MS-DOS and Objective Truth

Objective Truth Morality ChristianityBack in the character-based Stone Age of the personal computer, all MS-DOS PCs started up with a C-prompt, the “C:>” text with a blinking cursor. At least, all PCs that weren’t broken.

Can we conclude anything from that? That “C:>” is a reflection of some supernatural or transcendental truth? That it is an insight into God’s mind? No—it’s just a useful trait shared by this class of PCs. There’s no objective meaning behind these characters. This text is useful (it shows the directory in which any typed commands will take place), so it was selected. There’s nothing more profound than this behind it.

Human morality is like this. Almost all humans have shared moral programming, not dissimilar from instincts in other animals. Through instinct, honeybees communicate where the nectar is, newborn sea turtles go toward the ocean, and juvenile birds fly. Training or acculturation can override human programming, of course, but in general we have a shared moral sense—a shared acceptance of the Golden Rule, for example.

We think our moral programming is pretty important, and that’s understandable, but there’s no reason to imagine that it is objectively true and based on some supernatural grounding. Said another way, we think that our morality is true because it tells us that it’s true, but we can’t infer from this that it is grounded outside us. If we imagine a warlike (or gentle or wise) civilization on another planet, their programming would tell them that their morality is the correct approach, not ours.

We must not confuse universally shared moral programming with universal moral truths.

Our morality is what our programming says it is—it’s no more profound than that. There’s as much reason to imagine that it is a window into the transcendent as that the MS-DOS C-prompt is.

More: a popular apologist gets objective morality wrong here.

In Nature there are neither rewards nor punishments—
there are consequences.
― Robert G. Ingersoll

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/26/12.)

WHAT God? Religion Keeps Not Finding Him.
Religions Continue to Diverge—What Does that Tell Us?
War Just an Invention? Then Invent Something Better.
William Lane Craig Misrepresents Christianity and Insults Islam (2 of 2)
About Bob Seidensticker
  • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

    If you are right, it would seem that there would be nothing good or bad about ignoring such morality. It points us in a certain direction but if my rational mind prefers something else then nobody should have anything to say about that. Obama can send out predator drones and legally kill people. He might feel some moral guilt over it. Should he pay attention to that? Should he just ignore that and use reason to say who lives or dies? Maybe he might kill a few just for fun. Why not? If all you are offending is an MS-DOS prompt what is the concern?

    • Armanatar

      Your argument is essentially that the lives and suffering of real human beings have no meaning whatsoever, and that our morality only matters as a prescription from a higher power and not in and of itself. Otherwise, whether our morals came from God or from our evolutionary past would be irrelevant to your case. What gives our moral choices weight is the effect those choices have on ourselves and those around us. Isn’t that more than enough?

      • Jason

        Our lives have meaning to us.

    • Pofarmer

      Ancient Jews thought it was all right to stone unruly children to death. Ancient Norse Pagans thought it was all right to give human sacrifices to the Gods every 9 years. Ancient mayans thought it was all right to rip the still beating heart out of subjects as tribute to their Gods. Some Ancients treated women as property. Some tribesman in the South Pacific believe eating humans is O.K. Up until the last 150 years, slavery was generally seen as O.K. The church considered it O.K. to torture and kill those who didn’t believe. Many Ancient cultures believed it was moral to leave babies out in the weather to die if they were imperfect or if times were to hard. Where in the world is the “objective” morality?”

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        In the Christian fantasy land, morals are something only True Believers™ have until contradicted by Jesus long after the fact. Also, these morals are objective only if one acknowledges the J-fucker.

      • JohnH2

        Still beating heart was Aztec, not Maya, the Maya were into blood letting of the rulers, both their own and those they captured. You apparently get a really trippy experience if you thread a cord through your gentiles so they bleed profusely and then dance around until you almost pass out. Also, cutting your jugular and then surviving is likewise an impressive feat and also something the Maya did.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, the Maya seemed to love blood-letting, but their human sacrifice was a little different than the Aztecs. Victims were usually thrown into a cenote, and it seems slaves were used more than anyone else. Human sacrifice seemed to be sporadic, although animal sacrifice was fairly common.

        • MNb

          How does this answer the question “where in the world is the “objective” morality”?

        • JohnH2

          Wasn’t even attempting to get into that debate, just that the practices and forms of human sacrifice of the Maya are not the same as the Aztec.

        • Norm Donnan

          Ha, and now we have abortion to top all those heratics,now we are so modern and everything.

        • MNb

          Ha, Norm is back, as bigot as ever – abortion is as bad as ripping beating hearts out of living humans. Genocide on the Canaanites is OK though, because it’s in his favourite Holy Book.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, how dare Norm equate the great honor and privilege of being a god in proxy in the great drama of renewing the Sun with the willful betrayal and cowardice in facing the honor and duty of taking captives from the underworld!

        • MNb

          Still researching the mass and the volume of the mormon god, John? Or may we look forward to a thorough and systematical article in a peer reviewed magazine?

        • Norm Donnan

          Thanks Mark,as one bigot to another I missed you to xx
          To the children being aborted I would think being cut to peices in your mothers womb or being stabbed in the back of the head out side would be much the same,.Guten tag

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It doesn’t work that way when the “child” is a single cell.

        • Norm Donnan

          It works exactly like that,they were considered less worthy just like the “colored people” 150 years ago wernt considered “fully human”ie:lacked “personhood”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Same tired arguments, eh Norm?

          No slave owner 150 years ago would think that a single cell was more important than an adult slave.

          See? Even slave owners get it.

        • Norm Donnan

          Still dont get basics Bob?
          An adult slave was more important than a white child.
          I think people would disagree 150 years ago,slaves were disposable.
          Oh ,single cells dont get aborted Bob,same tired justification.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This has all been explained to you. No point in wasting your time with a repeat.

          I guess it’s comfortable in your old, familiar ruts, eh?

        • MNb

          “No point in wasting your time with a repeat.”
          That’s what praying is – wasting your time with a repeat.

        • smrnda

          The difference is that it is objectively true that a zygote is an undeveloped human being. It is not true that a non-white person is a less developed white person.

        • Norm Donnan

          That may be enough for you to justify aborting someone but it is exactly how people felt about negros.A 5yo child is an undeveloped person aswell and nowhere near as valuable as a adult unless of course that adult is hadicapped in some way or elderly then they to could be seen as disposable by some,where does it end,(or start)??

        • Kodie

          You only have one note, don’t you.

        • smrnda

          How people felt is irrelevant. I pointed out that the Z/E/F being an undeveloped person is a true fact. I know that strong feelings define realty for many religious people, but the real world doesn’t work that way.

          I’m also a person with multiple handicaps, and in the US, plenty of pro-forced birth people eager to talk about how horrible abortion is are fine with letting me die if I can’t be rich enough to pay for my own care. Nobody on the pro-choice side is advocating killing me off, so I don’t see any slippery slope, and please, quit using us disabled people as props in your forced birth arguments. So far, legalized abortion has not been leading towards this, outside of in the minds of pro-forced birth advocates. There is no ‘where will it end’ because it begins and ends with abortion alone, owing to the issue of bodily autonomy.

        • MNb

          But Genocide on the Canaanites is OK, isn’t it Norm?

        • Norm Donnan

          It would be to you Mark if you were an Isrealite and those little parasites were affecting your quality of life then fair enough,who are we to judge them.Its just a flick sword(or schalpel) or the plunge of a spear(or scissors).They were just ignorant savages,not fully human like (wernt granted “personhood”)the chosen ones.Its not really genocide, just their choice and hey ,it hardly needs mentioning compared to the million people aborted in the US alone every year now does it???

        • 90Lew90

          “It would be to you Mark if you were an Isrealite and those little parasites were affecting your quality of life then fair enough,who are we to judge them.”

          Ergo, morality is subjective. You ninny.

        • MNb

          “Its not really genocide, just their choice”
          So you’re a racist too.

          “They were just ignorant savages,not fully human”
          Exactly what the nazi’s said about the jews and the eastern-European people.
          This, my dear Norm, is why I think christian apologetics so despisable. Just claim that your god hasn’t granted some people “personhood” and that said god has ordered you to kill them all and you have a clean consciousness. You’re a disgrace for your compatriot veterans, Norm, because it’s exactly your attitude they fought against.
          Withdraw your words or this blog will know you as Nazi-Norm from today on.

        • JohnH2

          Norms claim is that you are either an ageist or a natalist not granting personhood to the unborn fetuses and advocate killing them. The Nazi’s didn’t kill half as many people, just going with the US; and world wide even attributing babies as being 2% of a person the nazi’s didn’t slaughter as many people, not to worry though abortions are world wide heavily influenced by race and targeted against female babies and against the disabled; if there were a genetic test for homosexuality then it would also target them as well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A single cell is 0% of a person.

          But let me understand your argument—it wasn’t clear to me. The Nazis killed 11 million people. If we multiply that by 50 to find out how many 2-percent-people they killed, that would make 550 million. What does that number compare to? U.S. abortions? I’m missing something in your argument.

          And if I am understanding the thrust of your argument (though not the math), it doesn’t work that way. In a contest between a 100% person mother and a 2% person zygote, the mother wins. Every time. Millions and millions of times, the mother always wins. So this calculation to figure out how many Holocaust deaths would map to current abortion deaths makes no sense.

        • JohnH2

          I was going with a higher figure for Nazi deaths of 20 million. Doubling that roughly gives the US abortion figures, and the billion figure is the world-wide figure.

          Change mother to slave owner or Nazi and zygote to slave or subhuman filth and hopefully you see why your response is mildly disturbing to me and Norm and anyone else that concedes any amount of personhood to the unborn.

        • smrnda

          I think the major difference is bodily autonomy, which is an issue for a pregnant woman but not in any of the other cases. To me, demanding a person carry a pregnancy to term against their will is slavery, pure and simple.

          Additionally, I could agree that there might be a moral argument if we’re talking relatively late term abortions, which tend to be fairly rare, but if you’re telling me a zygote IS the same as a person, then I think you’re talking nonsense, the same as I’d be talking nonsense to call an empty lot with some constructions supplies and a blueprint a house.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I assign plenty of personhood to the unborn–0% as a single cell and 100% as a ready-to-be-born fetus.

        • JohnH2

          Not sure how that is supposed to make your argument less disturbing.

        • Kodie

          Didn’t pass 4th grade math?

        • JohnH2

          well, lets see I draw a line from 0 to 100 calculate when most abortion happens and what do you know? Still more than the Nazi’s killed. way worse in fact than just assigning 2% (which doesn’t even cover the first week, meaning the egg hasn’t even been released yet, let alone fertilized so….).

          Of course taking Bob’s statement that a single cell is 0% we have to move the start of that line to the third week, and that sort of makes things even worse, as previously we are dealing with hypothetical individuals many of whom self terminate prior to reaching that 2% mark and none of whom, whether self terminated or intentionally terminated are counted in the abortion figures. Now though we are dealing with actual individuals who are still killed in every one of those recorded cases well after that 2% figure.

        • Kodie

          Nobody is part of a person, so calculating something like 2% of a person for the purpose of comparing it to the Holocaust doesn’t really disturb me. It disturbs me that that’s where you’re going with this, but I mean, the sheer number!!!! does not disturb me. That is like talking about a colony of termites, you don’t care about them. They’re not trying to piss you off, but you know you don’t like them so you feel no qualms at all. What percent of a person is a termite?

        • JohnH2

          Obviously a termite is some positive percentage of a person, going the route of economics on this one, as we do place value on the existence of termites, disrupt lives due to termites independent of the damage termites cause, and spend money on termites. I imagine for any individual termite that percentage is easily in quintillionths or less of a person, given the number of termites, the life of a termite, and the value we place on termites; enough so that exterminators that spend their whole career killing termites never reach a meaningful fraction of a person.

          Bob’s spectrum argument contradicts the idea that there is no such thing as a fraction of a person. It isn’t a Heaviside function

        • Kodie

          So with reckless glee, you would murder thousands of colonies of healthy termites just trying to make their way in the world? I don’t know what value a zygote has above that. It generally depends on the 100% person carrying it and what they wanted. For couples trying to get pregnant, it projects as a full person, but that doesn’t make it a person. If you can throw out a used condom because it’s obviously trash, I don’t know what different qualities a fertilized egg has that a termite doesn’t even have, and the zygote’s own host doesn’t even have.

        • JohnH2

          You really can’t tell the difference between a fertilized egg which barring errors in itself, and assuming implantation, has the potential to develop into a human and a termite which will always be a termite?

        • Kodie

          I don’t see a qualitative difference other than sometimes a fertilized egg is protected and sometimes it isn’t. It depends on who is carrying it what that cell means. If it’s not a human yet:

          barring errors in itself, and assuming implantation, has the potential to develop into a human

          then it’s not a human yet. It’s a projection. When I say termites to you, how do you feel? Not comparing anything to them, just how do you feel about termites? How do you react when I say your neighbor just found out his house has termites?

          You want to find out now if you might have termites and get it taken care of before the problem becomes unmanageable and causes irreparable damage.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like you accept the spectrum argument.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s supposed to make it clearer. You’re welcome to whatever reaction you want.

        • Kodie

          Sorry, but the zygote is the slave-owner or the Nazi in this equation, and living humans who argue on their behalf.

        • JohnH2

          Zygotes don’t generally kill people.

        • Kodie

          I think you need to go back and read some of Bob’s old posts on the spectrum argument etc.

          If a zygote is a person, it’s most definitely in charge of the human carrier, pretty much for the rest of her life, and defines her life. If that isn’t slavery, I don’t know what is. Luckily, most rational people would not argue something, just because it has human DNA should have more rights than a living cow or chicken (and I eat animals). It is sentimentality to consider it a person, not reality.

        • JohnH2

          Zygotes still don’t generally kill people.

        • Kodie

          You don’t think they do? You don’t have an exception for the zygote that, if allowed to continue to develop will endanger the life of the mother? Besides which, there are health consequences of pregnancy, no matter what. I pointed you to an old argument, where someone has repeatedly listed all the health endangerment a woman goes through from carrying a pregnancy. Abortion is the proverbial “nip it in the bud” situation. You know what will happen if you don’t.

          That most people do it on purpose should not be a factor on a woman’s decision. That is sentimentality, and not a good way to make a personal decision and have agency in your life. You are arguing that the woman is not the slave or the sub-human, well who exactly has this control over her life? Why don’t her needs matter? Why should she be held hostage by something you so easily label a human being from day one of development?

        • Norm Donnan

          Lol,this is what l love about you most Mark,you just dont get it.Your like Sheldon off the Big Bang Theory.
          What Iam reflecting is that its you with the nazi ideology.
          From the servival of the fittest to the lives not worthy of life, your all pure nazi supporters.

        • MNb

          Indeed I don’t get how somebody can write such stupid things as you do, though having a nazi-attitude like you explains a lot.

          “its you with the nazi ideology”
          Nazi’s were against abortion too. In 1943 it became a capital crime.

          “From the servival of the fittest”
          Isn’t in any way part of my atheism; doesn’t play any role in Evolution Theory (though you didn’t write this at this point I can safely assume you embrace this canard as well) and has nothing to do with abortion.
          You wrote that Canaanites were sub-humans, were little parasites, weren’t granted personhoods – words used by nazi’s to describe jews and Eastern-Europeans, hence justifying massacres like Babi-Yar, just like you justify this Biblical Genocide.
          Have a good day, Nazi-Norm.

        • Pofarmer

          Even with abortion in the U.S. overall infant mortality in the U.S. is still much, much better than it was in say, the early 1900′s.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You want numbers? The Bible says that 600,000 men left Egypt for the Exodus. Do the math on how big that makes the Israelite tribe. Then God lists 7 tribes in Canaan that are bigger and says that he will help them destroy each of them.

          You should have no trouble will lots of murders. (Not that killing a single cell would be murder.)

      • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

        You argue so eloquently for objective morality. Why is there anything bad about what Ancient Jews or Norse Pagans did? You see the badness as being obvious. You are right. Where does it comes from?

        • Pofarmer

          Are you being purposely obtuse or are you really that stupid?

        • MNb

          Thumbrule: as soon as you have to ask a question like this the correct answer is “both”.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know how someone gets their fingers in their ears when their head’s up their ass.

        • wtfwjtd

          “You see the badness as being obvious. You are right. Where does it comes from?”

          It comes from our innate sense of empathy that originates in our genetic code. A wide range of animals are capable of empathy, which is the basis for most all of our moral codes that human societies develop and refine over time.

          Are you arguing for some sort of objective morality? You’ll have to show the evidence for this; without evidence, it’s just a groundless and meaningless assertion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Objective morality? What’s objectively moral: that slavery is OK (what the Bible says) or that it’s terrible (what the West says today).

        • Greg G.

          A heritable sense of fairness is an important feature for a species that rely on a social structure. We see it in monkeys and dogs as well as humans. To see that slavery or human sacrifice is wrong, we only need to consider it from the perspective of the slave or the sacrifice using our evolved sense of fairness. The fact that some people see the institutions of slavery and sacrifice as useful shows that it is not objective.

        • Pofarmer

          I sometimes wonder if apologists like Randy will ever admit that their philosophy doesn’t have the support of emperical evidence and rethink their position. I don’t know when the idea of objective morality was first argued, but the science behind evolutionary psychology, inter species traits, learned group behavior all dispute and falsify it. Nowhere in modern psychology or sociology is the idea used, that I’m aware of. The problem for folks like Randi though, if they admit this part of theology is baseless, the you start to look at the other parts and realize they are rooted in wncient fantasy as well. First thing you know, the whole house of cards collapses. So, no, they can’t afford to be honest about it. e

        • 90Lew90

          How can it be objective when the people who were doing it didn’t think it was bad, but in many cases good, and often also saw as part of the ordained order of things? This is no argument for objective morals but for subjective ones. We might also raise the point that as we have become more godless than we have been at any point in our history, we have also become more moral and more empathic and less violent. Stephen Pinker has led a charge (to use a warlike term) with this argument, and very powerfully. I find myself in somewhat celebratory mood that religion is no longer off-limits to the rigorous scrutiny it deserves. Most of the most hellishly abominable tortures we have inflicted on each other have been done with full-blooded “faith” that we were doing the right thing. Subjectively.

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          How can it be objective when the people who were doing it didn’t think it was bad, but in many cases good, and often also saw as part of the ordained order of things?

          That is precisely why it is objective. Objective means its actual moral goodness can be very different from its perceived moral goodness. The goodness does not depend on the perception.

          We might also raise the point that as we have become more godless than we have been at any point in our history, we have also become more moral and more empathic and less violent.

          Another argument that depends on objective morality. If you concede there is an unchanging moral standard then we can talk about what it is and how are we doing in trying to meet it. If there is not moral standard then Pinker’s argument is just nonsense.

          I find myself in somewhat celebratory mood that religion is no longer off-limits to the rigorous scrutiny it deserves.

          I could not agree more. You might think I am kidding but it is true. We need to scrutinize religion with reason. I think so precisely because religion is so important. I even think that atheists have been helpful in this regard. They have pushed religious people to find better argument s or find a better religion. I know I did. I converted to Catholicism because Protestantism did not stand up to logical scrutiny.

          Most of the most hellishly abominable tortures we have inflicted on each other have been done with full-blooded “faith” that we were doing the right thing. Subjectively.

          Sure. But I would not say that faith always came from religion. Communists had faith they were doing the right thing. So did any number of dictators. Religion has been just one source of justifications for bad behavior.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That is precisely why it is objective. Objective means its actual moral goodness can be very different from its perceived moral goodness.

          Huh? Some people thought slavery was fine, and we think it’s terrible. That’s not objective morality at play.

          Another argument that depends on objective morality. If you concede there is an unchanging moral standard

          I’ll let lew speak for himself. For me, no, I see no evidence of an unchanging moral standard, hence no evidence for objective morality.

          If there is not moral standard then Pinker’s argument is just nonsense.

          Yes, there are moral standards; no they’re not objective. Look up words like morality, good, and evil in the dictionary. There is no objective standard in the definition. For better or worse, we’ve got to figure this out on our own.

          I converted to Catholicism because Protestantism did not stand up to logical scrutiny.

          But Catholicism did? You’ll have to explain that to us some day.

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          Huh? Some people thought slavery was fine, and we think it’s terrible. That’s not objective morality at play.

          Yes. If slavery was still wrong even when nobody really questioned it then it is objectively immoral. Do you think it was OK in say the 18th century before the abolitionist movement got going? At what point did it become wrong? Exactly how many people had to discern it to be immoral before it became immoral?

          But Catholicism did? You’ll have to explain that to us some day.

          Happy to. The short answer is “Special pleading.” That is choosing one brand of Christianity over all others without a principled distinction between them is illogical. Catholicism is different in principle because it does not accept Sola Sciptura. It is consistent where it logically should be consistent. Given its long history and the number of different cultures and crises it has encountered that is quite miraculous actually.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If slavery was still wrong even when nobody really questioned it then it is objectively immoral.

          And was it still wrong when nobody questioned it? You just make your claim of objective morality with zero grounding.

          Do you think it was OK in say the 18th century before the abolitionist movement got going?

          You and I think that it was wrong. Is that your definition of objective morality? That Randy and Bob share a moral opinion?

          Look it up.

          Exactly how many people had to discern it to be immoral before it became immoral?

          You mean how many people must decide it’s immoral before it becomes objectively immoral? It doesn’t! That’s the point—you and I agree that slavery is wrong. That’s it. That’s not objective morality.

          It is consistent where is logically should be consistent.

          And it’s inconsistent when it can’t be? Uh, OK.

        • Pofarmer

          “That is precisely why it is objective. Objective means its actual moral
          goodness can be very different from its perceived moral goodness. The
          goodness does not depend on the perception.’

          I’m sorry, this is just fuckin’ gibberish, because the only way we have to judge these things is subjectively. Certain cultures even today believe in having open families with sex between different members in the community and the whole community basically raising the children. Certain cultures still believe in polygamy. Certain cultures believe very strongly in monogamy, but are o.k. with occasional dalliances. Certain cultures believe very strongly in strict monogamy. Each one of these cultures thing they are equally moral. The only way we have to judge them is by our own subjective experiences. The fact that ALL of these cultures think that their actions are correct, means that objective morality is bullshit. The list of these types of things goes on and on and on, even between closely related cultures, and there is a vast chasm between cultures that are that closely related. Look at the differences in how women are treated in many Islamic cultures vs how they are treated in most of the West? Who’s right? Well, that depends on your viewpoint of what is moral, doesn’t it? You don’t have a leg to stand on here. Just semantics.

          .” If you concede there is an unchanging moral standard ”

          Why would anyone concede this? It’s obvious arrogant bullshit.

          “I know I did. I converted to Catholicism because Protestantism did not stand up to logical scrutiny.’

          Catholicism stands up no better, and generally worse. They just have a deeper well of more convoluted bullshit to spout before you realize that their positions are founded on airy theology with not a fact in evidence.

          If you want to talk about morality, and how it has developed and evolved since ancient times, We can talk about that. All you are trying to do here is sell your brand.

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          The fact that ALL of these cultures think that their actions are correct, means that objective morality is bullshit

          No it does not. One culture might have a different view of astronomy than another one. Does that mean objective astronomy is bullshit? Different opinions might mean something is subjective but it also might mean it is objective and one or both are objectively wrong.

          Look at the differences in how women are treated in many Islamic cultures vs how they are treated in most of the West? Who’s right?

          Neither is 100% right but the West is more right than Islam on women’s rights. Don’t you think so? You think their way is just as valid? What about the death penalty for homosexuals? Is that wrong or is that just a matter majority rules?

        • Kodie

          One culture might have a different view of astronomy than another one. Does that mean objective astronomy is bullshit?

          You mean religion? What other views of astronomy are there?

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          Actually there have been many views of astronomy. The point is one is right and the others are .. less right. I know Bob could not follow this but here goes the big leap. If people can have different views on astronomy not because all views are equally valid but because some people get closer to the truth than others. If that is possible in astronomy then it is also possible in religion and/or morality. That is different views don’t prove nobody has it right. One could be right or nearly right and those contradicting it could be wrong. That is logically possible.

          In fact, the conclusion Bob arrives at is particularly unwarranted. His view is essentially saying that disagreements about astronomy prove that no planets or stars exist at all. Think about it. If disagreements about objective morality prove no objective morality exists then disagreements about stars prove no stars exists. QED. I say it is more unwarranted because the fact that everyone agrees on the existence of stars makes jumping to the radical position that no stars exist quite silly. Likewise, the general agreement on right and wrong makes jumping to the radical position that no right or wrong exists particularly silly.

          It is called the fallacy of the privileged hypothesis. That the null position is taken as the default. If no absolute proof exists for any other position then we take that as evidence of the null position. The despite the null position having the least support of all.

        • Kodie

          His view is essentially saying that disagreements about astronomy prove
          that no planets or stars exist at all. Think about it. If disagreements
          about objective morality prove no objective morality exists then
          disagreements about stars prove no stars exists. QED.

          You desire to be taken seriously?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          His view is essentially saying that disagreements about astronomy prove that no planets or stars exist at all.

          Uh, nope.

          Disagreements within astronomy are what we’d expect. Disagreements between astronomies says that we have at least one “astronomy” that isn’t science.

          If disagreements about objective morality prove no objective morality exists then disagreements about stars prove no stars exists. QED.

          I don’t know where you’re going with this.

          the general agreement on right and wrong makes jumping to the radical position that no right or wrong exists particularly silly.

          Yeah, pretty silly. Luckily neither you nor I say that. Kodie, too, I’m guessing.

        • MNb

          “If people can have different views on astronomy not because all views are equally valid but because some people get closer to the truth than others.”
          You’re the one who doesn’t get it. The view on astronomy that describes all the known observed data best is the best one, is closest to the truth (whatever “truth” means) if you prefer. This method is useless when deciding which morals are closest to the truth (and here I cannot even begin to imagine what “truth” means).

          “If disagreements about objective morality prove no objective morality exists then disagreements about stars prove no stars exists. QED.”
          The only thing you have demonstrated is that you are not capable of recognizing a non-sequitur based on a false analogy (ie how you compare astronomy with morals) combined with an is-ought fallacy.
          Good job, three logical fallacies in one sentence.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          One culture might have a different view of astronomy than another one.

          Scientifically literate societies don’t usually disagree on what science is. When two cultures differ on what “astronomy” is, at least one of them is wrong.

          Does that mean objective astronomy is bullshit?

          “Objective astronomy” would be bullshit if it means that every pronouncement from astronomy is thought to be correct. Everything from science is provisional.

          Different opinions might mean something is subjective but it also might mean it is objective and one or both are objectively wrong.

          (1) Why imagine that there’s any objective moral truth?

          (2) If there is, why imagine that we can access it? There’s certainly no indication that we can.

          Neither is 100% right but the West is more right than Islam on women’s rights. Don’t you think so?

          So this is your “objective morality”? You and I can agree on a point, so therefore, objective morality?

          Let’s consider more interesting questions: abortion, euthanasia, etc. Do we agree on those? What do we conclude if we did/didn’t?

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          “Everything from science is provisional.”

          But there is an objective truth is science. Right? I assume you agree and are just playing silly word games here. The point is disagreement does not prove subjectivity. We can disagree about who won last night’s basketball game. That does not mean there is not objectively right answer.

          “So this is your “objective morality”?”

          So you think the way Muslims treat their women is OK? Subjective morality quickly becomes immorality.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But there is an objective truth is science. Right?

          Wrong. Everything within science is provisional.

          Anyway, the topic isn’t science. It’s morality. You keep avoiding confronting this head-on by providing examples. I mean, I understand why you’d want to avoid that. But you need to either show objective morality or admit that it was a dumb claim.

          I assume you agree and are just playing silly word games here.

          It’s a silly game of some sort, I’ll agree. You make a claim, I ask for evidence, and you don’t provide it. Pretty silly. Maybe I should stop participating.

          The point is disagreement does not prove subjectivity.

          I have no need to prove subjectivity. That’s the null hypothesis. You, on the other hand, do need to provide strong evidence of objective morality.

          We can disagree about who won last night’s basketball game. That does not mean there is not objectively right answer.

          Ask yourself: what does it mean that you keep coming back to other domains rather than staying within morality?

          So you think the way Muslims treat their women is OK?

          Yet one more appeal to consensus. You need a hug? Yes, I know that we agree on the easy stuff. That’s no evidence of objective morality. Now move on to the challenging questions.

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          If you don’t think objective truth exists in science then I guess we are really talking past each other. I am not sure what you mean when you say “objective truth.” I am not even sure you know.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Let me try one more time. If you don’t want to actually address the points you’ve raised yourself, then we should part ways on this point.

          You claim that objective moral truth exists. I want examples. No, not something that we simply agree on (or if “things that Bob and Randy agree on = objective truth” is your definition). Rather, take a challenging issue like abortion. Show us the objectively correct moral approach to the issue and show why everyone can access this same moral truth.

          Show me objective moral truth, admit that you can’t, or let’s just drop it.

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          You conflate a few things here:

          1. Objective truth exists
          2. Objective truth is knowable
          3. Objective truth is provable to Bob

          I claim 1. I might even claim 2 for some moral truths. I would never claim 3.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          1. Maybe it does; maybe it doesn’t. Who cares if you can’t know it? It’s like angels on the head of a pin.

          2. This is the interesting one, and you don’t even claim it! Why are we wasting time on this conversation?

          3. Math and logic have proofs. That’s it.

        • MNb

          @1: How do you define truth? How do you know it exists, especially if it is not knowable?
          @2: Which method do you use?

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, if 3 isn’t true, then 1 isn’t true either.

        • MNb

          The question is not what BobS means with “objective truth”; the question is what you mean with it. You think it important.

        • MNb

          “We can disagree about who won last night’s basketball game. ”
          False analogy based on an is/ought fallacy. Morals are about what ought to be, the question who won not.

        • Pofarmer

          God, I can’t believe I’m going to quote Anton here. No, there is no objective “truth” in science, because what is true sometimes changes as we learn more. Kinda like, I dunno, morality.

        • MNb

          “One culture might have a different view of astronomy than another one.”
          Yep. Then what astronomers typically do is formulate which observable data can show which view (perhaps both) is incorrect. Please tell me, which observable data can tell me which morality is incorrect?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m pretty sure that most cultures view Astronomy pretty close to the same way. It’s a science, with evidence, and stuff.

          In this instance, it doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what other people think.

          “Objective means its actual moral goodness can be very different from its perceived moral goodness.”

          See, everything is perception. Afghan tribesman perceive that playing polo with the head of calf they killed just for that purpose is hunky dory. Animal rights activists, as well as others, have a problem with that. They don’t perceive it as immoral in any way, it’s just how things are. Objectively morality should mean that there are things that are necessarily morally true that everyone would automatically agree on. Not only has this never been the case, but the list of things that are morally good changes over time. It’s demonstrable, and easily so. So you can say, well, what was moral didn’t change, but our perception of what was moral changed, which, again, is just a semantic game to make an empty point. When a society has money, it’s morals are going to be different than a society that is poor. A society in a crowded slum will have different morals than a society dispersed in mountain highlands somewhere. It’s all very subjective. Sure, there are things that I might think are immoral that are perfectly fine to another society. Does that mean that one of us is objectively wrong? Good luck with that. Get out and travel.

        • MNb

          “I would not say that faith always came from religion.”
          In this context this is an irrelevant tu quoque. Note that communists also believed in objective morals. The idea of objective morals has a strong tendency towards intolerance. If you have convinced yourself that you embrace some objective morals, whatever the content, it’s only a small step to the conclusion that you have every right to enforce those objective morals on other people.

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          Unless they believe it is objectively immoral to do so.

          If you believe in subjective morals then you cans still enforce them on others. Might makes right in the subjective moral universe. If you have power then it is your morals that matter.

        • Kodie

          IF there were any such thing as objective morals, it’s pretty obvious nobody has access to that list. If you have power either way, no matter what you think is right, that’s what you’re going to assume is meant by “objective”.

        • MNb

          Yeah, why is genocide bad? Ask William Lane Craig. He thinks genocide can be a good thing.

    • wtfwjtd

      Are you complaining about the authority that has been vested in the office of the President of the United States as Commander-In-Chief? If so, a political blog might be a more appropriate place to air your disagreement.

    • smrnda

      I’ll give you an example – I write code that has to run on both linux and windows, so depending on what conventions I notice or ignore, the code might work or might not on either format. There are *consequences* to following or disobeying even arbitrary rules.

      In the end, if I write code that doesn’t work, I will be out of work.

      • hector_jones

        “In the end, if I write code that doesn’t work, I will be out of work.”

        Or you can go write code for Microsoft. (This one’s for you, dorcheat.)

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

          This is the point. Arbitrary rules can be thrown out if they only depend on human consequences. Then they are not moral rules at all. They are rules of sound strategy but not morality. Moral rules have goodness as their goal. Sound strategy has some other desirable outcome as a goal.

        • hector_jones

          I wasn’t making that point at all.

        • MNb

          False dichotomy. Sound strategy perfectly can have goodness as a goal. You don’t make sense.

        • Kodie

          Moral rules do not have goodness as their goal. It is arbitrary and pretty specific to humans that humans are good, that human life is good, etc. If the goal is to do something good, there seems to be a large range of options that do not always maximize whatever the goal is. It might be better to let a lot of people starve so that a few may survive. You may think it is better to teach people a lesson and demoralize people in need. You think this is better for them in the long run, and gets you off the hook. Other people have a different set of goals and ways of achieving that goal.

          No, you do not have to listen to anyone, and yes, part of the bargain of living in a society is abiding by the general custom of the society. That is why gay people do not have to listen to anyone tell them it’s not ok to be married, and why they are meeting with resistance. We can change what “good” means and share that with people or hoard it. If you feel like it would not give you any consequences to hurt people, go ahead and hurt them. Why is their answer not good enough for you to listen to them? We are just only all in this together. If you need hell to put you in your place and otherwise you don’t care, then you are the anti-social one. Morality comes from shared agreement and a sense of empathy. Morality comes down to rationalizations when you want to do something and ignore whether or not someone will suffer, and whether that is a necessary outcome of what you need to do.

          Do you think war is moral? Bad guy government attacks us, we have to attack back. But our attack method is to recruit young men on the promise of “adventure” to send them to do that attacking back. To the other side, who thinks they are the moral ones, we are bad – I’m bad, you’re bad, but they have a guy in camo in front of them, they’re going to kill that guy, not you or me. One guy killing another guy over nationalistic principles, is that moral? I would say it’s largely rationalized as the only means to reach the desired outcome, but it is not otherwise desired to kill people or send people to risk their lives as pawns of a war chessboard. I could think of other examples, but you brought up drones. It seems like a pretty good deal to get the killing you wanted done by a robot instead of a live young person, if it’s killing you wanted done. Maybe it’s the killing itself that is wrong? War is basically kill enough troops until one side gives up, doesn’t matter who is more good or more right.

        • smrnda

          What other consequences aside from human ones should we be taking into account?

          I think avoiding bad consequences to people is the highest we can go. This leaves people free to select their own goals insofar as they don’t harm others. If there is some Higher Good existing as an ideal Platonic Form somewhere, we have no access to it, and unless it is tied in with our well-being it would be irrelevant to us.

          The problem with ‘goodness as the goal’ is defining this goodness, and then why it’s goodness ends with circular reasoning or appeals to authority.

          Within a pragmatic or utilitarian ethical framework, one can select any number of goals, simply avoiding doing what is likely to be harmful.

    • Kodie

      He can do whatever he wants and so can you, nothing different will happen to you after you die. Our morality only exists within a system, and yes, we can have an immediate problem with something someone does. The weeds on your lawn and the termites under your house, do you care if they might have an issue with your genocidal tendencies?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If you are right, it would seem that there would be nothing good or bad about ignoring such morality.

      Nothing absolutely good or bad, yes.

      If you argue for absolute/objective morality, I await the evidence. I’ve seen none.

      It points us in a certain direction but if my rational mind prefers something else then nobody should have anything to say about that.

      If I object to something you do from a moral standpoint, I will happily point out your error (from my standpoint). Why does the non-existence of objective morality prevent that?

      • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

        The difference is your standing to tell me what is right and wrong. If you are just talking about your feelings then I can pretty much ignore you. If we are both looking at the same objective goodness then I have to take you opinion seriously. Why should my discernment of goodness be more accurate than yours?

        If you are objecting to something the state is doing the line becomes stronger. If the state has an obligation to follow objective goodness then you have some grounds for objection. If they don’t then what the government sees as good is the final word. The constitution basically asserts certain objective goods that every government must follow. If there is no objective good then what could be the basis for binding future governments to anything?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The difference is your standing to tell me what is right and wrong.

          And I think we agree on what that standing is: I’m just a regular guy, not particularly wise, and I’m sharing my opinions. I make no claims to have tapped into a divine truth.

          If you are just talking about your feelings then I can pretty much ignore you.

          Weird. I keep hearing this objection as if it’s interesting. I wonder what I’m missing that makes it the response that pops into people’s heads so easily.

          Yes, you can ignore me. Is having conversations or debates or arguments with other people a new concept to you? You’ve never tried to convince someone or convinced someone or been convinced by someone? You can ignore them or you can try to learn from them. Neither way is the obvious right way. Some people are reliable and might be worth listening to; others are not and you might save some time by ignoring them.

          You do know how laws are made, right? Fallible people (the same ones that you can “pretty much ignore”) argue and compromise and give us the laws that govern society. They’re certainly not perfect, but they’re pretty good.

          If we are both looking at the same objective goodness then I have to take you opinion seriously.

          What objective goodness? Seriously, I see zero evidence of it. What I see are two people of the same species and from the same culture who think very much alike. That we agree on many basic principles is pretty easy to explain without appealing to the supernatural.

          Why should my discernment of goodness be more accurate than yours?

          I dunno. If we were to get into an involved discussion, each of us would see if the other guy brings useful new facts or ideas or analytical skills to the party.

          The constitution basically asserts certain objective goods that every government must follow.

          I don’t know what you’re referring to. Tell me.

          If there is no objective good then what could be the basis for binding future governments to anything?

          When you look up “good” and “bad” in the dictionary, do you think you’re going to find some appeal to objective truth? Take a look and see.

        • MNb

          “I can pretty much ignore you.”
          Guess what? You totally can. What means does BobS have to force you to listen?

          “The constitution basically asserts certain objective goods that every government must follow.”
          Weird that constitutions can differ and are changed now and then.

          “If there is no objective good then what could be the basis for binding future governments to anything?”
          I don’t know about the USA, but in The Netherlands it’s 2/3 majority in parliament, before and after national elections. This reflects the idea of the social contract.
          But we have seen in Germany between 1930 and 1939 that constitutions don’t bind governments in any way. So if anything your very question shows there are no objective morals indeed.

        • smrnda

          I disagree the Constitution outlines objective goods. It’s a set of rules for running a government and defining rights. We understand that there exists a distinction between ethical and legal or even constitutional, though we prefer to have laws that are more ethical.

        • MNb

          Then you don’t disagree with me.

        • smrnda

          My comment should have been a response to Gritter.

        • Kodie

          Why should my discernment of goodness be more accurate than yours?

          It’s probably not.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The constitution basically asserts certain objective goods that every government must follow.”

          I don’t know what country you live in, but the United States Constitution asserts that “We the People” ordain the Constitution of the United States to determine rules of governance. Note: there’s no mention of needing permission from a god or gods to do anything, whether objective good or otherwise. It’s called democracy, and “Objective good” is what “we the people” decide. There is no other basis for our laws.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Agreed. I would also clarify that “objective good” is the good that is fairly apparent to all of us, not something transcendentally defined (as if written down in God’s Big Book o’ Morality in heaven’s library).

  • natsera

    C:> is obviously a smiling guy with a halo. How could you not see that, LOL!!!

    • tyler

      you must be seeing things, it’s clearly a person with a huge grin and a party hat

      • natsera

        Some of us bend our heads to the left, and others to the right. I wonder what deep cosmological significance THAT has!!! :-) (-:

        • tyler

          blasphemy! only heretics bend their heads to the left!

        • hector_jones

          Jesus is everywhere, if you just open your eyes and look:

          http://i.imgur.com/NhHLw.jpg

  • Cyril Jones-Kellett

    You seem to be making an intelligent design argument here. The computer shows the “C” prompt because it has an intelligent designer who uses the prompt to communicate something. Do you mean to imply by analogizing this to the human experience of morality that people have an intelligent designer who is trying to communicate something?

    • wtfwjtd

      “Can we conclude anything from that? That “C:>” is a reflection of some supernatural or transcendental truth? That it is an insight into God’s mind? No—it’s just a useful trait shared by this class of PCs. There’s no objective meaning behind these characters. This text is useful (it shows the directory in which any typed commands will take place), so it was selected. There’s nothing more profound than this behind it.”

      • Cyril Jones-Kellett

        In fact there is “meaning” to the “C” prompt. That is why it is there — a designer put it there to communicate meaning. The user who sees the prompt knows the computer is ready. If it does not show up, the computer is not ready. That is the meaning it was DESIGNED to share. It is true that it is a useful trait, but it is only there to be useful because a designer designed it to have this useful trait. I am asking if the author, by analogy, is saying that moral intuition was put into humans by a designer.

        • Pofarmer

          You are, apparently, hard of reading comprehension. I thought it was stated fairly well.

        • Jason

          You ask who made computers and I say humans. I ask who made humans and you say the Designer. I ask who made the Designer. What do you say?

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          I didn’t ask who made the computer. I know who made the computer. I was asking if the author intended this post to be an intelligent design argument?

        • Jason

          And I asked you who made the Designer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Intelligent Design and Creationism are laughable attempts by some Christians to shore up their literal belief. No, I’m not trying to make an analogy that argues for ID or Creationism.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The computer parts” analogy is popular among the Creationism and ID crowd. They imagine that the human body is like a bunch of computer parts that were laying around in the universe, that couldn’t have just randomly assembled themselves; therefore ID. There was preacher who used this analogy in a debate with JT Eberhard I attended earlier this year; the debate was themed, “Does god exist?” Needless to say, JT had a field day ripping it to shreds.

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          OK. If you are not making an intelligent design argument, I do not understand this post at all. You seem to be saying that our moral intuitions are just meaningless facts. But, please allow me to challenge you on that for a moment. I think you are underestimating how much our modern moral assumptions are based on reason. For example, it would be almost impossible to imagine our modern modes of morality without Aristotle. His ideas form the basis of century after century of moral reasoning. He is at the beginning edge of the entire Western idea of human rights, to be specific. People do not just come into the world believing in universal human rights; they have to be taught this. And we do not teach this simply based on a meaningless preference; we do so based on centuries of reasoning about what constitutes the good. Aristotle taught that the good in human behavior is related to happiness. By reasoning about what constitutes the highest happiness of the human person, he was able to think about what constitutes good and bad in human behavior. It seems to me that both an atheist and a believer could accept Aristotle’s method of reasoning about the good. But to do so, one must accept that morality is an acceptable area for reasoning about. If one simply dismisses morality (I think lazily) as an area of life that is immune to reason, then one cannot say much about morals except that one prefers some things over others. I think to do this is to become anti-intellectual. Why not, rather, join in the great project of human reason? Why not accept that the power of reason is so great that it can even help us understand morals, and make choices between what is good and what is bad based on our reasoning about what constitutes true happiness?

        • 90Lew90

          You are saying that morality is something which can only be obtained by teaching? What you say is Aristotelian: “By reasoning about what constitutes the highest happiness of the human person, he was able to think about what constitutes good and bad in human behaviour” is not Aristotelian but utilitarianism, and utilitarianism only works if everyone shares the same moral values. The notion of human rights did not come about until Kant. “True” happiness must necessarily be subjective. In Aristotle’s time, the “noblest” form of love was that between man and boy, right up to and including sexual expression of that love. To us that notion is repugnant. I know relativism is discomfiting but it is a fact that we can’t ignore in any discussion of morals. To some people today, it is moral to cut off little girls’ clitorises and sew up their vaginas so they can only urinate. A moral objectivist can not escape the challenge this poses to his position. By what authority would you set your version of what is moral in stone? The utilitarian (who seeks for the greatest happiness for the greatest number) would rail against your view because it would settle into what Mill called “dead dogma”. In other words, without discussion, and with the predominance of a particular model, we sacrifice the possibility of a better idea, even if it seems anathema and even if only one person has it, in spite of the popular view.

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          My entire point was that we can reason together about morals, and that the great tradition of such reasoning has Aristotle as one of its foundations. I cannot see how you missed that point and ended up where you did in your last few sentences. Please refer to book 4 in the Nicomachean Ethics for Aristotle’s teaching on happiness, which is not utilitarian. Also, the idea of universal human rights far pre-dates Kant. Consider the work of De Las Casas and Francisco Suarez, to cite just the Spanish examples. Finally, I am not at all convinced that you are right about the “noblest” love in the eyes of the ancient Greeks. The epitome of love for ancient Greeks was that of Odysseus and Penelope.

        • 90Lew90

          We can reason about morals, but we cannot say that reason is their source. Neither morals themselves nor our reasoning about them began with Aristotle. And I’m sorry, but the idea of universal human rights in their most recognisable form, ie, as we understand them today, were brought about by Kant (among others, but mainly Kant).

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Aristotle believed that some were born “natural” slaves. How does that support any universal human rights? In any case he advocated ethics based on virtue, not just happiness-that would be utilitarianism.

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          In book 4 of the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle talks about happiness as the highest good of a person. That is what I am referring to. And what does it matter what Aristotle thought about slaves? I did not say he was the end of the great Western tradition of reasoning about morals. He was at the beginning.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          “Eudaimonia” has been commonly translated as “happiness” or “welfare” but apparently it’s more like “flourishing” a far more ambiguous term He believed that virtue (“arete”) led to such “flourishing.” In any case, my point was that you used Aristotle as a foundation of universal human rights. The fact he supported slavery undermines that, as I noted.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You seem to be saying that our moral intuitions are just meaningless facts.

          From an absolute standpoint, yes they are. That doesn’t mean that we can’t find them extremely important. And Klingons would find theirs important to them, and so on, for other intelligent beings.

          I think you are underestimating how much our modern moral assumptions are based on reason.

          “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” –Emo Phillips

          it would be almost impossible to imagine our modern modes of morality without Aristotle.

          Let’s give him his due, but if he hadn’t collated his thinking on morality, someone else would’ve done so. It’s not like you read Aristotle and say, “Hey, that’s a crazy thought, but it does have a ring of truth …”

          People do not just come into the world believing in universal human rights; they have to be taught this.

          Yes, but it’s not like people got it after the time of Aristotle.

          And we do not teach this simply based on a meaningless preference; we do so based on centuries of reasoning about what constitutes the good.

          That’s true, but this is what’s good for humans. It’s not like it’s necessarily what’s good for all living things. Romulans might look on our morality and laugh at most of it. (Star Trek civilizations are all that come to mind for me.)

          If one simply dismisses morality as an area of life that is immune to reason

          I certainly don’t.

          But are you saying that there are objective moral truths? I see no evidence of that.

          Why not accept that the power of reason is so great that it can even help us understand morals, and make choices between what is good and what is bad based on our reasoning about what constitutes true happiness?

          Yes, sounds good. This is where Sam Harris goes in his writing on morality. Are you familiar with his books?

        • MNb

          “(Star Trek civilizations are all that come to mind for me.)”
          If cats (and at the other side of the spectrum ants) would have the awareness to reflect on their morals I’m pretty sure they would come to completely different conclusions.

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          I think you did imply in your original post that reasoning about morals is pointless. But maybe it does not need to be read that way. I gladly accept that you have not abandoned reason in moral matters.
          I have certainly read Sam Harris, but I find he contradicts himself more than I am comfortable with.
          As to your arguments that Klingon morality would be different than ours, I think you are mistaken, even if we posit that morals have no relation to the supernatural.
          That is to say, abstract things are real things. The number 5, for example, is an abstraction, but it is real.
          If there are Klingons, they will have developed abstractions such as numbers. They will have invented ways of doing geometry and calculus and so on.
          Their approach to numbers and mathematical laws will be different from ours in all the superficial ways — the symbols will be different, the order of operations will be different, that kind of thing.
          But all of these things will also translate because the quality of “fiveness” is an abstraction that represents a part of reality.
          There is no reason to think that it would be otherwise with morals. We can be sure, I think, that the Klingon morality will not celebrate the betrayal of friends because the betrayal of a friend is self-contradictory. It is like saying 4 = 5.
          In a similar way it is impossible to say that it is a good thing to betray a friend. (You will note that even among the worst moral systems in history, betrayal of a friend is always considered evil.)
          So, even if one insists that there is nothing supernatural, morals are not simply arbitrary. They are connected to our ability to reason just as abstractions such as numbers are. If the Klingons can reason, their morals will not be entirely foreign to us.
          And if we can reason together about morals, we can come to some agreements on morals.
          That is why I think it misses the mark so badly to say that morals are arbitrary and simply a matter of preference.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think you did imply in your original post that reasoning about morals is pointless.

          I’m surprised that you took that as a point of the post. No, that’s not what I’m saying.

          As to your arguments that Klingon morality would be different than ours, I think you are mistaken, even if we posit that morals have no relation to the supernatural.

          We find differences in human civilization. Take something like honor, for example—it’s maybe halfway between visceral absolutes (the Golden Rule, for example) and important but obviously relative demands like fashion or manners. Some civilizations might say that it’s a moral imperative to rescue all dead bodies from the battlefield. Honor demands it. Others might say that it’s ridiculous to risk yet more casualties for dead bodies.

          Take abortion, same-sex marriage, or euthanasia. We can’t get agreement in a single society (America).

          Now imagine the same thing, but have half of the people a completely different, non-earth species. Yeah, I think they’d plausibly have a different view.

          But all of these things will also translate because the quality of “fiveness” is an abstraction that represents a part of reality.

          There is no reason to think that it would be otherwise with morals.

          Agreement on math; strong disagreement on morality.

          We can be sure, I think, that the Klingon morality will not celebrate the betrayal of friends because the betrayal of a friend is self-contradictory.

          For starters, we’re in the domain of science fiction, so this is all just speculation. But rule #1 here is that you’re anticipating a Klingon view with a human mindset. Yeah, I realize that betraying a friend is inconceivable to you, but no one cares. We care about what a Klingon would think.

          Remember that pretty much no moral principle is absolute. Yes, we should be generous … to a point. Yes, we should avoid being angry … to a point. Yes, we should be courageous and self-sacrificing … to a point.

          morals are not simply arbitrary

          Yes, obviously. But what are we talking about again? Do we have an interesting disagreement or is this splitting hairs?

          That is why I think it misses the mark so badly to say that morals are arbitrary and simply a matter of preference.

          Huh? I say that there is no evidence for objective moral truth. You?

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          Saying that there is no evidence for objective moral truth is, in essence, like saying there is no evidence for objective mathematics. Morals are not solid objects, but that does not mean they are not real. The number “5″ is real, even though it is not a solid thing but a product of reason. It can be defended as reasonable. So, too, with, say, the prohibition on waging aggressive war. This prohibition is not a solid thing. It is the product of reason. It can be defended reasonably, and reasonable creatures can be expected to assent to it, much as reasonable creatures can be expected to assent to the reality of the number 5.
          But reasoning is hard. And moral reasoning involves moving past lots of bias and personal investments.
          This does not mean moral reasoning is impossible, just that most of us most of the time won’t do it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Saying that there is no evidence for objective moral truth is, in essence, like saying there is no evidence for objective mathematics.

          No, since we have evidence against the claim of objective morality. What we see as moral today isn’t what the Bible says, to take just one example.

          I have no interest in arguing about objective math. I’m simply saying that there’s no evidence for objective morality. Why do you persist in this claim? You don’t have any evidence, apparently.

          Here’s your homework: demonstrate your claim. Take a vexing moral problem today—abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, whatever. Tell me the objectively correct moral truth on the matter and tell me why this is not just your opinion.

          Your very large challenge is to show that (1) moral questions have objectively correct answers and (2) humans can access this moral truth. You’ve done nothing to demonstrate this.

          This does not mean moral reasoning is imp ossible, just that most of us most of the time won’t do it.

          Uh, yeah. I think we’re on the same page. The interesting question: does objective morality exist?

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          If you were my teacher, you could assign homework. As it is, your responses to my points seem defensive and uncomprehending. I am making a very simple point — we can reason about morals. By reason, we can discover things about morals that a reasonable person must assent to.
          Telling the truth about science is better than lying about science as a general rule. We could probably agree on exceptions, but in general, to lie about science is wrong.
          Is that an objective reality? Yes. Why?
          Here is your homework, try to imagine my answer. It will help you to be less defensive if you actually try to reason it out. Tell me when you are done, and I will give you my answer.
          You know, since we’re allowed to assign homework….
          Or, if you prefer, try to argue that it is NOT better to tell the truth about science than to lie about science.
          Either way, I will gladly give you my answer when you are done.

        • Kodie

          By reason, we can discover things about morals that a reasonable person must assent to.

          That doesn’t make morals objective. A lot of what we label morals are merely customs. There are a very few selected areas on which we would even approach NOW that a majority of humans might agree to, such as “slavery is wrong”, but we all feel pretty good about saving money at the stores that outsource labor, essentially slavery. We all seem to have a pretty good idea that genocide is a very bad thing, but that doesn’t… I mean, in retrospect, we didn’t like Hitler, but we barely care/know about/hear of genocide happening in the world now, not because it’s not happening. We had to enter WWII to stop Hitler? Why don’t we have to stop genocide, why isn’t this important to us? These asses are concerned about abortion, but what are they actually doing about it? If they really cared, wouldn’t they revolt? They’re teary about all the “genocide” but they can’t be arsed to care about actual genocide – “actual” genocide is a historical artifact, something we point at, we didn’t tolerate it then, and we don’t tolerate it now, except we tolerate a lot of genocide. It’s not happening to us. This is how people measure their own morality.

          So, I could go on with other examples of the horrific things humans tolerate. Morality is a contest of who is most self-righteous. We’re better than they are. People are not reasonable to agree what is moral, because they are always concerned with how bad someone else is compared to them. Finding differences just to treat someone as an opponent. And we are only human, this is one of our behaviors. We can’t seem to “moral” our way out of it and live with and share the world with maximum patience and tolerance for others. We want social connections and we also like our space. That is somewhat peculiar to us, and I don’t mean like, no other animals have this condition, but that our perspective is human. Not a lot of us have such an affinity for animals and plants that we treat them as we would treat humans. We have animal preferences, and some people’s animal preferences differ – someone would keep a dog but kill a spider, while another is just crazy about spiders and would never kill one, and a lot of people are in the middle and just don’t let spiders bother them to the point of needing to murder it on sight. We don’t get angry at an animal for killing a human, it’s in their own natural behavior to do so. We might put a dog down, that’s unfortunate, but people are on the side of people. Animals that mean us harm cannot be taught to have our morals and refrain from murdering us. There is no objective morality, although many people agree on the biggies, we don’t agree on how much to care about them and often find loopholes to justify them. Our morals have to live beside our self-preservation and self-interest.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you were my teacher, you could assign homework. As it is, your responses to my points seem defensive and uncomprehending.

          OK, see, this is where you accept my quite reasonable and simple challenge by responding to it with evidence of the remarkable claim you’ve made for objective morality.

          But all I get is bluster. I interpret that as your having no such evidence.

          I am making a very simple point — we can reason about morals.

          Yes, we can, but you and I may still have large disagreements.

          Maybe I have absolutely no idea what “objective morality” means to you.

          By reason, we can discover things about morals that a reasonable person must assent to.

          You mean like “abortion is a woman’s right”? Every reasonable person assents to that. And, “Euthanasia is a fundamental right for certain categories of people.” Do we agree? If not, you’re unreasonable.

          That, or this discoverability is less than you think.

          Either way, I will gladly give you my answer when you are done.

          Oh, asking questions is OK as long as it’s you asking questions? Sounds odd.

          “Telling the truth about science”? What kind of moral puzzle is that? How about something interesting, like abortion or euthanasia?

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          The proof you are looking for is an epistemology. You say you will accept that there are objective moral realities if it can be proven. You are right that I avoided that approach, because it takes forever to do epistemology, and I believe (from reading your posts) you already have what I would call a naive epistemology. In fact, you seem very proud of this epistemology, which seems to be empiricism. I call empiricism naive because it assumes a great deal about the world – (that the world is real, that we are not inside a computer program, that our senses yield real data about reality, etc.) — but empiricism cannot “prove” any of these things. That is, the empiricist says “prove it to me” about everything except his own assumptions. I do not mean that to be an insult. I truly think that is what empiricism does.
          The primary question the empiricist is constantly stuck asking — and it is a great question — is “How do you know that?” But the empiricist who is asked, “How do you know the world is real?” cannot answer or provide a genuine proof. So, everyone else has to provide proofs, but the empiricist only has to avoid a few key questions at the root of epistemology and can confidently (I mean overconfidently) answer everything else.
          You contradict yourself if you say we can reason about morals but morals do not really exist. Reason is for the examination of real things.
          The fact is we can reason about morals because morals really exist. I admit I wanted to draw you into reasoning about morals because if you begin to do it, you begin to see that empiricism is self-contradictory.
          But just because empiricism is unreasonable does not mean that reason doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work in that way.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You say you will accept that there are objective moral realities if it can be proven.

          Wrong. I simply asked for evidence. I demand no proof, merely a preponderance of evidence.

          You can’t give me a preponderance of evidence; you can’t give me any evidence.

          You contradict yourself if you say we can reason about morals but morals do not really exist.

          What a relief that the person in your imagination isn’t me. Yes, morals exist; I’m simply asking (now, begging) for evidence that there is objective morality.

          The fact is we can reason about morals because morals really exist.

          Uh, yeah. I can use a dictionary, too. I’m a native English speaker. I know what morals are. However, to imagine that morals are objectively grounded is a bold claim and, if it’s not too much to ask, I’d like to see evidence.

          I admit I wanted to draw you into reasoning about morals

          I doubt it. As soon as I ask for evidence, you get prickly.

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          OK, fair enough.
          Of course there is evidence for objective moral truth, the question is whether the evidence is dispositive.
          The fact that I could ask, “Is it wrong to murder your mother just for the fun of it?” to almost any person at almost any time or place in history and get the answer, “Yes” is evidence.
          Also, I can point to the fact that there is strong historical evidence that societies do not survive long after a general rejection of certain morals occurs.
          These, are, of course, simply historical evidence. Logical evidence can also be mustered, in which certain moral statements can be shown to be self defeating and others coherent.
          However, I want to freely admit before beginning, that for an empiricist, I do not believe any evidence for objective moral truth can be dispositive. That is to say, it cannot come in the form of a proof that is acceptable to an empiricist.
          One must first admit that empiricism is a failure on its own terms, and that all knowledge requires an act of trust in something without proof, then the evidence for objective moral truth can be dispositive.
          A preponderance of evidence is a reasonable standard. In fact, that sounds more like the standard of a critical realist than of an empiricist, so I apologize if I mischaracterized your position.
          I take the critical realist position to be that the human person is confronted with a deluge of experiences, that the person from any early age (perhaps even pre-nataly) begins to try to create a mental model of experience that can bring intellectual order to what is happening, that the person a some point notices language and begins the effort to enter into communication with others, that humans are — for this reason — social animals (That is to say that if a human does not enter into linguistic communication with others it cannot be fully human and is incapable of fully human intellectual achievement) and, finally that we spend our lives as social creatures who are constantly asking and answering questions, improving our model of the world, and engaging with reality not primarily in an immediate sense, but primarily in a critical sense in which our mind, not our senses, is the primary actor.
          That is to say that the human knows reality primarily through the work of the mind as it forms a model of the world based on the data received through the senses (The classic example of this is that we see in 3d despite the fact that our eyes cannot see in 3d. What we “see” is, in fact, a mental model created by combining the images received into each eye.), and to the degree that the work of the mind is done critically, the person is likely to have an objective mental model of reality.
          For most people (except maybe psychopaths), that mental model of the world includes the insight that other people have internal worlds similar to mine.
          This leads to a judgement of value. “That other person is extremely valuable because they exist intellectually in a way that nothing else I know of does.”
          This judgement of value is a real thing, and it is correct. It is not based on simple instinct. It is based on reason. The person reasons that others have internal worlds and that this fact makes them uniquely valuable.
          Their value is similar to mine.
          Thus, because I know that it is wrong to harm me, I can know that it is wrong to harm you.
          Also, logically, if it is alright to harm you, then it is alright to harm me.
          And here we might ask, why is it not alright to harm me? Isn’t this just a preference? Is there any objective reality to this assertion?
          Here is where you an I may well have to part company.
          It is wrong to harm me because I do not just make a mental model of the world based on the experiences of my senses. My mental model also includes experiences that arise from within me.
          Among these internal experiences is desire. I would posit to you that desire is unique to humans. Other animals seem to experience needs, but only humans desire.
          It is desire for something more than just a physical connection to others that drives the human to do all the work that is required to acquire language.
          We have an innate desire for meaningful communication with others. This is the key oddity of the human. It drives us to acquire language, and the acquisition of language makes all of our other intellectual feats possible.
          This internal desire must become part of my mental model of the world, even though it is not a data of sense.
          This means that “internal” promptings can be taken as evidence of objective realities. My internal life is powerful and leads me to be able to reason even though I do not have any way of reasoning when I begin.
          And if my internal world itself, especially my primordial desire for intellectual communication with other creatures, is part of my mental model of the world, then I can take this fact as evidence that must be included in my mental model — there is something about me that is mysterious.
          What the hell am I? What is it to be human?
          These of course are basic questions that most people begin asking very early in life and never cease to keep asking.
          This is an objective fact of being human. It includes an internal reality that is mysterious to the human.
          This internal reality can be counted as “evidence” because almost everyone has it, and the experience of it is clearly not an “add-on” to my existence but is, in fact, my existence. If my body keeps on living but my mind is removed there is a profound way in which I no longer exist. And if, Like Spock in one of the worst Star Trek episodes ever, my mind can be extracted from my body, I remain in existence.
          Thus, the human insight that other humans are valuable is rooted in reason. And the follow-on insight that I have an obligation to be fair to that valuable other because my very self calls for such fairness is also rooted in reason. It is rooted in reason because there is no reason to reject the data of my internal life as false. To do so is to reject the idea that I have mysterious depths, and to reject that simply does not comport with the evidence — which is that no model of the world makes sense if it does not include my own experience of primordial internal realities that have formed me into the social creature that I am.
          My own intellectual life — rooted in communication with others, which is in turn rooted in desire for intellectual communication, which in turn is rooted in internal facts about myself that are mysterious to me — provides reason to believe that the conscientious promptings to be fair that arise within me in the presence of other creatures like myself is rooted in objective reality.
          I realize I took some shortcuts there, but that is the basic outline.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Of course there is evidence for objective moral truth, the question is whether the evidence is dispositive.

          What you’ve given (repeatedly) is evidence of a shared sense of moral truth. Yes, we’re on the same page here. If you want to argue for objective moral truth, you’ll need more than that.

          The fact that I could ask, “Is it wrong to murder your mother just for the fun of it?”

          Agreed vs. objectively true. See the difference?

          Agreed has a natural explanation—we’re all the same species so (surprise!) we have pretty similar moral programming.

          However, I want to freely admit before beginning, that for an empiricist, I do not believe any evidence f or objec tive moral truth can be dispositive. That is to say, it cannot come in the form of a proof that is acceptable to an empiricist.

          I don’t want a proof. I will never ask for a proof. Stop talking about proof.

          I simply want evidence. I guess you don’t have compelling evidence. You point to shared moral feelings and imagine that those feelings are objectively true. Could be, but you’ve done nothing to show that the simply and obvious answer—they’re natural—isn’t sufficient.

          A preponderance of evidence is a reasonable standard.

          That’s all I’ve ever asked for. Over and over.

          because I know that it is wrong to harm me, I can know that it is wrong to harm you.

          “Know”? Yes, we have an innate sense of the Golden Rule, but I would use “feel” or something similar.

          Didn’t you say that your point is that objective truth exists, not that we can access it? If so, why are we wasting time on something we can’t access?

          … I realize I took some shortcuts there, but that is the basic outline.

          I thank God you didn’t give me the long version. I didn’t get any insights here.

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          I said quite a bit ago that to get evidence for objective moral truth required one to do epistemology. I don’t know why you object now when I spend time on how we access objective truth because you kept pushing for me to give you evidence even after I said it would require doing epistemology. Epistemology must come before any evaluation of “evidence” because it tells us what constitutes evidence.
          Or, to put it another way, I can say that our internal lives are evidence for objective moral truth but you will not accept that as evidence if I do not explain how our internal lives must be included in our mental models of the world.
          As to you not getting any insight, I am sure that is true.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You gave a list of 3 items in one comment. IIRC, you said that objective moral truth is inaccessible to we humans.

          Who cares about epistemology? You said objective moral truth is epistemologically unavailable. Or did I misunderstand that comment?

          our internal lives are evidence for objective moral truth

          So, no, you don’t have a reliable algorithm for any human to use to access objective moral truth. Is that right?

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          Sorry, I had to go away for a few days.

          My internal life is mysterious. So is yours. By mysterious I mean to say that it has no dispositive explanation. Certainly no materialist explanation. Materialists say that “some day” we will have a materialist explanation for our inner lives, but that is just the “materialism of the gaps.” It counts for nothing.

          Two facts about our inner lives:

          They cannot be explained.
          They occur to us not as Add-ons to ourselves but as ourselves, such that if our internal lives were to live on, we would say that we live on. The reverse is not true for our bodies. Were they to live on without our inner lives present we would say that we were not present. Thus, our very selves are immaterial and inexplicable.

          One more fact about our inner lives.
          Our inner lives are data.

          Once one accepts that our inner lives are immaterial, unexplained, and data, one can use the data of our inner lives as tools for investigating objective reality. (Thus one can reason about objective morals. [Certainly this reasoning, like all reasoning, is limited, so I do not discount the many people who have said that many of our morals are simply customs. I simply say that not all of our morals are merely customs. Some are rooted in the very nature of the universe, and are thus real things that can be reasoned about.])

          As I said earlier, I do not expect you to accept this. You are locked in what I would call a naive epistemology that cannot even use the thinker itself as data.

          As a matter of fact, I have expressed ad nauseum that in order to know what counts as evidence, one must do epistemology. Thus, even for someone who makes the false claim to be entirely “evidence based,” epistemology matters.
          Those who say, “Who cares about epistemology?” do not have a firm grasp on what it means to think.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Materialists say that “some day” we will have a materialist explanation for our inner lives, but that is just the “materialism of the gaps.” It counts for nothing.

          Nothing? The fact that science is a juggernaut that has explained a tsunami of natural puzzles and seems bound to continue is irrelevant to this question? I disagree.

          I simply say that not all of our morals are merely customs. Some are rooted in the very nature of the universe, and are thus real things that can be reasoned about.

          If you’re saying that (1) there are objectively true moral facts and (2) we humans can reliably access them, then I’m interested to hear your justification for this claim. If 1 but not 2, then not very much.

          Those who say, “Who cares about epistemology?” do not have a firm grasp on what it means to think.

          My point was that you said this.

        • MNb

          BobS never claimed that morals don’t exist – rather the contrary. He claims that objective morals don’t exist.
          While I tend to agree with you that empiricism can’t answer the question whether objective morals exist or not the big question then is: how do you know that they do exist? Do they come from your underbelly, as we Dutch say?

          “provide a genuine proof”
          What do you mean with genuine proof? Smells like the “no genuine X fallacy”. Anyhow, since Descartes and especially the criticism he received we know that the rational method alone can’t prove anything either, ironically for exactly the same reason: a conclusion never can be stronger than the assumptions it’s based on. These assumptions are improvable by definition.
          Which – more irony! – is exactly why BobS (and I) reject the idea of objective morality. Change its assumptions and it’s gone, just like Euclidean geometry is gone (including eg Pythagoras’ Theorem) if you change even one axiom:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliptic_geometry
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbolic_geometry

        • Pofarmer

          Objective morality sounds very much like the intelligibility argument. No evidence at all, but sopisticated enough to be hard to refute.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m missing the sophisticated part. If there’s an angle that I’m missing, let me know.

          Seems to me the claim fails easily.

          1. We see actions in other mammals that, if done by humans, would be called “moral” (commiseration and a sense of fairness, for example).

          2. What is moral changes within society over time.

          3. If there is objective morality, let’s see it. Resolve a tough moral problem (abortion, euthanasia, etc.) and show how that resolution is objectively moral.

          Of course, if the point is that objective morality exists but is inaccessible, then that conversation is a complete waste of time. Words cannot express how little I care about the existence (or not) of something that is guaranteed to have zero impact on any living being ever.

        • MNb

          “If there’s an angle that I’m missing, let me know.”
          Pofarmer means with “sophisticated” something like “using a lot of fancy words with the aim to hide there is hardly any substance”. If done properly it can be hard to refute indeed.

          “objective morality exists but is inaccessible”
          I guess you’re as little impressed by Plato’s cave and Kant’s Ding an Sich as I am.

        • Pofarmer

          At heart these are all presuppositional arguments. They are not honest truth seeking about “How does this happen?” They are an answer looking for a convincing argument, and theists have had millennia to develop them. They also rely strongly on their priors. If you don’t accept the priors, you torpedo the whole argument. I had a theist on another blog that wanted to argue that “The Fall” is the reason that the Universe doesn’t look like it should look if there was indeed, a God. I asked for evidence of the fall, and when he couldn’t provide anything accept, “Look at the way things are,” I calmly explained that the way things are are more simply explained by other methods, and continued to allow the conversation to go forward until he provided evidence or conceded that there wasn’t any. Understandably, he didn’t like that approach. That this is the best they’ve currently got, seems to make a statement.

        • MNb

          I totally agree and my experience with theists is very similar to yours.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sophisticated as in a smoke screen? OK, I could buy that.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe the word I should have been looking for is convoluted.

        • Pofarmer

          WHy not just answer the question, rather than make more pointless assertions?

        • MNb

          Wtfwjtd wrote “objective meaning”, not “meaning”. It’s obvious you don’t understand that not all meaning is objective meaning.

    • The Man With The Name Too Long

      Well it does seem like a poor analogy when you look at it that way. I do think what escapes people’s minds is that human inventions are pretty much attempts to simplify things done in nature. After all once you break it down, computers are pretty much just pieces of metal following what we understand of physics to do all that they do. We wouldn’t expect things that humans create to have arisen “by chance” because those things didn’t exist before we made them, not because they are “too complex”. We wouldn’t expect things that we create to arise naturally because we’re the ones who make them.

  • smrnda

    There are computer programming conventions that might point to some kind of universal principles that would be discovered, independently, by anyone. Why do we start counting arrays and lists at 0? We could choose to go with the more human intuitive, 1, but there would be a cost.

    In other cases, the choices are kind of arbitrary and involve what people think should be taking top priority. Java provides the primitive double and then the Double. Which you use can depend a lot on whether you care about precision or space (space is much less likely to be a concern most of the time, but on at least 1 project using double was the right choice for me.) To me, that provides an analogy to morality being context dependent – lying is wrong, but sometimes it would be okay or even the right thing to do.

  • see_the_galaxy

    You say, “Can we conclude anything from that? That “C:>” is a reflection of some supernatural or transcendental truth?” and then deny it. But you sir are not using the eye of faith. Clearly the C is a bulging brain (see the movie Mars Attacks for proof), and the > clearly indicates a pointy beard, such as the devil might have. And aren’t big brains for reasoning? And didn’t Luther prove that “Reason is the Devil’s harlot, who can do nought but slander and harm whatever God says and does”? The symbol C:> clearly is an emoticon, indicating a superintelligent devil, and a clear supernatural truth. –see_the_galaxy

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Your faith is strong! I stand in the presence of greatness.

  • hector_jones

    I think you may be wrong about this, Bob. C:>_ was God’s way of telling a person a transcendental truth – ‘Dude, you’re a total nerd!”

    • dorcheat

      No gods needed here to tell us about the hard disk drive assigned letter C:. The A: drive was usually the 5.25 inch floppy disk drive while the B: drive was usually the 3.50 inch hard floppy disk drive. Additional hard disk drives were usually assigned letters E: through whatever while the compact disk drive was usually assigned drive D:. Hard to believe these conventions hold through this day although one can change the drive assignment letter to anything they desire.
      Thanks for the memories from the mid 1980′s through the 1990′s. Anybody have any good Micro$oft evil empire jokes or 80′s or 90′s jokes?

      • wtfwjtd

        …If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed–oh, wait…

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        People used to collect support/helpdesk anecdotes. My favorite from the early days: this one client kept complaining that the software would work for the first time and then never work again.

        After sending a few replacement floppies, the support guy asked to be called when the replacement came in the mail so he could follow the process to figure out what was happening. The client opened the package, put in the floppy, and verified that the software worked fine.

        “OK, what do you do next?” the support guy asked.

        “I take out the floppy and stick it to the filing cabinet next to my desk with a magnet.”

      • Greg G.

        A Microsoft tech support specialist went to the firing range. Not a single shot hit the target. He put his finger over the end of the gun, pulled the trigger and blew his finger off. He said, “The bullets are coming out OK here. The problem must be at your end.”

    • The Man With The Name Too Long

      I know this is a joke but why would you consider it God’s way of telling you something if C:>_ was something humans made up? I only ask because it sounds like one of those “divine inspiration” things. Like God didn’t invent it but “guided” someone to do it. I actually hear a similar thing from Christians, when they say that God guides them to do good. I wonder how that doesn’t interfere with free will which God supposedly wants us to have so much it’s worth the holocaust. To me it seems like one of those “God puts you on the edge of the cliff but YOU choose to jump” and God is not to blame in the slightest.

      • hector_jones

        Here’s a link that might assist you and dorcheat with any questions you may have.

      • wtfwjtd

        “I actually hear a similar thing from Christians, when they say that God guides them to do good.”

        The problem for the Christian asserting this, is that there’s not a shred of credible evidence to support this assertion. That’s the whole point of Bob’s post– as he says, “Almost all humans have shared moral programming, not dissimilar from instincts in other animals.” There’s no reason (or evidence) to imagine that our innate sense of empathy and/or morality originates from anywhere other than this innate and universally-shared programming.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Well, yeah. The poseurs were the ones whose PC said: “A:>”

  • avalon

    When people complain about the lack of values, they are usually complaining about the fact that other people fail to value the things they value, and they are presupposing that the things they value are the things that are truly valuable.

    Richard T. Garner

    http://beyondmorality.com/

  • Greg G.

    We all like the smell of a barbecue. Does that make it objectively or absolutely good? Leviticus 1:9, 13, and 17 say “a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord.” Does that make it objectively or absolutely good? What if we add a Hannibal Lecter reference?

    • Ron

      According to Isaiah 1:11-14, God no longer derives satisfaction from the smell of BBQ and constant veneration:

      “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”says the Lord.

      “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!”

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Wow. Dude’s hard to please.

      • Cyril Jones-Kellett

        You left out the best part.

        God doesn’t stop there, he tells them what He DOES want:

        Learn to do right; seek justice.
        Defend the oppressed.
        Take up the cause of the fatherless;
        plead the case of the widow.

        That’s one of the best parts of the Bible.

        • Greg G.

          They stopped adding books to the Bible a long time ago. How many times has God waffled on doing right, seeking justice, defending the oppressed, caring for orphans, and widows?

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          I don’t know what you mean about adding books to the Bible. I was quoting from the same chapter in Isaiah that you were.

        • Greg G.

          I quoted Leviticus while Ron and you quoted Isaiah. If God changed his mind about whether he liked the smell of barbecue in the short time between the writing of Leviticus and the writing of Isaiah, how many more times has he changed his mind about whether he likes the aroma of barbecue? We don’t know because they stopped adding books when the Old Testament was canonized.

          If God has changed his mind about whether the aroma of barbecue is good, how do we know whether he had changed his mind about doing right, seeking justice, defending the oppressed, caring for orphans, and widows? How many times has he changed his mind about that? We can’t know because no more books are being canonized.

          Thank you for pointing out that Isaiah passage.

        • JohnH2

          Well, God appears to be on a vegetarian diet right now, bread and wine for the most part, and mostly laid off the BBQ for the last while, though He still sneaks some in clandestine like via the Samaritans at Gerizim. There are some indications that He might be getting a hankering for the good stuff from Jerusalem, but extensive remodeling would need to happen first.

        • 90Lew90

          Maybe God should just try a nice bacon sandwich and some strong sweet tea. I’ve seen that formula improve the mood of many a grumpy asshole.

        • JohnH2

          It would appear that His doctor told him to lay off the bacon a long time ago, perhaps that is why He is grumpy.

        • 90Lew90

          Maybe he got overweight, or the ol’ ticker was giving him problems. Or all that slaying gave him high blood pressure. Poor God! I love bacon!

        • Pofarmer

          I wonder how many great biblical insights we’ve lost due to the canonization?

        • JohnH2

          Quite a few actually;

          Not having the book of Enoch or Jubilees (or for protestants not having Maccabees) hurts our understanding of the New Testament.

          Not having the Epistle of Barnabas allows for the idea of the Apostles being utterly infallible to exist, were Barnabas (for which there is more evidence for it being authentic than for much of what is included) to be in the Bible then arguing that the Apostles were speaking according to their culture and the events in their world and are not necessarily always universal in application or infallible in their assumptions would probably not even be an issue; which is also probably why Barnabas wasn’t accepted into the cannon.

          Then there is the whole issue of Mary Magdalene as found in the other gospels and her apparent relationship with Jesus as well as her authority in the church.

          Assuming that the Gospel of Thomas is authentic, it is at least older than the Gospel of John (because John appears to explicitly be addressing points in it) (if not also older than potentially even Mark), then we get a sayings gospel and one which challenges our assumptions and potentially breaks apart the seeming that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all working from a shared correct understanding of the Jesus; rather than Matthew presenting Jesus from one perspective, Mark from a slightly different one, Luke from a slightly different one, and John from one that seems in many ways very different from the other three.

          By excluding such things as the Shepard we get the arguments that God stopped revealing things with the Apostles.

          So the process of canonization got rid of competing views of who Jesus was, the role of women, what Jesus did, and allows for the argument to made that the Apostles were a unified whole that understood Jesus, His message, and purpose the same way and were infallibly correct in their interpretations and assumptions and that everything was perfectly understood and all revelation ceased with the death of the Apostles.

        • Pofarmer

          John, at least this once, we agree on something.

  • Pofarmer

    What a deal local theater has God’s not dead and heaven is for real double featureat

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Sign me up!

      • Pofarmer

        Oh, God, I just found out my wife wants to read “Heaven is for real.”. I really don’t want to explain to her it’s a fantasy book. OTOH though, my 13 and 14 year olds just came up with. “ya know, if we’re all created in the image of God, by God, like the Church says, why do we inherit traits from our parents? “. Yep.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Smart kids!

          Maybe you should steer your wife to something safer. Like The Shack.

          ;-)

        • wtfwjtd

          I was thinking more like Alice in Wonderland, or maybe Wizard of Oz. Although, I understand the nerdy types also go for something like Flatland.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    I would like to invite you to read my new book, “The First Black Friday: The Crucifixion of Christ” by K L Rich on Amazon.com. It took the love of a Father to send His son down to earth to suffer at the hands of an evil world and die for our sins. Jesus having been told what was needed to save mankind, mentally struggled with the mission, but knew that it was necessary to keep man from being eternally lost. It was a horrible day. It was a day of cruelty and torment. It was…The First Black Friday. God is alive!!!

    • MNb

      “It took the love of a Father to send His son down to earth to suffer at the hands of an evil world and die for our sins.”
      So what? I didn’t ask them to do so. I prefer to be responsible for my own deeds, whether good or evil, thank you.

    • Kodie

      Doesn’t seem like an efficient system for an omnipotent and as you claim loving god. It’s pretty much the sickest way it could have gone down, short of a worldwide flood that killed everyone but 8 people.

    • 90Lew90

      Forgive me for not exactly falling over myself to read a self-published screed by a member of an obscure US church. Since I don’t believe in the afterlife, I consider my current life too short to bother with your book. Life’s too short to read all the things I actually would like to read, never mind some awful offering that no decent publisher would touch. After wading through “Evolution Exposed: Your Evolutionary Answerbook for the Classroom” (for work), I swore, never again. That took a whole day that I’ll never get back.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    We don’t always understand God, so we must trust and believe in His judgement.

    • Kodie

      We don’t always understand you, but it seems safe to disregard you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      We don’t always understand Quetzalcoatl, so we must trust and believe in His judgement.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    May God bless you and open up your heart towards Him Kodie. Have a great day!

    • Kodie

      You’re not actually here to engage in discussion, so just leave.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    Mr. Bob, before you leave this earth, you may find yourself questioning your beliefs. You may question if your lack of belief was out of the fear that there actually is a God in heaven. Have you ever prayed to Him and waited for an answer? He may just surprise you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I participated in the Atheist Prayer Experiment. I’ve blogged about it here.

      Does something magical happen when you ask God for stuff?

      • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

        (Re-posting just in case, it didn’t get to you.) It’s not that something magical happens…it is the knowing that He hears you and wants the absolute best for you. God is our parent and just like your earthly parents would sometimes give you your request and other times they wouldn’t…it is the same way with God. During the times when He doesn’t grant us what we want, it is because He sees something better in our future.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And that’s the trick, isn’t it? Why imagine that God hears me? Why imagine that he even exists? Most gods don’t; maybe they all don’t.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          Well, other “gods” cannot respond to you. However, God is the only God who can. I am not sure what type of experiment that you did to test God, but I can speak from personal experience that He has answered prayers for me. They don’t always come in the time that I want them, or the fashion that I would desire, but whenever He did answer, it was without a doubt the best that He had in store.

        • 90Lew90

          Gosh, he must really have a big soft spot for you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No more empty claims, please. Provide evidence.

        • JohnH2

          Bob prayed for what a month or something, might have been forty days; claims he didn’t get a response from God specifically, though he got tons of responses and hits on his site, and a few religious people that comment some times on his site leading to unending pages. He also got at least one of the religious blogs on Patheos to call him a pig a la Augustine and I think the term was thicker than a brick, but I could be slightly off on that.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          I am so sorry to hear that a so-called Christian would do that. That type of behavior is not of God. It would turn me off as well if someone where to start calling me names because I didn’t share the same views. May I ask what he was praying for?

        • JohnH2

          A response.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          I wish that I could have prayed with Him during that time. I don’t know why his prayer wasn’t answered, but there are many reasons as to why it wasn’t.

        • 90Lew90

          What happens when you pray? You fall flat on your face, foam at the mouth and talk gibberish into the carpet?

        • hector_jones

          I don’t know why his prayer wasn’t answered, but there are many reasons as to why it wasn’t.

          I think I know which one it was.

        • Pofarmer

          I think this one would benefit from reading some Harris or Dennet.

        • MNb

          “I can speak from personal experience that He has answered prayers for me.”
          Same question. How? Did he phone you? Did he write you a letter or an email? Can you ask him to contact me too?

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          Well, I am sure that you already know that He doesn’t email or use the cell. However, if you desire for me to pray for you…I will definitely do that. My prayer is that He will give you an encounter that will remove all doubt of His existence in your heart and mind.

        • MNb

          Then praying is useless.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    Kodie…if you are so bothered by my presence, why don’t you take your own advice. I was having a conversation with Bob…not you. Thank you!

    • Kodie

      You addressed me personally. You’re not here to engage but to sell your book and tell people what you assume they think. Learn how to use a reply button.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    Kodie…this is really childish at this point and since I am an adult, I will not respond to you anymore. I addressed you personally because you first addressed me. Good day to you.

    • Kodie

      See you are calling me by name on a public blog. If you want to have a conversation with Bob, write him a private email and ask him to review your book. As for childish, I think believing in an invisible man and a fictional story and then rewriting it to sell and then spamming it on atheist blogs because we all know atheists have never been exposed to this glorious wonderful story of abuse and incompetence is about the most childish thing ever. If you would like to stay and discuss this, you might learn something instead of preaching to us because you pity us and think we’re lost without your help.

      EDIT: I see you failed to notice the reply button again.

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    It’s not that something magical happens…it is the knowing that He hears you and wants the absolute best for you. God is our parent and just like your earthly parents would sometimes give you your request and other times they wouldn’t…it is the same way with God. During the times when He doesn’t grant us what we want, it is because He sees something better in our future.

    • 90Lew90

      Aww. That’s cute. And when earthquakes and landslides and volcanoes and tsunamis and tornadoes kill thousands, that’s “him” being mysterious (but it’s still all for the best in his Big Plan)? But when some rescuer risks his own life and limb and happens to pluck an ickle baybee out of the wreckage, that’s a “miracle”? Etc?

      • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

        No…that isn’t God. God does not wish for anyone to die However, Satan does and all the things that you see happening on the earth is because of him…not God.

        • 90Lew90

          Satan and the homosexuals. Don’t forget Satan’s henchmen, the homos. Yeah, I’ve heard that before too. All seems pretty ludicrous to me, frankly.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          God loves the homosexuals too. However, He doesn’t like the act. Did you grow up in a non-religious household? See, I grew up in church, but I didn’t have a real relationship with God till I got older and began to understand Him better.

        • 90Lew90

          Ah right. He doesn’t like the act. Yeah, I’ve heard that smarm before too.

          I wonder if it strikes you, as it does me, as an arrogance of almost monumental magnitude, to find people speaking on behalf of “God”, whether he exists or not. I’m in the “no” camp on the question of his existence, but it still astonishes me how presumptuous it is of little old humans to deign to speak on behalf of the creator of the universe, who exists outside time and space itself, and who moves in such “mysterious” ways. Seems a bit too uppity to me.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          I wouldn’t call it arrogance. And yes, God does exist outside of space and time. However, we were created in His image and because of that, He treats us as His special children and allows us to speak on behalf of Him. Who else best to speak for God than the people you are surrounded by every day?

        • Kodie

          Probably god. How does it serve him to send nitwits like you to speak for him? Seems like god likes doing things the hard way, but I don’t regard your opinion and your delusion enough to have faith that I should also forbid homosexuals from loving each other.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s God’s famous quirky sense of humour to send people like KL Rich to speak for him. He’s laughing up his magnificent sleeve.

        • Kodie

          “I wouldn’t call it arrogance”… “He treats us as His special children and allows us to speak on behalf of Him”… “Who else best to speak for God…?”

          I would call that the exact definition of arrogance.

        • MNb

          Replace “God” by the Flying Spaghetti Monster and your comment suddenly makes some sense …..

        • 90Lew90

          Now you’ve gone from cartoon character voice to storybook for infants voice.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          Well, you can call it what you may, but the content doesn’t change.

        • 90Lew90

          I’ve had some pretty stimulating conversations with religious people. This one with you is not one of them. I see you also fancied yourself as a teacher at some point. You’re just about the last kind of person I think should be let anywhere near children (excuse me if this sounds harsh). There are only one or two other categories of people I’d ban from access to children quicker. That puts you near the bottom of a long list.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          Well, I would agree that I have also had stimulating conversations with non believers. However, they were always able to converse despite out opposite views without being insulting. Just because you disagree with someone does not mean that you have to insult them. Therefore, since this was not a conversation that you find in interest then I will allow you to be at peace. One day, these remarks will come back to you whenever you face God one day. I pray your soul is well. Good day!

        • MNb

          “One day, these remarks will come back to you whenever you face God one day.”
          Just another christian who can’t do anything better than offer some threats. Booooh! I’m scared!

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          That wasn’t to be taken as a threat. However, if it came across that way, I am sorry for that truly was not my intentions. What I was trying to say is that many people claim that when certain near death experiences have happened to them, their life flashes across as if in a movie. That’s what I meant.

        • 90Lew90

          I think you probably watch too many movies.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but a near death experience is not quite the same as facing your god.

        • Norm Donnan

          There are none as deaf as those who dont want to hear.What your dealing with here K is denialists who would have you believe they want to know the truth,unfortunatly the evidence they will find convincing will be too late lm afraid.

        • MNb

          That’s not the point – the point is that it’s your content and nothing more.

        • MNb

          What about your god speaking for himself? If he can’t, if he won’t or if he doesn’t want to means he is a lousy god.

        • Norm Donnan

          Not to mention those who know Him

        • Asemodeus

          Not only arrogance to think to speak for a god, but to have it where that god always seems to agree with every prejudice and ignorant thought you have.

        • MNb

          “He doesn’t like the act.”
          How do you know? Has he personally told you when you phoned him? Then ask him to phone me too. He will know my number.

        • Norm Donnan

          So ,what was your reaction and how did you feel when the significant person in your life came out Mark??Thats Gods phone call to you.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA! That’s our Nazi-Norm, always ready to draw hasty conclusions.
          My female counterpart is a muslima. I knew that before our relationship started. My reaction? It’s allright with me, as long she doesn’t share your nazi-mentality. She totally doesn’t (or she wouldn’t have fallen in love with me in the first place). How did I feel? Amused and curious, but not too much, as her predecessor, the mother of my son, also was a muslima. How did I feel when I learned she was a muslima? I didn’t have too much time to reflect this, because our passion was running high more than 20 years ago.
          No, when our relationship (whether with my female counterpart or with my ex-wife) started your god didn’t make my phone ring. That you resort to this lame metaphore makes me think he doesn’t know how to handle a phone and how to talk into it. Quite lame for an omnipotent being, I’d say.

        • Norm Donnan

          No Mark l wasnt refering to the ladies in your life but somone more significant, like your father for example??

        • MNb

          Remarkable – I think of my female counterpart (we are not married, so she is not my wife) as the significant one. For Nazi-Norm that will be different, I guess.
          My father was murdered 6 years ago. He was an atheist.
          Then there is my son. He is an atheist since he can think for himself, ie at the age of 13.
          There are some other significant persons in my life, but no one as significant as these three and nobody came out as a christian, simply because I knew they were (if they were) christian from the very beginning.
          Of course you don’t address

          “That you resort to this lame metaphore makes me think he doesn’t know how to handle a phone and how to talk into it. Quite lame for an omnipotent being, I’d say.”
          Because you’re Nazi-Norm.

          Addition: The only coming outs I ever witnessed were deconversions, ie pupils coming out as atheists. Is that the “telephone call” you were thinking of? Indeed it has been my hypothesis for a while that God himself has become an atheist because he doesn’t like to be worshipped by fundies like Nazi-Norm. I wouldn’t either, so it makes sense.

        • Norm Donnan

          How sad Mark,it all goes over your head.
          You just dont understand basic concepts or communication and l guess thats why you resort to juvinile name calling

        • MNb

          No – I call you Nazi-Norm because you think other people (namely Canaanites and probably also the inhabitants of Jericho) are subhumans and therefor don’t mind killing them off. As you don’t offer any substantial content anymore and don’t actually reply my previous comment it’s til next time for you.

        • Norm Donnan

          What you fail to comprehend is my dismissal of the Canaanite is exactly the same irrational delusional mindset you lot have about un born people,only a million times worse,and the same attitude people had towards Africans 150 years ago.
          You think it would be you standing up for the Negro then when infact its the likes of you that would be selling them in the market place.

        • Kodie

          Do you even realize you admitted to being delusional? Do we have to pay attention to you anymore?

        • MNb

          I don’t know if I would have stood up for black people in the 19th Century. I’m not an arrogant bastard like you. I do know I have stood up for equal rights during my life. I also do know that my grandfather, also an atheist, stood up for the rights of jews during WW-2 in occupied Netherlands.
          I also know that you are capable of dismissing an entire group of people as subhuman and you refuse to withdraw it. Hence you are Nazi-Norm.
          Of course like the nazi’s did in 1943 you want to outlaw abortion.

          http://www.angelfire.com/mo/baha/nazis.html

          I guess you wouldn’t mind subhumans like Canaanites having abortions either.

          Gen 9:25 “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”
          Lev 25:44 “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”

          That’s the way nazi’s treated Polish and Russian people.

          Finally nazi’s were creationists like you. They thought races were created to their kinds and hence shouldn’t mix. That’s why they outlawed marriages of Aryans (ie the Chosen Ones) with other people (which were subhuman).

          http://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/nazi-racial-ideology-was-religious-creationist-and-opposed-to-darwinism/

          Their views of such marriages were connected with this:

          “Each animal mates only with one of its own species. The titmouse cohabits only with the titmouse, the finch with the finch, the stork with the stork, the field-mouse with the field-mouse, the house-mouse with the house-mouse, the wolf with the she-wolf,”
          “It was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God’s Creation and God’s Will.”

          You will recognize this as creationist statements. They are from Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, chapter 11 and Vol.2, chapter 10.

        • Norm Donnan

          Of course your an arrogant bastard like me,thats why your here,to express your superiority.
          So who did you stand up for equal rights,your own?
          You really need to go on a Jewish blog to ask them about their scripture.
          And now you quote nazis,is this where you get your servival of the fittest evo crap?And hey even they get copulation is between male and female,even they can improve your morals,how sad.

        • MNb

          “Of course your …”
          If you say so – you have your god at your side. No doubt he suggests you to ask stupid questions too like

          “So who did you stand up for equal rights,your own?”
          and

          “where you get your servival of the fittest evo crap?”
          Survival of the fittest is crap indeed, hence it’s no part of Evolution Theory. Some 120 years ago Pjotr Kropotkin spend five years in the Siberian wilderness to show that cooperation can be beneficial in evolutionary terms at well. Since then no biologist uses the concept. Even your compatriot Ol’ Hambo recognizes this:

          http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v13/n4/fittest

          “Survival of the fittest is not evolution. It is a fact of life …”
          But I recognize that not all creacrappers accept the doctrine of survival of the fittest. It does combine well with creationism though – to fight degeneration, which totally is creacrap thinking:

          http://www.icr.org/mutation/

          Which is why nazi’s outlawed interracial marriages and started the Lebensborn project.
          Note that you didn’t contradict the greater part of my last comment. So

          “even they can improve your morals,how sad.”
          It’s sad indeed – for you, because you have way more in common with nazi morals than I do. Thanks for confirming this.

        • Norm Donnan

          Mark…..hello…..Markkkk are you there???

        • JohnH2

          So Satan is able to contravene God’s wishes but God isn’t able to contravene Satan’s?

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          God can stop Satan anytime He chooses and trust me…his days are numbered. However, God is allowing enough time for everyone to come to Him of their own free will. God doesn’t want anyone to be lost, so He is giving everyone ample opportunity to get things right. I pray that you will seek after God while you still can.

        • 90Lew90

          Chuckle. “Trust me, his days are numbered.” You sound like a cartoon character when you talk like that.

          So, Satan can cause earthquakes and tsunamis and landslides and all that stuff, and God can’t take on people in a valley because they have chariots of iron (per Judges 1:19)? Seems unlikely.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          Ok…I see that you picked out one passage in the Bible. It was not that God couldn’t give them the victory. There is more to that story and lessons to be learned all throughout the Bible. I see that you pick a verse where He gave the Children of Israel victory such as when He delivered them out of Pharaoh’s hands by parting the Red Sea. There are many more to read about as well.

        • 90Lew90

          No two ways. Those old chariots of iron flummoxed him.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          God created all elements of the earth, so do you think that He would have a hard time giving them victory because of some iron? If He can part the Red Sea then He can do anything.

        • 90Lew90

          Whatever. Sorry but this exchange is too puerile. Good luck with that book.

        • MNb

          “God created all elements of the earth”
          And why should we be convinced? Just because you say so? If that’s the level of your book it’s a waste of paper and time.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, about that whole sea parting thing…….

        • Georgina

          with the emphasis on IF.

        • COMALite J

          Like it or not, Judges 1:19 flatly states that the LORD (YHWH) was with Judah and that he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

          Not “would not.” “Could not.”

          Now, granted, “he” there could be referring to Judah instead of YHWH, but:

          (A) “Judah” wasn’t an individual person then, but rather a whole tribe (the actual Judah having been dead by then for longer than the USA has existed to date, even if you include the entire time of the Thirteen Colonies), so the use of the pronoun “he” would be symbolic at best, and:

          (B) the passage explicitly states that the LORD was with Judah! If YHWH really is all that you claim, then if He was with the tribe of Judah, a single Judahite toddler armed with nothing more than a soap bubble-shooting toy gun should be able to take out the combined military might (including nuclear) of every nation that has ever existed up to and including the modern USA and all its drones and aircraft carrier groups and nukes and such, all combined! Would that not be the case?

          So explain that passage as written. And remember, your own book expressly forbids you from adding to or taking away even one word from what is actually written — doing so is arguably the second worst of all sins (second only to blaspheming the Holy Ghost) with very severe penalties attached (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:18–19, et al).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s just a story. Show evidence.

        • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

          The evidence of God is in front of you. Every time you look in the mirror, you are evidence that God exist. You didn’t spontaneously happen. You were not part of some big boom. You were created by God himself.

        • Kodie

          Wow. I assume Bob had parents. You are kind of crazy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll get my reality from science, thanks. Religion makes big claims; doesn’t deliver.

        • COMALite J

          Actually, I was created by my parents, who in turn were created by their parents (my grandparents), and so on. I’m reasonably certain that the same applies to you as well.

        • JohnH2

          I happen to be a Mormon.

          I do have to point out that saying that God doesn’t wish for anyone to die is provably untrue, regardless of whether or not you believe the Bible (or really any religious text) just so long as you believe in God.

          A. People Die.
          B. God is Omnipotent (for any value of Omnipotence)
          C. Therefore, God desires people to die.

          I think you are going for that quote by Paul to the effect that God doesn’t want anyone to perish; being God doesn’t want to cut anyone off from His presence.

          It should be obvious but thought I should point out that granting free will to human actors doesn’t change this argument: God may not desire a particular death caused by free choices but God still must desire that people die. That is, a choice can cause death but death is not itself a choice.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          So, you believe that Jews sailed to America in 600 BC?

        • JohnH2

          They didn’t sail in 600 BC that is when they left Jerusalem, they also weren’t technically Jews, at least not the group that left in 600 BC, so ignoring that every part of the question is technically wrong, Yes.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          By “every part” you mean “Jews” and “600 BC”? Should I have said a family group living in Jerusalem left in 600 BC and eventually sailed to America?

        • JohnH2

          You could use the term Israelite.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          But doesn’t Joseph Smith use the term “Jews” frequently in his translation of the plates (the Book of Mormon). For example, 1 Nephi 3:3:

          “3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.”

        • JohnH2

          They lived with the Jews and were part of the Jewish Kingdom, as the Northern Kingdom was already destroyed, but were themselves of a different tribe than the tribe of Judah.

          The record did contain the record of the Jews, and also (being a different thing) the genealogy of Lehi’s forefathers.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          Then what did Nephi mean when he stated in 2 Nephi 30:

          “4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.”

        • JohnH2

          National sense, not tribal; which does mean that my rejection of the use of Jew is inaccurate, sorry about that. They were of the Kingdom of Judah so yeah I guess they can be called Jews even if they themselves are not of Judah.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What tribe were they from?

        • JohnH2

          Manasseh

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Manasseh was one of the tribes of Israel, dispersed with the Assyrians conquest in 722 BCE. You’re saying that some remnant stayed intact to sail to America in 600?

          What about the Lamanites and Nephites (and weren’t there 2 other tribes)? Did they develop from Manasseh in America?

        • JohnH2

          Northern Kingdom refugees fled to the Kingdom of Judah, and some of them left for America being Lehi and his family which included Laman, his first born, and Nephi. Nephi claimed divine right to rule and (at least according to what Nephi wrote) Lehi supported that and Laman and the people that followed him (of which there were more) tried to kill them/get rid of them. Nephi fled and took the records so we get anti-Lamanite propaganda throughout that when there is peace or other contact completely falls apart (ie, the Lamanites are said to be nomads that eat raw meat etc, but then when people go there they have bigger cities than the Nephites).

        • MNb

          “his days are numbered”
          “God is allowing enough time for everyone”
          I guess that means we’ll have to wait for 4,5 billion years.

        • hector_jones

          God can stop Satan anytime He chooses and trust me…his days are numbered.

          This made me laugh out loud. Just you wait – Any millenium now God is going to give Satan the sack!

        • Cyril Jones-Kellett

          I notice that God stops Satan in my own life every day, and I am very grateful for it. The Holy Spirit is light and life, and his presence is peace. God has already taken Satan’s power away. The Peace of Christ is available to anyone. It is only because we do not want the Peace of Christ that we live as we do. Thank you for your posts.

        • Georgina

          Jahwe practices genocide. Lucifer offers Jesus the world (and Jesus does not say that it is not his to offer).
          According to your bible, Lucifer is the god of this planet and Jahwe is the god of the afterlife. So I guess Lucy is responsible for all the good and bad things that happen and Jahwe just wipes out humanity anytime he gets the itch?
          Religions were invented by wierd old men, mainly misogynistic. You should really start thinking for yourself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          God doesn’t wish for everyone to die, but he’s only so powerful and Satan gets the better of him sometimes?

        • MNb

          So you believe in two gods …. a good one and a bad one. The good one you’re a fan of has killed way more people than the bad one, if we are to trust your favourite Holy Book. What does this tell us about you?

        • JohnH2

          That KLRich1 needs to read the Cathar’s Two Principles or may already have and believe in it?

      • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

        He has no more of a soft spot for me than He does for you. We are all His soft spots.

    • Norm Donnan

      And this is why its great to know God as our father and not a headmaster like religion portrays Him as,we can trust Him.


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