Bad Atheist Arguments: “Morality Doesn’t Come From God”

Andy Bannister The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist bookThis is part 8 of a critique of The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (2015) by Andy Bannister (part 1). The book promises to critique a number of atheist arguments.

(There are three more chapters after this one. I’ve been hoping that a thorough critique of this book would be an opportunity to respond to good apologetics arguments—or what passes for them. I don’t completely fault the author, as this may be about as good as they get. Though the quality of arguments has been poor, I think that this comprehensive survey has been useful. I hope it continues to be for you.)

Chapter 8. Humpty Dumpty and the Vegan

In today’s opening episode, Fred has become a vegan to satisfy his girlfriend. They’re at a vegan restaurant, and our hero isn’t happy with his unappetizing vegan pizza. He’s shocked when Fred sprinkles tuna on his half. “It’s not meat if it lives in the water,” Fred says. Ducks live in water, so they’re on the menu as well. And cows live near water, so they’re also kosher. He justifies his lax attitude as a “progressive” approach to a vegan diet, though our hero wonders if one can define words according to convenience.

Can words mean whatever you want them to?

Atheists make a big deal about morality—violence and intolerance are bad, while humanism and science are good. Atheists think “that atheists are, in fact, better than religious people, because atheists do good for no ulterior motive.” But is morality a win for atheists, Bannister asks? He gives Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass as an example of someone who defines words however he wants.

I agree that changing definitions to suit your whim is a bad idea, but Bannister might want to get his own house in order first. “Faith” is an important concept that has two incompatible definitions, and many Christians switch between them as convenient to make their argument (more here). Another slippery area for many Christians is morality. They imagine that any moral statement must be a claim to objective morality, even though that’s not how morality is defined (more here).

Bannister demands, “Who gets to define what the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ mean?”

Uh . . . humans? The definitions are in the dictionary. But if he’s asking how we put moral actions into the Good bin or the Evil bin, we do it with the imperfect sense of right and wrong that we got from evolution and society (more here and here). If he wants to carve out a spot for God and show that only with godly insight can we have morality, he’s done nothing to argue for that.

He notes that as long as two people with very different views on things “can agree not to try to suggest that the other one is wrong, everybody can get along famously.”

But of course, we often correct each other’s morality. We talk it over. We debate. We argue. Can he have never seen how humans try to resolve disagreements? It’s not always pretty, and minds often don’t change. But no supernatural is required to explain morality, as he wants to imagine.

Tough love time!

Bannister makes clear our error:

Quite frankly, my first reaction, when I meet anybody who tells me that they sincerely believe that we decide what is ‘good’ and ‘evil’ based on our preferences or our feelings is to lean over and steal something from them. When they protest (“Give me back my seal-skin gloves!”), I simply say, innocently and sweetly: ‘But I thought you said “good” and “evil” were just questions of personal preference. Well, my preference is that I’m smitten with your mittens.’ That usually changes the conversation quite rapidly.

Does he really want to steal my stuff? If that doesn’t fit with my plans, then I have society and the law to back me up. Theft where I come from is illegal. But if he’s just making a point, what’s the point? That people can steal things? Yes, they can—is that a revelation? We live in an imperfect society with many moral disagreements. If harm is involved, that’s usually central to society’s resolution of the problem.

Maybe he’s saying that his stealing something will snap me out of my simplistic reverie and return me to the real world. But what insights does he imagine he’s given me—that people don’t like being stolen from? That we share morals? We already know that. None of this argues for objective morality.

Next, Bannister moves on to fret if might makes right.

Yeah—sometimes it does. The Allies defeated Germany, so guess whose laws were used during the Nuremburg Trials. A German concentration camp commandant might have honestly thought that he was carrying out a noble mission, that he was right. However, the Allies disagreed, and since they won the war, they decide the standard of “right” used in the court.

In the West today, criminal defendants sometimes say that they were unjustly convicted. Is it right that they be punished? Not objectively so, but there’s no reason to imagine objective morals. Appeals may overturn a conviction, but until that point, might will prevail. It’s the best approximation to right that we have.

Consequences of the secular viewpoint

Bannister moves on to highlight some of the problems with human morality, and I largely agree with his concerns. What he wants to imagine is that he can solve these problems with a godly morality. And maybe he could, if such a morality existed, but he never gets beyond the, “Wouldn’t this be nice?” phase.

Challenge 1: If we go back to the 1950s and tell people that in 2017 we’re largely pleased that same-sex marriage is finally legal, most people would be horrified. Now imagine that the tables are turned so that we are the horrified, regressive people compared to people in society fifty or a hundred years in our future. What society declares as “good” changes with time.

Response: Obviously. Morality changes, and each society thinks that it has things largely figured out, though there are moral dissidents in each society, some longing for the morality of the Good Old Days and some pushing new attitudes that will gradually become accepted.

This causes no problem for my position, but I’m not the one who needs to justify the Bronze Age morality in the Old Testament.

Challenge 2: Without God, you can (1) let everyone decide good and evil for themselves. Or (2) the state decides, but then might makes right. With (1) morality is impossible, and with (2) morality is meaningless. In both cases, you have no absolute authority with which to overrule another person or state. But there is a solution: “If goodness were something bigger than us, something outside us. Only then could ethics, morality, and law actually work.”

Response: You know what it’s like to tell a joke and have it fall flat? That’s like Bannister’s Hail Mary suggestion that ethics, morality, and law might actually work if God were behind it. He supports this claim with nothing. He imagines that God is the authority that will resolve moral dilemmas, but how is that possible when you can find Christians today on every side of every moral issue?

Challenge 3: Sam Harris wants to use science to find morality. “I do give Harris credit for at least realizing something that many other atheist writers have failed to grasp—that atheism has a major problem when it comes to the question of goodness.”

Response: Atheism says nothing about goodness. That’s not a problem, just like it’s not a problem in chemistry or geology. It’s not supposed to—atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s).

There are more, but you get the idea. He imagines that atheists are made uncomfortable by his tough hypotheticals. If his questions are uncomfortable, that’s only because they make me reach for a barf bag. They’re not driven by evidence. They’re forced. That reminds me of Christopher Hitchens charging a Christian with “trying to slip God through customs without declaring him.”

With Bannister’s argument, we never discover God waiting inevitably at the terminus of a logical sequence of evidence; rather God is shoehorned in. It might sound cute coming from a five-year-old, but it’s obnoxious coming from an adult. “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a god to put things right for us?” Maybe, but why bring it up? Wouldn’t you like a unicorn, a submarine, and a ham sandwich? Maybe, but how does that fit into the conversation?

Bannister asks us where morality comes from, and he desperately wants us to pick God. Sorry—natural explanations are sufficient.

Any God who would grant prayers for football championships
while doling out cancer and car accidents to little boys and girls
is unworthy of our devotion.
— Sam Harris,

Image credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Raging Bee

    Short answer: invoking a subjective, unproven supernatural entity does NOT make your morality any more “objective.” Especially when someone else can invoke a different, equally unproven, subjective supernatural entity to oppose your claims.

    • Sophia Sadek

      The material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth does not seem like a supernatural entity to me. It seems quite subnatural.

  • Raging Bee

    Sam Harris wants to use science to find morality.

    Actually, that pretty much IS how people find morality, whether or not we admit it. When we see something happening that we wouldn’t want happening to us, we call it “bad” and take action to stop or prevent it from happening. And when we see something happening that we think is beneficial or desirable, we call it “good” and try to encourage more of the same. Thus we tend to get morality that’s based on observation, reasoning, and consensus about what actions should be encouraged and which should be forbidden.

    That is, after all, how we got a civil rights movement: we saw certain people being treated a certain way, and came to a collective agreement that we wouldn’t want it happening to us, and took action to change how those people were treated. Rational enquiry, or at least some wonky amateur form of it, leads to social-justice movements, which hopefully lead to improvements in our behavior.

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

      Maybe not science but the scientific method. Yes, I agree that seeking and evaluating evidence is (yet again) how we do it.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      It’s also how almost everyone teaches morality to children. You don’t hit the other kids because you don’t like it when they hit you. You don’t take other people’s stuff without their permission because you don’t want people taking your stuff. It’s really not that complicated. Morality is based on empathy and compassion. It’s not that hard to explain why murder, theft and other crimes are wrong. You only need religion to explain why you should stone a woman for not covering her head or why we should punish people for having sex in some unapproved way. The reason they object to secular morality is that it doesn’t have any path to the “morality” they want to impose on others.

      • Kodie

        I kind of have to wonder how much empathy we naturally have, and how much has to be modeled. A child will take things they want if no one tells them it’s not theirs and they have to ask and say “please” and “thank you”. I mean, after a certain amount of infancy has passed, once children have demonstrated consistent ability to be verbal, “please,” “thank you”, and “I’m sorry” become the next stage in language with regard to relating to other people. Before that, a baby is allowed to be demanding and manipulative to some extent (to the full extent?). If they are pointing to something or they cry a certain way, parents learn their needs and cater to them. If left to that method instead of curved toward being sociable creatures who ask rather than demand, and then hopefully taught to ask nicely instead of whining, would they ever develop empathy? My observation is they would not! After babies start to be modeled on sharing and asking permission first and apologizing after they’ve hurt someone, it seems to take a literal lifetime, not just a childhood, to think of others. Plenty of adults I know think of themselves and not others in the interpersonal, but think they are empathetic because they engage in causes.

  • Lark62

    In the bible, selling your daughter to a rapist and owning multiple sex slaves was perfectly normal. Stoning someone to death for gathering firewood on the wrong day was reasonable. Today those would get you multiple decades in prison.

    I’m shocked, shocked that Christians who claim that biblical mortality is perfect, absolute and unchanging never seem to notice that.

    • vaiyt

      Time and again, “morality from God” ends up, in practice, being “morality from those who claim to speak for God”.

      • cdbunch

        And often pretty immoral.

        • Michael Neville

          Also frivolous and irrational.

      • eric

        And that’s ultimately why the argument for an objective, theologically based morality fails; because it is indistinguishable from a subjective, human-based morality where the only humans whose opinions you count are the theological authorities. We need a goodometer separate from human values, intuitions, and opinions. Plantinga’s answer – we have one! It’s really deep human intuitions…at least, those that agree with Plantinga’s theology…

    • Sophie

      Shocked, shocked I tell you!… well, not that shocked.

  • Spuddie

    “Challenge 1: If we go back to the 1950s and tell people that in
    2017 we’re largely pleased that same-sex marriage is finally legal,
    most people would be horrified. Now imagine that the tables are turned
    so that we are the horrified, regressive people compared to
    people in society fifty or a hundred years in our future. What society
    declares as “good” changes with time.”

    Response: The rules against same sex marriage were never based in morality in the first place. Morality hasn’t changed. It only has been recognized. Morality isn’t merely following rules, its about how we interact and treat others.

    “Challenge 2: Without God, you can (1) let everyone decide good
    and evil for themselves. Or (2) the state decides, but then might makes
    right. With (1) morality is impossible, and with (2) morality is meaningless.
    In both cases, you have no absolute authority with which to overrule
    another person or state. But there is a solution: “If goodness were
    something bigger than us, something outside us. Only then could ethics, morality, and law actually work.”

    Response: Morality isn’t decided by outside decree. It is based on notions of empathy, value of life, and social contract. Neither the State nor God determine morality. They merely codify it and write it down. We can still have absolute concepts of morality without ever having it dictated to us.

    • Jim Jones
      • Spuddie

        That is so cool! I am definitely going to use that one.

    • Michael Neville

      Bannister complains that if the government imposes morality that “might makes right.” But if he gets his morality from his omnipotent god who can smack his bottom for eternity for morality violations then he’s shifted “might makes right” from the government to his god.

      With government morality, aka laws, we can try to get the laws changed. The OT writers had their god impose some quite arbitrary and petty rules and supposedly there’s no recourse to get them changed. I think I prefer the gummint to the god as a source of rules.

      • Spuddie

        Laws are not always based in morality. Laws are mostly based on social control and interaction. Without prohibition on murder, theft, and fraud, social interactions become too fearful and guarded. We want to be able to own things without worrying about them being taken from us, they want to go out into the world without fear of being murdered, we want to be able to deal with others without being cheated. Just laws punish malicious harms because people don’t like to be harmed and it sours interactions between people.

        Religious morality is relative and self serving. Any act is justified of done in god’s name. “God says so” can be anything you want or can prooftext.

        • Kodie

          Well, it depends where you are. Even with the same laws within the US, there are some places/situations where you might be fearful and guarded about social interactions with the locals. Even in many places, even if you can prosecute for theft, there are signs not to leave valuables in your car. It is generally illegal to run down a pedestrian in your car, but it is still a good idea for pedestrians to watch out and not just feel encased in safety by the law that it’s prohibited to hit them. Surely, a lawsuit against the driver or their insurance isn’t going to bring you back to life if you die or restore your quality of life if you are severely injured.

          I got caught up in an explanation of a rule with some sassy young teens who accused me of “blaming the victim”. We teach young children not to cross the street unless they looked both ways and no cars are coming; we don’t tell them they have the right of way, and it’s the driver’s fault for not stopping if they get hit. I’m just saying laws are no protection, you still have to assess your environment, and if laws are actually broken, that’s the last thing you want to happen, but at least there is some reparation for a crime.

        • Greg G.

          If it is the victim’s fault, it’s OK to blame the victim.

        • Kodie

          I think in certain environments, it is definitely the victim’s fault. I read this a long time ago on a list of fallacies, having the right of way to cross the street, and the driver is 100% at fault according to the law and the insurance, isn’t sufficient to save your life. You can be right and dead, but was it worth it?

          I am thinking of introducing a law that puts the pedestrian at at least partial fault if they are crossing the street while looking at their phone. An alarming number of cars I see at night don’t have their lights on because they just left somewhere like a very light parking lot, and don’t notice. In my car, the dashboard doesn’t light if the headlights aren’t on, so it’s impossible not to notice! Anyway, I think in the city where I live where so many people wear black jackets in the winter (including me), I think just like cars and bikes are supposed to have lights or reflectors, people out to have to wear reflectors, not just conscientious joggers who are up before the sun. I have noticed an enormous frequency such that I assume it has been made law in the past few years of people employed in certain jobs always wear bright neon green shirts and/or vests on the job. I mean, I assume this is some law or insurance requirement at least, because not too long ago, trying to be safe and visible was a nerdy sissy kind of thing to do voluntarily, as in like hunting, true bros wear their camo and dull flannel colors instead of some dorky bright orange vest, even if another hunter in the woods might shoot them.

    • Kevin K

      I think you’re chicken-and-egging that last one.

      • Spuddie

        Not at all. Does one require government or divine approval or punishment as a prerequisite to moral action? Of course not. In fact it is far more moral to act without such self interest involved.

        We form morals based on how we act towards others and want to be treated. It is a function of being a human being who is not a sociopath. We codify such attitudes after the fact in law and religion for reasons of community and social control. To keep things civil between people.

        When theists ask why does one avoid murdering, raping and robbing people without God looking over their shoulder, my reaction is to say that I am not a scumbag who has any desire to do that in the first place. I like people and don’t like harming them. Then I admonish them for being sociopaths on a divine leash. People who are evil in desire but being held back by a thin veneer of faith.

  • Joe

    Challenge 1: If we go back to the 1950s and tell people that in 2017 we’re largely pleased that same-sex marriage is finally legal, most people would be horrified. Now imagine that the tables are turned so that we are the horrified, regressive people compared to people in society fifty or a hundred years in our future. What society declares as “good” changes with time.

    Was that a quote from Bannister? Does he realize that at least a portion of his readers will say that same-sex marriage is objectively wrong?

    I find it puzzling when examples used against moral subjectivity actually lend support to it:

    Theist: “If morals are subjective, people wouldn’t agree on what is ‘right’.”
    Me:” Look around you.”

  • MNb

    Bannister: “I thought you said “good” and “evil” were just questions of personal preference.”
    Yes and that doesn’t mean I have to approve of your act of theft. I don’t.
    Next stupidity.

    • Joe

      Another argument I fail to grasp from apologists. Why wouldn’t I have a personal attachment to my own property, that some kind of apathy over the morality of theft itself is able to override?

    • eric

      “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral
      pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore
      erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed.
      Let us all act according to national customs.”
      -Charles Napier, 1851.

      • Dessany

        One of the greatest come backs in all history.

    • Sophie

      Yes, and the law agrees with you, and most people agree with the idea that we shouldn’t have to fear our possessions being stolen (although of course there probably have been societies where everyone shares everything and there are no personal possessions as such). It’s not just your preference, it’s the preference of society as a whole that we shouldn’t have to fear the theft of our possessions. I’m amazed this guy thinks he’s making some kind of case for God here.

  • Jim Jones

    The most interesting part of all of these debates it the almost complete lack of anything on the theistic side. They flap around like a fish out of water but never move to anything useful.

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

      I imagine them puffing out their chests and saying, “Ah, but we have an objective morality on our side! So-o-o much better.”

      The most incredible statement with the absolute least amount of evidence.

  • Dessany

    Funny thing is that their (theists) morality has evolved since the bible was written. It has evolved in the same way that Bob is describing. We can look at some issues that the bible takes for granted, like slavery, that are considered settled moral questions by most theists today.

    The fact that slavery is now considered obviously morally wrong vs. what the bible says about it should make theists like Bannister reconsider their position. Instead they will cherry pick various verses of the bible to support their conclusion that god was against it and never for it despite the clear writing in the bible that shows god was for it before he was against it.

    • Kodie

      Slavery isn’t now considered obviously morally wrong. Personally owning brown people and beating them for trying to escape is generally considered obviously morally wrong. It’s not necessarily considered wrong to treat workers poorly in the US, to pay them not enough, to tell grown adults that they shouldn’t be taking jobs meant for teenagers saving up pocket money during high school, i.e. workers you can underpay legally because they have no real responsibilities, etc., or using interns to “earn” their right to earn a living by slaving for companies for credit instead of money. Etc. Or enjoy the low prices of imported goods that may be made by slaves or children or both, ETC. Or tell waitstaff that they don’t deserve a tip because their employers customarily force the patrons to pay their wages and we can individually decide they should deserve nothing for serving us, at least some shitheels do exactly that, “or feel free to go work somewhere else.” Like anyone who works at that level can just change jobs to a more positive and rewarding work environment for the decent amount of pay their labor ought to merit.

      No, we think slavery is still ok if we can pretend it’s over.

      • Dessany

        Obviously that is not what I am talking about. Yes, in our world we still have slavery and wage-slavery. What I am talking about is the fact that most people will agree that slavery is morally wrong. Even christians whose bible supports slavery. The argument I am making is about how christians don’t have an objective morality given to them by god. It’s not about the reality of how people are treated in the here and now.

        • Kodie

          That’s why I distinguished it from owning brown people and beating them if they tried to escape, but then there are things we think are different which are essentially the same, and things we can ignore because they happen in countries that manufacture our goods but we don’t have to look at them and condemn them through our own government but which we condone through our purchasing decisions.

  • eric

    Challenge 1: If we go back to the 1950s and tell people that in
    2017 we’re largely pleased that same-sex marriage is finally legal,
    most people would be horrified. Now imagine that the tables are turned
    so that we are the horrified, regressive people compared to
    people in society fifty or a hundred years in our future. What society
    declares as “good” changes with time.

    It does not bother me to think I’ve got some things wrong. That I support/create some injustices I shouldn’t. I probably do. (Example: if we have significantly underestimated animal cognition, my bacon-loving self has a lot of unnecessary and immoral suffering to answer for). I don’t have to think I have all the answers. Theists seem to fear such uncertainty immensely.

    What gives me both a reasonable expectation and hope that modern society is not just some arbitrarily subjective, postmodernist equivalence of every other society is that it does better than older societies on many measures even those older societies would probably value. Modern society has dramatically reduced infant deaths. Childhood deaths. Pregnancy related deaths. Incidents of murder and rape. People live longer. We have stories from the bronze age and stone age of people mourning their dead children. It seems reasonable to think that less dead children would probably be something they would agree was a societal good, and in that respect, the laws and customs we have that allow us to live together peaceably and achieve these low death rates are moral progress. Progress because they improve our ability to achieve the goals humans of many times, different cultures, and different backgrounds have all often set for ourselves.

    It’s still subjective, of course, in that human goals derive from humans. And I’m sure not every society would have agreed that less murder and rape are good goals. But we also have evidence that these are at least fairly common goals, and we’re doing better at them than people did in the past.

    So some of what society considers good changes dramatically. Some changes a little bit, or changes dramatically only in a few rare societies. Which seems perfectly consistent to me with the idea of ethics = adaptation to social living, and not at all consistent with ethics = god-given objective laws that everyone knows in their heart to be true.

    • Kodie

      I cannot be sure, but I think before there were sure methods of preventing pregnancy, people had a lot of children and had no expectation that all of them would reach adulthood. Maybe they were more realistic, or maybe more stoic, but I feel like the quiverfull movement sort of takes you into a certain mindset where parents don’t necessarily raise all of their children – they raise their children to raise children and work like a community or kind of a factory. They are not like parents who invest all of their attention to 2-3 children spaced apart by at least 2 full years. I don’t really think it’s actually wrong to give responsibilities to older children for their siblings, but to work out a system where all the children are basically the same model, and expected to behave (function) the same way so as to avoid disruption or instability in the works, or so, to avoid god looking at them or their parents with disfavor, I find it weird if they can feel the same way about each child the same way a parent who plans a smaller family would feel, I mean, about that child personally, if something happened to them.

      It’s weird, but religion seems to be at the forefront of programming robots. What I mean is, at a time it might be normal for parents to have as many children as they couldn’t avoid having, I’m not saying they didn’t feel the loss, but the reality they lived couldn’t avoid some loss. I imagine that religion also protected them in the story that their child was with god, and helped them cope so they wouldn’t lose a lot of productivity, and the family could carry on as expected by the larger community. I know you probably know that, even in modern times, you don’t get unlimited time to grieve a loss, and no matter how great, most people not directly related to you think you ought to bounce back soon and not talk about it so much.

  • Anthrotheist

    Quite frankly, my first reaction, when I meet anybody who tells me that
    they sincerely believe that we decide what is ‘good’ and ‘evil’ based on
    our preferences or our feelings is to lean over and steal something
    from them.

    This strikes me as utterly bizarre. As far as I understand, he is making the argument that morality is in fact a universal natural law of some sort. I understand that idea as two possibilities:

    1. Morality is a natural law in the sense that it is a natural force; like gravity or momentum, it is inescapable. That appears silly to me, but more relevantly, he proves without question that morality is not like this: him stealing illustrates that morality is not an inescapable force.

    2. Morality is a universally applied code of conduct, one that is inherent in the universe and has some meaningful consequence if violated. This is even worse, because he is now demonstrating how little regard he has for his universal morality, as he violates it in order to make a point in a conversation. If he genuinely believed that stealing was morally wrong, and that violating the universal moral code has significant consequences, how could he possibly justify committing an immoral act just to win a point in a debate?

    I’m left unable to conclude anything other than: his own admission illustrates the fact that even he doesn’t take his supposedly universal and divine moral code seriously enough not to violate it for the sake of playing “gotcha” with someone he disagrees with.

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

      Good points.

    • epeeist

      2. Morality is a universally applied code of conduct

      But universal doesn’t mean objective. We might all agree that eating babies is wrong, which would make it universal but this doesn’t make it an objective moral value.

      • Anthrotheist

        Interesting. I think we may have to unpack our definitions of “universal” and “objective” a bit more to see if we’re talking about the same things. I generally consider “objective” to be the antithesis of “subjective”. In that understanding, something being “universal”, or ubiquitous, makes it “objective” by the fact that all people would experience it the same way. Essentially, the universal nature of the thing makes all subjective experiences of it identical, which makes it effectively objective.

        • adam

          ” Essentially, the universal nature of the thing makes all subjective
          experiences of it identical, which makes it effectively objective.”

          So, in reality, not two subjective experiences are identical, thus not objective.

        • Anthrotheist

          I think this is a matter of scope. Take the phenomenon of fire, for example. Different societies have different words for fire, and different judgements or values applied to it: destructive, cleansing, fickle, angry, etc. What they all have in common is the understanding that fire is hot; again, with different words perhaps, but referring to the same thing.

          The objective reality of fire is the overwhelming consensus of the common aspects of all the subjective experiences (in this example, it is “hot”). That consensus, where it appears, is the basis for objectivity. (At least as I understand it.)

        • adam

          ” What they all have in common is the understanding that fire is hot; ”

          So, in reality, not two subjective experiences are identical, thus not objective.

          So you cant measure by experiences.

          “The objective reality of fire is the overwhelming consensus”

          The objective reality of fire is distinctly separate from the experience of fire.

          “That consensus, where it appears, is the basis for objectivity. (At least as I understand it.)”

          SCIENCE consensus on fire is the basis for objectivity, not the experience of fire.

        • Anthrotheist

          SCIENCE consensus on fire is the basis for objectivity, not the experience of fire.

          I’m not certain, but it seems that you are considering the process of science without considering the presence of the scientist. Science consensus on anything is the consensus of individual people documenting their experience of conducting experiments. It is the consistent common aspects of those subjectively experienced experiments that accumulates into objective scientific knowledge.

          To be clear, I am not a nihilist. I do believe that there is a universe that precluded human existence and moves outside our perception and will persist after our extinction. However, our only access to that universe is through our senses, our subjective individual experience. I’m arguing that we can only derive an understanding of what that objective universe is by producing an irrefutable consensus of consistent subjective accounts.

        • epeeist

          I generally consider “objective” to be the antithesis of “subjective”.

          It is generally taken to mean “independent of mind”, as an example hydrogen has an atomic number of 1 while helium has an atomic number of 2 regardless of whether there irregardless of the presence of mind.

          Universal means “agreed or accepted by all”, but this can be inter-subjectively agreed, it is not necessarily objective. For example, it is universal amongst Hindus that cows are sacred but this is not objectively true.

        • Anthrotheist

          I proposed that “objective” is the antithesis to “subjective”, and you defined objective to mean “independent of mind.” Perhaps in order to illustrate my mistake in presuming that “objective” and “subjective” are antonymous, you could define “subjective”? Otherwise we are considering one side of a definition without the other.

        • epeeist

          you defined objective to mean “independent of mind.”

          This isn’t my definition but one that is generally accepted by those in the philosophy of ethics.

          A good starting point is:

          – the term “objective” refers to things which we deem as true/existing independent of our observations of them

          – “subjective” refers to a things which we deem as true/existing contingent on our observation of them.

          To give a couple of examples from Searle’s Consciousness:

          1. “Bill Clinton weighs 210 pounds”.

          2. “Bill Clinton is a good president”.

          The first is objective, the second is subjective.

      • Raging Bee

        For all practical purposes, yes, universal does mean objective. “Eating babies is wrong” may be a subjective opinion, but it’s one so uniformly held by such an overwhelming majority of people, everywhere and throughout history, that it might as well be considered an objective fact: eating babies is objectively wrong in human societies.

        • epeeist

          “Eating babies is wrong” may be a subjective opinion, but it’s one so uniformly held by such an overwhelming majority of people

          Which means that it is agreed inter-subjectively.

          it might as well be considered an objective fact

          It might well be considered universal, but is it true independently of mind?

          Take a couple of propositions:

          1. Helium has an atomic number of 2.

          2. Eating babies is wrong.

          The first is true whether a mind is present or not. Can you say the same about the second?

          J.L. Mackie considers this in his Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong and rejects the existence of moral facts.

          eating babies is objectively wrong in human societies

          And I would disagree, you can say “universally wrong” but not “objectively wrong”.

        • Raging Bee

          The harm done by eating babies is independent of mind; and it’s that verifiable harm that causes us to call it wrong. So, yes.

        • Kodie

          I still think it’s subjective, like a universal taboo, which I take to be more emotional and less rational. There may be times when it’s perfectly fine to eat a baby, but people wouldn’t because they’re convinced it’s just not done. If you are in your bomb shelter or waiting for rescue after your plane crashes, and your baby dies, can you eat it so you don’t starve? Does a bear or a kitty cat share your objections to eating a baby? Is an embryo a baby?

          Stuff like that makes eating babies subjective.

        • Raging Bee

          The aversion to eating babies may start with an emotional reaction, but that reaction then serves as a basis for moral reasoning. And like I said, when an overwhelming majority of people base their moral reasoning on the same emotional reaction, which happens for the same reasons, then it’s effectively become an objective fact on which everyone agrees, like the color of the sky.

        • Kodie

          Well, people have different emotional reactions and then active reactions to things. If there is an objective morality, at least as far as this common argument seems to go, only a few things are objectively against morality, and they seem to use babies as a pawn in engaging the discussion, like raping babies for fun or eating babies or murdering innocent babies in the womb, etc. That gets to the emotional core of things, but I don’t think babies are …. different, really. The news also uses babies and children or pregnant young women to make tragedies seem even worse. Charities across the world use babies and children too! These hungry people are more pathetic than adults in the same condition.

          What’ I’m really talking about is, say, when people hear about a dog being abused (and it’s usually a dog, not a cat, and an informal survey says people like dogs more than cats), that’s awful, but the same kind of people will slam on PETA for protesting a fast-food restaurant that procures its food from a farm that abuses its animals. It’s like, do you care about animals or don’t you? And for argument’s sake, if you are talking about a cow that was kept in relative luxury vs. a pet dog, most people would throw up if they found out they were eating a hamburger made of that dog but not of that cow.

          Getting back to baby humans, if the issue is hunger in the US, some people will feel compassion, but some people will feel that is now the parent’s responsibility. That parent had to be punished with the consequence and guilt of not being able to feed a child they brought into the world carelessly without adequate access to pregnancy prevention because they are allegedly using a baby, or another baby, to get more money from welfare, so fuck her. There is no objective morality.

        • MR

          And yet, if there’s an underwhelming minority…, I’m with Kodie, subjective. We know of societies that sacrificed their own infants. We know of societies that performed ritualistic cannibalism. It’s not hard to imagine that there has been a society that did both. It’s not hard to imagine a society that would even relish in doing so if they believed it would make their preferred deity happy.

          “Matter and the void. All else is opinion.”

        • Aldo Jackson

          What if matter and the void are opinion too?

        • Kodie

          If you’re that flaky, it’s time to put down the bong.

        • Aldo Jackson

          How flaky was Descartes? If we can only prove our own existence, (with the Cogito) that would lead to the conclusion that you replied to.

        • MNb

          Good job demonstrating that you don’t understand Descartes. Feel free to ignore my reaction; just don’t expect anyone else to react.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Sure; I lack knowledge about a number of things. What’s a good source for Descartes’s opinion on what is real? I’d like to read something about the correct way to understand Descartes; the links are high quality here.

        • MNb

          Here is one:
          https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes/
          Of course you rather should buy a book – preferably one he has written himself, but unlike other enthusiast book recommenders I’m aware of the problems with that.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Excellent article. So, Descartes seems to be saying that, while sense perception is useful for provisional conclusions, it is not a source of absolute truth. Matter and void seem to be based on sense perception.

        • MNb

          Yup – and as such Descartes made the same mistake as almost all philosophers in the past: he assumed that absolute truth was attainable. It isn’t. As a mathematician, familiar with Euclides, he should have realized.
          My favourite example is Pythagoras’ Theorem. I can convince my third graders easily that it is true. I can also equally easily provide an example that proves Pythagoras’ Theorem is incorrect; I only need to change one of Euclides’ axiomata (the fifth iIrc).
          Neither sense perception nor the rational approach is a source of absolute truth. All knowledge and understanding is tentative at best. That’s why we need strict rules – to decrease the chance of being wrong. And that again is why your lines of thought overall are nothing but gibberish.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Ok; no absolute truth, on account of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, as well as the reasons that you listed. Everyone says we need strict rules; their set of strict rules. I go with pragmatism, and develop my worldview to get me where I want to go, which is peace and prosperity.

        • MNb

          Nope, not my set of strict rules or I would have avoided to have to correct my views so many times.
          Your big problem is that you’re not pragmatic at all.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism

          You’re not interested in the practical effects of the objects of your conception. You’re only interested in the practical effects on the subject called Aldo Jackson. That’s quite the opposite. You write it yourself – “where you want to be”. Ie near your imaginary sky daddy.

        • Kodie

          You seem not to be able to discern what is real and what you’re imagining, and favoring imaginary. You think your thoughts are transmitted by a fairy god and you have to listen and think about every thought you have as though it might be meaningful, and then you don’t seem to discard any thoughts. You just try to build a reality from every fractured and inconsistent thought you’ve ever had or anyone else ever had if you read it in a book. You’re trying to create a reality from what you perceive and what other people report perceiving and not really have any rational way to decide what to keep and what doesn’t make any sense. You’re a hoarder, and your mind is stacked up with old newspapers and rinsed out used coffee filters and the dried-up ink tubes from every pen you’ve ever owned, just in case your paradigm requires it.

        • adam

          “You’re a hoarder, and your mind is stacked up with old newspapers and rinsed out used coffee filters and the dried-up ink tubes from every pen you’ve ever owned, just in case your paradigm requires it.”

          Nice analogy!

        • Aldo Jackson

          I enjoy living in the empirical world, for example, I enjoy eating good food, and drinking pleasant beverages. The cool, refreshing taste of water is particularly delightful. About my thoughts; I attribute to my guardian angel those thoughts that come to me, apparently from within, that are about matters that I don’t naturally care about. Since this blog’s purpose is to engage with things that you regard as imaginary (i.e. the metaphysical), I present alternative paradigms regarding said metaphysical phenomena that seem internally consistent to me. I do delight in collecting all kinds of ideas, ever since I discovered (in childhood) how little I knew about the mysteries of the world and how often people had a axe to grind. Even if an idea is false, if enough people believe it and use it in their paradigm, you might as well understand it, so as to prepare yourself for them. I appreciate the assistance with developing my worldview. I try to guard my mind and body, by developing a paradigm that can do this.

        • MR

          And what if they are? And what if you’re a figment of my imagination? What if fleas secretly rule the world? One can speculate about anything. Demonstrate. One can speculate an infinite number of things and it gets us nowhere.

        • adam

          “What if matter and the void are opinion too?”

          Then you should be able to willfully defy gravity and will yourself invisible. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1a147603f3f8ddd5bac7404ea18a3b3d893f7c6ad238d9482d931013803dff1d.jpg

        • Aldo Jackson

          The definitions of gravity and invisibility are based on opinion, as best I can tell.

    • Kevin K

      I’m going to disagree with your premise 2. There is no “universally applied code of conduct”, with the possible exception of three general statements.
      1. Don’t kill someone without government sanction.
      2. Don’t steal someone else’s stuff.
      3. Don’t fuck someone else’s sex partner.

      That’s it. And I’m not even sure number 3 is universal.

      And before the argument starts, self-defense would fall under “government sanction” in number 1. You’re allowed by law to kill someone if you think they’re going to kill or maim you or a loved one.

      • Lark62

        Yes, but actually, government is fairly new in human history. Morality is always “our group” v “others”. The prohibitions of murder, theft, etc. only apply within the group.

        Murdering members of the group is punished. Yet Christians murdered millions of Native Americans without penalty. The KKK lynched hundreds of black men over the decades. The Nazis outlawed murder, but the prohibition only applied to those deemed to be “real” Germans.

        As civilization advances, the definition of “us” expands. When the definition of “us” contracts, people die.

        • Kevin K

          I knew this was going to happen. Let’s agree, then, that “government” can be loosely defined to include “tribal” sanction.

        • Lark62

          No problem. But my point was slightly different. All cultures claim to have prohibitions against murder and theft. But in reality all cultures have prohibitions against murdering members of the group and stealing from members of the group. Murdering outsiders, enslaving outsiders, stealing from outsiders is fine. Just ask the Native Americans.

        • Kodie

          Right, morals seem only to apply “universally” to keep order and safety within the tribe. Can it be said those rules are universal, because most cultures come to agreement separately from other cultures about keeping those rules?

      • Raging Bee

        Yes, there IS a universally-applied set of basic moral rules, as I argued below; and it’s based on evolving consensus of what’s beneficial vs. what’s harmful; and that, in turn, is based on observation of which actions lead to which results. And yes, it’s more than just those three rules you listed above.

        • Kevin K

          Disqus is being really wonky today.

          “More than just those three rules”… such as?

          With all due respect, “don’t shit in the drinking water” wasn’t even a moral imperative until the late 1800s! So, I’d be very much surprised to find many more universally applied moral rules than those three (or slightly less).

        • Raging Bee

          Citation required. I find it hard to believe that no one ever objected to the idea of shitting in drinkable water until the late 1800s.

        • Kevin K

          It’s actually a fascinating case of how we figured out that shitting in the drinking water was bad.

          http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/snowcricketarticle.htmlhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Snow

          Remember that before that time, “germs” were unknown to man.

        • Raging Bee

          Seriously? You really think people needed germ theory to tell them that drinking shat-in water was a bad idea? You really think no one ever had a preference for clean water before germ theory came along?

        • Kevin K

          You can read the citation, and the absolutely fascinating story, or you can continue to revel in your ignorance. This has nothing to do with “preference”. For many — maybe most people — there was no option but to drink from the single source of water; contaminated or not.

        • Raging Bee

          Lack of options does not constitute acceptance of a situation as morally right. There’s a difference between “necessary/unavoidable evil” and “good.” You can bet that everyone who had the ability to get cleaner water, did so without a second thought, because they all agreed that that was the right thing to do for themselves and their families. That represents a general consensus that it’s wrong to drink shat-in water, or to expect others to drink it.

        • Kodie

          I am trying to figure out the problem. I mean, if there were no toilets, and the shit ended up in the water, it wasn’t like they were shitting directly into the water, or drinking water out of the toilet – which is something people still advise. The tank water itself has nothing to do with the part you shit in.

          But to compare this with modern day – I do think people want or expect clean water coming out of their faucets, and yet, that’s not true. And we don’t really have the ability to test our own water every day, and we don’t show up in droves to protest pollution of water supplies. There are laws (probably eroding any minute) against companies polluting clean water sources with their waste, whatever is in it. We’ve come to depend a lot on water, and tasted no difference in water that is tainted and water that is pure, and done very little as a culture to ensure that our water is essentially free of shit, literal shit or figurative shit that shouldn’t be in our water and can hurt us from drinking or using it.

    • Anthrotheist

      After posting this and sleeping on it, I realized that my points may lead to something even worse for Bannister’s argument:

      Presumably, his universal moral code includes sanctions against stealing. Unless his universal morality explicitly states “Thou shall not steal… unless you’re making a really good point and plan to give it right back”, then Bannister’s admission indicates one of two things:

      Either he is knowingly violating his universal and perfect morality for a petty conversation tactic; or, he has figured out that his action is not really immoral and he is just making a point and not causing any harm.

      The first possibility paints him as a fundamentally immoral person, which invalidates any authority he may claim to lecture or argue for his version of morality. The second indicates that he is doing exactly what he is arguing against: using his fallible human reason to interpret the morality of theft.

    • Raging Bee

      Yeah, basically he’s saying that his morality comes from his god, but he has the right to act in total disregard of his own god-given morality whenever he meets someone who questions his religion. He’s just a nicer version of the Duck Dynasty Douchenozzle, and he pretty much undercuts the validity of his own moral code when he makes this threat.

  • Halbe

    Okay, so let’s for the sake of argument say that there is a Source of Objective Morality out there somewhere (for which there is no evidence really, but hey). This in and of itself brings us nowhere near a real objective morality, if we don’t have a way to access this Source and to objectively understand its Morality. Christians maintain that the right interpretation of the Scriptures is the way to access this Source and to understand Its Objective Morality. However, the interpretation of the Scriptures is always a very subjective business, leading to wildly different conclusions across Christianity. So, even if one accepts the possible existence of a Source of Objective Morality, this does nothing to actually provide humanity with more than just plain old subjective morality.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      They’re espousing a Platonic Ideal of morality, while demanding, “DO IT *MY* WAY!!!”

    • Kevin K

      And the thing is, Bannister isn’t even arguing for “objective” morality. He seems to be arguing that whatever moral code is in place right now is the moral code that was created by god for this time and place. Meaning that god’s morals change as human desires and needs and ethics change. Otherwise … slavery, anyone?

      • Raging Bee

        No, that’s not what he’s arguing. But the mere fact that you have to speculate about what he “seems to be arguing,” pretty clearly indicates that his argument is, AT BEST, poorly and carelessly worded, if not just plain cowardly and dishonest.

    • MNb

      Not to mention that those Scriptures were written down not by any Source of Objective Morality, but by subjects called human beings.

      • Murph

        If I have my son writes something down for me does that mean that I didn’t say it?

        • Herald Newman

          Demonstrate that any god exists and then we can start talking about whether it has any ability to communicate with us!

          Starting with unjustified premises doesn’t get us any closer to the truth.

    • Murph

      Interpretation of Scripture has been for the most part debated within parameters since the advent of Christianity. Christians the world over agree on the core aspects of the faith most notably the morals which the Bible prescribes as being good and worth practice.

      • Halbe

        Are you serious?!

        All of the following practices have been part of “the morals which the Bible prescribes as being good” according to Christians the world over: Torture, slavery, rape, racism, antisemitism, treating women as inferiors, killing gay people, killing unbelievers, very cruel punishments.

        Today’s Christians cannot even agree on important moral matters such as capital punishment, abortion, divorce, women’s rights, lgbtq rights, marital rape, separation of church and state.

        It is quite obvious that Christians the world over really don’t have the slightest idea on how to objectively interpret their so-called Objective Source of Morality.

      • Kodie

        Trying to get the bible to agree with their personal moral preferences is the hobby of billions of people. That’s the core aspect of faith. The primary objective is then to get everyone to cater to your whims.

  • Kevin K

    Bannister’s argument is head-desk bad. Mega face-palm bad — concussion with the risk of permanent brain damage bad.

    If morals come from god, and if there was only one god, then there should be one and only one moral code. There are many moral codes. In particular, there are many religiously based moral codes which attempt to enforce all kinds of behavior, from sexual mores (dating and mating behavior) all the way down to the eating of bacon cheeseburgers and the wearing of hats.

    Therefore, you can either say:
    A) There are many gods, each with its own moral code, or
    B) There are no gods, and humans are making shit up as they go along.

    I’m going to go with option B.

    • Murph

      that’s not true because humans are free agents and “idol factories” The presence of many moral codes doesn’t negate that there is one overarching moral code just as the presence of many varieties of modern constitutions doesn’t negate that there is one overarching governmental constitution that started it all.

      • eric

        What is this overarching governmental constitution of which you speak?

        • epeeist

          Marxism, it’s the only one that deals with humanity as a whole…

  • Herald Newman

    Quite frankly, my first reaction, when I meet anybody who tells me that
    they sincerely believe that we decide what is ‘good’ and ‘evil’ based on
    our preferences or our feelings is to lean over and steal something
    from them.

    Sigh… All Bannister has done here is demonstrate that a lot of people don’t like to have their stuff taken from them. How does appealing to subjective feelings demonstrate objective morality?

    Bannister seems to believe that because morality is based on our subjective preferences that morality is completely arbitrary. Just because preferences are subjective doesn’t mean that anything goes! There are still objective factors at play when we make moral decisions, as well as our subjective values.

    I never understand how people seem to go from “many people agree that X is wrong” to “therefore morality is objective.” If morality was actually objective then you’d have a way to prove it without appealing to the subjective.

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

      What amazes me is when Christian scholars claim objective morality but give no basis for it. All I can conclude is that they know that their foundation is on sand, but it gets them their audience, so they don’t worry about it.

      • Murph

        So, in theory (in theory Bob) you don’t even concede that God would be a legitimate source for objective morals?

        • MNb

          No. A god as a source for objective morals (legitimate or not) is by definition a subject: good is what that god proclaims to be god.

        • Murph

          Correct it’s called divine command theory

        • epeeist

          Correct it’s called divine command theory

          And it has been shown to be false.

        • Aldo Jackson

          One of the arguments that I didn’t see addressed in the article is the notion that God knows more about what is morally good in a particular circumstance than we do, and His commands are simply ways to convey this knowledge. But, maybe I’m missing something.

        • epeeist

          One of the arguments that I didn’t see addressed in the article is the notion that God knows more about what is morally good in a particular circumstance than we do

          It is irrelevant to the argument that is why. It makes no difference to the conclusion that “Divine Command” theory is false.

        • Aldo Jackson

          That makes sense. It makes for a different argument from the Divine Command argument.

        • epeeist

          That makes sense

          That’s because it is a sound argument.

          It makes for a different argument from the Divine Command argument.

          You think there is a different argument that shows “Divine Command” theory to be true? Over to you, let’s see what you can manage.

        • Aldo Jackson

          I mean that the argument that God knows more about a particular circumstance than we do is, I now realize, a different kind of argument from the Divine Command argument. It is like saying that judges judge justly because they know the law better than we do, rather than because they make the law.

        • MNb

          Like Adolf Hitler knew more about a particular circumstance than German soldiers and citizens did?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Hitler was out of touch with reality on the ground. He just pretended that he knew what was going on. That, and his many errors (most notably the Holocaust), were what led to his defeat. Early successes in advancing the tribal interests of the Israelites, prepared the way for the later success of Christianity.

        • MNb

          Beware of what you’re defending. DCT leads to an immaterial version of this guy:

          http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/09hitler.jpg

          Compare DCT with

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BChrerprinzip

          Are you sure you want your god to be like that?

          Of course I have evidence. WL Craig’s defense of the Canaanite Genocide is exactly the same as the defense of the nazi war criminal Paul Blöbel who was hanged after his Nürnberg Trial.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Interesting information. I was explaining how I realized that my argument was different from the Divine Command argument. I’ll call it the Foreknowledge argument, until I find out what it’s really called. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OmniscientMoralityLicense
          The basic idea, is that if you are moral, and possess vast amounts of knowledge, that you will choose the good, based on complex and subtle implications, even if others think that you are choosing evil.

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

          God might indeed be such a source.

        • Raging Bee

          We’ll happily concede that, just as soon as this God proves his/her existence in an objectively verifiable way. If he doesn’t objectively exist, then he can’t be a “legitimate source” for any objective anything.

        • Murph

          In a way you define, right? Whatever is convenient to you God should just cater to your demands huh? Who is God in this equation of yours?

        • Raging Bee

          Whoever actually shows up and proves his/her existence. Which is to say, no one and nothing so far…

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

          Why has Woo suddenly become Murph?

        • Raging Bee

          It’s a miracle!

        • Halbe

          I am not so sure… Murph seems to be a complete newbie at this “trolling an atheist blog” thing. I have so far seen Pascal’s Wager, The Argument from Morality, Atheists Do Bad Things, and The Bible Is True Because You Cannot Prove It Isn’t. And (s)he really seems to think that we have not heard these tired old arguments before. It is both pathetic and a bit endearing I would say.

        • BlackMamba44

          Woo/Murph set up a Disqus account only a few days ago. Definite newbie.

        • Kodie

          No, I think it is someone recently banned but not even a newbie.

        • Kodie

          Sorry, I don’t know you so well, either, but Murph’s rapid-fire posting style and arguments from every direction is definitely familiar to me, not 100% positive, but almost certainly a sock puppet from someone who was just banned and did exactly the same thing, and had over 75,000 posts!

        • adam

          Dishonest gods breed dishonest worshipers.

        • adam

          “So, in theory (in theory Bob) you don’t even concede that God would be a legitimate source for objective morals?”

          Bible God?
          Certainly not

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

        • adam

          ” you don’t even concede that God would be a legitimate source for objective morals?”

          imaginary morals from an imaginary god….

        • Kodie

          Even Christians who think objective morality is real don’t describe anything like an objective morality. Even you describe god as having different values than us, different authority than we do, etc. If your god is allowed by fiat to behave differently without judgment, your morality is obedience to a dictated list of rules which is subjective to only humans (AT MOST).

          In reality, most of us do not blame “cancer” or “tornadoes” or “car accident” for death, and if we can avoid any of these, we try, but we don’t (atheists, I mean) shake our fist at god for causing these problems or cursing us or having authority over us and doing whatever destructive things we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Whenever we have to discuss the morality of a god with you people, we have to lower ourselves to your delusion for argument’s sake. “God” can’t keep marriage equality from happening, so you fuckers get your lame ideas together and try to adhere to a phony rule and act in ways that hurt people so you don’t have to live on earth in a society that accepts something you think god doesn’t accept.

          That’s what we’re dealing with here. Morons like you pretending to know what the fuck.

      • eric

        Plantinga argued for a sensus divinatus. And some fundies will proclaim something similar – that we all know God exists and we all know His will, and those denying it are just lying for selfish reasons. So at least in some cases, you have Christian scholars and believers arguing that human intuition yields knowledge of objective morality, and anyone disagreeing with their intuitions about it is just lying about what they sense.

        I guess maybe that gets a C for effort. Its an internally consistent argument, even if it is impossible to demonstrate and transparently wrong to those who disagree with the theologian’s morals (but know they aren’t lying).

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

          human intuition yields knowledge of objective morality,

          I’d like a demonstration of that! Maybe they could resolve in an objectively correct manner the moral questions–SSM, abortion, euthanasia, etc.–that we wrestle with today.

        • epeeist

          you have Christian scholars and believers arguing that human intuition yields knowledge of objective morality

          Claims to “intuition” are essentially hand waving in the hope that nobody notices that no justification has been offered.

          Its an internally consistent argument

          But as Bertrand Russell pointed out, it is perfect possibly to have a completely consistent fairytale.

    • Murph

      He’s pointing out the fact that there is not a single person past, present or future who delights in having their stuff stolen from them. In order to objectively say that “theft is wrong” there must be an objective source which Atheists don’t have they simply have their own cultural whims.

      • Herald Newman

        > He’s pointing out the fact that there is not a single person past,
        present or future who delights in having their stuff stolen from them.

        To say that stealing is wrong is just like saying murder is wrong. Such statements are vapidly tautological because their definition includes the fact that stealing is considered the unjust taking of another persons property.

        > In order to objectively say that “theft is wrong” there must be an objective source

        I never said that stealing is objectively wrong, only that people don’t like it.

        If you believe that stealing is objectively wrong, I invite you to prove it, subject to the following limitations:
        1. You cannot appeal to my subjective opinions
        2. You cannot appeal to consensus. Consensus of the subjective is still subjective.
        3. You cannot appeal to consequences. Consequentialism is antithetical to moral realism, and is my moral philosophy, and apparently not yours.
        4. You cannot invoke God. God is both unproven, and a subjective agent by definition.

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

        Holy shit! Why the fascination with objective morality? Show me that it exists or never use the o-word again.

        • Murph

          It exists when you complain about suffering in the world. Don’t complain about suffering because they’re baseless. You need an objective source for that

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

          Did you read the post? The Christian author gave Humpty Dumpty as an example not to follow. Mr. Dumpty, as you’ll recall, made words mean whatever he wanted them to.

          “Morality” can exist without being objective morality. Look it up.

          And I’m still waiting for your evidence that objective morality exists. Go.

        • eric

          Wait, how did you go from ‘atheist morality is subjective’ to ‘suffering is baseless’? Are you claiming physical sensations aren’t recognized as real things unless someone believes in God?

      • Raging Bee

        The “objective source” is reality: we judge an action right or wrong based on or observation of the benefits and harms caused by the action.

        • Murph

          Not without an objective source you can’t. They’re just cultural whims otherwise.

        • Raging Bee

          Like I said, the objective source is reality, and the verifiable consequences of actions.

        • Murph

          reality isn’t objective without God

        • epeeist

          reality isn’t objective without God

          But if your god has aspects of personhood (which Christians claim it has) then any system of morality that it produces is subjective.

          Of course if you are saying that there is a source of objective morality that your god approves of then fine. But in which case, why do we need god?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Why?

        • epeeist

          Why?

          What I want to know is why we can’t get new chew toys that show some modicum of intelligence or originality.

        • Raging Bee

          Prove it.

        • Raging Bee

          WHICH god is the source of objective morality?

      • Kodie

        Some people have a different attitude toward theft, like, they must have needed it more than I do. Not everyone sends the feds to investigate it.

  • Raging Bee

    Now imagine that the tables are turned so that we are the horrified, regressive people compared to people in society fifty or a hundred years in our future.

    That “challenge” fails because he fails to specify which future change we might find horrifying.

  • Raging Bee

    Without God, you can (1) let everyone decide good and evil for themselves. Or (2) the state decides, but then might makes right.

    That “challenge” also fails because he misrepresents option 2. It’s not “the state decides,” it’s “people collectively decide by consensus.” That’s not “might makes right” — there’s plenty of instances where state power mandates something the people agree is dead wrong, whether or not they mount any effective opposition to it.

  • Sophia Sadek

    The material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth has been invoked on innumerable occasions as the reason for acts of theft, murder, and destruction. That does not speak well for Christian morality.

    • Murph

      I find it fascinating how atheist claim the moral high-ground when the most despicable acts on a global scale were committed by atheist regimes during the 20th century. Having no basis for morality does not speak well for a group of people complaining about their plight in life

      • Sophia Sadek

        Good point. Let’s look at what that atheist Hitler (who said that Jews are an embarrassment to his lord Jesus) and the atheist stormtroopers (who regularly attended church) did. Shock! Horror!

        • Murph

          Hitler claimed to be a Christian only for political advancement you dunce

        • Sophia Sadek

          Are you aware that Christians are considered atheists by Pagans because they have no respect for the gods?

        • Murph

          absolutely! I’m an atheist in that sense I have no qualms with that.

        • Sophia Sadek

          You have no fear of disrespecting the gods because the deity of eternal torment is on your side.

        • MNb

          Ah – the No True Christian fallacy.

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

          And you know this because you can read the mind of a dead man? Wow–cool superpower.

        • Murph

          It’s common sense. Obviously Jesus wouldn’t agree with Hitler about his beliefs

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

          What Jesus thought of Hitler isn’t the issue. You said that Hitler knew that he wasn’t a Christian.

          Show me.

        • adam
        • Raging Bee

          Yes, and he did that because that’s how he could get a nation full of CHRISTIANS to support him.

        • Murph

          Exactly now you’re getting it! It’s called a bait and switch in case you haven’t heard.

        • Raging Bee

          And tens of millions of Christians fell for it. And your religion didn’t make anyone less susceptible to Hitler’s con-games.

        • Murph

          But that doesn’t negate the fact that Hitler was an imposter; a wolf in sheep’s clothing if you will.

        • Raging Bee

          NO, and it doesn’t negate the fact that so many good Christians were fooled by his game, and their god-given doctrine and morals didn’t help them to make better choices.

        • Murph

          You’re penalizing Christians for trusting someone? Shame on you.

        • Raging Bee

          There’s nothing more shameful here than your asinine apologetics.

        • Kodie

          I’m penalizing Christians for buying what Hitler was selling. You are fools for any old garbage.

        • Halbe

          Google the phrase “Gott Mit Uns” and then come back to us with more fables about Nazi’s being atheists. Oh, and “evil was an atheist” is zero evidence for the existence of objective morality.

        • adam
        • Otto

          Ah yes….heads You win….tails we lose….lol

        • Kodie

          I don’t think that’s true, but even if it’s true, that means Christians advanced him to his position because they wanted to exterminate the Jews.

      • Raging Bee

        Oh please. If you read any history, you’d know that Russia under the Orthodox Tsars — and under Russian Orthodox Putin — was/is hardly better than Russia under the atheistic Bolsheviks.

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

        “Stalin was a murderer! And an atheist!” responded to here.

      • adam
      • adam
      • eric

        Yeah, remember that time when Atheists killed all but seven people on Earth for behaving immorally?

        And then there was that time that Atheists commanded the army to kill the entire population of midianites, except for the female virgins, which Atheists said the army could keep as slaves.

        And then there was the time Atheists mind-controlled the leader of Egypt to prevent some folk from leaving. Then when that leader predictably didn’t let the people leave, Atheists killed all the Egyptian firstborn in, uh, well let’s call it “retaliation” for that leader doing exactly what those Atheists had mind-controlled him into doing.

        Then of course there’s the promise Atheists have made, that all good and honest people will…suffer eternal torture if they don’t believe the right theology.

        Oh, those bastard atheists.

  • Raging Bee

    Quite frankly, my first reaction, when I meet anybody who tells me that
    they sincerely believe that we decide what is ‘good’ and ‘evil’ based on
    our preferences or our feelings is to lean over and steal something
    from them.

    My response: steal something from him, and when he objects, I simply point out that his god didn’t tell me it was wrong to steal from him.

    • Murph

      Unfortunately when you die and have to give an account that cute little excuse won’t work.

      • Raging Bee

        How do you know that?

        • Murph

          It depends on what you mean by “know.” Do you know that you yourself have a brain? No. But you believe that you do based on the evidence.

          If there is no god when you die than you can do whatever you’d like in this life with no eternal consequences (option 1)

          However, if there is a god (you might say “there could be millions”) and you die you might take it upon yourself to have gotten that belief right in this life.

          which way do you wager?

        • Raging Bee

          Pascal’s wager? What a load of horseshit. Just do the right things in this life, and if the gods exist and are just, they’ll reward you for it. If the gods are not just, then you’re probably hosed no matter what you do; and if they don’t exist, then you’ll still be remembered for being good in this life.

        • MNb

          “But you believe that you do based on the evidence.”
          Exactly. For your god the boogeyman there is exactly zilch evidence.
          Option 1 of course, especially if we already have established that your christian god is worse than Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. combined.
          However I’d like to point out that, while it’s correct there are no eternal consequences, there are temporary consequences for what I do in this life.

        • Otto

          “If there is no god when you die than you can do whatever you’d like in this life with no eternal consequences (option 1)”

          You can do this with some God’s too, just say you are really, really sorry….there all better.

          And not only is there no consequence but you get rewarded. Explain to me how that concept has any relationship to morality or justice…good luck.

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

          Yeah–Pascal can get you out of this bind. He always has in the past, after all.

        • eric

          No god, of course. Wagering “god” is like counting on the lottery for your retirement. Sure, it will support you if you win. No argument there. It’s the odds of winning that’s the problem.

        • Lark62

          Pascal’s wager. Clever and original since 1662. Also debunked from the same year.

        • Murph

          Keep telling yourself that driving without insurance

        • adam
        • Murph

          The problem is that Jesus Christ is the only credible option

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Why then do millions disagree?

        • Murph

          Because they worship themselves

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Care to try again, with something that makes sense?

          Or do I go with my gut feeling that you’re not here to make any sense or even look reasonable?

        • adam

          But Jesus isnt credible at all.

          He claimed the end of the world would happen to those he spoke to.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0ded0c20f62b9d1996f93afe9c98e20dc6bf1035eaa16eb5acf23323c3cb09f.jpg

        • adam

          “If there is no god when you die than you can do whatever you’d like in this life with no eternal consequences”

          no, that’s what you believe, WHEN you believe in a god.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6fc7ab2c98ecd5d432d579b44c7bea11b9ca469d406c8e32490fe04a24f16a31.jpg

        • Murph

          Guess what not likely given that the individual has to truly mean it which is of course up to God to decide. They aren’t magic words

        • adam

          “Guess what not likely given that the individual has to truly mean it which is of course up to God to decide.”

          No, God has already decided in the story book, convert and be saved.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c95e927c4e95d2cffdd3ef1e9366cb46bfed529f568bfad72911e50e30e88468.jpg

          But of course, Hitler was already a christian.

        • Murph

          You have to read more than just the parts that work for your view

        • adam

          “If there is no god when you die than you can do whatever you’d like in this life with no eternal consequences”

          no, that’s what you believe, WHEN you believe in a god.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c5445e273728092c84dc583a4e5d5b4272a1e62c42654b930aa001a7c5c86900.png

        • Murph

          There’s grace that’s correct. I know that’s a difficult concept for you to understand. By the way if you watch his interview with Stone Philips Dahlmer rightly understood that without God he could do whatever he wanted to do with no eternal consequences. He understood that without God there aren’t any grounds for mortality in the objective sense.

          Breaking news alert!

          Dahlmer understands this issue better than you do!

        • adam

          ” I know that’s a difficult concept for you to understand”

          No, not at all, it is very clear

          ANYTHING can be forgiven so that ANYONE, no matter what they’ve done can still get to heaven.

          ” By the way if you watch his interview with Stone Philips Dahlmer
          rightly understood that without God he could do whatever he wanted to do
          with no eternal consequences.”

          Since there are no eternal consequences, Dahlmer understood nothing, except that he could do ANYTHING and get around it by being a ‘christian’

        • Murph

          If that’s what he thought than he’s not in heaven

        • Otto

          Breaking news, Dahlmer’s sense of morality was still fucked up…and so is yours.

        • Kodie

          No wonder Dahmer (that’s how you spell it, you moron) was a Christian. That’s what Christians believe atheists are. You are a sucker and a fool and a tool and a pawn of propaganda. Why do you think you’re afraid of atheists and feel like you’re the authority on atheism more than atheists? Because what they tell you at church to make you stay?

      • MNb

        Booo – god the boogeyman will punish you, so hopes Woo.

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

        Got evidence?

      • eric

        You realize this argument is as compelling to us as the argument “you’re not going to Valhalla unless you start working on your battleaxe skills” is to you, right?

        Both arguments seem designed to give the faithful a self-righteous feeling of comfort. They certainly don’t give any reason to believe to the unfaithful.

        • Murph

          Do you drive your car without insurance?

        • Herald Newman

          No, because there are verifiable consequences to that action. The same cannot be said for your religious beliefs.

        • Murph

          The same is true if you don’t believe in God. I have nothing to loose you on the other hand are driving without insurance

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

          Read up on Pascal’s wager so you won’t look so foolish in the future.

        • Murph

          Have and Pascal was wayyyy smarter than Siderdrinker

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

          Cute, asshole.

          Pascal’s intelligence isn’t being questioned here; it’s yours. Understand the responses to Pascal and explain to me why Pascal’s Wager still holds.

        • Murph

          It holds because it’s smarter to “drive” with insurance than not

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Except you may have bought lousy insurance, why are you risking your eternal soul like this?

          I have nothing to loose while you other the hand have lousy insurance.

        • Murph

          It’s not lousy but that’s beside the point. You don’t have ANY insurance. Isn’t some better than none?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Oh I have insurance, I have the best insurance. Isn’t the best insurance better than having the wrong kind? Why would you risk your soul?

        • Murph

          You don’t believe in any deity therefore you are bereft of insurance

        • TheMarsCydonia

          That is exactly why my insurance is better but keep risking your soul like that.

        • Murph

          My risk is minimal because I’m not banking on there being no judgement when I die

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Actually your risk is maximal because you’re banking there’s only one judgment when you die.

          Keep risking it…

        • Murph

          Interesting but still a fail. If there are multiple judgements I’m covered by the same blood

        • TheMarsCydonia

          If there are multiple judgments, I am more covered than you are. My insurance has minimal risks, your has the maximal.

          Your betting your soul on the riskiest bet of all.

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

          I’ve been to Buddhist monasteries; I’ve seen the paintings of hell. Trust me, bro, you don’t want to go there.

          There will indeed be judgment if the Buddhists are right.

          And–whaddya know?–you don’t have insurance against it. I guess it sucks to be you, just like the rest of us. Prepare for a little extra snark when we meet up in Buddhist hell.

        • Kodie

          So you can behave like a douchey little asshole with no brain during your life? What heaven will be like filled with zeroes like yourself.

        • Rekcit S. Nedeis

          You believe in heaven now?

        • Kodie

          No, I believe that if there were a god, I can’t believe he’d rely on dolts like you to spread the message. You’re a bad billboard for god, goodness, objective morality, or eternal salvation. And you and everyone like you think they’re the best he can do! You make excuses why he couldn’t do better!

          There’s no god, but you’re obviously a bitter sock puppet who was cut short and still wants to diarrhea all over the place! Go stick to your political trolling, fuckhead.

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

          Woodchuck, are you here just to be a dick, or do you want to contribute to the conversation?

        • Murph

          When you say “contribute” what exactly do you mean?

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

          If we need to go back to basics, I think you need more time at the kids’ table. Come back when you’ve matured.

          Bye.

        • Murph

          What do you mean by contribute?

        • Murph

          what do you mean by contribute?

        • Rekcit S. Nedeis

          you believe in heaven now?

        • Rekcit S. Nedeis

          so you believe in heaven now?

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

          ?? But you’re not driving with insurance! You’ve got no Buddhist insurance, no Muslim insurance, and no Scientology insurance.

          Like I said. You don’t understand the argument and its objections.

        • Murph

          Buddhism is akin to atheism if you’ve read anything, Islam is a Jewish cult and Scientology is a ponzie scheme

          Christianity is the most credible “insurance” on the market

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

          Buddhism is akin to atheism if you’ve read anything

          Buddhism is a big tent, if you’ve read anything.

          Islam is a Jewish cult

          Said the guy who belongs to Christianity, another Jewish cult.

          Christianity is the most credible “insurance” on the market

          Just cuz Murph says so? I need more than that, I’m afraid.

        • Kodie

          Bob, I’m 90% sure this guy Murphy or whatever he changes his handle to tomorrow is the recently banned objectivefactsmatter.

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

          And now his handle is a hilarious modification of my name.

          My patience wears thin.

        • Kodie

          I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy.

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

          Your instincts are pretty reliable. I’ll look for an excuse.

        • Michael Neville

          Please tell Murph the Smurf to pick a name and stick with it.

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

          If so, he’s used a different email name. Smurph has used the same email name in his different guises.

        • Kodie

          He’s still operating as objectivefactsmatter, so of course he has to use another email. This one anyway has a second handle called “llorT” which is also recently created and agrees with the one trolling your name, ex- Woo/Murph/Murphy.

        • Michael Neville

          One problem with Pascal’s wager is that it suffers from the fallacy of bifurcation. It only calculates with two options when there are at least four alternatives: The Christian god and afterlife, some other god and afterlife, some other god without afterlife, and atheism without afterlife.

          Because of the multitude of possible religions, if any faith is as likely as the other, the probability of a Christian being right is P=1/n where n is the number of possible faiths. If we assume that there is an infinite number of possible gods, the probability of you being right is infinitely small. Because Pascal’s wager fails to tell us which god is likely to be the right one, you have a great probability that you picked the wrong religion and go to some other religion’s version of hell. This is called “avoiding the wrong hell problem”.

          Believing in the wrong god has one additional problem. Most religions assure us that blasphemers will be more severely punished than un-believers. Once again, if we calculate the number of possible gods, the chance of you being wrong is P=1-(1/n) so you both run a bigger risk than the atheist of being punished and risk the greater punishment.

          That’s just for starters. There are other problems with Pascal’s Wager.

        • Michael Murray

          Presumably also atheism and afterlife ?

        • Michael Neville

          Sure, why not?

        • epeeist

          Have and Pascal was wayyyy smarter than Siderdrinker

          Then you will realise that only non-theists go to heaven.

        • Herald Newman

          More Pascal’s wager bullshit. How do you know that you aren’t going to run into a God that wants to punish you for what you believe?

          Perhaps God actually hates believers and only loves skeptics.

        • Murph

          Jesus Christ is the only credible option out there

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Millions of people disagree.

        • Murph

          They ultimately worship themselves

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Or they don’t. They worship other gods.

        • Murph

          There aren’t any other gods

        • TheMarsCydonia

          There aren’t any gods.

        • Murph

          Driving without insurance again you really shouldn’t do that not safe ya know

        • TheMarsCydonia

          I have nothing to loose while your risking your soul.

          I don’t why you would wager that way but to each his own.

        • Murph

          I’m not risking my soul because I have insurance!

        • TheMarsCydonia

          But did you check what kind of insurance you have? You have the wrong kind, your risking your soul!

        • Zeta

          Murph: “There aren’t any other gods

          You regurgitated a lot of nonsense in the other recent post here on the combat myth. Did you read that article of Bob at all?

          Just to remind you:
          “Yahweh is a son of El (also called Elyon) and was just one of many in the council of the gods.”
          and
          “When Elyon divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he established the borders of the nations according to the number of the sons of the gods. Yahweh’s portion was his people, [Israel] his allotted inheritance. (Deuteronomy 32:8–9)”

          This is what your holy book says. Did Yahweh kill off all the other sons of El so he is the only god now?

        • Michael Neville

          That’s not what Hindus, Jews and Muslims say. Why are they wrong and you’re right? Please be specific.

        • Murph

          Those religions are self serving

        • Herald Newman

          Says the person who probably believes that accepting Jesus is a way to get rewarded forever…

          Your absolute ineptitude at defending your religion is about to earn you a place among my blocked list…

        • Michael Neville

          No they’re not. See, I can argue from unevidenced assertion too.

        • Murph

          They’re self serving because to worship an idol is self serving

        • TheMarsCydonia

          If you don’t up your battleaxe skills, you have your entry into Valhalla to loose.

        • Michael Murray

          You have lots to lose if you’ve picked the wrong God. What is Allah asks why you didn’t raise your children as good Muslims ?

        • adam

          “Do you drive your car without insurance? ”

          Nobody needs insurance for an imaginary car.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Not analogous.

        • Murph

          Not true. Guess what you’ll eventually have a catastrophic event called death and what will you have as a safety net?

          You atheists are so wise and smart with your ill preparedness

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Seriously, do you not realize what a ppor performance you’re offering here?

          What are you hoping to accomplish? If it isn’t to make yourself appear completely ignorant on the issues of morality, shouldn’t you at least try to address the issues raised?

        • Michael Neville

          Pascal’s Wager has so many holes in it you could use it as a sieve.

          Got any evidence that there’s an afterlife? Don’t toss NDEs or other bullshit in hopes I’ll be bamboozled. Got any real evidence?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          This from someone who lives in perpetual fear? Really?

      • adam
      • Kodie

        Are you @objectivefactsmatter ?

  • Murph

    “Theft where I come from is illegal.”

    But where is the overarching objectivity that theft is categorically wrong? Theft may not feel good to you but as an atheist you have no right to complain about it given that you do not believe in objective morality. Rather you believe in what some might call cultural morality whereby morality is defined locally rather than worldwide.

    • MNb

      Of course I have every right to complain about what I subjectively opine wrong. For one thing that right is guaranteed in the constitution of the country where I live. It’s called free speech.
      But call it cultura morality if you prefer. That doesn’t come from your genocidal god either.

    • Otto

      “But where is the overarching objectivity that theft is categorically wrong?”

      I don’t know…where is it? Since you are the one seemingly claiming that such a concept is objective, that is for you to show. Obviously many people do not think theft is wrong, when they are caught there are legal repercussions, I think it is on you to explain to them that beyond the legal issue there is some overall immorality that they are guilty of and that they do not seem to understand.

      “but as an atheist you have no right to complain about it given that you do not believe in objective morality.”

      Sure I do, I have every right to complain about it and since enough people have agreed historically we have set up laws to deal with such problems, your ‘all or nothing’ argument here is ridiculous.

      “Rather you believe in what some might call cultural morality whereby morality is defined locally rather than worldwide.

      I believe it because that is what the evidence shows, when you have evidence to the contrary be sure to let us know.

    • Raging Bee

      The harm done by theft is objectively verifiable: someone has been deprived of money or goods, and that has caused unfair inconvenience, at least, if not more serious setback such as eviction or other deprivation due to loss of money. And from that objective harm done, we can conclude that theft is “categorically wrong.”

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

      But where is the overarching objectivity that theft is categorically wrong?

      I dunno. Where?

      Theft may not feel good to you but as an atheist you have no right to complain about it given that you do not believe in objective morality.

      The mind goggles . . .

      Look up “morality” in the dictionary and show me that it means “objective morality.” I’ll wait.

      • Murph

        Which dictionary mine or yours?

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

          You use a different dictionary than I do?? Then how do we communicate?

        • Murph

          I use a dictionary that doesn’t change words to conform to societal norms

        • TheMarsCydonia

          But you actually do, different societal norms, one that often tries that there is nothing wrong with slavery for exemple.

          Trying to define slavery as good is still is a societal norm.

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

          Then use it. Look up “morality” and show me that it means “objective morality.”

        • Murph

          Look up margarine nd show me that it means yellow yellow margarine

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

          So you’re agreeing with me: there is no “objective” in the definition of “morality.”

          Do it at the outset next time, and we’ll have a more efficient conversation. Or do you enjoy my beating it out of you?

        • Murph

          Let’s be clear. I’m agreeing with you that the dictionary failed to place the word objective in the dictionary in relationship to the word morality just like it did the word yellow for margarine. I don’t believe that the dictionary is infallible but evidently you do unless you’re willing to admit dictionary.com should place the word yellow in with the definition of margarine. Are you prepared to say that margarine isn’t yellow? :)

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

          There are several ways to respond to your “argument.”

          1. Margarine isn’t yellow. If you know anything about margarine, you’ll know that it’s whitish, and butter producers demanded laws preventing margarine manufacturers from coloring it yellow. Now, it’s yellow by custom, but that isn’t a mandatory part of margarine.

          2. What’s that? You say that dictionary.com doesn’t have “yellow” as part of the definition? That’s an outrageous abdication of responsibility! Wikipedia has 4000 frikkin’ words on the subject, so it’s not like a thorough exposition is impossible, and I demand at least that detail in a dictionary definition. I suggest you complain.

        • Michael Neville

          Wisconsin is “America’s Dairyland©” and until about 1970 it was illegal to sell yellow margarine there. My father-in-law used to smuggle yellow margarine from Illinois into Wisconsin and made a pretty penny doing so. He never got caught even though the local cops knew he was a yellow margarine smuggler.

        • Kevin K

          No shit? For realz?

          Fascinating.

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

          I’ve just thought of a third response. You’re shocked that “yellow” was omitted from “margarine” in the same way that you’re shocked that “objective” was omitted from “morality.” Does that mean that “objective” is as trivial and optional a component of morality as yellow is to margarine?

          Cuz that surprises me. I thought you said that it was essential to the definition. I think I’d complain about that as well.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Yes. Margarine varies in color.

        • Greg G.

          Margarine is white or whatever color of dye that is added. Stick margarine or spreads are dyed yellow to look like butter because people don’t like to use margarine that looks like lard.

    • Lark62

      Does your wonderful perfect morality come from the Bible? Great. Show me where the bible says having sex with another person without their consent is wrong.

      Spoiler alert – it isn’t there.

      So you have two choices – admit your morality comes from the human society around you or admit to being a rapist.

      • Murph

        Show me in the Bible where it says to pull someone’s hair is wrong.

        Spoiler alert – it isn’t there.

        So you have two choices – admit your morality comes from the human society around you or admit to being a hair puller

        • Michael Neville

          admit your morality comes from the human society around you

          After how many days you’ve finally understood where morality comes from. Hint: It doesn’t come from an imaginary sky pixie.

        • Murph

          Your right it comes from God

        • TheMarsCydonia

          How so?

          And if it did, shouldn’t we expect morality to make sense?

        • Murph

          What doesn’t make sense?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Besides your thinking? The christian concept f objective morality.

        • Murph

          It’s that if there isn’t an objective lawgiver there are only preferences rather than morals

        • Michael Neville

          Yeah? And?

        • Murph

          In other words don’t complain about pain and suffering inflicted on others

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Since we don’t believe in god, we can. While you, as a god-believer can’t.

          You clearly don’t know how that works, do you.

        • Michael Neville

          I can complain about pain and suffering inflicted on others because I’m an empathetic individual who cares about other people. You, on the other hand, are a sociopath who cares more about your imaginary god than you do about actual real people.

          John Donne’s “Mediation No. 17” comes immediately to mind:

          No man is an island, entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

        • Murph

          No need to care unless God exists you’re just wasting your time believing someone else survive

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Again, you have it wrong. The only meaningful reason to care is if god doesn’t exist.

        • Murph

          Sure about that?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Just as I am sure of the reason you run from the challenges to your empty assertions.

        • MNb

          You showed it yourself. You only care about what happens to your precious imaginary soul during your imaginary afterlife out of fear for an imaginary sky daddy.

        • Greg G.

          Eternity is a long time and this life is infinitesimal in comparison. If we exist only during this life, it means everything to us.

        • Murph

          You mean if God does exist. Darn spell check

        • TheMarsCydonia

          I meant if god doesn’t exist, darn reality intruding on your wishful thinking.

        • Michael Neville

          I care because, as Donne said: “I am involved with mankind.”

          You seem to have this weird idea that atheists are immoral, sociopathic nihilists. We’re not. We have the same hopes, fears, expectations, joys and frustrations as everyone else. We just don’t have a belief in gods.

          I have a wife and daughter who I love. I have friends whose company I enjoy. I have a job I find reasonably satisfying, except that my boss can be a jerk, which is frustrating. I have my hobbies. I fear what Trump will do to my country. I’m looking forward to seeing the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I volunteer for a charity. In short, I’m a quite unremarkable person except that I don’t believe that gods exist.

        • Murph

          That’s great but if God doesn’t exist there’s no reason to be a good husband, volunteer etc. unless it’s for self advancement

        • TheMarsCydonia

          That would be bad how? With god, why is anything good or why is anything bad?

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

          So you’re a good husband, etc. for noble reasons only because of God? Show me how that works.

        • Murph

          Well no but you have to have God for the impetus to be a good father

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

          OK–then show me how that works.

        • Michael Neville

          You really don’t understand being a human being, do you? Listen, you sociopathic godbot, there’s more to life than your fictitious, imaginary, doesn’t exist god. Too bad you’re so fucked up in the head not to realize this.

        • BlackMamba44

          I think Woo/Murph had been reduced to its true colors as a troll and needs to go away permanently. Its got nothing but one sentence posts. It’s not even trying.

        • Murph

          Wow where do you volunteer? You’re telling me I’m f’d up in the head, etc.? I question that you’re a good father if you talk to people like that.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          You are, apparently a sociopath. Utterly lacking in empathy. I would not wish to be an acquaintance of yours.

        • Murph

          You’re apparently filled with rage

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Not in the slightest. You don’t read people well, do you?

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, you maggot infested heap of hog feces, I’m saying you’re fucked up in the head when you can’t recognize that I’m an ordinary person. As for foul language, grow up. You’re talking to adults and adults use adult language. Plus I’m a retired Navy Chief. If you’d like I can show you what the expression “swears like a sailor” means.

        • MNb

          And I question that you’re a good person if the only thing that motivates you is fear for an imaginary sky daddy.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          False. The absence of god is all the more reason to treat each other well.

        • Otto

          Maybe for you….and if that is the case I feel sorry for you.

        • MNb

          Confirming that you are a piece of shit.
          If your god doesn’t exist there is still an excellent reason to be a good husband, volunteer besides self advancement, because a reliable way to advance myself is to advance other people. That you don’t realize that simple fact shows that your religion has turned you into a selfish narcissistic piece of shit who only does good out of fear for an imaginary sky daddy.

        • Greg G.

          But if all that matters is that God forgives you, there’s no reason to be good.

          We are good because it makes this life better. Your religion makes you view everything in terms of fear so you miss out on all the good things.

        • MNb

          That non-sequitur turns believing you into a piece of shit, not atheists with some elementary empathy.

        • Murph

          No reason for empathy unless God exists I’m afraid

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Your fear has no impact at all on reality.

        • Murph

          It does when I think about what might lie beyond the grave

        • TheMarsCydonia

          It sill has no impact on empathy.

          And you really shouldn’t be afraid of your imagination.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          So your behavior is not innate; it’s based entirely on fear?

        • Murph

          It’s a combination. There is such a thing as healthy fear just like there’s a such thing as healthy cholesterol. I know that’s difficult for you to understand.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Your answer is nonsensical. That’s what’s hard to understand.

        • MNb

          TMC was talking about our natural reality, not about your made up reality you call afterlife.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, if there is a good god, he will treat us all good. If there is a bad god, he will probably punish the good people more severely. Either one will likely be most upset with those who thought during life that Christianity would be a free pass. Good luck.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Why?

        • Murph

          empathy would only have a self serving purpose without God

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          False. Biology and humanity give most of us empathy. Your apparent lack of empathy makes you a sociopath.

        • Otto

          All or nothing is a stupid argument, i pointed that out to you….

        • MNb

          Problem is that your others words “don’t complain” are not synonymous with nor follow logically from “there are only preferences”.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          That still does not make sense. Just because you agree, in your subjective opinion, with the moral laws given by this lawgiver, doesn’t mean everyone else shares your subjective opinion.

          If this lawgiver says “slavery is good”, what makes slavery objectvely good?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Again, false equivalence. Moral system objective morality.

        • Murph

          false accusation of a false equivalence

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Wrong. Learn basic logic.

        • Otto

          Hmmm…an argument from consequences….you know that is fallacious right?

        • MNb

          God.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Prove it.

        • Murph

          Define proof

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Rational argument supported by empirical evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          So what’s your evidence that your magic sky pixie is the source of morality? Your propaganda, aka the Bible, describes your god as a sadistic, narcissistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. So how do you figure that’s a source of morality?

        • Murph

          You have no room to complain about morals because you’re an atheist. Atheists can only believe in preferences not morals. You need God to have morals.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Actually, you need it to be no god to have morals.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not complaining about morals. I’m complaining that you’re doing a piss-poor job defending “objective morality” and an even worse job of providing evidence that your god isn’t a figment of your weak imagination.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          So far, he has provided nothing but his personal opinion.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          False. You are engaged in a false equivalence.

        • Murph

          Care to explain

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          I’m not sure you’d understand. I am concerned by your lack of understanding of basic logic.

        • Murph

          How so?

        • Michael Neville

          What’s your evidence that an imaginary god is needed for anything?

        • Murph

          I don’t believe in an imaginary god

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Strange since you have never demonstrated its existence outside of your imagination.

          But take comfort in the fact you’re not the only one.

        • Murph

          You’ve never demonstrated his non existence. Are you better than Jesus?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          I’ve never demonstrated the non-existence of thousands of gods.

          Not demonstrating the non-existence of something does not make it non-imaginary.

          Seriously, don’t you realize that all you’re doing is convincing us that you do not actually believe in god?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Ah. Attempts to shift the burden of proof. Classic.

        • Max Doubt

          “Are you better than Jesus?”

          I am.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Most people are.

        • MNb

          Yes. I understand chess, math and physics. Jesus couldn’t.

          Herman Philipse demonstrated god’s non-existence here.

          https://www.amazon.com/God-Age-Science-Critique-Religious/dp/0199697531

          But someone not capable of understanding how percentages and rates work cannot be expected to understand the content of this book.

        • Otto

          Yes I am…

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Really? Let’s hear God’s opinion on its imaginariness…. Whoops! No God to have an opinion!

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          False. Humans can have morality without god.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Prove it.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Wow. Logical fallacy much?

        • Otto

          Funny how i responded to your original post and you completely ignored it.

        • Lark62

          Easy. Thanks for reinforcing my point. My morality comes from the human society in which I live, just like yours.

          Hair pulling is unkind. And probably illegal in some contexts. I don’t need a 3000 year old book of myths to tell me that. Obviously, neither do you.

          Of course the bible never instructs anyone to pull hair, never uses hair pulling to create a nation, and never praises chronic hair pullers.

          According to the bible, about half of the 12 tribes of Israel exist because some old dude raped his sex slaves. (Concubines are sex slaves. They cannot consent.) Solomon, called wise, had 300 sex slaves. David, a man after god’s own heart, had sex slaves. After slaughtering the men, women and boys of a nearby nation, soldiers were ordered to keep the little girls as sex slaves.

          And you claim your morality comes from this book? You are deluded. There is nothing whatsoever in that book of myths that would cause someone to conclude that owning sex slaves is immoral. Yet you and I, and most of the rest of our society are quite confident that owning sex slaves is immoral. This is because society determines what behaviors are acceptable without reference to anyone’s book of myths.

    • adam

      “But where is the overarching objectivity that theft is categorically wrong?”

      There is none

      A man in poverty has a child to feed. No
      matter what he does, he seems to always come up short on his money.
      Let’s say he’s gone days without eating just so he could afford to feed
      his child, but he’s now run completely out of money. There are no food
      pantries, homeless shelters. charities, or churches around to help feed
      him and his child. He passes by a bakery, looks in, and sees that there
      is no one at the counter. So he grabs two loaves of bread and runs off.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/32a8ffcdaee0703b996e6a81b2e4640ff89f649ad01748d74aeea4ea7775ee98.jpg

      • Murph

        It’s called a moral dilemma. Ever read about Rahab who lied to the authorities in order to hide the Israelite spies?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Which does demonstrate objective morality.

        • Murph

          Well it demonstrates that there are exceptions to the rule

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          No. It doesn’t even demonstrate that there is a rule.

    • TheMarsCydonia

      What does being an atheist have anything to do with believing in an objective morality or not?

      And how would an objective morality allow for complaining about theft? Is theft objectively wrong? How would you convince anyone of this?

    • TheMarsCydonia

      Why do you try to convince us that you do not believe in god?

    • M. Solange O’Brien

      False. Some moral injunctions are cross-cultural. Still doesn’t demonstrate objective morality.

  • Sven2547

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
    If your religious faith is what stops you
    from raping and murdering,
    that doesn’t make you a good person,
    that makes you a sociopath on a leash.

    • Murph

      Interesting point. We should be thankful for religion than huh otherwise we’d have a lot of sociopaths doing whatever they wanted.

      • MNb

        Religion as the remedy for sociopaths raping and murdering. Well, I don’t have the slightest urge to do such things, so I don’t need any frigging religion.

        • Murph

          You may not but evidently many do, right? Good thing we religion holding back all those sociopaths

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Nope. Sociopaths are a very small percentage of the population.

        • Murph

          So we shouldn’t keep religion around just for them?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Why should we? It doesn’t deter actual clinical sociopaths.

        • Murph

          But it deters non clinical so doesn’t that mean it’s good?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          It doesn’t even do a good job of that. If it did, atheists would outnumber christians in jails.

        • MNb

          Given the fact that my native country since a couple of years enjoys a majority of unbelievers and crime rates continue to decline according to your illogic the best cure for your beloved sociopaths is to cure them from religion. Someone stupid enough not to understand how percentages and rates work might buy this as well.

      • Otto

        Funny how some of the least religious countries are the most well behaved in these areas…kinda shoots holes in your point don’t ya think?

        • Murph

          Least religious doesn’t equate to good

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          False. Look at crime statistics in various countries.

        • Murph

          Let me guess the countries are tiny compared to the United States or similar?

        • BlackMamba44

          What does the size of the country have to do with it?

        • Murph

          Bigger the country the more likelihood for crime. “Mo people mo problems”

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Irrelevant.

        • Murph

          The point is the countries you cite are probably fairly small countries. Smaller the country the less crime

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          False. Crime rate doesn’t depend on the size of the sample. If you wish to make your points, I suggest applying some basic logic.

        • Murph

          Really? Lets test you’re theory…have you ever committed a crime?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Irrelevant.

        • Murph

          You’re dodging the question. Have you ever committed a crime?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          I’m not dodging. Your question is not relevant.

        • Murph

          It is relevant trust me I just need you to answer and then I’ll explain it to you. Have you ever committed a serious crime?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          No, explain first. You have shown no grasp of logistics or statistics so far. I’m curious about your direction.

        • Llort

          What exactly are you getting at?

        • Llort

          If the sample size is 1 person and that person committed a crime the crime rate is 100 percent

        • MNb

          Ah, you’re stupid enough to not understand how percentages and rates work.
          Yup, less absolute crime.
          However the country with the highest homicide rate in the world is definitely a very small country, with slightly more than 11 million inhabitants:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

          China, with the largest population in the world and a very atheist country, comes at 111. On another list it’s 92.

          https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp

        • Greg G.

          Ah, you’re stupid enough to not understand how percentages and rates work.

          Murph seems to be the patient who goes in for a blood test but when the nurse asks to take a blood sample, he says, “No! Test it all!”

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

          Huh? Another name change, Woo/Murph? Are you hoping to wipe the slate clean each time?

        • Greg G.

          You know how those disciples are. One day, it’s Cephas, then it’s Simon Peter, then just Peter. Saul becomes Paul. Levi becomes Matthew. In one gospel, she is just the mother of Jesus, in the others, she’s Mary. Is it Nathaneal or Bartholomew today?

        • Michael Neville

          It’s like a Russian novel. In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment the protagonist is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, called Raskolnikov by the policeman Petrovich, Rodion Romanovich by acquaintances and Rodi by his friends. Apparently a Russian knows that all these names refer to the same character but some of us (like me) were confused.

        • Llort

          In the real world people have nicknames. You know names other than their given name?

        • Kodie

          On the internet, they might give themselves 5 names (and counting) because they can’t handle getting banned, but we all know them as “Hey asshole”

        • Llort

          Could I be Bob? Could you provide a rational for why or why not Bob would do such a thing?

        • Kodie

          He is not a dick?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve been a regular on this blog for over a year and I think I know Bob’s style pretty well. He doesn’t play that sort of game.

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

          Bob might not need much rationale at all. He might just be fed up with the bullshit and cut you off.

          Like now. Bye.

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

          Did you delete your Woo/Smurph account? A shame–you shouldn’t have gone to the trouble. I was about to ban that one, too.

        • Otto

          Looks like you don’t understand statistics either

        • Llort

          Reckit is onto something check this list out…

          https://www.clements.com/resources/articles/Countries-with-the-Highest-and-Lowest-Crime-Rates

          Both Luxembourg and Iceland have very low crime rates yet the former has a population of 600k and the latter has a population of just over 300k. These contrast with India which is one of the highest crime rates and has a population of over 1.2 billion and South Africa which has a population of around 53 million

        • Kodie

          Reckit is onto something check this list out…

          You’re his sock puppet, mr. obvious. You’re also the sock puppet of objectivefactsmatter, you bitter pathetic shriveled up banned dickface.

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

          Hey, Troll. Thanks for stopping by.

          Can I call you Chuckwood? You should meet up with Woodchuck here.

          My suggestion: stop playing games with the names and contribute to the conversation.

        • BlackMamba44

          Wow. You really are a child.

        • Murph

          Mo people mo problems

        • Otto

          Why does that matter? If less religious equated to more lawlessness we should see that as a statistic….but we don’t.

        • Greg G.

          Compare the rates of crime and the religiousness of the states in the US. The most religious states have the highest crime rates while the states with the least religious people have the lowest crime rates. Same goes for divorce rates, too.

        • Llort

          religious people marry more than non-religious which accounts for the higher number of divorces. less religious states also contain a lower number of laws to break. religious states believe in the rule of law

        • Otto

          Less religious states do not have less laws to violate, you are just making shit up.

          And divorce rate only factors in people who got married so the number of people getting married is irrelevant.

        • Llort

          States like Colorado and Maine which have legalized Marijuana are some of the least religious states in the United States compared with Texas for example

        • Llort

          the point about divorce rate is that if non-religious folks would actually get married their divorce rate would be even higher

        • Greg G.

          I am replying to the stupid troll, “Llort” but the comment is in moderation purgatory so no “Reply” is showing.

          religious people marry more than non-religious which accounts for the higher number of divorces.

          We are talking about divorce rates. That has to do with percentages which requires division. It’s arithmetic. You wouldn’t understand.

          less religious states also contain a lower number of laws to break. religious states believe in the rule of law

          States have the same laws against violent crime but violent crime is also higher in religious states.

          You’re not clever enough to be a good troll.

        • Otto

          Most religious does not equate to good either….and that is the point isn’t it…..?

      • Sven2547

        I’d hope that in the absence of superstition most of these folks would adopt an adult grasp of morality. ‘It’s bad because Daddy says it’s bad’ is for toddlers.

      • adam

        ” We should be thankful for religion than huh otherwise we’d have a lot of sociopaths doing whatever they wanted.”

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c3a8a396ec4c00e69aedeb38b2ba0ec8b3390225418c2e86b7972cc452eb0b69.jpg

        • Llort

          Weren’t the crusades an exception to the rule? By and large the most deaths in wartime occurred at the hands of atheists

        • Otto

          Exception to what rule?

        • Llort

          That by and large throughout history Christians have lead the way with how societies should be governed properly, how the poor and sick and helpless should be treated, etc.

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

          Good point. Who would’ve figured out that Golden Rule thing if Jeebus hadn’t told it to us? Probably still beating each other with clubs. Dude was smart!

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

          And almost 100% of deaths in wartime occurred at the hands of men.

          What do we conclude from that?

        • Michael Neville

          Other than the Eastern Front of World War II, aka the Great Patriotic War, I can’t think of any major wars where there were large numbers of atheists.I wonder how many atheists were involved in the Mongol Conquests, the Taiping Rebellion and the Three Kingdoms War. Those were the deadliest wars other than World War II.

        • Susan

          What do we conclude from that?

          That you’re all a bunch of murdering, raping bastards, of course.

          Except that’s insane.

          Oh, right. Sorry. It’s a ridiculous attempt at an argument.

          So, the conclusion is that Lion’s an idiot or hasn’t checked his work or both.

          (Just spelling it out for Lion and his akas. He’ll ignore your point, change the subject and post more non-zingers that he thinks are perfect zingers.)

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

          (This doofus’s name is supposed to be “Troll” spelled backwards. I think that if you can get him to say that aloud, that will send him back to the dimension that he came from.)

      • Susan

        We should be thankful for religion than huh otherwise we’d have a lot of sociopaths doing whatever they wanted.

        Religion doesn’t seem to protect us from sociopaths. It easily provides them power.

        Even if it did protect us from sociopaths (and you’ve provided no reason to believe that it does), it wouldn’t make the claims of those religions true.

  • Greg G.

    SMBC on Anti-Theodicy:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/anti-theodicy
    The world is naturally good until God comes along.

    • sandy

      When God comes along, groups or individuals get to exercise their views and rights in the name of that God, regardless of whether that view or right is best for all of humanity…but rather what will benefit them, their views and prejudices …basically what religion is all about at the grass root level.

      • Greg G.

        groups or individuals get to exercise their views and rights in the name of that God, regardless of whether that view or right is best for all of humanity

        But more often than not (my understatement for the day), people exercise their views in the name of a god that did not come along and the views are not for what is best for humanity.

      • epeeist

        When God comes along

        Does this ever occur? We only ever seem to get the monkey, never the organ grinder. And the monkey always says “This is what I say my god wants.”

  • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

    I think that the problem he points out is if might makes right, there isn’t any way to say Nazi Germany would be wrong if they won. Still we would both say that they were wrong regardless, I’m sure. So your response here is troubling. It’s enough to say “do unto others” here I think. As the Nazis violated this, they couldn’t complain about being punished logically. It has nothing to do with the Allies’ might.

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

      An interesting point.

      if might makes right, there isn’t any way to say Nazi Germany would be wrong if they won.

      At the end of WW2, the Allies said that they were right. Well, of course they did–they won. I imagine there were lots of Germans who thought otherwise. And so, from their standpoint, the Germans were indeed right.

      Some people say that some sort of objective morality was used at Nuremberg, but I don’t see it that way. Anyone can call those trials right or wrong as they see fit, and it would be “right” or “wrong” from that person’s platform.

      I said that might makes right because might defined who was on trial and who were the judges, but I’m just speaking again from the Allies’ standpoint.

      • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

        Yes, of course both sides thought they were right.

        I think there is the problem-if the Germans won, the trials would be of the Allies (if they bothered to have trials). Might would indeed be right. You seem to be conceding what he claims. Anyone is free to call it right or not, but is there an incorrect answer? That is, could their idea of it being “right” be wrong?

        I don’t think even from a subjective moral standpoint we have to go this far and so no one is wrong.

        Perhaps though you’re simply saying might defined who got a right to put others on trial?

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

          Anyone is free to call it right or not, but is there an incorrect answer? That is, could their idea of it being “right” be wrong?

          That’s exactly the question to ask, but my answer is No. Anyway, not in an objective, true-to-anyone-with-a-brain way. Of course, from a relative standpoint, the answer is Yes–we subjugated Americans would think it wrong.

          But I don’t think I’m responding to all of your question.

          Perhaps though you’re simply saying might defined who got a right to put others on trial?

          I’m certainly saying that. And, to clarify, I’m not saying that might makes any kind of objective right.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Well then I think you’d agree with him-it just comes down to might makes right there. Myself though, I strongly disagree.

          I would agree about that bit, as a practicality.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          However, might does not espouse any particular values not even for its own sake a la ‘1984’. Just because someone is a big fish now doesn’t do them any favors when a bigger fish comes along. If there is anything that transcends might it is well-argued thought and evidence. Granted they can ignore it, but that’s better than, “I beat up other people, so accept my values now that you are beating me up.”

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Right, exactly. People say it when they’re mighty. If the situation is reversed, though, they sing a different tune.

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

          Tell me more. If I’ve got this wrong, I’d like to know. I’ve certainly changed my view of morality and where it comes from in the past; maybe I need to do it again.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I think there’s an objective good. Specifically, happiness. It’s not a matter of opinion that it’s good, although the specifics vary. So people can be powerful enough to deny others that, but it doesn’t make them right. This seems to be a common view of atheists-I can’t claim it’s in any way original, and it goes back to ancient Greece.

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

          Happiness is a good things to maximize (and, yeah, what else would be a proxy for moral goodness?), but how would this approach resolve things like abortion or same-sex marriage or euthanasia? Two people might each claim that they’re maximizing happiness but still be on different sides of these issues.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Well, no moral theory can hope to instantly dissolve all these disputes, but I’d say that those activities (generally) lead to greater happiness. If you look at the objections, they rarely are based on happiness. When they are, that would accept the principle (though the objection may still be wrong).

        • Michael Neville

          It’s unlikely that the Germans would have held trials. The OKW issued the Commissar Order in 1941 (in which Soviet political commissars were to be shot) and the Commando Order in 1942 (in which Allied commandos, including properly uniformed soldiers as well as combatants wearing civilian clothes, such as Maquis and partisans, were to be executed immediately without trial when captured. Incidentally the OKW Chief of Operations, Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, was executed after the Nuremberg Trials for signing those orders.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I agreed with that, it was just saying if they did decide to. After all, they did have show trials of enemies at times, but only domestic ones. The Soviets were actually the ones who wanted the Nuremburg Trials (though not fair ones, being fond of show trials themselves as they were)-Churchill had wanted all of the Nazis shot. In the end Truman agreed to trials, but only with due process.

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

          If, in a tables-turned universe, the Germans held trials, it wouldn’t be for the same reasons. There were no Allied equivalents to concentration camps or Nazi reprisals against French villages who supported the Resistance.

      • MNb

        “some sort of objective morality was used at Nuremberg”
        Ethics and justice are not the same, as every lawyer can tell you. You’re right not to see it that way.

  • Kodie

    It’s obvious you are talking to yourself. Get a life, moron.

  • Michael Neville

    This example of “simple things from simple minds” was brought to you by Murph the Smurf, the guy who doesn’t give explanations because when he does they’re not only wrong but stupidly wrong.

    It’s well known among criminologists and sociologists that a major contributor to crime is poverty. Large cities tend to have a major part of their populations living in poverty, more so that small towns or rural areas. So it’s not surprising that where you find large numbers of poor people that there’s a high crime rate.

  • John Hodges

    We learn as children that “being good” means “obeying your parent.” I believe many of us embrace religion because they have never learned any other morality, and fear the loss of it. Religious faith is believing what you are told, by some human being you have chosen to regard as an authority about invisible things. Religious ethics comes down to DOING what you are told, by that same human being.

    Adult morality is a means of maintaining peaceful and cooperative relations with your neighbors. If you want peaceful relations, don’t kill, steal, lie, or break agreements. This is objective. As Shakespeare wrote: “It needs no ghost, Milord, come from the grave, to tell us this.”

    Living beings evolved by natural selection are going to value the health of their families, “inclusive fitness”, where “health” is the ABILITY to survive, and “family” is “all who share your genes, to the degree that they share your genes.” Their desires are shaped by natural selection, and inclusive fitness is what natural selection selects for.

    Social animals, who survive by cooperating in groups, have a “natural” standard of ethics: The Good is that which leads to health, The Right is that which leads to peace. A “good person” is a desirable neighbor, from the point of view of people who seek to live in peace and raise families.

  • eric

    In both cases, you have no absolute authority with which to overrule another person or state.

    Yeah, subjective morality sux. So does induction. Both have huge philosophical flaws…too bad it’s what we’ve got.

    Bannister’s argument here appears to be a variant on the third ‘big argument’ theists use. There’s the ontological argument (God’s existence is necessary). There’s the teleological argument (things appear designed). Then there’s what I call the ‘ippariological’ argument: I want a pony. Pointing out the flaws in subjective morality is an “I want a pony” argument.

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

      Intriguing! What does ‘ippariological’ mean? And could you expand on the pony explanation?

  • Herald Newman

    Here’s something I came across recently that uses the problem of evil, and God’s hiddenness, to argue that God doesn’t exist. This isn’t my work.

    1) God values free will so much that God will not step in to prevent
    evil people from doing evil things. [Free will defense]

    2) God is the standard of all morality. [From the moral argument]

    3) If God is the standard of all morality, then it is good to not step
    in to prevent evil people from doing evil things. [definition of
    morality standard]

    4) Raping babies is an evil thing done by evil people.

    5) Therefore, it is good to not step in and prevent anyone from raping babies.

    Anybody have any thoughts? It looks like the problem of evil, turned on its head a little bit, and uses the Christian arguments against them.

    • Kevin K

      You might get push back on the first premise. Some Christians will declare that Yahweh did not give Adam and Eve free will — they stole it when they ate the IQ-raising sin-fruit at the behest of the talking snake with legs.

      To be honest, I don’t know what the break down is in terms of what percentage of Christian denominations declare free will to be a gift from god, and what percentage declares it to be an emergent property of mankind’s disobedience of god.

      So, it might not be that god values free will as much as he is powerless to interfere with the human exercise of free will.

      The second and third premise follow, as long as you accept the first.

      You can extend number 4 to a lot of things, including unintentional harm. Whooping cough is evil; but even well-meaning people put their children at risk by not vaccinating them, and god does not step in to prevent unvaccinated children from getting whooping cough. (BTW and FWIW: Those “well-meaning” people are fucking idiots, but that’s another discussion.)

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

        “Some Christians will declare that Yahweh did not give Adam and Eve free will”

        All the more reason to wonder what the sin was when they ate fruit.

    • Greg G.

      The argument uses reductio ad absurdum to refute their position using their own premises. Anything could be substituted for “raping babies” and the argument still works.

      Doug claimed that God could prevent all suffering but couldn’t do it without interfering with free will. I responded a few hours ago that if God was omnipotent, he could prevent suffering without breaking free will. It’s the problem of omnipotence.

      • Kevin K

        That’s quite a non-sequitur, isn’t it? Equating suffering with disobedience.

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

      It has a similar feel to WLC’s defense of killing children during the Canaanite genocide.

      Also, Andrea Yates’ killing of her 5 children by drowning. Everyone knows she was mentally ill, but still, wasn’t it a good thing that she sent them straight to heaven?

      • Greg G.

        Remember the Christian psychiatrist who was known for testifying in court about the mental states of defendants? Didn’t he declare Andrea Yates insane while declaring another woman sane who killed her children because she thought Satan was telling her to do it. His reasoning was that it would be crazy to think God would tell a woman to kill her children but not to think the devil would.

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

          I presume all this wasn’t in the same court case. Even any of it is speculation about the intentions of supernatural beings, which seems to make it inadmissible.

        • Greg G.

          It was two cases about a year apart.

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

      WLC, on the Canaanite genocide: “Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.”