The Hypothetical God Fallacy

Christian apologist Mikel Del Rosario raised three hard-hitting points (and by “hard-hitting,” I mean “childish”). I want to examine them to show what passes for good apologetics. Read part 1 of my response here.

Let’s wrap up the response to his point #2.

Point 2. The Problem of Evil Doesn’t Mean There’s No God

The Christian worldview gives us another option that atheists often leave out of the equation. . . . God can have good reasons for allowing evil—even if we don’t know what those reasons are.

This error is so common that it needs a name, so I’ll name it: the Hypothetical God Fallacy. Sure, if we presuppose an omniscient God, this gets us out of every possible jam in which God looks bad. Haiti tsunami? God could’ve had good reasons. A young mother, beloved in her community, dies suddenly and leaves behind a husband and three children? A result of God’s good reasons. Genocide demanded and slavery accepted in the Old Testament? World War? Plane crash? Missing keys?

God.

This short article is peppered with this comforting yet ludicrous fallacy:

If God is good and evil exists . . .

The mere fact that I can’t figure out why God allows some of the things to happen that he does . . . is not warrant for the conclusion that he’s got no such reasons.

It actually takes some humility to admit the role of human finiteness in understanding why God allows evil.

Just because something might seem pointless to us, doesn’t mean God can’t have a morally justified reason for it.

I hope that, as you see more examples of this, it becomes like fingernails on a blackboard.

Yes, bad things in the world don’t force the conclusion that God can’t exist. Fortunately, I don’t draw such a conclusion. And yes, if God exists, he could have his reasons for things that we don’t understand.

The Hypothetical God Fallacy is a fallacy because no one interested in the truth starts with a conclusion (God exists) and then arranges the facts to support that conclusion. That’s backwards; it’s circular reasoning. Rather, the truth seeker starts with the facts and then follows them to their conclusion. (More here.)

If God exists, he could have terrific reasons for why there’s so much gratuitous evil in the world. The same could be true for the Invisible Pink Unicorn (glitter be upon Him). Neither approach does anything to support a belief chosen beforehand.

Point 3. The Problem of Evil Isn’t Just a Christian Problem

The Problem of Evil isn’t just a Christian problem. Evil is everybody’s problem!

Then you don’t know what the Problem of Evil is, because it is precisely just a Christian problem. The Problem of Evil asks, how can a good God allow all the gratuitous evil we see in our world? Drop the God presupposition, and the problem goes away.

You could ask the different question, how does an atheist explain the bad in the world? Quick answer: shit happens. Some is bad luck (mechanical problem causes a car accident), some is natural (flood), some is caused by other people (jerky coworker badmouths you to the boss and you don’t get the promotion), and some is caused by you (you should’ve gotten the flood insurance). Adding God to the equation explains nothing and introduces the Problem of Evil so that you’re worse off than when you started.

Del Rosario again:

If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.

Sounds right, but why imagine that objective moral values exist? What many apologists perceive as objective moral values are actually just shared moral values. That we share moral values isn’t too surprising since we’re all the same species. Nothing supernatural is required. (More here.)

Del Rosario stumbles over another issue with morality.

You couldn’t have any kind of real, moral grounding to call it objectively evil—if atheism is true.

He’s using “real” to mean ultimate or objective. And here again, the ball’s in his court to convince us of his remarkable claim that objective morality exists and that everyone can access it. (Suggestion: find a resolution to the abortion problem that is universally acceptable. If there’s not a single correct resolution then it’s not an objective moral truth, and if we can’t reliably access it, then it’s useless.)

As for the ordinary, everyday sort of moral grounding, the kind that both Christians and atheists use, you’ll find that in the dictionary. Look up “morality,” and you’ll read nothing about objective grounding.

We have one final challenge:

The atheist position’s got another problem to deal with: The Problem of Good. In other words, naturalism has the challenge of providing a sufficient moral grounding for goodness itself—in addition to making sense of evil in the world. And that’s a pretty tall order for a philosophy with absolutely no room for God.

What’s difficult? We’re good because of evolution. We’re social animals, like wolves and chimpanzees, so we have cooperative traits like honesty, cooperation, sympathy, trustworthiness, and so on.

The God hypothesis adds nothing to the conversation, and we must watch out for it being smuggled in as a presupposition (the Hypothetical God Fallacy). And we’re back where we started from, wondering where the good Christian arguments are.

You don’t need religion to have morals.
If you can’t determine right from wrong
then you lack empathy, not religion.
(seen on the internet)

.
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/8/14.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

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The Hypothetical God Fallacy

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  • chemical

    Del Rosario:

    God can have good reasons for allowing evil—even if we don’t know what those reasons are.

    What a load. How would a supposed all-knowing God not know of a way to enact his grand plan without evil being a factor? He literally had forever to come up with a better plan.

    • Adrian

      Particularly since he can always turn the old omnipotence on and miracle the problem away, if he doesn’t feel like braining that day….

  • Raging Bee

    I wonder how numerologists handle the number 404…?

    • Kevin K

      It’s exactly like 666, only smaller.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Both numbers are not prime, and therefore not interesting.

        • Nick G

          All numbers* are interesting!

          Consider:
          1) Premise: there are uninteresting numbers.
          2) So there must be a smallest uninteresting number.
          3) But this number is, ipso facto, interesting.
          4) So the smallest uninteresting number is also interesting.
          5) But this is a contradiction, so the premise (1), must be false.
          6) So, there are no uninteresting numbers.
          7) Conclusion: All numbers are interesting.

          *We’re talking about the natural numbers here: 1,2,3,4…

        • Grimlock

          Yeah, but who cares about the natural numbers? I’m all about the rational ones.

        • epeeist

          I find 1729 to be interesting, even though it isn’t prime.

        • 1729 is interesting because it isn’t prime.

        • Greg G.

          The higher the number of prime factors, the more interesting the number is.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          ramanujan also introduced the notion of “highly composite numbers” (wikipedia), in 1915 he published a paper with this title.

          “Hardy did not much like highly composite numbers. In the preface to the “Collected Works” (cf. [17], p. XXXIV) he writes that “The long memoir [16] represents work, perhaps, in a backwater of mathematics,” but a few lines later, he does recognize that “it shews very clearly Ramanujan’s extraordinary mastery over the algebra of inequalities”. One of us can remember Freeman Dyson in Urbana (in 1987) saying that when he was a research student of Hardy, he wanted to do research on highly composite numbers but Hardy dissuaded him as he thought the subject was not sufficiently interesting or important.” (pdf).

          p = a^3+b^3 = (a+b)(a^2-ab+b^2) and the primality of p severely restrict the possiblities for representing primes as a sum of two cubes. the first few (odd) primes for which it’s possible are

          7 = 2^3+(-1)^3
          19 = 3^3+(-2)^3
          37 = 4^3+(-3)^3

          (if one allows negative cubes like (-2)^3).

  • Kevin K

    He doesn’t understand what the “problem of evil” consists of. The problem of evil isn’t merely that there is evil in this world. It is specifically and overtly about the problems created when you try to invoke the existence of a deity.

    FWIW: the problem was posed some centuries before the inception of Christianity, so was not even considered to be about Yahweh the Magnificent™, much less his Earthly avatar.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/217197169c1e8dd2d442f4c01331ca44da3b86af4ec5efb193610e5573739e5e.jpg

    • Kevin K

      And let me just say that if Christians (and others) would give up the notion of omnibenevolence, then this argument goes away in an instant.

      Frankly, the evidence on the ground supports a malevolent god(s) existence far more than a benevolent one.

      • epicurus

        That’s what I often say to people who use the “God’s existence is obvious from creation” argument. I say, ok then, but if we are going on what we see around us, then then God is either bumbling, or evil, or both.

    • epicurus

      That reminds me of another nutty professor apologist – John Lennox. He also doesn’t understand what the problem of evil is.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/06/the-childish-faith-of-john-lennox-2/

  • Doubting Thomas

    God can have good reasons for allowing evil—even if we don’t know what those reasons are.

    Now let’s see what happens when we combine this with the idea that god’s actions are good.

    How often does god allow evil actions to take place? As far as I can tell, god always allows them. He never stops rapes, murders, child molestation, etc. So if god chooses not to intervene and god’s actions are always good, then shouldn’t we emulate god? Don’t stop murderers. Ignore rape. Allow kids to be molested.

    If we want to be godly, then apathy in the face of evil seems to be the best way.

    • Kevin K

      I mentioned this elsewhere, but this applies to all aspects of medicine as well. How dare we humans interfere with God’s Perfect Plan™ by ridding the planet of smallpox?

    • Kevin K

      Heh, just had a thought. What if God™ wanted all those evil things to occur so that the community at large would offer “thoughts and prayers”? In that case, doing anything about the causes of evil — like, maybe limiting access to weapons of mass destruction — is going against the will of the almighty. Because it likes all of those prayers coming its way.

      It’s all about ego tripping. “They need me. Better not intervene in the next mass-fuck-murder school shooting, otherwise there will be no more prayers”.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        see also the ‘Ori’ in Stargate…

    • Jesus said to “resist not evil” in the Bible. So perhaps we shouldn’t?

      • Doubting Thomas

        Perhaps, or perhaps we shouldn’t listen to Jesus.

        • It was facetious. Of course even most Christians don’t do this.

        • Greg G.

          I have never met a Christian who plucked out an eye, chopped off a hand, and became a eunuch. It’s like they don’t read the red letters in Matthew.

        • Well those bits at least were probably metaphors (or at least they’re taken as such). I’ve heard of one guy castrating himself though.

        • Greg G.

          If it is something they can look down their noses at others over, Jesus meant it literally. If it is painful, it’s metaphor and hyperbole. They only take Jesus as seriously at they want to.

        • Yes, that often seems to be the case.

  • Jim Jones

    I’ve read far too many apologists’ tomes. I never found one good one. By good I mean even if I disagree, I admire the argument or the skill of the author.

    After 2,000 years, there still isn’t one. If there was, we’d all know about it. People would say, “Start with this one” or “This will make you think” or “I almost believed”. But no. Not one.

    Religion is spread by four basic methods:

    1) Deceit
    2) Fear
    3) Torture
    4) Murder

    It is always thus. It is never spread by reason or by facts.

    How far the religious will go with these depends on those of us who have moral sense. We know what will happen if they don’t have these constraints from outside. History is replete with examples.

    • Herald Newman

      I’ve read far too many apologists’ tomes. I never found one good one.

      For the sake of discussion with Christians (many of whom have told me that I should) I’m reading Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.” I’m about half way through, and my review can be summed up in one word: Underwhelming. It’s so clearly written by, for, and using the opinions of, fundamentalist evangelical Christians. The objectivity seems to be seriously lacking.

      • I was about to add something like your edition. I agree: consider the audience. Strobel is preaching to the converted, helping to bolster their sagging faith.

      • Jim Jones

        Yes. ISTM that Strobel isn’t even a Christian, he reads like a con man who knows how to get the golden goose eggs.

      • epicurus

        I really dislike that Strobel had his experts give their interpretation of the skeptics view and then their explanation of why it’s wrong. I get that it’s the case FOR Christ, and that it’s real purpose is to convince believers they’ve made the right choice, and that interviewing people with dissenting views would make the book huge (and introduce doubt).

        But, Strobel constantly plays up his legal reporter background and endlessly references courts and judges and evidence. So in that context, what he’s done is have a trial where there is only one defense lawyer, but no prosecutor. The defense lawyer makes his case, then gets to say what the prosecution would say if they were there, and then wraps up by telling the judge what is wrong with the prosecution’s case (that they don’t get to present because they are not there).
        That drove me crazy the whole time I was reading.

        Robert Price has a good refutation called “the case against the case for christ.” He knows many of the people Strobel talks to and has some good insights.

        https://www.amazon.com/Case-Against-Christ-Testament-Reverend/dp/1578840058/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527309518&sr=8-1&keywords=the+case+against+the+case+for+christ

        • That’s my biggest complaint about Strobel as well. I have no problem with a Christian arguing the Christian case, but don’t tell me that you’re a tough street-wise legal-minded journalist who is determined to get to the bottom of the story by understanding both sides.

          Did you see the movie?

        • epicurus

          No, haven’t seen it. I feared it might be another God is Not Dead monstrosity. I wondered if it talked about his supposed atheism but a commenter named ViqRuiz over at Randal Rauser’s blog told me
          “All it showed was that Strobel now sees himself prior to his conversion as a bit of an egotistical jerk. No attempt to set out his atheist beliefs.”

        • You missed nothing. If you have 5 minutes you don’t mind never getting back, my review is below.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/04/case-christ-now-movie/

        • epicurus

          Thanks, I’ll check it out.

        • epicurus

          Ok, just read it, thanks for saving me time and sanity.

        • epicurus

          Haha, I zipped through some comments there and turns out I made several, so I guess had read it last year. So much to remember, so little memory.

        • Michael Neville

          They tell me that memory is the second thing to go when we get older and I don’t remember what the first thing is.

        • Paul

          “No attempt to set out his atheist beliefs.”

          He’s right that atheists have beliefs.

        • Michael Neville

          Atheists’ belief is that they believe, due to the lack of evidence for gods, those critters do not exist.

        • Herald Newman

          Of course we have beliefs. Everyone has beliefs, including beliefs that are held for irrational reasons. I’ve never denied this, nor have I ever come across somebody who claims they hold no beliefs.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Yes, atheists have beliefs. All people do. It’s just that atheism isn’t necessarily a belief. This is the part that apologists have a hard time grasping.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Not on the ‘god’ question.

          On that topic, we’re purposely saying “I don’t know, and am waiting for evidence. Until then, I’m going to withhold judgement.”

          Also “Based on advocacy and evidence, statistically ‘god’ is unlikely, due to extraordinary claims and underwhelming (to the point of not existing) evidence presented.”

        • Greg G.

          Pedestrians have beliefs, too.

          Atheists have beliefs about religion that are not religious beliefs.

        • Herald Newman

          Did you see the movie?

          I did. I just borrowed the movie from the library last weekend. It was more entertaining than the book has been so far, but that really doesn’t say much.

          The softball questions drove me nuts, as did his useless “atheist” friend who told him “both sides have to take their position on faith.” Seriously, I don’t know what kind of idiotic skeptic would say this. The final face slapper of “there’s more evidence for your faith than I could have imagined” was just painful.

          Again, like the book, it’s clearly aimed at believers. If a skeptic has their hands in this movie it would have looked completely different, but would have had been a 4 hour movie.

        • “This is not a book to be tossed away lightly but thrown with great force.”

        • Greg G.

          I shall waste no time in reading it.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Given the way he did his “research,” I think The Case for Confirmation Bias would be a more appropriate title.

        • Good suggestion. Perhaps for the second edition?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Second edition??!! Is that a threat?

        • Greg G.

          Then Robert M. Price would have to retitle his book to The Case Against The Case for Confirmation Bias.

        • Michael Neville

          There’s the further point that Strobel only interviews evangelicals. No Catholics, moderate/liberal Protestants or other Christians offer their opinions.

        • epicurus

          I’m guessing he probably doesn’t think they are real Christians because they aren’t born again. Although from what I’ve read about Bruce Metzger, I’m not sure if he would be an evangelical or not.

        • MR

          Yes, the whole thing felt very dirty. He was clearly skipping over the obvious. As someone who was rooting for a reason to keep my faith, it only served to push me further away.

        • Paul

          “I really dislike that Strobel had his experts give their interpretation
          of the skeptics view and then their explanation of why it’s wrong. I get
          that it’s the case FOR Christ, and that it’s real purpose is to
          convince believers they’ve made the right choice…”

          Don’t atheist try to convince themselves that they’ve made the right choice? Bob’s blog posts are devoted to atheist apologetics. However, he spends more time engaging in negative apologetics, arguing against something, rather than positive apologetics, arguing for something. I would like to see Bob write a blog post titled “The Case for Atheism.”

          “Robert Price has a good refutation called ‘the case against the case for christ.’ ”

          That would be engaging in negative apologetics, which is the tactic that most atheists use in atheist apologetics. I would like to see more positive apologetics, that is, the case FOR atheism.

        • Otto

          I think you have a misconception of what atheism is. Atheism is the rejection of the claim that there is/are gods. As such atheism is a response to the theistic claim. All kinds of people claim that a certain god(s) exist, the atheist is simply saying ‘I don’t believe you’. We can get into the reasons why atheists don’t believe the theist, but without the initial god claim there can be no response. It would be like arguing invisible pixies don’t exist when no one is claiming that they do exist.

        • Paul

          “the atheist is simply saying ‘I don’t believe you’. ”

          And you hold to those beliefs with ardor and faith.

          religion: : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
          https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

        • Greg G.

          The Null Hypothesis is not a faith position. Anybody can imagine things without evidentiary support. The proper response is to wait for sufficient evidence to support the position. It is your job to support your claim with evidence, not for others, but for yourself.

          Trying to conflate atheism with religion is like calling not-collecting butterflies a hobby. Bald is not a hair color. Perfect health is not a disease.

        • Grimlock

          Hmm, how does atheism – defined as the belief (singular) in the non-existence of gods – count as a belief system?

          Grim

        • Otto

          Umm…no it does not take any faith to not believe a claim because of a lack of reasonable evidence for the claim.

        • Doubting Thomas

          The case for atheism is the case that religious claims are bullshit. I don’t know of any other way to do it.

        • Grimlock

          Well, sort of?

          Atheism and religion aren’t mutually exclusive – there are religions (versions of Buddhism, for instance) that are non-theistic. So it’d certainly be sufficient for atheism to demonstrate that religious claims are nonsense (as that’d demonstrate that the theistic subset of religious claims are bullshit), but it’s not necessary.

          I think the best way to support atheism would be to have a sensible framework in which it’s easy to see why theism have the burden of proof. Combining this with counter-apologetics, and you’re good to go. My favourite way of framing the burden of proof is probably what I’ve read by Paul Draper (Two sides of sparse PDF text: http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/files/2014/07/Draper-God-and-the-Burden-of-Proof.pdf). Basically, it goes something like this:
          1. In order to establish the burden of proof, one considers the two rival explanatory models in terms of what Draper calls ‘intrinsic probability’, which consists of
          1.1 Coherence, to what extent it’s free of contradictions.
          1.2 Modersty, i.e. how much content or claims there is to an hypothesis. (The more content, the lower instrinsic probability.)

          2. Compare naturalism with supernaturalism
          2.1 Naturalism defined as: The physical exists, and if the mental exists then it depends on the natural for its existence.
          2.2. Supernaturalism defined as: The mental exists, and if the physical exists then it depends on the mental for its existence.
          2.3. These have the same intrinsic probability: Equally modest and coherent. (Note: Before considering empirical evidence.)

          3. Consider the relationships between naturalism/supernaturalism and atheism/theism.
          3.1 Naturalism is a subset of atheism
          3.2 Theism is a subset of supernaturalism
          3.3 Possibly extent: Monotheism is a subset of theism, and Christianity is a subset of monotheism.
          3.4 This implies that the intrinsic probability of atheism is higher than that of theism.

          Thus, one concludes that the as the intrinsic probability of theism is lower than that of atheism, the burden of proof lies on the theist.

          Pardon the rather long response to your short remark, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to practice elaborating on the idea using my own words.

          Grim

        • Doubting Thomas

          While I appreciate the effort, I take the simpler approach. Supernatural claims are both unsupported by any evidence and in direct contradiction to both the claims themselves and to reality. I don’t think I need anything more than that.

        • Grimlock

          Fair enough. Can’t really say that I disagree.

          What do you mean when you say the claims are in direct contradiction to themselves?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Things like god being loving while also slaughtering children. Or god being just while torturing people forever. The claims in the story are contradicted by other parts of the story.

        • (Tip: if you include a link, always put a space after it. Any punctuation that touches it will be considered part of the URL. Below is Grimlock’s link in a way that stupid Disqus can understand.)

          http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/files/2014/07/Draper-God-and-the-Burden-of-Proof.pdf

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          Mostly we grouse at how those still deluded are trying to force us to play their Pretendy Fun Time Games™ by enshrining superstition into SECULAR law.

        • Ficino

          Boy, that atheist is dumber than a brick.

          Therefore, Christianity is proved true! Where do I sign up? Or … is it Islam that’s proved true? Or just plain old Aristotelian metaphysics …?

          /s

          The case for the non-existence of Santa Claus: no one has seen the dude, all the presents can be traced to human givers, we know a lot about the genesis of the Santa Claus stories and how they devolved from St. Nicholas of Myra stories … But I can’t prove that there is not an entity, to which humans give the name Santa Claus, that is undetectable and works mysteriously through intermediary agents so that his operations cannot be distinguished from the operations of human manufacturers and givers of gifts.

          Bob has been making a case for atheism over these last months by posting reasons why he does not believe that the God of the standard monotheistic religions exists. What else do you want him to add?

        • I would like to see Bob write a blog post titled “The Case for Atheism.”

          What an interesting coincidence! I just finished my “25 Reasons We Don’t Live in a World with a God” post series. Did you miss it? It was the previous post.
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/05/25-reasons-we-dont-live-in-a-world-with-a-god-part-13/

          I would like to see more positive apologetics, that is, the case FOR atheism.

          Why? Do you need positive arguments to know that unicorns aren’t worth believing in? What works for me: there aren’t good reasons to believe in unicorns, so I don’t.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I don’t even know how you could possibly make a “positive argument” against the existence of something.

        • Otto

          I think what he may want is that we adapt a hard atheism stance.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Even then, what arguments could you make for atheism that don’t end up being an argument against the existence of god?

        • Otto

          But I think that is what is wanted, that we make definitive arguments of why a god is impossible and not attack his religion specifically. At least that is my guess.

        • Pofarmer

          Victor Stenger did it,but it takes a lot of pages and a lot of science. Sean Carroll dabbles in it, as well.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “I’ll take ‘Impossible Conditions to Fulfill to Confound My Opponents’ for $600, Alex”

          😉

          (that’s why)

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The Case for Non-Stamp Collecting?

      • Paul

        “Apologetics isn’t for the lost, it’s for the saved.”

        “Apologetics” comes from the Greek word “apologia” which means “answer.” Apologetics is giving an answer to those that have questions about your beliefs. Bob has been engaging in Atheist apologetics. His entire blog is devoted to it. Even this particular blog post. He’s attempting to give answers to Atheists who want to give reasons (even bad ones) for their atheism.

        • MR

          Bob clearly includes both sides. He not only encourages but actively promotes bringing Christians to his site. I hate to say this (sorry Bob), but it isn’t so much for Bob’s arguments that I come here (often I don’t get around to reading his posts for some weeks), it’s to see the Christian responses.

        • No problem. That’s an important aspect of this conversation for me as well. I just wish we had more decent Christian respondents!

        • Herald Newman

          My point seems to have gone over your head by about three feet.

        • Paul

          You assumed I was addressing your point. I was simply stating what the word “apologetics” means and how it applies to atheists as well.

        • Greg G.

          Instead of defining apologetics, just present evidence for god thingies.

        • Paul

          We all have the exact same evidence. But people have different interpretations of the exact same evidence. Hence, there are different world views.

        • Herald Newman

          Yes, when you start with the assumption that the supernatural is real, there’s pretty much no limit to what conclusions you can draw from the “evidence”.

        • Doubting Thomas

          We call that “God Goggles.”

        • They do have different interpretations, but are all interpretations equally justified? Say you believe the earth is spherical and I believe it’s flat–are we equally justified in our beliefs, or does evidence say that one is more justified?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Your presuppositions poison your conclusions.

          Get us to accept your presuppositions or you’re just JAQ-ing off in public.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m very well aware of what the word “apologetics” means. Perhaps you’re not aware, but there is this crazy thing many in the first world have access to called the “internet.” I hear you can even lookup the meaning of words using something called a “search engine.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ONLY 3 feet? 😉

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          In the vernacular, ‘apologetics’ is xtians trying to demonstrate that xtianity is objectively true and valid.

          So stop pettifogging and show us your evidence.

        • Paul

          The evidence is exactly the same for everyone: the universe and everything in it.

        • Greg G.

          The universe and everything in it is evidence for the universe and everything in it. The universe and everything in it is not evidence for the Greek Pantheon or the Egyptian creation myths, either.

          ETA the last word.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Are you joking?

        • Doubting Thomas

          I dropped a nice turd today and did so in the universe. Is my turd evidence for god?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The Universe is evidence of the Universe.

          Doesn’t get you to any particular idea unless you presuppose it.

        • give answers to Atheists who want to give reasons (even bad ones) for their atheism

          Are the arguments here bad? Show us. Point out the flaws.

        • Susan

          Bob has been engaging in Atheist apologetics.

          What sort of defense is required for “I don’t believe you?”

          No. Bob examines christian claims and support for those claims.

          Hence, the name of the site “Cross Examined”.

          Christians who engage with atheists spend way too much time pretending that not believing in unsupported, apparently imaginary beings is a claim in and of itself.

          I think they need to do that in order to divert from the fact that they have no support for their claims.

          Burden shifting is the first tactic.

          It’s really getting annoying.

        • Burden shifting is the first tactic.

          Cuz sharing the gospel is a burden.

      • MR

        I read Strobel when I was still a Christian but struggling. A fellow Christian recommended it. It ended up being another nail in the coffin. His whole argument seemed to be, “if the Bible is true, then Jesus is Christ. He hand waved that the Bible was true, then spent the better part of the book explaining why the Bible says Jesus was Christ. Wait, wait, you skipped over the important part! He was so clearly writing for believers to give them justification for their belief. But anyone seriously looking at the arguments and struggling could see through his ruse. For me it was yet another example of how Christian apologists twist arguments to deceive their own. Why would God be behind someone so disingenuous and dishonest?

      • Pofarmer

        Lee Strobel is just so bad. It’s hard to tell if he’s dishonest or stupid

        • MR

          I rather lean towards dishonest.

        • Joe

          He’s both. That wasn’t hard at all.

        • Pofarmer

          I suppose I shouldn’t have set up a false dichotomy.

    • Greg G.

      …and a fanatical devotion to the Pope. Religion is spread by FIVE basic methods.. I’ll come in again.

      • epicurus

        Nobody expects the ……

  • abb3w

    Then you don’t know what the Problem of Evil is, because it is precisely just a Christian problem.

    Well, not just Christian; it also would seem to apply to any non-Panglossian believer in an omnipotent and omnibenevolent deity, whether Christian or otherwise.

    If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.

    Sounds right,

    Not entirely; but it seems largely to depend somewhat on how “objective” is defined.

  • Castilliano

    I like your Hypothetical God Fallacy label, and I’ll offer two more angles to view the same issue from:
    1. Schrodinger’s God Fallacy: Where target god, being beyond our mortal observation, could have whatever attributes necessary to quell any and all issues, so therefore does have those attributes whenever needed to suit the narrative. The range of attributes includes contradictory traits which, if pointed out, only serve to make target god all the more mysterious, divine, and amazing while also often having the awkward psychological effect of strengthening the believer’s certainty (even as you highlighted their ignorance!). This angle also displays how they’re defining god into existence, mainly via evasion.

    2. Inherent Presuppositionalism: Where believers recognize their target god as an option or consideration before that god has been shown to exist. Gods having to earn their spots on multiple choice problems or fill-in-the-blank questions can be hard for many believers to fathom, since they’ve woven god-concept(s) into their worldviews. Nearly all apologetics attempt to prove a god by posing a quandary which their god (or a deist god) solves, except “being one of an infinite number of mysterious solutions which may or may not exist” is neither evidence nor argument for a god’s existence. And it’s not too hard to invent a better fantasy solution either, assuming there isn’t already a factual solution the believer’s ignoring.

    I remember a discussion with J.P. Moreland after he gave an Argument from Consciousness, where when I mentioned it didn’t prove Yahweh, he leapt to how he understood it proved only a deist god. Unfortunately, it was at a conference and he spun into a spiel and on to the next person before I could continue. I was going to point out that his argument didn’t point to ANY god at all, just a disembodied “thinker”, and that’s not even addressing his poor premises (which many of the Christians in attendance attacked!)

    So yeah, that good ol’ mix of assertion & obfuscation. It really is like brainwashing. 🙁

  • skl

    “… The Problem of Good…
    What’s difficult? We’re good because of evolution.”

    I think I see the problem:
    There is no “good” in evolution, so we can’t be “good because of evolution.”

    • Thanks for your help, but I don’t see a problem. “Good” is what evolution tells us is good. Evolution tells us that A, B, and C are good, so when we come across situations A, B, or C, we consult our moral programming and conclude, “This is good.” I see no evidence for an objective (grounded outside humans) good.

      • skl

        “Good” is what evolution tells us is good.”

        It tells us no such thing.

        • Susan

          I don’t agree with Bob that evolution “tells us what’s good”.

          Nor do I agree with you that “it tells us no such thing.”

          What tells us what’s good skl? How can we justify any claim about good?

          That requires explaining what you mean by “good”.

          Of course, you won’t do that.

          You’ll just ignore and weasel.

          If you decide not to do that, here’s your chance.

        • Then straighten us out. Make an argument. Say something useful.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)
        • MR

          Captain Haddock! I didn’t know he spoke English!

        • skl

          “Say something useful.”

          One’s perception of “useful” is related to one’s perception of “good.”

        • You’re not helping your case.

      • JustinL

        I think you’re being too vague with the word “good.” In terms of evolution, I would associate “good” with something like “beneficial to our well-being,” which I think is the general basis for what most people would consider our shared moral values.

        • Things that are good often are beneficial, but that’s not why we call them “good.” Being altruistic isn’t beneficial, but that’s usually good.

          Beneficial things were selected by evolution, so we have moral programming that tells us that those things are good.

        • Otto

          I disagree that being altruistic isn’t beneficial, I think people get a lot out of helping others and being generous.

        • Whoops! Good catch. I meant, being altruistic isn’t always beneficial. Said the other way, being selfish isn’t always bad.

        • Otto

          That I agree with. I took a college course on compassion where the small class would do different types of community work (helping homeless shelters, etc.) and then talk about the experiences. One of the main topics was how helping other people can be selfish, and that is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with being selfish in some ways. For instance if we do not feed and take care of ourselves we are not going to be in a good position to help others, and even helping others gives us benefits itself. We feel better about ourselves, we have endorphin rush, people look at us favorably, and even if no one else notices we feel good about ourselves that we did something to help another. The point was that we as humans like to frame such behavior as being completely selfless, and it really almost never is.

          It was the type of discussion I never got in all my years of being told to help others from religion. You were just told to do it because God wants you to (and you may be punished if you don’t), and that you should be as completely selfless as possible. That religious thinking missed a lot and IMO stymied the process.

        • Paul

          “we have moral programming that tells us that those things are good.”

          Yes, we do, but you have no evidence that it comes from evolution, a blind undirected process. Just saying that doesn’t make it so. Evolution can’t “tell” you that. That’s a reification fallacy. Seems to me that is just how you are interpreting the evidence.

        • Greg G.

          Evolution is known to be effective. While we cannot know that we weren’t poofed into existence last Thursday, evolution is the most likely mechanism we have for such explanations. Evolution is a more realistic explanation than “Poof, Godidit”.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          There IS evidence that evolution caused it. Those without the traits didn’t survive to produce offspring, statistically.

          ‘Nuff said.

        • Are you saying that biologists do indeed tell us that morality comes from evolution but that they have no evidence to say so?

          And you seem bursting to tell us where moral programming does come from. Go ahead. And be sure to give us the evidence that would make your argument compelling.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          “And you seem bursting to tell us where moral programming does come from.”

          God, via the Bible, of course!

          Sorry, did I just spoil it for everyone?

        • Max Doubt

          “Sorry, did I just spoil it for everyone?”

          I dunno. Does the movie end the same way?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          /s

          LOL

        • MR

          Beneficial things were selected by evolution (from further up thread)

          Evolution works in a funny way that makes it difficult to talk about. We talk about evolution “selecting” things, but that’s not really what is happening. When we use terms like selects, guides, etc., it leads to the obvious question, what is the active agent that is doing the selecting or the guiding? I agree with Paul that we tend to reify evolution. “Natural selection” was an unfortunate term if you ask me. Evolution is really more like a pruning process. Life is continually changing (evolving), but only some of it reaches a new level. Most of those changes are culled or pruned away and life gets defined not by what was selected, but by what managed to survive. In a sense, what does the “selecting” is death, not evolution. If you evolve a part that is not beneficial, death essentially votes you off the island. I envision evolution like a shrub on the top of a mountain that is continuously buffeted by cold, harsh winds which are constantly snapping off leaves and weaker limbs and yet the shrub tenaciously clings to life and only the strongest parts survive and grow. Evolution doesn’t select anything. Evolution doesn’t “build” new species. Life is just constantly changing and trying to stay alive against all the odds, and there are only a, ahem, select few variations that can make the cut. [eta]: The process of evolution is more like “negative space” or “background/form.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Evolution doesn’t prune. Time and reproductive success do that, without any agency, merely conditions that must be adapted to or overcome (which is a form of adaptation).

        • MR

          Yes, I went back to correct myself, probably you didn’t see the change. I was careless to say evolution prunes. I fell into the same trap of reifying evolution myself. It’s a convenient shortcut to describe what is happening when we say evolution, but it’s misleading. Apologists use the semantics as a red herring. It’s maddening. If anything, it’s the conditions that “prune,” if you will. Life just keeps pumping out variations, the conditions cull the flock and define (another agent word) what survives.

        • Greg G.

          Shit happens. The shit circumstances that allow certain combinations of genetic structures to reproduce due to the effect of the proteins coded for versus those combinations that reproduce less effectively is what we call evolution.

        • Is your point that “natural selection” allows someone to say, “Ah, but selected by whom??”?

          The process of evolution is more like “negative space” or “background/form” from what we think it is.

          Because the selection isn’t “Good for you! You get to advance to the next round.” but rather “You die”? Yes, good point.

        • MR

          Is your point that “natural selection” allows someone to say, “Ah, but selected by whom??”?

          Yes. For the apologists, it’s a red herring. It gives them an out and a squirrel to chase down a rabbit hole. (How many animal metaphors can you blend?) But also for people who don’t understand evolution it can be confusing, which makes the apologist’s argument sounds good. “Nature selects, evolution chooses, genes guide the process…,” we tend to talk about evolution using “agent” words, that is, verbs that usually require someone, something actively doing something. It’s a convenient shortcut way of describing things, but that’s not what really happens in evolution. It’s also very difficult to describe evolution without falling back on such shortcut words, otherwise you have to go to great lengths to describe the process, and it’s not like we have an audience that cares to understand the process. They’re just looking for an out.

        • Pofarmer

          Surely you could have worked a white elephant or a Unicorn in there somewhere.

        • Greg G.

          (How many animal metaphors can you blend?)

          Whale, I’ll take my turn at bat to ferret out a few that mare may not work but it might put a bee in your bonnet.

        • Max Doubt

          “And be sure to give us the evidence that would make your argument compelling.”

          … or even plausible.

        • Paul

          You’re the one making the argument. I’m asking you for the evidence that morality comes from evolution. Is your last question implying that biologists are telling you that morality comes from evolution and you believe what they are telling you? Is your evidence “because that what biologists tell us.”?

        • Is your last question implying that biologists are telling you that morality comes from evolution and you believe what they are telling you?

          Correct.

          Is your evidence “because that what biologists tell us.”?

          My evidence is what the biologists use to make their conclusion. If you’re pointing out that I don’t understand the evidence as well as the biologists themselves, I agree.

        • Paul

          “My evidence is what the biologists use to make their conclusion.”

          So would you agree that you have “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith?” Defintion 4 of the word “religion.”
          https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion
          Because you’re essentially taking their word for it, right?

        • So would you agree that you have “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith?”

          You’re adorable! No, I don’t hold to science with faith.

          You’ve been misinformed–there actually are stupid questions.

          Because you’re essentially taking their word for it, right?

          Science has a track record. I evaluate that track record with evidence. When science says that the technology that uses it is sound, I can often test that. Do the lights work reliably? Does my cell phone work? My car? GPS?

          Religion works a little differently. Every time you try to pin down a claim with evidence, there’s always some excuse for why that’s inappropriate.

        • Paul

          “No, I don’t hold to science with faith.”

          That’s not what I asked now, is it? What I asked was “you’re essentially taking their [the biologists] word for it, right?” Because you said “”My evidence is what the biologists use to make their conclusion.”

          So do you take the word of the biologists on faith? I was not asking if you took science on faith. Do you take the biologist’s interpretation of the evidence on faith?

          “Science has a track record. I evaluate that track record with evidence.
          When science says that the technology that uses it is sound, I can often
          test that. Do the lights work reliably? Does my cell phone work? My
          car? GPS?”

          Observational science is different. It can be substantiated with demonstrable and repeatable experiments. Trying to reconstruct the past doesn’t work that way. Can it be observed? Sure, we can make educated guesses about the past using forensic science, but does that make it fact?

          The question I was essentially asking was: Do you take the biologist interpretation of the past on faith? If so, would you agree that you have “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith?” Definition 4 of the word “religion.”
          https://www.merriam-webster

        • So do you take the word of the biologists on faith?

          No! Damn, how hard is this? Biologists deliver. When they tell us something, it gets tested, and it usually turns out to be true. No faith required. I trust what they say.

          Observational science is different.

          Huh? Divide sciences into observational and whatever other bins you imagine, and then show me some non-Creationist site that supports the distinctions you make.

          The days when science had to be done using your own senses are over.

          Sure, we can make educated guesses about the past using forensic science, but does that make it fact?

          Of course not, because scientific conclusions are never facts. Facts go in, and hypotheses, theories, laws, etc. come out.

        • Paul

          “When they tell us something, it gets tested, and it usually turns out to be true.”

          How do you test something that allegedly happened millions of years ago do any degree of accuracy? You obviously can’t do that with your own senses since you weren’t there. Are you using someone else’s?

          “I trust what they say.”

          Even when “scientific conclusions are never facts.”? Interesting. Sounds to me like you’re taking it on faith. People obviously use science to come to conclusions about the past, but there’s an obvious belief component there. I’m wondering how you don’t see that.

          “I trust what they say.”

          And I trust what God says in His word: the Bible.

          “show me some non-Creationist site that supports the distinctions you make.”

          I’ve told you this before in a different blog post. One example I gave was a science course by Professor Robert Hazen. He said Geology is a historical science. Paleontology is also a historical science. Trying to figure out what happened in the past is completely different from performing experiments to figure out how something works, like your lights, car, GPS, or cell phone. Can you not see the difference?

        • And I trust what God says in His word: the Bible. I put my trust in God’s word. You are putting your trust in the words of men.

          There’s not much for us to talk about then.

        • Paul

          Yes there is. The point being that It’s all about worldviews – the foundations for why people think the way they do. I’m trying to understand your worldview foundation and why you believe what you do.

        • epeeist

          The point being that It’s all about worldviews

          So you’re a truth relativist.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It’s not about worldviews. It’s about what is most likely correct and the best way of determining that.

          There is zero doubt that the Bible is the work of ignorant superstitious men. It’s not my worldview that determined that. It’s that all evidence we have clearly points to that conclusion. I don’t have to make excuses about why genocide can be right in a certain context or why selling your daughter to her rapist was morally good at one time because my methodology is sound. I don’t have to hear about children starving to death by the thousands and simultaneously believe that a loving god who could easily feed them watches it all happen and does nothing because I understand what should happen in that situation.

          Figure out how to think better. Learn to identify fallacious arguments, motivated reasoning, and confirmation bias and see how often you find them in religious arguments. Find out why your worldview doesn’t match the actual world.

        • Paul

          “It’s about what is most likely correct and the best way of determining that.”

          Yes, that’s why it IS about worldviews. It’s about which view of the world is most likely correct.

          “It’s that all evidence we have clearly points to that conclusion.”

          The evidence is the same for everyone: we have the same universe, the same galaxies, the same solar systems. We live on the same earth, and have the rock layers and fossils. To say that the evidence “points” or “leads” to a particular conclusion is a reification fallacy (a.k.a. anthropomorphic bias). The evidence physically cannot do that. Evidence must be interpreted and it’s done so through one’s worldview. So it does come down to worldviews and which one is most likely correct.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Are you a young earth creationist?

        • epeeist

          Are you a young earth creationist?

          Straight out of the AiG stable, look at his posts on the difference between “experimental” and “historical” science.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          When we get to the part of the discussion where he claims his god created the universe with the appearance of age, can someone please ask him what the functional difference is between a universe that’s actually 13 billion years old and a universe that was created recently but made to appear, down to the tiniest detail, that it’s 13 billion years old?

          And then we can get the lame explanation for why this doesn’t actually mean that a god that would do this is a complete liar and a dick.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          I expect him to say “Were you there?” in an Australian accent any moment now.

        • epeeist

          He already has.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          In those words? I guess I missed it in the onslaught…

          (I admit that I don’t actually read what YECs have to say anymore, since they all follow exactly the same script.)

        • epeeist

          Evidence must be interpreted and it’s done so through one’s worldview.

          And once more you demonstrate that you are a truth relativist.

        • Otto

          Here is the thing…everything about evolution could be proven false and it won’t change my stance one bit. Atheistic views are not grounded in evolution…evolution is just what is seen of the best explanation of how we got from A-B. All the scientists could be completely wrong and it won’t matter one iota as to my atheism. Can you say the same about the religious authorities you defer to?

          >>>”And I trust what God says in His word: the Bible.”

          I hate to break it to you but God didn’t write the Bible.

        • Paul

          “I hate to break it to you but God didn’t write the Bible.”

          I have no doubt that you believe that.

          “evolution is just what is seen of the best explanation of how we got from A-B.”

          And I don’t see evidence of universal common descent so to me it’s not the best explanation.

          “Can you say the same about the religious authorities you defer to?”

          I don’t put my trust in religious authorities. I put my trust in God. The things said by religious authorities need to be validated against the word of God.

        • Otto

          >>>”I have no doubt that you believe that.”

          Everything in the Bible is traced to a person writing it. People have been claiming to write and talk for God for thousands of years. We have lots of evidence that people claim to speak for God and none that such a thing has actually happened.

          >>>”And I don’t see evidence of universal common descent so to me it’s not the best explanation.”

          You don’t see evidence, or you reject it because to accept such evidence would conflict with your religious views?

          >>>”I don’t put my trust in religious authorities.”

          It doesn’t matter what you point to, the Bible was written by men so those men who wrote it are your religious authorities.

        • Oh, dear–yet another Christian who thinks that he gets to be Judge and Jury of Science. The entire profession of biologists can’t figure it out but you can?

          How lucky for us that you’re here.

        • Paul

          Bizarre. I don’t claim to be the judge and jury of science.

          “The entire profession of biologists…”

          Not everyone in the ENTIRE profession of biology agree. You choose to blindly follow the majority. I listen to the different arguments and adjudicate.

        • epeeist

          I listen to the different arguments and adjudicate.

          So based on your superhuman ability to determine which parts of biology are correct and incorrect why don’t you give us your inspired analysis of this random paper from the Journal of Evolutionary Biology and tell us whether the authors are right or wrong.

        • I don’t claim to be the judge and jury of science.

          And yet you consider what Biology says and you declare that it’s wrong.

          Not everyone in the ENTIRE profession of biology agree.

          Good point. I should’ve said: the overwhelming consensus.

          You choose to blindly follow the majority. I listen to the different arguments and adjudicate.

          Right. And you have the education to adjudicate, Mr. “Don’t Call me Judge” Paul.

          There’s nothing blind about my trust. It’s based on evidence.

        • Paul

          “There’s nothing blind about my trust. It’s based on evidence.”

          So you have the education to adjudicate the the majority is correct? I’m at least glad to hear that you are evaluating their arguments.

          There’s nothing blind about my trust in God. It’s based on evidence.

          “And yet you consider what Biology says and you declare that it’s wrong.”

          Did I say it’s ALL wrong. NO. Why would they lie about things that can be testable and repeatable? Someone will eventually find them out. But for them to be dogmatic about the unobservable and unrepeatable past, then their arguments need to be scrutinized. Take Philosophy 101, a logic and reason class, and they will teach you how to evaluate arguments and determine whether it’s logically sound.
          And ultimately, when it comes to the past, it’s largely more a worldview issue than a scientific issue. So I’m really adjudicating between worldviews here.

          “And you have the education to adjudicate…”

          Take a logic and reason course and you can do the same. Among others, one of the things you will learn is that moral subjectivism is logically false. You can’t have “A” and “not A” at the same time. It violates the law of non-contradiction.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Among others, one of the things you will learn is that moral
          subjectivism is logically false. You can’t have “A” and “not A” at the
          same time. It violates the law of non-contradiction.

          Which part of subjective morality violates the law of non-contradiction?

        • You know me–I’m a big fan of evidence. And you say you have it for God? Great–I’d like to hear it.

        • Paul

          “All the scientists could be completely wrong and it won’t matter one iota as to my atheism.”

          I read that statement last night and found it to be interesting to say the least. Trying to figure out what you meant by that. Would it possibly mean something along the lines of “I am my man” or “i make my own rules.” If not, what exactly do you mean by that?

        • Doubting Thomas

          I’m guessing he’s pointing out that evolution could be shown to be completely false and that wouldn’t make god any more plausible or probable.

        • Otto

          I mean that my not believing the claims of religion are not hinged on evolution.

        • MR

          Evolution didn’t break my belief in Christianity. Christianity did.

        • Greg G.

          Learning about evolution got me to rethinking creationism but hearing a preacher telling what scientists say about evolution and being completely wrong, then speaking about heaven with the same gravitas in his voice did get me to questioning what I was being told. The preacher could easily find out what scientists say but he could find out what heaven was like but that was no barrier to him preaching it.

        • MR

          I know, right? Regardless of what science says, if you’re misrepresenting what it says, you’ve already lost your own credibility. Don’t talk to me about science if you’re just going to misrepresent it. Tell me why I should believe your religion instead. To quote Susan, “What do you believe, and how do you support it?”

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          It may be entirely possible that evolution could be shown to be entirely false.

          The thing is, it would be scientists, using the scientific method, showing that it’s false, not theologians and theologian wannabes. And even if it were falsified, the explanation wouldn’t default to “a god did it”, and it certainly wouldn’t default to “some petty, barbaric ancient Palestinian/Canaanite god of war did it”.

        • epeeist

          It may be entirely possible that evolution could be shown to be entirely false.

          You might have added, “and all this would show is that the theory of evolution is false”, otherwise he will do the standard false dichotomy thing and assume that this means that creationism is true.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          Good point.

        • Jeez–why was that hard?

        • Otto

          Because if evolution is false than Jesus was totally born of a virgin, etc. for realsies…obviously.

        • epeeist

          How do you test something that allegedly happened millions of years ago do any degree of accuracy?

          Let’s take the Big Bang as an example. The theory predicts that the universe should have a black body thermal spectrum. When we look at the CMBR we get the curve below:

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cd/Cmbr.svg/1000px-Cmbr.svg.png

          You should note that the error bars are in actual fact smaller than the thickness of the line.

          One example I gave was a science course by Professor Robert Hazen. He said Geology is a historical science. Paleontology is also a historical science.

          Hazen doesn’t help you, he accepts the consensus on things like the age of the earth and the theory of evolution, he is by no means a creationist.

          Can you not see the difference?

          There is one difference, in a experiment with control over the variables then one can make claims about causality. Where one is dealing purely with observations then one can usually only make claims about correlation (strictly, if one is dealing with situations where a D-N covering law applies then one can make causal inferences whereas in cases where an I-S covering law applies then one can only make correlational inferences).

        • Michael Neville

          We always seem to be giving discussions and explanations of basic philosophy of science to people who “know” that science is wrong because it contradicts 2500 year old religious mythology.

        • epeeist

          And philosophy and science more generally, not forgetting epistemology and logic. More often than not to people who seem to have little knowledge beyond what would be expected of those with a good primary school education.

        • Pofarmer

          It won’t even be that before long. I beleive it’s Arizona which just took evolution out of it’s teaching standards.

      • Otto

        I am probably picking nits here but just in my own mind I am not sure it is completely correct to say that only evolution informs our morality. I think it has more to do with the physical world we find ourselves in and the constraints of it. I look at it like game theory, the physical world sets the ‘rules’ we have to live in and then morality is an emergent system that comes naturally from our situation, which of course IS evolved and evolving. We developed socially because there are benefits to being a social species given our physical world, and being social requires a certain amount of morality. The reason I take issue with the way you phrased it is that if we say that morality just comes from evolution, there is still the question of ‘why’ that is, which is what I think Paul is trying to get at.

        • That sounds right.

          The main interesting thing that I’m trying to say is that there is no good/bad that we discover (that’s externally grounded). Rather, we consult our conscience (moral programming) with a moral situation.

          Sometimes we get a good-feelings/happy/yes-go-for-it! response. Other times, it’s yuck!/danger!/avoid-please. (And of course it can be in between.) We label the former “good actions” and the latter “bad actions.”

          if we say that morality just comes from evolution, there is still the question of ‘why’ that is, which is what I think Paul is trying to get at.

          It’s not just that this set of moral opinions is evolutionarily beneficial?

        • Otto

          >>>”It’s not just that this set of moral opinions is evolutionarily beneficial?”

          I think the basics are, but then we have to extrapolate from the basic to get answers as to the more complex. Is abortion itself evolutionary beneficial? Probably not, but the reasons for abortion are; bodily autonomy, individual rights (which are themselves derived from even more basic premises). I think we often take a lot of these thought processes for granted because the basic premises are are taken as a given, that being the case we often have a hard time explaining complex morality.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I used to get the “yuck” feeling when I saw two guys kissing. Should I have labeled guys kissing as a bad action? I don’t think so. I think evolution might explain why we do or feel things, but it doesn’t tell us what we should do. I understand that there are things like being against homosexuality or being tribal that might be evolved responses. I also understand that we are hairless monkeys and that our evolution hasn’t exactly readied us for the modern world in which we live.

        • Yes, my explanation was too brief. We get our morals IMO from our moral programming as well as from society. If I may respond very briefly to your example, the moral programming gives us the visceral response, but then our cultural programming gives us the socially appropriate response.

    • Nick G

      You’re right in the first clause – evolution is simply an undirected natural process – but wrong in thinking that the second clause follows. Indeed, you haven’t even tried to justify the validity of the implication. Evolution does account for us having moral intuitions – because we are social beings with linguistic capabilities*, those of our recent ancestors with such intuitions survived and reproduced more successfully than those without them. So in that clear sense, we are indeed “good because of evolution”. The detailed content of an individual’s moral intuitions are a result partly of evolution, partly of culture, partly of individual character and circumstances.

      *These capabilities enable us to formulate such intuitions, consider, criticize and modify them, but we can see at least rudimentary versions of them in many (non-linguistic) social animals.

      • skl

        “You’re right in the first clause – evolution is simply an undirected natural process – but wrong in thinking that the second clause follows. Indeed, you haven’t even tried to justify the validity of the implication.”

        Maybe I will after you justify the validity of the implication that the rest of the known lifeless universe is “bad”.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      What evolution reinforces is considered good by those who survive by the reinforced trait, especially if it doesn’t harm another.

    • Joe

      Ah, you still don’t understand the nature of concepts, such as “Good”.

      Maybe some day you will, and we can have an honest conversation.

      • Otto

        The honest part is far more problematic than defining ‘good’.

  • Nick G

    The same could be true for the Invisible Pink Unicorn (glitter be upon Him)

    Blasphemy! How can you not know the IPU (GBUH) is female???

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      H(im/er)maphrodite?

      😉

    • Hold on–you’re not part of the blasphemous splinter group that broke from the True Word during the Great Schism of 1998??

      You’re dead to me. The Invisible Pink Unicorn is obviously male. He said so Himself.

      /s

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      I had the misfortune of standing next to His Horniness. He shrugged, and I got slapped in the shin.

  • Nick G

    A related point. If the existence of apparently gratuitous evil is not even evidence against the existence of a good God, then even if all we could perceive was a multitude of innocent beings in continual agony, this would not be evidence against the existence of a good God. This is an obvious consequence of the apologist’s “argument”, but is it one they would want to maintain?

    • RichardSRussell

      If billions upon billions of souls are living for all eternity (IE, infinite time) in flaming agony, then any finite amount of happiness (such as whatever dollop might exist in a fraction of the human population for a few hundred thousand years on Earth) would be effectively zero in the grand scheme of things. x ÷ ∞ = 0. Conclusion: God is the cruelest, most heinous sadist imaginable, with barely a shred of redeeming social value. I guess if you wanted to call that an absolute moral standard, I wouldn’t argue the point.

    • Tangent on the topic of stupid arguments: Today I was listening to apologist Greg Koukl blather on about atheists’ lack of objective morality. He gave Sam Harris’s complaint against slavery in the OT and said that, while Harris had no foundation for objective morality and couldn’t say anything about slavery, Christians could.

      He wanted to go down the path questioning atheists’ lack of objective morality (giving no argument that objective morality exists, of course). But the elephant in the room is that he says Christians are able to justify their morality, and they say that slavery is wrong!

      • Doubting Thomas

        Christians can objectively prove that the Bible is immoral. It’s quite the conundrum.

        • Perhaps they don’t realize what a powerful tool they have with the Bible. Or something.

  • Paul

    “You could ask the different question, how does an atheist explain the bad in the world?”

    But before asking that question, another question needs to be asked: how does an atheist define the word “bad”?

    • Greg G.

      But before asking that question, another question needs to be asked: how does an atheist define the word “bad”?

      On a scale between Most Undesirable and Most Desirable.

      • Paul

        But then how would you define “desirable”?

        • Greg G.

          But then how would you define “desirable”?

          Subjectively.

        • Paul

          OK. At least that’s an honest answer. But then would be dogmatic about what’s “good” or “bad”?

        • Greg G.

          No, dogmatism comes from claiming your subjective idea of good or bad is objective. I would argue my position and would defend it for any who disagree with your dogmatic pretense.

        • Paul

          If you’re defending something subjective, you’re being dogmatic.

        • Greg G.

          If I argue for my subjective position and you argue for your subjective position, we might be able to work something out. If one of us pretends our position is objective, no compromise will be possible because of the dogmatism.

          Exodus 34:26b (NIV)26b “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

          Does that make it objectively immoral to make a goatburger with feta cheese? Or is it only if you make it with the actual offspring of the goat that produced the milk for the cheese? Or is it objectively immoral to make a dish with meat and cheese? Is it OK to make a cheeseburger with a beef burger and goat cheese? Was it objectively immoral then but not now?

          Here is a list of verses that say “aroma pleasing” or “pleasing aroma” regarding sacrifices in the NIV.

          Genesis 8:21
          Exodus 29:18
          Exodus 29:25
          Exodus 29:41
          Leviticus 1:9
          Leviticus 1:13
          Leviticus 1:17
          Leviticus 2:2
          Leviticus 2:9
          Leviticus 2:12
          Leviticus 3:5
          Leviticus 3:16
          Leviticus 4:31
          Leviticus 6:15
          Leviticus 6:21
          Leviticus 8:21
          Leviticus 8:28
          Leviticus 17:6
          Leviticus 23:13
          Leviticus 23:18
          Leviticus 26:31
          Numbers 15:3
          Numbers 15:7
          Numbers 15:10
          Numbers 15:13
          Numbers 15:14
          Numbers 15:24
          Numbers 18:17
          Numbers 28:2
          Numbers 28:6
          Numbers 28:8
          Numbers 28:13
          Numbers 28:24
          Numbers 28:27
          Numbers 29:2
          Numbers 29:6
          Numbers 29:8
          Numbers 29:13
          Numbers 29:36

          Does that mean the aroma of burnt flesh is objectively pleasing, since it is pleasing to the Lord?

          If picking up sticks is OK six days a week but a capital crime one day a week according to the Bible, we should dismiss the Bible as a source of morality. If you need a reasonable system of morality to read the Bible, then you shouldn’t base your morality on the Bible because it is neither objective or sensible.

          You have no basis for claiming you have objective morals. Your morals are as subjective as everybody else’s.

        • Ctharrot

          There’s the rub, no? At the end of the day, believers schooled in the same scriptures as the basis for their “objective” morality will give you wildly different answers as to whether certain actions are moral, depending on their denominations, their interpretive approaches, their cultural frames of reference, their historical situations, and any number of other variables.

          Most Christians today would readily agree that it would be patently immoral to–

          Hang or burn someone just for being a Wiccan;
          Punish consensual, same-sex intimacy with any sort of execution (much less stoning, one of the most agonizing, humiliating, and traumatic deaths ever conceived);
          Instruct a rape victim to marry her assailant;
          Purchase, conquer, or breed human beings as chattel property;
          Segregate, censor, and/or otherwise oppress religious non-conformists;
          Etc.

          Yet such actions were viewed as consistent with (and even required by) God’s law, not only among God’s chosen people during antiquity, but also during most of Christendom’s history.

          There’s nothing objective, timeless, or transcendent about the morality we see in practice. It’s a protean hot mess of power struggles, privileges, duties, compromises, consensus, and pro-social efficiencies. Not perfect, but perfectly human.

        • “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
          Does that make it objectively immoral to make a goatburger with feta cheese?

          And that’s the basis for the prohibition against eating meat and dairy together? Amazing, since that’s not what it says. One interpretation that I like is the idea that goat cooked in milk was a popular dish in Babylon, so when the exile was lifted, the religious leaders didn’t want the newly returned Jews to maintain their old captivity customs. So they made God prohibit them. Your thoughts?

          Here is a list of verses that say “aroma pleasing” or “pleasing aroma” regarding sacrifices in the NIV.

          The New Testament says, “[Jesus] gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). They must’ve forgotten to burn his body. (Golly—does that mean that the salvation thing didn’t work, and I’m still in my sins??)

        • Greg G.

          And that’s the basis for the prohibition against eating meat and dairy together? Amazing, since that’s not what it says. One interpretation that I like is the idea that goat cooked in milk was a popular dish in Babylon, so when the exile was lifted, the religious leaders didn’t want the newly returned Jews to maintain their old captivity customs. So they made God prohibit them. Your thoughts?

          I think I read that theory about 30 years ago. I recall that they thought pork was eaten by their neighbors at their festivals so they couldn’t eat pork. Tyre and Sidon ate seafood and the Dead Sea didn’t have any, so that was banned. But I think that was before Finkelstein and Silberman worked on the archaeological sites that showed similar culture except that some had pig bones and some did not. So at least some of their food laws precede the Babylonian exile by about a thousand years.

          The New Testament says, “[Jesus] gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). They must’ve forgotten to burn his body. (Golly—does that mean that the salvation thing didn’t work, and I’m still in my sins??)

          2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NRSV)14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

          There isn’t much in the New Testament about bathing but there is some foot washing. Apparently you only need Jesus B. O. as long as you don’t smell like feet. I hope it isn’t that 300 denari nard smell we are supposed to get. I hope God likes Old Spice.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I prefer Arm & Hammer. I used to use Old Spice, but it started chafing my pits and burning.

        • Kevin K

          I do believe that this is why heretics were burned at the stake. It’s a human sacrifice/burnt offering for Yahweh. Real “old school”.

        • Paul

          “If I argue for my subjective position….”

          If you do that, then you’re being dogmatic.

        • Greg G.

          An attempt at persuasion is not dogmatism. Trying to convince someone that they are wrong is not dogmatism. That is what I am doing.

          Refusing to reason is dogmatism. You are trying to impose your opinion without reason. Instead of trying to present a logical argument, you present your religion’s dogma. You are being dogmatic.

        • I know Christmas is a long ways away, but I’d start that letter to Santa today. Put “dictionary” at the top of the list.

        • Otto

          Along with trying to get atheists to question reality itself the other tactic is trying to parse every definition of everyday words to find some crack that can be filled with the religion of the particular apologist’s choice. Then in the next breath the conflation of definitions begins.

        • I don’t get it. Christians need definitions to be flexible, so they assume that everyone else plays games with definitions, too?

        • Otto

          Everything has to be malleable in order to make it fit for the given situation. The problem is that huge inconsistencies are uncovered unless each situation is compartmentalized.

        • Paul

          No, the definitions are not flexible. But atheists like Greg G., who says that morals are subjective, need them to be subjective so they can justify their actions. But if morals are objective, then there will be a clear right and wrong. Atheists will have no wiggle room then.

        • Otto

          >>>”But if morals are objective, then there will be a clear right and wrong.”

          I don’t think that really explains things. If a game theory type of thinking on the subject is employed there could be a type of objective morality where what is a wrong move can be very apparent, but what is the correct move can be rather subjective. For instance if 2 people are playing chess there are certain moves that are objectively bad or wrong, but what the correct move is given a specific situation can be argued many different ways, and possibly equally so or at least with no clear objectively right answer, if there was every game of chess would look exactly the same.

        • Oh, so Greg G is one of those danged hedonists. I bet he actually knows that God exists, but he’s just too proud to bend the knee—amirite? He sounds like me. I’d probably like him.

          Sarcasm aside, I say that morals are subjective because there’s no good reason to believe in objective morality. But perhaps you’re the one Christian who can give us evidence? Go for it.

          Show us that there is objective morality and it’s not just another strongly felt or widely accepted morality (which every other Christian to date has done). Oh, and also show us that it’s reliably accessible (not locked up in God’s library, inaccessible).

          Maybe you should start with abortion. That could do with some clarity.

        • Paul

          “I say that morals are subjective because there’s no good reason to believe in objective morality.”

          And I see no evidence for subjective morality. People say that morality is subjective, but then they are dogmatic about it which is logically ridiculous. Once people realize just how logically ridiculous moral subjectivity is, they say things like Lawrence Krauss did – he said if a brother and sister had sex, he couldn’t say weather or not that was wrong. Sure, people can SAY that something is ultimately neither right nor wrong, but they don’t live their life that way. Scratch a subjectivist and you find a moralist underneath. Take something from them, like their cellphone, and they’ll immediately object: “You can’t do that! That’s wrong!” They still live their life as if there is an objective moral standard. If they were really a moral subjectivist, they should says something like “I can’t really say weather or not taking my phone is wrong.” Since moral subjectivity leads to logical inconsistencies, the only other conclusion is moral objectivity. Which raises the question: where do the moral standards come from?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Just because someone says that one thing is neither right or wrong doesn’t mean they live as if nothing is right or wrong.

          Also, saying that people live as if morality is objective ( I don’t think they do) in no way shows that morality is objective.

        • Greg G.

          If a person says their morality is subjective, they understand the other person’s morality is also subjective. That means the are not dogmatic about their morality being the one and only view.

          When a person claims their morality is objective, they are claiming any morality that they disagree with is wrong. That is dogmatism. It is the perfect example of dogmatism. If your morality was objective, you should be able to prove it without referencing your dogma.

          A person who admits their morality is subjective has no dogma regarding morality so they cannot be dogmatic.

          I’m not being dogmatic about this. It’s just by definition that one cannot be dogmatic without a dogma. Getting atheists to accept a dogma is like herding cats.

        • Paul

          “A person who admits their morality is subjective has no dogma regarding morality so they cannot be dogmatic.”

          So if you were interviewed on TV after a school shooting, you would say “Well, I can’t really say that shooting someone in cold blood is morally wroing.”?
          Or would be outraged after the violence that had just occurred? (Which indicates that you think shooting someone is wrong, and therefore is not subjective.)

        • Doubting Thomas

          He can think that something is both wrong and subjectively wrong. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

        • MR

          We don’t consider a lion killing another lion to be wrong. A human killing another human is only ‘wrong’ to us because we’re human. The human is the subject in subjective. The universe doesn’t care if we kill each other.

        • Doubting Thomas

          There is currently a debate about whether marijuana should be legalized. If you ask 100 people about it, on average 61 of them will be in favor of legalization.

          Why don’t you go ahead and clear it up for everyone? Is it objectively right or wrong to jail someone for possessing pot? How do you know this and how can we know it as well?

        • Greg G.

          No, I can absolutely say the it is morally wrong because the act causes suffering. An omnipotent God is capable of preventing suffering and, for the adjective “omnibenevolent” to be appropriate, would prevent it. So if there is an omnipotence, it doesn’t think allowing unnecessary suffering to be is objectively immoral.

          If a person enslaved a group of people according to Old Testament law and beat them a little when they were ignorant but severely when they should have known better and never thanked a slave for a job well done, and you were interviewed, could you say that person was doing wrong? The Old Testament sanctions slavery and Jesus endorsed beating slaves that way and thought it was ridiculous to thank a slave, according to Luke.

          Perhaps it is objectively immoral to travel through space at greater than light speed. Perhaps it is objectively immoral to tickle yourself. If adultery or masturbation are objectively immoral why isn’t it as difficult as tickling yourself?

        • Paul

          “I can absolutely say the it is morally wrong…

          Absolutely? But you said morality is subjective.

          “…because the act causes suffering.”

          So it’s the suffering that determines whether something is right or wrong? What would you say to someone, like the terrorist in the shooting incident, that would disagree with you and say that shooting people is not wrong?

        • MR

          Or the Israelites committing genocide, or the Catholics slaughtering people in crusades, or Protestants burning people they imagined to be witches. They all seemed to think killing people was not wrong. Seems subjective to me.

        • Otto

          I think this is a good point, how does a religious person convince another religious person that their morality is wrong when both are convinced ‘their’ morality comes directly from God?

        • Greg G.

          Absolutely? But you said morality is subjective.

          Did you notice that “absolutely” modifies the verb “say” and not the “morally wrong”? Do you see the difference in the meaning of the sentence?

          So it’s the suffering that determines whether something is right or wrong?

          Yes, allowing or causing unnecessary suffering is wrong. Unnecessary suffering is not the only way to do wrong.

          Why did you dodge the slavery issue? You feel it is wrong as presented yet it is completely biblical. So lessons from the Bible do not teach objective morality. It teaches the changing subjective morality of an ancient culture that was founded on lies about their history.

          ETA: I see you have problems with homonyms, too, such as “whether” and “weather”. You don’t identify which word is being modified by an adverb. You don’t seem to have grasped the meaning of “dogmatism”. I wonder if your carelessness with words is in your thought processes, as well, so that you are prone to using different meanings and nuances to reach your conclusions. You should sharpen up your thinking.

        • Paul

          ” You feel it is wrong as presented yet it is completely biblical.”

          Why do think that it’s biblical? I don’t think it is.

          You say that morality is subjective. Therefore it’s just a matter of opinion. And yet you present or subjective opinion as true. Therefore you are being dogmatic.

        • Greg G.

          Why do think that it’s biblical? I don’t think it is.

          I have read the whole Bible for comprehension. If you don’t think slavery is sanctioned in the Bible, then you have not read it for comprehension. Check out Rev. George Dod Armstrong’s The Christian Doctrine of Slavery http://www.unz.org/Pub/ArmstrongGeorge-1857

          Genesis 17:12-13 (NRSV)12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. 13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.

          Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

          Exodus 17:28,32 (NRSV)28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable.32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

          Exodus 21:2-6 (NRSV)2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

          Exodus 21:7-11 (NRSV)7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

          Exodus 21:20-21 (NRSV)20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

          Deuteronomy 15:12-17 (NRSV)12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

          Leviticus 22:10-11 (NRSV)10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food.

          Leviticus 25:44-46 (NRSV)44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

          Luke 12:47-48 (NRSV)47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

          Luke 17:7-10 (NRSV)7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

          Ephesians 6:5-9 (NRSV)5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6 not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. 9 And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

          Colossians 3:22 (NRSV)22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

          1 Timothy 6:1 (NRSV)6 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed.

          Titus 2:9 (NRSV)9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back,

          1 Peter 2:18-20 (NRSV)18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.

          In Luke 17:9, Jesus doesn’t think a slave is worth thanking. Compare what a first century Roman pagan said:

          ” ‘They are slaves,’ people declare. NO, rather they are men.
          ‘Slaves! NO, comrades.
          ‘Slaves! NO, they are unpretentious friends.
          ‘Slaves! NO, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave.

          But why should they think it degrading? It is only purse-proud etiquette … All night long they must stand about hungry and dumb … They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies … This is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.

          ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”

          –-Seneca the Younger, Epistulae Morales, 47.

        • Paul

          Did you decide to engage in semantics to avoid answering the questions I asked?

          Again,
          So it’s the suffering that determines whether something is right or
          wrong? What would you say to someone, like the terrorist in the shooting
          incident, that would disagree with you and say that shooting people is
          not wrong?

        • Greg G.

          Again,
          So it’s the suffering that determines whether something is right or
          wrong? What would you say to someone, like the terrorist in the shooting
          incident, that would disagree with you and say that shooting people is
          not wrong?

          I answered this. Look for the phrase “Yes, allowing or causing unnecessary suffering is wrong. Unnecessary suffering is not the only way to do wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          What is it with theists and crap reading comprehension? Not just bad. Total crap.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          This one should be awarded a gold medal for leaps in logic, though.

        • Paul

          OK, so let’s say the terrorist injects people with an anesthetic before shooting them. Does that make it OK now since it reduced the suffering? What if the abortion doctor injects the baby with an anesthetic first before aborting it. Does that make it OK since it reduced the suffering? Or would murdering people still be wrong?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. The terrorist is still depriving independent people of their aware agency.

          Pregnancies at the typical stage when an abortion takes place don’t have aware agency.

          Even if they DID have aware agency, McFall v. Shimp, ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McFall_v._Shimp ) says that a person can withdraw consent to use of one’s body at ANY time, even after initially consenting, EVEN IF IT CAUSES THE DEATH OF THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO USE THE BODY TO SURVIVE.

        • Paul

          “The terrorist is still depriving independent people of their aware agency.Pregnancies at the typical stage when an abortion takes place don’t have aware agency.”

          OK. The the terrorist shoots them in their sleep. It happened when they weren’t aware. Would that make it OK?

          What is the “typical stage” at which babies don’t have aware agency? Would you ban all abortions after that particular stage?

        • Greg G.

          You have had this explained to you at least twice. If there was a Village Idiot Convention, you would be the Idiot of the convention.

        • Greg G.

          Again you dodge the slavery question. You have lost the debate because you cannot answer the question. If you knew what is objectively moral, you could answer easily.

          Maybe you missed this part the first two times:

          Unnecessary suffering is not the only way to do wrong.

          Suppose the person is not a terrorist but a hero who is torturing people under the threat of the sadistic madman who will blow up the world if the person fails to torture someone. His only play is to keep the madman amused until the bomb can be defused.

          Moral relativism says that torturing someone to save the person and many others is relatively less of a bad thing than letting everything on earth die. You cannot do anything if you use moral objectivism. If something is objectively bad, nothing can be worse than the other.

        • Paul

          “You cannot do anything if you use moral objectivism. If something is objectively bad, nothing can be worse than the other.”

          That’s unqualified absolutism. There’s also conflicting absolutism and graded absolutism. All of them reject reletivism/subjectivism.

          And besides, presenting moral dilemmas doesn’t alter the ethical value of the moral issue.

        • Greg G.

          Two different moral positions claiming to be objective cannot both be correct. But both can be subjective moralities of fools who don’t understand that morality is not objective.

        • Max Doubt

          “So if you were interviewed on TV after a school shooting, you would say “Well, I can’t really say that shooting someone in cold blood is morally wroing.”?”

          Correct. That very well might be my response. I could describe a school shooting that resulted in one or more cold blooded killings, and even you, with your incorrect notion that morality is objective, you would not agree with others about the moral righteousness of that/those killings.

          “Or would be outraged after the violence that had just occurred? (Which indicates that you think shooting someone is wrong, and therefore is not subjective.)”

          My outrage, or yours, is necessarily subjective. You shot yourself in the foot again, and I consider that morally righteous. See? Subjective.

        • Pofarmer

          Would you be similarly outraged at the cop who killed the shooter?

        • Susan

          Would you be similarly outraged at the cop who killed the shooter?

          Paul has been asked many substantive questions on the subject of objective morality.

          He has answered none of them.

          I hate christian apologetics.

          When are they going to notice that all they have are claims and no support for them?

          It doesn’t seem to even bother them that they have no support for them.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not about evidence or support. It’s about faith. Blind, crappy, unquestioning, brain dead, faith.

        • Paul

          Greg G. would since the cop caused the terrorist to suffer.

        • Pofarmer

          You can do better than that.

        • Susan

          Greg G. would since the cop caused the terrorist to suffer.

          No, he wouldn’t. Your dishonesty is noted.

          You’ve ignored everything else Greg G. said in all his responses to you and the question about the cop and the terrorist that Greg G. directed at you went right over your head.

          If you want to engage in issues about morality, you’re going to have to go off script because the script you’re repeating is badly written.

          I pointed out three versions of “moral relativism” a while back and you’ve completely ignored that. You would get a failing mark for that in a class on the subject.

          Stop using the term if you’re not going to be honest about it.

          “Descriptive moral relativism” does not mean Greg G. would side with the terrorist.

          If you’re going to come here to have a discussion, make an effort.

          Reciting from apologetics sites without doing any work is just annoying and makes you look stupid and dishonest.

        • epeeist

          Your dishonesty is noted.

          It isn’t dishonesty when you are Lying for Jesus™

        • Joe

          What if shooting kids in school is the moral thing to do and we have been wrong all this time?

        • Susan

          What if shooting kids in school is the moral thing to do and we have been wrong all this time?

          Paul won’t respond to that.

          At best, he’ll give us an “under your world view, it’s equally true”.

          Which is crap. Because it’s not “true” under either of our world views.

          But Paul will never know that.

          Because Paul has a script. He can’t answer questions that deviate from the script.

          Poor Paul. It’s such a crappy script.

        • epeeist

          Paul won’t respond to that.

          He doesn’t respond to anything substantive.

          Because Paul has a script.

          A script he got from AiG.

        • And I see no evidence for subjective morality.

          I think long and hard about abortion, and I think it’s fine; you do the same, and you think it’s not fine. How is that not evidence for subjective morality?

          People say that morality is subjective, but then they are dogmatic about it which is logically ridiculous.

          I suppose this means something, but I don’t know what.

          Nah–I’m probably wrong. It probably doesn’t mean anything.

          people can SAY that something is ultimately neither right nor wrong, but they don’t live their life that way.

          Who needs the “ultimately”? I think that abortion is fine, so I live my life that way. This isn’t hard.

          Take something from them, like their cellphone, and they’ll immediately object: “You can’t do that! That’s wrong!” They still live their life as if there is an objective moral standard.

          Right. They think that stealing is wrong. Maybe others think that stealing is fine. (But if you poll people, you’ll find that “wrong” is a very popular notion. That doesn’t make it objective morality, it’s probably just widely held subjective morality.)

          If they were really a moral subjectivist, they should says something like “I can’t really say weather or not taking my phone is wrong.”

          Santa. Dictionary.

          He’s just an email away.

          the only other conclusion is moral objectivity. Which raises the question: where do the moral standards come from?

          No, it raises the question: why doesn’t Paul provide evidence for objective morality? I’ve asked him repeatedly. And since he continues to refuse to, has he realized that he doesn’t have a case, or is he just too proud to reconsider his opinion?

        • Paul

          “I think long and hard about abortion, and I think it’s fine; you do the
          same, and you think it’s not fine. How is that not evidence for
          subjective morality?”

          But we can’t both be right, now can we? Therefore subjective morality is clearly false. It’s logically bankrupt. The only other alternative is objective morality.

        • Greg G.

          There is no objective morality. In a universe with no sentient beings, there is no morality. In a universe with one sentient being, there is no morality. In a universe with two significantly intelligent sentient beings, more than one morality might develop but each might be selfish. Morality is about how one should treat other sentient beings regarding the vulnerabilities of each. If the beings were impervious to suffering, then causing unnecessary suffering is irrelevant and not a moral issue.

          We live in world full of morally capable sentient beings with many requirements for life and thriving. Some people are sociopaths and psychopaths who see no need to care about the needs of others. Most people are willing to interact fairly with others and allow each to have their liberty. It is a matter of trade-offs to maximize thriving and minimize unnecessary suffering.

          Throwing in worries of imaginary beings getting pissed off about arbitrary deeds does nobody any good.

          Now, do your best to completely miss the point and look for a poor word choice that you can pretend invalidates the whole post.

          You still haven’t answered my questions about the morality of biblical slavery.

        • Paul

          “There is no objective morality.”

          Sounds like an absolute statement to me. How do you know this?

          Subjective morality is logically bankrupt. “A” and “not A” cannot both be true at the same time. Some might think the right answer is difficult to find or determine, but that doesn’t that the right answer doesn’t exist. But why accept a logically bankrupt notion as subjective morality? It’s irrational.

        • Greg G.

          Sounds like an absolute statement to me.

          It is an absolute statement.

          How do you know this?

          Did you stop reading just to reply to the first sentence? I went on to explain it.

          Subjective morality is logically bankrupt. “A” and “not A” cannot both be true at the same time.

          I see that you do not understand the meaning of “subjective” and “objective”. “Subjective” is not subject to being true or false. It is like saying “chocolate is better than vanilla”. It is not an objective fact. It is subjective. Objective means independent of minds. Subjective means dependent on minds.

        • MR

          Objective means independent of minds. Subjective means dependent on minds.

          Right? Remove human judgement and it’s simply describing behavior. Praying mantises eat their mate during sex. Ravens steal. Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and their young push out the host birds’ young. We place no moral judgement on such behavior. Human behavior can likewise be observed without placing moral judgement. We place judgement because we’re human, not because it’s objective.

          Paul: Some might think the right answer is difficult to find or determine, but that doesn’t that the right answer doesn’t exist.

          Reminds me of how the writers of the Bible have God saying, “Thou shalt not kill,” and then go into detail on all the subjective ways it’s okay to kill.

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, says “Thou Shalt not Kill” and in the same book has them slay whole tribes.

        • Paul

          There’s a difference between killing someone (say in self defence) and murder, isn’t there? The Bible make distinctions between the two.

        • Greg G.

          Which side are you arguing now? Killing is right or wrong subject to the situation. That means there is no objective standard against killing a person.

          We can imagine situations where the most heinous act could be the better choice, such as any with the mad man with a doomsday device.

        • BlackMamba44

          He disproved his own argument! Haha!

        • MR

          Not if it’s objective, no. If it’s objectivity you want, “Thou shalt not kill means thou shalt not kill. Many people say it’s never okay to kill, even in self defense. That would be objective. People, even of the same faith disagree on capital punishment. Even in the Cain and Abel myth God doesn’t kill Cain. And when he supposedly ordered the murder of innocent women and children, the story has him yet again displaying subjectivity. You speak of objectivity, but we only see subjectivity.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          If you bother to check, every society on Earth that’s survived has made a distinction between killing in self defense vs. killing in offense.

          Your ‘bible’ is nothing special here, and I can guarantee that it cribbed its laws from earlier law codes.

        • Max Doubt

          “… made a distinction between killing in self defense vs. killing in offense.”

          Yep. And even then, even in a court of law, or in public opinion, or in each individual’s assessment, there is quite a bit of overlap of the situations that fall under self defense and those that might be considered murder. Sounds pretty subjective to me. Too bad young Paul has sunk so deep into his dogma that he can’t let himself surface and take a breath of fresh reality.

        • Max Doubt

          “There’s a difference between killing someone (say in self defence) and murder, isn’t there? The Bible make distinctions between the two.”

          There are gray areas. That’s subjective morality. Do you get some hidden pleasure coming here and taking the drubbing everyone is giving you? It seems most people would be embarrassed to make such adamant claims as yours only to have them so thoroughly and soundly thrashed. You lost this one before you started. Go learn a new trick, little guy.

        • Susan

          There’s a difference between killing someone (say in self defence) and murder, isn’t there? The Bible make distinctions between the two.

          10When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

          16However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17Completely destroya them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Is Ray Comfort teaching classes on logic now?

        • Pofarmer

          It seems like you’re falling afoul of the law of the excluded middle here. Plus using the word “true” where it shouldn’t be. Is abortion and evil or a good? Well, if it’s used to select all girl babies, it might be an evil, but if it’s used to save the life of a mother in the early stages of a miscarriage, it might certainly be a good. If an abortion allows a poor young teenager to finish college, start a career, find a husband and start a family when she’s financially and emotionally stable is that an evil or a good? That’s kind of the problem with life.

        • Man up and admit that you can’t defend the claim of objective morality.

        • Paul

          Man up and write a blog post telling everyone you were wrong about morality being relative.

        • Why should he? Because of your unsubstantiated assertions?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re claiming OBJECTIVE morality.

          You can’t get there by attacking subjective morality.

          DEMONSTRATE YOUR POSITION with evidence or recant.

        • Aren’t you adorable?! Trying to act like a big boy dealing with big concepts–good for you!

          I’ve provided much evidence for my claim that Christian apologists are quick to argue for objective morality but have no evidence for it. You’ve have provided exactly bupkis for your claim that objective morality exists.

          Ball’s in your court. Go.

        • MR

          Why, because you say so? You can find evidence every day that morality is relative. You’ve provided nothing to show it to be objective. Bob can defend his stance; you can’t. Your argument is fallacious.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And math is false because two people came up with different answers.

          You really don’t see how stupid it sounds to say that since people disagree on something that subjective morality is false? Two religions disagree on morality. Therefore absolute morality is logically contradictory.

        • Paul

          You just proved by point. Just because two people came up with different answers to the math problem, does that mean there is no right answer to the math problem? Does that mean that the answer is subjective? NO. Clearly there is a right answer to the math problem. Just like the math problem, some people find the answer to moral questions difficult. Does that mean there is no right answer? Does that mean there the answer is subjective? NO.

          Bob said abortion is right. I say abortion is wrong. We both can be right.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I think you meant “we both can’t be right.”

          Are you really gonna double down on this? I say chocolate is better and HairyEyedWordBombThrower says vanilla is better.

          “But we can’t both be right, now can we? Therefore subjective preference is
          clearly false. It’s logically bankrupt. The only other alternative is
          objective preference.”

          How dumb does that sound?

        • Paul

          You’re logic sounds very dumb. Preference is subjective and moral subjectivism is logically false. Why do you really want to keep arguing for moral subjectivism?

        • epeeist

          You’re logic sounds very dumb. Preference is subjective and moral subjectivism is logically false.

          “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

          If you say his logic is wrong then you should be able to demonstrate this, whatever floats your boat, propositional, predicate, modal…

        • Doubting Thomas

          The logic sounds dumb because it’s a verbatim copy of what you said, just changing the word morality for preference. I know you haven’t had a chance to pick up that dictionary Bob suggested, so I’ll help you out.

          sub·jec·tive
          səbˈjektiv/
          adjective
          adjective: subjective
          1. based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions

          Two people having different opinions doesn’t prove morality can’t be subjective. It doesn’t prove that subjective morality is logically contradictory. It’s exactly what we would expect if morality is subjective.

          I’ve gotten used to the incredible ignorance that some theist have. What I don’t think I’ll ever get used to is how hard they double down on stupidity in the face of overwhelming evidence.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You can’t demonstrate your position by attacking your opponent.

          You have to SUPPORT your own position.

          Just a head’s up…

        • Max Doubt

          “Why do you really want to keep arguing for moral subjectivism?”

          Your dishonest willful ignorance is noted. But then, you don’t seem to agree that dishonesty is morally wrong. Subjective? Indeed.

        • Joe

          You’re logic sounds very dumb

          No further words are necessary.

        • Greg G.

          Bob has better reasoning behind his position. You should learn from Bob.

        • Greg G.

          The Bible says that if a man suspects his wife of committing adultery, he is to take her to the priest at the tabernacle where he will mix some dirt from the tabernacle where live un-housebroken animals are brought in to have their throats cut for sacrifice, so the dirt has decaying blood, feces, and urine, pretty much a biohazard. She must drink the mixture. It is expected that if she is guilty, she will get sick and her uterus will prolapse, causing an abortion if she is pregnant, which might be why her husband is suspicious. If this trial is in the Bible, then the Bible writers didn’t think abortion was objectively immoral. Why should you? You are being dogmatic.

        • We’re debating objective morality. Whether 1 + 1 = 2 is objectively true is a very different question (since it’s in a different domain) than a moral question.

          Bob said abortion is right. I say abortion is wrong. We both can be right.

          Oh? Then tell us the objectively correct response, show us that it’s objectively correct (not just your opinion), and prove that objective morality is reliably accessible.

          Since you haven’t answered this before, it’s pretty clear that you got nuthin’.

        • Paul

          Really Bob? You said you see no evidence that moral absolutism. What did you go with? The logically bankrupt idea of moral relativism.

          I reject the logically bankrupt idea of moral relativism and accept the only logical alternative: absolutism. It’s not a matter of opinion. It’s going where the logic leads.

          You missed the point I was making regarding the math problem. Math problems have a property called an answer and the answer has a specific value. Two people can reach a different answer, but that doesn’t make the problem relative. Two people can have opposing views on a moral issue but that doesn’t make the issue relative. If two people have two different answers to the same math problem, one of them is clearly wrong (It’s possible that they’re both wrong but I digress). Likewise, people can have opposing views on a moral issue, but they both can be right. One of them is wrong.

        • Why only one? I mean, both could be wrong. Thinking a bit more, why should the issue have only one answer (going back to your 1+1 example, off the top of my head 0, 1 and 2 can all be valid answers, depends on how you define the problem). And indeed, why should it have any answer (axiom of choice or not?) ?

        • epeeist

          Ah but your modulo arithmetic is obviously man made whereas Paul’s arithmetic was a gift from his god some 6,000 years ago.

        • I was thinking of the ({0}, +, ×) ring for 1+1 = 0 but arithmetic modulo 2 works too ^^ And basic maths, a gift from God 6000 years ago? Methinks the Sumerians for one would have been surprised.

          P.S.: Sorry, I was being silly ^^ I don’t know why, I first thought of 1+1 = 1 for arithmetic modulo 2, and for that one I was thinking of tropical algebra.

        • epeeist

          I was thinking tropical algebra

          Tropical algebra is a new one for me.

          And basic maths, a gift from God 6000 years ago?

          Given that a chunk of Paul’s stuff seems to come from “Answers in Genesis” I am assuming that he is a Young Earth Creationist.

          Methinks the Sumerians for one would have been surprised.

          To which he would surely respond, “How do you know that it was the Sumerians that produced this? Were you there to see them do it?”

        • Sometimes the ways people play with mathematics are fun: tropical algebra is based on the (ℝ ∪ {+∞}, min, +) semiring.

          Eh, he wants to give the credit to his god without having been there either: what’s good for the geese is good for the gander and all that.

        • Michael Neville

          So what’s your evidence that objective morality exists? You keep claiming that subjective morality is “logically bankrupt” but you never show the slightest reason why your opinion has any validity.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOU are claiming YOUR side is *objectively* correct.

          We are only claiming subjective, statistically likely correctness.

          So burden of proof / evidence is on you.

        • You said you see no evidence that moral absolutism. What did you go with? The logically bankrupt idea of moral relativism.

          You’ll have to show me this. Start with your definition of moral relativism, because we clearly don’t share the same one.

          You missed the point I was making regarding the math problem. Math problems have a property called an answer and the answer has a specific value. Two people can reach a different answer, but that doesn’t make the problem relative.

          No, you missed the point I was making regarding the math problem. Yes, I appreciate that there is an objectively correct answer to an arithmetic problem. That’s math. We’re talking about morality. Not the same thing. Just because objective truth exists with arithmetic doesn’t mean it exists with morality. You need to show this, and you obviously can’t.

          Two people can have opposing views on a moral issue but that doesn’t make the issue relative.

          It does. By definition.

          Give me the definition that you use.

        • Joe

          I reject the logically bankrupt idea of moral relativism and accept the only logical alternative: absolutism.

          Wait, you’re saying morals are absolute now? Christians who know what they’re talking about specifically don’t argue for absolutism, because it’s unbiblical. Moral philosophy isn’t a two-horse race, in any case.

          Two people can have opposing views on a moral issue but that doesn’t make the issue relative. If two people have two different answers to the same math problem, one of them is clearly wrong

          Are you able to demonstrate morality is anything like mathematics, as you claim it to be? You were quite quick to make the “apples and oranges” claim earlier.

        • Pofarmer

          Two religions disagree on morality.
          Hell, the SAME fucking religion can’t agree on morality. Is it more important to prosecute pedophile priests or protect the Church? Should “immodest” women be imprisoned in laundries? Should you shun children who don’t believe the exact same as you do? It could be a long list.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And since people disagree on which ice cream flavor is the best, that disproves subjective preference. There must therefore be a standard of absolute ice cream preference.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Just to play devil’s advocate, *vanilla* is used as a flavor enhancer in a LOT of different ice cream flavors

          😉

        • Paul

          Apples and oranges. Preferring an ice cream flavor is completely different than determining whether or not something is right or wrong.
          Did Bob say that he prefers abortion to be right? No, he said that he thinks it is right.

        • Joe

          Apples and oranges are both fruit.

          Can you say why it’s completely different?

        • Greg G.

          Another word for Paul to study so he can add it to his vocabulary:

          7. Thinks

          If he “thinks” it is right, it is as subjective, just as when he thinks chocolate is better than vanilla or when he thinks that oranges are better than apples.

          You should learn the word “think” for your vocabulary and as a skill.

        • Paul

          That brings a new meaning to “freethinker.” Thanks Greg G.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for adding to the list of vocabulary words that you should study.

          8. Freethinker

        • Greg G.

          Frozen ice cream is objectively better than melted.

        • Pofarmer

          There is a specific temperature between frozen too hard to dish and melted in the bowl where ice cream is the best.

        • So an objectively correct answer to abortion (and every other moral question) exists? What are these answers, how do you know that they’re objectively correct (not just correct in your opinion), and are they reliably accessible by humans?

        • Paul

          Yes, since moral relativism is clearly false, the only other alternative is moral absolutism.
          All moral issues have an ethical value. Each one is either right or wrong. it can’t possibly be both at the same time.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          You can’t win by attacking your opponent’s position..this isn’t a debate.

          You have to DEMONSTRATE *your* position.

        • Paul

          So if a light bulb was on, you couldn’t say that it was not off?

        • You and I disagree on moral issues; that’s moral relativism. Morality is grounded in the individuals, not externally. QED.

          As Greg G has been trying to point out, another pertinent example is this one: we think slavery is bad, but God in the Bible says it’s fine. Morality changes; therefore, it’s not objective.

          But something tells me that learning what these words actually mean isn’t your goal …

        • Paul

          “You and I disagree on moral issues; that’s moral relativism.”

          That fact that we disagree doesn’t make morality relative. That’s a non-sequitur. Can two people have opposing views? Yes, but that has no bearing on the ethical value of the moral issue we’re discussing. We’re debating on what that value actually is. And again, if we disagree on a moral issue then we both can’t be right. Therefore moral relativism is false.

        • We’re obviously using different definitions of “moral relativism.”

        • Paul

          “Morality changes; therefore, it’s not objective.”

          What actually changed? People’s views or the ethical value of the moral issue?

        • Is there one correct answer to a moral issue? You’re just assuming objective morality. You can’t really do that unless you show us that it exists. I find your claim remarkable, and yet you’re unable to give us a reason for it. Sounds like there’s no good reason to adopt your viewpoint.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, since moral relativism is clearly false, the only other alternative is moral absolutism.

          You have argued that killing in self-defense is justified. That means you are argued for moral relativism. If killing a person is absolutely or objectively wrong, there can be no exceptions.

          It’s like your arguments about morality only go as deep as how the words sound to you. You like “absolute” and “objective” better than “relative” and “subjective”. That is about as deep as your argument goes.

        • Paul

          “You have argued that killing in self-defense is justified. That means you are argued for moral relativism.”

          Non-sequitur. Killing and murder are two different things.

        • Greg G.

          Now you are splitting hairs. Often there is a fine line between killing and murder.

          If you had a time machine, would assassinating Hitler be a killing or a murder? Would it matter which particular time you returned to? Would killing him as a child be objectively good or bad? In WWI, Hitler’s regiment lost over 80%. Would arranging to have him killed in battle be killing or murder?

          I know you won’t attempt to answer the question. You never do. You are incapable of even thinking them through.

        • Greg G.

          What about Exodus 21:20-21? It says that if a man beats a slave, and the slave dies, the man should be punished, though no punishment is specified. But it says that if the slave lives for a day or two, the man is not to be punished because the slave is his property. So is it not OK if someone bleeds to death but OK if they succumb to infection?

        • MR

          I don’t see this. Demonstrate it.

        • Michael Neville

          You love chocolate ice cream, I dislike it. But we both can’t be right about whether or not chocolate ice cream is good. Therefore tastes in ice cream are clearly false and logically bankrupt. Or is it that your argument about objective morality is logically bankrupt?

          Intelligent, rational, well-meaning people disagree on abortion. Who are you to declare one side of the controversy to be objectively wrong?

        • Joe

          But we can’t both be right, now can we?

          Possibly, but that would mean there is a possibility you are objectively wrong, and that doesn’t seem to concern you.

        • Pofarmer

          Dude, you can pick nearly anything you want to that you see as moral or immoral and at some place or time the exact opposite value will exist or has existed. Child brides? Slavery? Genital mutilation? Punishment for theft or minor crimes? The list is pretty well endless. So what you have to demonstrate if you want to claim objective morality is a)how you know it. b) why it’s objective c) and why all them other people who also believe in objective morality are wrong.

        • Joe

          One of my arguments against the truth of Christianity is that there have been Christians on both sides of every major moral debate in history.

        • Pofarmer

          You still have Christians killing “witches” in Africa. It’s just such a completely crap argument.

        • Greg G.

          It’s too bad that the Bible doesn’t explicitly spell out whether a society should suffer a witch to live.

        • Pofarmer

          Should probably find out if Paul thinks witches actually exist.

        • Paul

          Non-sequitur. The fact that there are Christians on both sides of a debate takes nothing away from the topic they are discussing.
          You could say that 2 + 2 = 5 and I could say that 2 + 2 = 6. That doesn’t take anything away from the fact the math problem has a property called and answer and that answer has a very specific value. That’s what debates are about: finding the answer to the issue being discussed. They are not debating whether or not there can be two opposing views points – of course there can be. The issue is trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong because they can’t both be right at the same time.

        • Joe

          My argument, which flew over your head, is that Christians have no better access or grasp of moral “truth” than anybody else. Therefore their views, as a Christian, are generally irrelevant.

        • Greg G.

          You are doing cargo cult logic. You are using words you do not understand. If there is an objective morality and Christians have a way to know it, then they should all agree on moral issues. 2 + 2 = 4 is objectively correct. Saying anything else is objectively wrong.

          Christians were on both sides of the slavery issue and both sides cited different Bible passages. It shows that the Bible cannot be used to determine objective morality. In fact, the Bible tends to be ambiguous so that almost any position can be biblically supported.

          If there was an objective morality, we cannot determine it. If we could determine it, objective morality might be just the opposite of our gut feelings. Perhaps the “go forth and multiply” is more like Thanos’ philosophy that overpopulation is immoral.

        • Pofarmer

          If we could determine objective reality, we wouldn’t even be discussing it.

        • Greg G.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/exploringourmatrix2/james_brother_of_jesus_bother_of_mythicists/#comment-3921345414

          John MacDonald put that up about a debate between Richard Carrier and Dennis MacDonald on YouTube.

        • Pofarmer

          I realize that you have your God Goggles strapped on tight. Maybe so tight it’s cutting of circulation to your brain. If their really are objective moral values, meaning the same values for everyone, every time, accessible to all somehow outside of humanity, then why should there be a debate at all?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Sure it makes a difference.

          If xtianity is supposed to have the right answer, and BOTH sides use xtianity and the bible to support their positions, it just became relative, unless you want to condemn some xtians as heretics.

        • Max Doubt

          “The issue is trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong because they can’t both be right at the same time.”

          If morality was objective there wouldn’t be any “trying to figure it out”. You’d be able to tell everyone in every case of moral judgement which is the correct answer to any moral dilemma. You’d be able to objectively describe how you came to your conclusion in a way that leads everyone else to come to the same conclusion. Like, gravity works, drop a ball. The sun radiates heat, measure the temperature in the sun, in the shade, at night, when it’s cloudy. Five objects and five objects is ten objects, drop five objects in a basket, drop another five objects in a basket, count the objects.

          The fact that people are “trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong” in any case demonstrates that your claim of an objective morality is not supportable. Now if you’re honest, you’ll admit you’ve failed. I’m betting against you being honest.

        • MR

          But we can’t both be right, now can we?

          From an objective standpoint that’s meaningless. There is no objective right or wrong.

        • Greg G.

          I can’t really say weather or not taking my phone is wrong.

          How would the weather be wrong? How is “not taking my phone” wrong?

        • Paul

          Semantics. Missing the point. You’re good at both.

        • Greg G.

          That is not semantics. You used the wrong homonym. We should start a list for you to study to improve your vocabulary.

          1. Semantics
          ii. Objective
          c. Subjective
          D. Dogmatism
          V. Homonym
          six. Morality

        • Pofarmer

          Send a note to teachermom.

        • Otto

          Well here is the game that people play who claim that morals are objective and come from God. They pretend like they are not the ones that determine right from wrong, God does that and they just follow the rules.

          First, that is claiming they had no decision making when it comes to following a morality, but they picked which god to follow… which means they did make a subjective decision on morality. Additionally they on some level have to decide what their particular God means when he ‘says’ stuff, in your case you have to interpret the Bible, which is also a subjective endeavor. Scratch a religious moral objectivist and you uncover a person making personal moral decisions, i.e. subjective.

          Second, hypothetically let’s say you are just following what God tells you is right and wrong, if that is the case you are not acting morally you are just following rules, following rules is not being moral or acting moral, it is just being obedient. By just being obedient you are amoral, which is neither acting morally or immorally. I have no idea how that makes you feel better about your position.

        • Max Doubt

          “And I see no evidence for subjective morality.”

          There can be single situations where several people have an opportunity to participate in certain ways, or not at all, with their individual choices guided by their own senses of morality. Those several people may come to radically different conclusions about which action(s) to take, or not, and whether those actions are morally good or unjust or righteous or bad or whatever moral judgement call each one makes. And after the situation those same people can discuss whether their actions were morally correct, and possibly never come to an agreement on that point.

          “People say that morality is subjective,…”

          It is.

          “… but then they are dogmatic about it which is logically ridiculous.”

          No. Different people will make conflicting, sometimes even contradictory choices in a particular situation, all the while holding the moral position that he/she is righteous and one or more of the others is not. It’s logically ridiculous to be aware that fact an still poopoo the notion that morality is subjective.

          “Once people realize just how logically ridiculous moral subjectivity is,…”

          Subjective morality is completely consistent with human behavior.

          “They still live their life as if there is an objective moral standard.”

          Nonsense. I don’t. And my single exception to your claim makes you wrong.

          “If they were really a moral subjectivist, they should says something like “I can’t really say weather or not taking my phone is wrong.””

          Some people would say that. Again that makes you wrong.

          “Since moral subjectivity leads to logical inconsistencies, the only other conclusion is moral objectivity. Which raises the question: where do the moral standards come from?”

          And the question is silly since you are wholly unable to provide evidence for your claim that morality is objective.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Maybe Paul should view Rashomon for an example of how different points of view effect what is noticed?

        • Pofarmer

          Just take the Trolley problem as one example of moral relativity. The more you get into it, the more conundrums there are. It really should be obvious.

        • Joe

          Is it possible to be “dogmatic” about something subjective? I would say ask any music or art lover. Or ask citizens of New York and Chicago who makes the best pizza.

          Take something from them, like their cellphone, and they’ll immediately object: “You can’t do that! That’s wrong!” They still live their life as if there is an objective moral standard.

          You can’t come up with a “subjective” reason why taking a cellphone is wrong? It seems a simple thing to do. Did you even try?

        • Greg G.

          Is it possible to be “dogmatic” about something subjective?

          “Dogmaitc” can be used as a metaphor or a synonym for “stubborn” but I think it is equivocation when the word is used by someone who has a dogma against someone who doesn’t.

        • Joe

          I think he’s trying to say “take something very seriously”, but he can’t provide a reason why somebody wouldn’t take subjective morality equally as seriously as objective morality.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s more than that. Dogma, at least in Catholic terms, is something which can not be questioned. Its’ something that you believe no matter what.

        • Joe

          I didn’t say he was using the term correctly.

          In any case, he we are questioning this very subject, and asking him for proof that would directly contradict our “dogma”.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, maybe you’re being dogmatic, but I’m not /s

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          A christian apologist equivocating, say it ain’t so

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Subjective just means is subject to change, it does not mean that it is impossible to agree on them.as has been said sympathy and empathy are excellent bases for building morals around.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Well, subjective to me is rooted in sense/mind/interpretation, as opposed to verifiable repeatable external shared reality.

          No?

        • Greg G.

          I agree but it can be different from person to person or groups of people to groups of people. If the groups of people are from different centuries, it would seem like a change over time.

        • Greg G.

          What morals do you think Greg G. has that you don’t have?

        • Paul

          The issue doesn’t come down to the morals themselves per se, the issue is the moral standard.

        • Greg G.

          It’s empathy and understanding in the context of the situation. It’s not imposing the standards of an ancient slave society in the modern world in a one-size-fits-all manner.

        • Susan

          The issue doesn’t come down to the morals themselves per se

          Of course it does. You said that Greg G. “needs morals to be subjective so (he) can justify his actions.”

          What actions of Greg’s are you talking about?

          the issue is the moral standard

          You haven’t provided a reliable moral standard.

          If you have one, provide it and show that it’s reliable.

          While you’re at it, justify your claim about Greg G. or apologize.

        • Otto

          You still haven’t explained how subjectively picking a religion and subjectively interpreting the scripture gets you to an objective moral standard, unless you can show that, your position is not objective.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You get the same things with “clear” right and wrong. See authoritarian dictatorships. Their leaders are all good, benevolent, Truth, and Justice while their opponents are evil dangerous liars… according to the “faithful”.

          However, it seems that seeing morality for what it is- relative to specific people within cultures within countries within humanity within the animal kingdom- gives one the advantage of calling BS on how other people justify some harmful action and being able to admit when one is mistaken or other people have a point. The term “objective morality” as used by many monotheists is a scam to deter people from questioning their decisions, authority without effort of obtaining expertise in a specific field or legitimately earning the consent of the people.

        • Susan

          Nicely said Giauz.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Thank you. Thank you. *bows… falls off stage, and pretends that didn’t just happen while brushing self off*

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          please site a single objective moral truth.

        • epeeist

          I usually add “Say why it is objective and how you know”.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          but if you say that, they get to not walk into the obvious trap, wheres the fun in that?

        • epeeist

          Well yes, much more fun to anticipate them stepping on the banana skin.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          amusingly they often walk face first into the trap anyway, even with all the warnings. They just can’t help themselves

        • Paul

          The issue isn’t the definitions themselves. I was trying to get to the
          heart of the issue: how Greg G. ultimately determines what is good and
          what is bad. His answer: it’s subjective.

        • I know I’m repeating myself, but I guess I have to: morality does indeed seem to be subjective. I see zero evidence for objective morality. You think otherwise? Great–show us.

        • Paul

          Here: wait until this course is on sale. Learning that moral relativism is false is in lesson 1.
          https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/the-big-questions-of-philosophy.html

        • Greg G.

          If telling a lie is objectively immoral then there can be no exceptions. It would be objectively immoral to lie about where an ax murderers intended victim was hiding. If killing was objectively immoral, it would be immoral to kill the axe murderer to save the intended victim.

          If telling a lie to save somebody’s life is the best course of action, then morality is relative, flexible, and not objective.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          good examples, give me any ‘objectve’ moral and i will give you a hypothetical where the only moral thing is to break it. It’s almost like morals are subjective.

        • MR

          Yeah, even God in the Bible stories has a hard time being objectively moral. Genocide, slavery…. I have to jump in the shower or I’d continue the list.

        • Susan

          I have to jump in the shower or I’d continue the list.

          You’ll need another shower before you finish the list.

        • Who needs a course? I’ve got you. All you have to do is show that objective morality exists and that humans can reliably access it.

          Go.

        • Susan

          Learning that moral relativism is false…

          You are conflating “moral relativism” with “not objective morality” without using clear language.

          Moral relativism may be any of several philosophical positions concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures. Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral; meta-ethical moral relativism holds that in such disagreements, nobody is objectively right or wrong; and normative moral relativism holds that because nobody is right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when we disagree about the morality of it..

          This doesn’t surprise me because you (like most christian apologists I’ve encountered who try this tactic) haven’t bothered to learn much about the field of moral philosophy.

          You argue that there must be objective morality or everything is willy nilly.

          That fails for many reasons, some of which include:

          1) It’s not true.
          2) It is an argument from consequences. Whether or not we like that objective morality exists or doesn’t exist, has no bearing on its existence.
          3) The idea that if a (so far, apparently) imaginary being exists, then it could be a source of morality, is not a case any of you make. None of you have escaped the horns of Euthyphro’s dilemma.

          So, here we go.

          1) How do you know something’s morally correct?
          2) How can you demonstrate it is morally correct, no matter what anyone thinks about it?

          Provide an example and justify your postiion.

          Start with factory farming.

        • MR

          And yet you still can’t manage to demonstrate this!

        • Greg G.

          Is slavery wrong? I think so. I use my empathy to make that assessment. How do you do it?

        • Greg G.

          How do you define “good”? How do you know whether God is good?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Matt Dillahunty prefers to use ‘harm’, because it’s objective and measurable.

    • Otto

      Why does it matter whether the person is atheist or theist? I highly doubt if you stood on a coroner and asked people to define ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that very many are going to do so in terms of the existence or non-existence of a god. It might be an interesting experiment though.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Standing on a corOner could get you a ride in a hearse…

        😉

        • Otto

          Sometimes I think my mother the English teacher trolls me online…

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I freely admit to being a spelling ass…

        • epicurus

          assistant?

    • He reaches for what we call a “dictionary” and looks it up.

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        But then, once we have the definitions for the words “bad” and “good”, the Christian will just go and redefine the words so that they lose all meaning. Because they can’t very well say that things that God does are bad, so they have to say that everything he does is good, it’s all just part of the grand plan that we won’t understand, and God is under no obligation to explain himself to us, and shut up about atheism already, because reasons.

        • Ah, the Christian dictionary, where the footnote “*except for God” is used in every definition related to morality.

        • Max Doubt

          “Ah, the Christian dictionary, where the footnote “*except for God” is used in every definition related to morality.”

          Fixed that for you. You almost wasted three words you could have saved for better use somewhere else.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Really, all the things Jesus does throughout the Bible, especially under his other name YHWH, could be said to be double plus good in newsp- I mean- “Christianese”.

    • strawberry

      Bad: Something only an omnipotent daddy thingy can say is bad because reasons. No other bads (or dads) allowed.

      • strawberry

        No moms either but moms doesn’t rhyme with bads so don’t panic!

    • Joe

      “Anything that causes harm to sentient beings, either directly or indirectly.”

      That’s the definition I use.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Beautiful piece here (as usual), Bob.

    Thank you 🙂

  • It’s called the Unknown Purpose Defence formally. The point is to show it’s logically compatible with an all-good, all-powerful deity. I don’t find this plausible though. As for morality, he’s also got to show objective values are incompatible with atheism even in theory. Otherwise then we atheist moral realists can just dismiss this assertion.

  • RichardSRussell

    If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.

    Likewise if atheism is false, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties. They’d be simply God’s opinions, therefore subjective to him.* Conclusion: With or without God, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties, therefore there is no such thing.

    ––––––
    *If not subjective to him, then we’re back to the Euthyphro question as to what the supposedly omnipotent God is subservient to and where do those restrictions on his opinions come from?

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Once god is inscrutable enough such that we can’t discern harm from benefit, you forfeit the ability to judge god’s goodness. In other words, the argument is such a collosal fail that it unwittingly ditches the very thing it attempts to preserve.

    As for “good”, does Del Rosario understand that it is an adjective? Does he demand the same objective standard for “nice”? Or “tasty”?

    • Grimlock

      God is the objective foundation for tastiness. It’s not that god’s choices determines what’s tasty; rather, the objective standard for taste lies in his nature. Thus, his preferences and commands flows from his inherent perfection of taste.

      Which is why one can say that shellfish tastes objectively bad, I guess.

      • John MacDonald

        ha ha

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Awesome! Should I presume the same is true for “egotistical” and “stupid”?

        • Grimlock

          Yes, I don’t see why not.

    • Joe

      I’ll remember that argument for God’s goodness next time I see somebody in distress. After all, that drowning man asking for help might just be God doing good in a mysterious way.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      someone should ask him to define good. I am willing to bet he can’t in a way that is not either destructive to his argument or just circular logic

  • strawberry

    A god that wants everyone to worship it or burn in hell but doesn’t reveal itself is at the very least a jerk god. At most a nonexistent god.

  • DoorknobHead

    MARX OF AN APOLOGETIC FALLACY
    > Ok, that is the harpothetical god fallacy, what about the Grouchothetical god fallacy, or the Zeppothetical god fallacy, or the Chicothetical god fallacy, or the Gummothetical god fallacy? Oh, wait, …. “hypo…” never mind…. [Roseanne Roseannadanna moment]
    > Gee, these on-the-spot made-up …theticals actually sound like good names for fallacies or biases: Groucho (emotions?), Zeppo (eternal fire?), Chico (cheeky arguments?), Gummo (gish gallopishness?).

  • Alan Mill

    “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.”

    Yep, empathy is the key – empathy is the ability to objectively see issues from another person’s point of view and act objectively on that. We do it all the time, getting into someone else’s shoes and walking around in them. This leads to an understanding of how mutual peace, mutual confidence and mutual dependence can be used as an objective measuring stick for our behaviour towards others, like the Chinese atheists pointed out 2,500 years ago. We ought to behave morally as society is necessary. The individual depends on the group and must make the group’s interests part of his or her own interests, and, on the other side of the equation, the group depends on the individual and must make that individual’s interests part of the group’s interests.

    “If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.”
    Nope, Chinese atheism has been disproving this for 2,500 years.

    Has anyone falsified the godless secular observed fact approach Confucius took to reach his major moral imperative of “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you”, ie the mutual dependence ethic between people, that the Chinese have been using for 2,500 years.

    After dissing Confucianism for decades, it looks like the Commies have now realised it is a more efficient way to run their authoritarian society than their Maoist cronyism debacle and have started embracing and promoting it again.

    I’m not a Confucianist – but from what I’ve read of Chinese philosophy/political science of that era, it addresses issues that western philosophy struggles with due to what I think is the effect of polytheism and monotheism on the foundations and development of western philosophy.

    • Paul

      “If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.”
      Nope, Chinese atheism has been disproving this for 2,500 years.

      So there ARE objective morals values? Be sure and tell Bob that.

      • So there ARE objective morals values? Be sure and tell Bob that.

        Because you sure as hell are unable to.

      • Max Doubt

        “So there ARE objective morals values?”

        No.

        “Be sure and tell Bob that.”

        Why on earth do you willfully ignore the many people who have offered you reasoned responses that demonstrate your failure to support your position? Why is being dishonest more important to you than acknowledging what is true? You’re not having a dialog here. You’re preaching. And that’s a pretty shitty way to treat all these good people who are willing to engage with you honestly.

      • Alan Mill

        Hi Paul

        I’ve mentioned this to Bob a number of times and he says it is an interesting idea, though he disagrees. But Bob is not the only person here and the Confucian challenge
        is open to everyone.

        So instead of deflecting, why not have a go at dealing with Confucius yourself.

        When it comes to grounding moral obligation, I am yet to find a Theist who can offer a non optional reason for obeying the alleged commands of their alleged god. The reasons offered are all optional and can be dismissed out of hand easily. If you can’t ground moral obligation in a non optional reason, then you can’t move on to grounding moral behaviour.

        And I’ve also yet to find a Theist who can dismiss or truly deny the secular grounding of moral obligation in the necessity of society.

        To do that, the first thing they would have to do is get off the internet. 🙂

        And their insurmountable problems would only just be starting then.

    • Greg G.

      “If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.”
      Nope, Chinese atheism has been disproving this for 2,500 years.

      Has anyone falsified the godless secular observed fact approach Confucius took to reach his major moral imperative of “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you”, ie the mutual dependence ethic between people, that the Chinese have been using for 2,500 years.

      The “what you don’t want done to you” makes it subjective, not objective. Empathy is also subjective.

      • Alan Mill

        Hi Greg

        You are confusing two issues – having an objective method of measuring your behaviour to ground moral behaviour and making a subjective decision to use that measuring method and behave in ways determined by that method.

        The political idea of mutual peace is an objective measure of our behaviour leading to mutual confidence as the mutual dependence of society and social living is necessary and the golden rule is the nutshell version of the rules of social living, as Confucius pointed out.

        It’s a subjective decision to use the golden rule (or not use it as the case may be with far too many people)

        As Burning Spear sang “Don’t you know, social living is the best”.

        Yes, I know he’s a Rasta but he makes great music. The dub version is awesome.

  • Well, the problem of evil isn’t really a good argument against the existence of gods, partially because most theists don’t seem to declare that their god has the strict omni properties, and second, because if you assume strict omni, and then continue to work on a proof, rather than just say that strict omni is illogical from the start, you’re allowing for the potential that this god thing cannot be explained by a consistent system (inconsistent should not be confused with illogical). Proofs in inconsistent system cannot rely upon proof by contradiction, and so if we follow through with the strict omni assumption, the problem of evil proof becomes invalid, as it is indeed a proof by contradiction.

  • Paul

    “What many apologists perceive as objective moral values are actually just shared moral values. That we share moral values isn’t too surprising since we’re all the same species.”

    The Nazis had a shared value: that it was OK to kill Jews. Other groups shared the value that it was not OK to kill Jews. One might conclude that morals are culturally relative. Nope, the fact that Nazis thought they were right didn’t make it true.

    • Max Doubt

      “The Nazis had a shared value: that it was OK to kill Jews. Other groups shared the value that it was not OK to kill Jews. One might conclude that morals are culturally relative. Nope, the fact that Nazis thought they were right didn’t make it true.”

      Yeah. Subjective morality. Looks like you’re starting to understand.

    • Greg G.

      Nobody says that subjective morality is perfect. It’s just that morality can differ subject to being from different people and cultures. Subjective morality is better for a society than no morality. Recognizing that we have subjective morality is better than staunchly claiming to have objective morality.

    • MR

      The Nazis had a shared value: that it was OK to kill Jews. Other groups shared the value that it was not OK to kill Jews. One might conclude that morals are culturally relative. Nope, the fact that Nazis thought they were right didn’t make it true.

      Example of how morals are relative!

      • Paul

        “Example of how morals are relative!”

        Non-sequitur. The fact that 2 individuals or 2 groups disagree doesn’t change the value of the moral issue. They also can’t both be right. Therefore moral relativism is false.

        • Max Doubt

          “Non-sequitur. The fact that 2 individuals or 2 groups disagree doesn’t change the value of the moral issue. They also can’t both be right.”

          Maybe they can both be right. All this time you’ve spent flinging your shit all over the room like a poorly behaved monkey, and you’ve still failed to provide a way to tell the difference. Got anything?

          “Therefore moral relativism is false.”

          LOL.

        • MR

          Irrelevant since there is no absolute right. You gave a perfect example of how morals are relative. Just as it’s senseless to place moral judgement on animals killing other animals, there is no objectivally moral right answer for men killing men. They too are animals. Moral judgement is based in the human mind. It is not a thing in itself. Humans make the judgements. It is not objective. It is subject to human minds. Otherwise you’d be able to demonstrate otherwise.

        • Paul

          “Irrelevant since there is no absolute right.”

          What’s your evidence for that? Just because some people find the answer to moral issues difficult to discover, doesn’t mean that it can’t be found or that it doesn’t exist.

          “You gave a perfect example of how morals are relative.”

          No, I gave an example what might appear to some people as relative morality. I show that it was a non-sequitur and I showed the contradiction. Moral relativity is false. Yet you continue to go with it anyway.

        • MR

          Moral relativity is false.

          Moral relativity is the only thing that can be demonstrated. Trying to weasel out of it only shows you to be a weasel. There is no objective moral right or wrong or you would have demonstrated it. Man is an animal that kills, steals and rapes, just as other animals do. We apply moral values on human actions because we are human, not because anything like an objective morality exists. An alien or robot, something that canbe objective, would apply no moral judgement on human behavior any more than we apply moral judgement on animal behavior. Moral judgement is subject to humans, making it subjective by definition. Can you demonstrate that morality exists as an objective thing?

          I thought not.

        • Paul

          “Moral relativity is the only thing that can be demonstrated.”

          And I demonstrated it to be false.

          “There is no objective moral right or wrong…”

          Can you demonstrate that? Is that an objective statement?

          “Man is an animal…”

          That speaks volumes. It tells me a lot of your world view and how you see your fellow humans. You see them as animals and not someone made in the image of God.

        • Greg G.

          And I demonstrated it to be false.

          You cannot even comprehend the argument. You cannot begin to show it is false unless you prove there is an objective morality, which you haven’t come close to doing.

        • Susan

          which you haven’t come close to doing.

          He hasn’t even tried. It’s breathtaking.

          Ameribear must have sent a stand-in.

          Someone else who’s going to assert things relentlessly and stick his fingers in his ears when asked to justify his assertions.

        • Susan

          And I demonstrated it to be false.

          I can’t find a single comment in your history here in which you did any such thing.

          If you think I’ve missed something, please link the comment. (Find it in your history, right click on the time stamp and copy/paste it into a comment box in response.) Otherwise, edit: you are you seem to be just lying.

          It tells me a lot of your world view and how you see your fellow humans. You see them as animals

          We are animals. We are primates. We are mammals. We require oxygen. We require nutrients. We require water. We lactacte. We reproduce sexually. We bleed. We have hearts, livers, kidneys and all sorts of organs that we share with many of the planet’s other animals. The list here could be much longer but I won’t waste comment space as you’re just here to ignore evidence and parrot apologetics.

          not someone made in the image of God

          Nope. “God” is a shapeshifting claim that humans make.

        • “Moral relativity is the only thing that can be demonstrated.”
          And I demonstrated it to be false.

          Huh?? What you have shown is that you have no clue what atheists think!

          Maybe stop to get that correct first?

        • MR

          Are humans not animals?

          Does God exist? Show me.

        • epeeist

          And I demonstrated it to be false.

          All you have demonstrated while you have been here is a complete lack of understanding of how to make, or what constitutes an argument. To be blunt, you couldn’t demonstrate your way out of a wet paper bag.

        • What’s your evidence for that?

          You want to see evidence for claims–good for you! Now, show us how it’s done by giving us evidence for objective morality.

        • Max Doubt

          “Just because some people find the answer to moral issues difficult to discover,…”

          … shows us that morality is subjective.

          “… doesn’t mean that it can’t be found or that it doesn’t exist.”

          No, it means you can’t reasonably claim it does exist.

        • Greg G.

          They also can’t both be right.

          They can both be right if morality is subjective.

          A Christian says cherry flavor is best. A Muslim says strawberry is the best flavor. They both can’t be right, can they? Not if there is an objective best flavor, but it is perfectly compatible because flavor preferences are subjective.

          What you see as a problem is because you are looking at it with the wrong assumption. You refuse to consider that two Christian cultures can assume they have the one objective morality backed up the same way but with a slight emphasis on different verses and disagree on major points.

          Now when are you going to answer my question about whether slavery is objectively moral or not. If it is, I want to enslave you because the Bible says you should obey me.

        • Paul

          Any yet you to continue to argue over whether some actions are right or wrong. They only you should be saying is “it may be true for them but it’s not true me.” or vice versa. If morality is just your personal opinion, you have no grounds to judge others with a different opinion.

          http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo1/koukl.php

        • MR

          But you can also say it’s true for most humans, that doesn’t mean it’s an objective truth. Remove the human, remove the judgement. Is a lion killing another lion immoral? No. You judge other humans because you, too, are human. That doesn’t make it objective. It just makes you human.

        • Greg G.

          Any yet you to continue to argue over whether some actions are right or wrong. They only you should be saying is “it may be true for them but it’s not true me.” or vice versa. If morality is just your personal opinion, you have no grounds to judge others with a different opinion.

          I think religion has diminished your ability to reason, especially in important areas like morality and empathy. You do not understand either. Please shut up and do what you are told. Do not ever try to think. If you do accidently try to think, forget it.

        • Greg G.

          The author of the link is as dense as you are.

        • Thanks for the link to Salvo. I’m not sure I’ve seen that before–is that a satire magazine? Maybe a humor magazine like the Onion? All I know is that the “morality” it describes in that article bears no resemblance to my own views.

          Which gets me back to an old point: your mental model of my morality is wrong. You should explain your assumptions so they can be corrected. If you want to critique something and then complain to us about it, your critique should be of what we actually believe.

        • epeeist

          Thanks for the link to Salvo. I’m not sure I’ve seen that before–is that a satire magazine?

          Enough straw in that one page to contain an infinite number of Edward Woodwards.

        • Pofarmer

          What the fuck did I just read? Holy Cow.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It’s not amazing that some Christian was dumb enough to write such bullshit. What is amazing is that someone read it and thought it was worthy of linking to.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Turn up the wick… 😉

        • Paul

          So you personally prefer not to go into schools and shoot people. You even prefer that others don’t do that either. But if someone prefers to do it, you would not object to it, right? You would just say something like: “Well, that’s just his personal preference. It’s no different than preferring cherry or strawberry.”

        • Greg G.

          So you personally prefer not to go into schools and shoot people. You even prefer that others don’t do that either. But if someone prefers to do it, you would not object to it, right?

          I don’t know anybody who likes to get shot. I know why people do not want to get shot. My morality is based on empathy for others and I must interact with people to understand. Why is this so difficult? Have you made an attempt to understand what you are arguing against?

        • Paul

          “I don’t know anybody who likes to get shot.”

          I don’t either, but that’s not what I said. I was asking “what if someone prefers to do the shooting?” What if they prefer to do it? It’s just personal opinion vs. personal opinion. Do you get mad at people for not preferring the same ice cream flavor as you? Do you understand how ridiculous your arguments are when you say morals are just a matter of personal opinion?

        • Do you understand how ridiculous you sound when you get in a lather over moral attitudes that are not held by the person you’re shouting at?

        • Pofarmer

          Do you understand how ridiculous you sound

          No, no he doesn’t.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Paul cherishes his strawmen…

        • MR

          Do you understand how ridiculous your arguments are when you say morals are just a matter of personal opinion?

          Except that you were the one who said that, and you do indeed sound ridiculous. Greg said his morality is based in his empathy, something most humans share in. He used the flavors to demonstrate that not everything has a right and wrong answer. Twisting someone else’s argument into something it is not is simply dishonest. You belie your own belief in objective morality. Thank you for once again demonstrating that morals are relative.

        • No, that’s not my position.

          Are you getting a clue yet? Your sources about what atheists think are, as usual, wrong. Outline what you think we believe and correct them where we show you errors. Then you can respond.

        • Paul

          “No, that’s not my position.”

          What post are you responding to? Your post appeared under my response to Greg G. So I was addressing HIS position.

          I am not and will not outline what atheists as a group believe. I’m responding to yours and Greg G’s opinions.

        • You haven’t described my position correctly. Nor have you shown any interest in finding out what it is.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Then outline what you believe about morality.

        • Paul

          You read the Bible and come to the conclusion that it condones slavery. I read the Bible and conclude that it does not condone slavery. Does that mean that the Bible is relative? No, that would be a non sequitur. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean the text has no specific meaning.

          Just for the sake of argument, you think enslaving me would be OK. You don’t think you have the right to impose your subjective morals on someone else, do you?

        • Greg G.

          You read the Bible and come to the conclusion that it condones slavery. I read the Bible and conclude that it does not condone slavery. Does that mean that the Bible is relative?

          No, it means your reading comprehension is terrible and your thinking ability is worse.

          Just for the sake of argument, you think enslaving me would be OK. You don’t think you have the right to impose your subjective morals on someone else, do you?

          No I do not think enslaving people is OK. I am just using what the Bible says is OK with slavery.

          I do have assume the right to impose my subjective morals on people, especially where almost everybody agrees with me and I with them. My morals are not completely independent of others. We need to learn how others feel so we are not treating people completely selfishly.

        • Paul

          “I do have assume the right to impose my subjective morals on people,”

          You certainly are dogmatic about your subjective opinions. To be consistent, you’d impose your favorite ice cream flavor on everyone else too, right? But would you get mad if other people imposed their moral values on you, one you disagree with?

        • Greg G.

          You certainly are dogmatic

          “Dogmatic” can be used as a metaphor but it doesn’t work for you because I have no dogma but you actually do use the Bible as dogma. That was one of the words on you list of vocabulary words to learn. You are falling way behind the rest of the class.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Ice cream preference doesn’t affect others.

          Where there is real-world harm to others, that’s where morals kick in.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I still say that morals are the survival instincts of a society, and while subjective, can mean the success or death of such a society.

        • You read the Bible and come to the conclusion that it condones slavery. I read the Bible and conclude that it does not condone slavery. Does that mean that the Bible is relative?

          It does show that morality is relative (since we disagree with the Bible on this bit of morality), but it also means that you can’t read. I make clear how biblical slavery was pretty much identical to American slavery here:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/04/yes-biblical-slavery-was-the-same-as-american-slavery-2/

        • Paul

          “It does show that morality is relative (since we disagree with the Bible on this bit of morality)”

          Non sequitur. I explained this to you in the post that you responded to. The fact that we disagree has no bearing on the meaning of the text itself. (And you say I can’t read.)

          If you think that morality is relative, then your opinion is not grounded in facts and you have no epistemic right to your opinion. Thus, people aren’t obligated to listen to your opinion and shouldn’t even respect it. If you want people to listen to you, your opinions have to be grounded in facts – i.e. not subjective. They can’t just be mere
          opinions.

          “I make clear how biblical slavery was pretty much identical to American slavery”

          You made it clear that you think they’re identical, but you didn’t demonstrate that they actually are identical.

        • Non sequitur. I explained this to you in the post that you responded to. The fact that we disagree has no bearing on the meaning of the text itself. (And you say I can’t read.)

          This isn’t hard. You may critique my moral position, but you don’t know what it is. You’re critiquing someone else’s moral position, about which I don’t give a damn.

          Try again.

          “I make clear how biblical slavery was pretty much identical to American slavery”
          You made it clear that you think they’re identical, but you didn’t demonstrate that they actually are identical.

          Actually I did. I gave you the link to the 2-part post series that explained that in great detail. Perhaps you saw it?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Read Exodus 21 and try to honestly state that it’s not a rule book for how to own slaves.

          “Thou shalt not own other people as property” would have been a lot shorter and better.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          With regard to slavery which Biblical text are you using?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You will have to define “objective” for the realm of morality.

        • Greg G.

          Independent of mind.

          Objective morality would be moral even if everybody in the world believes otherwise. If there is an objective morality, we have no way to know it. The morality humans use is what seems right to them, which is dependent on the mind and, therefore, not objective.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GG1: Independent of mind.

          GW1: That cannot be the case for the realm of morality since every moral rule is a product of somebody’s mind.

          GG1: Objective morality would be moral even if everybody in the world believes otherwise.

          GW1: That cannot be the case since your first clause “objective morality would be moral” is circular. Also, a moral rule is a product of at least one mind. How could any moral rule be objective if only one mind believes it?

          GG1: If there is an objective morality, we have no way to know it.

          GW1: Why not?

          GG1: The morality humans use is what seems right to them, which is dependent on the mind and, therefore, not objective.

          GW1: Dependence on the mind cannot be the defining feature of objectivity for morality. If somebody makes the scientific statement “Water freezes at 32 degrees F,” this statement is dependent on the mind and yet the statement is regarded as objective. But, if somebody makes the moral statement “You should not kill another person, except in defense or in mercy,” why can’t that be objective? Both statements depend on the mind.

        • Greg G.

          GW1: That cannot be the case for the realm of morality since every moral rule is a product of somebody’s mind.

          The question was about objective morality. If every moral rule is the product of mind, there is no objective morality but there is subjective morality. But how would we know if there are objective rules of morality that we cannot know?

          GW1: That cannot be the case since your first clause “objective morality would be moral” is circular. Also, a moral rule is a product of at least one mind. How could any moral rule be objective if only one mind believes it?

          It isn’t a circular argument, it is a tautology.

          If everybody who prefers vanilla over chocolate had an unrelated fatal accident in the next year, the fact that everyone prefers chocolate would have no bearing on which is better. I abhorred the smell of natural gas because it has a chemical added to it that gets one’s attention. It is gives natural gas the odor of durian. But getting past the smell was a wonderful experience because the fruit’s taste is great. It is a matter of taste.

          GW1: Why not?

          We might be able to determine the objectively best way to achieve Goal A but how do we know that Goal A is an objectively moral achievement? We might be able to determine what is best for our species but it might not be optimal for the rest of the world’s species.

          Objective morality might be counter-intuitive to life forms that are based on reproductive success that uses pain as a deterent for harmful activities. Maybe it is objectively moral to reduce the suffering and enable the thriving of the king of the jungle. Perhaps it is objectively moral to try to escape from a lion because lions enjoy the thrill of the chase but it is objectively immoral to harm a lion to protect oneself or one’s offspring. Maybe human existence in the grand scheme of objective morality is to feed lions with our excess offspring.

          GW1: Dependence on the mind cannot be the defining feature of objectivity for morality. If somebody makes the scientific statement “Water freezes at 32 degrees F,” this statement is dependent on the mind and yet the statement is regarded as objective.

          That water freezes under some conditions that can be determined is an objective fact. Water freezes and thaws independent of any minds. The preference of the temperature scale is subjective. The quantity of heat is an objective property. It is the same quantity no matter which units it is given in. The boiling point of carbon dioxide is objectively lower than or equal to the melting point under typical conditions on Earth’s surface. That’s why we call frozen carbon dioxide “dry ice”. The units of temperature are irrelevant.

          If you add two people who believe “2 + 2 = 5” to two people who believe “2 + 2 = 3”, you get four people who don’t get math, but it is not because we take an average of their subjective beliefs, it is because “2 + 2 = 4” is a fact that we can determine to a high degree of certainty and it works out no matter what people or birds believe.

          If we add two people who prefer vanilla to two people who prefer chocolate, we get four people. How do we determine which pair are objectively correct about the best flavor? You can’t. You can only make your own subjective judgement.

          If there is a planet that is over-populated to the point that the eco-system will crash, causing an oxygen-depletion that will result in carbon dioxide poisoning, a painful way to die, for all animal creatures, would it be objectively moral to annihilate half the population if that would prevent the collapse? What if you could annihilate them painlessly? What if it was done for all heavily populated planets in the universe?

          In the movie Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is the evil villain. His goal is to do that. He points out how much better off the survivors are on planets he rules and his goal is to do that for the universe.

          One can see that it might be objectively better for the survivors and objectively worse for the sacrifices allowing them all to live out their natural lives would eventually be objectively bad for everybody alive a generation later. It is easier to see the benefits to societies we are not emotionally invested in. But does it matter to the universe whether people live and die? The universe doesn’t care much about comets crashing into planets nor about the life forms on a planet when a comet crashes into them.

          I see no point in changing the definition of “objective” just for morality so we can say we have “objective reality,” especially when it is obviously dependent on the mind of the beholder.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW1: That cannot be the case for the realm of morality since every moral rule is a product of somebody’s mind.

          GG2: The question was about objective morality. If every moral rule is the product of mind, there is no objective morality but there is subjective morality. But how would we know if there are objective rules of morality that we cannot know?

          GW2: Why can’t a product of mind, in this case a moral proposition, be objective? I don’t think you are using a proper definition of “objective.”

          GW1: That cannot be the case since your first clause “objective morality would be moral” is circular. Also, a moral rule is a product of at least one mind. How could any moral rule be objective if only one mind believes it?

          GG2: It isn’t a circular argument, it is a tautology.

          GW2: Either way, it is not useful for the analysis here.

          GG2: If everybody who prefers vanilla over chocolate had an unrelated fatal accident in the next year, the fact that everyone prefers chocolate would have no bearing on which is better. I abhorred the smell of natural gas because it has a chemical added to it that gets one’s attention. It is gives natural gas the odor of durian. But getting past the smell was a wonderful experience because the fruit’s taste is great. It is a matter of taste.

          GW2: Take these two propositions: “Persons should not kill other persons, except for defense and mercy in special circumstances.” And “Chocolate tastes better than vanilla.” Are you asserting that both are subjective? Why do you think so? Maybe the first is more objective than the second.

          GW1: Why not?
          GG2: We might be able to determine the objectively best way to achieve Goal A but how do we know that Goal A is an objectively moral achievement?

          GW2: If we determine that behavior X objectively is the best way to achieve goal A and also if we determine that all persons objectively embrace goal A, then why shouldn’t we conclude that the moral proposition, “You should do X to achieve goal A” is an objective moral rule?

          GG2: We might be able to determine what is best for our species but it might not be optimal for the rest of the world’s species.

          GW2: How could we possibly devise a moral system optimal for all of the world’s species? And should we even try? If we devise a moral system optimal for us, then it will include rules which protect other species to some degree since we live in an ecosystem.

          GG2: Objective morality might be counter-intuitive to life forms that are based on reproductive success that uses pain as a deterent for harmful activities.

          GW2: Objective morality is not the same as correct morality. A morality could be objective without being correct and correct without being objective. Also, why should we worry about counter-intuitiveness? Many true or correct propositions are counter-intuitive.

          GG2: Maybe it is objectively moral to reduce the suffering and enable the thriving of the king of the jungle. Perhaps it is objectively moral to try to escape from a lion because lions enjoy the thrill of the chase but it is objectively immoral to harm a lion to protect oneself or one’s offspring. Maybe human existence in the grand scheme of objective morality is to feed lions with our excess offspring.

          GW2: Call me “speciest” but I think we need to devise a morality in the best interests of humanity. It will have secondary benefits for other species.

          GW1: Dependence on the mind cannot be the defining feature of objectivity for morality. If somebody makes the scientific statement “Water freezes at 32 degrees F,” this statement is dependent on the mind and yet the statement is regarded as objective.

          GG2: That water freezes under some conditions that can be determined is an objective fact. Water freezes and thaws independent of any minds.

          GW2: But the propositions about water come from minds. And so, coming from minds cannot be used to rule out objectivity. What you call “objective facts” can also be used in developing moral propositions like “We should destroy all nuclear weapons.”

          GG2: If you add two people who believe “2 + 2 = 5” to two people who believe “2 + 2 = 3”, you get four people who don’t get math, but it is not because we take an average of their subjective beliefs, it is because “2 + 2 = 4″ is a fact that we can determine to a high degree of certainty and it works out no matter what people or birds believe.

          GW2: But “2” does not exist in nature. It is a concept which comes from minds. I think objectivity refers to consensus achieved through a reliable and consistent method.

          GG2: If we add two people who prefer vanilla to two people who prefer chocolate, we get four people. How do we determine which pair are objectively correct about the best flavor? You can’t. You can only make your own subjective judgement.

          GW2: I don’t buy your analogy. Taste preferences are not like moral propositions.

          GG2: If there is a planet that is over-populated to the point that the eco-system will crash, causing an oxygen-depletion that will result in carbon dioxide poisoning, a painful way to die, for all animal creatures, would it be objectively moral to annihilate half the population if that would prevent the collapse? What if you could annihilate them painlessly? What if it was done for all heavily populated planets in the universe?

          GW2: No, that would be immoral in all these circumstances. Instead, governments should first encourage lower birth rates by noncoercive measures. You don’t have to murder people to reduce population.

          GG2: In the movie Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is the evil villain. His goal is to do that. He points out how much better off the survivors are on planets he rules and his goal is to do that for the universe.

          GW2: I haven’t seen the movie, but I think his behavior violates correct universal morality.

          GG2: One can see that it might be objectively better for the survivors and objectively worse for the sacrifices allowing them all to live out their natural lives would eventually be objectively bad for everybody alive a generation later. It is easier to see the benefits to societies we are not emotionally invested in.

          GW2: Correct universal morality applies to all persons.

          GG2: But does it matter to the universe whether people live and die? The universe doesn’t care much about comets crashing into planets nor about the life forms on a planet when a comet crashes into them.

          GW2: It matters to persons.

          GG2: I see no point in changing the definition of “objective” just for morality so we can say we have “objective reality,” especially when it is obviously dependent on the mind of the beholder.

          GW2: “Objective” seems to have a few proper definitions. So, let’s just pick the one which best applies to morality. I think it is best to think of “objectivity” as a variable, falling on a continuum. I think we can devise a universal morality which is much more objective than all the many moralities which are currently used in different countries and cultures.

        • Greg G.

          The post I was attempting to reply to is not active.
          __________________________________________

          GW2: Why can’t a product of mind, in this case a moral proposition, be objective? I don’t think you are using a proper definition of “objective.”

          A product of mind might be objective. You might be able to prove it is objective and you might not. The problem with a moral proposition is you have nowhere to start with what is objectively moral besides subjective morality which might just be the ingrained moral system of an inherently objectively immoral reproductive strategy. Perhaps plants are objectively moral and animals that go around eating plants are objectively immoral. If one species of animal can make supposedly moral judgements that call their own objective immorality objectively moral would be ridiculous.

          GW2: Either way, it is not useful for the analysis here.

          You gave up a third of the way through the sentence for your quotation. Don’t blame for its usefulness or lack of.

          GW2: Take these two propositions: “Persons should not kill other persons, except for defense and mercy in special circumstances.” And “Chocolate tastes better than vanilla.” Are you asserting that both are subjective? Why do you think so? Maybe the first is more objective than the second.

          Sure, the flavor question is definitely matter of taste and is subjective. I would not like to be killed but I might change my mind if I was suffering with a prognosis of more intense suffering. But how do we know that it is objectively moral to not shorten suffering. Some people believe otherwise. Sometimes some people need might to be killed to bring peace to the world. My emotional response is different than other people’s response. I can argue that my sense of morality is objectively better for my preference for society but I cannot prove than my preference for society is objectively moral.

          Is slavery objecitvely immoral. To someone who does not wish to be a slave, it would seem like it. To someone who is doing objectively well because of the slave he owns, it would seem objectively moral. If a whole society did better with slavery than without, would that make it objectively moral? How can you tell? It is based on what pleases your mind?

          GW2: If we determine that behavior X objectively is the best way to achieve goal A and also if we determine that all persons objectively embrace goal A, then why shouldn’t we conclude that the moral proposition, “You should do X to achieve goal A” is an objective moral rule?

          You are using “objective” incorrectly. Maybe we can objectively determine that all persons subjectively embrace goal A. But there are often unintended consequences of goal A. The ancestors of the dodo bird lived on an island with easy to get food and few predators so it was objectively better for them to lose the ability to fly and to produce a few healthy eggs. What is objectively better in the short term may not be objectively better in the long term.

          But since our only sense of morality is our subjective preferences, we have not sense for what might be the objective morality.

          GW2: How could we possibly devise a moral system optimal for all of the world’s species? And should we even try? If we devise a moral system optimal for us, then it will include rules which protect other species to some degree since we live in an ecosystem.

          Why should we think an optimal moral system for earth creatures is objectively moral? We can only devise a morality that is subjectively pleasing to us. Why pretend it is objective?

          GW2: Objective morality is not the same as correct morality. A morality could be objective without being correct and correct without being objective. Also, why should we worry about counter-intuitiveness? Many true or correct propositions are counter-intuitive.

          How do you know what is objectively moral? What is correct morality? We can only judge whether we agree with it. Good luck getting everybody to agree with anything.

          GW2: Call me “speciest” but I think we need to devise a morality in the best interests of humanity. It will have secondary benefits for other species.

          That is your subjective morality. It has nothing to do with an objective morality. Using a method that is objectively better at achieving your subjective morality does not make it an objective morality.

          GW2: I don’t buy your analogy. Taste preferences are not like moral propositions.

          Only the consequences are different. It is still somebody’s preferred morality over someone else’s.

          GW2: No, that would be immoral in all these circumstances. Instead, governments should first encourage lower birth rates by noncoercive measures. You don’t have to murder people to reduce population.

          Sure, you should try that but when it fails, you are in worse circumstances. Making retirement available to all so nobody needs a large family to support them when they are old sounds good, but you need more workers than retired people.

          GW2: I haven’t seen the movie, but I think his behavior violates correct universal morality.

          It is like deer hunting season in the late fall. As food resources become scarce, deer are culled by hunters so that fewer suffer from starvation. Is that objectively immoral or is it like “mercy in special circumstances”. It that correct universal morality? What you call “universal morality” is not actually universal.

          GW2: Correct universal morality applies to all persons.

          It should apply to life in general according to my subjective moral opinion.

          GW2: “Objective” seems to have a few proper definitions. So, let’s just pick the one which best applies to morality. I think it is best to think of “objectivity” as a variable, falling on a continuum. I think we can devise a universal morality which is much more objective than all the many moralities which are currently used in different countries and cultures.

          That is silly. A variable morality is a relative morality which is not an objective morality at all. Any morality we come up with will be our subjective preference for morality. Let’s not pretend there is an objective morality or that we can determine what it is. A morality that is subject to one species is a subjective morality.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW3: I could be mistaken, but I think we’ve had a discussion very similar to this in the past. Oh well, I’ll continue for awhile.

          GW2: Why can’t a product of mind, in this case a moral proposition, be objective? I don’t think you are using a proper definition of “objective.”

          GG3: A product of mind might be objective. You might be able to prove it is objective and you might not. The problem with a moral proposition is you have nowhere to start with what is objectively moral besides subjective morality which might just be the ingrained moral system of an inherently objectively immoral reproductive strategy.

          GW3: You are still thinking that “objective” is a dichotomous variable rather than a continuous one. I don’t agree with that way of thinking because I believe it impedes progress towards a better morality. Just start with possible (or competing) moral propositions, e.g. “Persons should not kill other persons, except for defense and mercy.” or “Persons should not cover their faces in public.” Consider higher degrees of objectivity to be useful, and then evaluate the propositions on objectivity. If they have high objectivity, retain them; if not, reject them.

          GG3: Perhaps plants are objectively moral and animals that go around eating plants are objectively immoral. If one species of animal can make supposedly moral judgements that call their own objective immorality objectively moral would be ridiculous.

          GW3: I don’t believe any plants or animals on the Earth are capable of devising a morality, expect for humans. So, I’m not interested in going on that tangent.

          GW2: Take these two propositions: “Persons should not kill other persons, except for defense and mercy in special circumstances.” And “Chocolate tastes better than vanilla.” Are you asserting that both are subjective? Why do you think so? Maybe the first is more objective than the second.

          GG3: Sure, the flavor question is definitely matter of taste and is subjective. I would not like to be killed but I might change my mind if I was suffering with a prognosis of more intense suffering. But how do we know that it is objectively moral to not shorten suffering. Some people believe otherwise. Sometimes some people need might to be killed to bring peace to the world. My emotional response is different than other people’s response. I can argue that my sense of morality is objectively better for my preference for society but I cannot prove than my preference for society is objectively moral.

          GW3: I believe it is objectively moral to shorten suffering by killing persons in some circumstances, but I don’t think we are interested in that particular belief. I think we are interested in how morality is devised and should be devised. If a group of persons used a specific method to devise moral propositions which they believed to be correct and they reached a high consensus on a proposition X, then I would conclude that X had a high level of objectivity.

          GG3: Is slavery objecitvely immoral. To someone who does not wish to be a slave, it would seem like it. To someone who is doing objectively well because of the slave he owns, it would seem objectively moral.

          GW3: I think I remember you bringing up this slavery issue before. I think your first question here is not framed in a useful way, but I think I know what you mean and will try to answer it within my framework. An expert group of persons using reason would conclude with a high consensus that the proposition “Persons should not practice slavery” is correct.

          GG3: If a whole society did better with slavery than without, would that make it objectively moral? How can you tell?

          GW3: When you say “make it objectively moral,” I think you are sort of conflating two standards – objectivity and correctness, and I think it is important to consider the difference. Take the Nazi moral proposition “The Aryan race should eliminate the Jews.” I think that is incorrect, but it might be considered objective, if you consider only a very limited method and subgroup of persons devising the proposition. And so, I believe objectivity must be evaluated with respect to the method of thinking used and the group of persons doing the thinking.

          GG3: It is based on what pleases your mind?

          GW3: No, I think objectivity depends on consensus within a group using a particular method of investigation. For example, the moral proposition “Women should never abort their fetuses” might have a high degree of objectivity for a group of Christians only using the book of Matthew to reach their conclusions.

          GW2: If we determine that behavior X objectively is the best way to achieve goal A and also if we determine that all persons objectively embrace goal A, then why shouldn’t we conclude that the moral proposition, “You should do X to achieve goal A” is an objective moral rule?

          GG3: You are using “objective” incorrectly. Maybe we can objectively determine that all persons subjectively embrace goal A.

          GW3: And I think you are using both “objective” and “subjective” incorrectly in their application to morality.

          GG3: But there are often unintended consequences of goal A…What is objectively better in the short term may not be objectively better in the long term.

          GW3: Of course, any group of persons evaluating moral rules must consider short and long term consequences, and they must anticipate consequences to the best of their ability, based on history, science, and reason in general. But because a moral rule is a generalization, it will not cover all “unintended consequences.” It can cover a wide range of consequences if it has some exceptions or qualifications built in. Note the exceptions here: “Persons should not kill other persons, except for defense or mercy.”

          GG3: But since our only sense of morality is our subjective preferences, we have not sense for what might be the objective morality.

          GW3: Speak for yourself. I have a sense for what might be objective morality. Although you might not agree with me, I think many others will.

          GW2: How could we possibly devise a moral system optimal for all of the world’s species? And should we even try? If we devise a moral system optimal for us, then it will include rules which protect other species to some degree since we live in an ecosystem.

          GG3: Why should we think an optimal moral system for earth creatures is objectively moral? We can only devise a morality that is subjectively pleasing to us. Why pretend it is objective?

          GW3: Other creatures cannot and will not participate in devising a moral system which is mostly objective and correct. (Now if very intelligent creatures from other galaxies want to participate, then that is a different story altogether.)

          GW2: Objective morality is not the same as correct morality. A morality could be objective without being correct and correct without being objective. Also, why should we worry about counter-intuitiveness? Many true or correct propositions are counter-intuitive.

          GG3: How do you know what is objectively moral? What is correct morality? We can only judge whether we agree with it. Good luck getting everybody to agree with anything.

          GW3: I know how objective a given moral system is by noting the degree of consensus among those who devised it. Correct morality is a set of moral rules which maximize the survival, well being, and advancement of all persons. My goal is not to get everybody to agree with what I believe to be correct universal morality, although that would be a nice outcome. My goal is to promote a framework for devising a better morality.

          GW2: Call me “speciest” but I think we need to devise a morality in the best interests of humanity. It will have secondary benefits for other species.

          GG3: That is your subjective morality. It has nothing to do with an objective morality. Using a method that is objectively better at achieving your subjective morality does not make it an objective morality.

          GW3: The moral proposition “Human beings should prioritize the human species above other species in devising morality” has a high degree of objectivity among human beings. If you think not, ask a sample of a hundred. The moral proposition “Human beings should kill all mosquitos” also has the same high degree of objectivity. The mosquitos won’t discuss this.

          GW2: I don’t buy your analogy. Taste preferences are not like moral propositions.

          GG3: Only the consequences are different. It is still somebody’s preferred morality over someone else’s.

          GW3: If only the consequences are different, to me that is enough to knock out analogies to taste preferences.

          GW2: No, that would be immoral in all these circumstances. Instead, governments should first encourage lower birth rates by noncoercive measures. You don’t have to murder people to reduce population.

          GG3: Sure, you should try that but when it fails, you are in worse circumstances. Making retirement available to all so nobody needs a large family to support them when they are old sounds good, but you need more workers than retired people.

          GW3: Moral propositions are generalizations which usually focus on what you should try first. For example, you should try to not kill other persons first, but if they try to kill you, then you should try to stop them, which could result in killing them. I just don’t understand your retirement example.

          GW2: I haven’t seen the movie, but I think his behavior violates correct universal morality.

          GG3: It is like deer hunting season in the late fall. As food resources become scarce, deer are culled by hunters so that fewer suffer from starvation. Is that objectively immoral or is it like “mercy in special circumstances”. It that correct universal morality? What you call “universal morality” is not actually universal.

          GW3: Without more information and thought, I cannot give a direct answer to your question, but I would ask “What rule about deer hunting would be in the best interests of humanity?”

          GW2: Correct universal morality applies to all persons.

          GG3: It should apply to life in general according to my subjective moral opinion.

          GW3: I’ll adjust my position: Correct universal morality puts the interests of persons ahead of the interests of living things which are not persons, while not disregarding their interests.

          GW2: “Objective” seems to have a few proper definitions. So, let’s just pick the one which best applies to morality. I think it is best to think of “objectivity” as a variable, falling on a continuum. I think we can devise a universal morality which is much more objective than all the many moralities which are currently used in different countries and cultures.

          GG3: That is silly.

          GW3: No, it is rational.

          GG3: A variable morality is a relative morality which is not an objective morality at all.

          GW3: “Variable morality” is your concept, not mine. I seek a morality which is mostly consistent and stable for all persons. I think objectivity (not morality) is a continuous variable, not a dichotomous one, when considering the realm of morality.

          GG3: Any morality we come up with will be our subjective preference for morality.

          GW3: Any morality we come up with will have some degree of objectivity, which we can assess.

          GG3: Let’s not pretend there is an objective morality or that we can determine what it is.

          GW3: There are many moralities, some with high degrees of objectivity and some with low degrees of objectivity. Our goal should be to devise one with high degrees of clarity, specificity, rationality, objectivity, scope, stability, and universality. I am confident that this can be done and will be done.

          GG3: A morality that is subject to one species is a subjective morality.

          GW3: I think it would be silly to give EQUAL consideration and caring to other species in devising a morality. Try selling that idea to a hundred human persons and let me know the outcome.

          GW3: How do you think a best morality should be devised?

        • Greg G.

          GW3: You are still thinking that “objective” is a dichotomous variable rather than a continuous one. I don’t agree with that way of thinking because I believe it impedes progress towards a better morality.

          Your goal is commendable but your method is word games. If a value or property is dependent on the object, it is objective. If the value or property is dependent on the subject, it is subjective. Morals are dependent on the two subjects involved so they are necessarily subjective. The same moral consideration may be moral or immoral simultaneously depending on the subject you ask.

          If you add in some objective measurement, it becomes relative. Objective is the opposite of subjective. Absolute is the opposite of relative.

          I don’t agree with William Lane Craig about a lot of things but here is his definition:

          https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/objective-or-absolute-moral-values/

          “Objective” means “independent of people’s (including one’s own) opinion.” “Subjective” means “just a matter of personal opinion.” If we do have objective moral duties, then in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves we are obligated or forbidden to do various actions, regardless of what we think.

          I Googled “definition of objective morality” without the quotation marks. The first thing I got was:

          Objective morality is the perspective that there are things about the universe that make certain morals claims true or false. An objectivist would state that the way the world is makes murder an objectively wrong thing to do. … Subjective morality is the perspective that moral claims don’t really have a truth value.

          The Google search for “objective vs subjective”, again without quotation marks, came up as a suggestion when I typed the first word. Here it is:

          Subjective refers to personal perspectives, feelings, or opinions entering the decision making process. Objective refers to the elimination of subjective perspectives and a process that is purely based on hard facts.

          The topic has definitions of certain words already but it is confusing enough. If you want to help, don’t confuse things with private definitions of words that describe a different concept. If you agree with me that there is no such thing as objective morality as the term is commonly used then admit it. If you wish there was objective morality and you are trying to make it exist but substituting some other concept, you are being silly.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW3: You are still thinking that “objective” is a dichotomous variable rather than a continuous one. I don’t agree with that way of thinking because I believe it impedes progress towards a better morality.

          GG4: Your goal is commendable but your method is word games.

          GW4: Thanks for the compliment. No, my method is not “word games.” Part of my method is the correct understanding and application of words, which is a customary part of philosophical analysis. I am using one of a few acceptable definitions of “objective” and considering this concept to be continuous rather than dichotomous. I think your approach to the word/concept is not helpful.

          GG4: If a value or property is dependent on the object, it is objective. If the value or property is dependent on the subject, it is subjective.

          GW4: This cannot be correct since “value” is always dependent on an evaluation of an object by a subject. Also, I don’t understand how this is applicable to moral propositions.

          GG4: Morals are dependent on the two subjects involved so they are necessarily subjective.

          GW4: For clarity please substitute “moral rules” for “morals.” Moral rules should not be formulated with two persons (subjects?) in mind but with any or all persons in mind. If by “subjective” you merely mean that moral propositions are produced by minds, then I agree that they are subjective. But they can and still are objective to varying degrees. The degree of objectivity depends on the method of development and the group of persons applying the method.

          GG4: The same moral consideration may be moral or immoral simultaneously depending on the subject you ask.

          GW4: Your language is confusing. I think you mean that the same moral rule may be considered correct and incorrect simultaneously by different groups of persons. That is trivially true, but not helpful. The goal is to produce moral rules which are considered universal and correct by experts using reason to develop them.

          GG4: If you add in some objective measurement, it becomes relative. Objective is the opposite of subjective. Absolute is the opposite of relative.

          GW4: I think your analysis is too simplistic and to some extent invalid, and thus not very helpful. You throw around a lot of terms without clearly defining them. Relative to what? I suggest that objective and subjective are not opposites, but are poles on the same continuum.

          GG4: I don’t agree with William Lane Craig about a lot of things but here is his definition:
          https://www.reasonablefaith
          “Objective” means “independent of people’s (including one’s own) opinion.” “Subjective” means “just a matter of personal opinion.” If we do have objective moral duties, then in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves we are obligated or forbidden to do various actions, regardless of what we think.

          GW4: But you didn’t say whether you agree with him on this point. I don’t. When talking about persons’ descriptions, e.g. scientific propositions, or about prescriptions, e.g. moral rules, they cannot be independent of peoples’ opinions. They all start as opinions, speculations, or hypotheses, and then later as evidence, reasons, and arguments are presented in favor of them and as consensus is built, they are considered facts or knowledge or “strongly settled opinion.” This is the case whether you are talking about a description like “The Earth is round” or a prescription like “People should not cover their faces in public.” I think WLC has a very poor grasp on moral philosophy.

          GG4: I Googled “definition of objective morality” without the quotation marks. The first thing I got was:
          “Objective morality is the perspective that there are things about the universe that make certain morals claims true or false. An objectivist would state that the way the world is makes murder an objectively wrong thing to do. … Subjective morality is the perspective that moral claims don’t really have a truth value.

          GW4: Only descriptions can be true or false; prescriptions like moral rules can be neither true nor false. However, I think they can be correct or incorrect. I think the moral rule “Persons should not kill other persons, except for defense or mercy” is a correct universal moral rule with a high degree of objectivity, when devised by experts using reason.

          GG4: The Google search for “objective vs subjective”, again without quotation marks, came up as a suggestion when I typed the first word. Here it is:
          “Subjective refers to personal perspectives, feelings, or opinions entering the decision making process. Objective refers to the elimination of subjective perspectives and a process that is purely based on hard facts.”

          GW4: I believe that when experts use reason to devise a correct universal moral system they should be selected for “low bias” and should be instructed to minimize their bias as much as possible. Again, “objective” has a few acceptable definitions, and this reflects one of them.

          GG4: The topic has definitions of certain words already but it is confusing enough. If you want to help, don’t confuse things with private definitions of words that describe a different concept.

          GW4: In a philosophical discussion, private definitions can be made public very easily and they aren’t necessarily a problem if they are made clear. Such definitions sometimes seep into common usage. However, I think I am using definitions of “objective” already in circulation, as follows:
          1. Unbiased or low in bias. “Juror #5 would be more objective than Juror #8.”
          2. Accessible to the external senses. “Viewing the eclipse is objective, but having a Near Death Experience is not.”
          3. Reliable among persons. “Descriptive conclusions are more objective than prescriptive conclusions.”
          4. Accessible to or resolvable by reason. “One day an objective morality will be developed.”

          GG4: If you agree with me that there is no such thing as objective morality as the term is commonly used then admit it.

          GW4: I disagree with your premise that moral systems are either objective or they are not. Instead, I believe they vary on a continuum of objectivity, when definitions #3 and #1 are applied.

          GG4: If you wish there was objective morality and you are trying to make it exist but substituting some other concept, you are being silly.

          GW4: No, I’m not being silly; I’m being rational. I am promoting the development of a moral system with the highest possible degrees of clarity, specificity, rationality, objectivity, scope, stability, and universality. Do you share that ideal? If so, how do you think a proper morality should be developed?

        • Greg G.

          I tried to reply to http://disq.us/p/1tbcj7z but it is not active.

          ____________________________________________

          GW4: This cannot be correct since “value” is always dependent on an evaluation of an object by a subject. Also, I don’t understand how this is applicable to moral propositions.

          That’s the wrong definition of “value”. The number four and the number Pi have objective values.

          GW4: For clarity please substitute “moral rules” for “morals.”

          For clarity, please substitute “objectively better relative moral positions” for “objective morality”.

          No, I do not like the term “moral rules”. Sometimes we have to choose the lesser evil. Rules are too OCD. “Guidelines” or “principles” would be better terms.

          We are making moral judgements constantly. People who try to use rules for situations never considered tend to make choices I would not. One should understand why something is or would be considered moral and act according to understanding and empathy.

          I do not care to continue this conversation further.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW4: This cannot be correct since “value” is always dependent on an evaluation of an object by a subject. Also, I don’t understand how this is applicable to moral propositions.

          GG5: That’s the wrong definition of “value”. The number four and the number Pi have objective values.

          GW5: The numbers “four” and “Pi” are constructs. They do not exist in nature.

          GW4: For clarity please substitute “moral rules” for “morals.”

          GG5: For clarity, please substitute “objectively better relative moral positions” for “objective morality”.

          GW5: No, that would not help clarity and would be too cumbersome. I would use “a highly objective morality” or “a moral system with high objectivity.”

          GG5: No, I do not like the term “moral rules”. Sometimes we have to choose the lesser evil. Rules are too OCD. “Guidelines” or “principles” would be better terms.

          GW5: I disagree. Moral rules are just statements of what we should and should not do, mostly with respect to other people. We can use moral rules to help us make decisions about more and lesser evils. Rules are not OCD at all. All people and societies use moral rules; some are made into laws. “Guidelines” and “principles” are fine, but they are not specific enough for this discussion.

          GG5: We are making moral judgements constantly.

          GW5: Not constantly, but most of the time.

          GG5: People who try to use rules for situations never considered tend to make choices I would not.

          GW5: They or you are probably using the wrong rules.

          GG5: One should understand why something is or would be considered moral and act according to understanding and empathy.

          GW5: One should use empathy and mostly reason in devising moral rules.

          GG5: I do not care to continue this conversation further.

          GW5: That’s up to you. You can quit anytime you wish. It’s a shame that you did not try to answer my question: What would be the best way to develop a proper morality?

        • Susan

          You will have to define “objective” for the realm of morality.

          Why haven’t you directed that obligation equally to Paul?

        • Susan

          The fact that 2 individuals or 2 groups disagree doesn’t change the value of the moral issue.

          You haven’t shown the “value of the moral issue”.

          They also can’t both be right.

          They can both be wrong.

          Therefore moral relativism is false.

          Under which description of “moral relativism” and on what basis do you claim it’s false?

          What would Yahwehjesus do for morality?

          How does It escape Euthyphro’s horns?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Morality is the survival instincts of a society. Those with incorrect morals die out or are killed by those they attack.

      No Jebus Magic needed.

    • Gary Whittenberger

      But objectivity may vary along a continuum and depend on 1) who is deciding the rule, 2) the percentage of agreement among those deciding, 3) the method used in deriving the rule, and 4) the scope of the rule.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    BS1: Yes, bad things in the world don’t force the conclusion that God can’t exist. Fortunately, I don’t draw such a conclusion.

    GW1: Maybe some bad things in the world do force the conclusion that God cannot exist, and maybe it is unfortunate that you have not drawn such a conclusion. Try out this:
    Part A:
    1. If God did exist, then he would be perfectly moral.
    2. If somebody were perfectly moral, then he would not design and create natural disasters.
    3. So, if God did exist, then he would not design and create natural disasters.
    Part B:
    4. If God did exist, then he would have designed and created everything.
    5. Natural disasters exist.
    6. Natural disasters are part of everything.
    7. So, if God did exist, then he would have designed and created natural disasters.
    Part C:
    8. Therefore, if God did exist, then he would not design and create natural disasters (from Part A) and yet he would have designed and created natural disasters (from Part B). This is a contradiction.
    9. Therefore, God does not exist and cannot exist.

    BS1: And yes, if God exists, he could have his reasons for things that we don’t understand.

    GW1: But if God did exist, we would know his reasons for events like natural disasters because he would tell us and he would enable us to understand those reasons.

    Del Rosario again: If atheism is true, there’s no basis for objective moral values and duties.

    GW1: Not necessarily. It depends on how you define “objective” and “moral values and duties.” Objectivity in the realm of morality is probably a factor on a continuum rather than a dichotomy. I think if atheism is true, there can be moral rules which are highly objective, like “Don’t kill other human persons, except for defense or mercy.”