’s assertion that the teachings of men are foolishness to God. So while placing your faith in men you simultaneously teach others to doubt the Bible.

    Sure, the Bible is the best, etc. etc. But if you’re into reason and you want to really be enlightened, you can’t get by on the Bible. How quaint. The really intellectual, wise people know that you need some Aristotle and Dante if you want to worship God with reason.

    I don’t think you believe that you hold the Bible in contempt. But the notion that it or its reader is in any way incomplete or lacking in reason without the addition of Aristotle or Dante says otherwise.

    How regrettable for poor, unreasoning brutes such as David who sat in darkness with nothing but the contemptible law of God because they had the misfortune to be born before Aristotle came to enlighten them.

    Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

    Note that they didn’t search the writings of Aristotle. I suppose they were unreasoning as well?

    Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
    “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”

    For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.

    It’s your choice conclude that God failed to include reason in his word up to your lofty intellectual standards, or that his exalted thoughts require illumination from the wisdom of men you admire. It’s your choice to conclude that others such as Thomas Aquinas who equally esteemed Greek Philosophy are somehow the “fathers” of Christianity, which came before them, not after them.

    The irony! You preach moral objectivism, but you’re following those who themselves turned aside to follow the intellectual crowd.

  214. 214
    OldAndrew says:

    Ignore biblical commentaries, sneer at orthodox theologians, and militate against the Church Fathers, all of whom have much to teach you.

    Before such so-called “church fathers” we had Jesus, a man unrecognizable in a crowd, who taught his followers – also ordinary men – to love God, one another, and to follow the teachings of the scriptures. They were to be on guard against worldly philosophies. idolatry, divisions between one another, and identifying themselves by which men in the congregation they followed.

    After these “church fathers” – where do I begin? Men with robes, title, and giant hats holding their rings out to be kissed? Teachers whose credentials are their education in Greek philosophy? Massive cathedrals full of statues with the toes worn off from people kissing their feet? Literally thousands of conflicting branches and schisms, many named after men? Persecuting and killing those who tried to translate the Bible into common languages so that ordinary men could read it?

    How did Jesus begin something that turned into something so unrecognizable as Christianity? He foresaw the question and answered it.

    the servants[c] of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’

    the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.

    No, those men have nothing to teach me.

  215. 215
    JSmith says:

    J

    I doubt that anything will change for the better though because most of you here only seem to care about promoting your religious/cultural’/political viewpoints.

    Since ID appears incapable of separating itself from its founding religion, I have to agree with you.

  216. 216
    JSmith says:

    KF

    Jul3s, pardon some observations. UD is not solely about strictly scientific topics and while indeed we often look at science and tech news and will do more of that as time goes on there are other relevant topics.

    Pardon an observation. Over 80% of traffic at UD over the last thirty days have had absolutely nothing to do with science or ID.

  217. 217
    OldAndrew says:

    It’s Godwin’s Law on a large scale. If an internet debate goes on long enough it becomes inevitable that someone will compare someone else to Hitler.

    This argument is essentially about “If you don’t believe like me, here’s where that belief leads.” But the question of whether life was created or evolved or some combination doesn’t hinge on “if that’s true then this is where it leads.”

    Even the debate over ID itself ultimately goes nowhere. It’s just more fun and doesn’t leave me feeling sick. But I can’t blame anyone – nobody made me do it.

  218. 218
    JSmith says:

    VB

    VB I will let the onlookers judge who is using dishonest tactics.

    SJ OK. I will play it your way.

    How can objective morality exist when it doesn’t exist? I await your answer

    Hmmm let me get this straight for those who maybe following along.

    I asked you a straightforward question.

    You did not answered my question

    Because I asked a question you accused me of using dishonest tactics.

    You failed to point out why by me merely asking a question is a dishonest tactic.

    I left it up to the readers to judge who is the one being disingenuous

    You respond but no where in your response do you answer my question rather you pose a question of your own to me before giving me the courtesy of answering my question

    Once again I will leave in the readers hands as to which one of us is being disingenuous.

    Your dodging and weaving are duly noted.

    The question I asked you is the same as the one you asked me, just reversing objective and subjective.

    Let me refresh your memory, and that of other readers, of what led to me calling your question dishonest.

    JS: We all have a sense of morality, a sense of what is right and wrong.

    VB: What morality can you possibly be referring to? I will ask again how can this “morality” exist when it doesn’t exist?

    So I simply turned the question around at you.

    JS: How can objective morality exist when it doesn’t exist?

    If you can answer it, then your question wasn’t dishonest and I will apologize. If you can’t, then I stand by my original conclusion.

  219. 219
    critical rationalist says:

    @OldAndrew

    Is the Bible a science book? Should we defer to it on matters of mathematics or the number of legs on insects? If not, why?

  220. 220
    StephenB says:

    Old Andrew

    No, I asked you for evidence that we need help from Greek philosophers to reason on the Bible, and you pivoted to stating the obvious, that we need to reason. (Nice try, conflating anti-Aristotle with anti-reason. Because Aristotle is reason and the Bible isn’t, right?)

    Nope. Not even close. I explained several times that the Bible is both reasonable, in the sense that it never says anything against reason, and surpassing of reason, in the sense that it provides teachings that reason cannot reach. For some reason, you cannot grasp the point.

    Unfortunately, your obvious disdain for reason prevents you from making critical distinctions. So it is with the remainder of your rant. The bible tells us to use our reason, but you ignore the point because for some reason you think reason is the enemy of scripture, so you keep setting up these strawmem arguments.

  221. 221
    OldAndrew says:

    CR,

    No, the Bible is neither a science book nor a reference on animals. Quite often when it refers to insects or animals we’re really guessing which ones it’s referring to. It’s easy with sheep or goats, but when it gets into beetles or leviathan we don’t really know for sure.

  222. 222
    OldAndrew says:

    your obvious disdain for reason prevents you from making critical distinctions. So it is with the remainder of your rant. The bible tells us to use our reason, but you ignore the point because for some reason you think reason is the enemy of scripture

    Again, you conflate reason with Aristotle, and imply that someone who accepts the Bible but rejects Aristotle also rejects reason. How dishonest of you to claim that I rejected reason.

    You also insist that the Bible should be illuminated with reason that the Bible itself says is nonsense. That’s not just wrong, it’s internally inconsistent. Aristotle is frowning at you.

    You continue to underscore my point. My insisting that reason is somehow something external to the Bible, you show contempt for it, while fawning over Aristotle and his like. You say that you hold the Bible above Aristotle, and then in the next breath say that someone who accepts the Bible but not Aristotle is anti-reason. That’s rather faint praise for the Bible.

  223. 223
    StephenB says:

    Old Andrew

    Before such so-called “church fathers” we had Jesus, a man unrecognizable in a crowd, who taught his followers – also ordinary men – to love God, one another, and to follow the teachings of the scriptures. They were to be on guard against worldly philosophies. idolatry, divisions between one another, and identifying themselves by which men in the congregation they followed.

    John’s Gospel was written between 80 and 90 A. D. Christ was crucified at about 27 A. D. How do you suppose the truths of that Gospel were maintained?

    The decision about which books qualify as scripture and which ones do was made in the 4th century. How do you suppose that decision was made?

    Or do you labor under the misconception that the bible just fell out of the sky ready to read?

  224. 224
    kairosfocus says:

    Jul3s, pardon but no. It is highly relevant to articulate and draw out that we have a problem with core rationality tied to the dominant worldviews and how that repeatedly leads to patent but stubbornly clung to absurdities. Irrationality is demonstrably shaping not only science but also policy, law, culture, education, media and culture, and the recent discussions have drawn that out in the open. Even mathematics faces some of this, when we begin to deal with the transfinite and issues such as stepwise spanning of the transfinite — directly relevant to the world-root. That sets the stage for onward discussions. And BTW, there is a current technical and design thread up from me in addition to the usual news discussion of science related topics; one that draws a direct link from a hot current topic to the design inference explanatory filter. Observe, what is happening there. KF

  225. 225
    OldAndrew says:

    The decision about which books qualify as scripture and which ones do was made in the 4th century. How do you suppose that decision was made?

    Do you worship a God who can create life but can’t ensure that a few dozen books he inspired can’t be kept intact and separated from the ones he didn’t? You’re right, that’s way too hard for God. Maybe he should have asked Aristotle for help.

  226. 226
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, over several weeks, we have engaged you and others and have drawn out the root of objections to the design theory inference on empirically reliable sign: deeply entrenched irrationality in our civilisation, in part driven by and partly reinforcing some very bad philosophy of science and also undermining general reasoning. The picture is not pretty, but it is what it is. Going forward we are going to build on that. And we are going to note duly the prudent things we will need to do to save our civilisation. KF

  227. 227
    StephenB says:

    OA

    You also insist that the Bible should be illuminated with reason that the Bible itself says is nonsense.

    You are confused. As I said above,

    …the Bible is both reasonable, in the sense that it never says anything against reason, and surpassing of reason, in the sense that it provides teachings that reason cannot reach.

    Don’t just react. Think.

  228. 228
    StephenB says:

    SB: The decision about which books qualify as scripture and which ones do was made in the 4th century. How do you suppose that decision was made?

    OA

    Do you worship a God who can create life but can’t ensure that a few dozen books he inspired can’t be kept intact and separated from the ones he didn’t?

    I notice that you answered my question with a question. Does that mean that you don’t know the answer to my question? Does that also mean that you don’t know the answer to my question about how the truths of the Gospels were maintained? Do you think that the bible just fell out of the sky ready to read?

  229. 229
    OldAndrew says:

    SB:

    What you said is:

    it is quite another thing to use reason, logic, and faith to explain, interpret, and illuminate, the scriptures.

    And as you’ve made quite plain, reason = Aristotle. If one disregards Aristotle, he is anti-reason. “Aristotle discovered logic,” you said. (Make up your mind – is it self-evident or did Aristotle discover it?)

    I happen to agree that we should use reason, logic, and faith to understand the scriptures. But to illuminate the scriptures with the teachings of Greek philosophy which the scriptures themselves eschew and dismiss, fails on all three counts – reason, logic, and faith.

    And, by the way, don’t just react. Think.

  230. 230
    StephenB says:

    OA

    And as you’ve made quite plain, reason = Aristotle.

    Nope. As usual, you are misrepresenting. I said A was a symbol of reason. Aristotle discovered the laws of logic. Aristotle made mistakes, reason, properly applied, doesn’t. I never said that Aristotle = reason or vice versa.

  231. 231
    OldAndrew says:

    Does that mean that you don’t know the answer to my question? Does that also mean that you don’t know the answer to my question about how the truths of the Gospels were maintained?

    I believe that God inspired the Bible, protected the integrity of its contents, and even ensured its translation into thousands of languages despite the church trying to kill the translators and burn the Bibles.

    Don’t you believe that? A thing cannot both be true and untrue. (I figured that out for myself because it’s self-evident.) God cannot be capable of creating life, foretelling events thousands of years in advance, and parting seas, but incapable of binding a book.

    If you don’t believe that then it would be contradictory to say that you view the Bible as a revelation of truth from God. Because, you know, he really wanted to, but all those books, time, etc. It’s really hard and all he could do is give it his best.

    Your claims of objective reality are resting atop self-contradictions.

  232. 232
    StephenB says:

    OA

    I happen to agree that we should use reason, logic, and faith to understand the scriptures.

    Its about time.

    But to illuminate the scriptures with the teachings of Greek philosophy which the scriptures themselves eschew and dismiss, fails on all three counts – reason, logic, and faith.

    I think you are struggling with the word “illuminate.” When I say that Greek philosophy can illuminate scripture, I mean it can illuminate the meaning of scripture in your mind. Not that it can improve on scripture. Nothing can improve on scripture. Also, the Gnostics, were heretics and cannot help us and are not the same as the Greek philosphers. OK?

  233. 233
    OldAndrew says:

    I never said that Aristotle = reason or vice versa.

    Then what did you mean by this, when the only “reason” I’ve spoken against is faith in the teachings of Aristotle?

    your obvious disdain for reason prevents you from making critical distinctions… The bible tells us to use our reason, but you ignore the point because for some reason you think reason is the enemy of scripture

    When you said that I reject reason, were you referring to my rejection of Aristotle or not? If you implied that I rejected reason outright, you were being dishonest then. If you were referring to my rejection of Aristotle you’re being dishonest now.

  234. 234
    ET says:

    JS:

    Since ID appears incapable of separating itself from its founding religion,

    Except the fact that ID doesn’t have a “founding religion”, of course.

  235. 235
    OldAndrew says:

    When I say that Greek philosophy can illuminate scripture, I mean it can illuminate the meaning of scripture in your mind.

    You’re welcome to that opinion. But the scriptures call it foolishness and never advocated studying Greek philosophy to illuminate the meaning of the scriptures.

    And when the congregation came under the influence of men who were students of such philosophy we got big hats, ring-kissing, schisms, infusion of Platonism into Bible teachings, statues, and Bible burning.

    Paul warned the congregation not to be misled by the philosophy of men, they were misled, and the results were horrific.

    So if anyone is deciding whether to embrace Greek philosophy and use it to illuminate their understanding of the Bible or to disdain it as the Bible itself does then there’s an object lesson. You can only show people.

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I feel inclined to start with this, from a Sermon you have despised, to illustrate the principle of induction and its connexion to the law of identity:

    Matt 5:13 “You are the [d]salt of the earth; but if the salt has [e]lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery].

    14 “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

    Matt 7: 16 By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. [AMP]

    Here, we see in ever so familiar commonplace cases, that a thing with a distinct identity has core characteristics and properties leading to observable behaviours that flow from that identity, that nature.

    We may then inspect the manifestations and credibly, reasonably, responsibly infer the nature of what we see. Yes, there are limitations of provisionality, but the logic at work is clear.

    And yes, we speak here to the core of science and dare to use a much despised and spoken against book as a point of reference.

    Are you willing to acknowledge the principle of inductive reasoning?

    To acknowledge that this makes sense, however carefully we must manage our investigations, inferences, testing etc and with whatever inherent limitations of induction we may see?

    If you cannot, it matters not what you may claim to be, you show yourself to have your own characteristics, properties and behaviours manifesting that nature or distinct identity.

    It is high time that the irrationality of a sad, perverse day was exposed for what it is.

  237. 237
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I think we can go to a voice even more despised to speak to the other half of the matter:

    1 Cor 14: 7 Yet even lifeless things, whether flute or harp, when producing a sound, if they do not produce distinct [musical] tones, how will anyone [listening] know what is piped or played? 8 And if the [war] bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? [AMP]

    People understood this 2,000 years ago, understood it well.

    Just what is it that is wrong with us?

    Distinct identity is the start point for rational thought and communication, so we must recognise this to be self-evident, on pain of reducing ourselves to absurdly irrational chaos.

    Why is it that we struggle with distinct identity and what comes from it in this day and age?

    We have absorbed a radical fallibilism that is designed to make us doubt that we can know anything with certainty — one supposes, inclduing itself. that is, it is self-referentially incoherent.

    But when that is pointed out, it is disregarded and we are denounced for pointing this out.

    No, if you make a crooked yardstick your standard of what is straight, level and upright or accurate, then what is really so will never pass your test.

    So, the crooked yardstick is the nuke weapon of the manipulator and agit prop operator.

    How do you break such cultic indoctrination?

    By bringing out a plumbline which is naturally upright, straight and so what is crooked will be exposed for those willing to learn.

    However, there are some who will cling to absurdity even in the face of a plumbline test.

  238. 238
    StephenB says:

    SB: Does that mean that you don’t know the answer to my question? Does that also mean that you don’t know the answer to my question about how the truths of the Gospels were maintained?

    I believe that God inspired the Bible, protected the integrity of its contents, and even ensured its translation into thousands of languages despite the church trying to kill the translators and burn the Bibles.

    You are evading my questions. How was the integrity of the Gospels maintained between the time Jesus died and the time the Gospels were actually written? Who decided which books would qualify for Scripture and which books would not?

    Don’t you believe that?

    Of course I do. Strawman response. Please either answer my question or just say that you don’t know.

  239. 239
    StephenB says:

    When you said that I reject reason, were you referring to my rejection of Aristotle or not?

    I say that you reject reason itself, not because you say you do, but because your comments reveal it.

  240. 240
    tribune7 says:

    OA,

    Are you saying that the only thing one should read is Scripture?

  241. 241
    OldAndrew says:

    You are evading my questions.

    No, I answered your question directly. Are you asking me exactly how God poked men with his finger to get them to decide correctly? I can’t answer that.

    I’ll counter with a question. Answer if you can.

    God used the Babylonians to execute judgment against Israel. He used the Medes and Persians to liberate Israel.

    The question: If God used these kings and nations to execute his will, should we regard them as his worshippers and look to them as examples?

  242. 242
    OldAndrew says:

    T7,

    Are you saying that the only thing one should read is Scripture?

    No. Paul could very easily have said not to read Greek philosophy. He didn’t say that. He just said that it was empty and to watch out that we aren’t led away by it.

  243. 243
    tribune7 says:

    OA

    Plato and Aristotle can’t save you. Of course, neither could Moses or David.

    There is, however, much value in knowing about them and reading them.

    Plato’s Republic has a fascinating part regarding how if a perfectly righteous man were to come among us he would be killed. Plato also tries to deal with death and life before birth which if you were to accept in lieu of Scripture you would be throwing away gold for dirt.

    But there is a lot of value in reading them even if it’s just to understand how humanity hasn’t changed much during recorded history. And there is a lot of value to citing them in the context of this thread as those rejecting objective eternal truth would reject Scripture out of hand as an authority but may be reached when it is shown that very smart people before Christ dealt with the same positions they are taking and rather conclusively refuted them.

  244. 244
    StephenB says:

    No, I answered your question directly.

    No, you evaded it. Three times. Clearly, you don’t know how the integrity of Christ’s teachings were preserved–except to say that God did it, as if humans weren’t involved. You don’t know how the books of the bible were sifted–except to say that God did it, as of humans weren’t involved.

    Are you asking me exactly how God poked men with his finger to get them to decide correctly? I can’t answer that.

    No, I am asking what those men did to insure the integrity of the Gospels. I am also asking about who made the decision about which books to include or not include in the bible.

    I’ll counter with a question.

    The question: If God used these kings and nations to execute his will, should we regard them as his worshippers and look to them as examples?

    No.

  245. 245
    kairosfocus says:

    SB,

    I think i can suggest that the problem of multiple successive tangents is at work now.

    Perhaps we need to return to focus.

    KF

  246. 246
    OldAndrew says:

    But there is a lot of value in reading them even if it’s just to understand how humanity hasn’t changed much during recorded history.

    I agree. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Shakespeare.

    And there is a lot of value to citing them in the context of this thread as those rejecting objective eternal truth would reject Scripture out of hand as an authority but may be reached when it is shown that very smart people before Christ dealt with the same positions they are taking and rather conclusively refuted them.

    I think it makes perfect sense to reason on ID, evolution, and denial of reason using Aristotle and Plato with those who accept them as an authority. But this is has been all about morality, and more about emphasizing differences than building a common ground.

    (My past posts certainly don’t fall into the “building a common ground” category. I just grew tired of the self-righteous atheist-bashing and said what the heck. But once I get going I’m not that much different am, I? [Other than being right.])

  247. 247
    OldAndrew says:

    SB

    I am asking what those men did to insure the integrity of the Gospels.

    Some have mischaracterized such copying as a “telephone game” in which each copy introduced changes. But they didn’t just make one copy and rely on it as they did the original. They made multiple copies which they could compare to each other and to the source.

    One’s view of this is also affected by whether or not we believe that the successful transmission of the gospels was God’s intent. That’s going to have a direct bearing on the accuracy of the copying.

    I am also asking about who made the decision about which books to include or not include in the bible.

    And I’ve answered. I believe that God did.

  248. 248
    tribune7 says:

    Fair points, OA.

  249. 249
    StephenB says:

    SB I am asking what those men did to insure the integrity of the Gospels.

    Some have mischaracterized such copying as a “telephone game” in which each copy introduced changes. But they didn’t just make one copy and rely on it as they did the original. They made multiple copies which they could compare to each other and to the source.

    Copy of what? There was no bible in the early church. How can you copy something that doesn’t exist?

    SB: I am also asking about who made the decision about which books to include or not include in the bible.

    And I’ve answered. I believe that God did.

    The decision on which books qualify as Scripture and which ones do not was four centuries in the making. Are you saying that it took God four centuries to make that decision?

  250. 250
    critical rationalist says:

    No, the Bible is neither a science book nor a reference on animals. Quite often when it refers to insects or animals we’re really guessing which ones it’s referring to. It’s easy with sheep or goats, but when it gets into beetles or leviathan we don’t really know for sure.

    You didn’t answer my question. Why isn’t it a science book?

  251. 251
    JSmith says:

    SB

    No, I am asking what those men did to insure the integrity of the Gospels.

    I expect they took out Errors and Omissions insurance just like other organizations.

  252. 252
    ET says:

    The Bible was never meant to be a science book

  253. 253
    vividbleau says:

    JSmith

    “Your dodging and weaving are duly noted.

    The question I asked you is the same as the one you asked me, just reversing objective and subjective.

    Let me refresh your memory, and that of other readers, of what led to me calling your question dishonest.

    JS: We all have a sense of morality, a sense of what is right and wrong.

    VB: What morality can you possibly be referring to? I will ask again how can this “morality” exist when it doesn’t exist?

    So I simply turned the question around at you.

    JS: How can objective morality exist when it doesn’t exist?

    If you can answer it, then your question wasn’t dishonest and I will apologize. If you can’t, then I stand by my original conclusion”

    JSmith the dodging and weaving on my part is a figment of your imagination and I must say your looking pretty foolish at the moment. If you actually read any of my posts rather than just skimming you would know that I have already answered your question in 144 and 145. How can I be dodging a question that I already answered hmmm?

    FWIW I dont need any apology nor am I looking for one.

    Vivid

  254. 254
    OldAndrew says:

    Copy of what? There was no bible in the early church. How can you copy something that doesn’t exist?

    What does the existence of the compiled Bible have to do with how the scrolls containing the individual books were copied? Your question doesn’t even make sense.

    Are you saying that it took God four centuries to make that decision?

    No, are you? You’d have to ask God when he made that decision. I’m guessing it was much earlier.

  255. 255
    OldAndrew says:

    CR

    You didn’t answer my question. Why isn’t it a science book?

    Because of… not being a science book? For the same reason that a science book isn’t about God, Israel, and Jesus? Perhaps you could rephrase the question.

  256. 256
    JSmith says:

    VB

    JSmith the dodging and weaving on my part is a figment of your imagination and I must say your looking pretty foolish. If you actually read any of my posts you would know that I have already answered your question in 144 and 145. How can I be dodging a question that I already answered hmmm?

    So, your claim now is that morality, regardless of the source, does not exist. Fair enough. At least that is something that can be discussed. KF, would like like to respond to VB’s claim?.

  257. 257
    StephenB says:

    SB: Copy of what? There was no bible in the early church. How can you copy something that doesn’t exist?

    What does the existence of the compiled Bible have to do with how the scrolls containing the individual books were copied?

    There were no scrolls in the early church (from 27 a.d. to 50–70 a.d.) There were no written records at all and certainly no completed bible. So how did the truths of the Gospel survive in tact until they were put in writing?

    SB: Are you saying that it took God four centuries to make that decision?

    No, are you? You’d have to ask God when he made that decision. I’m guessing it was much earlier.

    I have already explained that the final decision was not made at one moment in time. It was arrived at in stages over a period of four hundred years. Do you understand what that means?

  258. 258
    goodusername says:

    WJM @210

    Is morality necessarily derived from empathy? IOW, if I develop behavioral parameters based on a set of rules that serves my own personal desires, is that by definition in your view ***not*** morality?

    While I don’t believe that morality would exist without empathy, what is considered right and wrong is actually derived from our personal desires. But humans generally share many personal desires – we generally don’t want to be killed, robbed, raped, punched in the face, etc. It’s hardly coincidental that there’s such an overlap between such common desires and morality.

    Also, is there any penalty or downside for ignoring my empathy?

    IMO, it’s definitely psychologically damaging to our well-being to ignore or suppress such a central part of our human nature.

  259. 259
    OldAndrew says:

    So how did the truths of the Gospel survive in tact until they were put in writing?

    Inspiration. Take it or leave it.

    I have already explained that the final decision was not made at one moment in time. It was arrived at in stages over a period of four hundred years. Do you understand what that means?

    God told you that he made the decision in stages over a period of four hundred years? Did you get that on a stone tablet?

  260. 260
    vividbleau says:

    JSmith

    “So, your claim now is that morality, regardless of the source, does not exist. Fair enough. At least that is something that can be discussed. KF, would like like to respond to VB’s claim?.”

    Do you enjoy looking like a fool?

    Vivid

    .

  261. 261
    JSmith says:

    VB

    Do you enjoy looking like a fool?

    When someone asks a stupid question, they are the only ones who look foolish. Maybe if you were capable of clearly stating your point, your question might make some sense.

    I assume that you are referring to this little gem (but I could be wrong)

    To not exist objectively is to have no existence at all.

    Is your logic that subjective morality can’t exist because it does not objectively exist?

  262. 262
    ET says:

    Anyone who says:

    Since ID appears incapable of separating itself from its founding religion,

    Has very low and subjective morals, if that person has any morals at all.

    One thing is clear- discussing morals with such a person is a fool’s errand.

  263. 263

    GUN:

    So, if I’m understanding you correctly:

    However I define my morality makes that morality true for me by definition, and I can and should enforce my moral values as I see fit and inasmuch as I feel like it and have the power to do so. Correct?

  264. 264
    StephenB says:

    SB: So how did the truths of the Gospel survive in tact until they were put in writing?

    Inspiration. Take it or leave it.

    Non responsive. We already know it was inspired. By what means was the inspired message transmitted? We know it wasn’t through the written record, at least in the early Church. So what else remains? If you don’t know, surely you can guess.

    SB: I have already explained that the final decision was not made at one moment in time. It was arrived at in stages over a period of four hundred years. Do you understand what that means?

    God told you that he made the decision in stages over a period of four hundred years?

    No. It isn’t necessary for God to speak to me directly in order for me to know a fact that is accessible to anyone who cares to know it. The biblical Canon was developed over a long period of time. That doesn’t take away from the inspired nature of the bible. It is just something you ought to know if you if you want to enter into a discussion such as this. Rather than answer the question for you, I will let you do a little research on your own.

    Did you get that on a stone tablet?

    No. I got it through study.

  265. 265
    StephenB says:

    OA

    Inspiration. Take it or leave it.

    The bible is, indeed, inspired, but how do you know that? It doesn’t say that about itself.

  266. 266
    OldAndrew says:

    By what means was the inspired message transmitted?

    I don’t have to guess. The Bible says that inspiration of the scriptures was by means’s of God’s spirit.

    The biblical Canon was developed over a long period of time.

    If you believe that God determined which books would go into the Bible then you can’t possibly claim to know when that determination was made. If you claim to know that then it’s either by personal revelation from God or you’re confusing God’s decisions with those of men.

    It is just something you ought to know if you if you want to enter into a discussion such as this.

    I’m acquainted with how the Bible was compiled. Your answer to the question emphasizes the role of men as that’s where your focus apparently is. Mine emphasized the role of God.

  267. 267
    OldAndrew says:

    The bible is, indeed, inspired, but how do you know that? It doesn’t say that about itself.

    It does say that about itself, explicitly, and more than once. It’s mixed in between the other verses about the emptiness of man’s philosophy and foolishness of man’s wisdom. If you missed the latter then that explains how you missed the former.

  268. 268
    goodusername says:

    WJM,

    However I define my morality makes that morality true for me by definition

    I can’t really parse that so I don’t know if I agree with it or not. If this simply means that people generally follow what they believe to be moral… well, yeah.

    and I can and should enforce my moral values as I see fit and inasmuch as I feel like it and have the power to do so. Correct?

    If by “enforcing my moral values” you mean stuff like stopping a man from pummeling a child, yes, I will act according to my moral values – as do most people. Whether people “should”, I’m not sure what that means – but I hope people do.

  269. 269
    StephenB says:

    I don’t have to guess. The Bible says that inspiration of the scriptures was by means’s of God’s spirit.

    I will help you out here. It was transmitted and preserved orally, mostly through preaching. Later on, it was written down. That was the way God chose to work through men.

    If you claim to know that then it’s either by personal revelation from God or you’re confusing God’s decisions with those of men.

    There is also a little thing called the historical record. Does the date 325 A.D. mean anything to you?

    Your answer to the question emphasizes the role of men as that’s where your focus apparently is. Mine emphasized the role of God.

    I am emphasizing the role of both, because both were involved. (A separate but related fact: Did you know that the Gospels have two authors, one Divine and one human. Or were you thinking that God dictated each Gospel word for word?)

    It does say that about itself [that is is inspired], explicitly, and more than once.

    Provide the relevant passage please.

  270. 270
    OldAndrew says:

    SB,

    Don’t mistake my lack of willingness to answer your questions on your terms for ignorance. I am a student of the Bible, which includes the history of its writing and compilation. My interest in the Bible, however, is not primarily academic. When you’ve asked about its history and authorship, I’ve tried to direct attention back to what matters, its inspiration, content, and superiority over the empty philosophy of men which is dust on the scales by comparison. (If I was the least bit interested in impressing you, even if I didn’t know basic facts about the Bible’s history I’d google them.)

    Provide the relevant passage please.

    Off the top of my head I can think of three which are explicit, not implicit. I know the chapter and verse and can recite them from memory. But no, I will not provide them. I didn’t study the scriptures so that I could drag them through the mud as I’ve already done enough by participating in this debate.

    What points I’ve had to make I’ve made, and as is the nature of internet debates, you’ve shifted to a different subject. Anything to take the focus off of supposed “church fathers” who, despite the warnings of the scriptures, were actually students of Greek philosophy and led the congregation into a landscape of schisms, empty rituals, meaningless repetitive prayers, Bible burning, inquisitions, and idolatry, which sever it from its origins. And don’t forget those giant hats. As if Peter would ever wear something like that.

    I must now stop indulging your questions, which don’t seem at all sincere.

  271. 271
    JSmith says:

    OA to SB

    I must now stop indulging your questions, which don’t seem at all sincere.

    Not uncommon for this site. As I’m sure you have noticed.

  272. 272
    ET says:

    JSmith has no place to talk about sincerity seeing that its scruples have been shown to be totally lacking any decency.

  273. 273
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, correct understanding of key concepts and of terms used to label them is a crucial step of clarity. There is a world of grounding for understanding knowledge in the weak sense as warranted, credibly true (and so too, reliable) belief. Post Gettier counter-examples and the grue/bleen issue, justification becomes deprecated. Warrant of course comes in degrees as does degree of credibility. On fair comment, all of this has been discussed for many weeks now with singular unresponsiveness on your part. I have to get some rest and go deal with RW issues from v early on the morrow. When I can, later. KF

    PS: Meanwhile on the morality side this may help:

    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.

  274. 274
    JSmith says:

    KF

    CR, correct understanding of key concepts and of terms used to label them is a crucial step of clarity.

    I don’t think that anyone disagrees with this. But who determines what the correct understanding of key concepts are? You? Me?

    The real crucial step in clarity is knowing that your understanding of key concepts may be incorrect. For the same reason that nobody should fear questioning any of their moral values. When was the last time you questioned your understanding of key concepts? Or of your moral values?

  275. 275
    HeKS says:

    StephenB and OldAndrew,

    Your discussion / disagreements on these issues seems to have taken an unfortunate turn. That’s too bad. I’ve been short on time so I’ve had to scan more than read, but from I’ve been able to gather I fall somewhere between you two. I sympathize with OldAndrew’s comments about about the Biblical warning against empty philosophies, but unless I misread him I think he may be taking that caution beyond its intended meaning.

    Here’s a list of various meanings for the term “philosophy”:

    – investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods (American Heritage Dictionary)

    – the study of the ultimate nature of existence, reality, knowledge and goodness, as discoverable by human reasoning (Penguin English Dictionary)

    – the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics (WordNet)

    – the rational and critical inquiry into basic principles (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia)

    – the study of the most general and abstract features of the world and categories with which we think: mind, matter, reason, proof, truth, etc. (Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy)

    – careful thought about the fundamental nature of the world, the grounds for human knowledge, and the evaluation of human conduct (The Philosophy Pages)

    At its most basic, I think of Philosophy as merely an attempt to apply strict logic to important and difficult questions and provide meaningful definitions for the terms used in sorting those questions out. Or perhaps even more broadly, it’s just what we all do when we try to rationally work through some question or problem using our thinking ability.

    However, the source from which I cribbed that list above (I didn’t feel like searching for a bunch of individual definitions when it has already been done) makes the following statement:

    As used originally by the ancient Greeks, the term “philosophy” meant the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake….

    In common usage, it sometimes carries the sense of unproductive or frivolous musings

    NT references to philosophy typically fall into this kind of category. It was a warning against a kind of frivolous love of human wisdom pursued for its own sake and elevated above the wisdom of God. This was and still can be a real danger, especially if we get caught up in following particular schools of philosophical thought or become enamored with musings of particular philosophers, such that they become our touchstone for truth. We can even allow our own musings and a pride over our own wisdom to take precedence over revelation. So the warning is a sound one. But obviously that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to use the basic tools of philosophy to reason on issues. My focus in recent years on taking a strictly rational approach to thinking about the fundamental nature of existence and reality has drastically strengthened my belief in God’s existence. Over that period I went from thinking that atheism was a rational but probably wrong position to strongly thinking that atheism is ultimately an utterly irrational position. This was not the result of latching onto any particular philosopher or school of philosophical thought, but merely by thinking things through systematically. I undoubtedly benefited from ways that certain philosophers expressed certain ideas or concepts and they gave me particular things to think about, but it was a basic philosophical approach that led me to my current position rather than any particularly philosopher’s set of arguments.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I elevate philosophy above the Bible or try to impose particular philosophical systems upon it as an interpretive framework, and OldAndrew is right about that danger. Many of the early non-Jewish Christian writers were heavily influenced by non-Christian philosophical systems they were familiar with and those impacted the way they read the Bible, to the detriment of early Christianity, I believe. That said, I’ve had many conversations with atheists in real life who simply didn’t care what the Bible said and dismissed it but who couldn’t simply dismiss the rational (and one might rightly say philosophical) case for God’s existence. So there’s something to be said for having more tools in your toolbox rather than fewer. We should remember that Paul said he became what he needed to be in order to win people over. To those under law he became as under law, to those not under law as one not under law, etc. He met them where they were and reasoned with them accordingly.

    Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up, but I do want to point out one thing on a completely different issue.

    StephenB, I think you are drastically overstating the role of mid-4th century councils and church leaders in the selection of the NT canon. By the latter half of the second century there was already at least a large core (actually almost complete) set of books being used and listed as Christian scriptures. In fact there are almost complete lists dating back at least to the first half of the second century, where you might have 3 or 4 letters that there isn’t universal agreement about. By the mid 3rd century Origen seems to have already given a complete list of the NT “books” and he delivered it not as some kind of novelty but as a matter-of-fact representation that suggested it was already in common use (making lists is typically not the first step in this kind of process but the last). 4th century lists merely attempted to officially formalize or codify a collection that had already been in use for a couple hundred years with only minor disputes at the fringes over a couple of letters, which had already been resolved by that point. And as for the criteria for selection for the canon, it was basically to include anything written by an apostle or one of their close associates before the close of the 1st century. Virtually all disputes at the edges of the list hinged on whether there was complete agreement over whether a couple of letters met those criteria and the dispute was decided in their favor, seemingly long before 4th century councils.

  276. 276
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, the question you ask (again, despite repeated corrections) as to WHO determines what is the correct understanding of key concepts and terms etc shows the magnitude of the error at work. the answer is not a who but a WHAT. That what is the force of the merits on the case, i/l/o facts and reasoning. This of course goes to first the significance of what happens when a crooked yardstick is made a standard for what is straight, accurate, level and upright. What is really such will never match the imposed standard of crookedness; BTW, a key point of the parable you explicitly disdained, The Cave. So, we need a naturally straight and upright plumbline to demonstrate the rot and indicate the need for a fundamental fix. That is a key role for another thing you have repeatedly rebuffed, self-evident truths, general ones and ones connected to morality. Where the unfortunately real case of the kidnapped, bound, sexually violated and murdered child for someone’s sick pleasure is richly instructive but brushed aside, day after day, week after week. In that context, the error of radical fallibilism has been repeatedly shown to be self-referentially incoherent. Yes, error exists is self evidently true (and so it directly implies that we can know some things beyond reasonable, responsible doubt), but it is also the case that our intellectual faculties demonstrably have sufficient credibility to establish some things to utter certainty. A simple case is 2 + 3 = 5, and another is that distinct identity has as instant corollaries LoI, LNC, LEM, which are the root of reason. The case that we are inevitably morally governed in that reasoning by duties to truth, sound logic and more, is just as undeniable, on pain of the absurdity of letting grand delusion loose and letting the soft nihilism of cynical manipulation loose on all of our reasoning and communicating. There is an old saying, that one can lead a horse to water but one cannot force the horse to drink it.I suggest that you reconsider how you have been operating. KF

  277. 277
    ET says:

    JSmith:

    The real crucial step in clarity is knowing that your understanding of key concepts may be incorrect.

    You have already demonstrated that your understanding is bogus.

  278. 278
    ET says:

    kairosfocus- so that you know what you are up against:

    It is so much fun getting him wound up. Unfortunately, it usually ends up in me burning a sock. But I have several in the works that KF hasn’t figured out yet.

    That is JSmith, aka William spearshake; aka acartia bogart, aka many other socks.

    see here

    All it cares about is getting to you. It is not interested in any type of honest and open discussion.

  279. 279
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, thanks, that shows the fundamental dishonesty, want of responsibility and soft nihilism as was clearly brought out here across recent weeks. Hence, the importance of showing the real balance on the merits on self-evident truth in general and moral self-evident truth in particular. Where, remember, the linchpin moral issue at stake is the ongoing holocaust of living posterity in the womb at a rate of a million further victims per week on a baseline of 800+ millions since the early 1970’s. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, and when crookedness is made the standard for straightness, absurdity is driving the train over the cliff heedless of warnings. KF

  280. 280
    ET says:

    kairosfocus- Well said.

  281. 281
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: These trolls show precisely the sort of agit-prop activism and amoral behaviour they wish to ridicule us for pointing out. And the underlying animus seeps out around the corners, creating a miasma that is a warning on what is going drastically wrong with our civilisation.

  282. 282
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, I am going to bet that THAT is not going to be responsibly discussed in the penumbra of animus sites. Not to mention what I put up this morning, on the core failure of the ethical systems being championed. (Where, BTW, that seeps out to taint their epistemology also. Recall, reasoning is morally governed i/l/o duties of care to truth, sound logic and more.) KF

  283. 283
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, SB and OA (& thanks, ET):

    Let me set aside for the moment the possibility that OA is little more than a concern troll seeking to derail a serious matter with a fundamentally dishonest side-track. The sort of tactics just exposed by ET and laid out for all to see in his linked thread. (And yes, I am very aware of such tactics. After all, I cut my eye-teeth dealing with Communists and their front groups full of the duped. Lost a beloved Auntie to the hate they stirred up.)

    Instead, let us consider OA to represent an adherent of a peculiar theological school of thought who has wandered in here and sees an issue that is of great concern to him.

    In that case, OA needs to understand that UD is addressing an environment and dealing with fundamental topics that are highly polarised and so it is constantly, obsessively monitored by those with a malevolent, jealous eye who have a ruthless agit-prop agenda that does not have the good of our civilisation at heart. Frankly, they are much like the mutinous sailors in Plato’s parable of the ship of state. And, they and those they are cannon fodder for, would lead our civilisation to shipwreck. Remember, these are people who frankly are enabling the ongoing, worst holocaust in history.

    In that context, for cause, UD does not normally engage in arcane theological disputes, certainly not in dragged out form that pulls discussions off on successive tangents.

    I suggest that another forum would be better for the discussion which has now begun to dominate this thread.

    Perhaps, you may want to launch an off-topic forum for subjects of interest.

    The main issue at UD is, the scientific inference to design and its warrant. That brings in relevant cases, domains of science dealing with the world of life and cosmology, information and thermodynamics, physics and chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science, etc.

    It also points to logic and first principles of reason, epistemology and the linked moral government that is inextricably entangled with responsible, rational freedom.

    The past several weeks have sufficed to demonstrate that the problems we face do not lie with the core warrant for the design inference. They lie in controlling worldview-level commitments and ideologies that have championed radical fallibilism, thus several associated schools of thought that undermine rationality, understanding of warrant and knowledge and much more. Crooked yardsticks have been made into standards of what is straight, accurate, upright.

    Plumb-line tests have been recklessly swept away (especially the significance of self-evident first truths) and utter absurdity and manipulative soft form nihilism are driving the train for the cliff.

    Those are major results, and they will guide us going forward.

    Yes, these results also have import for the dominant agendas that drive the course of our civilisation and allow us to see how key institutions have become increasingly compromised and corrupt, serving as vehicles of manipulation, soft tyranny and civilisational suicide. That has geostrategic implications, so heedless of consequences are we collectively.

    So, yes, what has gone wrong with institutional science, science and general education, the media and its collective ability to shape opinion, major responsible professions, the churches, law and courts, parliaments and governments all have a part too.

    But, we must not lose sight of main focus and we must not forget the penumbra of toxic, animus-driven attack sites.

    It is time to turn and to counter-attack, knowing what is at stake.

    Fix bayonets. Check satchels of grenades and gas masks. Make sure of the Belgian Rattlesnakes and their ammo drums.

    KF

  284. 284
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: For convenience, the parable:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  285. 285
    JSmith says:

    KF

    JS, the question you ask (again, despite repeated corrections) as to WHO determines what is the correct understanding of key concepts and terms etc shows the magnitude of the error at work. the answer is not a who but a WHAT.

    The WHAT is the process that is followed (rational, logical, evidence based examination). But you don’t have a WHAT without a WHO to draw a conclusion from the WHAT. Which takes us full circle to my claim that started this whole objective vs subjective moral values nonsense. All moral values should be open to questioning.

  286. 286
    ET says:

    JSmith:

    The WHAT is the process that is followed (rational, logical, evidence based examination).

    And that is clearly well beyond your capabilities.

    All moral values should be open to questioning.

    Everything is open to questioning. The hard part, for you anyway, is being able to understand that answers when provided.

  287. 287
    StephenB says:

    HeKS,

    I am well aware of the time line and diminishing rate of change in the development of the NT Canons. My points, perhaps hastily expressed, were that [a] over 100 years passed after the death of Christ before there was any semblance of agreement on what really qualified as scripture, [b] that the issue wasn’t finally settled until the 4th Century, and , most important, [c] an oral tradition of Scripture preceded the written tradition of scripture. Those are incontestable facts and those are the facts that I presented. I didn’t just assert myself in that context, I was responding to comments that militate against it.

    Just because I say the matter was settled late does not mean that I am unaware of the fact that it was almost settled much earlier. However, I think you are overestimating the value of ALMOST. It seems impossible to have a discussion with OA at that level. In any case, you will notice that I didn’t even mention the issue of authority, which is crucial and would have prompted even more controversy.

    In terms of human wisdom vs biblical wisdom, my position, again probably hastily expressed, is that philosophy has its place, but scripture is the standard of truth. More importantly truth is truth and scriptural truth cannot contradict or unvalidate truths found in other areas. Yes, scriptural truth is on a higher order, and I am prepared to emphasize that point as well. Just because I don’t emphasize the latter point doesn’t mean that I don’t hold it, but when I am correcting errors at one extreme, it is sometimes necessary to pay tribute to the other extreme to show what the middle looks like. I think this what you are perceiving.
    OA began the conversation by claiming that Aquinas was a student and a follower of someone who supported man/boy sex (Aristotle). You may be willing to let something like that pass, but I am not.

    All I have been insisting on is a reasonable perspective on these matters when the subject objective morality is concerned. The Ten Commandments are a specification of the natural moral law. I get the former from faith and the latter from reason. OA implies that this makes me a follower of man’s wisdom and I resent that characterization. This is why I took the tack that I did. If you would like to discuss the point, I would be happy to do so.

  288. 288
    StephenB says:

    KF, I appreciate and agree with your comments at 283. The only reason I became involved in the theological dispute was to defend the natural moral law as a reality that can be apprehended in the absence of religious faith, while recognizing that scripture specifies that same law, albeit in greater detail and with more authority. I don’t think it is fair for others to assert of imply that the NML as man’s wisdom, and for that reason, I take up the subject.

  289. 289
    StephenB says:

    JS

    All moral values should be open to questioning.

    What about the moral value that you just expressed? Should it be questioned? If the matter is open for debate, then of what value is it as a guide to human behavior? You are still not getting it.

    Person X What is the proper road to San Francisco?
    Person Y You can take Highway 70, but that claim is open to question.

    Person X Thank’s a lot but I think I will ask person Z the same question. I can’t afford to be wrong.

    Person X Which way to SanFrancisco?
    Person Z Take Highway 70. It’s a lock.

    Person X: Thanks. Why didn’t person Y tell me that?

    Person Z: He doesn’t think that there is any such place as San Francisco.

  290. 290
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, appreciated, though we need to understand the trollish rhetorical stratagem that may be at work. Lies work best when they have shreds of fact to hang on and lend plausibility in the eyes of the implacably hostile or those who may be easily led astray by same. And I say that fully aware of our joint work on the Weak Argument Correctives that the trolls in the penumbra of animus sites willfully choose to disregard. On looking I think the lack of the spirit of truth compounded by unjustified animus has led to severe degradation of rationality much less reasonableness and responsibility. Just in this thread, it is clear that JS is a sock-puppet throwaway identity for a troll of many aliases over the years. That confirmation lends a very different colour to discussions in the thread and in recent weeks. For example claims to be a relative of people victimised by the Nazi holocaust have to be seriously doubted. And, benefit of the doubt is gone. KF

    PS: The ill-founded and intended to be tainting accusation against the Angelic Doctor is a serious warning flag that with just a little more may well force us to assume as a matter of prudence that OA is a false flag troll, the sort termed a concern troll. And, I say that as a convinced Protestant.

  291. 291
    StephenB says:

    KF:

    For example claims to be a relative of people victimised by the Nazi holocaust have to be seriously doubted. And, benefit of the doubt is gone. KF

    Right. The name of he game is to taint an intellectual discussion with an emotional appeal. Whether true or not, the irony persists. Repeated references to the Jewish Holocaust are a clear indicator that the referencer is quietly assuming the objectively evil nature of the act, even as he continues to deny it. And so we have the formulation: “This is, really, really bad (objective), except that it only seems so to me (subjective). It doesn’t work. Also, if you have time, review my brief comments @289.

  292. 292
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, there is a long train of self-referentially incoherent moral stances on the part of Sock-Puppet JS. In the latest he is now trying to suggest that he has not advocated for relativism and/or subjectivism and/or emotivism backed up by radical fallibilism. It seems he does not wish to face the cluster of challenges to such views that I headlined earlier today. KF

  293. 293
    JSmith says:

    KF

    SB, there is a long train of self-referentially incoherent moral stances on the part of Sock-Puppet JS. In the latest he is now trying to suggest that he has not advocated for relativism and/or subjectivism and/or emotivism backed up by radical fallibilism.

    Please stop speaking in disregard to the truth. I have, on more than one occasion, stated that moral subjectivism and moral relativism are not the same thing. Yet you insist on conflating the two to be able to erect your strawman argument.

  294. 294
    JSmith says:

    SB

    JS: All moral values should be open to questioning.

    SB: What about the moral value that you just expressed?

    That’s not a moral value. It’s an opinion. All opinions are open to questioning. Except, apparently, KF’s.

    KF

    Just in this thread, it is clear that JS is a sock-puppet throwaway identity for a troll of many aliases over the years. That confirmation lends a very different colour to discussions in the thread and in recent weeks.

    For the record, I am not who ET claims I am. But you won’t believe that as it would require you to haul ET over the carpet for making unsubstantiated accusations. But regardless, I think that I would like this acartia/spearshake dude.

  295. 295
    StephenB says:

    Your comment to KF is interesting. It’s true that moral subjectivism is not exactly the same thing as moral relativism, but they both have a great deal in common. Can you provide me with your definition of moral subjectivism, and moral relativism, and tell me how your views align with each paradigm?

  296. 296
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Can you provide me with your definition of moral subjectivism, and moral relativism, and tell me how your views align with each paradigm?

    I don’t have the time right now to get into all of this, but the big difference between them is that subjectivism does not preclude absolutes (or as close to absolutes as you can get).

  297. 297
    StephenB says:

    SB

    JS: All moral values should be open to questioning.

    SB: What about the moral value that you just expressed?

    That’s not a moral value. It’s an opinion.

    It is most definitely a moral value. Anytime you use the word “should” in an unqualified way, you are asserting a moral value. There is no question about it. I have pointed out the contradictory nature of your statements many times, especially when you say “is” but really mean “seems.”

    But I will adjust my question to address your moving target: Should your *opinion* that “moral values should be open to question”–be open to question?

  298. 298
    ET says:

    JSmith:

    For the record, I am not who ET claims I am.

    OK Pinocchio. Just be careful going around corners.

  299. 299
    ET says:

    For the record- Bill Clinton did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Monica Lewinsky. 🙄

  300. 300
    StephenB says:

    I don’t have the time right now to get into all of this, but the big difference between them is that subjectivism does not preclude absolutes (or as close to absolutes as you can get).

    What I was getting at was this: What aspect of morality does a moral relativist accept that you do not accept?

  301. 301
    JSmith says:

    SB

    It is most definitely a moral value. Anytime you use the word “should” in an unqualified way, you are asserting a moral value.

    You should buy me a beer.

  302. 302
    JSmith says:

    SB

    What I was getting at was this: What aspect of morality does a moral relativist accept that you do not accept?

    A moral relativist is like WJM’s BS about preference of ice cream. A subjectivist accepts that there are things that are more or less absolute, but that they aren’t god given. And that anyone with unimpaired thinking abilities can figure out for themselves. Not raping and killing your neighbours kid is a simple one. Not raping 12 year olds when you are in a position of authority is another.

  303. 303
    ET says:

    And that anyone with unimpaired thinking abilities can figure out for themselves.

    That leaves you out.

  304. 304
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, I note that no-one has claimed that relativism and subjectivism are identical. Lewis highlighted that subjectivism makes the relativism become tied to the individual. And there is indeed a long chain of incoherencies in the views your persona has advoicated that have come out in recent weeks here at UD, bland denial will do you no good, nor will the notorious tactic of projecting an accusation such as you just did, nor will the crocodile death roll attempt. You — whether it is one individual or effectively a collective behind the mask — now have zero benefit of doubts. KF

  305. 305

    GUN,

    Are you familiar with the philosophy of “Might Makes Right?” It appears that is what you are wittingly or unwittingly espousing – that whatever we think is good is in fact good (in the only way a moral good can be a fact – personal feeling, preference, subjective thoughts, views), and that we have the self-asserted right to enforce those goods on others, have we the power and inclination to do so.

  306. 306
    critical rationalist says:

    From an earlier thread….

    Y seems like X. All of our best arguments against Y not being X seem to be falling. So, for now, we’ll critically take the idea that Y is X on board. All of our best arguments against X are just that. More guesses that we critically take on board, etc.

    This is what I mean when I say what KF calls basic-beliefs are just beliefs that we currently have no good criticism of. That can change because in no way do I think that we currently possession all good criticisms of, say, consciousness, or any other supposedly basic belief.

    Given that I’ve made this argument at least a half a dozen times, it’s unclear why you’d assume I think our means of criticism is somehow infallible as well.

    I would again point out that no one has yet made a comment that actually contradicts this.. Rather the objection they seem to have some objection based on dictionary definitions.

    My challenge still stands. By all means, please present a supposedly basic belief that we have a good criticism of, which would be a contradiction.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

    My point was and has continues to be: how does a proposition obtain the status of being “already true” before reason has its say? The application of reason, being a form of criticism.

    How might we infallibly possess a complete list of all the ways a proposition might be false at the time of considering it? What about the creation of genuinely new knowledge in the fields of human biology, neurology and epistemology, etc. that we do not have right now? Nor are we even guaranteed to actual come up with all the possible ways to criticize something at all. It might take years, decades, centuries, millennia or never even come at all.

    Criticisms failing and continuing to fail as we develop new ones are all we have. Persuasion is “critical evaluation”

    If you hold some source to be infallible, how did you infallibly identify it among others? How do you infallibly interpret it? How do you infallibly determine when to defer to it?

    For example, in respect to the Bible (assuming you’ve somehow managed to infallibly identify it) what is metaphor and what is literal? is the Bible a science book? Should we defer to it on matters of mathematics and the number of legs on insects?

    What about the Quran? It claims to be the verbatim and final revelation of God. So, why haven’t you decided you do not need to defer to it as well?

    Appeals to the law of identity are naive as they some how assume we can infallibly identify everything, that we will not run across something we have yet to identify, or the future will somewhat resemble the past.

    The law of identity is trivially true. Why? Because it is a tautology.

    So could it help us in practice? From Wikipedia entry on tautology….

    The word tautology was used by the ancient Greeks to describe a statement that was asserted to be true merely by virtue of saying the same thing twice, a pejorative meaning that is still used for rhetorical tautologies.

    So, from a rhetorical perspective I don’t see how repeating one’s self helps in practice.

    In 1800, Immanuel Kant wrote in his book Logic:

    “The identity of concepts in analytical judgments can be either explicit (explicita) or non-explicit (implicita). In the former case analytic propositions are tautological.”

    Here analytic proposition refers to an analytic truth, a statement in natural language that is true solely because of the terms involved.

    Ok, but what is true about the statement that is actually helpful?

    In 1884, Gottlob Frege proposed in his Grundlagen that a truth is analytic exactly if it can be derived using logic. But he maintained a distinction between analytic truths (those true based only on the meanings of their terms) and tautologies (statements devoid of content).

    How can something “devoid of content” be of help, in practice?

    In 1921, in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein proposed that statements that can be deduced by logical deduction are tautological (empty of meaning) as well as being analytic truths. Henri Poincaré had made similar remarks in Science and Hypothesis in 1905. Although Bertrand Russell at first argued against these remarks by Wittgenstein and Poincaré, claiming that mathematical truths were not only non-tautologous but were synthetic, he later spoke in favor of them in 1918…

    Agan, it’s unclear how something that is “empty of meaning” can help us in practice.

    However, words are shortcuts for ideas, and we should be willing to redefine our terms to make progress. So perhaps KF or someone else here can present a definition of the Law of identity that isn’t a tautology so we can make progress?

    My guess is what KF and company are really referring to some sort of essentialism based on Plato’s forms, etc.

    In fact the quote above is from “The Republic”, correct? Are you aware that Popper has written entire chapters on Plato and “The Republic” which suggests it is totalitarian? Have you read them?

  307. 307
    StephenB says:

    A subjectivist accepts that there are things that are more or less absolute, but that they aren’t god given. And that anyone with unimpaired thinking abilities can figure out for themselves. Not raping and killing your neighbours kid is a simple one. Not raping 12 year olds when you are in a position of authority is another.

    More or less absolute? How can one thing be more absolute than another? In any case, the relativist, like you, does not think morals are God given. So that is no difference. Or again, You don’t think that raping or abusing authority is absolutely or objectively wrong, neither does the relativist.

    So I return to my question: What kinds of moral acts can the moral relativist accept on the basis of his philosophy that you cannot accept on the basis of your philosophy? And vice versa? Don’t get the impression that I don’t know the difference between the two paradigms. I do. I am just asking a practical question.

  308. 308
    StephenB says:

    When I use the phrase “will not accept,” I mean will condemn as wrong for everyone in all circumstances.

  309. 309
    JSmith says:

    KF

    JS, I note that no-one has claimed that relativism and subjectivism are identical.

    Yet all of your criticisms of subjectivism have actually been criticisms of relativism.

    SB

    More or less absolute? How can one thing be more absolute than another? In any case, the relativist, like you, does not think morals are God given. So that is no difference.

    That you don’t understand the difference between moral relativism and moral subjectivism is your problem, not mine.

    Or again, You don’t think that raping or abusing authority is absolutely or objectively wrong, neither does the relativist.

    The fact that you don’t understand the difference between absolutely wrong and objectively wrong is your problem, not mine.

    So I return to my question: What kinds of moral acts can the moral relativist accept on the basis of his philosophy that you cannot accept on the basis of your philosophy?

    How would I know? I’m not a moral relativist.

    Don’t get the impression that I don’t know the difference between the two paradigms. I do. I am just asking a practical question.

    If you know the difference, why ask the question? You obviously will not accept any answer that differs from how you conceive them.

  310. 310
    StephenB says:

    SB: More or less absolute? How can one thing be more absolute than another? In any case, the relativist, like you, does not think morals are God given. So that is no difference.

    JS

    That you don’t understand the difference between moral relativism and moral subjectivism is your problem, not mine.

    But I do understand the difference. That is why I am asking you the questions and you are evading them.

    SB: Or again, You don’t think that raping or abusing authority is absolutely or objectively wrong, neither does the relativist.

    The fact that you don’t understand the difference between absolutely wrong and objectively wrong is your problem, not mine.

    So far, the problem is that you are evading my questions. The differences between MS and MR that you claimed are not differences at all.

    SB: So I return to my question: What kinds of moral acts can the moral relativist accept on the basis of his philosophy that you cannot accept on the basis of your philosophy?

    How would I know? I’m not a moral relativist.

    Do you need to be a moral relativist to know what a moral relativist is? I am not a moral relativist and I know what moral relativism is.

    If you know the difference, why ask the question? You obviously will not accept any answer that differs from how you conceive them.

    The point of my questions is to encourage you to think more deeply. When you say that a thing (moral value) “can be more or less absolute,” you are using bad logic. It is a nonsensical statement and a problem that needs to be explored. So it is with some of your other statements.

    When you say you know the difference between moral subjectivism and moral relativism, and at the same time, refuse to discuss moral relativism on the grounds that you don’t happen to be one, that is a problem, especially since you sternly criticized KF for not knowing the difference.

  311. 311
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Where, remember, the linchpin moral issue at stake is the ongoing holocaust of living posterity in the womb at a rate of a million further victims per week on a baseline of 800+ millions since the early 1970’s. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, and when crookedness is made the standard for straightness, absurdity is driving the train over the cliff heedless of warnings. KF

    Yes, KF. This is a concrete moral problem. And I’m suggesting that we can make progress in solving it with moral knowledge.

    Barry wrote….

    Suppose a super-being were to come to you this evening and give you a satisfactory guaranty that you could eliminate all cancer in the entire world. All you have to do to achieve that otherwise laudable goal is torture this toddler to death.

    Why do you think I’d believe torturing a specific toddler to death would somehow “satisfactory guarantee” that I could eliminate all cancer in the world? Does the toddler possess that knowledge and I have to torture it out of it? Toddlers cannot even conceive of explanatory theories at all, let along an explanatory theory of how to eliminate cancer. Nor would that require me to torture it *to death*, either. Even if a Toddler could somehow conceive of explanatory theories, apparently, the super being isn’t that “super” if it thinks there is no way to use rational argument to convince the toddler to reveal the knowledge in question, as opposed to using violence. And if that knowledge is somehow embedded in the toddler, why would we need to use torture to extract it?

    This super being doesn’t seem all that super. Rather it seems to possess less moral knowledge than I do.

    Most likely, I’d assume said “super being” is trying to trick me in to doing something I don’t want to do: torture a toddler to death. Perhaps it’s not really a super being after all. Or this entire scenario is actually contrived as some kind of test, etc. Either way, I’m not buying it.

    Or are you suggesting that somehow I, having tortured a toddler to death, would somehow enable the super being to eliminate all cancer in the world on my behalf, or give me super powers? It’s unclear how this would work any more than human beings having tortured a man to death thousands of years ago supposedly enabled the super being you worship to save everyone in the entire world, and them some.

    IOW, when we stop and consider our options, there is good criticism of the idea of a toddler dying in agony somehow resulting in the elimination of all cancer in the entire world.

    However, I would again say, the only thing that would prevent us from accomplishing something that is not prohibited by the laws of physics is knowing how, which would include eliminating all cancer in the world. So, this is a question of knowledge. And what if someone who already possessed the knowledge of how to do so offered to give it to me in exchange for torturing a specific toddler to death? And, lets say that someone used that knowledge to eliminate cancer in, say, one city in every country of the world to satisfactorily indicated they indeed possessed it. What then?

    First, I would ask, who would intentionally keep that knowledge from us, if it possessed it? Oh wait, that would be the Christian God, who would have possessed that knowledge eternally. Does God care about toddlers with cancer dying in agony or only if *we* cause one of them to die in agony?

    No perpetual miracles are needed. Just knowledge.

    Second there would be some motivation as to why this person would make that particular exchange. Again, I think that argument could be used to convince them to release that knowledge under some other terms. For example, does this person want revenge and has kidnapped someone else’s toddler? Do they think vengeance will make them feel better? What about getting investors together and offering to purchase that knowledge for 100 million dollars 200 million? Or, perhaps, they themselves are being coerced into doing something against their will? Can we remove the leverage over them, so they can release the information? Etc.

    The problem with this example is that it’s missing the actual context that a concrete moral problem would exhibit, in practice, and you assume no knowledge could help us avoid this dilemma.

    The very idea that it’s possible to convince the person in question that they were mistaken and might prefer some other terms, is to say they could be objectively mistaken about how the world works, in reality. That is they were mistaken about moral knowledge.

    I don’t claim to know the best way to obtain that person’s goal. But I would suggest that we could present good argument that objectivity show torturing a specific toddler to death isn’t one of them.

    To quote Popper from “The Open Society and Its Enemies”

    As we have seen before (in chapter 5), and now again in our analysis of the uncritical version of rationalism, arguments cannot determine such a fundamental moral decision. But this does not imply that our choice cannot be helped by any kind of argument whatever. On the contrary, whenever we are faced with a moral decision of a more abstract kind, it is most helpful to analyze carefully the consequences which are likely to result from the alternatives between which we have to choose. For only if we can visualize these consequences in a concrete and practical way, do we really know what our decision is about; otherwise we decide blindly. In order to illustrate this point, I quote a passage from Shaw’s Saint Joan. The speaker is the Chaplain: he has stubbornly demanded Joan’s death; but when he sees her at the stake, he breaks down; ‘I meant no harm. I did not know what it would be like .. I did not know what I was doing .. If I had known, I would have torn her from their hands. You don’t know. You haven’t seen: it is so easy to talk when you don’t know. You madden yourself with words .. But when it is brought home to you; when you see the thing you have done: when it is blinding your eyes, stifling your nostrils, tearing your heart, then –then –O God, take away this sight from me!’ (footnote omitted.) There were, of course, other figures in Shaw’s play who knew exactly what they were doing, and yet decided to do it; and who did not regret it afterwards. Some people dislike seeing their fellow men burning at the stake and others do not. This point (which was neglected by many Victorian optimists) is important, for it shows that a rational analysis of the consequences of a decision does not make the decision rational; the consequences do not determine our decision; it is always we who decide. But an analysis of the concrete consequences, and their clear realization in what we call our ‘imagination’, makes the difference between a blind decision and a decision made with open eyes; and since we use our imagination very little (footnote omitted) we only too often decide blindly. This is especially so if we are intoxicated by an oracular philosophy, one of the most powerful means of maddening ourselves with words — to use Shaw’s expression.

    Again, I would say that many here use their imagination very little.

    Now, to your “the linchpin moral issue at stake”. The problem of unwanted and unsafe pregnancies? We could develop artificial wombs and ways to transplant a fetus into women who cannot conceive children of their own, etc. Again, we know these things are not prohibited by the laws of physics, so the only thing that would prevent us from achieving them is knowing how.

    That would be yet even more knowledge that God would have possessed since eternity and apparently doesn’t feel like sharing with us. How would doing so impact the number of abortions that occur, in practice, if there were other options?

    In the future we will have create new knowledge and it will change the moral landscape dramatically. In fact, it already has, but will do so in the future to a far greater degree. And it will be fallible people that will have made the difference and resulted in far better moral problems to solve.

    In the mean time, your God stands by idly and watches. How could you worship such a being who withholds this knowledge from us?

    However, it’s not really clear you think this actually is a moral problem to solve in the first place. Do you just lack imagination?

  312. 312
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, recall, you are dealing with a troll persona, one that has dismissed the key distinction between is and ought as nonsense and as a mere — presumably empty — talking point. Blend in radical, self referentially incoherent and infinitely regressive fallibilism and we get a picture of utter incoherence. Somewhere in there we will find a mish-mash of subjectivism, diminishing moral truth and principle to values that are figments of delusional minds that are delusions of neuronal electrochemistry, compounded by manipulation of power elites in a community and so forth, with Alisky agit prop tossed in for good measure. KF

  313. 313

    JSmith everywhere: Why should anyone pay attention to you and your self-defeating moral relativism? It is…well… self-defeating.

  314. 314
    critical rationalist says:

    The point of my questions is to encourage you to think more deeply. When you say that a thing (moral value) “can be more or less absolute,” you are using bad logic. It is a nonsensical statement and a problem that needs to be explored. So it is with some of your other statements.

    As I’ve pointed out, when faced with the question if there is such a thing as objective moral values, people have put forward a specific example of a proposition that was objectively morally wrong. My question is, by what process did they end up with that particular proposition?

    Of of all those they considered, did they not choose that proposition as to best to make their point?

    And how might they have reached that conclusion as to which proposition would be best? Did they not quickly stop and try to question which ways or reasons there could be exceptions to that proposition?

    If not, then it’s unclear why that specific proposition chosen, out of all those considered, as a shining example of something that is objectify morally wrong.

    Was it select arbirtararlly? What happen there?

    Again, words are shortcuts for ideas. And we should be willing to adopt the terminology of others when having a discussion.

  315. 315
    JSmith says:

    TWSYF

    JSmith everywhere: Why should anyone pay attention to you and your self-defeating moral relativism?

    For someone who shouldn’t be paid any attention to, there are several threads now of people doing just that. All for me saying that all moral values are open to questioning. Which isn’t even an opinion. It is a statement of fact.

  316. 316
    critical rationalist says:

    My point is, when we try to take the idea of a infallible source seriously, for the purpose of criticism, the actual process of “appealing to” any such source, in practice, is effectively equivalent to the process when we do not hold a source as infallible.

    The idea that there is some key difference doesn’t surive criticism. Reason always has its way first.

  317. 317

    CR @311 said:

    Why do you think I’d believe torturing a specific toddler to death would somehow “satisfactory guarantee” that I could eliminate all cancer in the world? Does the toddler possess that knowledge and I have to torture it out of it? Toddlers cannot even conceive of explanatory theories at all, let along an explanatory theory of how to eliminate cancer.

    Talk about missing the point! OMG!!!

  318. 318
    ET says:

    moral relativism:

    Evolution and moral relativism go hand-in-hand, for evolution teaches that life is accidental, without meaning or purpose.

    JSmith:

    How would I know? I’m not a moral relativist.

    So you do not accept evolution by means of blind and mindless processes? There may be hope for you, however slim.

  319. 319
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, for years you have laboured long and hard at UD to undermine knowledge, but are now appealing to knowledge. Give us one good reason that we should not view you as a sock-puppet troll persona? KF

  320. 320
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    If moral knowledge isn’t about solving concrete moral problems, then what is it for?

    I would suggest assuming it’s not is missing the point of morality as a whole. This entire thread is concerned about justifying their position based on a source and therefore ignores what seems to be the real issue. Can we apply it when we need it, in practice.

    That’s my point.

  321. 321
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, for years you have laboured long and hard at UD to undermine knowledge, but are now appealing to knowledge.

    Suggesting someone is mistaken about what knowledge is and how it grows is an example of undermining knowledge?

  322. 322
    goodusername says:

    WJM,

    Are you familiar with the philosophy of “Might Makes Right?” It appears that is what you are wittingly or unwittingly espousing – that whatever we think is good is in fact good (in the only way a moral good can be a fact – personal feeling, preference, subjective thoughts, views), and that we have the self-asserted right to enforce those goods on others, have we the power and inclination to do so.

    Interesting. Before, you interpreted the tendency to enforce morality as behaving as if morality were objective, but now it’s behaving as if one believes that might makes right?

    Do only sane people then behave as if might makes right?

    If, during my attempt to rescue someone from being pummeled, I result in getting pummeled myself, I’m certainly not going to interpret that as the man doing the pummeling as being “right.” I don’t care how “mighty” he is, it means zilch to me when it comes to morality. Having “might” doesn’t make him right – merely victorious.

    But I think I may see what you’re getting at. You’re saying that by interfering, that we act as if morality is more than just personal beliefs/feelings that we enforce on others, and thus we’re behaving as if morality is something bigger than us (and something objective).

    I think you’re half right (if I understand you correctly): the premise is right, but the conclusion is wrong. You’re correct that by interfering I’m acting as if my desires to not be killed/robbed/punched in the face are more than personal quirks. Part of empathy is “theory of mind”, the understanding that such desires are shared by (almost) all others. Thus I’m behaving in a way that not only is the way that I want to behave, but is the way that I would want others to behave, and is the way that pretty much everyone else would want me to behave.
    Thus the reason someone interferes is not because they believe that morality is objective – or that they believe that might makes right – it’s because they aren’t a complete sociopath.

    There’s also “social contract” stuff going on. As a society, we give up the right to kill and rob as it means others won’t have the right to kill and rob us.
    It’s the kind of society that pretty much everyone wants to live in. It’s pretty much the only way to have a society.

  323. 323
    kairosfocus says:

    GUN, sez who? KF

  324. 324
    JSmith says:

    GUN

    There’s also “social contract” stuff going on. As a society, we give up the right to kill and rob as it means others won’t have the right to kill and rob us.
    It’s the kind of society that pretty much everyone wants to live in. It’s pretty much the only way to have a society.

    Even herd animals have figured this out. It is strange to me why people who claim to be much smarter than these herd animals have such a hard time with this.

  325. 325
    goodusername says:

    KF,

    GUN, sez who? KF

    Can you be more specific – which part? Are you asking who sez that children don’t like to have a man punching them in the face? Or that people generally don’t want to live in a society where they can be legally killed? Or, what?

  326. 326
    ET says:

    As a society, we give up the right to kill and rob as it means others won’t have the right to kill and rob us.

    As a society we gave up on materialism otherwise we would be killing and robbing as there wouldn’t be any reason not to.

  327. 327
    goodusername says:

    ET,

    As a society we gave up on materialism otherwise we would be killing and robbing as there wouldn’t be any reason not to.

    I don’t think that sentiment is as common as you think, but I’m glad you’re not a materialist.
    Can you explain specifically why you don’t go killing and robbing?

  328. 328
    ET says:

    goodusername:

    I don’t think that sentiment is as common as you think, but I’m glad you’re not a materialist.

    It’s a fact, not a sentiment.

    Can you explain specifically why you don’t go killing and robbing?

    Who says that I don’t?

  329. 329
    goodusername says:

    ET,

    It’s a fact, not a sentiment.

    Since I don’t go killing and robbing, it’s not a fact. (Nor do the many materialists that I know, to the best of my knowledge.)

    Who says that I don’t?

    You, in #326, when you said “otherwise”.

  330. 330
    ET says:

    Since I don’t go killing and robbing, it’s not a fact. (Nor do the many materialists that I know, to the best of my knowledge.)

    Clueless- the SOCIETY is NOT materialistic.

    You, in #326, when you said “otherwise”.

    That doesn’t follow. I was talking about SOCIETY.

  331. 331
    ET says:

    Evolution and moral relativism go hand-in-hand, for evolution teaches that life is accidental, without meaning or purpose. Therefore, anything you do is OK, because it ultimately doesn’t matter.

    from moral relativism

  332. 332
  333. 333
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: For record, let us note a key remark by Provine at the 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day:

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

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    Let us never forget this, or its significance. KF

  334. 334
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: Likewise, let us understand that the evolutionary materialism just exposed (with implications for fellow travellers also) is hardly new. And its consequences for the community were forever exposed i/l/o the collapse of Athens through the Peloponnesian war and its aftermath:

    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].

    The lessons of sound history were paid for with blood and tears. Those who refuse to heed them doom themselves to pay the same coin over and over and over again. KF

  335. 335
    critical rationalist says:

    Evolution and moral relativism go hand-in-hand, for evolution teaches that life is accidental, without meaning or purpose. Therefore, anything you do is OK, because it ultimately doesn’t matter.

    Ultimately doesn’t matter?. Why should I care about God’s purpose for me?

    Reason always has its way first.

    It’s unclear how being held responsible for the sins of the “first man”, Let alone how being held responsible by eternity of torture, serves any purpose beyond trying to reconcile the belief in a perfectly good God and human behavior.

    Apparently, the only solution your “super being” could come up with is to attempt to coerce us via the threat of eternal violence. You’ll have to excuse me for not finding that very moral solution. It sound like something fallible human beings would come up with several thousand years ago.

    Why would you think I’d somewhat find that any more acceptable, for some eternity, after I die, than I do now?

    “I ask you in return: are you a benevolent or a malevolent god? If benevolent, then what do I have to fear? If malevolent, then I disdain to fear you. We Athenians are a proud people – and protected by our goddess, as you surely know. Twice we defeated the Persian Empire against overwhelming odds,* and now we are defying Sparta. It is our custom to defy anyone who seeks our submission.”

  336. 336
    tribune7 says:

    KF

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

    Which sums up the fight. It’s not about “science” but truth. Science is a means not an end. While it deserves respect it does not deserve worship. In fact, worshipping science is anti-science.

    Truth, of course, is an end and the Spirit of Truth is worthy of worship.

  337. 337
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF.

    Again, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. It’s not who should rule. This seeks an authoritative answer. Rulers are just a means to an end. What we need are good polices. Where they come from is irrelevant.

    So, what question should we ask? How we can we create a system by which we can correct errors. This includes removing bad polices and bad rulers. And both of these things should be possible without violence.

    Mistakes are inevitable. There are no infallible sources of good policies. You’re just advocating some other ruler, who you happen to think is infinitely wiser and cannot lead us into error, which isn’t actually an improvement.

    So, it’s unclear how I fit your atheist / materialist profile.

  338. 338
    tribune7 says:

    Reason always has its way first.

    Reason tells you that everything is ultimately a matter of faith.

  339. 339

    CR @ 335: “Why should I care about God’s purpose for me?”

    Because you are destined for Hell without His gift of salvation. You are condemned already.

    And please don’t get all moralistic on me. In your a/mat world there are no real morals… just opinions that come and go over time. Your opinions mean very little to me, and I am sure that my opinions mean very little to you.

  340. 340
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Reason tells you that everything is ultimately a matter of faith.

    I would disagree. Faith is what we fall back on when reason and evidence do not, or can not, support our opinions.

  341. 341
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    Faith is what we fall back on when reason and evidence

    That the sun will rise for you tomorrow is a matter of faith. You believe in something. Maybe abiogenesis. Maybe the multiverse. If you are one who believes in such things your belief is a matter of faith. If you believe in something else about how everything came about, that is also ultimately a matter of faith.

  342. 342
    JSmith says:

    T7

    That the sun will rise for you tomorrow is a matter of faith.

    No. It is a matter of reason supported by evidence.

    Maybe abiogenesis.

    I agree that we both rely on faith for our opinions on this.

    Maybe the multiverse.

    Might be an interesting thought experiment, but nothing more.

    If you believe in something else about how everything came about, that is also ultimately a matter of faith.

    Not necessarily so. I believe that if I jump off a 20 story building that I will fall, most likely to my death. Since I have never personally tested this, you might argue that my argument is based on faith, not reason, but that would violate KF’s “credible warrant” argument. So I suggest that your disagreement is with KF, not with me.

  343. 343
    tribune7 says:

    That the sun will rise for you tomorrow is a matter of faith. . . .No. It is a matter of reason supported by evidence.

    Actually, for about 150,000 people the sun will not rise tomorrow 🙂

    I believe that if I jump off a 20 story building that I will fall, most likely to my death.

    What you are missing is that faith can be — and should be — grounded in reason.

  344. 344
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, where did I focus on who should rule, save in the rather specific context of the ship of state? Where Plato’s Socrates basically says that wisdom, adequate knowledge, sound character and good intent should be marks of political leaders rather than cynical manipulation, malevolence, incompetence, deceit, imprudence and folly. Do you disagree, thanks for letting us know in advance. KF

    PS: Bad, unsound rulers predictably make very poor policy decisions. Just like bad doctors and bad military commanders. As happened to Athens.

  345. 345
    kairosfocus says:

    JS:

    Faith is what we fall back on when reason and evidence do not, or can not, support our opinions.

    Spoken just like a good little troll.

    Actually, we must all have worldviews and face the trilemma: infinite regress, circularity in the root or a finitely remote set of first plausibles that we have good reason to believe can hold their own in the face of comparative difficulties.

    The first is instantly absurd, we cannot get started. The second begs big questions. Only the third is a responsible option: a reasonable faith that acknowledges self-evident plumbline first principles but realises that such will never be enough to frame a full worldview.

    We must all walk by faith, the issue is to do so reasonably and responsibly.

    The further observation is, evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers isn’t doing so good. It is self-referentially incoherent, unable to account for reasonable, responsible freedom. It has no world-root is capable of grounding ought. And more.

    Never mind the lab coat.

    I suggest that you think again.

    KF

  346. 346
    JSmith says:

    T7

    What you are missing is that faith can be — and should be — grounded in reason.

    Faith: “belief that is not based on proof.”

    We all take many things on faith that are not based on proof. Although there are significant portions of the bible that can be corroborated independently, there is also much of it that must be taken on faith because it cannot be be supported through reason and compelling evidence. This would include things like the Garden of Eden, Noah’s flood, Christ’s resurrection, etc.

    Accepting things on faith does not mean that they are not true or that they did not happen, just that they are not supported by compelling evidence.

  347. 347

    Bob O’H said:

    Interesting. Before, you interpreted the tendency to enforce morality as behaving as if morality were objective, but now it’s behaving as if one believes that might makes right?

    Everyone is willing, to some degree, to enforce their morality on others. Normally, that kind of behavior is due to values considered to be objective – like scoring a math test, engineering principles, etc. Thus, “everyone behaves as if morality is objective” – objective like math, load bearing capacities, basic physics, etc.

    However, we were exploring a morality presumed to be subjective, so it cannot be referring to an objective standard. How then to account for your willingness to enforce your personal morality on others when there is no objective standard? The logical reasoning from the premise of no objective standard in morality led us to the “might makes right” paradigm as explained above.

    If, during my attempt to rescue someone from being pummeled, I result in getting pummeled myself, I’m certainly not going to interpret that as the man doing the pummeling as being “right.” I don’t care how “mighty” he is, it means zilch to me when it comes to morality. Having “might” doesn’t make him right – merely victorious.

    Unfortunately, you’re being hypocritical here – probably unwittingly. If you define morality and the right to act on that morality as what the individual decides is moral and enforcing it however they see fit, the necessary logical conclusion is that you are both being equally moral, the only difference being which of you is better equipped to do the enforcing.

    Don’t misunderstand the concept of “might makes right” for “whoever wins is moral, whoever loses is immoral”. All it means is that might (in whatever form) is what empowers your self-asserted “right” to enforce your personal morality on others. IOW, might (in whatever form, along with willingness to use it) is the proper judge of which competing moral view should win out.

    But I think I may see what you’re getting at. You’re saying that by interfering, that we act as if morality is more than just personal beliefs/feelings that we enforce on others, and thus we’re behaving as if morality is something bigger than us (and something objective).

    Yes.

    I think you’re half right (if I understand you correctly): the premise is right, but the conclusion is wrong. You’re correct that by interfering I’m acting as if my desires to not be killed/robbed/punched in the face are more than personal quirks. Part of empathy is “theory of mind”, the understanding that such desires are shared by (almost) all others. Thus I’m behaving in a way that not only is the way that I want to behave, but is the way that I would want others to behave, and is the way that pretty much everyone else would want me to behave.

    The problem is that no matter what your personal theories, justifications or rationalizations are, by your own admission others are not bound to those same views. Regardless of how deep you go into your own, personal, subjective perspective, they carry no more objective moral value than the other guy who just gets off on beating up kids.

    Thus the reason someone interferes is not because they believe that morality is objective – or that they believe that might makes right – it’s because they aren’t a complete sociopath.

    I agree with the above; the problem is that this is where the logic necessarily ends up. The necessary logical conclusion of subjective morality is “might makes right”. I realize nobody outside of sociopaths would accept “might makes right” as their moral maxim or principle, and that is exactly the point here. Moral subjectivists usually float in an unexamined and untenable position that cannot be supported rationally. This is why the heavyweight atheists/moral subjectivist philosophers all understand this problem. The brave ones, as BA, KF and others continually point out, admit moral subectivism necessarily means might makes right and will-to-power.

    There is no third option. Enforcing moral views on others either means you agree objective moral values exist which give you the ability to recognize evil and the right – the obligation – to intervene, or else it’s just a competition between two equally moral people to see who can overpower – in some way – the other.

    There’s also “social contract” stuff going on. As a society, we give up the right to kill and rob as it means others won’t have the right to kill and rob us.
    It’s the kind of society that pretty much everyone wants to live in. It’s pretty much the only way to have a society.

    This isn’t a solution to the problem of the rationality of subjective morality; in fact, it exacerbates the issue. If society thinks something is moral, and you as an individual feel strongly it is not, on what basis do you disobey or try to change society? Again, it all boils down to equal morality (morality defined personally and subjectively) and power differential.

    If morality is subjective, Bob O’H, there is no such thing as objective immorality. The only way to decide if someone else is behaving immorally is to ask them if they are behaving immorally. It would be the same thing in principle as saying someone is eating food they don’t like because you don’t like it. You don’t get to judge their personal preferences by your own, do you? You can say you don’t like it, or that an act would be immoral for you to do it, but you cannot say it is immoral for someone else because you do not know their moral system.

    The only way to point at someone else and say that what they are doing ***is*** wrong is if that behavior meets an agreed objective standard of wrongness – like looking at someone else’s answer on a math quiz and saying “they’re wrong”. You can’t look at someone’s answer for “what is your favorite food” and say “they’re wrong”; you have no logical, objective standard by which to look at the moral behavior of others and say “they’re wrong”- if you claim to be a moral subjectivist.

  348. 348
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    Faith: “belief that is not based on proof.”

    And the reality is that you can’t prove anything you believe to the standard that you demand. You cannot prove you are not a small part of a great artificial simulation, a mere battery powering the Matrix.

    Did you ever seriously reflect on all the things that you believe that you can’t prove? Why are you here, for instance.

    Accepting things on faith does not mean that they are not true or that they did not happen, just that they are not supported by compelling evidence.

    Again, we all have to live by faith. Even arithmetic can’t be proven completely.

  349. 349
    JSmith says:

    T7

    And the reality is that you can’t prove anything you believe to the standard that you demand. You cannot prove you are not a small part of a great artificial simulation, a mere battery powering the Matrix.

    Now you are just extending the definition of faith to the absurd.

    If you want to be completely absurd, you can argue that we take everything on faith. But there is a huge difference between the level of faith required to accept gravity, nuclear physics and plate tectonics, and the level of faith required to accept the resurrection of Christ, Bigfoot or UFOs.

  350. 350
    tribune7 says:

    Now you are just extending the definition of faith to the absurd.

    No, I’m taking it to the literal, and logical, end.

    you can argue that we take everything on faith.

    Do you remember what you were responding to back at 340? Actually, what I’m saying is that we do, ultimately, take everything on faith.

    Something else you are missing is that reason is not a means but an end. Reason is only acheived when you have found the faith to understand that there are rules and consistency and purpose.

  351. 351
    JSmith says:

    J7

    Something else you are missing is that reason is not a means but an end. Reason is only acheived when you have found the faith to understand that there are rules and consistency and purpose.

    I’m not sure if I believe you about this. I will have to think about it a bit.

  352. 352
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    That’s all one can ask.

  353. 353
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, many have been taught — erroneously — to believe that faith means BLIND, IRRATIONAL BELIEF. This is a fallacy, and often a slur. There is reasonable, responsible faith, and there is unwarranted, dangerously unsound belief. This includes the flip side of selective hyperskepticism. For if one disbelieves what per reasonable warrant s/he should accept and be willing to act on with much at stake, then necessarily s/he also hypercredulously accepts things s/he should not. That is how marches of folly get started. A good place to begin sorting such out is with worldviews analysis on comparative difficulties. Yes it is painful and difficult [a key message in the Parable of the Cave], but in the end it is the sound way. KF

  354. 354
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Simon Greenleaf:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. [–> that is, his focus is on the logic of good support for in principle uncertain conclusions, i.e. in the modern sense, inductive logic and reasoning in real world, momentous contexts with potentially serious consequences.]

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. [–> the issue of warrant to moral certainty, beyond reasonable doubt; and the contrasted absurdity of selective hyperskepticism.]

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. [–> moral certainty standard, and this is for the proverbial man in the Clapham bus stop, not some clever determined advocate or skeptic motivated not to see or assent to what is warranted.]

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved. [–> pistis enters; we might as well learn the underlying classical Greek word that addresses the three levers of persuasion, pathos- ethos- logos and its extension to address worldview level warranted faith-commitment and confident trust on good grounding, through the impact of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in C1 as was energised by the 500 key witnesses.]

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind [–> in British usage, the man in the Clapham bus stop], beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal [–> and responsible] test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [= definition of moral certainty as a balanced unprejudiced judgement beyond reasonable, responsible doubt. Obviously, i/l/o wider concerns, while scientific facts as actually observed may meet this standard, scientific explanatory frameworks such as hypotheses, models, laws and theories cannot as they are necessarily provisional and in many cases have had to be materially modified, substantially re-interpreted to the point of implied modification, or outright replaced; so a modicum of prudent caution is warranted in such contexts — explanatory frameworks are empirically reliable so far on various tests, not utterly certain. ] [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

  355. 355
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Something else you are missing is that reason is not a means but an end. Reason is only acheived when you have found the faith to understand that there are rules and consistency and purpose.

    I have to be honest and say that I am not sure what you mean by this. Are you stating that reason can only be achieved after we have faith in the existence of rules of logic? Or do you mean more?

  356. 356
    tribune7 says:

    Are you stating that reason can only be achieved after we have faith in the existence of rules of logic? Or do you mean more?

    The consistency of nature, the purpose of existence, that there is meaning, that it isn’t all a dream.

    It is certainly natural to assume these things, but what if you question your assumptions? You will find you can’t prove them. You have to live by faith.

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    JSmith says:

    T7

    The consistency of nature, the purpose of existence, that there is meaning, that it isn’t all a dream.

    I would agree that nature is consistent for moderately long periods of time, but over millennia, not so much.

    With regard to purpose of existence, I think that we do ourselves a disservice by assuming this is the case. And meaning, I rely on myself, family and friends to bring meaning to my life.

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    tribune7 says:

    And meaning, I rely on myself, family and friends to bring meaning to my life.

    That is good, but that is not a reason thing.

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    kairosfocus says:

    FYI-FTR 2: JS, “sock[puppet]” troll persona — the unmasking (by Ab at a notorious objector site) — here.

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    Barry Arrington says:

    JSmith is no longer with us.

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    tribune7 says:

    And meaning, I rely on myself, family and friends to bring meaning to my life. . . .That is good, but that is not a reason thing.

    JS, if you are banned such is life, but I want to elaborate on this.

    We started discussing faith vs. reason and I tried to make the point that the concepts are not in opposition to each other, and in fact you can’t have reason without faith.

    You brought up emotion as something that provides meaning to life, and I agree with you albeit it was not something that relates to the specifics of our discussion.

    You don’t need faith to have emotion — in fact I think emotion is inherent to our nature — but faith-directed reason-defended rules are required so that the good emotions that make us happy don’t die. Examples would be don’t cheat on your spouse, don’t lie to your friends, don’t bully, don’t be disloyal, share, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you etc.

    The inclination to do these things is also inherent to our nature. If we didn’t have faith to work against our immediate desires we would never gain the greater things.

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    JSmith is no longer with us? Good riddance!

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  364. 364
    Molson Bleu says:

    “FYI-FTR 2: JS, “sock[puppet]” troll persona — the unmasking (by Ab at a notorious objector site)”

    Thank you for pointing me to this site. Very informative.

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    kairosfocus says:

    MB, troll hangout. KF

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    Molson Bleu says:

    “MB, troll hangout. KF”

    I’m sure that you will forgive me if I decide that for myself.

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    kairosfocus says:

    MB, suit yourself. Let’s just say that when trolls take on a decent woman and try to trash her in ways that we have seen, they deserve a haymaker. Meanwhile, we will take due note of Ab’s exposure that beyond JS there are other “sock[puppet]” personas popping up in and around UD at rhetorically convenient times and coming from that source; a key sign is that such are not honest participants in discussion on the merits. KF

  368. 368
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: First steps to a taxonomy of trolls: http://tantek.pbworks.com/w/pa.....llTaxonomy , clipping —

    >> . . . I am first providing a list of previous work and efforts to classify and categorize trolls that I’ve found.

    Wikipedia: Troll (Internet) article
    2002-11-10 ChessBase News: Flame warriors – a full taxonomy by Mike Reed. See also Mike Reed’s illustrated Flame Warrior Roster which includes a number of troll types.
    Compost has few weapons at his disposal and must resort to expletives and gross vulgarities.
    Godzilla
    Big Dog may be smart, articulate or just plain mean, but in any case he is a remorseless fighter, brutally ripping into even the weakest of combatants.
    Profundus Maximus eagerly holds forth on all subjects, but his thin knowledge will not support a sustained assault and therefore his attacks quickly peter out. Profundus Maximus often uses big words, obscure terms and…ahem…even Latin to bluff his way through battle.
    Deacon Be he a Baptist, Scientologist or Zoroastrian, in the heat of battle Deacon will call down Divine retribution on all net sinners, and will never miss an opportunity to tell everyone about his personal savior. Deacon is fervent and earnest, but never has anything of interest or substance to contribute.
    Jerk is sarcastic, mean, unforgiving and never misses an opportunity to make a cutting remark. Jerk is very happy to participate in electronic forums because in cyberspace he is free to be his repulsive self.
    Grunter always reponds to discussion forum messages with a single word or a short phrase: “Yeah!”. “Get a life.”, “Whatever”, “I agree.” “Wrong.”, etc.
    Lonely Guy doesn’t get out much, his social isolation drives him to do battle just for the human contact. Compassion dictates that we shouldn’t get too upset with his antics. But he can be very fierce. Remember, he has nothing better to do than stew over real or imagined insults.
    Propeller Head knows just about everything there is to know about computers and the internet, and is indignant (which is what makes him or her a troll) that you don’t.
    Rebel Leader has an uncanny ability to upset the settled order of a discussion forum.
    Filibuster attempts to influence the forum simply by holding the floor with monotonous hectoring and prodigious output of verbiage.
    see other troll types at illustrated Flame Warrior Roster, which, notably, includes more than just trolls, but the “good guys” that help fight them off and defend communities from them, such as “Admin”, “Diplomat”, “Eagle Scout”, etc.
    2003-03-26 LGF blog comments: Peace Troll Taxonomy 101 by LGF user “Caton”. Excerpted:
    “Jihadi” troll
    anti-Semitic troll
    “control” troll
    “bolchevik” troll
    ‘mongrel’ trolls
    2006-12-16 Time Magazine: Making Mischief on the Web by ANA MARIE COX
    Concern troll is more subtle than your standard troll, and posts comments that appear to be sympathetic to the topic being discussed but who, in reality, wishes to sow doubt in the minds of readers . . . >>

    I should add to this that one of the favourite troll tactics is a propaganda device pioneered by Hitler and Goebbels, the turn-speech false or strawman accusation that projects blame to the despised or targetted other in order to hide behind the squid ink cloud thereby created. Sometimes, to attack further through ad hominems, sometimes to escape behind the confusion created. Quite often, the real problem is captured by this: he hit back first. So, who hit first?

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    Molson Bleu says:

    “Let’s just say that when trolls take on a decent woman and try to trash her in ways that we have seen, they deserve a haymaker. ”
    Sorry, but I do not recall this happening here. Is it possible to provide a king? Thank you.

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    kairosfocus says:

    MB, it happened in the penumbra of animus-driven sites. We were there, we remember. As should you if you are yet another persona. Just remember, Ab fired the opening salvo. KF

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    Molson Bleu says:

    KF, sorry, I thought you were referring to comments on this site. I couldn’t see any such comments. That is the only reason I asked. Have a pleasant weekend.

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