How Much Faith to Be an Atheist? Geisler and Turek’s Moral Argument (Part 2).

How Much Faith to Be an Atheist? Geisler and Turek’s Moral Argument (Part 2). September 21, 2015

This is a continuation of my response to the popular Christian apologetics book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek. Begin with part 1 here. For part 1 of the critique of the moral argument, go here.

I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Geisler and TurekFundamental problems with the Moral Law argument

Geisler and Turek (GT) formulate their moral argument as follows: 1. Every law has a law giver; 2. There is a Moral Law; 3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver. What they don’t mention is that every law giver referred to in point 1 is a material being, but then they switch to an immaterial law giver in point 3. They do nothing to address or even acknowledge the fact that their argument can’t explain the change (thanks to commenter MNb for this insight). The problem with the argument becomes obvious when this is made explicit:

1. Every law has a material law giver.

2. There is a Moral Law.

3. Therefore, there is an immaterial Moral Law giver.

Here’s another variant that also skewers GT’s flabby argument from commenter primenumbers:

1. Moral values come from a mind.

2. Objectivity means independence of a mind.

3. Therefore, objective moral values don’t exist.

And are we even using the same definition of “law”? Yes, morality is related to human laws, which are to some extent codified morality, but while laws are arbitrary (rather than objective), some aspects of morality are innate and (from the standpoint of humans) unchangeable. The Golden Rule or a prohibition against killing without proper justification might be examples. Human laws have law givers, but morality is, in part, programmed and unchangeable.

The analogy and therefore the foundation of the argument fails, but let’s set that aside and see what else GT have up their sleeves.

One of the problems so far has been to nail down what this Moral Law actually is. They imagine objective moral laws, but what does that mean? Starting with objective morality as a morality grounded outside humanity—rules valid regardless of whether anyone believes in them—the definition changed to the morality that we feel. Then, they back away from the idea that we can reliably access this morality, so it becomes morality that we only dimly feel. Expect more reversals as their moral theory chafes against reality.

Let’s return to GT’s moral argument.

We can’t not know, for example, that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings for no reason. Some people may deny it and commit murder anyway, but deep in their hearts they know murder is wrong. (page 172)

Uh, yeah—murder is wrong by definition. The natural hypothesis (see part 1 for the natural morality hypothesis that I defend) is sufficient to explain our revulsion at killing innocent people.

Relativists make two primary truth claims: 1) there is no absolute truth; and 2) there are no absolute moral values. (172)

I make neither claim.

“1 + 1 = 2” may be an absolute truth. As for absolute moral values, I’ve simply seen no evidence to overturn the natural explanation of morality. I await with ill-concealed impatience any evidence for objective morality.

GT uses “relative morality” in opposition to objective morality, but because the term has been so clumsily defined by apologists, I prefer to state my position as “not objective morality.” For simplicity in this post, though, I’ll stick with GT’s “relativists” and “relative morality.”

Relativists are absolutely sure that there are no absolutes. (173)

Nope. I’m just pretty sure there are no moral absolutes. I keep doggedly asking for evidence, though I get nothing in response.

Relative morality fails?

GT relate the anecdote of a paper written by an atheist student. The student argued, “All morals are relative; there is no absolute standard of justice or rightness,” and the professor gave it an F because of the color of the folder it was delivered in. When the student protested that the reason wasn’t fair, the professor asked, “But didn’t you argue in your paper that there is no such thing?” At that point, the student “realized he really did believe in moral absolutes.”

I don’t, and I doubt any student in that situation would. There are absolute morals, and then there are the ordinary kind as defined in the dictionary. The student appealed to the natural morality he shared with the professor.

This is the Assumed Objectivity Fallacy. GT assumes that everyone knows and accepts objective morality. We’ll be seeing more of this.

The moral of the story [about the paper graded F] is that there are absolute morals. And if you really want to get relativists to admit it, all you need to do is treat them unfairly. (173)

Treat relativists unfairly, and they’ll appeal to shared, natural morality just like the student.

People may claim they are relativists, but they don’t want their spouses, for example, to live like sexual relativists. (173)

So you think relative morality is no morality? Your “moral relativists” have morals; they just don’t pretend that the morals are grounded outside humanity.

Actually, I’m happy for my spouse to use relative morality for all aspects of her life, both because I know of nothing else and because the natural morality that we all use works pretty well.

This reminds me of a quote from Penn Jillette: “The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero.” Natural morality—it’s not perfect, but it serves us pretty well.

GT moves on to the visceral horror we felt from 9/11.

Our reaction reinforced the truth that the act was absolutely wrong. (175)

Another redefinition! We’ve switched to emotional gut feelings, and objective morality is now strongly felt morality.

GT go on to admit that we often betray our moral sense with our actions (the bad things we do), but they claim that the Moral Law is “revealed in our reactions.” Our sense of the Moral Law isn’t good enough to keep us firmly on the right track, but the truth comes out when we react. So now—redefinition!—objective morality is instinctive morality.

GT’s sloppy thinking may work with the flock, but it has consequences. One Amazon reviewer of this book titled his comment, “I don’t have enough intellectual dishonesty to be a Christian.”

Continue with part 3.

Bless yourself with holy water, have Masses said, and so on;
by a simple and natural process
this will make you believe, and will dull you—
will quiet your proudly critical intellect.
— Blaise Pascal

Image credit: Megan Studdenfadden, flickr, CC


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  • MNb

    “Relativists are absolutely sure that there are no absolutes.”
    This seems to be a very common mistake, popping up in several variations. It’s a product of bipolair thinking.
    “Scientism is self-refuting because it’s a philosophical position” is another version.
    It assumes that scientism is an absolute claim without providing any argument or evidence for it.
    What I have learned from five, six years discussions with apologists is to look out for ambiguity. Good job pointing out the ambiguity of GT.

    • In God’s Defense

      I just don’t like when people claim that through science is the only way to gain knowledge.

      • What other ways do you have in mind?

        • In God’s Defense

          Well we don’t gain knowledge of truths in logic or mathematics through science. Science assumes those truths to do science. What about knowledge from history as well?

        • Rudy R

          Historical scholars apply scientific methods to determine what past events are most probabilistic. Next?

        • In God’s Defense

          Yes, if we broaden the definition of what science is, then yes historical scholars could be doing science.

        • Rudy R

          No broadening required. If historical scholars don’t apply scientific methods, then they are not scholars, but hacks with an agenda.

        • johzek

          Logic is a consequence of our recognition that the things we perceive are specific; to exist is to be something specific. All these instances of things being what they are allows our minds to form the concept which we name with the word “identity”. This concept is a general identification based on all those particular instances and it is the basis of logic. That “identity” exists is self evident. It is axiomatic and no assumption needs to be made.

        • In God’s Defense

          “That “identity” exists is self evident. It is axiomatic and no assumption needs to be made.”

          Right, so have knowledge that is not gained through the scientific method.

        • johzek

          This knowledge is gained conceptually preceded by our perceptions. Strictly speaking the scientific method although it must of course use logic is first and foremost based on observations and thus tied to our perceptions. All knowledge rests on perception followed by conceptualization.

        • tsig

          God should fire you as an apologist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ZAP!!
          “my defense rests.”

      • Greg G.

        Who says that? There are certain kinds of knowledge that we can only get through science. Our most reliable knowledge comes from science.

      • Kodie

        What other things do you know any other way?

        • In God’s Defense
        • Kodie

          I asked you.

        • In God’s Defense

          Well we don’t gain knowledge of truths in logic or mathematics through science. Science assumes those truths to do science. What about knowledge from history as well?

        • Kodie

          Didn’t MNb already go over this for you? Do you not know how to think for yourself and just parrot the video?

        • In God’s Defense

          Can’t my thoughts also be the thoughts of others? I agree with Craig. Get over it!

        • Kodie

          You didn’t just parrot the video, you repeated yourself at least twice on this page alone without any elaboration to show how you understand it. I don’t think you understand what you hear, you only think it sounds good. There’s a difference.

        • In God’s Defense

          I have a bachelors degree in philosophy. Although, why does it matter if I know what I’m saying? Rather, you should take what I am saying and judge it for its worth. You make it sound like you are saying because I don’t understand what I’m saying then therefore it is wrong. That would be fallacious.

        • Kodie

          Is your degree, I asked you already, from the back of a cereal box or a comic book? Your grasp of philosophy is ridiculous.

        • In God’s Defense

          What are your credentials?

        • Kodie

          Basic literacy and critical thinking skills.

        • In God’s Defense

          lol

        • Kodie

          It’s worthless, and you don’t have the critical thinking skills a degree in philosophy should get you to see that.

        • Greg G.

          I have a bachelors degree in philosophy.

          With that and a course in mixology, you would be qualified to be a bartender.

        • tsig

          If you don’t understand what you are saying then how can you know if you’re right or wrong, you could be spouting nonsense all uknowing.

        • Max Doubt

          “Can’t my thoughts also be the thoughts of others? I agree with Craig. Get over it!”

          But you said you would reject Craig’s arguments if it could be shown that they aren’t rational. I showed you that, and you willfully and dishonestly ignored it. Apparently your concern for what it true has as little value to you as your honesty.

        • tsig

          You feel sorry for the Hebrew soldiers who killed women and children?

        • Greg G.

          He speaks of different kinds of truths.

          He gives metaphysical truths as an example. The metaphysical truths of one religion are different from the metaphysical truths of another religion so we don’t really have metaphysical truths But we don’t have any knowledge about that except what we know from science.

          He points out that science starts with assumptions in math and science. The assumptions are validated by science. If the assumptions were wrong, science would not be successful. Science gets results which indicates its initial assumptions were correct. Religion fails to get results and it may be their initial assumptions of how to gain knowledge are wrong, that there are metaphysical truths, or objective beauty and morals exist. Religion had a thousand years to prove itself after the fall of the Roman Empire. Science has had half that time and had to start with the devastation religion left it.

          He talks about the ethical and esthetic about the good and beautiful but those are matters of taste. What is true for one person may not be good for another.

          He talks about history but gives examples of using science to determine history. The most reliable history is validated by science. The rest is basically a plausible reconstruction.

        • WLC: “For example, mathematical and logical truths, which are assumed by, not proved by, science.”

          The axioms aren’t just taken for granted. They’re tested continually. That’s a rather science-y way of making sure that your foundation is firm.

          Greg’s point about metaphysical truths makes sense for me: show me a truth that metaphysics has given to the world that we all can agree is true. (Or perhaps that’s obviously impossible if metaphysics doesn’t rely on evidence.)

          WLC argues that the claims of the gospels are testable. Yes, they are. And there’s not even close to enough evidence to hold up the remarkable claims they make.

      • MNb

        Too bad for you – I claim exactly that.

      • L.Long

        Correct! Until YOU can show and PROVE another way gains knowledge.

      • primenumbers

        Knowledge is a justified true belief. Beliefs are easy – it’s the truth and justification that’s the tricky bit.

        To justify a knowledge claim we need to justify our method of knowledge acquisition. Although reading tea leafs could be such a method, we don’t find much justification for it as when tested it’s unreliable. The “scientific method” is just the sum total of which methods we’ve found for gathering knowledge that are reliable, repeatable and work to produce useful knowledge we can reliably further build upon.

        • Knowledge is a justified true belief. Beliefs are easy – it’s the truth and justification that’s the tricky bit.

          Right. That’s the part that baffles me. How is this definition useful? We now have to find true beliefs, but how can we prove the beliefs are true?

        • primenumbers

          Well, for issues of truth in formal systems like logic or math, we just apply the rules and get an answer. The justification is that we followed the rules properly and we got some other experts to check our working.

          For reality truths we’re stuck. For the justification we can use the best scientific approach to our knowledge gathering, take all the steps possible to eliminate the influence of cognitive biases, but that is also exactly what we do to say something is “true”!

        • In God’s Defense

          You fall into a infinite regress of how do you know that? .. well… how do you know that and so forth. Unless you have some foundation that is just accepted as true to then be able to discern other beliefs as true or false.

        • Huh? Maybe if you take a statement and prove that it’s true, that demonstration will illustrate your point.

        • Kodie

          No, YOU fall into an infinite regress. “God” answers zero questions. There’s this other guy, Aaron Siering, who thinks you are absurd, and called my response to you a straw man. No Christian really believes what you believe, according to him.

        • Greg G.

          No you don’t. You can test the foundations to see what you can build on. If your foundation isn’t good or your building principles are faulty, you end up with a thousand years of Dark Ages. If they are good and you have a working methodology, you can grow knowledge exponentially, which shows your foundation was good a posteriori.

        • tsig

          OK then I just accept that the world as I see it is real.

        • johzek

          By the only means at our disposal and that is by the volitional cognitive activity called reasoning and by reason I mean the application of logic to our experience. Starting with our perceptions which then lead hopefully to objectively formed concepts, that is, concepts based on observed similarities, we then seek to make identifications, using these concepts, that are non-contradictory. In the case of perceived reality these identifications are always provisional and subject to change if the acquisition of further knowledge demands it.

  • In God’s Defense

    Bob or any of you atheists do you think that your belief that the world (more specifically trees u see etc) that you experience is an objective fact of reality is true? At least, would you be reasonable in concluding that unless you had some defeater for it?

    • TheMarsCydonia .

      Have you ever heard of solipsism?

      • In God’s Defense

        Yes, even though solipsism is a possibility isn’t it still rational even reasonable to believe that it is false?

        • MNb

          Not necessarily unless you can show its incoherence, inconsistency or bring up evidence against it. As far as I know that hasn’t done before.
          The problem is that solipsists find it hard to act accordingly to their solipsism. The moment they turn their computers on they rely on things being correct outside themselves.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Not necessarily unless you can show its incoherence, inconsistency or bring up evidence against it.”

          I can’t show it to be incoherent which would make it logically impossible. Although, it does seem unreasonable to believe given our experience of the world.

        • Greg G.

          How do you know that you aren’t programmed to think it is unreasonable to think by the Matrix? You can’t know. The solution is to live according to the reality presented to you.

        • In God’s Defense

          Yes, that is a possibility. Isn’t more reasonable though to accept reality as you experience it? Instead of thinking it is all an illusion (matrix) until you have more proof that it is an illusion.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t care whether this is the reality or a simulation. I cannot make a real distinction and neither can you. I just live as if it is the reality because it is what I perceive. We cannot live in a reality we cannot perceive.

          How is a created reality within a Matrix different than a created reality within a heavenly realm? If you reject one, you should reject the other.

        • MNb

          You’re getting sillier and sillier.
          If something is coherent, consistent and not falsified by evidence it’s reasonable to accept it, unless you can provide another standard. Like this one: the problem with solipsism is that the adherents don’t act on it. But I’ll admit at once that that’s not a particular strong one.
          You seem to rely more and more on gut feeling. Ah well, that’s what a misleading concept like “self evident” leads to – you accept what makes your underbelly feel warm and cozy.

      • Greg G.

        Who would I have heard it from?

        • TheNuszAbides

          icwudt

        • L.Long

          Blasphemy!!
          LAST TUESDAYISM!!!!

        • Thank you for that gentle correction, my brother. It was indeed Tuesday that the world was created.

        • Kodie

          It might have already been Tuesday in some parts of the world, but my evaluation of all given evidence is that this shit was born on a Monday.

        • Don’t they say that cars built on a Friday have the most defects? The workers are thinking about the weekend. Maybe ours is a Friday universe.

        • TheNuszAbides

          putting in a request for transfer to the universe where Sturgeon’s Law is inverted.

        • TheNuszAbides

          indeed, monotheism would be far more coherent if, rather than being omni____, Bog simply had a permanent case of the Mondays.

        • Kodie

          Given the god being eternal, and the swiftness with which he created everything, one can only imagine he waited until the last minute.

        • TheNuszAbides

          what a selfdamn slacker.

    • Greg G.

      All I know is that I tend to get results that lead to pleasure when I interact with my perceptions in certain ways and I tend to get results that lead to pain and suffering if I interact with my perceptions in other ways, When I interact with beings that I imagine might exist, I get whatever results I pretend to get. I bet you do, too.

    • The trees seem to be an objective fact of reality. What are you getting at?

      • In God’s Defense

        I could be wrong, but here is what I’m getting at. It seems to me that similar to reasonably concluding those trees are truly objective facts of reality from our experience of them (unless we have a defeater); could we not do the same for our experiences of beauty or… morality? I have the belief that a sunset is beautiful and that it is an objective fact from my experience of it. In other words, it would be true no matter what any human believes. I also conclude from experience that raping kids for fun is wrong is an objective fact. So, it seems reasonable to conclude from experience that things like beauty is not subjective and at least one objective moral law exists. Doesn’t that just seem self-evident? 🙂

        • primenumbers

          “raping kids for fun is wrong is an objective fact” – sure, but that’s a definitional truth, not a truth statement about reality. It’s definitionally true because rape causes harm.

          But sometimes harmful things must be done and not be considered wrong, like to kill an axe murderer who is immediately intent on your family. Even though you sneak up behind the axe murdered and whack them on the head killing them, you’re doing so in self defence of you and your family

          So performing a harmful act is not in-of-itself wrong, but if the only reason given is selfish fun, then that is not a sufficient excuse to allow the harm.

        • Kodie

          We’re the only ones who consider raping children wrong. We don’t condemn animals for raping or murdering, only when they do it to some human. If we were a raping species, we’d consider it fine. In fact, so far, it’s most common to blame the victim and accuse them of lying, even children, so it’s hard to tell from evidence that raping children is objectively wrong. The rest of the universe will not do anything about it if we did rape children all day long. We’re the only species or being in the universe that could possibly care, so it’s not “wrong” even if everyone cared.

        • primenumbers

          It’s not objectively wrong, but wrong because it meets our definition of harm and offers no reasonable extenuating circumstance for that harm.

        • Kodie

          I didn’t mean to imply it’s not wrong at all, it’s only wrong to us humans, and only so far as we put our money where our mouth is, and actively, consistently condemn rape, rather than use it as a hypothetical example of something everyone agrees is wrong. To the objective morality proponent, unless there’s a god, nothing is wrong, human values of protection and empathy have no secure founding. As I said in other posts/threads, we have an offense, a victim, and a motive (in IGD’s favorite example), but what if we changed any one of those – is it objectively immoral to give a child too much homework for fun? Is it objectively immoral to rape a child for their own good? Is it objectively immoral to teach them the lies of religion to fill them with fear and angst and misinformation for their own good? We do lots of things to children in their vulnerable state and punish them for questioning authority. It’s the same framework that allows adults to rape them and get away with it, even when the crime and who the perpetrator is is widely broadcast.

        • primenumbers

          Yes, you’re right that it’s very human-centric. Say for instance we were talking of “setting babies on fire for fun”. But then let’s change the context to talk of dragon babies, who actively enjoy the warmth of their mothers’ fire breath.

          And yes, although we can go back to some definition and demonstration of harm and couple that with an analysis of some supposedly mitigating factor, we don’t really do that when we make a moral judgement but instead rely on some heuristic, which is why your point about “actively and consistently condemn” is very important. Many things are immoral under an analysis, but fail to appear so upon our heuristics because we rationalize away the amount of harm (and pay greater weight to whatever we think is the mitigating factor) through the actions of our cognitive biases.

        • Kodie

          The fact of the matter is, since it’s essentially been demonstrated how easy it is to rape children without being punished, and for fuck’s sake, burying your head in god’s “forgiveness” as an out for Catholic priests, for example, we could rape as many children as we please, even if there is a god, according to theists. With respect to “objective morality”, these people are as judgmental as they come – my priest will surely get forgiveness from god and surely is penitent, and surely can stop his behavior, given that he’s not allowed to have sex, but constantly has access to children unsupervised; but we can’t have gay men teaching our children in schools or leading our scouts or playing on a sports team or being in the military, e.g. fears of gay predation – not so afraid of the rapes so much as the [edit: unwarranted perception of the] methodical training of young boys to enjoy the advances of men. Homosexuality gets put in the bin with pedophilia (the evil kind that can never be forgiven), and god will deal with that, of course, by sending all those people to hell. Let’s aside from raping children for a second, and move on to Hitler, because as an example of what never to do, Hitler was not a true Christian and will be judged “by god” as normal people would judge such a person.

          What objective morality seems to come down to is personal factors of deciding who should be punished, who should be feared members of society, and actively lacking application at any time. Andrea Yates was “evil” according to some posters on a board I used to post at, at the time. Undeniably? Absolutely? No way for her to, in the larger scheme of things, be forgiven for believing god told her to do it? No, god would never. In the larger scheme of things, they don’t like to believe that Andrea Yates drowning her 5 children will have no lasting consequences whatsoever, as if that gives us all permission to kill our children.

        • In God’s Defense

          “raping kids for fun is wrong is an objective fact” – sure, but that’s a definitional truth, not a truth statement about reality. It’s definitionally true because rape causes harm.”

          Not sure what you mean here? Can you explain. Cause it seems like your affirming that it is an objective fact.

        • primenumbers

          Perhaps if you first go up in the thread and read my top-level post, that’ll provide the groundwork for what I’m saying here.

          If we set up a set of definitions for “wrong” and we produce an act that is so written as to entirely fit within our definition of wrong, then as a logical statement based on the definition and values, we can say such a statement represent a “wrong” act. However, that is just a definition of “wrong” that we’ve picked. We can’t say such an act is “objectively wrong” because the definition we picked for “wrong” is subjective. Now you may agree with my definition of “wrong”, as may everyone on the planet for that matter, but it’s still subjective.

          What you need to remember is that within a formal system like logic or math we can have objectively true statements (because they evaluate to true based on the axioms of that formal system), but they don’t magically become “Objectively True” in a real world sense because the definitions used (and ultimately the axioms for the system chosen) are arbitrary.

          Note: I know it’s hard to think of the rules of logic being arbitrary, but they are. You can pick other sets of rules as you like and your new logic will work and produce results based on the rules you’ve chosen. Maybe you’ll find they operate as a real-world analogue for some set of events you wish to model and thus we can even call your new logic “useful”. We use the rules we do for logic because we find them useful, but that doesn’t make them the only rules or any less arbitrary.

        • johzek

          What comes prior to setting up a definition? What in the first place leads us to the idea that such a thing is even required?

          Our minds recognize similarities among instances of things we observe whereupon we can differentiate these from all other instances and then integrate them into a mental unit called a concept. The concept can then be named with a word, in this case the word “wrong”. Whereas particular instances are described concepts are defined and a proper definition of a concept is simply a statement listing the essential characteristics that are shared among the instances and which lead to the formation of the concept in the first place. This is basically an inductive process as a concept is a general identification based on many instances.

          What follows is a deductive process of determining whether a newly encountered instance satisfies the definition, as you describe, so that if it does it can be identified by the word “wrong”. A proper definition is not just picked. It is objectively based on observed similarities so I don’t agree with your calling process this subjective. An understanding of what comes before the definition might clarify this issue and illustrate the objective nature of what is involved.

          Concepts are just an economical and useful means of making identifications of what we observe (and also of what we can only imagine). If all this was as subjective as you seem to think it is then it’s a wonder that we are able to communicate at all with each other.

        • primenumbers

          That’s a great description of how we go about acquiring a skill to categorize things and name that category.

          Because humans are all similar enough and feel pain and take harm in similar ways and have similar basic needs and the like, we can generally assume that most people will be harmed by what harms us and be made happy by what makes us happy, and what sort of things we see as long-term beneficial.

          From that mass of data, some concept can coalesce, but like if we look at a newspaper picture from a distance we can see the broad pattern and distinct lines and regions, once we get in close the half-tone pattern dominates and we can no longer really say “this is where the line is”. So yes, I can see how the process looks like and leads to a somewhat objective appearance, but I can’t really say the end result is anything but subjective.

          I think another way to look at it would be that if I’m in a room I can say what I think the temperature is. That is subjective. I can gather 10, 20, 100, 1000 such subjective opinions, but averaging them all out doesn’t make one objective fact even though the end result could be vastly more accurate than just my opinion on the matter.

        • Greg G.

          I could be wrong, but here is what I’m getting at. It seems to me that similar to reasonably concluding those trees are truly objective facts of reality from our experience of them (unless we have a defeater); could we not do the same for our experiences of beauty or… morality?

          Well, the first four words are correct but using “am” for the verb would be better. Just because some things are objective doesn’t mean everything is objective.

          I have the belief that a sunset is beautiful and that it is an objective fact from my experience of it. In other words, it would be true no matter what any human believes.

          But you could rank which sunsets were more beautiful than others. Your list would probably not match the next guy’s list because you don’t have an objective standard of beauty. Some sunsets would not be considered beautiful. If you rank them all, you end up with a gradient where you can’t identify exactly where the dull ones end and the beautiful ones begin. Whatever you decide, the next guy will disagree. It is clearly subjective.

          A unusual sunset may result from a violent storm over the horizon. The tornado ripping through a neighborhood would be objectively causing suffering while you get your kicks pretending it is ultimate beauty.

          An artist can do a painting and modify the contrasts to make one moment during a sunset look better than it was in real life. When you think what an omnipotent being could do to make a sunset more beautiful, a beautiful sunset looks like more like stick figures drawn in kindergarten. Relative to that standard, sunsets are rather ugly.

          I also conclude from experience that raping kids for fun is wrong is an objective fact.

          I am worried about what you are saying. When you say “from experience”, have you determined this by raping kids for fun? Have you compared raping kids for fun versus raping kids for profit? Do you mean that you were raped when you were a kid?

          The reason we say rape is wrong is that people don’t like to be raped and it can cause physical harm and psychological trauma. The reason for the rape doesn’t play into it.

          If you were raped as a child, seek professional help from outside religion. Don’t mask it over with religiousity.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Just because some things are objective doesn’t mean everything is objective.”

          I agree!

          “But you could rank which sunsets were more beautiful than others.”

          This is interesting. Could something be more beautiful? Could something be more wrong or right? Or is it just beautiful or just wrong. For example 1+1= 4 is wrong, but is 1+1=6 more wrong? Is someone who murders 2 people more bad then the one that murders 4? Or are they just bad? Although, I don’t think it matters for my point. Either way, you know it to be wrong, bad, or beautiful even though there are something’s that seem gray.

          “I am worried about what you are saying. When you say “from experience”, have you determined this by raping kids for fun?”

          lol No. I just know it from my moral intuition.

          “The reason we say rape is wrong is that people don’t like to be raped and it can cause physical harm and psychological trauma.”

          It seems here you are affirming rape is objectively wrong. 🙂 Although, I think your reason is just arbitrary. If you’re an atheist that believes in evolution and so forth then this reason doesn’t really work as an objective standard… right? I mean, “If the film of evolutionary history were rewound and shot anew, very different creatures with a very different set of values might well have evolved.”

        • Greg G.

          This is interesting. Could something be more beautiful? Could something be more wrong or right? Or is it just beautiful or just wrong. For example 1+1= 4 is wrong, but is 1+1=6 more wrong? Is someone who murders 2 people more bad then the one that murders 4? Or are they just bad? Although, I don’t think it matters for my point. Either way, you know it to be wrong, bad, or beautiful even though there are something’s that seem gray.

          I have seen sunsets in Texas and in Hawaii and thought they were awesome. A Texan might consider Texas sunsets beautiful but Hawaiian sunsets to be so-so. That is because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is subjective.

          To say that one thing is more beautiful than another is not like saying 1+1=4 is more right than 1+1=6. There is a difference between appealing and unappealing for each individual but the difference is subject to each person. There are ranges of beauty. A person’s taste in sunsets might change as they learn the physics behind the refractions of a sunset.

          lol No. I just know it from my moral intuition.

          I use my natural empathy.

          It seem s here you are affirming rape is objectively wrong. 🙂 Although, I think your reason is just arbitrary. If you’re an atheist that believes in evolution and so forth then this reason doesn’t really work as an objective standard… right? I mean, “If the film of evolutionary history were rewound and shot anew, very different creatures with a very different set of values might well have evolved.”

          I don’t like to be inconvenienced. If I don’t bother others, they don’t bother me so much. If I help others in need, others will be more inclined to help me or my loved ones. We consider it wrong to cause suffering because we don’t want it to happen to us. We have a natural senses of fairness and empathy. We see them in social animals, too. The trait would be selected for by natural selection in social species. You don’t need an imvisible god to explain that stuff.

          Your system doesn’t work as an objective standard. Suppose a species of bedbugs had evolved brains as powerful as ours. They wouldn’t consider opening a hole in a female’s abdomen and copulating with the wound to be immoral as that is their means of reproduction. See Traumatic insemination. The females are subject to infection and immune system reactions.

          If it was objectively wrong to do such a thing, why did God make bed bugs?

        • TheNuszAbides

          If it was objectively wrong to do such a thing, why did God make bed bugs?

          reverse psychology?

        • No. I just know it from my moral intuition.

          You get your morals from your moral intuition? What a coincidence–so do the rest of us. And I thought you would say that it was from the Bible.

        • TheNuszAbides

          nah, IGD’s not quite that crude.

        • A volcano can make nice sunsets. Too bad for the people living on its base, though.

        • Kodie

          Air pollution makes some of the most impressive sunsets.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Industrial Design!

        • We have the defeater. Our morality comes from evolution and culture. That we find sunsets beautiful is just an example of Adams’ puddle.

          Raping kids is wrong, but why imagine that that’s objective? It’s viscerally shared–that explains things fine.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Our morality comes from evolution and culture”

          One, If you say our morality comes from evolution and culture, therefore those moral beliefs like raping a kid is wrong is an objective fact is false this commits the genetic fallacy.

          Two, if evolution is true wouldn’t all are beliefs about reality come from social and biological conditioning. Even the belief that the tree I see is really an objective fact. Why be skeptical of just the moral beliefs then and not all beliefs?

          “Raping kids is wrong, but why imagine that that’s objective? It’s viscerally shared–that explains things fine.”

          One, believing that raping kids is wrong is not an objective fact then your going against most peoples moral intuition.

          Two, you admit raping kids is wrong, but if it is not an objective fact then that’s just your opinion. I could deem it right and do nothing wrong when I rape kids.

        • I see no objective moral truths. You say that it exists and that it is accessible? I await the evidence.

          When your brain says, “There is a tree in front of you,” that come from a brain that’s evolved over hundreds of millions of years. It’s been tested all that time against reality, and the brains that didn’t do a good job at reporting and responding to reality tended to get cut.

        • In God’s Defense

          wow… I think i’m done here.

        • When you can claim objective morality and back that claim up with evidence, be sure to come back and tell us about it. Otherwise, you’re just making a claim that’s simply pleasing.

        • tsig

          Yep. stick a fork in him. he’s done.

        • TheNuszAbides

          finally! your lazy grammar was starting to outweigh your philosophical expertise.

        • Kodie

          It’s been tested all that time against reality, and the brains that
          didn’t do a good job at reporting and responding to reality tended to
          get cut.

          Not literally.

        • TheNuszAbides

          literarily.

        • TheMarsCydonia .

          “Two, you admit raping kids is wrong, but if it is not an objective fact then that’s just your opinion. I could deem it right and do nothing wrong when I rape kids.”

          God could deem it right and thus you would think you are doing nothing wrong when you rape kids.

          In fact, there is nothing morally wrong to offer kids to be raped if it prevents others from being raped. At least, that’s what the bible says.

        • tsig

          Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no eyes no beauty.

    • Philmonomer

      “Objective fact of reality” seems to be a tricky phrase (especially the “objective” part).

      I don’t think that trees are a figment of my imagination.

    • If by objective reality is meant what has been summarized as “that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away” then yes, it certainly does exist. If reality were the product of our minds, as some claim, why doesn’t a tree cease to exist when people lack belief in it, for instance? It’s thus quite reasonable to conclude that objective facts do exist.

    • MNb

      Our individual experiences are subjective (“you see”). The trees are objective – ie don’t depend on any subject.

  • Doug B

    Morality as a concept is nonsensical without at least two beings in the universe. If you were the only living thing in existence, what would it even MEAN to be moral? What was morality at the moment of the Big Bang? Is it even a cogent concept absent a relationship between living things? And if not, how can it be grounded outside human experience and preferences?

    • Greg G.

      If you were the only living thing in existence, what would it even MEAN to be moral?

      Being selfish is immoral and anything you did as the only being would be selfish. Not loving your neighbor is immoral so it is immoral to not have neighbors. Lusting in your heart for non-existant lovers is a no-no.

      They can make you feel guilty even if you are the last person on Earth.

    • tsig

      True. what morals are needed if you are the only person on the island?

  • TheMarsCydonia .

    Some reflexions:
    I wonder if I were to concede that there is an objective morality and that it is given by the christian god. This “objective morality” would make me see him as a moral monster (child sacrifice, slavery, genocide, etc.). So how does that work?

    Even the christian golden rule is morally horrible when put into the context of the christian god. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” would mean that the christian god would like to have himself believe in himself entirely on faith rather than evidence and punish himself for not believing in himself with eternal torture.

    The christian god may very well wish to be treated in this manner but I see this as morally repugnant. Again, how does that work?

    • Greg G.

      Even the christian golden rule is morally horrible when put into the context of the christian god. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” would mean that the christian god would like to have himself believe in himself entirely on faith rather than evidence and punish himself for not believing in himself with eternal torture.

      I had never had that thought before. Thank you for the treat.

    • Clover and Boxer

      This is what CARM has to say on the issue (laughs ensue):

      https://carm.org/god-of-old-testament-a-monster

      You see, all the people (every single one with no exceptions whatsoever) were evil, so they all deserved to be slaughtered. Any righteous people who wanted to escape before the attacks could. As for the children, well, if they had already been corrupted then they deserved what came to them. But if they were young enough and uncorrupted, they just went to heaven when they had a sword run through them, you see? So they were spared from hell, really.

      When you look at the details, Yahweh is really “a righteous, patient, merciful, and loving God.” Shame on you radical, militant atheists who only seek to slander our righteous, patient, merciful, loving God who will send you to hell.

      • Greg G.

        I’ve seen William Lane Craig make that argument, too. Craig feels sympathy for the killers. I wonder who got it from whom? They are actually saying, “Kill them all, let God sort ’em out,”

        What do we learn from this? If you kill a bunch of people and say they were so evil they deserved it, religious people will believe you.

        The closing statement:

        So is the God of the Old Testament a merciless monster? After a thorough review of the facts, the evidence overwhelmingly demands an answer of ‘no.’

        Bible-thumping is a disease that turns its sycophants into “merciless monsters.”

        • In God’s Defense

          “What do we learn from this? If you kill a bunch of people and say they were so evil they deserved it, religious people will believe you.”

          No, they won’t. lol

        • Dys

          Unless it’s in the bible, of course. Then they’ll buy it hook, line, and sinker.

        • In God’s Defense

          It being in the bible is different then just Joe blow telling you. The bible could be from God. If that is the case, then that changes things drastically.

        • Dys

          Of course it changes things drastically – genocidal or homicidal behavior unverifiably commanded by god in the distant past is vastly different than someone claiming to be doing the same thing today.

          Because it’s in the bible. And that makes it completely different, except for all the ways that it’s not really different at all. The only real defense you can offer up is essentially the special pleading of “but it’s in the bible!”.

        • In God’s Defense

          If the command is TRULY from God, then it can’t be wrong by definition…

        • Rudy R

          Correct. Now prove that the command truly came from a god.

        • In God’s Defense

          Well that’s the million dollar question.

        • Dys

          Which undermines your assertion that simply being in the bible is a valid excuse.

          It makes no difference whether a supposed command from God to kill one’s child in the bible is any different from someone who believes they’ve received a command to kill their child today.

        • In God’s Defense

          I think people can receive real commands from God and know it is from him or at least reasonably conclude that it was from him.

        • RichardSRussell

          Sure you do. Sure you do. That happens to be the way your brain is wired.* But why should anybody else?
          –––––
          *my sympathies

        • primenumbers

          By what method do you accurately and reliably determine a command comes from a true and loving god rather than a trickster god?

        • God told Andrea Yates to drown her 5 children. Who are you to say otherwise?

          … or is common sense the final arbiter, trumping even “Yeah, but God told me to do it!”?

        • Kodie

          No, I doubt it. It depends on what they were commanded to do, or what they think they were commanded to do. You can feel pretty certain whether it was god’s command or not depending on what they actually did they said god commanded them to do. Are you god?

        • Greg G.

          People can also receive voices inside their heads that are just from inside their heads. How do you tell the difference? So far, two people who thought God wanted them to run for president have dropped out of the race. Then there’s Andrea Yates that Bob brought up.

        • Max Doubt

          “I think people can receive real commands from God and know it is from him or at least reasonably conclude that it was from him.”

          Deanna Laney got commands from a god. It told her to kill her kids by smashing their heads with a rock.

        • Dys

          Which doesn’t address my point at all. There are people today that believe God has commanded them to do terrible things, like kill their children. Today we try to catch them and lock them up. In the bible it’s a failed attempt a a virtue lesson.

        • In God’s Defense

          “There are people today that believe God has commanded them to do terrible things, like kill their children.”

          To quote Craig again,

          “I think a person like that is psychologically deranged and a psychologist could tell that. There are not the justifying circumstances in that case that there were, for example, in the conquest of Canaan. That is why you don’t have this repeated over and over again in the Old Testament. The conquest of Canaan was a unique set of historical circumstances that obtained at that time and is not meant to be a sort of general rule of behavior among mankind.”

        • Kodie

          Smells just like horseshit. Make up whatever you want to believe, that’s true!

        • TheMarsCydonia .

          They would need no justifying circumstances. If God commanded them to kill their children, what they did was good, by definition.

        • Dys

          Craig is just giving himself an excuse to write of genocide, and pretend that it’s completely different than people hearing a voice telling them to do terrible things today. He doesn’t have a good excuse, so he has to rely on a bad one. The nice thing about the distant past is that the finer details have been wiped out. So it’s not possible to find out the psychological status of the people committing genocide on behalf of someone who’s declared the voice of God told them to do it.

          In actuality, it’s far more likely a mere rationalization of their own atrocities anyway. It’s a lot easier to justify genocide if you proclaim all of them are evil bastards. It’s the first step in committing terrible actions – dehumanize the people you’re going to inflict them on. It’s a consistent military strategy.

        • In God’s Defense

          “It’s a lot easier to justify genocide if you proclaim all of them are evil bastards. It’s the first step in committing terrible actions – dehumanize the people you’re going to inflict them on.”

          Ok, but if morality is subjective then Craig or anyone can justify genocide however he wants and its ok. If he thinks God did nothing wrong then he didn’t. Get over it!

        • Kodie

          You have such a weak grasp of the arguments being presented to you and you handle them with “get over it!” That’s how believing in god warps people – just commanding people without any justification.

        • Dys

          So you recognize your position is fundamentally flawed, and you’re going on the offensive instead of trying to defend it.

          I’ve also previously mentioned my stance on morality, which doesn’t match what you’re attempting to portray, so your attack on that front doesn’t really work either.

        • tsig

          So with god genocide is OK and without god genocide is OK?

        • it’s far more likely a mere rationalization of their own atrocities anyway. It’s

          Why a rationalization? Why not bragging?

          We assume that this was barbarism, and it is from our standpoint. But in the early Iron Age, giving your enemies the good thrashing that they deserve is brag-worthy, not shameful.

        • Dys

          Oh, I don’t think they thought it was shameful at all. By rationalization, I meant that dehumanizing their opponents and casting them as a bunch of evil bastards that had their genocide coming to them was a method of breaking an empathy connection.

        • Sure, I think that person is deranged as well. But here (as always, actually) we rely on our own common sense, our own innate sense of rightness.

          When you think you should kill your kids, that’s wrong, and when you think God wants you to genocide the Canaanites, that’s wrong, too.

          Can you believe this guy has two doctorates and says this stuff? This is what Christianity makes you do.

        • In God’s Defense

          “when you think God wants you to genocide the Canaanites, that’s wrong, too.”

          One, I would have to be more sure then just thinks God commanded it to me.
          Two, why does it matter? If morality is subjective then if Craig wants to think that God is good then he is. Period.

        • Kodie

          Two, why does it matter? If morality is subjective then if Craig wants to think that God is good then he is that’s his opinion.

          You can’t do philosophy with shoddy work like this! What cereal do you eat, I want a degree to hang on my wall too.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Two, why does it matter? If morality is subjective then if Craig wants to think that God is good then he is that’s his opinion.”

          Let me be more clear. Two, why does it matter? If morality is subjective then if Craig wants to think that God is good then God is good to him (Craig). At the same time as Craig, you could deem God evil and God would be evil.

          I hope you can see the problems that arise from this.

        • Kodie

          I see you admit defeat that you cannot adequately argue your claim about objective morality.

        • One: it’s a story in a book. It’s fully of mythological stuff. Why believe it? It’s just mythology.

          Two: yes, morality is subjective. You seem to imagine, though, that morality is just throwing darts at a dart board. “Hmm … I wonder what I think about murder today. Let’s throw a dart and … aaah! Murder is ‘Very naughty’ today–OK, got it.”

          We’re all the same species, so we have pretty much the same innate moral programming. If WLC thinks that God is commanding him to do something immoral and I disagree (not likely, since we’re the same species), I will do what I can to stand in his way.

        • Dys

          And since divine revelation is necessarily limited to the person who received it, there’s no actual way of determining who’s actually received a command from God or not.

          Which means, of course, that there’s no actual difference between the justifications in the past or now. Whether it’s written in the bible or not is irrelevant.

          If the command is TRULY from God, then it can’t be wrong by definition…

          Nope, not by definition. By judgement. There’s no way around it.

        • In God’s Defense

          You have to admit that God(maximally great being) by definition would not command anything evil. It would go against his very nature.

        • RichardSRussell

          If he’s a “maximally great being” then, also by definition, he’s gotta be the most evil creature imaginable.

        • In God’s Defense

          lol I don’t think that is what people think a MGB would be. It makes more sense that MGB would be good not evil. You would have to have a weird sense of greatness to think it would be the most evil creature imaginable.

        • Right–most people don’t think that “maximally great being” could mean “maximally bad.” But they should–that’s RR’s point.

        • RichardSRussell

          No, all I’d need would be a subjective sense of greatness — just like yours!

        • Greg G.

          You have a weird sense of greatness if you think maximally great doesn’t include evil. You are importing your wishful thinking into it, trying to wish your god into existence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          seems to use Tony the Tiger’s definition of Grrrreat. one more nail in the coffin of IGD’s credentials’ provenance.

        • Kodie

          Oh, lol, it “makes sense” that’s fun. Where do you get your ideas? Greatness means largeness, it’s your own short-circuited fallaciousness that assumes what makes sense to you (because you’re not that bright) has to be what a maximally great being does with mysterious reasons. You are basically following the leader, you don’t know why you worship god, you just have to because they told you to.

          “Makes sense” to me.

        • MNb

          “I don’t think that is what people think a MGB would be.”
          Oh? So now it’s people who get to decide what a MGB would be? Bye bye logic.

          “a weird sense of greatness”

          And based on what objective moral law you conclude that that sense is weird?
          An answer is not possible. You just confirmed that your morals are subjective. Thanks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          confirmed that your morals are subjective

          which of course won’t stop it from spouting about Bog’s exceptional mystery morals.

        • tsig

          What is more evil than creating sentient beings then telling them they have to know and love you and then hiding from them?

        • Kodie

          Why would anyone have to admit that? Show your steps.

        • Dys

          Unless it’s a maximally great evil being. Or it could be neutral. Isn’t completely unverifiable speculation fun?

        • In God’s Defense

          I believe we can know a good deal about God (MGB) without having to see him in the flesh.

        • Dys

          You can believe whatever you like. Unless you can actually show your work, however, there’s no reason to take those speculations seriously.

        • TheNuszAbides

          sadly, there must be pockets of the infosphere in which the ‘work’ IGD shows prompts ooohs & aaahs rather than due skeptical rigor.

        • Dys

          It’s the same old problem where someone thinks a strong conviction of belief somehow magically translates into actual knowledge.

        • Hindus have no problem with supernatural belief. I wonder why they don’t accept your analysis of God. Maybe your claim that we can know needs to be rethought.

        • TheNuszAbides

          2 days and IGD hasn’t pulled out a dopey Gandhi quote for that? tsk tsk.

        • tsig

          By reading what he wrote about himself in the bible?

        • MNb

          Nobody has to admit that – you just defined god that way and refuse to face the logical consequence. Your god is an immaterial version of the Führer.

        • tsig

          Look, god is good because he is good so what he commands is good because he is good itself, and around we go.

        • Ron

          And you have to admit that the Invisible Pink Unicorn (a maximally invisible pink being) by definition would not be any other color. It would go against its very nature.

        • tsig

          Since anything he commands is good then nothing is evil.

        • MNb

          Which includes your god commanding raping kids and enjoying it.
          Nothing is more subjective.

        • TheUnknownPundit

          If the command is TRULY from God, then it can’t be wrong by definition…
          And how do we know whether any command is truly from your god? Many believers think that if something’s in the Bible, then it must be true. But earlier up-thread you indicated that the Bible may not always be true, so it’s really of no help evidently.
          And theists have differing opinions on the morality of all sorts of diverse behaviors, so we can safely conclude that theists don’t have any more insight into moral questions than anyone else.
          So if there is some divine “objective morality”, your god sure is doing a piss poor job in making it known to mankind.

        • Ron

          That’s exactly what they say in North Korea. If the command is truly from Kim Jong-un, then it can’t be wrong by definition.

        • tsig

          Allah Akbar.

        • Greg G.

          No, they won’t. lol

          It being in the bible is different then just Joe blow telling you.

          You just proved that you will.

        • In God’s Defense

          If the command is TRULY from God, then it can’t be wrong by definition.

        • TheMarsCydonia .

          If the command is truly from God, then it is wrong by definition…

        • Kodie

          In your bizarre grasp of philosophy, you assume a god exists before you make that assessment. It’s like you don’t know right from wrong at all.

        • RichardSRussell

          Sure it could. God could be lying to you. That’s just the sort of dirty trick we’ve all come to expect from the greatest sadist in all of fiction.

        • And if God lies to you, who are you to call God on the carpet? Job’s lesson was that God can do whatever the heck he wants.

        • In God’s Defense

          Unless it is a bad thing.

        • Wrong–God can do anything. He can get into a bet with Satan and kill all of Job’s kids. Not a problem, because it’s not a bad thing. By definition, you said. The claim “God is always good” is unfalsifiable, and you’ve removed your beliefs from logical scrutiny.

        • In God’s Defense

          “God can do anything.”

          Why think this though? It wouldn’t make sense for him to do the logically impossible.

          “By definition”

          You can falsify my claim. Just show that my definition of God is wrong.

        • Your god hypothesis is unfalsifiable. See a problem?

        • TheMarsCydonia .

          I think you missed the point. The point was not “God can do anything, even the logically impossible”, it was “God can do anything logically possible and the believers will call it good… By definition”.

          Remember the bible verse about calling good evil and evil good? Well, if it is evil, we can count on the believers to call it good if done or commanded by God.

          So God calls for child sacrifice? Good by definition.
          Calls for genocide of an entire people? Good by definition.
          Calls for the enslavement of another? Good by definition.

          You may have no issues with that. That mindset is not shared by the unbelievers.

        • In God’s Defense

          I see. yes, If God truly commanded something like child sacrifice, then it would have had to be good for God to command it by definition of who he is.

        • MNb

          Again: Heil God the Immaterial Führer.

        • In God’s Defense

          God is not Hitler. Obviously they are different.

        • primenumbers

          Hitler caused vast amounts of harm. He believed he was doing the work of the Lord in the destruction of the Jew. “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”

          Because god won’t allow any harmful act to occur that doesn’t lead to a greater good (because he’s all loving and all powerful), any vastly harmful act like the Holocaust must have a much greater good that god can see and thus know not to intervene. Hitler undertook a programme of genocide against Jews (among others) and thus we must understand it was allowed by god because of the greater good that must come from it.

          Who is more evil – the evil earthly mad man who thinks he’s doing god’s will, or the all powerful god who sits back and allows it to happen?

        • In God’s Defense

          The earthly mad man who has physiological problems.

        • primenumbers

          With power comes responsibility. If you are all powerful, you are ultimately responsible. If Hitler was as you say, mad, it’s hard to believe he could be responsible for his actions. Mad people are sick, not evil. People who stand on by and watch harm occur yet do nothing to stop it – we call them evil.

        • In God’s Defense

          Who said God does nothing to stop evil? He will destroy all evil, biblically speaking.

        • primenumbers

          From my above argument we were discussing earlier, it’s obvious that god stops all evil (evil being any harmful act that doesn’t lead to a much greater good) and thus we can only conclude that the Holocaust must not have been evil.

        • Kodie

          He really will? You’re the one defending him with your poor intellectual capacities, I think not.

        • Do you have evidence of God stopping evil? (If you’re giving examples in the past, you need adequate documentation.)

        • Kodie

          Not the celestial toddler having a temper tantrum?

        • primenumbers

          If so then god is still responsible. He is ultimately responsible as creator for faults in his creations, and responsible at the time for not intervening.

        • Hitler’s attitude toward Jews was similar to (and probably informed by) that of another German Jew hater, Martin Luther.

        • primenumbers

          Yup.

        • TheNuszAbides

          But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood …

          *irony meter explodes*
          i can’t find anything about him making an effort to rid the holy babble of its heinously false old testament, though … perhaps even megalomania has its limits.

        • MNb

          And exactly that makes morals coming from god subjective.

          Raping kids for fun and child sacrifice are good when X orders it.
          Raping kids for fun and child sacrifice are evil when Y orders it.

          You can’t get it more subjective.

          By declaring the Eutyphro Dilemma a false dilemma (actually you just have chosen the option “something is good because commanded by my god” – that’s precisely what DCT says) you have refuted your argument that morals are objective.

        • TheUnknownPundit

          God is not Hitler. Obviously they are different.
          That’s true. Hitler’s crimes are finite. Your god tortures souls for eternity because they don’t believe the right things. Your god, if he/she/it exists, is infinitely worse than Hitler. It’s a good thing your god is mythological, like all the other deities.

        • tsig

          True, Hitler killed the Jews, god killed everyone but eight.

        • TheNuszAbides

          obviously Hitler was the material sort. you have a philosophy degree and you’re ignoring/missing the only qualifying adjective in a six-word comment? profs must be proud.

        • In God’s Defense

          Could their be an evil demon or God tricking us… yes, but lets be reasonable.

        • primenumbers

          We are being reasonable. It’s reasonable that if we have no reliable method by which we could detect if a command (such as to sacrifice our first born child) comes from a all-loving deity or some trickster deity who takes delight in chaos. Looking at the levels of religious diversity and chaos on this planet, I’d say the evidence is (if there was good reason to believe any deity exits, which of course we don’t have) in favour of a trickster deity.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i definitely prefer Raven to Loki.

        • Kodie

          Irony meter – destroyed.

        • Yes, let’s be reasonable. A demon trying to tricks us–just saying that he’s totally good so we’ll put up with the crap in this life–makes no sense. What makes sense is a good God trying to get us to believe that the crap in this life is actually good and according to his Grand Plan. And him sacrificing his son because there was no other way to take care of all the evil. Yeah, all that is reasonable.

        • In God’s Defense

          Well, more reasonable than naturalism.

        • What issues does the natural explanation leave unanswered?

        • In God’s Defense

          Its not that the naturalist worldview leaves things unexplained. The question is, is the naturalist worldview true or even reasonable to believe to be true. How does it compare to other worldviews?

        • When the natural explanation (which has worked so well in countless other areas of reality) explains things sufficiently, why would you be tempted to consider a supernatural explanation, which has never overturned a scientific explanation?

        • In God’s Defense

          When the evidence suggests it. For example, the beginning of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, and to explain the existence of objective moral values and duties.

        • I’ve written about all those things. Analyze them thoroughly. For not one of them are we left with a clear conclusion that God is the best explanation.

          And we must return to: a supernatural explanation has never overturned a natural explanation (though there are countless examples in the other direction).

        • MNb

          Excellent example again of ambiguous language as used by apologists.

          “1. the beginning of the universe, 2. the fine-tuning of the universe, and to explain 3. the existence of objective moral values and duties.”
          All three belong to different categories.
          1. is empirical evidence; the beginning of our Universe has been observed directly. However nobody has been able to show how empirical evidence (ie coming from our natural reality) can point at an entity that by definition is supernatural.
          2. is not empirical evidence; the value of the natural constants is. Calling it fine-tuning silently adds the assumption of a purpose. Of course I already told you so, but like most apologists you’re not capable of correcting your errors and rather prefer to dishonestly repeat them over and over again.
          3. is not empirical evidence either, but just a wrong assumption of yours. That has been made clear to you as well, but again you prefer to dishonestly repeat your error over and over again. Especially this one shows that you rather lie, because your objective morals inherent to god’s nature according to your own logic to utter subjectivity (X is good when god commands it, but evil when somebody else commands it).

          By now nobody on this site can take you seriously anymore.

        • MNb

          If naturalism doesn’t leave things unexplained then it by definition compares favourably to dualist worldviews – because Occam’s Razor.
          However when you point at things that naturalism hasn’t explained yet you’re defending a god of the gaps.
          What you need to do is bring up positive stuff. And that means specifically answering these two questions:

          1. How does your god, residing in the supernatural reality by definition, interact with our natural reality? Which means does he use? Which procedures does he follow?
          2. How do you separate correct claims about the supernatural (like “God is supremely good” vs. “God is supremely evil”) from incorrect ones? What is your method? What is your standard? You can’t use science here, like you try to do when bringing up the Cosmological Argument and Fine Tuning, exactly because science is restricted to our natural reality. That’s why it’s called methodological naturalism. You will have to develop your own method and standard – actually two, because you need to test the conclusions.

          These two questions can’t be answered as far as I can see (I might be wrong, of course). As long as they aren’t answered I safely can assume that I’m right – and that naturalism is superior to dualism. Exit god.

        • RichardSRussell

          Yes, by all means, let’s be reasonable (he said to the guy whose own holy book describes an invisible entity who drowned virtually every living creature on Earth but couldn’t possibly be considered evil).

        • Susan

          Could their be an evil demon or God tricking us… yes, but lets be reasonable.

          Where did you get your philosophy degree?

          ________

          Edit: I ask this question because if you really do have a philosophy degree, you would know that that’s a bullshit response and that would mean you were deeply dishonest.

          If you don’t, then that would mean you were deeply dishonest.

          Either way, it’s uncomfortable.

        • Ron

          The scriptures explicitly state that God has deceived people. So the most logical conclusion would be that God is a maximally evil being.

        • Greg G.

          God could be mistaken. How would God know? His nature is arbitrary. He cannot know that it should be followed.

        • In God’s Defense

          God’s nature is not arbitrary. Haven’t we been over this? It necessarily exists.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, we have been over this but you ignored the consequences of your beliefs.

          If good and evil preceded God, then God cannot be maximally great. If there is a distinction between good and evil or objectively moral and objectively immoral, then God’s nature could have been good or evil or any combination. God’s nature cannot be anything but due to chance and therefore, arbitrary. Your wishes are not powerful enough to force God’s nature to be good.

          If there was now good and evil before God or above God because God defines it, then good and evil are subject to whatever God’s nature happened to be like arbitrarily.

        • In God’s Defense

          “If good and evil preceded God, then God cannot be maximally great.”

          Good and evil did not preceded God. God (MGB) would be a necessary being. He and his nature (the good) would have always existed. Nothing caused him into existence. Chance did not create God.

        • Greg G.

          He and his nature (the good) would have always existed. Nothing caused him into existence. Chance did not create God.

          But even if he always existed, his nature is arbitrary. It is whatever it happened to be.

          “Great” in “maximally great” would refer to power. It does not refer to being a great guy. That is equivocation. It does not mean every possible connotation of one word in one particular language at one particular point in the history of the language. A “maximally great” being that has a flexible nature would be greater than a being whose actions are limited by the “his nature” excuse. Your concept could be a necessary being even if a “necessary being” even if such a thing was necessary outside of religious people’s minds.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you just have to keep His 3 Most Holy Apps up to date.

        • What moral commands or dictates does God follow then? Sounds like none.

        • In God’s Defense

          God’s moral actions are subject to his nature.

        • Doesn’t answer the question. Are there moral rules that he follows? Name one.

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t mean anything. Literally, it is just words you keep repeating and nothing more substantial than that.

        • primenumbers

          God is divinely simple and his mind, nature and all of god’s being are one and indivisible.

        • MNb

          Heil God the Immaterial Führer.

        • Max Doubt

          “The bible could be from God. If that is the case, then that changes things drastically.”

          Could be? If? Let’s at least start from a point where we can all agree. There is no objective evidence to support any claims that any gods exist. So far so good?

        • Or if it gets them out of some logical or moral pickle, like why God appears to be such an unhinged jerk in the OT.

        • primenumbers

          WLC is a moral monster.

          He’s also a hypocrite as he fails to apply the very same logic to abortion.

        • In God’s Defense

          “He’s also a hypocrite as he fails to apply the very same logic to abortion.”

          How so?

        • primenumbers

          “Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation” yet he tells us on abortion “the destruction of an innocent and defenseless human life” is a “moral outrage”. Yet going by his logic, it’s the sure an certain salvation for the fetuses.

        • Castilliano

          Theologically:
          Abortion = Assured eternal paradise for fetus
          Birth = Mundane life +eternal torture (unless converted to Christianity)

          So they really want babies so they have targets to convert or mundane life is so awesome that it’s worth risking losing heaven and experiencing eternal pain. (Except they seldom say mundane life is so awesome.)

          It’s almost as if deep down they realize this life outweighs their notions of the afterlife…huh

        • Kodie

          None of them really want to die. None of them are begging for cancer or to be hit by a bus while crossing the street.

        • In God’s Defense

          Normally, God’s command is to save life. It would be wrong to kill a fetus or an adult christian even though they would both go to heaven. Maybe, Craig is wrong (it happens) and God’s justification for that command was something else. Or maybe that justification only works for God its possible.

        • Dys

          So you’re going with 1)presuppose God is good, followed by 2)Mysterious Ways™

          Which isn’t compelling in the slightest, and is really no different than making excuses for terrible actions.

        • primenumbers

          Given god is all powerful, and all loving, anything we see as evil must have a justification, or else god would fall foul of the problem of evil.

          Now that implies that for any evil we see god has s justification that is sufficient to warrant god not intervening in that evil.

          God’s justification must mean that the harm eventually results in a greater good.

          We know that if there wasn’t sufficient justification for god for some evil, being all loving and all powerful god would intervene and stop that evil.

          We define evil as significant harm with no good justification. That means when we see evil, we’re seeing significant harm but not seeing god’s justification for that harm, which we know must be there although we cannot know what.

          So for any harm we see it must have been permitted by god (because if god didn’t have good justification for that harm, god would stop is because god is all loving and all powerful).

          Therefore, if we do something that we think might harm or kill someone, if it actually succeeds, we can be happy that we acted morally because god wouldn’t allow a harm to occur without good justification.

          Therefore all the harm we have witnessed throughout history, from the Holocaust to the every murder and rape ever committed are all justified because god allowed them to occur, and they have all lead to a greater good, and because those murderers and rapists have acted in a way that will lead to a greater good, they must have acted morally.

        • In God’s Defense

          “…rapists have acted in a way that will lead to a greater good, they must have acted morally.”

          …they must have acted morally… BAD. The rapists do not get let off the hook because their mom (or anyone) made something positive happen out of the situation.

        • In God’s Defense

          “rapists have acted in a way that will lead to a greater good, they must have acted morally.”

          The rapists acted immorally and God (if he exists) will punish them even though God worked something good from their wrong doing.

        • primenumbers

          So some rapists work to produce a greater good and god punishes them for doing so? How can they have acted immorally if they produced a greater good?

        • In God’s Defense

          The rapists didn’t produce good. They produced evil. God worked it for good. You can rape but it will still be wrong even though God might use your bad choice to bring good into the world. You wouldn’t think your rapist did something good because you ended up gaining something good from his action.

        • The rapists didn’t produce good, but God worked it for good? Why not simply see the rapists as God’s agents, like Jesus?

        • primenumbers

          “The rapists didn’t produce good.” – sure they did, because if there’s no ultimate greater good coming from their actions, the all loving, all powerful god would have stopped them.

          “even though God might use your bad choice to bring good into the world” – might? It needs to be “must” or your god is not all loving, and how can it be a bad choice if it inevitably must lead to a greater good occurring?

          “You wouldn’t think your rapist did something good because you ended up gaining something good from his action.” – because of the logic I present above, we must. That’s the problem we have because the solution to the problem of evil entails god must have sufficient reasons for any apparent evil and that sufficient reason must lead to a greater good for it to be a morally sufficient reason.

        • In God’s Defense

          The rapist who rapes for fun is doing something evil even if down the line of causation something good comes from it. If the act in and of itself is not evil, but only evil because of the consequences of, then you have issues. The same issues you have with consequentialism.

        • primenumbers

          So the act of hurting a child by giving them a life-saving operation is an act of evil because we cannot appeal to the life-saving consequences and must look only at the evil act of cutting them open?

          Also, if consequentialism is problematic for you, you’ve just destroyed your only defence for the problem of evil.

        • tsig

          How about the rapist who rapes because god commanded it?

        • Kodie

          So you project your human qualities onto a so-called maximally great being. Don’t they all have the chance to beg forgiveness? So god can tell you something is bad, do it anyway because he has to take the shortcut, and forgive the person he actively didn’t prevent from doing it, fuck that victim, fuck them twice.

        • Greg G.

          1. A maximally great god would not be a voyeur to a rape.
          2. Rapes happen.
          3. Therefore, there is no maximally great god.

        • Pofarmer

          Or God maximally enjoys rape.

        • TheMarsCydonia .

          Can you clarify this statement?

          From what I understand, doing an evil act is still evil when done for a greater good.

          But wouldn’t this apply to the killing of children as well? Would you say killing children if done for a greater good to still be evil?

        • MNb

          “The rapists acted immorally and God (if he exists) will punish them.”
          Uh no. According to the Great Good News the rapists only have to convert, confess, repent and lay their fates into Jesus’ hands. Then they will be forgiven and hence totally OK.

        • In God’s Defense

          There is forgiveness. Although, (Rev 22:12) And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

          (1 Cor 3:8) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

        • MNb

          “There is forgiveness.”
          Yup. And it’s obtainable exactly the way I described: convert, confess, repent and lay their fates into Jesus’ hands. Are you going to use the NT to dispute Jesus’ words?
          Fun.

        • RichardSRussell

          Or maybe it’s all bullshit and rationalization.
          I know where my money is.

        • primenumbers

          “It would be wrong to kill a fetus or an adult christian even though they would both go to heaven” why is it wrong to want the best for someone and to act in a way that they achieve it?

        • Kodie

          Or, it’s normal to feel a little squeamish about killing people who’ve done nothing wrong that you can tell, under command from your political or military leader, who assures you they are evil and deserve to be dead. Craig’s application of your “objective morality” is that one has to override one’s moral sensibilities in order to obey god, and applies his sympathy to their obedience to following disgusting orders, without calling those orders disgusting. That you think he has something good to say about morality that we all ought to listen to says a lot about you – you’re a follower with no critical thinking skills whatsoever, and a dangerous agent of death (all theists may be) if you are the least bit convinced your killing mission is under god’s orders. You have Wm. Lane Craig’s sympathies but not mine.

        • Philmonomer

          I always thought the abortion doctor was more Jesus-like than, well, Jesus.

          Jesus only had to have 3 bad days to bring people the possibility of salvation (heaven) through him.

          The abortion doctor is looking at an eternity of bad days to guarantee, through him, the salvation (heaven) of every fetus. (Sure, God is going to be mad at him, b/c it is “wrong to kill a fetus.” But that’s the price the doctor is willing to pay. A truly amazing sacrifice.)

          Also, sometimes, pro-lifers will says “Aren’t you glad you weren’t aborted” (or something similar). I can honestly respond: If the Christian story is true, and if aborted babies go to heaven I wish I had been aborted. Because–again, if the conservative Christian story is true–it isn’t looking so good for me now.

        • MNb

          “Normally, God’s command is to save life.”
          Except when it isn’t. Ah well, that’s what he’s the Immaterial Führer for.

        • TheNuszAbides

          exceptions are exceptional. IGD’s philosophical expertise is so over my head.

        • tsig

          If god doesn’t follow his own morals then god is a hypocrite.

        • Greg G.

          A maximally great hypocrite.

        • RichardSRussell

          I notice that your screen name is “In God’s Defense”. Has it never occurred to you that, if there really were a God, he’d be perfectly capable of defending himself? Aren’t you being just a wee bit presumptuous here?

        • “My big brother can kick your ass! So watch out, buddy!”

        • In God’s Defense

          Of course, he could defend himself.

        • … and yet he never does. It’s almost like he’s not even there.

        • Greg G.

          I wonder why that is?

        • In God’s Defense

          The question of God’s hiddenness is an interesting one. Although, it is important to remember when absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Given God’s goal’s from the bible he might choose to be not as evident as you might want him to be. I know Kodie doesn’t like it when I quote Craig instead of putting it in my own words, but she will have to deal with it. So, here it is.

          “The problem with this reasoning is that God is not interested in performing party tricks so we can say, “Wow, that’s really something else!” and go on and live a life unchanged, continuing in our sinful, self-centered ways. God would have a moral obligation to perform more miraculous deeds only if, in performing them, more people would come into a saving, personal relationship with him. But would they?

          We have no good reason to think they would; the atheist has not provided us with a reason to think that if God revealed himself more overtly then more people would come to enjoy a saving relationship with him than would otherwise if God did not. While entertainment and party tricks would likely result in people coming to believe the proposition “God exists,” how could we know that would result in changing one’s heart (cf. Luke 16:30-31)?”

          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-god-imaginary

        • Philmonomer

          Good grief. That’s a meaningful response for you?

          God would have a moral obligation to perform more miraculous deeds only if, in performing them, more people would come into a saving, personal relationship with him. But would they?

          Yes.

          We have no good reason to think they would;

          Yes, we do. It’s called common sense. If more people saw miraculous deeds, there would be more belief in God, which would lead to more saving, personal relationships with him.

          the atheist has not provided us with a reason to think that if God revealed himself more overtly then more people would come to enjoy a saving relationship with him than would otherwise if God did not.

          Provided you with a reason? WTF? COMMON SENSE says “MORE WE SEE GOD, MORE BELIEF”

          While entertainment and party tricks would likely result in people coming to believe the proposition “God exists,” how could we know that would result in changing one’s heart (cf. Luke 16:30-31)?”

          Oh, for f–k’s sake.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the cunning undercurrent of elitism: hence the boundless Praise spouted by Humble Puny Mortals of the Good Flocks who have been Blessed with those Personal Relationships. anybody who doesn’t have one just has to try harder to surrender their critical faculties! anybody who doesn’t want one is to be pitied or scorned or cut off or cut to pieces or otherwise “helped” …

        • Kodie

          Most Christians do not live any kind of “changed” life, as far as I can tell. They might change to become more stupid, but that’s about as much as I can tell. But instead of proving he exists himself, and instead of accepting “god’s” (really Wm. Lane Craig’s) suppositions, reasons why he supposes god might not prove he exists himself, you’re completely satisfied that he sends dummies like you to argue terrible arguments – Christian poster Aaron Siering called my response to you a “straw man” because your argument is too absurd for him to believe any real Christians think what and how you think – that you are compelled to argue, regardless of how dismal your own moral compass must be, how do you think you’re affecting the greater world for “god’s” purposes? If he does want us to know him, why would he send you, you’re an idiot. If he doesn’t want us to know him because we won’t change our ways according to the shitty moral compass you have, why would you insist on arguing for god anyway?

        • remember when absence of evidence is evidence of absence

          A god who loves us dearly and knows that we must know his plan to get into heaven? That’s a god who would make himself known.

          Absence of evidence is very much evidence of absence.

          Given God’s goal’s from the bible he might choose to be not as evident as you might want him to be.

          He’s a trickster!

          I know Kodie doesn’t like it when I quote Craig instead of putting it in my own words

          One reason is that in your words it might be more compelling. WLC is a buffoon.

          God is not interested in performing party tricks

          Simply making himself known is a party trick? Please.

          God would have a moral obligation to perform more miraculous deeds only if, in performing them, more people would come into a saving, personal relationship with him. But would they?

          I have an idea! If God actually existed and everyone knew it, people wouldn’t put Christianity in the bin they put it in, Mythology.

          the atheist has not provided us with a reason to think that if God revealed himself more overtly then more people would come to enjoy a saving relationship with him than would otherwise if God did not.

          So God being indistinguishable from space ponies is a smart move? Bullshit.

          See the problem? Make sense out of it; don’t just repeat Craig.

        • Kodie

          It’s not more compelling in this idiot’s words – what I want to see is evidence that he even understands what he’s reading or if he’s just a sponge. Why does he think he has the ability to even argue this with us if we’ve already addressed Craig in his own words. If you’re not Wm. Lane Craig himself, why are you even here? Is he in “god’s” defense, or fallen under the spell of some erudite theologian (still manufacturing horseshit, it just sounds better if you’re not careful).

        • In God’s Defense

          “I want to see is evidence that he even understands what he’s reading or if he’s just a sponge.”

          Funny, I feel the same way about you. I want to see is evidence that she even understands what she’s reading or if she’s just a sponge.

        • Kodie

          I’ve actually written posts about your favorite example that you didn’t have anything to say about it. You keep favoring coming back to the same worn-out shit you already said. It’s as intellectual as you can be, to repeat what you’ve heard.

        • MNb

          “God is not interested in performing party tricks”
          That WLC calls my two proposals how his god could convincingly and unambiguously show himself “party tricks” confirms that he has the mentality of a nazi.
          I mean, I’m not even asking for miracles in the Biblical meaning of the word.

        • tsig

          I’m not asking for party tricks just that he show up for the party.

          how do you know he doesn’t do party tricks?

        • TheNuszAbides

          inb4 “He works through us!”

        • Kodie

          I hate to tell you, but..

        • TheNuszAbides

          i didn’t say inb4 “maybe ____, how do you know not-_____?”

        • RichardSRussell

          Then why don’t you defer to his judgment and leave it up to him to pick the time, method, and manner of his doing so? Instead you substitute your judgment for his. Seems pretty disrespectful to me.

        • In God’s Defense

          Doesn’t have to be. Maybe he wants me or anyone to defend him. How do you know he wouldn’t?

        • RichardSRussell

          I just know. It’s self-evident. Isn’t that your own favorite argument? You see how reliable it is?

        • MNb

          How do you know he would issue objective morals? Except by defining your god into existence, I mean. We already have seen where that leads us to: nazi morals.

        • Dys

          “God works in mysterious, mysterious, just fucked up ways.”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWTC_jBzJiI

        • Kodie

          It’s the presumption that he’d even be any good at it that’s hilarious.

        • “Kill them all, God will know His own” was said by an abbot during the sack of the Cathar stronghold of Béziers in 1209.

          God’s a bastard, and some of his people aren’t so good, either.

      • MNb

        In addition to Greg G: In God’s Defense (see above) brought up these nazi morals (Himmler, Paul Blöbel) to confirm objective morality.

  • primenumbers

    “Relativists are absolutely sure that there are no absolutes” – is a subtle piece of word play. We can talk about the truth status of statements in logic, or that “it is true that 2+2=4”, but they are not using “true” in the same sense that we talk about statements about reality.

    We must be careful not to mix truths that are definitional (like it is true that there are no married bachelors) with statements like “it is true that there is a cup of coffee on my desk”.

    Here G&T try to aim a contradiction at the atheist by the use of the word “absolutely” to mean “i’m totally and completely certain without restriction or limitation” and “absolutes” referring to values that are mind independent. We can indeed be “absolutely sure” there are no moral absolutes because it’s definitionally true from my argument you print above which just relies on what “objectivity” in context means (and an agreement that moral values come from minds). There is no contradiction because for definitional truths we can be absolutely sure.

    Of course, definitional truths don’t tell us about the real world, yet in their arguments all rely on definitional truths being disguised as reality truths, with the resulting definitional truth being declared as a reality truth at the end of the argument. We’re so used to the results of a logical argument being true in a reality sense, we don’t often think to question it! I mean, it’s logical that since I put my coffee cup on my desk that now that I look, my coffee cup is on my desk. But it’s not because the toddler came into my office and removed it. When a scientist has a wonderful math model that predicts a new particle they don’t declare it “discovered” – they actually have to go look for it and find it before they can say that!

    The first statement “Every law has a law giver’ really gets to the heart of the word games they’re playing. Legal laws are indeed given by humans. We make them up, write them down and get them enforced. But physical “laws” are different. We observe reality. We create a model that accurately predicts those observed results and then test to see how well our model works in practise. But at no point do we get to think that the physical objects that appear to “obey our law” are actually doing so, because it’s our law that is modelling what they do! We don’t get to back fit our law into reality. In this sense there is no “law giver”. Of course, I’m sure G&T would say there is, in that it’s their god who set up some rules for how physics works, but they can’t come out directly and say that or we’ll spot the circularity. So no, every law doesn’t have a law giver.

  • RichardSRussell

    I myself believe in objective laws. Here’s one: “F = ma”. Here’s another: “The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.” Here’s another: “Regardless of whether it’s in solid, liquid, or gaseous form, water always comprises exactly 2 parts hydrogen to 1 of oxygen.”

    Anybody on Earth can test these propositions, and they will always, always, always turn out to be true, regardless of who’s doing the testing. That’s why we call them “laws” rather than “hypotheses” or “guesses” or “notions” or “opinions”.

    Ideas of good and evil, on the contrary, vary widely from person to person, place to place, culture to culture, time to time, even language to language, certainly young to old. There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever objective about them. They are pure opinions, not testable, not measurable, not verifiable — in no way better grounded in reality than “My favorite color is blue.”.

    • And yet GT still maintain that objective moral truth exists. They even admit that it’s not reliably accessible.

      One wonders why people buy their stuff.

    • In God’s Defense

      “Ideas of good and evil, on the contrary, vary widely from person to person, place to place, culture to culture, time to time, even language to language, certainly young to old. There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever objective about them.”

      You do understand that even if people’s beliefs about whats right and wrong differ per culture, that alone doesn’t necessarily prove that morality is subjective. Somethings might be very contextual. Somethings could be right for you and not for me. Again, an objective moral law could still exist regardless. Also, if your right then I could deem rape good, rape you, and it would be a good thing… just saying…

      • RichardSRussell

        Some things being “right for you and not for me” is the very essence of subjectivity.

        I reiterate: Nobody disagrees that “F = ma” is true. All you would ever need to prove that’s it’s not an objective law is a single counter-example. Just one. But there aren’t any!

        OTOH, damn near everybody disagrees about when, for example, abortion is justified. And that’s only a single issue out of thousands on which people opine about good vs. evil. Their opinions on all of those issues are completely subjective. Attitudes about abortion are not even remotely close to being a law; they’re barely even a pattern.

        Since you have almost nothing to choose from but counter-examples to your premise, yes, that does indeed constitute all the evidence any rational person would ever need to demonstrate that morality is subjective.

        • Kodie

          No, he calls it “self-evident” that morality is objective with only one example we can all agree on – raping children for fun is wrong. He tends to ignore all my posts where I explain how apparently right it is to rape children, based on outcomes of such incidences.

          Accordingly, not everything has yet been revealed and can’t be accessed except through “moral intuition” or “moral experience,” which he assumes is rock-solid and not up for debate either. If you can find one example of something that is wrong no matter who you are, and he thinks he has that example, “objective morality” becomes a self-evident fact, holding together his argument in the 2nd premise. Even though he is all over the map with regard to morality, that one example, even though I have proved it is nowhere certainly “objective” even if universal (and it’s not), he has avoided every conversation regarding that, because it must necessarily destroy his argument. He has an excuse for everything else though!

        • In God’s Defense

          “He tends to ignore all my posts where I explain how apparently right it is to rape children, based on outcomes of such incidences”

          If you can justify rape be my guest. All it would show is in that context rape would be ok. If that’s the case though, then you have just admitted to another objective moral law!

        • Kodie

          Where and how do you think I have done that? Just keep patting yourself on the back, moron. You have yet to address anything I’ve actually said in that regard, now you think you are winning an argument. Fool.

        • No, not an objective moral law–universally shared moral programming.

        • MNb

          “If you can justify rape be my guest.”
          Ask Attila the Hun and Dzhengis Khan. They hadn’t any problem doing so.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Some things being “right for you and not for me” is the very essence of subjectivity.”

          What I meant was that It might be right for me to kill someone in context A, but not right for you to kill the same person in context A or B.

          “abortion is justified”

          There are gray areas, but not with rape. All it takes is one clear moral issue for there to be an objective moral law.

      • Who cares about an objective morality that’s inaccessible? This is “angels on the head of a pin” talk.

      • MNb

        “doesn’t necessarily prove”
        No. But with your claim that you have a degree philosophy you should understand that it’s a strong inductive argument. Of course I already told you before. Of course as a good christian you’re incapable of correcting the errors in your thinking. It’s confirmed here:

        “if your right then I could deem rape good, rape you, and it would be a good thing”
        In your eyes. In the eyes of the Huns (5th Century) and the Mongols (13th Century). Not in our eyes
        Funny, isn’t it, how you refuse to get it?

        Well, at least you seem to have stopped your “objective” nazi morals you took over from WLC. May we assume you don’t consider the Bible a reliable source of that objective morality anymore? If yes I wonder where you get it from then. If no I am happy to discuss the morals of the Canaanite Genocide again – and point at Himmler and Paul Blöbel.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Of course as a good christian you’re incapable of correcting the errors in your thinking.”

          Let me set the record straight, I’m not sure if Christianity is true. I would not call myself a christian ATM. Now, when it comes to God (MGB) I believe his existence is at least more probable than not.

          “if your right then I could deem rape good, rape you, and it would be a good thing.”

          If morality is subjective, then there is no error in this statement.

        • MNb

          Repeating your error only shows that you’re incapable of correcting the errors in your thinking indeed.

          “if your right then I could deem rape good, rape you, and it would be a good thing”
          I can repeat as well as you can. So here I go:

          In your eyes. In the eyes of the Huns (5th Century) and the Mongols (13th Century). Not in our eyes.
          Funny, isn’t it, how you refuse to get it?

        • Kodie

          Why do you persist in thinking that one emotion-laden example, despite having been shown to you to be subjective already, of what you perceive to be “objective morality,” and despite all other examples of morality being subjective, is enough to support the 2nd premise of your argument, while dozens of examples of subjective morality are not enough to throw it out?

          And besides that, you also believe if god commanded YOU to rape children for fun, you would have no choice but to believe it is good and not evil in that instance, but evil and not good if someone else raped children for fun and claimed that god commanded them, you “just know” they were not.

          Please, you are willfully ignorant beyond belief. You have no moral grounding in this shitty system, you have no argument, you have no premise, you have no intelligence.

        • In God’s Defense

          “Why do you persist in thinking that one emotion-laden example, despite having been shown to you to be subjective already, of what you perceive to be “objective morality,”

          I guess we just disagree.

        • Kodie

          I’ve given about half a dozen posts on child rape alone, with no response from you. You wallow in your ignorance and have no idea how to present your idea as coherent – maybe because it isn’t. If you don’t understand it inside and out, you can’t use it as an argument yourself. You hide behind Craig’s reasoning as your own, but you do not have any answers when presented with arguments against it. No, we do not “just” disagree – you are wrong.

        • In God’s Defense

          link to your posts and I will read them and respond.

        • Max Doubt

          “Now, when it comes to God (MGB) I believe his existence is at least more probable than not.”

          You do agree there’s no objective evidence to support any claims that any gods exist, don’t you?

        • In God’s Defense

          “No. But with your claim that you have a degree philosophy you should understand that it’s a strong inductive argument.”

          What about the strong inductive argument to believe that raping kids is objectively wrong? A lot of people believe it is true.

        • Max Doubt

          “What about the strong inductive argument to believe that raping kids is objectively wrong? A lot of people believe it is true.”

          That’s what makes it subjective rather than objective. You’re just being an asshole now because you know your position is indefensible, aren’t you?

        • MNb

          “A lot of people believe it is true.”
          A lot of people.
          People.
          Ie subjects.

      • But did you see Christian leader WL Craig’s quotes that I just put up a few minutes ago?
        According to him, Nothing is wrong unless God forbids it, and nothing is right unless God commands it.
        God sometimes commands the slaughter of children.
        So it’s fine to slaughter infants and children. It will be their salvation is what Craig says.

    • Well, first I disagree with WL Craig, now I disagree with your view.

      You wrote, “Ideas of good and evil, on the contrary, vary widely from person to person, place to place, culture to culture, time to time, even language to language, certainly young to old. There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever objective about them. They are pure opinions…”

      So slavery is like the color blue, huh?

      You and Craig should get together.

      When I am writing letters for AI on human rights, I will remember not to mention your outlook.
      For instance, the prisoner of conscience in Benin our AI group used to write for, wouldn’t agree your changing of human rights to subjective preferences like the color blue.

      Well, a lot of p-of-c. do end up black and blue from all the beatings and tortures. (satire)

      • Ron

        What part of Richard’s comment do you disagree with? Opinions have changed. Slavery was once considered acceptable; now it’s (mostly) not. Ditto for treating women as chattel and children as indentured help.

        • ?

          That wasn’t his point–that evils were once “considered acceptable.”

          He stated that good and evil are “pure opinions, not testable, not measurable, not verifiable — in no way better grounded in reality than “My favorite color is blue.”.

          In contrast, I think that slavery is and always was an inherently evil action. (Shall, I quote from the Declaration here, “unalienable rights…”:-)?

          Even though women were considered “chattel” etc., it was always the case that doing this was immoral.

          We humans are very slow learners.

          Think how much better human history would have been if we had figured out about germs before the Black Plague, and that humans shouldn’t kill others
          before the 30 Years War, etc.

        • Greg G.

          But considering slavery or considering women as chattel is only wrong in an anthropocentric view. Had ants evolved into creatures with brains equivalent to ours, those ideas would be seem quite natural to them. The sterile workers would be chattel and slaves to the reproduction class.

          That slavery is wrong is your opinion and mine because we don’t want to be slaves. We have a morality that we share with others in hopes that we all treat one another according to it. A powerful enough man doesn’t need to obey that morality and could make us slaves anyway because what other people think is not a consideration within his morality. Being powerful means nobody can enslave him. His morality is that you work for him and he doesn’t have you flogged. But that is just his opinion and imposing his opinion on others is not immoral, in his opinion.

        • You wrote, “That slavery is wrong is your opinion and mine because we don’t want to be slaves.”

          Totally wrong. That isn’t my view at all. It has nothing to do with me personally.

          As I understand reality, all intelligent creatures (including humans) when they become conscious, rational, ethical, etc.,
          will
          eventually oppose slavery because they come to realize that intelligent conscious rational beings ought not to treat others as things.

          There is even a move by many ethicists to question whether or not we ought to eat animals or mistreat them.

          We obviously live in different universes:-)

          But thanks for explaining your view.

        • Your sample size is barely 1. Humans for millennia thought that slavery was peachy–as long as was the other dude who was enslaved.

          Imagine a a Star Trek universe with humans, Vulcans, Klingons, and Romulans. Perhaps Vulcans would never embrace slavery on any intelligent species, humans did (but don’t anymore), and Romulans currently have slaves and are fine with the institution.

          I’d like to think that your supposition is correct (slavery eventually goes out of fashion), but I don’t think you have enough data to go beyond speculation.

        • MNb

          So this guy

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

          was not conscious, rational, ethical etc.?
          That would be funny.

        • No, he chose to ignore Enlightenment “oughts” such as human rights and equality.
          So he, at least when it came to slavery, was behaving immorally.

          Notice he was part of the Dutch Reformed Church, the same church which claims that God has foreordained most humans to eternal damnation, etc.

          He was conscious, but rejecting what is true. He let the doctrine of his religion distort his views.

          Keep in mind that Doug Wilson, a Christian leader in the U.S. still claims that slavery isn’t wrong. R.L. Dabney, also of the Reformed religion, even had a book published
          after the War Between the States in which he spent hundreds of pages defending “owning” slaves.

          The Declaration of Independence said it is “self evident” that “all men are created equal.” Yet Jefferson, though he considered slavery evil, never freed his slaves.

          So there were plenty of humans, millions who ought to have rejected oppose but didn’t.

          It seems rational to think that if I am a conscious rational individual I shouldn’t use
          another conscious rational individual, sell him for profit, separate his children, even him from his wife.

          That seems rational to me.

        • Kodie

          That’s one of the things I was talking about whether something can be called “objectively immoral” regarding most people’s visceral reaction vs. what they actually do when faced with this moral problem in front of them. It’s one of the things even sometimes religion helps people to talk about these things – so let’s start with “god says to do this” or “not to do that”. As hard as people like to believe their morality comes from a god to their personal revealed intuition or whatever, most people find it difficult to stand up for those beliefs. It’s not just religious people who have this difficulty, but if god is really a part of them, I find it hard to figure out why they seem to have the most difficulty. In numbers!

          As with the Kim Davis case, let’s say, someone finds it hard to get along in modern society and mores they disagree with, because god said. I expect people like her to exist and to push as hard as they can, but you don’t see a lot of them. It’s really hard to get what you need out of living in a modern society, so most people fear losing their job and aren’t their own boss or an elected official who can risk standing up to what they perceive is a wrongdoing. Outside of religion justifying itself, we get major corporations and lies they told and lies their employees were told to keep. It’s the whistle-blowers who ruin it for everyone else and get punished.

          Consider the Christian poster’s favorite example of “raping a child for fun” is, as far as he can throw it, the only example we can all agree on, is the only example of an objective morality, thus tidily completing his argument in the second premise – ONE “objective moral” exists, therefore god exists. Even if all the other ones are subjective, he knows he’s “won” the argument. We have all agreed that’s disturbing and disgusting, but by no means universally or objectively accepted. When actual cases come in of child rape (for fun, I still don’t know any other reason one would do that), looking the other way, accusing the victim, and allowing the rapist to not only stay alive and free, but stay employed, is the usual way we handle it as a society.

          Who can argue that it’s objectively immoral? You can say everyone who excuses the rapist or accuses the child of lying is messed up, because there is obviously a vulnerable victim of a heinous offense regarding their sexual and bodily autonomy and agency here. The argument extends for some that an embryo should have as much agency and autonomy, while it is perfectly acceptable to many to treat women seeking abortions as scum of the earth. You can even try to argue that society’s treatment of these women isn’t good. I don’t know your opinions on this, but let’s say you agree with me. Let’s fucking mix it up and say you don’t agree with me. See, it is a difference of opinion – I have a high regard for human life, that’d be the woman, and her choices and autonomous decisions regarding her own body. Another person says they have a high regard for human life and sides with the youngest, most vulnerable and disposable human being, the zygote.

          When you get people who can file various genocides as good and some not good, based on who decided that it should be that way, at least I tend to lower my opinion of their judgment on who the victim is – especially when their low regard for women as people extends to many other sections and subjects of their beliefs. When you talk about rape, usually the victim is a woman, but sometimes a child, and sometimes a man. For people who think all sex is icky unless it’s married sex between one man and one woman, you would think they’d have their heads screwed on rationally as to who is barbarically using sex to assault people IS ALWAYS THE WRONG ONE IN EVERY SINGLE CASE. But they often side with the rapist, and often accuse and/or ridicule the victim, no matter what age or sex that victim is.

        • ?
          You seem to be arguing both sides of the fence–both that some acts are wrong, while at the same time saying no acts are inherently wrong.

          This is probably a fruitless discussion because I am a humanist, Enlightenment person, have lived where slaughter happens, used to work with abused children, have written human rights letters for many years, am a member of Amnesty International, etc.

          I am never going to think that ethics are relative.

          So I’ll cut to the end. I agree with Thomas Paine, Kant, Plato, etc. that “ought” truths such as “all humans are created equal” are true.

          Also, maybe read the book The Why’s of a Philosophical Scrivener by Martin Gardner, the co-founder of the modern Skeptic Movement.

          He, argues ethics aren’t relative.

          As a philosopher and a brilliant intellect maybe his explanations will help you see this since I’ve been unable to.

        • Kodie

          Morality as a subject has only to do with what people do and what they don’t do and what they can do and what we can arrive at some agreement as to what they shouldn’t do.

          It has nothing to do with anything else. If you say, in the larger sense, that owning a person is wrong, which I think you did say, then is borrowing them as cheaply as they will still come in ok? If that person stands up and asks for more, is it ok to trade that person for someone who will work cheaper? If that person works happily for real cheap, and someone comes in and offers to work for less, is it ok to trade your worker for the cheaper worker? Plenty of people stand up for the rights of the employer and not at all for the rights of the one doing all the fucking work. But they’re not “slaves,” their bargaining chip is – they can quit and look for a better job! Right, at the moral unicorn of a company where the employer has only so many positions for which he or she feels morally obligated to pay a decent wage and offer not even just benefits but an environment in which workers feel appreciated. Heads up! Is that all there is?

          Maybe the worker there feels morally opposed to the function of this unicorn company. Maybe the higher wages and increased benefits of working there are in trade to the moral outrage of working for a war machine or a literal unicorn butchering facility. This is one example of the Kim Davis situation – she wanted it both ways. High pay, plus the ability to shirk duties that didn’t fit her own personal morality.

          But still – they are not slaves, right, they’re free. They’re free to choose among a variety of ill-fitting options whether they prefer to eat and live indoors .. or not! And no matter which one they pick, they can go home every day, it’s just they have to show up at work again the next day!

          And why is it really like this? It’s because of basic economics, supply and demand. There are more jobs supplying what society has demonstrated a demand for, and fewer jobs doing whatever you felt like doing anyway. Isn’t it relative that we, as a society, enjoy the things we like to spend money on, no matter what it costs anyone else? You want to walk into a store and buy a stack of paper plates for your backyard barbecue – you, I imagine, work, so you earned your fun times. It’s pretty convenient how you can just walk into a store and pay a couple dollars for paper plates and a few other things to fit out your party, especially since you don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning up afterwards. So a lot of people have jobs because of you wanting that convenience. That’s how most people make a living, keeping society in their simple desires.

          To bring this back to meat, I guess, I think at one time, we were talking about how we treat animals, the idea is that meat is so neatly and efficiently packaged, it’s about food and not so much about death. We have bones, steaks have bones, I don’t know why that doesn’t make a connection. Neither do the things we buy and slavery. Of humans.

        • Well we disagree from the get-go. Ethics, morality as a subject has to do not with what people do
          but with what they OUGHT to do.

        • How people treat each other–you wouldn’t call that morality or something similar?

        • Morality is how people should treat each other.

          Of course, sociologists can observe whether or not humans in various societies live up to honesty, justice, equality,
          but that isn’t the topic we are discussing.

          The topic at hand is whether or not honesty, equality (versus slavery) is a subjective preference or objectively real.

          Check with my suggestion that I posted to Otto that a look at Martin Gardner’s book might be worth the time.

          And notice, I’m leaving these discussions for a long trip to Florida>:-)

        • Kodie

          Well, most people like to eat meat and have no problem with it, while some would argue that they ought to have a problem with it. Does that change what people do? It really arrives at a custom of being aware what the harm is and whether you’re doing any of it. A lot of people feel that the government ought to disperse some tax money taking care of the disadvantaged, while many would argue that depriving these people of free advantages is the only way to get them out of their economic insecurity, and is actually the more caring, moral approach. On one hand, I think most people would like to see all the poor figure it out somehow, let’s just say “caring for the needy” is a moral value everyone has (if not really accurate). On the other hand, they just disagree on how that should best be accomplished. That’s where sociology comes in and tries to study outcomes, so we can all (ideally) get on board with the most efficient way to care for the poorer members of our society. So, “caring for the needy” is something we “ought to do,” but it’s not what we actually do to reach those outcomes. A lot of what we do is the opposite of those outcomes, or not enough organized effort to reach those outcomes. In one way, you might feel that “someone is taking care of those people – the money comes out of my taxes without me having to do much, and that’s the easy way (but don’t follow through on whether it gets done). Some people viciously monitor the activities and purchasing habits of the poor, and are disgusted by some few examples. Some people lie (to themselves) whether there is really a problem, and “better them than me” the problem away. Some people think if the government stopped giving them handouts, they’d have to look for a job and then jobs would miraculously appear (never mind a lot of them already have jobs). Some people think the government is the worst possible agency to supply benefits to the needy, but if we lowered taxes so people could keep more of their own income, with the leftovers, everyone would voluntarily do their share (I think not with their rotten, judgmental attitudes!).

          Well, I actually tend to agree with many of these attitudes! And I have been poor and been on government assistance. I think, let the government do it with little conscious effort from me; if someone isn’t really poor, then why give them money; the government is terribly inefficient about this. I don’t agree that people can simply look for a job and get one; I don’t agree that the typical poor person is a welfare queen; and I for sure don’t agree that everyone would take on this problem if it took any more conscious effort than letting the IRS do it for them, even if that cost more money. People value their time more than they think and often pay extra for the convenience anyway.

          Now let’s get to the heart of the problem – nobody likes poor people. Nobody wants to be poor, but some people are, and most people either don’t like there being poor people, or would rather live in a world where nobody complains about how poor they are – there’s a slight difference, but if nobody were poor, both would get their way.

          Now looking back at the sociologists’ problem – how to give everyone what they want for as little cost to them as possible. Well, it makes sense the obscenely rich should pay more… whoa, but that’s a lot of money. A relative percentage of a rich person’s income … is a number that’s high because math. How many families could live like they’re middle class every year without working from the tax collected from one obscenely wealthy person? And they’d still be really rich, it’s just that when you slice off a couple hundred thousand dollars of that obscene wealth, that’s a large large number that’s, like, down the toilet for them. That’s where we have a problem because that is the solution. When you live in a society and get its advantages, you are supposed to pay into it, but how much should that cost you if you don’t think you’re getting anything out of it that anyone else isn’t getting? They don’t have special roads to drive on, they don’t have special fire houses, and they don’t even take advantage of public schools. They’re not looking at the pile of money they’re sitting on, they’re looking at the pile that’s being subtracted from it, and it’s a pile, I think, even if you’re rich. You have no perspective, it’s still a big number. It’s not a hundred dollar steak (is that a thing?) they bought because hey what’s money, it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars they know they could actually live on if they had to that’s not their money anymore, just because they’re rich.

          Anyway, so morality is what you do, it’s when you’re confronted with a problem and you complain about your hardship compared to someone else’s and you figure out a way to do what you wanted so you’re not penalized. It’s rationalizations, and apathy. Slavery is alive and well in the United States – I was only thinking this a few weeks ago. Why hire a legitimate poor person to do a job that requires no skill for money when you can hire some college student for experience and no pay? Why hire a legitimate poor person to do a job that requires no skill for money when you can send that job out of the country to some place that doesn’t have the restrictive laws we do? When you buy something, you are making that moral decision. Most people do not make the moral decision that’s the most ethical. As much as we can study economics, the environment, and pretend we’re absolutely morally opposed to slavery as though that were over a century ago and is over, most of us can hear about conditions and not do any effort to research our choices and possibly spend more to do morally better (if there is such a thing).

          I think humanity is flushing itself down the toilet, some people will surely suffer on the way, but we’re all going to die anyway. As we get more and more connected to the rest of the world, I see some more caring and some less caring. We don’t want to hear results of studies that will make us work harder for less, or help any people we don’t even know, but we’re more aware and a little more vocal – where does that go. No matter what we do today, the future is going to turn out somehow. I mean, I don’t know, and it’s hard to fathom, most people don’t even try. I’m not a huge fan of humans anyway, and I don’t think “intelligence” is one of our outstanding features, even if it is one of the only ones most people seem to agree is our primary feature that sets us apart from other organisms. Being rational and making rational decisions, i.e. based on studies and outcomes, is difficult for many people. Morally speaking, most people think doing “the right thing” is a category of easy stuff, like holding a door open, they feel like a good person for being generous in the minor sense, holy cow, writing a tip for $1000 for one waitress? If you can afford to do it, you make one person’s day once, but that money doesn’t last very long. On the evil side, there’s slavery we already talked about, and genocide which nobody can name aside from the holocaust, and rape, which most people do not even need to try very hard to find some excuse for.

          From one end to the other, you and me, we could both agree that these things are wrong no matter who says they’re right and their reasons, but it’s obvious when it comes to cases of major immorality, our examples of major morality are weak. People weep and have “restored their faith in humanity” over something relatively weak in the moral sense. It makes people feel good. Morality is what we do. You can feel terribly guilty for stealing a parking spot from someone who was waiting there 10 more seconds than you were at the parking lot of a major retailer that gets its goods from China and feel nothing but bliss while you fill your cart because the prices are awesome. In a year or two when you move and/or redecorate, you even feel “good” about ridding yourself of cluttery cheap plastic possessions that you picked up on that shopping trip.

        • We still haven’t been able to reach an understanding.

          Maybe consider two other illustrations:

          Do women have rights? Do human rights exist (as in the Enlightenment sense)?

          And what would you do if your employer asked you to lie for his company?
          That happened to me.

          But I’m headed for Florida where I will wrestle with alligators;-) rather than discuss philosophy, ethics, and do battle against Christians and Muslims, etc.

        • Kodie

          I would call those values. I would argue with someone to treat women as people and not as property or objects, and that can only get us so far. I would say men, particularly white men, have privileges others don’t, but when they speak of being disadvantaged, it’s from their perspective and I can understand that as a person. Being the most advantaged of people still has its disadvantages, and of course they don’t want their conditions to get any worse. That’s what the fight is all about.

        • Otto

          I don’t think ethics are relative either. It works like game theory IMO. No deity required for that.

        • ? How can you have human rights, justice, equality if there is no basis for them in reality, if they are only subjective preferences, illusions?

          But perhaps we have a difference of definition for deity?

          Have you read the 12 concepts of reality that I posted a couple of days ago? (If not, I will post them again.)

          The reason I am saying that is that one Christian when I explained my view thought that I wasn’t a theist!

          But I am a theist in the common dictionary definition of the term.

          And I don’t think that game theory can give us objective human rights, equality for all humans, etc.

          But thanks for the dialog.

          I’m really busy on other stuff, so may not post much in the next 2 weeks.

        • If a group of people come together and find that they all agree to a common set of moral beliefs, that’s a good foundation for building a society. Where’s the need for objective moral truth?

          The problem is that there’s no evidence for objective morality. When I ask for it, I get examples of shared moral programming. Yes, I grant all that, but it’s shared, not objective.

        • You wrote that “…that’s a good foundation for building a society.”

          NO way. That happened in the South in the U.S., in France in the Napoleonic era, in Reformed Geneva (where they burned people to death because that is what they agreed to, etc.) etc.

          I’ll let the other people go on believing there is no “objective morality”
          There are millions of such leaders, DCT Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Hindus, etc.

          But for me I will continue to oppose female mutilation, child abuse, inequality, racism, etc., will continue to oppose Christian and Islamic prejudice, will continue to write letters for Amnesty International to help prisoners of conscience, as we have for almost 35 years, etc.

          I can’t imagine how you can possibly think there is no “objective morality.”
          If not, why are you even blogging?

          Why not let everyone do their own thing? (as they used to say when I lived in Haight-Asbury in ’67)

          Not my view. I think slavery, fraud, rape, etc. are wrong.

        • That happened in the South in the U.S., in France in the Napoleonic era, in Reformed Geneva (where they burned people to death because that is what they agreed to, etc.) etc.

          I’ll let the other people go on believing there is no “objective morality”

          I don’t understand your argument. You’re saying that sometimes societies have some bad traits (from our perspective today) so therefore objective morality exists? Or that we must use it to build our society?

          There’s no argument here.

          But for me I will continue to oppose female mutilation, child abuse, inequality, racism, etc., will continue to oppose Christian and Islamic prejudice, will continue to write letters for Amnesty International to help prisoners of conscience, as we have for almost 35 years, etc.

          Sounds good. How is this not a non sequitur?

          I can’t imagine how you can possibly think there is no “objective morality.”

          And yet when you try to convince me that it exists, you just handwave about stuff that I already agree with. Maybe you should try this exercise: fill in the blanks in “Objective morality exists because ___.” Be careful to avoid examples that could be explained as shared or viscerally felt morality (because that’s what I think you’re conflating).

          Why not let everyone do their own thing? (as they used to say when I lived in Haight-Asbury in ’67)

          So you think a rejection of objective morality means anarchy? No morality at all? With objective morality murder is wrong, but without it, everyone is fine with it?

          I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

        • MNb

          Anarchism is highly moral. I think you mean nihilism.

        • Much better, thanks.

        • Am back from Florida…

          I have thought the question of ethics through for many years (mainly because of DCT Calvinists who never ceased to try and convince me that nothing is wrong except what God commands. I don’t recall if I already said this, but my first encounter with a leader who denied objective ethics was our Calvinist youth leader who tried to convince me that I should commit immoral actions if God commands me to. Then he proceeded to show me in the Old Testament examples.

          Needless to say, I didn’t buy his arguments. And there have been thousands of dialogues since with various humans trying to convince me that there is nothing wrong with slavery, war, female mutilation, even rape! That human rights don’t exist.

          But I am still convinced that being against slavery isn’t a preference like liking the color blue. (Richard S. Russell wrote that ethics have no more objective basis than “My favorite color is blue.”)

          On the contrary,
          treating others as objects, abusing them, etc. is wrong for everyone; it’s not a case of personal preference.

          I am convinced that the Nazis (and others like them) are absolutely wrong when they slaughter millions of innocent humans.

          Am convinced that inequality, child abuse, etc. are objectively wrong.

          Plus, in addition I’ve seen what the rejection of “objective morality” has produced in history and in the lives of people I’ve known.

          The latter doesn’t prove that objective morality exists. I don’t think one can prove ethics are real anymore than one can prove that we exist or that what we perceive is real.

          One has to make decisions every day based upon probabilities. I operate on the basis of such views–that existence is real (not a mirage or illusion), that I and others exist, that ethics are real.

          Probably, I am closest to Martin Gardner in my views. Check out why he rejects subjective ethics in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.

        • my first encounter with a leader who denied objective ethics was our Calvinist youth leader who tried to convince me that I should commit immoral actions if God commands me to. Then he proceeded to show me in the Old Testament examples.

          Sure. How else are you going to get Abraham to kill Isaac?

          I am still convinced that being against slavery isn’t a preference like liking the color blue.

          The feeling of opposition to slavery is tied to indignation and a sense of right and wrong. Not so with “I like blue.” There’s your difference; nothing more.

          I am convinced that the Nazis (and others like them) are absolutely wrong when they slaughter millions of innocent humans.

          I think you’re confusing a declaration of something being absolutely wrong with that thing being viscerally felt or strongly felt or universally felt. You’ve done nothing to show us absolute moral right/wrong.

          Plus, in addition I’ve seen what the rejection of “objective morality” has produced in history and in the lives of people I’ve known.

          What does this mean? You’re not much concerned about objective morality but if people don’t believe in objective morality then bad things can happen? Surely not. Let’s first start with: Does objective morality exist? You need to demonstrate this remarkable claim.

          Probably, I am closest to Martin Gardner in my views. Check out why he rejects subjective ethics in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.

          If he has a compelling argument, bring it out. So far, nothing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The feeling of opposition to slavery is tied to indignation and a sense of right and wrong. Not so with “I like blue.” There’s your difference; nothing more.

          Just been reading this and it struck me that the objection to slavery does not fulfil the definition of an objective morality.

          http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/Uncomfortable-truth-that-Columbus-was-a-mass-killer-and-the-father-of-the-slave-trade.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Best%20of%20IC%20-%20Oct%2012&utm_term=The%20Best%20of%20IrishCentral

        • You wrote, “The feeling of opposition to slavery is tied to indignation and a sense of right and wrong. Not so with “I like blue.” There’s your difference; nothing more.”

          This is why we live in different universes because I, of course, disagree with you.

          Slavery, genocide, rape, molestation, injustice aren’t only a matter of negative subjective feeling, but of real ethics.

          Thanks for the dialog.

        • So your argument is “I disagree”? Nothing more?

        • No, there’s a lot more. (But we observe existence so completely different that there probably isn’t much chance for dialog.

          My educated guess is that ethics are a combination of presuppositions and that humankind learned the hard way by living for rape, slaughter, torture, etc. for thousands of years until finally finding such actions are not only destructive but really aren’t very reasonable.

          Besides, I’m not a philosopher, and furthermore am not mostly interested in trying to prove that rape and slavery an injustice are wrong.

          I’m much more focused on assuming (a presupposition) that rights, justice, compassion are true and trying to help everyone–Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Atheists, etc.–to move toward such actions.

          Thomas Jefferson’s statement that rights, justice, and equality are “self-evident” is very weak.

          It seems to me that ethics aren’t self-evident or it wouldn’t have taken a few hundred thousand years for humans to only begin to support equality and compassion and justice.

          Even now, as the current events show today, most humans act contrary to such ethics. For instance, check out the daily hate and violence and injustice in Palestine/Israel where I lived for a short time.

        • humankind learned the hard way by living for rape, slaughter, torture, etc. for thousands of years until finally finding such actions are not only destructive but really aren’t very reasonable.

          Why would that make sense? Maybe we descended from ancestors that didn’t rape and slaughter. Bonobos don’t, for example, and we’re about as closely related to them as chimpanzees.

          I’m not a philosopher, and furthermore am not mostly interested in trying to prove that rape and slavery an injustice are wrong.

          We agree that they’re wrong, but you apparently imagine a different kind of grounding for that wrong. I’ve been politely asking for evidence for this remarkable claim of yours.

          Thomas Jefferson’s statement that rights, justice, and equality are “self-evident” is very weak.

          It seems to me that ethics aren’t self-evident or it wouldn’t have taken a few hundred thousand years for humans to only begin to support equality and compassion and justice.

          Jefferson wasn’t talking about pre-humans 200,000 years ago but modern humans of the last few hundred or thousand years. My hypothesis is that a few primitive axioms like the Golden Rule are part of our programming.

          Even now, as the current events show today, most humans act contrary to such ethics.

          What does this mean? That most people are pretty much like Saddam Hussein?

        • Take a look at what I just wrote above:

          Here, try this: go to court or work in a scientific group where some individuals state that honesty isn’t objective, but only a subjective personal preference. Some like to tell the truth, some like to be dishonest or to be a little subjective.

          Imagine what happens to the next NASA space probe if some of the scientists think that honesty is a subjective personal preference.

          On the contrary, honesty is an example of how ethics are objectively real.

        • Here, try this: go to court or work in a scientific group where some individuals state that honesty isn’t objective, but only a subjective personal preference. Some like to tell the truth, some like to be dishonest or to be a little subjective.

          Hate to break it to you, bro, but that’s the world we live in. Sometimes people lie.

          Yet again, the conclusions of your examples are, “Honesty is important.” We’ve been on the same page here since the beginning.

          Do you have an actual argument for objective morality?

        • That honesty is real, not a subjective preference!

          That honesty is objectively better than dishonesty, that honesty is not like liking the “color blue” (to quote Russell, one of the other commenters).

          That is a very strong argument that ethics aren’t subjective preferences.

        • You’ve made no argument at all for objective morality.

          I’m defining “objective morality” as moral truth that is true whether or not anyone believes it. Is that your definition?

          Is this objective morality reliably accessible by humans? If so, give me a demonstration. Pick a vexing social issue–abortion, SSM, euthanasia, whatever–and give me the accessible, objectively correct resolution.

          If it’s not accessible, no one should care.

        • I’ve already done so with honesty versus dishonesty in various situations including journalism, etc. And we started the whole discussion out with me showing that 10 million innocent murdered humans (in the Holocaust alone, not in the war in general) show that Nazis were “absoluteley” wrong.

          Here’s my definition again of “objective morality”: where ever conscious, rational, reflective creatures exist eventually they will come to realize that slaughter, rape, theft, dishonesty, inequality and prejudice, cowardice, etc. are wrong (to quote Martin Luther King–“always have been wrong, always will be wrong”) and that
          compassion, fidelity, generosity, honesty, courage, etc. are right.

          The whole issue is similar to the gradual development of math and the gradual development of medicine.

          For many thousands of years, humans didn’t know that germs were what killed millions such as in the Black Plague. But in the 19th century, finally some scientists figured it out and modern medicine was born and more and more humans have been delivered from diseases such as malaria.

          In like manner, for many thousands of years slavery and inequality were accepted (“moral germs if you will), but gradually more and more humans thinkers (mainly during the period of the 1600’s to 1900’s) reflected and came to see that inequality was contrary to the nature of conscious rational beings.

          The same is true of war, though as we can see from Palestine/Israel, Syria, the Ukraine, Nigeria, etc. millions of humans still are caught in its immoral “disease.”

          Thanks for the dialog.

        • I’ve already done so with honesty versus dishonesty in various situations including journalism, etc.

          And I’ve agreed that honesty in science is important. How you conclude that objective morality exists, I don’t know. We have a shared morality since we’re all the same species.

          And we started the whole discussion out with me showing that 10 million innocent murdered humans (in the Holocaust alone, not in the war in general) show that Nazis were “absoluteley” wrong.

          I don’t say that.

          Here’s my definition again of “objective morality”: where ever conscious, rational, reflective creatures exist eventually they will come to realize that slaughter, rape, theft, dishonesty, inequality and prejudice, cowardice, etc. are wrong (to quote Martin Luther King–“always have been wrong, always will be wrong”) and that compassion, fidelity, generosity, honesty, courage, etc. are right.

          We’re social animals, like wolves. We evolved to have these values. There’s no objective bin of rights and wrongs; our moral programming simply tells us this. DNA is your repository of objectivity, not God’s Big Book of Moral Truth. What you think is objective morality is actually only shared morality.

          In like manner, for many thousands of years slavery and inequality were accepted (“moral germs if you will), but gradually more and more humans thinkers (mainly during the period of the 1600’s to 1900’s) reflected and came to see that inequality was contrary to the nature of conscious rational beings.

          I’ve heard that right now the world has the most slaves by number (thought the fewest per capita) ever.

          If we had some disaster or world war and the world became some Mad Max sort of thing, slavery could easily come back in vogue. It is a widely held moral opinion that it’s wrong, but future human societies might disagree.

        • 90Lew90

          Amputees honestly report getting itches and pains in phantom limbs. That they honestly experience such things doesn’t mean the limbs are there.

        • True.
          But that wasn’t my point. I was talking about intentional lying versus telling the truth.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Everyone lies to some degree or other.

        • But they shouldn’t.

          Lying is contrary to the truth.

          Everyone is prejudiced to some degree or another, and irrational to some degree or another and selfish to some degree or another, but they ought not to act or be so.

        • adam

          “but they ought not to act or be so.”

          Says WHAT?
          or WHOM?

        • Ignorant Amos

          But they shouldn’t.

          Seriously?

          You appear to be a tad Kantian in your attitude, but then he was wrong too.

          Lying is contrary to the truth.

          Maybe more a virtue ethicist? Still wrong.

          I’m more of a utilitarian ethicist.

          According to a third perspective, utilitarian ethics, Kant and virtue ethicists ignore the only test necessary for judging the morality of a lie – balancing the benefits and harms of its consequences. Utilitarians base their reasoning on the claim that actions, including lying, are morally acceptable when the resulting consequences maximize benefit or minimize harm. A lie, therefore, is not always immoral; in fact, when lying is necessary to maximize benefit or minimize harm, it may be immoral not to lie.

          It is not as straight forward as you are making it out, is it?

          We all seem to teach our children the ethical values of honesty and integrity don’t we? “Always tell the truth” is our refrain, right? Yet, as we get older we realize that telling the truth often has to be nuanced.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201112/is-lying-the-greater-good-ethical

          If, by telling a lie to some Nazi soldiers during World War II, you could have saved someone’s life, without any other additional harm being inflicted, it seems that you ought to have lied. Or, consider the situation in which someone outraged, out of control, asks you where she can find an acquaintance of yours so that she can kill that acquaintance; you know where the acquaintance is and lying will help your friend calm down: should you tell the truth?

          Once you start thinking about it, there are plenty of circumstances where lying seems to be morally excusable. And, indeed, it is typically morally excused. Now, of course there is a problem with this: who is to say whether the scenario excuses you from lying?

          In any case, all this means is that ethics and morals are subjective.

        • 90Lew90

          I thought you were arguing for “objective morality”, which has little to do with “honesty”.

        • ?!
          Honesty is an essential part of objective morality.

        • 90Lew90

          Not if its objective. Go figure. Honesty has nothing to do with it.

        • Try being subjective and expressing your personal preferences in court.
          I just was called to serve on a jury last month. They go out of the way to emphasize being objective!

          Don’t you recall that you must affirm or swear to tell the truth. No subjectivity is accepted.

          That is what justice is to be about.

        • 90Lew90

          Objectivity in a court is an ideal to be aimed at, with the aid of a judge to instruct the jury. Implied in that process is the acceptance that objectivity can only really be aimed at — as an ideal — but isn’t in reality completely achievable, which is why we have juries of twelve individuals instead of a judge sitting alone.

          Once again, the amputee can swear on every holy book you throw at him that he’s got an itch in a limb he no longer has and we wouldn’t call his honesty into question, but despite his sincere honesty, it’s beyond reasonable doubt that his reporting is subjective.

          And that’s still got nothing to do with the existence of an objective morality, except perhaps that as the court takes certain steps to minimise subjectivity — which is taken as a given — so too in matters of morality we should take subjectivity for granted. If there were such a thing as objective morality, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        • You wrote, “Objectivity in a court is an ideal to be aimed at..”

          Exactly!

          Maybe, this is a semantic disagreement?

          Because in contrast I completely disagree with your last statement, “If there were such a thing as objective morality, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

          It is BECAUSE there is objective morality that courts can seek to achieve it.

          It is because there is objective morality, that we can criticize child abuse, Islamic female mutilation, slaughter, rape, theft, dishonesty, fraud.

          Cases of morality aren’t only subjective preferences, like liking the color blue.” On the contrary, it is because of objective ethics that we can work toward equality, justice, and compassion.

        • adam

          “It is BECAUSE there is objective morality that courts can seek to achieve it.”

          So courts in Islamic communities that do fgm are seeking objective morality too in support of fgm.

          So you havent demonstrated that objective morality exists.

          It is STILL subjective.

        • 90Lew90

          Courts don’t “seek to achieve” objective morality. They aim to establish guilt or innocence either “beyond reasonable doubt” or “on the balance of probabilities”. That’s a far cry from “objective” anything. It can’t even be called certainty. Our capacity to call out and punish moral transgressions does not depend on an objective morality. If there was an objective morality, it would be unchanging. But one guy who is a victim of fraud to us is a bad negotiator in, say, China or Iran. Sex with underage boys makes us recoil as a crime perhaps worse even than murder, whereas to the ancient Greeks it was the most noble form of love. Dishonesty is often necessary for a greater good. Theft is often understandable and forgivable, even justifiable. Et cetera, et cetera. Morality is in a constant state of flux. It evolves. It changes. Usually slowly and imperceptibly, sometimes deeply and rapidly. It is heavily contingent on culture, ideas, zeitgeist. It is mutable. And you seem over-awed by your jury duty.

        • “Objective” is a confusing word. It can mean “accessible by all” as in “it’s objectively true that my car is yellow” since everyone can come over and take a look and see.

          That makes sense in a jury situation. But if we’re talking about morality that is true whether anyone believes it or not, you have done nothing to argue for it.

        • MR

          I guess I just don’t see where the “objectivity” lies. Science and courts do their best to mitigate the subjectivity, but the subjectivity is there. Sure humans “mostly” agree on certain ethics (but even then once you start looking at things closely, that starts breaking apart, too), but that’s principally because we’re all humans and have a shared sense of morality.

          Is it wrong to steal? What about for a squirrel that steals nuts from another squirrel? Is that morally wrong? If a lion kills another lion, is it morally wrong? We (mostly, but, again not always) agree that killing someone is morally wrong, but that’s because, as humans, we have a vested interest. Is it morally wrong for a lion to kill a human?

          Where is the objectivity? Where does it lie?

        • You wrote, “Science and courts do their best to mitigate the subjectivity, but the subjectivity is there.”

          ? But science and the courts and human ethical leaders seek to reach the “ought” of ethical objectivity! They seek to stop subjectivity. When I recently was called to serve on a jury, we got frustrated waiting hour after hour as the system slowly as a snail move along. However, I knew that one of the purposes of the very slow meticulous steps is to insure as much objectivity as possible and to lessen any subjectivity.

          You wrote “What about for a squirrel that steals nuts from another squirrel?”

          ? LOL Or how about the top cat in our neighborhood who attacks others and maintains dominance. No equality there. Or our cat who brings us dead bird presents. Plenty of killing….

          Maybe you’ve forgotten my earlier point about this? Or maybe I wrote it to a different person?

          On the central coast here, only 10% of elephant seals make it to adulthood! Lots of inequality, harm, and death there. No ethics. One male seeks to attack all others and dominate and gather a large harem of females. No fidelity. ETC.

          That’s why I’ve emphasized that ethics aren’t in the “is” of most of nature. But neither is mathematical computing to send probes to Pluto, in depth reasoning or consciousness of the Big Bang and historical knowledge of Plato or even self-awareness.

          All of these abilities only come with consciousness, rationality, and the sense of what “ought” to be rather than what is.

          Check out the example I posted to Bob a few minutes ago:

          I’ve already done so with honesty versus dishonesty in various situations including journalism, etc. And we started the whole discussion out with me showing that 10 million innocent murdered humans (in the Holocaust alone, not in the war in general) show that Nazis were “absoluteley” wrong.

          Here’s my definition again of “objective morality”: where ever conscious, rational, reflective creatures exist eventually they will come to realize that slaughter, rape, theft, dishonesty, inequality and prejudice, cowardice, etc. are wrong (to quote Martin Luther King–“always have been wrong, always will be wrong”) and that
          compassion, fidelity, generosity, honesty, courage, etc. are right.

          The whole issue is similar to the gradual development of math and the gradual development of medicine.

          For many thousands of years, humans didn’t know that germs were what killed millions such as in the Black Plague. But in the 19th century, finally some scientists figured it out and modern medicine was born and more and more humans have been delivered from diseases such as malaria.

          In like manner, for many thousands of years slavery and inequality were accepted (“moral germs if you will), but gradually more and more humans thinkers (mainly during the period of the 1600’s to 1900’s) reflected and came to see that inequality was contrary to the nature of conscious rational beings.

          The same is true of war, though as we can see from Palestine/Israel, Syria, the Ukraine, Nigeria, etc. millions of humans still are caught in its immoral “disease.”

          Thanks for the dialog.

        • MR

          I still don’t see any objectivity. I see shared morals because we’re the same species. You just gave a whole bunch of subjective examples and what…? Where is the objectivity? Even in the courtroom we’re judged by our peers, not by some objective truth. If you want to live in this society, yeah, you ought to behave a certain way; if you want to live in another society you ought to behave in a different way. The only reason things like murder and the other big ones feel objective is because we empathize with our fellow humans. Step outside of that human frame of reference, and it’s meaningless—as you’ve pointed out.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for not murdering and being kind, etc., but that’s because I’m human. Now show me that it’s objective.

        • Ethics aren’t about living in ” in this society,”!

          I don’t live in Saudi Arabia, but it is wrong for every parent there and everywhere to mutilate female girls.

          I don’t live in Palestine/Israel, but it wrong for every human everywhere to slaughter innocent civilians such as attacking a 70 year old woman.

          I don’t live in Iran, but it is wrong for every society everywhere to deny freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

          Etc.

        • adam

          “I don’t live in Saudi Arabia, but it is wrong for every parent there and everywhere to mutilate female girls.”

          If it is objective, then why is it NOT wrong there?

        • Huh?

          Because ethics are “ought,” not what “is.”

          That’s like asking why didn’t Cro-Magnon man do calculus or launch space shuttles or cure malaria! Or for that matter why don’t all humans do trigonometry?

          The reason that millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Palestine, etc. still mutilate little female girls is for the same reason that many Americans still justify torture if it is done by us or are prejudiced–BECAUSE
          they aren’t living up to the reality of ethics, but are following false immoral beliefs.

          It’s like asking why didn’t humans stop the Black Plague? Because they followed false beliefs, blamed Jews and witches and others for the millions of deaths.

          Only in the case of ethics, it’s more complicated because a medical doctor can recognize germs and stop them, but that doesn’t mean that he will do what he ought! Case in point: brilliant Nazi doctors who used their brilliance to do horrors to Jewish individuals.

          Or it is like asking why did a few famous journalists recently fake their reports and give false information intentionally?

          Doesn’t everyone know that honesty is the best policy?

          No, honesty is still not followed by everyone, but it “ought to be.”

        • adam

          “That’s like asking why didn’t Cro-Magnon man do calculus or launch space
          shuttles or cure malaria! Or for that matter why don’t all humans do
          trigonometry?”

          No it is not like that at all.

          Cro-Magnon man didnt VIOLATE any rules of math or laws of physics.

          “they aren’t living up to the reality of ethics, but are following false immoral beliefs.”

          No, they are following the ethics of their culture, it is not false to them

          “No, honesty is still not followed by everyone, but it “ought to be.”

          Ok, YOUR opinion

        • MR

          I was trying to make a distinction between the little stuff, which is society specific, and the big things, like the ones you mention. Didn’t do a good job of it, sorry. 😉

          The little things are clearly subjective. It think we can agree on that. The big things are also subjective because they apply to us humans, but without our human frame of reference, they are meaningless.

          You bristle at the things you listed, because you, too, are human and can empathize. (Though not everyone would agree with you even on those points. Again: subjective.) You wouldn’t want those things to happen to you, and you feel for those people because evolution has provided you with the capacity for empathy. It’s part and parcel of who we are, part of our DNA. But, it doesn’t exist out there.

          Presumably you think it immoral to rip your mate’s head off while making love, too, but likely have no moral qualms about it here. You’d argue these are not conscious, rational, reflective creatures, but then, that’s exactly what makes it subjective, isn’t it? If humans evolved to do something similar, we’d think nothing of it. It would be part of our nature.

          War, deceit, etc., are part of our nature, too. There were/are situations when they came in handy for our survival. Fortunately, we see the need less and less as we move away from our tribal background. But still, human morals. Remove the human, you remove the morals. The universe doesn’t care. We do. Subjectively. As humans.

        • You wrote, “You wouldn’t want those things to happen to you, and you feel for those people because evolution has provided you with the capacity for empathy. It’s part and parcel of who we are, part of our DNA. But, it doesn’t exist out there.”

          That isn’t my view at all. But I tried to be as clear as I could be. But I don’t want to get into the side issue of whether “evolution has provided you.”
          I tend to agree with evolutionary biologists such as Stephen Jay Gould. Also, keep in mind that most of the years that I taught students, science teachers emphasized that evolution is “meaningless and purposeless.” According to most evolutionists, evolution provide any one with anything. It is a mindless movement in nature. We don’t even know why life tries to survive, or for sure how it came about.

          The only evolutionists who think evolution programs or provides are theistic evolutionists.

          Of course, maybe you were using personification. Though I am a literature teacher, I’m not a big fan of personification in either poetry or science, especially not the latter.

          I agree that the universe doesn’t care. I’m not a pantheist. The observable universe as far as I know is amoral, unconscious.

          But we weren’t speaking about nature but about ethics–about “ought.”

          Try reading the skeptic Martin Gardner’s chapter on ethics in his thought-provoking book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.

          Thanks for the dialog. However, It seems that we don’t even agree on semantics, the basic meaning of words, and as for philosophy–no way, but you have stretched my brain, so thanks:-)

        • MR

          That isn’t my view at all.

          I didn’t mean to imply it was.

          Of course, maybe you were using personification.

          You’re right, I’m glad that you can recognize that I didn’t literally mean “evolution provides.” It can be so trying at times parsing out every little word, but apologists do like to play that equivocation game, so I appreciate that you recognize such things.

          But we weren’t speaking about nature but about ethics–about “ought.”

          But we are speaking about nature. That’s precisely what provides our morals. And as a fellow human with similar evolved morals, I agree we “ought” to do things that are beneficial to ourselves and others—because it is part of the nature that we have evolved. But it only matters to us. It is not something that is objective. It is shared. It is imperfect. It’s what we have.

        • “I don’t live in Saudi Arabia, but it is wrong for every parent there and everywhere to mutilate female girls” … according to you.

          I happen to agree with you, but there’s no evidence that you’ve stumbled across an objective moral truth. And this example is just part of the huge amounts of evidence that, if objective moral truth exists, it’s not easily accessible by we humans.

        • For many thousands of years slavery and inequality were accepted (“moral germs if you will), but gradually more and more humans thinkers (mainly during the period of the 1600’s to 1900’s) reflected and came to see that inequality was contrary to the nature of conscious rational beings.

          Why do you suppose slavery and genocide are in the Bible, supported by God?

        • MNb

          “But for me I will continue to oppose female mutilation, child abuse, inequality, racism, etc., will continue to oppose Christian and Islamic prejudice”
          So will I – based on my subjective ethical system.

          “Why not let everyone do their own thing?’
          Because it’s my subjective opinion that these things are wrong.

          “I think slavery, fraud, rape, etc. are wrong.”
          So do I – based on my subjective ethical system.

        • Otto

          Who said there is no basis for them in reality?

          How can you human rights? Humans. If you think ethics come from somewhere else show your work.

        • Individuals are claiming that ethics have no more objective reality than a personal preference for a color.

          I’ve heard this all of my adult life. People used to tell me, yes, we like equality in the U.S., but Saudis do it differently. When in Rome do as the Romans and so forth. So female mutilation, burqas, not letting women drive, caning bloggers–all personal preferences of the Saudis.

          Instead, I’ve gone with the opposite presupposition that ethics–human rights, equality, justice, etc. “oughts” are objectively real.

          This is basically an Enlightenment view such as Thomas Paine who was strongly opposed to slavery. He didn’t think it was a subjective preference.

          My subjective preferences will cease when I die, but justice will go on. Indeed, when the whole human race goes extinct, justice will still be (assuming that there are other species somewhere in the universe who are conscious, rational, and ethical). But even if all conscious life disappeared, justice would still exist in the same way that mathematics would still exist even if there was no one to compute.

          Thanks for the discussion. But here’s another “ought.” We are leaving on vacation, and my wife says I “ought” to stop these philosophical discussions and my writing against religion (specifically Christianity and Islam)
          while we travel:-)

          Maybe read The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener by Martin Gardner, the co-founder of the modern Skeptic Movement and a frequent writer for Scientific America.
          I don’t agree with some of his views, but he makes a good case against subjectivism in ethics.

        • Otto

          “But even if all conscious life disappeared, justice would still exist in
          the same way that mathematics would still exist even if there was no
          one to compute.

          Should a person “ought” not kill in every situation or are there some where killing another human would not only be ethical but it would be unethical to not kill? Can you imagine a scenario where killing or not killing could be ethical?

          But even if all conscious life disappeared, justice would still exist in
          the same way that mathematics would still exist even if there was no
          one to compute.

          I would like you to demonstrate the truth of this claim.

        • Max Doubt

          “Should a person “ought” not kill in every situation or are there some where killing another human would not only be ethical but it would be unethical to not kill? Can you imagine a scenario where killing or not killing could be ethical?”

          I agree. I can come up with hypothetical situations, reasonably possible to occur or to have occurred, that would require people to weigh one “objective” moral value against another, and require them to decide one “objectively” correct moral choice is wrong in this or that situation. Or vice versa. I can describe plausible situations that would require most people to make tough choices about their “objective” morality, where a roomful of people would be unable to agree on an objectively correct course of action. And that would be without going to different times or different cultures.

        • Otto

          Exactly which is why I like the analogy to game theory. An example is poker. If someone is dealt a good hand we can argue about what the right play would be. Call, raise. check raise could all be good plays depending on the situation….but we can all agree that folding is the wrong play. It is objectively wrong. No deity is required for that objectivity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The ethical trolley problem thought experiment springs to mind.

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

        • MNb

          The far more realist version: a hospital has an unconscious patient. For the time being contact with relatives is impossible. Due to a serious accident four other patients enter. They all urgently need transplantations or will die. The unconscious patient can provide the organs. However the unconscious patient won’t survive those four transplantations.
          The team turns to you for a decision – whatever your function is, you’re in charge. What will you do?

        • Ron

          Easy. To my thinking, personal autonomy is sacrosanct, so no one has the right to harvest your body parts without your express permission—regardless of how badly they might need them. IOW, no transplants would take place until you present a signed organ donor card.

        • Kodie

          The issue for me is how bad is this patient’s injuries that he’s unconscious. That’s far from brain-dead. How likely he will recover with time, regardless of which relatives are ever contacted?

          Why can’t they be contacted? Did you leave them all messages and give them 15 minutes to respond? Or has it already been months? Maybe all these people were involved in a major disaster, so the original patient’s relatives can’t be contacted as they may also be missing or dead or brought to some other hospital. Maybe the patient is a runaway who has passed the age of majority, but his family still wonders where he is and would like to know.

          Because there’s no recovery from brain death, I would definitely take the option to donate his organs. It feels like the more right thing to do would be to save lives rather than appease a superstition about the use of his body. Oh, we can’t save any lives today because we’ll get sued! See how stupid that is? To me it’s like, if you have some kind of emergency, a big accident – do you break into the drugstore on the corner to get some stuff that might help, or do you wait for the ambulance to show up? Stuff like that often turns to looting, so if while your act was a heroic quick action, the store may be further looted. Store owner’s not going to be pleased, some people accept that you had a good reason and still expect to be paid compensation because why should he have to pay, but some people on principle think you shouldn’t steal or vandalize even to save a life.

          The wrong thing to do would be to end someone’s life prematurely, but if they are already gone, you have to make priorities, even if you’ll get in trouble later.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye, seen that one used before too.

          I presume the unconscious person is terminal?

          In the UK, as long as they are alive there isn’t anything that can be done, even by family, unless they are on life sustaining equipment.

          I had a brother-in-law who was in a permanent vegetative state for five years before giving up the ghost. As long as he was self sustaining he was expected to receive the same level quality of care to anyone else

          Even for donors who have just died there could be an ethical decision if family cannot be contacted. Time is of the essence.

          Luckily that decision is removed here because of the donor card and register system.

          Everyone is opt out unless stated otherwise, but there is wheels in motion to change that to an opt in unless stated otherwise…so the medics can go ahead without consultation.

          But I do get the point of the thought experiment.

        • MNb

          “I presume the unconscious person is terminal?”
          Long enough to make the victims die before he/she wakes up.

          “there isn’t anything that can be done.”
          Like in most countries, I think. Which rejects utilitarianism and thus poses a problem for me.

          “As long as he was self sustaining he was expected to receive the same level quality of care to anyone else.”
          This can be argued for on utilitarianism – just declare life the greater good, no matter how much money it costs.

          “But I do get the point of the thought experiment.”
          It made me realize that a perfect ethical system very well might be impossible – ie one that uses a small set of axiomatic principles to derive satisfactory guidelines. I still call myself a utilitarian, but only because it suits me well in my daily life. That’s the ultimate subjectivism.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is a situation here in the UK where the level of NHS support can depend on ones postcode.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/elder/11872521/Revealed-Shocking-NHS-postcode-lottery-for-elderly-care.html

          It can be the difference of a streets distance in some cases.

          We recently had to raise £30,000 for a friend of the family to receive life extending cancer drugs because the NHS could not justify the expense. The young woman who was terminal just wanted to see her boy on his first day of school. It was heartbreaking.

          We got the money together for the drugs, then the local hospital wanted to charge for administering the treatment. Cheeky bastards. They soon backtracked once the media was got involved.

          Then there is that story that broke recently about the hedge fund manager and the AIDS drugs.

          http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/25/record-label-cuts-ties-hedge-fund-boosted-aids-drug-price-martin-shkreli

          What a louse for even thinking about doing that.

        • C.S. Lewis uses dilemmas like this to imagine that he’s proven that there is an objective morality (or something–it never made sense to me). Something like: you’re being pulled in two directions, so how do you decide? That means there must be a third thing, a Decider (like a little George Bush?), that taps into objective morality.

          But that was a tangent.

        • MNb

          What?! CSL pulls off the medieval Donkey Dilemma?!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buridan%27s_ass

          Are you serious?

        • Nice connection.

        • “But even if all conscious life disappeared, justice would still exist in the same way that mathematics would still exist even if there was no one to compute.”

          I would like you to demonstrate the truth of this claim.

          I would like to hear the mechanics–where these truths are stored and how, and with what mechanism we access them. Also: error checking–do we always get the right answer? If not, how reliable is it?

        • MNb

          “even if all conscious life disappeared, justice would still exist in the same way that mathematics would still exist even if there was no one to compute.”
          Math didn’t exist either when there was no one to compute. Neither did the English language.

          https://www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk/~wtg10/grammar.pdf

          “in the same way”
          But not in the same way. This argument of yours presupposes what you want to conclude.
          Enjoy your holiday.

        • Before humans, there was no “September” or “10 o’clock,” but of course there was time. There was no Newton’s Law of Gravity, but there was gravity.

          When you say that math didn’t exist before humans, are you saying it in the same way, that the laws and principles and statements didn’t exist, though 1 + 1 would still equal 2?

        • Kodie

          Are abstracts true if there is nothing to count? I’m no physicist, but this question came up before, framed in a “before the universe existed” question. If there is nothing to count, I would have to say it wouldn’t be true. Since the universe has existed, I would have to say it would be true, since those things were true before we existed, as we’re able to count them now. There was nobody to count things for billions of years, it’s like saying, does the rest of the universe exist if we will never know about it? Since we can look at the past before humans and count things, those things existed and were quantifiable, but there was no such thing as “don’t murder” or “be nice to your neighbor”. That wasn’t true before humans and it won’t be true after humans. It may be as true for alien life or future earth life, but that doesn’t make it objective or universal, it makes a useful tool for getting along and surviving for us, but they may evolve different habits that work for them.

        • Well some mathematicians would disagree with you.
          If math didn’t exist before homo sapiens came to be, how did the universe function?

        • MNb

          “Well some mathematicians would disagree with you.”
          And many others will agree.

          “If math didn’t exist before homo sapiens came to be, how did the universe function?”
          The same way as always. The Universe doesn’t need math to function. Math only is a language used to describe how it functions. Nobody or nothing checks what the appropriate quadratic equation looks like before something starts falling down. It isn’t a necessary condition. Plus of course such equations are notoriously imprecise. No single math describes anything in the Universe 100% accurately.

        • Well, I’m not a mathematician, but your view certainly doesn’t agree with the views of any math teacher I had, nor does it square with NASA which sent a probe all the way to Pluto which took 10 years to get there.

          And, furthermore, the Universe certainly does need math to function!
          In the last biography I read ( a long one on Einstein), the amazing beauty of the mathematical structure of the cosmos was emphasized.

          Heck, some cosmologists think maybe that ultimate reality is pure math! At least that was stated in the last two astronomy books I read.

        • And, furthermore, the Universe certainly does need math to function!

          In the last biography I read ( a long one on Einstein), the amazing beauty of the mathematical structure of the cosmos was emphasized.

          If I understand MNb’s point, he’s saying that the universe didn’t have to make up math first and then use it to control how things work. It’s the other way around: we invent math to describe how the universe works.

          The universe just works the way it works, and we’re doing our best to find ways to understand and accurately describe that. Where math is useful, we use it.

        • Individuals are claiming that ethics have no more objective reality than a personal preference for a color.

          And instead of fussing about people not getting it, this is your opportunity to explain why objective morality (rather than shared or viscerally felt morality) exists, using examples.

          I think chocolate is tasty, and I think the Holocaust was wrong. If you think one (or both) of those opinions is stored in the Great Beyond or I tapped into the supernatural to access it, I want the evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…you ARE conflating ethic’s and moral’s.

          Ethics and morals relate to “right” and “wrong” conduct. While they are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different: ethics refer to rules provided by an external source, e.g., codes of conduct in workplaces or principles in religions. Morals refer to an individual’s own principles regarding right and wrong.

        • That’s a helpful distinction.

        • MNb

          Then so am I conflating the two – I rather feel that morals tend to be religious, while ethics aren’t. But it’s a useful distinction indeed.

        • We’re back from Florida. I learned a lot of history such as the “Patriot War,” 8 different national flags over Florida, etc.

          The posters I’ve been disagreeing with. As I recall, before I left on our trip, this discussion started with (Bob questioning “Who said the Nazis were absolutely wrong?” and Richard S. Russell writing that ethics have no more objective basis than “My favorite color is blue.”)

          You ask “How can you human rights?”

          Earlier, I already explained that we can’t get an “ought” from what “is.” Etc. And I gave historical examples why many humans do think justice, rights, equality exist.

          Obviously, this discussion is above my pay grade.
          Check out Martin Gardner in The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener or Immanuel Kant, etc.

        • Otto

          What I was saying is that from all indications human rights come from humans realizing the best way to ensure rights for the individual (themselves) is to grant human rights to everyone. It is a matter of coming to the understanding that unless human rights are there for everyone they lose their foundation and can too easily be taken away arbitrarily.

          Conversely I was asking you for your explanation on where the originate from if you don’t think that is the case and was asking for the evidence you refer to in order to come to you conclusion.

        • You wrote, “the best way to ensure rights for the individual (themselves) is to grant human rights to everyone.”

          #1 This has nothing to do with whether or not there are “rights.”

          #2 I don’t support Amnesty International or Rabbis for Human Rights etc, because I am concerned with my own rights, but because I am concerned with the rights of others–of all humans (and aliens if they exist, though Sagan may have been wrong).

          Thanks for the dialog.

        • Otto

          #1 It does have to do with whether there or not there are rights, it is merely an issue of where they are derived from.

          # Whether you are concerned with your own rights or not isn’t the point. You wouldn’t have the right to support those organizations without you having human rights yourself. I think you should be concerned with your own rights because by doing so it helps promote those rights for all. It is the concept that you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Are you conflating ethic’s with moral’s?

          Being a philosopher surely you’d know that is wrong.

          http://www.diffen.com/difference/Ethics_vs_Morals

        • I think the “for fun” in “raping a child for fun” is to cut out the plausibly legitimate raping in response to “I’m going to detonate the bomb and blow up the city unless you rape this child!”

        • Kodie

          I mentioned once along the way about some fuzzy news story I barely remember that included some intruding gunman forcing a woman to have sex with her teenage son.

          What we’re being asked to do is comply with an example as though everyone were in agreement. Many people in the world do not even agree, as per their culture. We’re supposed to agree that even if a lot of people disagree, they’re still wrong. We haven’t defined “child” and we haven’t defined “rape”. It is legal in New Hampshire for a girl to be married at age 13. That’s in the United States. That’s not even some primitive tribal practice (some would argue!) where adolescent girls are married off as soon as they become fertile, because why wait. In most states, parties below the age of 18 require a parental waiver or similar, and the most common minimum age appears to me to be 14 (for girls – most states have an accompanying statute that does not allow for boys to be married as young as girls). I don’t know how common it is for parents to waive the requirement for their children, and suspect it is not so often a case of awkwardly irresponsible parental permission for “but we’re in love, mama,” as it is for shotgun weddings and arranged marriages, or Sharia (biblical) law, where the rapist has to marry his victim.

          I’m just saying – raping children for fun appears to be accepted practice. Using it as an example because it seems particularly horrifying to introduce a young person to an adult activity they don’t even understand, just doesn’t have the visceral shock value IGD seemed to have hoped. We can still tend to agree that’s very wrong no matter who says it’s right, but we also get to the part where we make exceptions, where we draw a line and say it’s definitely against the law for a 25-year-old soccer coach to have sex with his 14-year-old player because she’s below the age where her active consent is legally meaningless, and he’s simply a predator, but it’s ok if her dad goes to court and signs a waiver.

        • MR

          I do the genealogy for the family. Many years ago, I discovered that one of my g-g…-great grandfathers, 33, married my g-g-…-great grandmother when she was only 13. When I expressed surprise to my fine, upstanding Christian elders, I was told, “Well, things were different back then.”

          Even they understood that morals are not objective.

        • Kodie

          Well, were things different or kind of the same? To say something is wrong, always wrong, people didn’t think anything was wrong with it just like they didn’t believe there was anything wrong with a teacher paddling a student. People didn’t consider things wrong not because it was just the custom, but we have also learned a lot more about consequences. Your gg… -great-grandmother probably didn’t have a lot of options in a patriarchal society, and something dudes don’t seem to get, but maybe they do, even now (or at least until recently), becoming a bride was presented as the fantasy for every little girl. I consider it pretty dysfunctional as far as dreams go, but even I wanted it. Then I got older and assess what marriage really is, through my parents and a few failed relationships. It’s tiring. What I think, when you grow up expecting to have to be someone’s partner and raise his children, the world presents that as if it were a prize. I grew up thinking I would have a career, it’s debatable whether I have one or not at this point, and guys my age were raised in a similar era, but when it came to committing, it was suddenly a matter of how domestic I could be to please their mom. Deal-breaker, for both of us. All three of us? I hate being in relationships with someone’s mother. My ideal mate has a dead mother. I don’t know, that could backfire.

          Anyway, I could imagine a girl of 13 being ecstatic to be married. I don’t know how long until it sinks it that it just gets worse, but if you grew up expecting to do household chores for your master, it might not seem as bad for her as it does for me, knowing what I know. It seems like it could be just as bad, but accepting that’s how the world is, and it’s supposed to suck. We know now that it doesn’t have to, but a lot of men’s mothers are old-fashioned and they can’t make their own decisions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Circumstances can force the issue too.

          I got married the first time because in the military one had to be married to ones partner in order for them to accompanied on an overseas posting. I was deployed to West Germany for two years.

          The second time was because my wife was American and the only way to get a Green Card was if we were married.

          Otherwise I would not have been married in either case as I deem marriage as a nonsense…but that is my subjective opinion.

        • Kodie

          How many times is it normal to get engaged?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha!

          I did that three times in total.

          The first, the marriage due to military commitments, that wife and mother of my children died very young.

          The second, a girl 14 years my junior, lasted 5 years and may have disintegrated because of my not going to the next level.

          The third, my American experience, lasted two years, most of which was spent apart while I navigated the immigration process. Once the application process begins, entry into the states is prohibited. A lot of things can change in two years, including the marriage of two children and the birth of my two grandchildren amongst other things. After that, immigration lost it’s lustre.

        • Greg G.

          I have many immigrant friends and acquaintances. I have known of some marriages that were mostly financial for a green card. Last night, I spoke with a co-worker I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. He had told me about his son marrying a Japanese woman. She got her citizenship in three years and said “Sayonara.” He was mad. He was excited for his son back then. Now, he seems like he was jilted, too. But I think she got a visa to come to the US for 90 days. Then she could choose to either get married or go back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Brits don’t need a visa to visit for up to 90 days under the visa waiver system. A lot of Brits have holiday homes in the states. I could come and go as I pleased when before I got married as long as any stay wasn’t more than 90 days, but for a permanent residence card I had to get married then apply through the system. Once an application was in process I was barred from entering the US, even under the waiver system. The system for residency is so convoluted, it is a costly nightmare and the hoops I jumped through and money spent was ridiculous. A police report had to be provided for every country of residence since age 16…remember I was in the army for 14 years. A full medical at a London practice of the US consulates choice. Every interview had to be done in the London offices, I live in Belfast. Two years later I qualified for a 90 visa to get into the states where I had that 90 days to apply for the permanent residency card issue. Copies of every certificate you can think of, proof of earnings, worth, or support from my sponsor. A documented history with sponsor…the list is endless. I know ex-pats that live in the states illegally and as long as they don’t claim tax relief, they are left alone. Doing things by the book doesn’t always pay. Anyway, two years treading water here waiting done me in and not too long after getting over there I threw the head up and said “fuck this for a game of soldiers !” and bailed.

        • Greg G.

          It depends on who you ask. It seems that some people make a distinction between being engaged and stalking while some don’t.

        • Where did you live in the U.S.?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jacksonville.

        • Pretty conservative, I hear?

          I talked with someone who spent time in Alabama. I mentioned that I heard that “Where do you go to church?” was typically the third question when you meet someone new in the South. They corrected me–no, it’s the first question.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep. I had some colourful conversation down the pub.

          A lot of truck driving good ole boys wearing baseball caps and wearing dungarees with an opinion to put me back in my box. I didn’t see any cross burning though. A suppose one needs to sign up for a treat like that.

          I thought Ireland had a lot of churches, but Jax takes the biscuit.

          Busiest day of the week is a Sunday for sure.

        • Pofarmer

          Buddy and I just took a motorcycle rode through rural Arkansas. There would be these little towns where the gas station and general store had closed, but there were still three maintained churches. We decided the State bird was the buzzard, and the State building was the Church. Lot’s and lot’s of them and some weird denominations.

        • I saw a movie recently done by a couple of black LA filmmakers on the impact of Christianity on the black community. One rather obvious point that I hadn’t absorbed was just how costly these churches are to run and maintain. There’s a church on every corner in some poor parts of town, and its the people in that community who are tapped to pay for it all.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, that’s why the money pitch is so heavy. I had a pastor friend tell me that he had several people tell him that they couldn’t afford to be a Christian, and they weren’t really kidding. I find it ironic that the political party that fundamentalist Christianity supports is the same political party that has supported public policies that have effectively hollowed out the middle class, which has had the unintended consequence of causing financial support for organized religion to plummet. A great example of “be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.”

        • Pofarmer

          And yet, Religion is strongest in the areas of the country that are the poorest. Mississippi and Arkansas are number one and two, and they also have the highest amounts of things like teen pregnancy and heart disease. The whole thing is just too fucked up for words. The most religious are the least able to afford it, and the religious dogmas make sure it stays that way.

        • wtfwjtd

          I suppose that when people say that they can’t afford to be a Christian, they are at least doing some financial analysis and trying to employ at least some rationality as to how they distribute their resources. I don’t know about you, but when I was heavy into fundy culture I heard people all the time talking about giving money to the church and then saying they didn’t know how they were going to pay their own bills, but God always provided! This reckless financial behavior kept them constantly broke, and they felt as though they had little control over their own lives or future. They didn’t see it that way at the time, of course, but some of them finally begin to realize it as they approached their retirement years, and I’ve heard more than a few express regret over handling their finances this way.
          Keeping parishioners broke and dependent is one way to keep ’em coming back, and after a while they get so much money tied up in the thing that they hate to walk away from it. It’s a cruel, vicious cycle based on lies and empty promises.

        • Pofarmer

          Growing up, my folks would put maybe a 5 in the collection plate. For the most part, we really were broke. Dad and Mom nearly lost the farm in the 80’s farm crisis. Both went to work full time and I wound up doing most of the farming at the age of 14. Tough times. I think Dad pretty much lost his religion at this point, plus, he didn’t really have time for it any more. As it was better spending Sunday’s either getting stuff done or doing something with us kids. My wife’s family, OTOH, pretty much their only family activity was Church. After a Cancer scare with Dad, they have kind of started back going to Church, plus, both being retired now, it’s kind of a community thing. I want nothing to do with it, at this point. But, in a rural community, it’s a point of contact that is hard to replace.

        • wtfwjtd

          My grandparents ran a small grade-C Holstein dairy operation for something like 20 years in central Missouri, and they sold out in the early 80’s. As you point out, this was excellent timing for them, they were able to draw something like 12-14 percent interest on their money and finally didn’t have to do the daily grind any more. As you are well-aware, farming is generally a 7-day-a-week occupation, there wasn’t much time for frivolities like church, although they did manage to attend occasionally but more for the community than anything else. I recall from my childhood how they would get all kinds of visits on holidays from some of the local religious people, that area has a bewildering array of differing belief systems and they were all competing for their slice of the pie. I remember how annoyed my late father used to get by this, but I don’t recall if he actually ran any of them off while we were visiting or not. As a kid I didn’t really get it, but I see now exactly what was going on. It was interesting times, I loved visiting and staying on the farm back then. I’m glad we did it too, because once they and their farm was gone it’s an opportunity that is probably gone forever for me.

        • MNb

          That’s why every country needs some form of socialism. Else the clergy and the poliical-economical elite will cooperate to keep the population dumb and poor.

        • Pofarmer

          And that’s quite a common cry of conservatives in the U.S., that the govt will supplant Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          I believe the original reason for making churches tax-exempt in the U.S. was in part because they were expected to provide at least partially for the poor and needy. That obviously hasn’t worked very well, churches pretty much soak up all the resources thrown at them and then some, with only something like 5 percent (if that) going to charity. If it weren’t for government programs to provide the needy with assistance, our societal fabric would be very ugly indeed. And yet this is what many of the religious claim that they want to happen.
          I’ll take socialism over an unfettered greed-based society any day.

        • The cause and effect is thought to be: (1) poor social conditions brings (2) religion to provide solace. Unfortunately, despite any good that religion might provide, it becomes an extra burden as you note.

        • wtfwjtd

          We like to drive to Eureka Springs occasionally on vacation, and yes, I can verify this. You’ll be driving along in a remote area and come upon a large building–almost always a church of some kind. We’ve noticed that they like to be in packs as well; often you’ll find 3 or 4 rather large ones within a few mile stretch of highway. Where do all the people come from that attends and maintains these things? It’s a mystery to me.
          On a side note, we visited a place in Eureka Springs called Thorncrown chapel. It really is a neat building, but this last time we visited it came complete with a rather heavy-handed proselytizing pitch. Ugh, no thanks. I gather the guy who owns the thing has now retired and spends his days trying to win souls for Jesus by handing out literature at his chapel/tourist gig. I used to recommend to people to visit it if they were in the area, but no more.

        • Pofarmer

          Is it just me, or is Mark, on McGrath’s blog, just a twee bit emotional?

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s not you.

          There is a few over there that are way to sure of stuff when the evidence isn’t there or just isn’t strong enough to back up their claims.

          I can’t understand the emotion about something that at the end of the day, just isn’t that important to the overall bigger picture.

        • Pofarmer

          I was commenting on something on Mathew Fergusons blog, and he mentioned that ‘Mark” at McGrath’s blog, is a pretty well known NT scholar. If that is the case, their worth in my eyes, has fallen. He has now gone to giving me links to Shlomo Pines, who is “reinterpreting” 10th century Arabic Christian works thinking that they may be closer to the “original” documents or some such. It’s madness. And they absolutely Can. Not. See. That they are suffering from such a severe case of confirmation bias.

        • Another factor is that a couple of centuries ago, people matured sexually years later than they do now. That 13yo probably wasn’t sexually mature until 15 or later.

          Customs change. You know Juliette in Shakespeare’s play was 13?

        • MR

          This was also frontier times. Women were scarce. 33-year olds waiting around for an eligible woman.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He let the doctrine of his religion distort his views.

          Ya don’t see much of that about these days.

          The Declaration of Independence said it is “self evident” that “all men are created equal.” Yet Jefferson, though he considered slavery evil, never freed his slaves.

          Because Jefferson believed he was the one true Scotsman and thought because he treated his slaves better than most that they would be much better off staying with him.

          That seems rational to me.

          I can’t understand why a lot of folk don’t have the colour blue as their favourite colour, when a lot of other folk do. That seems irrational to me.

          That some sentient beings chooses to enslave other sentient beings as means to provide for their own existence and that of their group, seems rational enough to the former group of the sentient beings. Some of them even eat one another as a means to provide for their own existence…go figure.

        • RichardSRussell

          I think that slavery is and always was an inherently evil action.

          Right. You think. It’s your opinion (and, FWIW, mine as well). Clearly all sorts of people thruout the course of human history disagreed with us. That’s what makes it just as subjective as what your favorite color might be.

          Please don’t take my observations about the subjectivity of moral judgments as an endorsement or condemnation of any of them. I’m simply pointing out that there are no objective standards for any of them, however fervently felt by their adherents. For example, I’ll bet that Mohammad Atta felt just as strongly about the evils of America as you do about the evils of slavery. Ardor is no indicator of, or substitute for, accuracy.

        • We totally disagree. All those suffering from injustice and human rights violations disagree with you as well.

          So end of discussion. But thanks for sharing your own view on ethics.

        • RichardSRussell

          The fact that we totally disagree should be all the evidence you’d ever need as to the subjectivity of the issue. If you could point to a single objective criterion for what constitutes evil (or good, either, for that matter), you would’ve done so. But you can’t, because none exist. It’s all opinion, thru and thru, top to bottom, beginning to end.

        • I just was called to serve on a jury. Also, one of my best friends was an LAPD police officer, and worked vice. And a close relative is also a police officer. Plus, I used to volunteer in juvenile hall. And I
          I have been a heath care worker with emotionally disturbed children, and taught high school for many years, blahblah.

          Why am I boring you with these details?

          Because I hope to the cosmos I don’t encounter anyone with your worldview ever in the criminal justice system!

          We live in different universes.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know, maybe you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

        • RichardSRussell

          None of what you said has diddly-squat to do with whether there’s an objective basis for moral judgments. Is that the case you’re trying to make? Or are you trying to argue something else?

        • MNb

          “Disagree”
          “End of discussion”
          You’re quite an authoritarian character, aren’t you?

        • Rather funny;-)

          Me being an authoritarian character? me who used to own a Chevy van with the sign on the side The Mystical Hippopotamus, etc.

          LOL

          I do think slavery is inherently evil, that rape is objectively wrong, that several weeks ago when Israelis confiscated Palestinian land and bulldozed the orchard of a Palestinian family,
          that the Israelis did something unjust.

          That’s why this discussion serves no purpose.

          People can only dialog if they have at least a slender bridge of understanding. But without that,
          then they can’t converse.

          I admit, that after 55 years of struggling to understand two extremes–Calvinists who claim that God wills/ordains every rape and every murder,
          and also trying to understand those
          who claim that rape, and slaughter and slavery aren’t evil, but only a preference. are like the color blue….

          Whew.

        • Kodie

          How can anything be inherently wrong? It’s only wrong if we say it’s wrong. We enslave animals, no problem. I think we even enslave people – where do you shop, what do you buy? Are you doing everything you can to stop unjust practices against other people? Do you step in nature and tell the animals that what they’re doing is unjust?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM

        • You wrote, “We enslave animals, no problem.”

          Well, you will have problems with ethicists at some U.S. universities who argue for “animal rights.”
          Furthermore the atheist Richard Dawkins isn’t likely to be your friend. In his amazing tome on the history of evolution, The Ancestor’s Tale, (or was it in his earlier book? whichever), he spends considerable time
          defending the rights of animals.

          As for your question, “how can anything be inherently wrong?”

          I guess you’ve not read Enlightenment figures for some time. I suggest start with Thomas Paine, and then move onto others such as Immanuel Kant, etc.

        • Kodie

          Some people see an issue where animals are used, abused, eaten, worn, or tested on, etc., and many people reserve those feelings for only dogs and cats and maybe dolphins, lions, elephants – everything else can go fuck itself.

          What you’re missing is that those ideas are for people, only people. If we threw out the enligtenment and enslaved everyone and genocided large groups of people, like, say, suddenly, the government came looking for people to round up. They did it to the Japanese, right? We’re imprisoning black people in larger numbers and longer sentences than white people for the same crimes (especially for drugs, which a lot of people are in favor of decriminalizing altogether – but are we doing that or is it kind of a back-burner issue now?). Who is standing up for this? A couple people.

          Because I am a privileged white person and tend to obey the law and defer to police in precarious situations that I might be observed, so as not to irritate them into arresting me for doing nothing, I don’t look at the government as systematically rounding people like me up. It’s pretty easy in this way to feel like they’re not rounding anyone up – they’re just behaving wrong! Tons of people feel passionately that that’s true. And who cares for the downtrodden here? A couple people.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history#1951_to_2000
          That’s a wikipedia entry on genocides from 1951 to 2000. Meaning – all the world’s genocides since the holocaust. Because fuck the holocaust, it’s famous and we, the US, entered a war over it, in the past it’s a fine one-of-a-kind example. In 2001, the US was attacked by Muslim terrorists, and less than 3000 people died as a result. Still, never forget. But I’d still hear on the news every once in a while about Darfur, Darfur, Darfur. Once in a while. I didn’t see any pictures of Darfur. I’d just think “something is going on in a place I never heard of, and I’m supposed to care.” That’s 300,000 people.

          Who cares vs. 9/11? A couple people. Is genocide really more than a preference for the color blue if 100x more people die and we aren’t fully disgusted and outraged by it? Is the universe doing anything about it? Will Darfur stain human existence? Morality is much more than saying whether something is inherently absolutely always wrong no matter what – it’s the capacity to understand how wrong something is even if it doesn’t happen to someone near enough to you (or a tourist site you have visited). I would not say, comparatively 9/11 was ok just because Darfur was so wrong, but people’s reactions don’t make sense if there is an absolute right or wrong. We’re all going to die, we just hope it’s not some horrific way. We live relatively comfortably, we don’t die every day in a car accident, even though it’s likely, we take risks even though we hear in the paper someone we don’t know must have not been able to text and drive as well as I know I can, etc. Morality is only right in front of your face and how you deal with what’s there at that time. The rest of the time, you have nothing to do with it. Will you protest a war across the world your country is not even involved in and nobody else will join you? What’s the point?

        • Is genocide really more than a preference for the color blue if 100x more people die and we aren’t fully disgusted and outraged by it?

          Good point. We hardly give our concern in proportion to the size of the issue.

          Do you remember the story about baby Jessica, the kid who fell down the well about 20 years ago? The country was mesmerized as we all watched her get rescued.

          The incredible thing about human feelings of compassion is that we care more about baby Jessica than 100 faceless people. Even crazier, we care more about baby Jessica than 100 faceless people and baby Jessica!

          http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/statistical-numbing-why-millions-can-die-and-we-dont-care

        • Kodie

          I think we do get wrapped up in larger numbers sometimes, but we can only seem to relate to one human story at a time, and it’s even easier to get wrapped up in a story that’s fictional because fiction is created to get your attention that way. We are always talking about Hitler and the holocaust and “6 million Jews”. Well 6 million is more than 300,000, 2x more. It’s kind of incomprehensible at the same time that it’s drastic. It’s also that most of us know some Jews, and some Germans, and many of us have grandfathers that fought in World War II, and the US was actively involved in WWII that it becomes part of our collective psyche.

          What’s tragic is that wasn’t the last genocide, and few people can name another one. They make movies about war and the holocaust specifically to bring home a point, but what is actually the point if hearing about another genocide, another mass slaughter of thousands and thousands of people, doesn’t conjure up those memories and get us to act? The thing is, it’s hopeless. One person can care very much, two people, three people. What can they do? Get on with their lives because most people are not even moved. Of course from the remote time of only hearing about WWII as an event in the past, my impression is Pearl Harbor and a surprise attack of roughly the same number of Americans that died in the 9/11 attacks got to people’s gut horror and moralistic reaction more than 6 million European Jews, plus an almost equal number of non-Jews to nearly double that amount. Even in discussions referencing the brutal example of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, statistically, the other victims don’t even rate mention most of the time. We have to cut the statistic to only Jews to make the story.

        • Well 6 million is more than 300,000, 2x more.

          Actually, 20× more. But that kind of supports your point that “lots bigger” is about all that gets in sometimes.

          more than 6 million European Jews, plus an almost equal number of non-Jews to nearly double that amount. Even in discussions referencing the brutal example of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, statistically, the other victims don’t even rate mention most of the time.

          That’s a pet peeve of mine. For the Jewish community to say, “We mustn’t forget!” but then refer to 6M Jews killed encourages the reaction, “But … I’m not a Jew. You don’t care about the rest? Are you saying that one should only be concerned if it’s your own people?”

          Much more powerful would be for the Jewish community to talk about 11M people. Now, the Jewish community isn’t just concerned about “their people” but just people, and that encourages the same reaction in the listener.

        • Kodie

          Weird typo – I even did it on a calculator to make sure I wasn’t off by one or two places.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, you will have problems with ethicists at some U.S. universities who argue for “animal rights.”

          Spoiiiing!!!!

          You are doing it again, making the argument for your interlocutor.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I think we even enslave people – where do you shop, what do you buy?

          Loyalty Programs. *shudder*

        • Why stick to the idea of objective moral truth (that’s unreliably accessible) when the natural explanation is sufficient?

        • MNb

          “me who used to own a Chevy van with the sign on the side The Mystical Hippopotamus”
          And how exactly makes that impossible you being authoritarian? Moreover that’s real life – I’m talking about your internet character. You have pulled the “I disagree, end of discussion” trick twice now. That’s issuing a command and hence the question if you’re authoritarian is a logical one.

          “I do think slavery is inherently evil, that rape is objectively wrong.”
          So what? I can see three answers.

          1. There is an objective morality indeed; show it. Provide evidence or a conclusive argument based on an undoubtable assumption (what we call axiom in math, though axioms in math very often can be rejected at will). Thus far you have totally failed to do so. That’s unsurprising, because every defender of objective morality has.
          2. This quote (“I think”) only reflects your own subjective morality and hence contradicts what you want to argue for.
          3. You want to proclaim your own subjective morality the universal standard of objective morality and hence are authoritarian indeed.

          My answer to your proclamation is that Attila the Hun and Dzhengis Khan obviously did not think that slavery is inherently evil and rape is objectively wrong. Why would a neutral bystander accept your point of view and not theirs? Because authoritarian you with “I disagree, end of discussion”?

          “I admit, that after 55 years ……..

          Whew.”
          That’s what you admit? “Whew”? As clear as mud.

        • There seems to be much miscommunication.

          You wrote “You have pulled the “I disagree, end of discussion” trick twice now.”

          Huh?! I wasn’t trying to pull any “trick.” Simply suddenly aware that when two people are so extremely far apart, dialog is impossible. I didn’t used to think that; I spent over 50 years trying to dialog with Calvinist/Augustinians, but finally realized it’s usually impossible because they use terms so differently all that happens is two people talking separate monologues.

          And this situation, where other people are comparing “ethics” including slavery, rape, etc. to personal preference, I realized that we weren’t dialoguing, so end of discussion.

          You wrote, “You want to proclaim your own subjective morality the universal standard of objective morality and hence are authoritarian indeed.”

          Call it what you will. I don’t plan to stop working for human rights, opposing rape, female mutilation, slavery, etc.

        • MNb

          You don’t communicate at all. I have read many of your posts (though I stopped yesterday because you get boring). You only repeat your mantra “morals are objective” ad nauseam without providing any reason. Only thing that comes close is “justice will keep on existing after I die”, which is meaningless. What you should explain is how justice exists on an uninhabited planet some lightyears away. What does it mean to say that genocide is wrong if there is no population of intelligent beings to kill off and to do the killing? And what is your method to decide that X is wrong and Y is right when two people disagree?
          You don’t even try to address such issues. You just repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat “morals are objective” and then in your authoritarian way declare end of discussion.

          “I don’t plan to stop ….”
          You deserve a statue. Go to your city council and ask for one, because I think they have overlooked what for exemplary sample of mankind you are. Now I happen to do some good work as well (I bet I make considerably less money than you, though I’m still far from poor) and make a concrete difference for a few people; I don’t need objective morals to do so. So it’s totally irrelevant for the question if morals are objective.
          Now I have broken my intention to neglect you, so I’ll try to collect some more will power.
          Bye.

        • Here, try this: go to court or work in a scientific group where some individuals state that honesty isn’t objective, but only a subjective personal preference. Some like to tell the truth, some like to be dishonest.

          Imagine what happens to the next NASA space probe if some of the scientists think that honesty is a subjective personal preference.

          On the contrary, honesty is an example of how ethics are objectively real.

          As for your statement, “What you should explain is how justice exists on an uninhabited planet some lightyears away,” what?

          Justice is an ethical reality for conscious, rational, ethical creatures. If the planet is uninhabited, then not only will no math computing be done but no justice or injustice will be observed.

          Genocide will be ethically evil when conscious intelligent creatures evolve!

        • Ignorant Amos

          You seem to be arguing against yourself here.

          The Isreali’s and those around the world disagree that bulldozing the orchard was unjust, ergo saying it is so is your subjective opinion.

          Calvinists who claim that God wills/ordains every rape and every murder, and also trying to understand those who claim that rape, and slaughter and slavery aren’t evil and other religious fruitcakes with similar views disagree with those that deem those activities ARE evil, including you, ergo saying it is evil is your subjective opinion.

          Aged Muslim men marrying children is wrong in my opinion, but not so for much of the Muslim world and other cultures around the world that adhere to such activities.

          Is eating dog wrong, while eating cow not wrong?

        • I disagree. When Israelis steal, destroy other people’s property, demonstrate intolerance and prejudice, they are unethical.

          This isn’t my subjective opinion.

          Molestation–having sex with a child–is always wrong. (Heck, even most atheists agree with that. Look at the strong condemnations of Josh Duggar by many atheists on various sites, and his was a “mild” case that appears to have been only touching, not forceable intercourse.

          Then you wrote “Is eating dog wrong, while eating cow not wrong?”

          I’m not scholar when it comes to whether “animal rights” exist or not. And I’ve not thought much about it.

          If animals do have rights, as some modern ethicists claim, then eating a dog or a cow or a pig is wrong.

        • Molestation–having sex with a child–is always wrong.

          Yes, but (and here is the key part) that doesn’t mean that objective morality exists!

        • We humans are very slow learners.

          I predict that our attitude toward eating animals will, once synthetic meat is perfected in a century, seem like America’s attitude toward slavery in 1840.

          (Not really on topic, but whatever.)

        • I agree. Years ago (the year of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington), I became a vegetarian but it didn’t work because my body couldn’t get enough protein from nuts. So I lost over 45 pounds, down to about 118:-( Got malnourished.

          I’ve been moving again toward vegetarianism, only this time I’m a fish-atarian:-) That way I get plenty of protein and make my doctor happy. Check out my blob article if you are that interested in the topic. http://infiniteoceanoflightandlove.blogspot.com/2015/08/to-eat-or-not-to-eat-that-is-question.html

        • The research into artificial meat is progressing very slowly. I wonder why there’s not more interest. Seems like the meat industry is a big cause of problems (methane emission, water use, grain use, hormones), so that’d be nice to improve.

          Of course, perhaps I’ve answered my own question–the livestock industry likes things the way they are.

        • Plus, it is my understanding (though I’m no expert) that if billions spent on the meat industry were shifted to
          non-meat protein, far more impoverished people could be fed.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, ruminanats like cattle and goats have been important for centuries because they can make use of forage and areas that otherwise wouldn’t be productive for raising protein. It’s kinda what they do. I don’t know where these “billions spent on the meat industry” are supposedly going, but anyone is free to develop and use whatever protein sources they want.

        • Ron

          Your response does not address the issue. What objective moral standard affirms your assertions that slavery is and always was an inherently evil action, or that treating women as chattel is immoral?

        • MNb

          “Shall, I quote from the Declaration here, “unalienable rights…”
          Ah – are the authors of the DoI suddenly the ultimate authority on objective morals? And why would a Dutchman like me accept that?

          “how much better”
          What’s your standard? “Killing people is objectively evil hence the world becomes a better place when less people are killed hence killing people is objectively evil” is just a circular argument.

  • avalon

    I can’t believe they used 9/11 as an example! Don’t they realize those guys were just following the objective morality laid down by their god?

  • You wrote, “This reminds me of a quote from Penn Jillette: “The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want?”

    Very weird. Penn Jillette must have met some very strange dysfunctional people.

    Because in all of my 50 years, I’ve never met any religious people like that.

    Unfortunately, actually I have met worse ones–the Christian leaders who claim that God plans every rape!

    And every murder.

    And does all that for only for his glory.

    Matt Chandler, currently minster of many thousands of Christians in Texas at The Village Church wrote in The Explicit Gospel that “God’s passion is for his own glory.”

    And
    “…hell ultimately exists because of the belittlement of God’s name…”

    And consider Minister Cary Cox: “So the Bible is teaching that these evil monsters were actually created by Jesus, FOR Jesus; to show God’s glory to the universe.
    (This is brought out wonderfully in John Piper’s Spectacular Sins and their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ.http://www.desiringgod.org)”

    “The first way evil ultimately glorifies God is by providing a reference point , or point of comparison, to highlight God’s excellencies. Evil exists to show what God is not. This way we appreciate more fully what God IS. When we see evil, we can know what God is not like. God’s gloriousness is more fully known because we have something to compare him to.”

    “Even hell glorifies God!
    The existence of hell (and the sinners who will be punished there forever with the devil and his angels) will eternally show the attribute of God’s wrath; his extreme and just hatred of sin.”
    Minister Cary Cox, The Church at Meadowlake

    • MNb

      “I’ve never met any religious people like that.”
      You should read something from WL Craig.

      • No thanks. Wasn’t he interviewed in The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel? Or maybe I read one of his books years ago.

        Addition:
        Yes, I have read gross stuff by WL Craig.

        Found an example I now remember. It is the reason I quit reading anything by Craig:
        “According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.”

        “For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses.”

        “God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.”

        “Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.”

        Get that?! We ought to slaughter as many billions of infants and small children as we can, because our murdering of them is their salvation.

        Oh how wonderful! Why didn’t I see this before? It’s worthy of Vonnegut in SH-5!

        Wait a moment though. If Craig is wrong and Calvin and Aquinas and Augustine are right, then we’re sending those unbaptized heathen babies to hell.
        Hell of a situation! Who should we listen to?
        Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites#ixzz3mWgZL4bs

        • MNb

          Highly understandable – but you miss the chance of meeting a religious man who asks “what does stop you from raping/ genocide/ whatever without God?”

          Alternatively you might try In God’s Defense on this very page. He’s an avid fan of WLC.

        • I’ve already asked IGD questions which he hasn’t answered.

        • Max Doubt

          “I’ve already asked IGD questions which he hasn’t answered.”

          Willful ignorance is a mighty powerful force field.

    • Greg G.

      I have had Christians try to talk about how atheists reject God so they can do what they want. I ask them, “What are you accusing be of? What do you imagine I do that you don’t?” They never answer.

  • Greg G.

    The girl in the picture is going to have an interesting tan line.

  • Totally off topic, but I think we have some chess fans in the audience. Here’s a championship “new chess” match that you might find amusing.

    Video

    • MNb

      I already knew the video (hey, I have been an active chessplayer for more than 30 years). It’s a funny one. I wonder how many get the joke at the end, which refers to another world champion? According to rumour Alekhine once pissed behind a curtain during a tournament. It’s highly likely not true.