The Bible: a Pro-Slavery Free-For-All!

The Bible: a Pro-Slavery Free-For-All! January 15, 2016

Our little friend William Lane Craig is up to his old shenanigans. God apparently can’t defend himself against charges that he condones slavery, so Christian apologist Craig steps into the breach to do it for him.

We need to help [skeptics] come to grips with the fact that they have not studied the Hebrew text carefully and in many cases simply have a misunderstanding of the text. So-called “slavery” in the Old Testament is a prime example.

Why, I do believe I’m being condescended to! But Craig isn’t alone in his view. This idea that biblical slavery was very different from American slavery—indeed, that it was a good thing—is a common spin within many Christian blogs.

The slavery referred to in the Bible was a fundamentally different practice [than that practiced in the West]. Some translations try to indicate this by using the word “bondservant.” … Biblical “slavery” was not race-based (Stand to Reason blog).

The New Testament Servitude of the Ancient Near East had little in common with the New World Slavery of our American ancestors (Cold-Case Christianity blog).

Apologists’ spin approach #1: biblical slavery wasn’t so bad

Let’s compare these two approaches to slavery. They’re a lot more similar than the apologists will admit.

During U.S. history, we had two kinds of servitude. There was indentured servitude, where Europeans would come to America to work for fellow Europeans in return for payment of their transportation. This servitude would typically last for five years or so.

And, of course, we had slavery. Slaves were almost always not Europeans. They were slaves for life, as were their children.

The Old Testament outlines the very same categories of servitude. Fellows Jews could be slaves, but only for a limited time:

[God said:] If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free (Exodus 21:2).

That’s pretty much indentured servitude, and that’s the “biblical slavery” that many Christians like to point to. They often ignore the other kind:

[God said:] Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. … You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life (Leviticus 25:44–6).

Slavery in the Old Testament was regulated, just like commerce. And, like commerce, slavery was kosher from God’s standpoint.

Granted, slavery was common in this part of the world. During New Testament times, as many as a third of the population of Italy were slaves. We can see the Bible as just a product of its times, but wouldn’t a book inspired by the omniscient and holy creator of the universe be better than that? And why were the Greek Stoics the first to condemn slavery rather than God’s chosen people?

Apologists’ spin approach #2: biblical slavery was a good thing!

Now, back to Craig. Determined to force-fit slavery into a godly world, he says:

I think that [the point of the book Is God a Moral Monster? is] that our understanding of [slavery] is shaped by the experience of the American South prior to the Civil War and that what is described in the Old Testament is actually a sort of anti-poverty program designed to help the poor in the absence of a strong national government.

That’s an interesting spin. But is this so called “anti-poverty program” a moral institution? It must be, since God defines the rules for slavery and so obviously approves of it. But Craig has dug himself into a hole—either indentured servitude is moral for society today, or morality changes over time and we discard the idea of objective morality. Neither can be a pleasing option for Craig.

The problem is worse with slavery for life. Surely we can agree that this biblical institution is wrong today. Either it was wrong in Old Testament times, and God made a mistake in giving rules for it, or it was right then and morality changes with time. Here again Craig finds himself in a difficult spot.

How can Christians satisfy themselves that the Ten Commandments have “Don’t covet” but not “Don’t enslave anyone”? The Bible is obviously the work of Man, not that of God. The Bible is simply a reflection of their society.

Christians who justify slavery in the Bible are determined to shoehorn an ancient religion into modern society, but the result is as out of place as a Neanderthal in a tuxedo. My advice: they should stop embarrassing themselves.

More: Yes, Biblical Slavery Was the Same as American Slavery

None are more hopelessly enslaved 
than those who falsely believe they are free. 
— Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 1/30/13.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • epicurus

    I can just imagine Craig scornfully blasting apart a Mormon who tried to shoehorn his Jesus came to the new world and the Native americans are the 10 lost tribes of Israel view. Unfortunately, Craig can’t see when he is engaged in the same kind of mental process.

  • Dys

    No matter how they try, apologists cannot dismiss the fact that the bible outright states that human beings are allowed to own other human beings as property. Not indentured servitude, slavery.

    • XCellKen

      Nice pic of God in your profile pic

      • Dys

        Despite the years I’ve had it set, I think you’re the first to get the reference. Or at least the first to comment on it, lol.

        • XCellKen

          Used to watch South park (religiously), but lost interest several years ago

        • Dys

          I still keep up…there’s always a few pretty good episodes in any particular season. Most are ok, with only a few that miss the boat completely.

        • XCellKen

          About fifteen years ago or so, whenever I would get a phone call from a telephone solicitor, I would simply yell “Timmy” into the phone. Over and over, until they hung up. I guess you understand that reference too ??

        • Dys

          And the Lords of the Underworld?, lol

        • stuckinthewoods

          and does your nom de cliq Dys reference the god Dīs, god of the Underworld?

        • Dys

          Unfortunately no…it’s just a shortening of a username I was using previously.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Or at least the first to comment on it

          this is the more accurate interpretation. 😉

    • Aloha

      Biblical “slavery” was not race-based.” says the bozo above.

      But the Bible mentions poverty-based slavery (widows and their children)
      Bad-luck based slavery (Joseph in Egypt)
      Ethnicity-based slavery (for non-Jews) … how is that not racism?
      Also captives of war slavery, inherited slavery, and Roman-type slavery.

      Which one does he want to sign up for???

      • James

        They’re equivocating on the definition of “race.” When convenient, Judaism is (just) a religion. And when convenient, it’s a nation, a culture, an ethnic group and so forth. In reality, it’s all of those things.

  • jh

    I wonder what would happen if someone wondered why God punished the Israelite with slavery (ex: Babylonian exile) or the alleged slavery in Egypt? Surely we could argue that that slavery was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the US.

    It seems that the only good slavery was the one where the Israelite got to play master because gawd.

    Chattel slavery

    Chattel slavery, also called traditional slavery, is so named because people are treated as the chattel (personal property) of the owner and are bought and sold as if they were commodities. It is the least prevalent form of slavery in the world today.[13]” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery

  • Jack Baynes

    Biblical “slavery” was not race-based

    Does that make it better?

    • Greg G.

      Especially since race-based slavery was justified by Noah’s curse.

      • Jack Baynes

        What was God thinking, giving a drunk the power to curse people? Maybe if he was sober he could have hit the person he was mad at.

        • Greg G.

          But the curse would have fallen to Canaan anyway if Ham hadn’t ducked or if Noah would have been able to shoot straight.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    OMWFSM! WLC is now a follower of the ‘JQ school’. Sad, very very sad.

    • JQ school? I’m not familiar with that.

      • Greg G.

        If the whole name was spelled, she would appear.

        • Does she appear if you say her name three times? Or is that just Beetlejuice?

        • Greg G.

          There’s also Rumplestilt…

          Ah, you almost got me to say it.

        • Then there was that mischievous little troll who appeared periodically on earth to vex Superman. His name was either random letters or maybe Welsh and only by making him say his name backwards could you make him go away.

          http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/e/ed/Mr_mxyzptlk_earth_one_whos_who.jpg

        • Greg G.

          That’s easy for you to say.

        • MR

          I think it’s a little scary how much he looks like you, Bob. I challenge you to say that name backwards….

  • MNb

    “what is described in the Old Testament is actually a sort of anti-poverty program designed to help the poor”
    How touching that WLC suddenly is socially concerned.
    It would be nice if showed the same social concern regarding the victims of the several genocides described in the OT.

    • MichaelNewsham

      Don’t know if WLC does this, but I’ve heard several Christian apologists explaining that the Hebrews took in all those virgin girls after they slaughtered the rest of the Midianites NOT as sex slaves- God’s down with genocide, not sex- but because they were sorry for them as poor orphans who had nowhere else to go

      • Greg G.

        Of course they say that. But they didn’t spare the boys and they didn’t spare the ones who didn’t appear to be virgins. I have never heard WLC make that claim though.

    • WLC seems to engage in as-needed compassion.

      • James

        Craig can be quite harsh in condemning Islam for lacking compassion. Unfortunately, he doesn’t hold his own beliefs up to the same standard. It’s not special pleading if it really is special 🙂

  • Jesse Douglas

    “But Craig has dug himself into a hole—either indentured servitude is
    moral for society today, or morality changes over time and we discard
    the idea of objective morality.”

    This is where I’d expect him to resort to divine command theory as the ultimate dodge and say that slavery was okay during Biblical times because it was specifically commanded (in the verses you quoted and many others), but is still objectively immoral in all other instances (prepare for “mysterious ways” when you point out the obvious contradiction here).

    It’s truly amusing that once you dig into WLC’s arguments, no matter how neatly packaged they may seem on the surface, you’ll find no more depth than what you’d expect from a typical six year old.

    • Robert, not Bob

      I don’t understand why he doesn’t just invoke Divine Command and say slavery is good (at least when god says it’s okay). He’s consistent in that regard about mass murder.

    • Another dodge: it’s OK for God to do crazy stuff (permit slavery, demand genocide, etc.), but not us.

  • RoverSerton

    I agree mostly with your post BUT, I think Neanderthals would look great in tuxedo’s (or appropriate evening gown). Tux’s make everyone or thing (yes penguins, I’m looking at you) look classy.

    • Greg G.

      Penguins are the best birds.

      • An ornithologist friend says that (1) they’re very smelly and (2) they like to be hugged.

    • Good point. Thanks for keeping me honest.

      • Greg G.

        The animal skins make the man.

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    We need to help [skeptics] come to grips with the fact that they have not studied the Hebrew text carefully

    So next time have your god do a coloring book or something. Keep it simple stupid and stop blaming the victim readers that have to trudge through that crap.

    Jesus: “Hey let’s make it rocket science.”
    God: “Great freaking idea.”
    Holy Ghost: “Dayam were awesome.” *high fives each other*

  • Another, arguably more nuanced, defense of biblical slavery is the idea that biblical slavery was a “stepping stone” to a more humane society. The idea is that God works to draw Israel (and humanity in general) out of sinful practices slowly. William Webb defends this view in “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis.” He would argue that Israelite practice is an improvement to that of surrounding nations and provides “Redemptive Movement” towards a society completely free of slavery.

    http://www.amazon.com/Slaves-Women-Homosexuals-Exploring-Hermeneutics/dp/0830815619/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452904381&sr=8-1&keywords=william+webb

    • Greg G.

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

      So it must have been for the Israelite indentured servants first, then, as the wording practically invites treating non-Israelites like slaves, which allows them to be beaten to death if they suffer for at least a day, which began at sundown.

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

      Fourteen hundred years later, we have Jesus saying that beating slaves is justified:

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

      Jesus doesn’t think slaves should even be thanked for their service.

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

      Here is what a Roman was saying in the early first century:

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

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

      ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”
          — Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD), Epistulae Morales, 47.

      How did the Stoics get ahead of God and Jesus if Webb was right?

      • Webb is going to argue that Israelite practices as described in the OT are a step in the right direction from surrounding nations in the Ancient Near East. Those are the cultures that OT slavery would be considered an improvement over. The attempt is generally made to show that ANE nations were extremely barbaric (which, I think, is not that hard of a case to make). He wouldn’t say 15th Century BCE Israel is an improvement over 1st Century Rome, he’d say it’s an improvement over 15th Century BCE ANE cultures.

        He’d also probably argue that taking words from Jesus’s parables isn’t legitimate to show that Jesus “endorsed” slavery. Jesus simply used elements from his world to make a point.

        To be clear, I don’t have an interest in defending the Bible’s view of slavery. But I think there are more nuanced defenses than William Lane Craig presents.

        • Greg G.

          How would Webb know that the surrounding nations had worse conditions for slavery? Hammurabi Law: Three Classes, circa 19th century BC, appear to be better than the OT. Hittite Law had an aversion to the death penalty that favored slavery instead, circa 15th century BC, which would be better than the OT. Code of the Nesilim, circa 16th century BC, doesn’t seem so bad for slaves.

        • I think “better” and “worse” are in the eye of the beholder. My guess is that you could take any two law codes and compare either favorably as opposed to the other. Obviously scholars like Webb would favor OT law.

        • Greg G.

          We generally expect Bible scholars to assume the Bible is more advanced than surrounding nations. Slavery in antiquity: Ancient Egypt says:

          People also sold themselves into slavery because they were poor peasants and needed food and shelter. The lives of slaves were normally better than that of peasants. Slaves only attempted escape when their treatment was unusually harsh. For many, being a slave in Egypt made them better off than a freeman elsewhere.[2]

          The footnote leads to Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Egyptby Jimmy Dunn where it says the self-selling into slavery comes from the 6th century BC. The other dates are not so clear.

        • James

          The code of ur-nammu also promoted penalties other than the death penalty as much as possible. A clear distinction was drawn between crimes and torts, with fines encouraged as the best means of settling torts. And jail time/temporary forced labor was offered to replace mutilation or death.

        • tsig

          No matter how nuanced the defense god still comes off as tailoring his message to fit the times so that slavery was OK then but not now. IOW god has changed the rules.

        • davewarnock

          “ANE nations were extremely barbaric”

          …and the Israelites weren’t? Just read the OT- Genesis through -oh, say maybe stop after Judges. Do a head count of the slaughter God ordered. Let’s even stop and consider the way God supposedly handled the Exodus from Egypt. Instead of simply smiting Pharaoh, he orders the death of every first born in the land. Imagine the cries of the families that morning (assuming this story happened- which I don’t).

          And this God had to “step down” slavery?

          I call bullshit

        • Webb would grant that the practices of Israel were barbaric. He’d just say they were less so than the surrounding nations. I.e. God tries to draw Israel out of it’s sinfulness slowly, progressing from Mosaic law to the prophets, and ultimately to Jesus. Again, I’m not defending this, I’m just saying how it’s argued.

        • davewarnock

          surrounding nation: “we slaughtered every living thing- even cattle and virgins!”
          Israel: “we kept the cattle alive and kept the virgins for our men to possess!”
          surrounding nation: “ohhh, we didn’t think of that!”
          Israel: “Yeah, well, we are less barbaric than you, because Yahweh is training us to be kind to others!”
          surrounding nation: “cool- wish we had a God like that!”

        • James

          “…ANE nations were extremely barbaric…” Perhaps by our modern standards, but compared to one another there were already better codes of law and morality in place before the Hebrews came along.

    • MNb

      “idea that biblical slavery was a “stepping stone” to a more humane society.”
      OK. Then why didn’t Jesus or Paulus issue something like “you shall set any slave free who expresses the wish to be free” ? Just imagine the impact that would have had.

    • Incredible. Humans 2000 years ago (time of Jesus) or 3000 years ago (time of Moses) were just as capable of understanding moral concepts (or quantum physics, for that matter) as we are. So it’s the secularists who appreciate humanity’s capabilities, not necessarily those following Jesus.

    • adam

      So nuanced it excaped the biblical character ‘god’

    • Scott_In_OH

      Another, arguably more nuanced, defense of biblical slavery is the idea that biblical slavery was a “stepping stone” to a more humane society.

      This general philosophy–God brings us along slowly–was convincing to me for quite a while. Then I realized that “slowly” was–coincidentally, I’m sure–almost exactly the same pace as progressivism, albeit with a delay of about one generation.

    • James

      “… idea that biblical slavery was a “stepping stone” to a more humane society.” That doesn’t sound much like objective morality particularly given that Judeo-Christian morality has objectively changed.

      Apologists tend to equivocate a lot – biblical morality is somehow superior to every other kind of morality, until one reaches a conundrum such as Bibilcal endorsement of slavery, rape or genocide. Then apologists equivocate to a non-literal, or subjective interpretation of the bible – a “stepping stone” as you phrased it (never mind superior ethical systems already existed in Biblical times) And then once the coast is clear, they flip back to using the earlier, supposedly superior biblical morality again.

  • arkenaten

    I truly believe it is a massive indictment on the supposed compassionate nature of christians that there isn’t a single individual who has not, to date, taken Craig aside and said: ”Listen, Bill, but this has to be said. You are a nothing but a giant nobhead. Now, for once in your life, please ,shut the frakk up!”

    • MNb

      It’s rather telling though that a potential target group of WLC, Dutch orthodox-reformed people, like

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformed_Churches_in_the_Netherlands_(Liberated)

      prefers to neglect him. I suspect they dislike his Divine Command Theory. The Dutch Orthodox Reformed played a major role in Dutch resistance against nazism.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaas_Schilder
      The Dutch orthodox-reformed prefer (as far as non-Dutch go) Alvin Plantinga, who is cited far more often in their newspapers.

      • James

        Alvin Plantinga has a somewhat more prestigious reputation as an academic – William Craig’s public esteem has far more to do with his polished debate skills (and his politicking on the debate rules) than it does with any of his published work.

        Craig’s best-known argument is just a simple reworking of a Muslim one, the Kalam Cosmological argument; to his credit he doesn’t technically plagiarize, but I seldom recall him actually mentioning the provenience of his primary argument in his public debates. Why any of Craig’s followers would think that a Muslim argument advances the cause of fundamentalist Christianity remains a total mystery to me.

        • Or that changing “Everything has a cause” to “Everything that begins to exist has a cause” is that big a deal.

          WLC is a moderately successful showman. The “doctor of philosophy” just gives him the necessary patina.

        • James

          Yep. The change in terms seems to be a case of hiding a fallacy of equivocation in plain sight.

          Neither of his two premises stand up to much scrutiny. We know of a several things that don’t have causes, such as quantum mechanics or nuclear decay, and there’s no reason to think that there’s just one cause of anything (birthday fallacy). We also have good reason to think the universe did not begin to exist in the sense that WLC means – we have physicists such as Sean Carroll telling us exactly what they mean – which is just more equivocation on his part. I like how Dr Carroll pointed out that classical causality was cutting edge stuff over 2,000 years ago, but science has learned a whole lot since then.

          I’ve encountered a few of WLC’s clones before and they all seem to have the same showman quality – they keep turning the discussion back on the individual, they dominate the conversation; they change the topic frequently, often tangentially (a form of Gish Gallop), and they project an aura of well-practiced smug confidence that is unshaken even in the face of being objectively proven wrong on a key point. As a rule, they’re great at rhetoric – but at discovering the unbiased truth, not so much.

    • WLC’s podcast sidekick Kevin Harris discovered this blog and replied to a post I did about WLC. (It was one of my negative appraisals of Craig. Wow–what are the chances that he’d stumble over that one?) Anyway, we had a civil conversation, though, unsurprisingly, no minds were changed.

  • ningen

    Note that female slaves (or servants) don’t get released after 6 years. (Exodus 21:7) Why not? I confess I haven’t studied the Hebrew texts carefully enough to understand God’s rationale for this double standard.

    • Greg G.

      Females were basically chattel. They didn’t get to make many decisions. The best they could hope for was to be redeemed by somebody they liked.

    • One data point is the NET Bible, which implies that females would be wives or concubines, so the sale would be permanent.

  • Plus, the six-year rule with Hebrews only applied to men-women were held for life. Men could also become slaves for life if their owner gave them a wife and they had children but didn’t want to leave them. After that, they would have one of their ears pierced as a sign of it. One imagines that many sly owners let their servants marry for this very purpose.

    • Kodie

      I know but this makes no sense at all. If a woman were enslaved, one could weakly argue that, out of some sense of kindness and protection, she could stay on, because where else could she go from there? Women had no prospects outside of marriage, and slavery at the minimum term of 6 years would have aged her out of the eligible dating pool at the time, and left her with no one to take care of her. If there was a male slave who married her while both enslaved, one could argue that she was now his property after he was freed after 6 years. If he was freed, and she was married to him, I mean doesn’t that seem to work logically? Maybe she hadn’t met her own 6 years, and it would be like theft, but there’s no reason for the owner to keep her past that if she had somewhere else to go. But don’t kid yourself, women were slaves one way or another.

      In some denominations, they still are, but look at how happily they talk about that setup. It’s total brainwashing.

      • Women were sex slaves, that’s why they were kept. The six-year rule didn’t apply to them at all.

        • Kodie

          But if one of your male slaves married one of your female slaves, was that on the premise that her owner could still use her for sex whenever he wanted? I imagined that these women served a lot of purposes additionally, like the housework and all.

        • I’m not sure, but it specifically references women being sold into marriage elsewhere, plus female slaves being used as concubines. It’s not that they would only be used as sex slaves, but one of the main purposes.

        • Kodie

          That’s why I said that if a female slave married a male slave, she was technically his property now and should be released when he gets released. That may not be their law, but it makes sense to me. But on the other hand, the slave owner would regard slaves as service animals, and intending to breed them to make more slaves (rather than have to buy them), and keep them.

        • Well, the female belongs to the owner. No doubt they were rarely so merciful. The breeding of slaves was common, and likely a motive as well. I know later in the American South “bucks” (particularly strong male slaves) were used for this purpose. After the slave trade was abolished, the owners had to rely on this for replenishing the population. I feel sick just writing about it…

      • Greg G.

        If there was a male slave who married her while both enslaved, one could argue that she was now his property after he was freed after 6 years.

        Nope. The indentured servant has to choose between going out alone while leaving his wife and children or becoming a slave for life. Exodus gives the literate person exact instructions on how to accomplish this.

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

        • Kodie

          I know what it says in the bible, I was just saying something else.

    • Jack Baynes

      I wouldn’t call that “sly owners”, that appears to be the straight forward purpose of the rule.

  • davewarnock

    WLC tries so hard to defend all the nonsense, but he only has two trump cards he plays over and over:

    1- the divine common theory (I won’t dignify it with capital letters).
    2- the inner witness of the holy spirit.

    That’s it. That’s his whole game. The rest is just a lot of hot air and words thrown around. He always comes back to those cards. It’s a tiresome act.

    • Nice distillation, thanks.

    • L.Long

      “the divine command theory” illustrates one of the many problems with ignorant people or those that put their own definition on words…..to be more accurate ….”the divine command HYPOTHESIS” as there is zero evidence for this. Or even better “the divine command WAG!” WAG=Wild Ass Guess.

  • Anonomouse14-15yearoldbowman

    Hey Bob, it’s anonomouse14yearold, until tommarrow, then it’s 15yearold. I saw you eliminated the comments section for some time, (I haven’t checked) for ten questions Christians must answer. I have no time to waste here, so I’m just saying hi. God bless, your website has helped me understand arguments to pro and con the “Christian God”. However, all you attempt to do here is make God look like a bad guy, you absolutely fail to disprove the existence of a God, and use some of the world’s most unknown theists. My arguments have improved, and you’ve have posed some questions I can answer better now. But your mind is closed, you seek only to look at things your own way. This message probably won’t change anything for you, you’ll just be annoyed and laughing. I have found you to be intelligent only in your blogs, in chat you act cocky and don’t try to help anyone understand your view point except others like you. If you want people to understand your views, you’ll have to work with them passively and play devils advocate. I’m not saying I’m better, I’m probably worse in some views.

    With slavery, God only says may, so if a law says you cannot, then that law must be followed. However, if God says you must, then the law would be ungodly. Perhaps God wishes for us to find the evils of slavery on our own and then make a choice on it, without his interception. Slavery is not a holy practice, I don’t think God truly likes slavery. That is why his law is passive voice, unlike “you shall not murder”. Then why would he allow the civil war and racism involved? The answer is simple, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get ‘er/’em to drink. As free will, we needed to find out on our own what works best for us.

    Then Why would a good god allow such evil or hate in the world? The answer is ridiculously simple. In order to love truly, you have to have the potential ability to hate, otherwise we all would be programed to “love”, and “do good”. Is choosing the right thing really that important if everyone does it? This is the reason you cannot program love. It is a choice.

    Is there a God? Probably. I can’t prove him to you beyond a shadow of a doubt, but some people can give evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. I myself believe I’ve seen miracles, and have watched over 40 hours of scientific lectures outside of school on my own time. I see a God is a potential and realistic reason for existence, a little more so than the atheist approach. Rapid expansion and Darwin’s theory of natural selection show up in Romans.- He stretches out the heavens infinitely.” also see link-> https://bible.org/seriespage/27-natural-selection

    Why should I care? Because if there is a god who promises life or eternal pain/death, you’d be screwing yourself not to buy a lottery ticket if it costs your life in not doing so. To be frank, God is not a chance, either he is real, or not. The bible says those who seek him will find him. It doesn’t say those who mock him and dare him to come forth, or challenge him will find him.

    Atheism is saying I’ll take a zero percent chance of heaven, and a near 100 percent of eternal death. Heaven isn’t a lottery ticket though, you’ll know when you bought the one, and you have paid nothing. God will show you if you chose the right god. If you get no response for the longest time, either you were not seeking, or chose the wrong creator. If God is real, he’s not a religion for gaining spiritual guidance or hope, but of salvation that is not limited to skin color, or intelligence. Take your chances, you have nothing to lose, only to gain.

    Personally, I like free stuff, but my last point is…

    Then why all the struggle? Going off my earlier point (x2), if there is good there needs to be evil in order for it to be meaningful and have worth that you made a decision. And just because I made a decision doesn’t mean the next guy has. With God, there is the opposite that wants you to make the wrong choice, and maybe not by free will. Resist evil, live morally even without God, but seek him always.

    PS, Mr Seidensticker, how do you have so much time to answer the comments? You have tons of blogs, how do you get anything done? If possible, it would be great to meet you in person. I understand you know a lot about computers, I have recently taken a computer building course in my high school.

    I know my message probably won’t change anything, but I put this message out to the one who just recently suffered a divorce about a month ago. I’m praying.

    • Greg G.

      With slavery, God only says may, so if a law says you cannot, then that law must be followed. However, if God says you must, then the law would be ungodly. Perhaps God wishes for us to find the evils of slavery on our own and then make a choice on it, without his interception. Slavery is not a holy practice, I don’t think God truly likes slavery. That is why his law is passive voice, unlike “you shall not murder”. Then why would he allow the civil war and racism involved? The answer is simple, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get ‘er/’em to drink. As free will, we needed to find out on our own what works best for us.

      If you “don’t think God truly likes slavery”, why didn’t he just say “you shall not own other people”? If there are things like “you shall not covet”, which is just a thought-crime, why not ban slavery in the Ten Commandments? You are applying your sensibilities to God because you realize the Bible is ridiculous on the subject.

      Then Why would a good god allow such evil or hate in the world? The answer is ridiculously simple. In order to love truly, you have to have the potential ability to hate, otherwise we all would be programed to “love”, and “do good”. Is choosing the right thing really that important if everyone does it? This is the reason you cannot program love. It is a choice.

      Preachers try to make it about love or hate when it is a matter of being gullible or not gullible where gullible is good. Do you hate Santa Claus or do you not believe in him? You would be gullible if you did believe. In order to love, you have to believe the object of your affection exists, then you can decide whether you love the slavery lover.

      Atheism is saying I’ll take a zero percent chance of heaven, and a near 100 percent of eternal death.

      If Pascal’s Wager is true, then why did Paul say that if you are wrong, you are to be “most pitied”?.

      1 Corinthians 15:19 (NRSV)19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

      if there is good there needs to be evil in order for it to be meaningful and have worth that you made a decision.

      That’s what Christians say when they have nothing intelligent to say. We could have pleasure without pain. Pain can diminish pleasure but it does not make it better or more meaningful. I don’t know if you know what an orgasm is like but having a broken bone does not make it better. We don’t need to see people starving to death to enhance our thriving.

      Think a little deeper about the things they tell you in church. When you brain says, “Wait a minute”, don’t shut down those thoughts. Think them through.

    • A15:

      I saw you eliminated the comments section for some time

      That doesn’t happen on this blog. I’ve never closed comments. One tricky thing though is to make sure you select Disqus or WT (you only see comments from one system at a time). Yes, I know—confusing.

      your website has helped me understand arguments to pro and con the “Christian God”.

      That’s great to hear.

      However, all you attempt to do here is make God look like a bad guy, you absolutely fail to disprove the existence of a God

      I can’t disprove the existence of God. All I do is show that the evidence points away from there being a supernatural.

      use some of the world’s most unknown theists

      If you have new arguments that are powerful, I’d like to hear them.

      your mind is closed, you seek only to look at things your own way

      I disagree. I swim in Christian apologetics daily. What better way to make myself available to the brainwashing power of Jesus?

      I have found you to be intelligent only in your blogs, in chat you act cocky and don’t try to help anyone understand your view point except others like you.

      In comments, I tend to mirror the person I’m talking to (which is why I don’t like talking to jerks—I eventually drop to their level, unable to find any other way to connect with them). I’ve written countless comments trying to give Christians new ideas that will help them. But if your point is that many comments are also snarky, that’s quite true.

      Perhaps God wishes for us to find the evils of slavery on our own and then make a choice on it, without his interception.

      He didn’t do that with murder, lying, or stealing in the 10 Cs. I wonder why something as important as slavery or genocide or rape got omitted.

      Slavery is not a holy practice, I don’t think God truly likes slavery.

      God regulates commerce (see Proverbs), and he regulates slavery. Looks to me like he sees each institution as part of society. You’re projecting if you imagine God doesn’t shares your opinion on slavery.

      The answer is simple, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get ‘er/’em to drink.

      Yeah, that’s my complaint about those commandments. I wish God had just said, “It’d be nice to not murder.” That harsh “thou shalt not” is cramping my style.

      As free will, we needed to find out on our own what works best for us.

      Spoken like an atheist.

      Since we’re able to stumble along and more or less improve society (it ain’t perfect, but there’s a lot of good in society), where’s the evidence for God at all?

      In order to love truly, you have to have the potential ability to hate, otherwise we all would be programed to “love”, and “do good”. Is choosing the right thing really that important if everyone does it? This is the reason you cannot program love. It is a choice.

      Ah, I see. If I was programmed or forced to say, “I … love … you … God,” then that wouldn’t be true love. But if God is such an advocate for free will, I wonder why he permits victims to have their free will imposed upon by murderers and rapists.

      Is there a God? Probably. I can ‘t prove him to you beyond a shadow of a doubt, but some people can give evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

      I’ve looked for years and haven’t found such a thing.

      Why should I care? Because if there is a god who promises life or eternal pain/death, you’d be screwing yourself not to buy a lottery ticket i f it costs your life in not doing so.

      This is Pascal’s Wager, a very weak argument that affects you as much as it does me. Look it up on this blog for more.

      The bible says those who seek him will find him.

      And the Bible is wrong. Ask the many atheists who, as Christians with failing faith, begged God to give them compelling evidence for his existence.

      It doesn’t say those who mock him and dare him to come forth, or challenge him will find him.

      God cares about those who mock him? Think about what that says about God. Can you imagine a human sage getting offended in a similar way? He’d be above that. That God isn’t shows that he’s just the creation of Bronze Age men.

      Atheism is saying I’ll take a zero percent chance of heaven, and a near 100 percent of eternal death.

      Christianity is saying I’ll take a zero percent chance of Muslim heaven. And Buddhist heaven and Hindu heaven and so on.

      If you get no response for the longest time, either you were not seeking, or chose the wrong creator.

      C’mon, pal: think. God doesn’t exist. What is left unexplained?

      If God is real, he’s not a religion for gaining spiritual guidance or hope, but of salvation that is not limited to skin color, or intelligence.

      You need to read more about the racism and tribalism in the Old Testament.

      PS, Mr Seidensticker, how do you have so much time to answer the comments? You have tons of blogs, how do you get anything done?

      I want to engage with commenters, both to thank them for taking the time to comment and to learn new things.

  • Anonomouse14-15yearoldbowman

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY

    Why I hate Religion and love Jesus.

    • L.Long

      Hate ALL dogma and think jesus was at best an incompetent teacher!

      • James

        I’d say unoriginal – Jesus at his most profound, the Golden Rule for example, is like Vanilla Ice sampling Queen, cribbing ethical philosophy that had already been said and said much more eloquently.

        • “Love God and love your neighbor. All the rest is mere commentary.”
          — Hillel, chief rabbi of Jerusalem, about 40 BCE

          My Baptist family tried to convince me that Jesus invented the Golden Rule. They couldn’t stand the thought that somebody human might have nice, let alone profound, thoughts. Not that they would have known profundity if it bit ’em on their righteous backsides.

    • adam

  • L.Long

    Listening to WLC you know a few things…he is white.. privileged … & as never been a slave no matter how you define the word!!! And if you define a slave as one who must follow rules and works hard for room & board, then most everyone is a slave and xtians are the most enslaved.

    • [WLC has] never been a slave no matter how you define the word!!!

      I replied in one blog post series to two African-American men who were supporting biblical slavery. Wow–when a white guy has to school African-American men on why slavery is a problem, one marvels at how powerful Christian brainwashing is.

    • TheNuszAbides

      most everyone is a slave and xtians are the most enslaved.

      fair enough really, though i’d just say ‘monotheists’ there, since every one of them has a spectrum of slavish behavior (i.e. some jews are more enslaved than some muslims are more enslaved than some jesusfussers, etc.)

  • The Guest

    I remember talking with a Christian about this. He said that God never said he supported slavery; he only allowed it (like divorce is allowed or something). And of course, God was and is totally against slavery. It’s so frustrating to encounter these argument, because it takes a little work to respond to them well. Although I guess it’s just a strategy of moving the goalposts maybe. Anyway, if a person is just being contrarian, then there isn’t much you can do.

    Do you have a post about this Bob (God “never saying he supported slavery”).

    • adam

      ” He said that God never said he supported slavery; “

    • This post talks about that. In short, God treats slavery like he does commerce. He never actually says that he supports either one, but he regulates them both. For example, Proverbs has several admonitions to use fair weights and measures.

      If God regulates it, he approves. It’s not like God was shy about rolling out his demands. “Hey, guys, if you could stop the murder, OK? That’d be swell. Don’t let me impose but, y’know, if you could at least reduce it, I’d sure appreciate it. Thanks homies!” Nope–he gave his commandments, and the death penalty was the punishment for many of them. No training wheels, no warning citations.

      • TheNuszAbides

        funny how such a badass has to coddle the creations he Made In His Own Image(TM) to slowly, not-so-subtly ‘guide’ them towards moral improvement … after the ignominious results of (a) The Garden, (b) kicking them out of The Garden, (c) flooding The World, etc.

  • SteveK

    >> But Craig has dug himself into a hole—either indentured servitude is moral for society today, or morality changes over time and we discard the idea of objective morality.

    You are mixing up absolute morality and objective morality. Objective morality can change over time. Craig addresses that here

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/objective-or-absolute-moral-values

    • James

      Interesting – elsewhere Craig defines his immaterial being as changeless. So which is it? His evidence in favor of “objective” morality seems to be the same as it is for ordinary, subjective morality; namely human beings say what is right and wrong and humans devise rules for other humans to follow in order to create a more civil society. In order to demonstrate “objective morality” there would need to be good evidence such rules were handed down by a deity meeting the description of the Judeo-Christian god. Which we don’t have; current archaeological evidence, for example the complete lack of evidence for the Exodus, points to Moses being a mythical figure. And even if Moses did exist, it is a matter of blind faith that he ever spoke with something like the Judeo-Christian deity. Conversely, his first ten commandments don’t stand out as extraordinary – earlier codes of law condemn lying, murder and theft, for instance. Biblical morality at it’s finest requires mere human empathy to devise – and at it’s worst it quickly becomes an apologist for genocide, slavery, rape, murder, the treatment of women as chattel property, etc.

      • SteveK

        >> So which is it?

        So which is what?

        >> His evidence in favor of “objective” morality seems to be the same as it is for ordinary, subjective morality;

        Evidence is interpreted sense data, so let’s look at the sense data first. The sense data that is consistently reported indicates that people perceive moral categories of good and evil in a way that is similar to the perception of light and dark. In both cases people observe something and have a perception.

        If you want to say that this means light perception and moral perception are subjective, okay, but so what? The source data for the perception is reported to extend beyond the person in both cases.

        • James

          The issue is Craig defines “objective” morality so that is it indistinguishable from subjective morality. His only reason for doing so seems to be so he can proclaim his own take on morality to be superior to any other, which fails empirically.

        • SteveK

          The way Craig defines his terms, it’s not indistinguishable. It’s very distinguishable.

          If it looks indistinguishable to you it’s because you’re working from a different set of definitions.

        • James

          Of course he’s using a different set of definitions; that’s the point. Do you suppose Craig would argue that non-believers also have objective morality, that this objective morality exists independent of Craig’s particular theological dogma – which cannot be demonstrated to be objectively true – and that such non-believer morality achieves objectively equal results to believers when tested in comparison to a list of mutually encouraged or criminalized behaviors? I think not. Craig stikes me as proclaiming that he and the members of his tribe own the trademark on morality and the rest of us are just borrowing theirs – and when asked for evidence to this effect, it’s the usual apologist smoke and mirrors. Craig’s “objective” morality seems to be little more than a subjective pretension that his morality arises from something more than human empathy.

        • SteveK

          >> Of course he’s using a different set of definitions; that’s the point.

          If Craig’s definition was indistinguishable from subjective morality, then Craig’s definition wouldn’t be this:

          “Objective” means “independent of people’s (including one’s own) opinion.”

          So I don’t understand what you mean by indistinguishable from subjective morality. I can see the difference pretty clearly.

          >> Do you suppose Craig would argue that non-believers also have objective morality

          No group “has” objective morality so I have no idea how to answer this question.

          >> that this objective morality exists independent of Craig’s particular theological dogma

          His definition of objective morality (quoted above) doesn’t say anything about theology.

          Where’s the indistinguishable part you keep referencing?

        • James

          >>If Craig’s definition was indistinguishable from
          subjective morality, then Craig’s definition wouldn’t be this:

          >>“Objective” means “independent of people’s (including
          one’s own) opinion.”

          Conceptually yes; that’s not where we disagree. Rational belief in an actual objective morality would require evidence of such morality arising from a source independent of humans, i.e. from “God,” and then we’d need to then know from which God. Any given brand of theism including Craig’s offers no such evidence – many people presume to speak for God, but it’s always a human doing the speaking. And what they say about morality, when applied, achieves no better results than the mere humans who don’t so presume to have had their morality handed down to them by a deity.

          >>“So I don’t understand what you mean by
          indistinguishable from subjective morality. I can see the difference pretty
          clearly.”

          I’m asking for empirical evidence that would distinguish human “subjective” morality from a presumed divinely-inspired “objective” morality. So far you haven’t presented any. For example, can you propose a test by which believers will clearly and consistently outperform a wide range of unbelievers on any given behavioral outcome?

          >>No group “has” objective morality so I have no
          idea how to answer this question.

          That’s my point – no group has objective morality. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop certain groups such as Craig’s coreligionists from claiming to have access to such objective morality on the basis of evidence that amounts to little more than personal intuition.

          >>Where’s
          the indistinguishable part you keep referencing?

          Simple – what is the empirical evidence that would distinguish human-created “subjective” morality from presumably divinely inspired “objective” morality?
          Given that we seem to be limited to people and hence to “…people’s opinion…” how does one establish morality “independent of people’s opinion?” That would seem to require a test.

          We have a lot of people presuming to speak on “God’s” behalf (coincidentally, it’s always their own version of God who hands down morality), but we have no gods or goddesses speaking on its own behalf what is right and wrong, objectively independent of people’s opinion. Nor do we have credible evidence that any person speaks as something more than a person, i.e. as any given deity’s spokesperson

        • SteveK

          >> An actual objective morality would require evidence of it arising from a source independent of humans, i.e. “God” (and then we’d need to then know from which God).

          Eventually we would want to have these things. We don’t need them to justify the conclusion based on sense perception anymore than we needed evidence of light arising from an independent source prior to getting it.

          >> I’m asking for empirical evidence that would distinguish human “subjective” morality from a presumed divinely-inspired “objective” morality.

          The evidence is widely held human sense perception of moral categories that are informed by sense data.

          What you’re saying is that a widely held perception of “objective X” via sense data is indistinguishable from a widely held perception of “subjective X” via sense data.

          Good luck getting around that problem in any situation.

        • James

          >>Eventually we would want to have these things. We don’t need them to justify the conclusion based on sense perception anymore than we needed evidence of light arising from an independent source prior to getting it.

          A priori reasoning is useless for knowing matters of fact; it is the difference between mere unfalsifiable speculation and a functioning model of reality. I’ve asked for evidence – you keep dancing around the fact that you have nothing to present.

          >>The evidence is widely held human sense perception of moral categories that are informed by sense data.

          Which cannot be tested or distinguished empirically in any tangible way to be something more than ordinary human opinion (I prefer the phrase “human judgment”), the same very human-centric basis that we have for law, language, art or science, for example. Craig’s definition, as you recall, is supposed to be independent of human opinion. Yet it’s always humans who do the speaking.

          >>What you’re saying is that a widely held
          perception of “objective X” via sense data is indistinguishable from
          a widely held perception of “subjective X” via sense data.

          Not at all. It is theists who assert the positive claim that divinely mandated objective morality independent of human opinion (judgment) exists, which does not remotely meet its burden or proof. Human morality – the only kind we that we have evidence for – is formed by our senses and our reasoning in exactly the same way that we solve any other challenge that we face in reality, with neither need for nor evidence in support of an independent objective morality-giver. Evolution and social cooperative survival skills explain morality quite well enough – there’s no need to pretend that any particular bronze age middle eastern deity caused it all.

        • SteveK

          >> Which cannot be tested or distinguished empirically in any tangible way to be something more than ordinary human opinion

          Does this mean empirical testing is the wrong approach or does this mean that peer review leads to nothing more than widely held human opinion of sense data?

          >> Yet it’s always humans who do the speaking.

          Since this is always the case, what do you mean by “objective”?

        • James

          You seem to have devolved into sophism. Let me ask this again – what empirical evidence do you have for for the existence of an morality-giver independent of human cognition?

          By “objective” I mean independent of human cognition (i.e. opinion) as I’ve explained several times now.

        • SteveK

          >> You seem to have devolved into sophism.

          I’m responding to your comments. I haven’t devolved into anything. Maybe you can answer my questions.

          >> Let me ask this again – what empirical evidence do you have for for the existence of an morality-giver independent of human cognition?

          The widely held sense perception of moral order – that’s my evidence. That basic fact is undeniable. This is no different than the widely held sense perception of visual order.

          Would you say that the sense perception of objective visual order is indistinguishable from subjective visual order – because that’s what I hear you saying, except with morality.

          >> By “objective” I mean independent of human cognition (i.e. opinion) as I’ve explained several times now.

          All evidence is interpreted sense data so all evidence is dependent on human cognition.

        • James

          >>I’m responding to your comments. I haven’t devolved into anything. Maybe you can answer my questions.

          I disagree. On the contrary, I find your responses to be pedantic and entirely unconvincing.

          >>The widely held sense perception of moral order – that’s my evidence. That basic fact is undeniable.
          This is no different than the widely held sense perception of visual order.

          Again , disagreed. People exist; human behavior exists; rules for proper human behavior exists. The existence of humans is quite sufficient to understand any given human behavior with no need to commit special pleading
          with regards to morality. Any given alleged law-giver of human behavior is merely an unfalsifiable assertion lacking any evidential support, and it is abundantly obvious that no such evidential support is likely to emerge in the future. Christianity has had two thousand years to meet its burden of proof, and still all we get from apologists are rationalizations and excuses for why they fail to meet their burden of proof. It’s fine – there’s plenty of other religions and deities we both agree are myths, and we agree on the basis of exactly the same quality of evidence as we have for the existence of the particular Christian deity. You’re quite free to think what you like, I simply don’t find your arguments convincing.

          >>Would you say that the sense perception of objective visual order is indistinguishable from subjective visual order – because that’s what I hear you saying, except with morality.

          Not at all. You seem to equivocate a lot on what is meant by “objective.” In some cases, you seem to mean “empirical” as experienced through human senses, and in others an opinion existing independently of human senses and opinion.

          >>All evidence is interpreted sense data so all evidence is dependent on human
          cognition.

          Nice; perhaps we’re getting somewhere. So, what is your sense data basis for claiming that a law giver exists and is necessary to explain the existence of human morality? From where I stand, your sense data seems to be mere intuition, presumably learned from your culture. And intuition achieves demonstrably poor results. I prefer empirical explanations – murder, for example, is quite disadvantageous for survival both for individuals and for societies.

          In any case, it is abundantly clear neither of us is going to change the other person’s opinion and I am doubtful of learning anything useful by continuing the conversation.

        • SteveK

          >> In some cases, you seem to mean “empirical” as experienced through human senses, and in others an opinion existing independently of human senses and opinion.

          In all cases I mean independent of human opinion.

          >> So, what is your sense data basis for claiming that a law giver exists and is necessary to explain the existence of human morality?

          The basic sense perception of moral order that every person experiences at every age.

          >> From where I stand, your sense data seems to be mere intuition, presumably learned from your culture.

          You’re standing too far away then.

          Sense data is not interpreted, it’s raw data. Reactions to the raw data of moral order can be observed empirically just like reactions to visual order can. Show a person hatred and they physically react differently than when you show them love.

          >> I prefer empirical explanations – murder, for example, is quite disadvantageous for survival both for individuals and for societies.

          If there is no objective duty to live a particular way, then let people live however they want. You say there is no objective obligation, and then you strongly imply that there is an obligation. Which is it?

        • adam

          “The basic sense perception of moral order that every person experiences at every age.”

        • adam

          “If there is no objective duty to live a particular way, then let people live however they want. “

        • Scott_In_OH

          The basic sense perception of moral order that every person experiences at every age.

          I do not know what this is.

        • James

          Yep – as Neil Carter says “Defenders of the Christian faith love to move discussions about their religion from objective matters to subjective ones, from measurable things
          to the immeasurable, and from quantifiable subjects to those which are completely nebulous—or more to the point,unfalsifiable.”

          When asked to present empirical evidence, apologists tend to change the subject, shift to unfalsifiability and resort to pedantic presuppositional navel-gazing.

        • adam

          “I do not know what this is.”

          Neither does SteveK, he is trying to find even the small gap to insert his ‘god’ into.

        • SteveK

          Do you sense moral order as you live your life? In order words, do you sense things that are harmful (evil) or beneficial (good) and either avoid them or pursue them, even if it’s not a conscious task? If so, then you know.

        • adam

          ” In order words, do you sense things that are harmful (evil) or beneficial (good) and either avoid them or pursue them, even if it’s not a conscious task?”

          No, without a conscious my senses are no better indicators of morality than they are for a dog.

        • Scott_In_OH

          First, beneficial =/= good, and harmful =/= evil, according to common definitions of the terms. If you want to use them interchangeably, you need to say what you mean by them.

          Second, while I think most people do have a set of beliefs about the kinds of things they should and shouldn’t do, I don’t believe that set of beliefs is universal. Note that I’m NOT saying they’re all equally legitimate in my eyes. I’m only saying that any argument along the lines of, “We know some rules are objectively good because we all come to them on our own” is false. We DON’T all come to them on our own.

        • SteveK

          He was looking for evidence, and I’m giving it. We all perceive moral order via basic sense perception. It’s no different than our basic sense perception of visual order (light/dark). We perceive things that are lighter/darker than other things and we also perceive things that are more good/less good.

          If that basic sense perception isn’t evidence for actual moral order then you tell me what this perception is evidence for – actual mental delusion?

        • adam

          ” We all perceive moral order via basic sense perception.”

          No, we dont.

        • adam

          “we also perceive things that are more good/less good.”

          No we DECIDE things that are more good/less good

        • Scott_In_OH

          I don’t know what you mean by “moral order” or “basic sense perception.”

          By “moral order” it seems you mean “whether I should or shouldn’t commit a particular act in a particular situation,” but I’m not sure.

          If that is right, by what “basic sense” do I perceive that “order”? Do I see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or hear it? I don’t do any of those things.

          Also, it is emphatically not true that all humans answer the question of whether they should or shouldn’t commit a particular act in a particular situation the same way. I.e., they don’t all perceive the same moral order, if I’ve correctly understood what you mean by the term.

        • SteveK

          >> I don’t know what you mean by “moral order” or “basic sense perception.”

          We’ve been over this. If you sense things that are harmful (evil) or beneficial (good) and either avoid them or pursue them, even if it’s not a conscious task, then you know what I mean.

          >> By “moral order” it seems you mean “whether I should or shouldn’t commit a particular act in a particular situation,” but I’m not sure.

          It means that, yes. It also means perceiving the difference between moral order and physical order. You react differently to both. It also means doing this, at times, without deliberate conscious thought.

          >> If that is right, by what “basic sense” do I perceive that “order”? Do I see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or hear it? I don’t do any of those things.

          I have no idea how the mind works, only that we perceive it. Every naturalist that I’m aware of says that evolution is responsible for this human feature so I’m not sure why my statements are problematic.

          >> I.e., they don’t all perceive the same moral order, if I’ve correctly understood what you mean by the term.

          We all perceive moral order, but that order is not *expressed* the same way. It’s an intersubjective expression of a reality that is perceived.

          It’s the same way with our perception of visual order. We all perceive varying degrees of brightness/size/distance, but we do not *express* it the same way.

          Ask people if something is bright (or large or far away) and some will say yes, some will say no – but everyone perceives that some things are brighter, larger or farther away than other things.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I see no evidence that humans “perceive moral order.”

        • SteveK

          Don’t blame me. It’s out there.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Although you haven’t pointed me toward any of it.

        • SteveK

          Ask people if they are able to perceive varying degrees of good in the world. There’s your evidence.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Sorry, I thought I was having a conversation with you. I will continue to talk with other people and make my own observations, which is exactly how I’ve come to the conclusion that people do NOT “perceive moral order.”

        • SteveK

          People don’t perceive that rape is less good than feeding the poor? Hmm…

          Or to state it in very generic terms, people don’t perceive that X is less good than Y? Hmm…

          Or to state it another way, people don’t perceive that living life one particular way is less good than living life some other way? Hmm…

          And finally…people don’t perceive that irrationality is less good than rationality? Hmm…

        • Scott_In_OH

          As I said before, individuals do make decisions that they should do some things and not others. They do not, however, make the same decisions.

          Stick with one that should be simple, that people shouldn’t kill each other:

          Is war ever justified? How about the US invasion of Iraq?

          If someone rapes your sister, should you kill him? Should the state do it after a prescribed trial process? Or is the death penalty for crimes never OK?

          Is it OK to kill in self-defense? Is it self-defense if you feel scared about the other person, or do you have to wait until he or she does something particularly threatening?

          Humans don’t agree on these things or many, many others.

        • SteveK

          Is rationality more good than irrationality?

        • adam

          “Is rationality more good than irrationality?”

          I dont know.

          Why dont you try it and let us see?

        • SteveK

          >> I dont know

          Which means you don’t know if teaching a person to avoid logical fallacies is more good than teaching them to make as many as possible.

          This is an amazing, yet very consistent, picture of your worldview. Face the mirror and gaze deeply into it.

        • adam

          “Is rationality more good than irrationality?”

          I dont know.

          Why dont you try it and let us see?
          This is an amazing, yet very consistent, picture of your worldview.
          Face the mirror and gaze deeply into it.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Not relevant to the point. I’ve given you several examples of critical moral questions on which humans disagree strongly.

        • SteveK

          It’s relevant to the point I’m making. If you recall, the issue was evidence for objective morality. I told you about perceived moral order and how this is evidence.

          You claimed that people don’t perceive this so I cited several examples where they do. I then asked you a question about rationality that I thought would demonstrate that you also perceive moral order.

          So answer the question. Your answer will help me know how best to proceed with our discussion.

        • Scott_In_OH

          If your point is that people decide they should do some things and not others, I have agreed with you more than once.

          If your point is that people come to the same conclusions about what they should and shouldn’t do, then it doesn’t matter how many examples of coming to the same conclusions you can show (and I don’t concede that you have shown any) as long as I can show you one instance where they do not. I have done considerably more than that, giving you, as I said earlier, several examples of critical moral questions on which humans disagree strongly.

        • SteveK

          My point is that I’ve given you evidence.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Of what? Of the fact that people decide they should do some things and not others, or of the fact that people come to the same conclusions about what they should and shouldn’t do? Or of something else?

        • SteveK

          >> Of what?

          Of the perception that a person’s life should not be lived any way a person wants to live it – that some ways lead to flourishing while other ways do not. That’s a universal perception that we all agree is correct. That universal perception is evidence for objective morality.

        • Scott_In_OH

          You have not offered evidence “of the perception that a person’s life should not be lived any way a person wants to live it.” You have shown that some people believe they should do some things and not others.

        • SteveK

          I’m not sure why you are hung up on the fact that there isn’t 100% agreement. If that’s the criteria for determining if something is subjective or objective then everything is subjective.

          I think the justification for the conclusion in favor of objective morality can be found in the widespread reports of that perception. Confirmation / verification is found in numbers. Your insistence that the reports are examples of subjective morality are falsified by the reports themselves.

          If that approach doesn’t justify a conclusion in favor of objectivity then peer review doesn’t justify the conclusion that some perceived outcome appears to have been confirmed/verified just because everyone reports that it has.

          That’s about all I have to say to you on this. Later.

        • Scott_In_OH

          You’re saying that because people rank order things (the goodness of certain actions), there must be a single rank ordering out there somewhere. That doesn’t make any sense. I like fish more than chicken; that doesn’t mean there exists an objective ranking of foods someplace.

          I was “hung up” on the fact of disagreement because it sounded like you were making an argument like that of C.S. Lewis and Francis Collins (and presumably many others). They claim that people and civilizations throughout history have come to the same basic moral conclusions, and the only explanation Lewis and Collins can think of is that they must all be independently discovering God’s Law, like independent scientists confirming the age of a fossil or the speed of light. That argument is bogus because (1) people and civilizations throughout history have had MAJOR disagreements on fundamental questions of morality, and (2) empathy and socialization can explain any convergence we see.

          In the end, it seems you weren’t even making that argument. You were trying derive objectivity from the fact that people do some things and not others. Their argument is understandable but wrong. Yours is nonsensical.

        • adam

          “You were trying derive objectivity from the fact that people do some things and not others.”

          Soooo desperate to find even the tiniest crack in human knowledge in which to insert his ‘God’.

          What a PATHETIC excuse for a ‘God’

        • SteveK

          >> I like fish more than chicken; that doesn’t mean there exists an objective ranking of foods someplace.

          This is where my prior comment comes in. Your insistence that the reports are examples of subjective morality are falsified by the reports themselves.

          Rarely, if ever, do people equate morality with what they like or prefer. The terms “like” and “prefer” are rarely if ever used. Additionally, people will usually report that it’s *possible* for their moral perceptions to be wrong. It’s the reason people spend hours trying to figure out if they are wrong. They debate, they reason they try to dig toward the moral truth.

          That can never occur with food preferences and tastes. It’s not possible for a desire for fish to be wrong about a desire for fish. We know this, which explains why we don’t spend hours trying to figure out if we are wrong about food preferences.

          In summary, the reports falsify your claim about subjectivity. It’s perceived as being objective, something that could be incorrect or false.

        • adam

          “Rarely, if ever, do people equate morality with what they like or prefer.”

          No, they ALWAYS do, but not necessarily consciously.

        • adam

          “It’s perceived as being objective,”

          So demonstrate that this ‘perception’ is objective.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I do find it interesting that people usually like to think of themselves as being consistent (although compartmentalization allows them to violate this tendency quite often). Also, we often try to force others to be consistent in their arguments.

          Those tendencies, however, are not evidence that there exists a correct answer out there somewhere.

        • I’m not sure why you are hung up on the fact that there isn’t 100% agreement. If that’s the criteria for determining if something is subjective or objective then everything is subjective.

          Because even if your fanciful idea is ontologically true, who cares if we can’t reliably access it? There is an objectively correct answer to the abortion debate … but we can’t access it? Why waste our time teasing us with perfection when you admit that it does us no good? (Or are you saying that you have been annointed to be our prophet, granted access to the Ultimate Truth?)

        • SteveK

          >> Because even if your fanciful idea is ontologically true, who cares if we can’t reliably access it?

          What part of perceived objective morality don’t you understand?

          >> There is an objectively correct answer to the abortion debate … but we can’t access it?

          I wouldn’t say that. You know that loving innocent human beings is objectively morally superior to killing them, don’t you? Sure you do. Don’t pretend that you are all confused and aren’t really sure about the answer.

          >> Why waste our time teasing us with perfection when you admit that it does us no good?

          Striving for perfection is an impossible task and we all know this to be true. I’ve heard that some ancient religions teach this same truth and provide a solution, but atheism does not. Now you know.

        • “Because even if your fanciful idea is ontologically true, who cares if we can’t reliably access it?”

          What part of perceived objective morality don’t you understand?

          What part of something valuable being inaccessible don’t you understand?

          “There is an objectively correct answer to the abortion debate … but we can’t access it?”

          I wouldn’t say that. You know that loving innocent human beings is objectively morally superior to killing them, don’t you? Sure you do. Don’t pretend that you are all confused and aren’t really sure about the answer.

          No, I’m not confused. I see quite clearly: you want to bring up examples of universally accepted moral truths and pass them off as objectively true. But when I pursue your thinking and actually try to use this bold claim of yours for something useful (that is, something that’s not obviously morally true), it falls apart. It’s completely useless. It does nothing to illuminate the social problems that divide the country.

          I’ve heard that some ancient religions teach this same truth and provide a solution, but atheism does not.

          No, atheism does not. It isn’t a worldview. Religions, on the other hand, are worldviews, so they have a lot to answer for.

          A solution to the question of moral perfection? And all religions agree? And this is not something obvious (Golden Rule, say) that everyone already knows? I’m eager to hear about it.

        • SteveK

          >> What part of something valuable being inaccessible don’t you understand?

          You don’t have access to know that honesty, sacrifice, love, patience and justice are valuable. Don’t pretend, Bob.

          >> you want to bring up examples of universally accepted moral truths and pass them off as objectively true.

          I want to pass them off as evidence for objective morality.

          >> But when I pursue your thinking and actually try to use this bold claim of yours for something useful (that is, something that’s not obviously morally true), it falls apart. It’s completely useless.

          Let’s examine this. People claim to know that certain things are objectively true, but when they actually run into things that aren’t obviously true, that theory falls apart. It’s useless. So truth is actually subjective? Is this what you mean?

          >> And all religions agree?

          I never hinted that they all do. Step one is realizing that atheism is a dead end and you’ll need to turn around. It’s a start.

        • So truth is actually subjective? Is this what you mean?

          Can you really not understand my point? I’m saying that there is no evidence of objective moral values. The evidence we have is nicely explained by the obvious naturalistic answer.

          “And all religions agree?”
          I never hinted that they all do.

          You said, “I’ve heard that some ancient religions teach this same truth and provide a solution.” And now you’re admitting that they’re all running around haphazardly, each with their own answer. Providing a “solution” with no evidence behind it (and, because all the other religions have their own explanations for the world, we must consider that they’re all made up) is useless.

        • TheNuszAbides

          have you been advised to make minimal effort to veil your insults?

        • SteveK

          If I violated some objective moral principle then I will adjust my behavior. If not, then I don’t really care.

        • TheNuszAbides

          how astonishing that you indicate the answer is “yes”.

        • SteveK

          So what?

        • Greg G.

          What is your motivation for insulting the moderator? Are you too stubborn to admit defeat and hope to be banned? Do you wish to be able to pretend that you were persecuted because your arguments were devastating?

          If William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga cannot devise a rational argument for the existence of God nor objective morality, do you think someone like you who doesn’t get that if a premise implies a conclusion, the conclusion doesn’t imply the premise, unless it is an “if and only if” relationship?

        • adam

          “Step one is realizing that atheism is a dead end and you’ll need to turn around. ”

          Yes, one that realizes REALITY

          As opposed to theism which realized superstition and imagination

        • adam

          “I want to pass them off as evidence for objective morality.”

          so does every faith based con man….

        • Susan

          What part of perceived objective morality don’t you understand?

          It’s a meaningless phrase without clear definitions. That doesn’t answer Bob’s question though. Bob asked:

          “Even *if your fanciful idea is true, who cares if we can’t reliably access it?” (*Emphasis mine.)

          That is, even if we granted you the fruits of an argument that you haven’t made and which you don’t even seem to understand, how is it useful in a moral discussion?

          Noted that you provided no answer. You haven’t spoiled that perfect record.

          You know that loving innocent human beings is objectively morally superior to killing them, don’t you?

          You know that not beating your wife any more is objectively morally superior to you still beating your wife, don’t you?

          Sure you do.

          😉 Of course. Bob is lying. He is completely on board with your terrible arguments and complete lack of evidence. He just wants to sin and to lead others away from the “Truth”.

          Don’t pretend that you are all confused and aren’t really sure about the answer.

          Of course. “Pretending”. Your arguments are so solidly constructed and your evidence so overwhelming that Bob has to pretend not to agree with you. (See above. He can only be lying.)

          Who wouldn’t agree with you? Anyone who doesn’t must be lying pretending.

          Striving for perfection

          Define perfection.

          is an impossible task.

          By definition. So… meh.

          we all know this to be true.

          Your commenting history here deserves an award of some kind for doing the most consistent question begging of all time.

          You’re up against some formidable presences from the theist side. All theism looks like question-begging to me. Right down to the classical theism that argues for a ground of all being (unsuccessfully, I think) and speaks about it as though it were a “being”, that is, an agent with no justification whatsoever for giving it agency.

          some ancient religions teach this same truth

          You don’t get to call it “truth” outside your cult, Steve. It doesn’t add up. It’s just your fuzzy claim, so far.

          It’s not even clearly defined enough to evaluate any part of it as a truth claim. That is, it’s <a href="http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong&quot;not even wrong.

          Not even wrong refers to any statement, argument or explanation that can be neither correct nor incorrect, because it fails to meet the criteria by which correctness and incorrectness are determined. As a more formal fallacy, it refers to the fine art of generating an ostensibly “correct” conclusion, but from premises known to be wrong or inapplicable.

          The phrase implies that not only is someone not making a valid point in a discussion, but they don’t even understand the nature of the discussion itself, or the things that need to be understood in order to participate.

        • Rudy R

          You know that loving innocent human beings is objectively morally superior to killing them

          How do we know that it’s immoral to kill an innocent human being?

        • adam

          “How do we know that it’s immoral to kill an innocent human being?”

          Certainly not by example:

        • Rudy R

          I guess you can see where I am headed with this question. Maybe I’ll get a response from SteveK

        • adam

          You will probably get a response from SteveK, but I seriously doubt it will honestly answer your question.

        • adam

          “I think the justification for the conclusion in favor of objective morality can be found in the widespread reports of that perception.”

          Yes, just like for Shiva, Ganesh, Zeus, leprechans, fairies, bigfoot and alien anal probing.

          So you should accept these as True as well.

        • adam

          “That’s a universal perception that we all agree is correct.”

          AGAIN, not ALL

          So you are just displaying subjectivity AGAIN

        • That universal perception is evidence for objective morality.

          No, Bear of Very Little Brain, that’s evidence of evolution. If you’re salivating to show that it’s not the obvious naturalistic explanation but actually the very, very unlikely supernatural option, you’ve got a big case to make.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Bear of Very Little Brain

          please clue me in on this reference?

        • It’s a reference to Winnie the Pooh, who was described as a “bear of very little brain”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ah, now i know it has been too long since i re-read my Milne books :

        • adam

          “or of the fact that SOME people SOMETIMES come to the same conclusions about what they should and shouldn’t do?”

          A bell curve of brain structure can easily explain this.

        • Scott_In_OH

          So can empathy and socialization. But it’s been impossible to get him to establish a claim, so it’s hard to get into any explanation.

        • adam

          Because once he makes a claim, it is EASY to demonstrate that his claim is unsubstantiated or unsupportable and just another ‘god of the gaps’ where ignorance equals his ‘god’.

        • MR

          But it’s been impossible to get him to establish a claim,

          That’s part of his boring game.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and the more this is plainly pointed out, the more silent treatment Steve gives whoever’s doing the pointing.

        • Is that why i didn’t get a Christmas card from him this year?!

        • MR

          I’ve long since quit taking him seriously.

        • TheNuszAbides

          It does get harder and harder to want to bother reading the first few sentences of his longer comments. i’m so glad his obstinacy hasn’t been enough for Susan to give up–may we all achieve such patience!

        • MNb

          Oh, but StevoK was kind to tell me why – he prefers to talk to those who “understand” what he writes.

        • adam

          “Oh, but StevoK was kind to tell me why – he prefers to talk to those who “understand” what he writes.”

          But of course:

        • TheNuszAbides

          alas, The Wisdom has not been Revealed to us dead-enders.

        • MNb

          Not for what you claim – for exactly the opposite of what you claim, namely subjective morality.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/01/the-bible-a-pro-slavery-free-for-all/#comment-2467475733

          Your answer was quite a disaster:

          “Then WLC can do whatever he wants and no moral principles have been violated. Your complaints about human behavior amount to nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.”

          Addressed here.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/01/the-bible-a-pro-slavery-free-for-all/#comment-2469266791

        • adam

          “You claimed that people don’t perceive this so I cited several examples where they do. I”

          And I have provided more than several examples where they dont.

        • adam

          “Is rationality more good than irrationality?”

          With YOU apparently NO, or you would be more rational.

          No, OBVIOUSLY to some people yes, to others no.

        • TheNuszAbides

          irrationality is infinitely more valuable to anyone who wants to unethically influence between 2 and billions of persons.

        • People don’t perceive that rape is less good than feeding the poor? Hmm…

          Some people think that capital punishment is appropriate for some crimes, while others think that it’s never appropriate.

          Thoughtful people don’t agree on all moral issues–is this the first time you’ve been faced with this?

        • SteveK

          If you check the context, we were discussing whether people report that they are able to perceive moral order, or not. They do.

        • Susan

          we were discussing whether people report that they are able to perceive moral order, or not. They do.

          So far, all we have are reports that people have moral opinions.

          In your argument, that is.

          There are light metres, Steve.

          Your “light” and “darkness” analogy doesn’t work.

        • That’s the big question, but let me make sure I understand the answer. You’re saying that people can reliably access objective moral truth?

          I’d like to see evidence of that, because I don’t even see evidence of the existence of objective moral values.

        • SteveK

          >> You’re saying that people can reliably access objective moral truth?

          I’m saying people perceive moral order and that this basic perception is evidence for objective morality.

        • Let’s consider these two candidate explanations. Humans’ sense of morality is largely the same worldwide, though there are differences. Evolution is one explanation. It’s sloppy, so that easily explains how we have much shared, with differences.

          “God dun it” is the other explanation. It can explain anything, which makes it useless as an explanation. Also, it appeals to the supernatural, which is an incredible claim that has yet to convince science in even one instance.

          So, no: the morality we see is natural.

        • SteveK

          So the perception of moral order is explained by telling everyone this story about how evolution gave them the false sense of order – that certain behaviors ought to be pursued while other behaviors ought to be avoided.

          How does this help you in your quest to convince religious people that they ought to abandon their beliefs? It seems you’ve forgotten what is true – they don’t. A person only has to remember what is true, and they can happily go on their way doing whatever they want.

          So that’s what I will do. Thanks Bob, for clarifying.

        • What’s false about it? Our imperfect morality is well suited to the kind of animal we are. If we were solitary animals (like bears or sharks), we’d need a different set. But we’re social animals (like wolves or chimpanzees), and our morality is well suited for our environmental niche.

          How does this help you in your quest to convince religious people that they ought to abandon their beliefs?

          Huh? Do you know what we’re talking about? That’s a different topic. I try to convince religious people to reject false beliefs.

        • SteveK

          >> What’s false about it?

          It’s false that the moral order we perceive is objective moral order. It follows that no evolved creature (the objective thing) is actually moral or immoral even though evolution has given us this perception when we look out on the horizon of evolved creatures.

          We’re all sensing something off in the very distance horizon, but you’re telling us there is nothing being sensed. I’m going to remember this.

        • adam

          “It’s false that the moral order we perceive is objective moral order.”

          Obviously, since you cant demonstrate objective moral order.

          “It follows that no evolved creature (the objective thing) is actually moral or immoral even though evolution has given us this perception when we look out on the horizon of evolved creatures.”

          Of course they can actually be moral or immoral, just not OBJECTIVELY moral or immoral………

          At least until you demonstrate that such a thing as OBJECTIVE MORALITY exists.

          “We’re all sensing something off in the very distance horizon, but you’re telling us there is nothing being sensed.”

          Such is the problem with a Hyper Active Agency Detection System, although it alone may be responsible for our existence.

        • MNb

          Speak for yourself. I don’t sense anything off in the very distance horizon. I get my morals from
          1) my upbringing;
          2) my loved ones;
          3) some stuff I read
          4) and at best a tiny fraction of what I thought up myself.

        • SteveK

          You don’t sense anything, okay, got it.

          Instead, you believe the false stories you are told and live them out as a person who knowingly pretends that objective things like people can *actually* be moral or immoral. They can’t.

          Stack all the opinions and judgments you want on top of that fact and it’s still the same result – they can’t, you know they can’t and you keep knowingly pretending.

        • adam

          “You don’t sense anything, okay, got it.”

          Nope, like reality, it is WAY over your head.

        • TheNuszAbides

          a theist with intellectual pretensions accusing a naturalist of ‘knowingly pretending’–classic.

        • SteveK

          If it’s a fact that you have no right arm then stack all the opinions and judgments you want on top of that fact and the result is the same. If you knew this fact about having no right arm and you held the opinion that you do have a right arm, you would be knowingly pretending to have a right arm.

          – likewise –

          If it’s a fact that your behavior is neither good nor evil then stack all the opinions and judgments you want on top of that fact and the result is the same. If you knew this fact about your behavior and you held the opinion that your behavior is good or evil, you would be knowingly pretending that your behavior is good or evil.

        • adam

          “Instead, you believe the false stories you are told and live them out as a person who knowingly pretends “

        • It’s false that the moral order we perceive is objective moral order.

          ?? This is the point in the conversation where you say, “I agree with you: what we perceive is not objective morality.”

          It follows that no evolved creature (the objective thing) is actually moral or immoral even though evolution has given us this perception when we look out on the horizon of evolved creatures.

          Show me the definition of “moral” that backs up this nonsensical claim.

          We’re all sensing something off in the very distance horizon, but you’re telling us there is nothing being sensed.

          We consult our own programming to see whether we think something is moral or not. No, this isn’t very hard.

        • adam

          “How does this help you in your quest to convince religious people that they ought to abandon their beliefs?”

          REALITY vs Wishful Thinking.

        • MNb

          “they can happily go on their way doing whatever they want.

          So that’s what I will do.”
          You already do, just like WLC. It’s very funny that you think this is a problem for anyone of us.
          Btw where did BobS ever write that he wants “to convince religious people that they ought to abandon their beliefs”? That’s just another prejudice of yours – thus confirming that you do whatever you want indeed.

        • SteveK

          >> It’s very funny that you think this is a problem for anyone of us.

          Given the type of comments directed toward WLC, it’s a reasonable conclusion.

          >> Btw where did BobS ever write that he wants “to convince religious people that they ought to abandon their beliefs”?

          What is the point of publicly showing that another person is in error? If there is no point then okay I will remember that. If it’s to convince someone that it would be best/good to avoid those same errors then my comment is accurate.

          Do Bob’s comments have a point, or not? I’ll let you tell me. Better to have Bob tell me.

        • adam

          “What is the point of publicly showing that another person is in error? ”

          The search for truth.

        • I
          will remember that.

          I’m seeing a lot of this phrase from you lately. Is there going to be some Judgement Day where you dredge up all our intellectual sins for our humiliation?

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, he is enjoined to be Christ-like, and Son=Father, so …

          for our humiliation

          so petty … i’m sure he can come up with loftier heights of self-righteousness.

        • MNb

          “Given the type of comments directed toward WLC, it’s a reasonable conclusion.”
          Sorry, I can’t follow your illogic anymore.
          The simple fact that WLC does what he wants only confirms our views on morality, namely that they are subjective. Same for you. Nobody here denied that WLC is a moral person or that you are. It’s just that they differ from ours, which is evidence for subjective morality.
          Are you heading at the next apologist howler, that we atheists only can dislike WLC’s and your morals due to objective morality? That’s as silly as saying that I dislike your musical taste due to objective esthetics.

          “What is the point of publicly showing that another person is in error?”
          Fun and entertainment, if I may speak for myself.
          As for BobS – the only thing he claims is “clear thinking about christianity”. That’s the motto of his blog. Plus he repeatedly invites christians to criticize his views, with the aim to clarify his thinking even further. He doesn’t claim that the point of this clear thinking is “to convince religious people …..” and that’s not necessarily implied.
          It seems to me – but correct me if I’m wrong; I always find it tricky to talk about the motivation of others – that you’re projecting. Perhaps that goes back to the task Jesus gave his followers to spread what he called The Truth. But we’re not followers of Jesus, so that doesn’t necessarily apply to us (though I grant you that it does to several atheists ).

        • we atheists only can dislike WLC’s and your morals due to objective morality? That’s as silly as saying that I dislike your musical taste due to objective esthetics.

          Excellent comparison.

        • adam

          “I’m saying people perceive moral order and that this basic perception is evidence for objective morality.”

          FAIL

        • MNb

          And I explained to you it isn’t – it’s evidence for subjective morality.

        • Greg G.

          You are still trying to play word games with ill-defined concepts. Even if people see moral orders, the fact that they do not see the same moral order means that the moral order that each sees is subjective, not objective. Your position was defeated days earlier yet you persisted.

        • adam

          “Your position was defeated days earlier yet you persisted.”

          His position is god of the gaps, that was defeated weeks if not months ago.

        • SteveK

          I must have missed the defeating part.

        • adam

          Obviously…..

        • Greg G.

          If Person A sees a moral order and Person B sees a moral order, you want to stop there and equivocate that Person A and Person B each seeing a moral order proves that the moral order is objective. But Person A and Person B often see different moral orders and neither may see the moral order you see. That shows that the moral order you want to say is objective is not objective at all.

          Everybody in agreement on the same moral order is a necessary condition for objective morality but it does not necessarily imply that the common moral order is objective.

          It’s simple logic. Y implies Z but that does not mean that Z implies Y, If it is raining, it is wet outside. But if it is wet outside, it does not necessarily mean that it is raining. There are other reasons it could be wet outside.

          What may be seen as a common moral order for a social species may be programmed by the differential success in passing on genes that lead to that instinct because they help a social species thrive. But an asocial species would not be genetically pre-disposed to have that instinct and its moral order its to eat the best parts and not share until sated. Neither moral order can be said to be objective.

          If the social species were genocidal toward the asocial species and annihilated it so that the other moral order was wiped out, it still doesn’t make the social species moral order objective.

          Once again, you are making a poor argument that would go nowhere even if you defined your terms and didn’t equivocate.

        • SteveK

          >> Everybody in agreement on the same moral order is a necessary condition for objective morality but it does not necessarily imply that the common moral order is objective.

          Nobody agrees on anything. If agreement by everybody is a necessary condition then nothing is objective. Truth is subjective.

          >> If it is raining, it is wet outside. But if it is wet outside, it does not necessarily mean that it is raining.

          Being wet outside counts as evidence for rain. Likewise having moral perceptions about external things (human behavior) counts as evidence for objective morality. You have not defeated that statement.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody agrees on anything. If agreement by everybody is a necessary condition then nothing is objective. Truth is subjective.

          Truth is objective. It is the truth that 2 + 2 = 4. Anybody whose truth says otherwise is wrong. Whoever thinks the moon is made of green cheese is wrong. Either there is a god who is better at hiding than humans are at finding him or there is not a god. One case is true and one is false. We do not know which is true, but one of them is an objective truth. We just have different opinions.

          Being wet outside counts as evidence for rain.

          Maybe it rained but is not raining now. Maybe the snow just melted. Maybe a fire truck emptied its water tank. Maybe somebody washed the house with a power-washer. Being wet outside does not guarantee that it is raining.

          If there is water falling from the clouds in droplets, you have evidence that it is raining.

          This very basic logic. If you don’t grasp these simple basics, back away. You could infer something that could get you hurt.

        • SteveK

          All those words, all those “maybe’s”, and still no defeater for the truth of my statement — having moral perceptions about external things (human behavior) counts as evidence for objective morality.

        • Greg G.

          I was pointing out all the possibilities for why it could be wet without rain falling at that particular moment. It shows that you do not understand deductive logic, which explains your cargo cult attempts at it.

          If you want a definitive case, last week my driveway and sidewalk were wet but it had not rained for a week or more and the pavements had dried thoroughly since then. The previous day’s snow melted.

          For a premise to work in deductive logic, it must be true always. If a premise is almost always true, even a valid structure of an argument yields an unreliable conclusion.

          having moral perceptions about external things (human behavior) counts as evidence for objective morality.

          It has nothing to do with objective morality. If 7.5 billion people had 7.5 billion different moral perceptions, it wouldn’t guarantee that any of them had the correct objective moral perception nor it wouldn’t tell us that there was an objective moral perception. If most people agreed that a book provided objective moral precepts, would it be objectively moral to pluck out your eyes for taking a second look at an extremely attractive person?

          So even if there was an objective morality, we have no way to determine what it is. All we can do is to recognize what allows us to thrive and promote that.

        • Michael Neville

          What one person or one group of people consider moral is considered immoral by others. I consider same sex marriage to be moral, all of the Republican candidates for President claim same sex marriage is immoral. None of us are GLBT so our opinions on the morality of same sex marriage is external to us. Ergo morality is subjective.

        • adam

          “having moral perceptions about external things (human behavior) counts as evidence for objective morality.”

          Nope still not counting as evidence for objective morality.

        • evidence? Your “objective morality” is morality grounded outside of humans, not simply shared. You’ve provided no evidence for such a remarkable claim.

          We’re all the same species. Obviously we share more or less the same morality. If you want to make the externally grounded claim, provide the evidence.

        • SteveK

          >> You’ve provided no evidence for such a remarkable claim.

          Sure I have. The evidence is the widely held perception of objective moral order. The evidence is the perception that it’s *possible* for any given shared morality to *actually* be false/wrong or *actually* be less good than some other shared morality – which are all examples of objective moral order.

        • adam

          “The evidence is the widely held perception of objective moral order. “

        • Like I said: we’re the same species, and we have shared moral opinions. This brilliant insight of yours is nicely explained by natural explanations (evolution, morals shared within a society).

          If you want this to point to the supernatural, show us why the natural is insufficient.

        • SteveK

          Tell me exactly what you mean by “natural” and maybe I can do that.

        • If you can clarify whatever’s confusing, I can focus on making clear my point. I fear, however, that this is a fun opportunity to haggle about word definitions. If that’s the agenda, I’d rather not.

        • SteveK

          I can’t show you why the natural is insufficient until I know what you mean by that term. Some people will say everything is natural and then ask me to show that the supernatural exists. I can’t do that given the definition, but if I work under that definition I can show that God is a very unique natural thing that is unlike any other natural thing.

        • I have no idea how to resolve your confusion. How about: natural is everything except the supernatural? Or do we not share the same definition of that, either?

          Gods are supernatural, people and planets are natural.

          Let’s get back to the point: natural explanations are sufficient to explain morality. There’s no need to whip up supernatural explanations.

        • SteveK

          >> natural explanations are sufficient to explain morality.

          You’ll need to define and defend these terms. I have no reason to disagree with this statement as it is until such time as you do that. As it stands undefined, my preference would be to amend it to say that supernatural explanations are sufficient to explain natural explanations. That is in keeping with your statement: “natural is everything except the supernatural”

        • adam

          ” The evidence is the widely held perception of objective moral order.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          One case is true and one is false

          if he believes this applies to every ‘moral choice’, then there’s no reaching him on any of these points.

        • WLC’s definition of objective moral values are values that are binding whether anyone believes them or not. Is this your claim?

        • SteveK

          I don’t know what WLC is defining or saying, but yes, I’m saying morals exist whether anyone believes them or not.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, morals exist. People accept certain moral behaviors and reject others. But not all people agree on precisely what is moral and what is not. There is no way to determine what an objective moral value is. We can only do what helps us all to thrive. But sometimes there is conflict as one group’s values do not allow another group to achieve there values.

          If the objective moral values are not about humans thriving, then they must be arbitrary or non-existent.

          People can only believe objective moral values if they can know what they are. If they can’t be determined, you can’t prove they exist. If you can’t prove they exist, why insist that they exist?

        • SteveK

          >> Yes, morals exist.

          You mean opinions exist or desires exist or preferences exist. You do not – because you cannot – mean that morals exist as something that is *different* than any of these things.

          So, no, morals do not exist on your view.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, morals can be opinions. People act according to their opinions that we consider to be morals.

          I am still amazed that someone can think that examples of subjective morals indicate the existence of objective morals. It’s like using visible people as evidence for invisible people.

        • SteveK

          I’m amazed that you don’t understand my point about evidence. I’m not surprised because you do this all the time. Sin makes people stupid.

          I’m giving examples of perceptions of morality that people tell us could *possibly* be wrong or false – perceptions that people study in college and in academia – perceptions that people debate over using reason and precise language in order to know and uncover the truth about these perception.

          Subjective things like opinions, desires and preferences cannot be wrong or false and need not be studied at length or reasoned or debated in order to determine what is true about them. They are self evident opinions, desires and preferences and they are all equally true as such.

          Therefore the *evidence* clearly shows that these perceptions are not referring to subjective things.

        • adam

          “Sin makes people stupid.”

          Sin?

        • Greg G.

          If “Sin makes people stupid”, then you must be Satan. It is no wonder you are coming up with stupid arguments for stupid conclusions.

          Opinions may be right or wrong about objective facts. Some are of the opinion that the world is flat, for example, the rapper, B. o, B.

          Opinions may be right or wrong about some facts. A junkie and a person who doesn’t use drugs may have different opinions on how much of a drug should be taken, and a given amount may be lethal to a first time user, so the true opinion is dependent on the circumstance.

          Opinions may be subjective and true for each case. I may be of the opinion that my wife is more attractive than your wife and your opinion would disagree, yet we could both be correct according to our tastes.

          But to think that an uninformed opinion is equal or valid as informed opinions is just your way of pretending your opinions have the slightest value.

          You haven’t presented anything that supports your “Therefore”. Cue Inigo Montoya.

        • SteveK

          Since reports of moral opinions are self-described as fitting 1 & 2 but almost never 3, those reports are evidence that the opinion is about a moral fact. Thanks for helping me out.

          1) Opinions may be right or wrong about objective facts.
          2) Opinions may be right or wrong about some facts.
          3) Opinions may be subjective and true for each case.

        • adam

          “Since reports of moral opinions are self-described”

          You mean subjective then…..

        • Greg G.

          Thanks, I’m here to help.

          Remember that if people hold different opinions about objective facts, it means that some of them are wrong or all of them are wrong, unless every possible permutation is covered. It’s like who has the ticket with the numbers that will when the lottery jackpot. The numbers drawn may not match anybody’s ticket.

        • SteveK

          Uh…okay, I agree. My statement about evidence remains undefeated.

        • adam

          “My statement about evidence remains undefeated unsupported.”

          ftfy

        • adam

          “I’m amazed that you don’t understand my point about evidence.”

          Uhhh, because you’ve FAILED to make a coherent one.

        • MNb

          “Subjective things like opinions, desires and preferences ….. need not be studied at length or reasoned or debated in order to determine what is true about them.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          All the teen girls during the 1960’s who discussed who their favourite Beatle was, Paul or John, proved you wrong a long time ago.
          Plus you’re making a category error. True and false don’t apply to morals, exactly because they are subjective.
          What you can study is two things.
          1) The coherence of morals (in which respect christianity has a bad record);
          2) Which morals people hold. “SteveK thinks abortion a bad thing and should be outlawed, but MNb thinks it isn’t a priori and should be left to pregnant women to decide” is something that totally can be studied.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Yeah, my musical tastes don’t exist either.

        • adam

          “So, no, morals do not exist on your view.”

          They did for this guy:

        • I feel like I’ve asked this before and gotten nothing in response, but I can ask nothing else: show us these objective moral values. Resolve the abortion or SSM issue by giving us the objectively correct answer and showing that this is reliably accessible by everyone.

        • SteveK

          >> show us these objective moral values.

          I’ve provided evidence for this. That is all I’ve claimed I can do.

        • adam

          “I’ve provided evidence for this.”

          No you havent even done that….

        • SteveK

          Here’s the generic statement I’m working with.

          The perception that X exists counts as evidence for the existence of X until such time as the perception is known to be false.

        • adam

          “The perception that “God” exists counts as evidence for the existence of “God” until such time as the perception is known to be false.”

          Exactly ass backwards……

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1a23d997504c4079c26bdef6d7e6b683a791ffe9a832b4bf36d273d04a32bc01.jpg

        • SteveK

          Evidence please?

        • adam

          All the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of gods claimed by men.

        • SteveK

          I meant evidence that my statement is actually backward. Got any?

        • adam

          All the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of gods claimed perceived by men.

        • MNb

          He just provided it.

        • SteveK

          I’m not seeing it.

        • Greg G.

          People have perceived gods for all of recorded history and probably before. They all have contradictory perceptions. They perceived gods in lakes, oceans, and streams. They perceived gods in plants and animals, in caves, in fire, and in the sky. They perceived gods in weather patterns. They perceived wind as the breath of the gods. They perceived the planets as gods. Some think certain tree frogs are gods.

          As soon as such things are shown to not be gods, the believers take their explanation to some other gap in knowledge.

          People who perceive gods are just desperately afraid of death being final.

          You know there is no evidence for god so you are trying to make up shit to fortify your faith. Let it wane. It is doing you no good. You’ll be amused by the imaginary arguments you have created to hang onto your faith.

        • SteveK

          >> People have perceived gods for all of recorded history and probably before. They all have contradictory perceptions.

          As interesting as this little history lesson is, it doesn’t demonstrate that my statement is wrong.

          >> As soon as such things are shown to not be gods, the believers take their explanation to some other gap in knowledge.

          Nope. I’ve explained this before.

          >> It is doing you no good.

          It does me a lot of good. Thanks for your concern though.

        • adam

          “Nope. I’ve explained this before.”

          Nope you’ve provided nothing but gap arguments.

        • Greg G.

          As interesting as this little history lesson is, it doesn’t demonstrate that my statement is wrong.

          It shows that the perception is usually wrong and cannot be used as evidence that the perception is correct.

          Nope. I’ve explained this before.

          You looked silly trying to explain it.

          It does me a lot of good. Thanks for your concern though.

          You keep showing us that you have faith for silly reasons.

        • SteveK

          >> It shows that the perception is usually wrong and cannot be used as evidence that the perception is correct.

          Usually wrong? I don’t see any evidence for that so you’re going to have to supply it.

        • adam

          ” I don’t see any evidence for that so you’re going to have to supply it.”

          The tens if not hundreds of thousands or even MILLIONS of god’s perceived by people.

        • The folks at Godchecker have documented 4,000+ deities, and those are just from cultures we have records of. They even have a section for Christian saints!

        • adam

          Hinduism which according the their scriptures has 320 million gods,

          A bit more than these guys: http://atheism.wikia.com/wiki/How_many_gods%3F

        • But the Hindu gods are all, technically, manifestations of Brahma. So, no, the Hindus are monotheistic, even though they worship various facets or aspects of their god in all kinds of different ways and forms.

        • adam

          Some believe that some believe they are individual gods.

        • MNb
        • Like I said, facets, aspects, or incarnations of the Big Guy.

        • MNb

          Nope. Sita, Rama’s wife, is an avatar of Lakshmi.

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

        • Lakshmi is just another part of the Big Guy.

        • MNb

          Congratulations, you just have invented your personal version of hinduism.

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

          Pay special attention to the first six words, in italics.
          And Brahma, while being the creator god, is not the Big Guy either.

        • And you’d be wrong. Again. I haven’t “invented” anything.

        • MNb

          And apparently so are all the Dutch and Surinamese hindus I met. Ah, the lovely smell of a christian/ atheist understanding atheism/ hinduism better than atheists/ hindus themselves …..
          Kitty knows better. No need to ask any hindu. Like I wrongly did.

        • Or maybe they made it up…

          Sorry, but all my research indicates that you’re wrong. If the Dutch and Surinamese Hindus have gone on to alter the religion further, that’s fine. But in mainstream hinduism, ALL gods are manifestations of ONE supreme god.

          You’re free to show me actual research to the contrary, though… if it exists.

        • I did pay attention to the first six words, and it’s not me that’s gone and made the mistake.

          Regardless, I remain correct — All of the gods in hinduism are manifestations of One Supreme Power.

        • Michael Neville

          Hindus claim there are 30 million gods.

        • All of which are aspects or facets of Brahma, so, nope, that’s one god with many faces.

        • Michael Neville
        • I need this on my wall…

        • Greg G.

          The cool thing about those images that many overlook is that each hand holds something or displays a symbol so that they each represent different facet of the being, not that it is a being with multiple pairs of arms.

        • That, too!

          Way I see it, we’re all climbing the same mountain, we’re just taking different routes.

        • Greg G.

          Way I see it, we’re all climbing the same mountain, we’re just taking different routes.

          That’s Buddhism. I asked a monk about other religions. He said there are many paths to Enlightenment.

        • I’m something of an eclectic pagan. I’m more about the here-and-now than the ever-after, and whatever the gods are (or aren’t), they can still teach and inspire us.

          I find the most valuable lessons lie in the journey, rather than the destination.

          (Tho, there is a cat-buddha on my bookshelf…)

        • painedumonde

          Aren’t all cats buddhas? 😀

        • I’d say the cat has the Buddha Nature, yes.

        • Shiva and Vishnu are incarnations of Brahma? Is that universally held or is that a minority opinion within Hinduism?

        • Not sure, but it’s there. The Egyptians were the same way — it’s called henotheism.

        • Greg G.

          All of the Egyptian gods were thought to be different manifestations of Atum and one point in time. I think that was Ahkenaten’s time and they called in “monotheism”.

        • Er, no. Akhenaten actually banned worship of any other gods. Let’s just say that the masses weren’t happy about that.

        • Greg G.

          Atum is the wrong one. I forgot that Akhenaten’s name is for Aten. Aten absorbed the functions of the other gods.

          Akhenaten’s priests got run out of Egypt. I wonder if they ended up in Canaan and convinced the Hebrews that their ancestors came from Egypt and gave them monotheism? Gary Greenberg says something like that in either The Moses Mystery or 101 Myths of the Bible.

        • Interesting theory, that!

          I mean, I could totally see, like, a (very!) small group migrating from Egypt to Canaan and spawning the whole Exodus story along the way to, like, buff their origin tale, ‘cuz let’s face it — “we were assholes about religion and got kicked out of the country” is a pretty shitty excuse.

        • Greg G.

          I was being generous with the word “usually”. Throughout history, people have attributed many things to supernatural forces. Of all the things that science explains in great detail, not one of them shows any sign of supernatural forces. Most of the other claims are too bizarre to consider. Even the concepts that modern Christians consider to be mysterious are different than they were a thousand years ago. It was once thought that breath and the soul were closely related. It still shows in our language as “respiration” and “spirit” have the same root.

          How can you overlook all that evidence? It has to be cognitive dissonance. You should do something about that. I’m not a doctor but I can play one on the internet. I prescribe critical thinking about your sacred cows and accepting reality.

        • SteveK

          >> Of all the things that science explains in great detail, not one of them shows any sign of supernatural forces.

          You’re under the mistaken notion that science has anything to say about the subject. It’s beyond science. You should do something to fix this mistaken notion – stat!

        • Greg G.

          No, SteveK, it is contrived to be beyond science. The supernatural claims that science has refuted made the mistake of being testable. Making nothing but untestable claims shows you know at some level you cannot make a testable claim. But you continue to try anyway. That is cognitive dissonance at work.

        • SteveK

          >> No, SteveK, it is contrived to be beyond science.

          This is funny because I guess you forgot that God and the supernatural all preceded science.

        • adam

          “This is funny because I guess you forgot that God and the supernatural all preceded science.”

          The IMAGINING of ‘god’ preceded science, because science does doesnt describe to supernatural explanations for superstitious BELIEFS.

        • Michael Neville

          What science shows is that the supernatural isn’t needed to understand the world, reality is sufficient.

        • Susan

          It’s beyond science.

          It’s imaginary.

          Unless you can provide a reliable non-scientific method for evaluating its claims and demonstrating their veracity.

        • adam

          ” It’s beyond science.”

          Just like we’ve been saying, it is IMAGINARY….
          Although science is studying why people believe in IMAGINARY things over Reality….

          Fear, coercion and propaganda work well to instill this kind of stupidity…

        • Susan

          Usually wrong? I don’t see any evidence for that so you’re going to have to supply it.

          You’ll note that below Greg generously provided evidence and you, as usual, ignored it.

          The fact is that Greg doesn’t have to provide evidence that perception is usually wrong.

          When you claim that perception of something is sufficient to support the existence of something, the onus is on you to demonstrate that human perception alone is enough to demonstrate the existence of something.

          We all know that human perception alone is not sufficient. Even you know you can’t make that argument.

          Except that that’s all you have for an argument.

          “Light” is about as bad an analogy as you can provide.

          “Light” exists. It’s measurable. It behaves in certain ways that are predictable. It’s a major factor in physics of the very small and physics of the very large.

          That is, it has a status far beyond mere “human perception”.

          Adding to the evidence we don’t owe you, I will pick up where Greg and others left off. Millions of Hindu gods should make a catholic think twice about his claim that ‘human perception’ is sufficient to establish the existence of something.

          Here are some of my contributions:

          Fairies, the bad spirits that inhabit my computer, vampires, Thor, bloodthirsty Aztec gods, bloodthirsty Celtic gods, bloodthirsty Abrahamic gods, sorcerers, psychics, shamans, witches, etc. with real supernatural powers, ghosts, leprechauns, a living Elvis, anal-probing aliens and vampires.

          All these things have been “perceived” by humans but they evaporate under scrutiny (like objective morality by your definition).

          None of these things have fared as well as light has when examined.

        • Susan

          it doesn’t demonstrate that my statement is wrong

          It demonstrates that mere perception by humans is not sufficient to establish that something exists. Time to try another strategy. That one fails.

          Nope. I’ve explained this before.

          Nope. You’ve merely asserted it.

          It does me a lot of good.

          I see no evidence of that.

        • Greg G.

          People imagining that they perceive something is not evidence that they perceive something.

          Many animals have hypersensitive agency detection because it is prudent to be wrong about potential predator threats many times than to be right most of the time but wrong once. It would be expected to be a genetically based behavior that would be passed on with greater frequency than a set of genetically controlled behaviors without it.

          Humans have that, too. Humans are usually wrong about religion. Show me a person who your think is right about religion and I will show you two who have beliefs that contradict that person.

          Why are you so desperate to even consider such a poor idea?

        • adam

          “Why are you so desperate to even consider such a poor idea?”

          Cause he’s got a tube of god and needs a gap…

        • SteveK

          >> People imagining that they perceive something is not evidence that they perceive something.

          In your example you know they are imagining so you know the perception is not evidence at all. This fits my statement perfectly.

          Regarding morality, you’d have to know that people are imagining the moral order they perceive. You have no way to demonstrate that this is the case.

        • MNb

          Perception is subjective.
          The fact that quite a few people don’t perceive that X exists, even if they got the opportunity to do so, counts as evidence for the non-existence of X until such time as the perception has been shown to have a relation with reality.
          You haven’t shown that.

        • SteveK

          >> Perception is subjective.
          Evidence is known through perception.

          I agree with your example statement. If someone doesn’t perceive X, then they have no evidence for X – yet. The pursuit for evidence doesn’t begin/end with one person so we continue looking for answers.

          The next question to ask is whether a person is somehow “blind” to perceiving the X that actually exists or if X actually doesn’t exist. Both are real possibilities that need to be checked.

          To answer that question you can consult other people. We do this all the time via peer view and other similar situations where we want to confirm the truth. If everyone but you perceives X then is everyone wrong/hallucinating or are you “blind”?

          I’m going with the latter. The odds are in my favor.

        • Greg G.

          Those who peceive something are perceiving different things and it can be explained why the things they perceiving are illusions.

        • SteveK

          It’s possible that you can do that, sure. In the case of morality, you have no ability to confirm that the explanation is actually true.

          I can tell you a story that explains why you can’t perceive objective morality just as easily as you can tell me a story that explains why it’s an illusion. Stories are for bedtime.

        • adam

          ” Stories are for bedtime.”

          And for those who cant provide real evidence.

        • Greg G.

          There would be a major difference between your story and mine. My story would be based on things that have been observed and tested and yours will have imaginary elements.

        • SteveK

          >> My story would be based on things that have been observed and tested and yours will have imaginary elements.

          If I relied as heavily on gainsaying as you do, would you accept it? Yeah, didn’t think so. I’ll wait to hear your story and let you know what I think of it. Be sure to explain in your story what moral good is and how you’ll go about observing the absence of good.

        • adam

          “Be sure to explain in your story what moral good is and how you’ll go about observing the absence of good.”

          If ONLY morality was ‘objective’, then it would be easy.

        • Greg G.

          You should try gainsaying what other people say. It couldn’t be anything but an improvement over the arguments you are trying to make.

        • adam

          “In the case of morality, you have no ability to confirm that the explanation is actually true.”

          Thus dismissing any hope of an ‘objective morality’

        • adam

          “I can tell you a story that explains why you can’t perceive objective
          morality just as easily as you can tell me a story that explains why
          it’s an illusion.”

          Yes a STORY
          That really is the VERY BEST that you can do is a STORY.
          Because your belief is based on a STORY.
          Your ‘objective morality’ is based on a STORY.

          If it were REAL, objective morality wouldnt NEED a STORY.

        • MNb

          “The odds are in my favor.”
          Nope, because you have set the bar so high.
          Gravity is objective. It works the same for everyone no matter if I accept it’s objective or not. Theories of gravity work the same for everyone no matter if I accept the theory or not. Gravity is the same for me as it was for the apostles 2000 years ago.
          Morality are objective. They work the same for everyone no matter if I accept it or not. The content of morality is the same for everyone no matter if I accept it not. Morality is the same for me as it was for the apostles 2000 years ago. Oops ….
          And that’s why me not perceiving objective morality is damning for your position, while me not perceiving objective gravity isn’t for theories of gravity.

        • SteveK

          >> Oops ….

          I don’t see any oops. What you said is true. What this tells me is that you have a different understanding of objective morality.

        • adam

          “What this tells me is that you have a different understanding of objective morality.”

          So you mean SUBJECTIVE morality then.

        • MNb

          “Morality is the same for me as it was for the apostles 2000 years ago.”
          This is true?
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Morality for me is in several respects totally different. For instance I totally reject

          1 Tim 2:11-12

          “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

          and

          1 Petrus 3:1

          “ye wives, be in subjection to your own husband”
          What your answer tells me is that you’re not capable of recognizing uncomfortable facts.

          Before you try – no matter how you wriggle and rationalize, nothing will make me accept these two quotes, because they go against everything moral I have accepted since I was even a child. And hence morality is not the same for me.
          You did a great job making the oops a lot bigger.

        • SteveK

          >> BWAHAHAHAHA!
          I’m guessing that you’re around 12 years old??

          >> Before you try – no matter how you wriggle and rationalize, nothing will make me accept these two quotes, because they go against everything moral I have accepted since I was even a child. And hence morality is not the same for me.

          Even if it’s true, you won’t accept it as true? You are determined to not let the truth change you if it goes against your ingrained childhood upbringing. That’s an amazing admission, son. The term “biased” immediately comes to mind.

          Let’s look at your options. If you lived out these quotes, would you be violating some objective moral requirement that you not live them out?

          a) If yes, objective morality exists.
          b) If no, nothing you do is moral or immoral and you can do whatever the hell you want. Your ingrained childhood morality is holding you back at 12 years old. You accepted a *known* fiction (according to you). Time to let it go after puberty sets in, okay?

        • adam

          ” If you lived out these quotes, would you be violating some objective moral requirement that you not live them out?”

          Sorry, but you’ve never demonstrated that this ‘objective morals’ is anything but IMAGINARY….

          “If no, nothing you do is moral or immoral and you can do whatever the hell you want. ”

          Doesnt follow from IMAGINARY ‘objective’ morals to no morality.

          And lets look again at what ‘objective morality’ you get out of the bible:

          Yes, you CAN commit genocide and be forgiven.

          Yes, you CAN murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You CAN commit genocide on every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you CAN beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit
          that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.So the biblical “good” is the REAL case where anything goes…

          So, just as I said,

          THIS is the kind of ‘morality’ you get out of a biblical deity

        • MNb

          “I’m guessing that you’re around 12 years old??”
          I adapt myself to your level. And for a 12 years old you can be very funny.
          And it’s quite funny again that you move the goal posts again with your next question, which is based on two baseless assumptions.

          “Even if it’s true, you won’t accept it as true?”
          What do you mean with true? What I mean with true is 100% absolute certain eternal never changing certainty, but if you mean something else, please specify.
          As soon as you have specified, what’s your method to determine moral truth?
          “You are determined to not let the truth change you if it goes against your ingrained childhood upbringing.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Nope – it’s not my upbringing that told me that women are not subordinate to men. It’s something I decided myself.
          “That’s an amazing admission, son. The term “biased” immediately comes to mind.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Unlike you I don’t have any problem admitting that I’m biased. Of course I am. I’m human. What’s funny is that this kind of humility is supposed to be a christian tenet.

          “Let’s look at your options. If you lived out these quotes, would you be violating some objective moral requirement that you not live them out?”
          No.

          “b) If no, nothing you do is moral or immoral and you can do whatever the hell you want.”
          Non-sequitur. Plus you have shown several times yourself that with your imagined objective morals you do whatever the hell you want yourself. That’s not a tu-quoque; it makes clear that on this point objective morality does not make any difference. Finally there are lots of things I don’t want to do, like subjecting women, exactly because of my subjective morals. But I suppose the concept of feedback is to difficult for you? Let me try anyway.
          What I want (which is not the same as who I am) and specifically the kind of life I want to lead and the kind of relationships with other people I want to develop, influences my behaviour and subjective morals. My subjective morals influence what I want (specifically the things I just mentioned) and how I behave. How I behave influences my subjective morals (specifically etc.) and what I want.
          “Your ingrained childhood morality is holding you back at 12 years old.”
          Nope. But indeed, the idea that women are my equals and should not be subordinate to me is something that I adopted even before I was 12 years old and hasn’t changed a tiny bit since then. Other views of
          “You accepted a *known* fiction (according to you).”
          Nope. I accepted an opinion.
          “Time to let it go after puberty sets in, okay?”
          Really? You think the idea that women should not be subordinate to men pre-puberal and the idea of the apostles that they should puberal or even adult? Pardon me, I can’t help myself:
          BWAHAHAHAHA

        • Greg G.

          Gravity is objective. It works the same for everyone no matter if I accept it’s objective or not.

          Gravity is twice as strong on me than it is on my wife. Must have been something I ate.

        • adam

          “If everyone but you THINKS they perceives X then is everyone wrong, using wishful thinking or are you “blind”?”

          Well you would think that if everyone actually REALLY perceived something REAL, they could demonstrate that what they perceive is actually REAL.

          But if they are just being superstitious and ‘believing’ because that is the culture, then were back to wishful thinking

          and STILL LOOKING FOR EVIDENCE…

        • Evidence? In what way? I suppose you’re saying that our shared sense of morality is consistent with an objective morality, grounded outside of people. Sure, and humans are consistent with there being zombies (y’know, cuz humans are zombie food).

        • Greg G.

          Now he’s trying to argue that his brainwashed perceptions should be counted as evidence that he’s not brainwashed.

        • adam

          “I’m saying morals exist whether anyone believes them or not.”

          Well if the Church cant access them, what hope do you have?

        • MNb

          I cant perceive morals that no one believes. That counts as evidence that they don’t exist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          a bubble as airtight as yours (if we grant that you came by it honestly) more or less guarantees such obliviousness.

        • adam

          “I’m saying people perceive moral order and that this basic perception is evidence for objective morality.”

          OK, if this is the path you want to travel

        • adam

          So, if it were ‘objective’ as you CLAIM, why do they not all perceive the SAME OBJECTIVE moral order?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c429bc19d5642ca69a63ae2e87a2b6996677ef22f4b17fc8ac23414eb43c98e.jpg

        • TheNuszAbides

          because sin(TM), duh! which of course is just as unfalsifiably slippery as the rest of the parcel.

        • adam

          “If you check the context, we were discussing whether people report that they are able to perceive moral order, or not. They do.”

          Yes, they do report SUBJECTIVELY they are able to perceive SUBJECTIVE moral order.

        • Susan

          is this the first time you’ve been faced with this?

          No. I’m pretty sure this is at least the third time. He just keeps hitting the reset button as though those discussions never took place.

          I’m not sure he’s ever made it past that button.

        • TheNuszAbides

          perhaps he has a similarly ‘convenient’ definition of “first principles”.

        • adam

          “Or to state it another way, people don’t perceive that living life one
          particular way is less good than living life some other way? Hmm…”

          Everyone perceives that, but NOBODY agrees on what that particular way it, they all think it is their way.

          Just like reading the bible, everyone thinks everyone elses interpretation is less good than their own.

        • adam

          “Or to state it another way, people don’t perceive that living life one
          particular way is less good than living life some other way? Hmm…”

        • adam

          “People don’t perceive that rape is less good than feeding the poor? Hmm…”

          The penalty for rape a few pieces of silver paid to the father

        • adam

          “Ask people if they are able to perceive varying degrees of good in the world. There’s your evidence.”

        • adam

          “Ask people if they are able to perceive varying degrees of good in the world.”

          Varying degrees as in subjective…..

        • adam

          “Ask people if they are able to perceive varying degrees of good in the world. There’s your evidence.”

        • Susan

          Don’t blame me. It’s out there.

          Out where?

        • adam

          “Don’t blame me. It’s out there.”

        • Susan

          If you sense things that are harmful (evil) or beneficial (good) and either avoid them or pursue them, even if it’s not a conscious task, then you know what I mean.

          Harmful or beneficial to whom?

          “Harmful” and “beneficial” aren’t free-floating entities.

          They refer to the real world impact of actions on living beings with nervous systems.

          An imaginary immaterial deity who opted for natural selection as a plan for life on this planet when it plucked reality out of immaterial nothingness is about as far away from a moral centre as anything I can imagine.

          The trouble is that you don’t think about morality at all because you have this really dumb answer that has never escaped Euthyphro’s dilemma. You remember Euthyphro’s dilemma, don’t you Steve? I linked it to you half a dozen times. The gods of Athens didn’t escape it and neither does your god.

          So, you don’t ever have to think about morality because you have a really dumb answer that doesn’t address the heart of “morality”.

          Your church would rather see a woman die or her children starve than give her access to effective birth control.

          It would rather let someone linger in agony than give them control over how to end their own life.

          It would rather give sexual predators full access to children than have its authority tarnished.

          If you would like to discuss the endless calibrating required to morally navigate a lifetime on this planet, that is, to take into consideration the harm and benefits of our actions on living beings with nervous systems (which are not confined to just our species), please, try to be an honest person, for once and engage in the topic.

          It’s fucking hard (edit) Morality is hard and lazy claims like yours are morally repugnant to me.

          Until you do, I am unable to to take a single word you type about “morality” seriously.

        • SteveK

          Thanks for sharing.

        • Susan

          Thanks for sharing.

          My pleasure. 🙂

        • adam

          And mine, just in reading….

          Thanks Susan.

        • adam

          ” If you sense things that are harmful (evil) or beneficial (good) and
          either avoid them or pursue them, even if it’s not a conscious task,
          then you know what I mean.”

          Yes, we know what you mean

          Because Hitler acted like bible god, that proves objective morality….

        • TheNuszAbides

          ‘order’ is not inherent to these perceptions–that’s just you (or your Big Thinker of choice) shoehorning again.

        • SteveK

          You must be the exception. If you don’t perceive the moral order inherent in rationality vs. irrationality then you are unable to know that a desire to be rational is morally good.

        • Greg G.

          He is not the exception. There are conflicts between the moral orders seen by people. That proves that there is no common moral order.

          If your faith requires you to be wrong continuously and to construct fallacious arguments to support it, it has no real value. You should have abandoned that faith instead of abandoning reality.

        • SteveK

          If your subjective morals don’t mean anything to me then they don’t. I’m here to tell you they don’t so argue until you turn blue for all I care.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you must enjoy exhausting the patience of people who both care what words mean and don’t waste time equivocating beyond the threshold of amusement.

        • SteveK

          I don’t enjoy that. Maybe you’ll give me more information.

        • Greg G.

          Why don’t you look at the flaws in every one of your arguments that have been pointed out to you for months? If you haven’t got it yet, you have a problem. Fallacies and equivocation are the atmosphere that supports your faith, so it is blind to them.

        • SteveK

          Since you haven’t defeated my statement about evidence for objective morality I have no idea what you’re referring to here.

        • Greg G.

          You haven’t presented evidence for objective morality. You are using a non sequitur by trying to present evidence for subjective moral values as if they imply objective morality.

          Apparently you can read. You should buy a book on basic logic. I did that before I went to college when I was trying to prove the existence of God. I learned very quickly that it was improper to assume your conclusion and cherry-pick premises to support that conclusion. You must start with the premises and accept the conclusions to which they lead. A single confounding premise wrecks your conclusion every time, even if you try to hide it.

        • MNb

          To the quality of your comments.

        • MNb

          Without any hope:
          Rationality refers to logic.
          Desire refers to emotions.
          “A desire to be rational” is nonsensical in the most literal meaning of the word.

        • SteveK

          I have the desire to be rational, and that desire is why I choose to learn to do it well. I have no idea why you think this is nonsensical.

        • adam

          “I have the desire to be rational, and that desire is why I choose to learn to do it well. ”

          Obviously NOT TRUE, based on your posts and you continuing with your failed god of the gaps argument.

          ” I have no idea why you think this is nonsensical.”
          Because of your history here to be deceptive and dishonest.

        • MNb

          “I have no idea why you think this is nonsensical.”
          I just explained.

        • TheNuszAbides

          very well, the aspersion is retracted; refer instead to the later comment regarding a case for ignorance.

        • adam

          ” If you don’t perceive the moral order inherent in rationality vs. irrationality then you are unable to know that a desire to be rational is morally good.”

          But this guy did perceive the moral order

        • adam

          ” If you don’t perceive the moral order inherent in rationality vs.
          irrationality then you are unable to know that a desire to be rational
          is morally good.”

          Hmmm, a lot of people perceived the moral order inherent in rationality

        • adam

          “A desire to be rational”

        • adam

          “Show a person hatred and they physically react differently than when you show them love.”

          Some do, some dont so what?

          “Sense data is not interpreted, it’s raw data”

          Of course it is interpreted.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You say there is no objective obligation, and then you strongly imply that there is an obligation. Which is it?

          let’s see if we can agree on a definition of ’emergent property’ before trying to work through that supposed ‘gotcha’.

        • adam

          “The widely held sense perception of moral order – that’s my evidence.”

          And of course, it FAILS”

        • MNb

          “The widely held sense perception of moral order – that’s my evidence.”
          That’s an undeniable fact indeed. However that moral order is held by human beings, so even according to WLC’s own rigged definition the fact only provides evidence for subjective morality. Jumping from “widely held” to “objective” is just another salto mortale.

        • James

          Equivocation thy name is William Lane Craig

        • SteveK

          Then WLC can do whatever he wants and no moral principles have been violated. Your complaints about human behavior amount to nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

        • adam

          “Then WLC can do whatever he wants and no moral principles have been violated.”

          No, according to his beliefs he cannot commit blasphemy of the holy ghost, he can however:

          Commit genocide and be forgiven.

          Murder, rape and be forgiven.

          He CAN commit genocide on every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you CAN beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.So the biblical “good” is the REAL case where anything goes…

          So, just as I said,

          THIS is the kind of ‘morality’ you get out of a biblical deity

        • MNb

          “Then WLC can do whatever he wants”
          That’s exactly what he does and one important reason no atheist can take him seriously.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2012/07/documenting-william-lane-craigs-lies-about-his-opponents/

          “Your complaints about human behavior amount to nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.”
          I have never deluded myself by thinking it was anything more. I’m not an arrogant jerk like you. I am just a nasty character who likes to mock and insult on internet.

          “no moral principles have been violated.”
          Yes, mine.
          Not WLC’s.
          Given your dishonesty not yours either.
          So thanks for confirming that morals are subjective.

        • James

          Dishonesty seems to be lauded when in the service of Christian apologetics – see every presuppositional argument ever.

        • James

          All things are possible in the magical bounce house world of theological make-believe. I’m concerned about reality.

        • SteveK

          Me too. If moral reality is as you have described it, then what I said is correct.

        • James

          No, you’re either confusing unfalsifiable hypotheticals with matters of fact or you’re flat out lying.

        • SteveK

          Falsifiable or not, if moral reality is as you have described it then WLC can do what he wants.

        • James

          You have long since left the realm of rational discourse. We aren’t discussing theology here.

        • SteveK

          I’m discussing morality.

        • James

          No, you’re discussing one unique, particular concept of hypothetical morality that only exists within your very own small sphere of theology. We’re not playing along. If you really want to discuss morality, kindly keep things grounded in empirical reality.

        • SteveK

          I accepted the morality you and others are describing and concluded that WLC can do what he wants. Am I wrong – is WLC under some obligation to change? Let me know.

        • James

          No one is saying WLC can’t do as he likes – he simply isn’t making any rational sense. He’s quite free to exercise his human-made Constitutional right to free speech in order to make excuses for slavery, genocide, etc. to his heart’s content. He’s just not free to actually practice it. For that, we have the rule of law, ethics, our criminal justice system, etc – all nicely defined by, observed by and enforced by we mere humans. We humans regulate our behaviors for both idealistic and pragmatic reasons, with no need to invoke WLC’s preferred invisible, immaterial, timeless, changeless incoherent mess of a deity who allegedly exists outside of the totality of all things that exist, i.e. the universe.

        • SteveK

          >> No one is saying WLC can’t do as he likes

          Then we agree.

        • adam

          Of course WLC can anything he wants using his own morality, well except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, he can commit genocide and be forgiven.

          Yes, he can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          He can commit genocide on every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers
          head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.So the biblical “morality” is the REAL case where anything goes…

          THIS is the kind of ‘morality’ you get out of a biblical deity

        • adam

          “If you really want to discuss morality, kindly keep things grounded in empirical reality.”

          You owe me a new keyboard….

        • adam

          “I’m discussing morality.”

          Morality?

          WTF do YOU know of morality?

          EVERYTHING is moral for you except for blasphemy.

          Yes, YOU can commit genocide and be forgiven.

          Yes, YOU can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can commit genocide on every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.So the biblical “morality” is the REAL case where anything goes…

          So, just as I said,

          THIS is the kind of ‘morality’ you get out of a biblical deity

        • TheNuszAbides

          you keep dancing around the fact that you have nothing to present.

          SteveK’s specialty (at least over numerous appearances in these threads) is that, + ceasing to respond to anyone who explicitly (i.e. using terms he can’t wriggle away from) points out whatever corner he paints himself into.

        • James

          Yep. The presuppositionalist model relies on misdirection, arguments offered in lieu of evidence, and massive equivocation; never evidence. The goal is to baffle with bullcrap.

        • D Rieder

          Steve: >>“Objective” means “independent of people’s (including one’s own) opinion.”

          James: ”Conceptually yes..”

          Sorry for butting in to an ongoing conversation, but I’m trying to get a handle on why this should be a good defintion of objective. I might agree that that is part of the definition, but that can’t be the entire definition even with regard to morality, can it? Craig uses it to and it seems to me it’s clearly aimed at sneaking in his claim that since God isn’t human and created the universe, his morality can be called objective. But I can’t see any basis given other than sheer assertion.

        • adam

          ” But I can’t see any basis given other than sheer assertion.”

          But that IS the very best that ‘faith’ provides for SteveK as ‘evidence’ – SteveK’s assertions.

        • James

          Theists equivocate like hell on the definition of evidence. They know very well what we mean by “evidence,” they just choose to use their own definition when convenient. They know very well the methodologies we use daily to successfully navigate reality, they just choose their own methodology when convenient to prop up their pet personal intuitions.

        • adam

          “They know very well what we mean by “evidence,” they just choose to use their own definition when convenient. ”

          And their ‘own definition’ typically is the polar opposite of the true meaning.

          Dishonest beliefs = dishonest conversations about said beliefs.

        • James

          Exactly – logic is merely a form of rhetoric (i.e. persuasive language), with rules devised by people to appeal to reason rather than to emotion. It doesn’t work effectively when individuals aren’t seeking the truth (i.e. sophism). Charitably, they are defending what they hope is the truth.

          Theists, particularly those of the presuppositional variety, start off by assuming that they already know the truth (or hope is the truth) and then they shirk empiricism and warp definitions to “prove” it. Oblivious to the fact this isn’t how they arrive at the truth in any other case, except by coincidence.

        • D Rieder

          That’s what Harris pointed out in his summary statement of his debate with WLC. He said if anything you know “by faith” turns out to be right, it is purely by chance.

        • James

          Theists also love equivocating about “faith.” In some cases, it seems to mean “evidence-based trust,” often with the example given of how one can “have faith” in his or her spouse, in their job, in other drivers on the road and so forth; always mundane examples, provisional, well supported by empiricism and falsifiability. In other cases, they use it to mean the polar opposite – something like strong belief in absence of supporting evidence and/or in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, often with a big side of unfalsifiability to boot.

          As you said earlier, they often pretend words mean the polar opposite of what they actually mean and they’re apparently arrogant enough to not realize we understand exactly what they’re doing – they get away with it for a while because we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt and attempting to converse in good faith (in the usual sense of the word ;). Unfortunatly, they often don’t return the favor – particularly the full presuppositionalist type, who start off by assuming that we’re lying to ourselves and have only emotional reasons for rejecting their beliefs, beliefs that clearly appeal to themselves on the basis of emotion and not reason.

          Mere word games can only have us chasing our tails for so long – WLC and his clones are just a wee bit better at it than the usual grifter. It makes sense in a way – if one really wants to believe in something and the evidence is against him, then it pays to avoid talking about the evidence, to sabotage falsifiability and to indulge in pedantic word games.

        • They use different definitions for “Belief”, also, but never distinguish which they are using at a given time. “Believe” can mean “Think X is true” or it can mean “embrace a set of values or practices”.
          For example, “I believe there are more Chinese than Indians, but that isn’t expect to last” versus “I believe in a scholar’s mind in an athlete’s body”.

          They will try to get you to make some sort of atheistic assertion (or scientific, in another conversation).
          “So you believe there are no gods?”
          “Pretty much; I believe there is no evidence supporting their existence..”
          “Ha! So that’s a belief, and requires just as much faith as my religion does!”
          “[…]”

        • James

          Excellent example!

        • You’ve probably seen the book, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Geisler and Turek. The irony is that they’re using “faith” here to mean the “belief poorly supported by evidence” or “blind faith.”

          Oops! I guess they didn’t get the memo that that definition hurts their position.

        • James

          In the world of theology, anything is possible – but they insist we don’t get to play along because reasons.

        • Right–smoke and mirrors are the last refuge of the scoundrel.

        • James

          “Smoke and mirrors are the last refuge of the scoundrel”
          I love it!

        • MR

          Are we talking about SteveK again?

        • It’s like calling a coin flip correctly–it happens half the time, but there’s nothing supernatural about it.

        • MNb

          Of course you’re right. Not only humans are subjects, god is a subject as well. Thanks for pointing out another one of WLC’s dishonesty.

        • James

          Agreed. The basic strategy seems to be to hide a fallacy of equivocation behind a lot of pedantic word games.

          It seems to me to be a pretend “objective” (if we’re being charitable, a hypothetical objective) snuck in to set up the usual presuppositional navel gazing – and it also seems aimed at reducing empirical human observations to which we can apply the scientific method (i.e. as close to a real objective as humans can know) to the level of mere subjectivity.

          WLC is the lite beer version of presuppositionalism, but he still starts by concluding that his intuition his god exists is a properly basic belief, and then he cherry picks arguments and evidence to “prove” it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          WLC is the lite beer version of presuppositionalism

          does that make Bruggencate NA?

        • James

          More like the Jose Quervo – WLC pretends to offer evidence (actually mere arguments). Bruggencate has no such pretense.

        • adam

          ” I can see the difference pretty clearly.”

          Then you can easily demonstrate objective morality?

        • James

          C’mon Adam, just uncritically accepting mere assertions is the theist’s way.

        • adam

          ” I can see the difference pretty clearly.”

          Then you can easily demonstrate objective morality?

        • This is pretty fuzzy. Is that deliberate? It looks like you worked very hard to equivocate objective evidence and subjective experiences.

          Evidence is verifiable facts. You and I can look at the same chunk of metal, describe it visually, weigh it, check its volume, perform various chemical tests on different chunks of it and get the same results. That’s objective.

          On the other hand, we might both try the same dish from the same restaurant and have very different opinions on whether it’s good. That’s subjective.

          In both cases people observe something and have a perception.

          That’s rather disingenuous. Objective evidence consistently produces the same perceptions in various people.

          Subjective opinions are simply expressions of one’s own responses. If you kick me in the shin, I don’t say “It hurts in here.” I say “Ow! My shin hurts!” That claim, BTW, can be objectively confirmed indirectly, but not experienced.

        • SteveK

          Objective evidence??

          Things are not evidence. You don’t find evidence lying around. A rock or a knife is not “evidence” for anything, but they are objective.

          Evidence, however, is a set of logical and propositional statements involving things. Evidence is created in the mind via mental processes. A knife is evidence for a murder because [insert some logical propositional statement involving things].

        • MNb

          “A rock or a knife is not “evidence” for anything.”
          Now that’s a gem, StevoK. It’s such a gem that even BWAHAHAHA doesn’t suffice anymore. You have become a religious post-modernist.
          Yeah, when the nuclear bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and all those people died their non-verifiable constructions are involved. Or perhaps the other way round – as all those people died they were not capable of perceiving anything anymore, hence there can’t be any evidence that these nuclear bombs had something to do with them dying. You tell us.
          But as you already confirmed that you can do anything you want, just like WLC, my bet is that you will get dishonest again. So at beforehand I yawn.

        • MNb

          “Is that deliberate?”
          Yes. It’s what I recommend you to expect from StevoK. His previous trick was “I am looking to Xes to conclude a non-X.”

    • Reading the “Letters to Dr. Craig” columns are always painful because you must wade through the sycophantic butt-kissing by the letter writer. I wonder whether every letter is like that or if they pick only from letters that have a sufficiently high suck-up quotient. But that’s an aside.

      Responding to that link: how can morals from an unchanging god be changing? He says, “‘Objective’ means ‘independent of people’s (including one’s own) opinion.'” OK, then these are outside-humanity morals. He declares that they could be changing, but he doesn’t justify this.

      He also says that “objective” doesn’t simply mean universally held, though I’ve heard it used to mean just that. For example, “Bob owns a yellow car” is objective in that pretty much anyone interested could research the matter and come to that conclusion. The simple physics of the frequency of light coming off my car is different than God grounding moral truth.

      And then we get into the question of, even assuming objective moral truth, if we humans can reliably access it.

  • TheMarsCydonia

    The most novel (meaning I had not encountered it before) attempt at justifying biblical slavery was “That (the passages of the bible) does not show how bible approves of slavery. That shows how ancient Jews had social laws, like that.”

    In other words, that the bible did not provide Leviticus law to the Israelites, it simply reported the laws they did have. This is something akin to saying that the constitution does not provide constitutional rights, it just reports rights given by the constitution’s founders.

    Trying to turn the bible into a purely historical book with no actual moral statements is kind of funny in a way: “the bible does not provide the 10 commandments, it just reports the 10 commandments the Israëlites had”.

    • James

      Yep – it’s a bait-and-switch strategy. When convenient, apologists use moral relativism and mere historicity to defend their all-knowing, perfect holy book (“but the Israelites neighbors were worse!” A claim that isn’t actually true…). And then when the coast is clear they switch back to pretending it contains extraordinary wisdom and knowledge.

    • adam

      And yet bible god tells his people this:

    • Poor God. Imagine being able to speak the universe into existence but still be saddled with stupid Bronze Age customs and laws, powerless to change them.

      If only he were omnipotent …

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Off-topic:
    Taking the Bible too literally might turn you into an atheist

    In which contributing columnist Paul Prather suggests the Bible should be cherry-picked. Also, the Internets introduces itself to him in the comments.

    • InDogITrust

      So what he’s saying is, get a picture of God in your mind, and then read the Bible accordingly: what you agree with is what it means. What you don’t agree with is either error or must be interpreted.

      Or is he saying that it’s a bunch of books written by many unknown authors over hundreds of years about what they individually think?

      If any of it is human interpretation, not what God actually meant, there is no objective way to know what God meant.

      Which means, why should I care what it says.

    • James

      I’m always amused when theists pretend literalism is a bad thing when inconvenient- such as after it has been falsified. The deal is, we have excellent sources on the history of Judeo-Christian exegeses. We know what their tradition believed and when they believed it. They always invoke metaphor *after* the plain meaning has already been proven wrong, and not before.

      It’s interesting to ask progressives how they differentiate allegory from literal fact – because some of them go nuts when one suggests Jesus never existed, or at least no figure recognizable as their preferred supernatural miracle worker existed. On Patheos, James McGrath’s blog is full of progressives that insist Noah’s ark isn’t a real thing but the empty tomb is – I’ve never heard a convincing explaination on how they can reliably and consistently differentiate one from another. It seems like cognitive dissonance to me… I’ve been meaning to ask them what their test is to differentiate between spiritual allegory, metaphor, myth and plain fiction.

      I can be a bit harsh on certain progressives because they have an annoying habit of lumping us in with YECs even though it is logically impossible to be dogmatic about claims that don’t meet their burdens of proof, about rejecting unfalsifiable arguments on the grounds they’re speculative etc. They offer up their kinder gentler version of hell and then insist we’re being mean when we call their deity mythical – even when it meets the literal definition of myth

      • Pofarmer

        “I’ve been meaning to ask them what their test is to differentiate between spiritual allegory, metaphor, myth and plain fiction.”

        Ignorant Amos and I were involved in a long thread in Mcgraths blog about mythicism. I gave up when McGrath plainly stated that when looking at the texts they don’t try to tease out what the works are, they treat, for instance, the Gospels as basically biography, when the could easily be complete fiction or myth. It’s kind of a huge gaping hole in the methodology, if you ask me,

        • The gospels are ancient biography, which as you may know is a different category than biography. Being rigorously accurate, a requirement for biography, wasn’t a requirement for ancient biography (to take one example).

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, except there are scholars who argue that they are no more biography than the accounts of Moses. What they are is really Jewish scripture.

        • Greg G.

          The gospels are ancient biography, which as you may know is a different category than biography. Being rigorously accurate, a requirement for biography, wasn’t a requirement for ancient biography (to take one example).

          If you are going to use irony like this, you shouldn’t blame Greg for believing it.

    • His own holy book disagrees: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

  • >’So-called “slavery”’

    To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “I refuse to listen to anyone that describe slavery as being a tolerable thing who’s not also willing to have it tried upon himself.”

  • Oh, we still have indentured servitude!

    We just call it “surrogacy” to make ourselves feel better about paying a woman to use her body to gestate a baby for another person’s benefit.