A Biblical Foundation for American Freedoms?

A Biblical Foundation for American Freedoms? May 30, 2016

I have no problem with someone admiring the Ten Commandments from a Christian standpoint. It’s an important part of the Old Testament story. The problem is when that admiration moves the Ten Commandments from holding sway in the religious domain to being relevant in society, public policy, laws, and the like. Consider this critique for example: “Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?” (I respond here.)

The Ten Commandments and biblical governance in general are at odds with the things that Americans value about America.

What do the Ten Commandments say?

Let’s ignore the confusion about what the Ten Commandments say and use the Exodus 20 version. The first four commandments (no other gods, no blasphemy, no artwork, keep the Sabbath holy) are in violation of our freedom of religion (or no religion at all) and our freedom of speech. We’re told that God punishes “the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation”—also unthinkable in modern secular society.

Commandments 6, 8, and 9 (no murder, no stealing, no lying) are indeed laws in America, though we never needed the Ten Commandments to inform us of the importance of such laws. Indeed, the Egyptian Papyrus of Ani (1250 BCE) and the Code of Hammurabi (1772 BCE) show that biblical morality didn’t break much new ground.

Commandments 5 and 10 (honor your parents, no coveting) can be great advice. But surely we wouldn’t demand a blanket respect of abusive parents who didn’t deserve the honor. And where is the boundary between corrosive coveting and capitalism?

Another difference with the Constitution is that the penalty for breaking the Ten Commandments is death—not just for murder but also for worshiping another god or blasphemy. And this isn’t something that the Christian can dismiss as no longer relevant: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:24–5).

What does the Constitution say?

Contrast biblical law with the rights given to us by the U.S. Constitution. As you read the highlights below, consider how most of these vital elements of government and society are either opposed to what the Bible says or uninteresting from the Bible’s standpoint.

  • The Constitution gives us democracy and representative government, separation of powers, and a limited executive branch.
  • The First Amendment: freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition.
  • Fourth Amendment: protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
  • Fifth: right of due process, protection from self-incrimination and double jeopardy, limits on eminent domain.
  • Sixth: speedy and public trial, impartial jury, rights to confront witnesses and to counsel.
  • Seventh: trial by jury.
  • Eighth: prohibition of excessive bail or cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Thirteenth: slavery prohibited.
  • Fourteenth: equal protection.

Historical revisionists enjoy assigning credit for some of these constitutional ideas to the Bible. Can they be serious?

Democracy, limited government, freedom of religion and speech, right to a jury trial, prohibition against slavery—not only did these not come from the Bible, but most of them conflict with the Bible. In fact, the very reason that the Ten Commandments (and any other religious document) are welcome in the United States is because of the Constitution’s protection of religion.

How do we know that these fundamental rights didn’t come from Christianity? Because when Christianity was in charge, society didn’t have them! Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Bible’s definition of a working society was wrong, just that it’s different from that defined by the Constitution (history revisionists like David Barton, take note).

Those who laud the Ten Commandments as the most sublime wisdom ever written must keep in mind that the U.S. Constitution takes us in a very different direction. An incompatible direction. And, I submit, a far better direction.

Science doesn’t know everything. 
Religion doesn’t know anything.
— Aron Ra

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/8/13.)

Photo credit: Dana Simpson

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  • ZenDruid

    I recognize that the Declaration of Independence was more a memorandum of intent and a vision statement than a blueprint for government, but the clause “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has no biblical antecedent.

    • Argus

      In fact..one could argue that it’s theme is “death (to sinners), subserviance and the pursuit of dogma.”

    • epicurus

      Was it ever life, liberty, and the pursuit of money, but that sounded tacky and was changed to happiness? I’ve heard that occasionally, but maybe it’s just an urban myth.

    • That whole thing about government “deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed” is another reason why the DoI is no friend of the fan of the theocracy.

  • Dys

    Of course, you will get the Christians who ignorantly try to shoehorn their god into politics via the Declaration of Independence, not quite realizing that Jefferson did not believe in the Christian god. Jefferson was a classical deist.

    The creator in the DOI is a reference to the God of classical deism, not of any Abrahamic religion.

    • Michael Neville

      The Declaration of Independence was a political and propaganda document written before the United States existed. The Constitution is a legal document establishing the basis for govenment.

      • ZenDruid

        Various Articles of the Constitution go into detail regarding the offices of government and their functions. Nowhere in there do we see anything about a “National Archbishop” and his denomination.

        • Michael Neville

          Religion is mentioned twice in the Constitution, once in Article 6: “… but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” and once in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The phrase “Year of our Lord,” which is the only reference to God in the Constitution, was a standard 18th Century way of referencing the date.

        • Rudy R

          The Chaplains of the Senate and House come close to official Archbishops, getting paid almost as much as Congressmen and hqve a budget over $800,000 a year. What’s disturbing is that the Chaplains have barred Atheists from speaking before a session.

      • Dys

        Right. But as I said, you’ll get Christians who try to get their god included even though he’s no part of the DOI.

  • Uzza

    I’ll just leave this here

    • Dys

      I’m still trying to figure out how Christians who support the Ten Commandments rationalize their support of capitalism, which relies heavily on coveting. I suspect they just narrow the definition of coveting to differentiate it from envy.

  • Cygnus

    Wow! It is so sad to see ignorant Americans who do not realize that one of the freedoms gained on 4th July was the independence form a religious state, England.

    And with that:
    – The foundation of a secular state
    – End of the bullshit bible, qumran or torah and their religious leaders in determining a President of the US.
    – Freedom of Christianity, Muslimism, Judaims and other religions to spew whatever religious inanities in their churches, mosques or synagogues
    – Respect for the secular principle that guarantees freedom of religions as well freedom from religion.

    But when Americans are blinded by fireworks, they forget all the above.

  • Lex Lata

    There’s a perfectly supportable argument that a critical mass of the Founders and Framers viewed religion as an indispensable source of pro-social ethical norms with regard to the individual conscience. Why revisionists such as Barton feel the need to go well beyond that, to contend that the Constitution itself incorporated political ideas from the Bible, is a mystery to me. (Well, okay, it’s not all that mysterious–money, Christian celebrity, etc.)

    The political philosophy of the Constitution is demonstrably more Greco-Roman than Judeo-Christian. We know this because the principal expounders of constitutional theory at the time tell us so. For instance, in what we now call The Federalist Papers, Madison, Hamilton, and Jay make copious references to the political history and philosophy of the classical pagans. Not once do they quote (or even refer to) a Bible verse.

    In addition, John Adams spends half of his A Defence of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States of America discussing institutions and states of antiquity–all of which are Greek or Roman. Political lessons from the Bible don’t get even a single chapter.

    For very good reason. The forms of government most discussed (and even celebrated) in the Bible are essentially monarchies and theocracies–precisely what the Framers were working to leave behind.

    • I hadn’t seen it explained so succinctly, thanks. I’m sure that David Barton would end his evil ways if he read it.

      (Or maybe not.)

  • Travis Wakeman

    But what basis is there for any of the “freedoms” or “rights” that are espoused in the Constitution except via a conception of natural law that understands natural rights as intrinsic and granted by a natural-law-giver?

    The whole idea of western natural rights is itself a product of Christian theology.

    The ten commandments were a provisional law given to the Hebrews by God in order to hold them over until they could get to Israel and obtain the full Levitical codes. We have to understand the context in which these laws were given before we try to treat it as the end-all be-all.

    • Greg G.

      The whole idea of western natural rights is itself a product of Christian theology.

      The idea comes from the ancient Greeks. If the whole idea came from Christian theology, why wasn’t it espoused before the ancient Greek writings became available to Christianity? Christianity was over 1000 years old by then.

      The ten commandments were a provisional law given to the Hebrews by God in order to hold them over until they could get to Israel and obtain the full Levitical codes. We have to understand the context in which these laws were given before we try to treat it as the end-all be-all.

      The Levitical laws did not rescind the Ten Commandments, they supplemented them.

      • Travis Wakeman

        Touched upon by the Greeks, fulfilled by the scholasticism which came after. Christianity gave us worldview justification for natural law rights, along with other things like the ending of slavery, the pursuit of the natural sciences because it was understood that God had made the world rationally intelligible, etc.

        Does a provisional law have to be rescinded?

        If you want to try to understand why it is that God would give us a provisional law instead of “the whole thing up front”. It is necessary to understand that God is operating within the hard realities which are in place on the ground. You don’t hold a 12 year old to the same standards of behavior as you would hold an 18 year old. God likewise through the Levitical laws is seeking to develop and raise up the Hebrews to the point where they will be ready to receive the fulfillment of the law through Christ.

        • T-Paine

          Revisionist tripe.

        • Otto

          So ‘Thou shalt not Murder and Steal’ is easily understood…but ‘Thou Shalt not own other People as property’ would have just been too over the top.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Do you think that the “slavery” that the Hebrews practiced was anything like the “chattel slavery” that the American south practiced?

          To regulate a hard but inevitable reality on the ground is not the same as endorsing that state of affairs. If so then the government by regulating unemployment would be endorsing it as a lifestyle choice!

        • Otto

          Yes I do think it was very much like the chattel slavery, and there is Biblical support, despite the fact that revisionists like yourself try and hold up the rules for Hebrew slavery as if they were the only ones and ignore the rules for slaves that were not Hebrew.

          Additionally none of your dishonest ramblings explain why slavery could not have been outlawed completely by your God like murder was, or worshiping false idols.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Any slave why suffers permanent physical damage such as the loss of a tooth or the loss of an eye is immediately freed. Was that what slavery was like in the American south?

          It is mandatory to provide asylum for any slave who tries to run away. Was that what slavery was like in the American south?

        • Otto

          People were bought and sold like chattel.

          And you failed to answer my question.

          I would also point out that the person who came on here (you) and claimed inalienable rights come from Christianity is now defending owning other people as property with Biblical justifications…not so inalienable apparently.

          Point out the specific Biblical injunction on slavery. I will wait here.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Deuteronomy 23:15

          Slavery is wrong because it incorrectly supposes that human beings are inherently unequal. This is also true of other labor systems. If the Bible explicitly condemns slavery than people will simply codify their “free labor system” using the same oppressive problems and then feel falsely justified “as long as it doesn’t cross the thin line into legal slavery”. See what happened with share cropping in the American south. It was legalized slavery by another name.

        • Otto

          Deuteronomy 23:15…did not outlaw slavery. There is no Bible passage that outlawed slavery which is exactly why the slave owners of the South used the Bible as justification for continuing the practice.

          You are displaying exactly the type of intellectual dishonesty that led me to question Christianity as a whole and eventually reject it. Well done.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Deuteronomy 23:15 means that what you are referring to as “slavery” was actually completely voluntary because an individual could just “run away” if the circumstances were unfavorable to them.

          Does a labor system like that exploit the poor? What about in a free market system where a “free worker” is forced to complete 14 hour shifts in grueling conditions for barely enough money to scrape by?

          It’s not like you see any of this as “objectively wrong” anyway though…

        • Dys

          Deuteronomy 23:15 means that what you are referring to as “slavery” was actually completely voluntary because an individual could just “run away” if the circumstances were unfavorable to them.

          So the verses that give lie to your inane interpretation don’t count, because if the slave truly had a problem being severely beaten, he could just escape?

          Your cognitive bias is strong.

        • Travis Wakeman

          If the individual was “severely beaten” they would probably suffer some sort of permanent damage and be freed automatically that way without having to “run away” at all.

        • Dys

          If the individual was “severely beaten” they would probably suffer some sort of permanent damage and be freed

          You truly are naive and uninformed if you don’t think a person can be severely and repeatedly beaten without leaving permanent damage. Oh…and the bible only mentions eyes and teeth as conditions for being freed due to injury (i.e. incredibly obvious permanent damage). You’re casting far too wide a net.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Only I didn’t say that. If a master knows that chipping the tooth of one of his slaves instantly frees them, is he going to go around smacking his slaves? If he knows that if he beats a slave and they subsequently die he will be automatically executed, is he going to go around beating them?

          Does it say that only eyes or teeth meet the condition or is it providing those as examples of a precedent?

        • Dys

          Only I didn’t say that.

          I pointed out that you’re being extremely naive if you think a person can’t be severely beaten without causing permanent damage.

          If he knows that if he beats a slave and they subsequently die he will be automatically executed, is he going to go around beating them?

          Go take a look at some pictures of beaten slaves from the Civil War some time and get back to me on what a person can sustain without causing what the bible would consider permanent injury.

          Does it say that only eyes or teeth meet the condition or is it providing those as examples of a precedent?

          I addressed this by pointing out that the bible is only citing extremely easy to identify permanent injuries. Would scars on the back be considered in the same league? I highly doubt it.

          There’s a pretty good reason your speculations regarding biblical slavery have no real scholarly support. Mostly it’s because wishful thinking doesn’t qualify.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I disagree. Deep lacerations on the back are very much a permanent debilitation which I would argue would have been grounds for freedom. Your attempt to argue that only lost eyes or teeth counted is without merit.

        • Dys

          Deep lacerations on the back are very much a permanent debilitation

          But given the nature of what the bible actually lists as permanent disablements, it’s extremely doubtful that such lacerations would qualify.

          Your attempt to argue that only lost eyes or teeth counted is without merit.

          Your entire diatribe of historical revisionism regarding biblical slavery is without merit. You have a vision of what you want the bible to mean, and are manufacturing interpretations to support it, no matter how little sense they make.

        • Travis Wakeman

          There’s no reason for you to say that it is “extremely doubtful” aside from the fact that you don’t want it to be true… I wonder why…

        • Dys

          There’s no reason for you to say that it is “extremely doubtful” aside from the fact that you don’t want it to be true… I wonder why…

          Actually, there is a reason – the lacerations wouldn’t cause the same level of disablement that the loss of an eye or tooth would.

          Also, this style of criticism coming from you, when your entire argument is based exclusively on what you desperately want to be true rather than what’s actually supported, is hypocrisy at its finest. Well done sir.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No, they cause even more “disablement” (disability?). The loss of ability to as easily use certain muscle groups because of the large amounts of scar tissue. It would have definitely been grounds.

        • Kodie

          And when you’re disabled but free, where can you go?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Most likely somewhere else.

        • Kodie

          That’s pretty vague. “I’m sure they’ll be ok”.

        • Eo Raptor

          Please Mr Wakeman, give me a single, extra-biblical, citation to a slave being freed because of a chipped tooth, eye damage, or a scar. I require extra-biblical because too many people have had their hands in formulating the Wholly Babble as we know it. Most of those people had an agenda that included convincing the unwashed masses that their leaders were exalted, always right, and ruled by divine fiat.

        • Travis Wakeman

          We are discussing the content of the law itself. Examples are beside the point.

        • Eo Raptor

          “Examples are beside the point.”

          Ah, so you should be able to say any damn stupid thing you want, and not need to back it up with evidence. Got it.

          Go fly a kite. You’ll be much more productive than you are here.

        • MNb

          Yeah, the idea that that law were put into practice is horrible.

        • Herald Newman

          > If he knows that if he beats a slave and they subsequently die he will
          be automatically executed, is he going to go around beating them?

          I’m sorry, what is your justification for saying that the slave owner will be killed? There’s nothing in the law that suggests this to me! All it says is that the owner is to be “punished”, but the punishment is unspecified. In other passages where death is the punishment, the punishment is explicit!

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s under “eye for an eye” which means “death for a death”.

        • Herald Newman

          um… Justification for this interpretation?

        • Dys

          At this point, the only real justification Travis has demonstrated is “I really want this to be true”.

        • Herald Newman

          yeah. Huge surprise, another dishonest slavery apologist.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Exodus 21:20 is under the clause of an eye for an eye. See Exodus 21 in it’s entirety. The “punishment” being referenced is death.

        • Dys

          Except that wasn’t the case for slaves. Eye for an eye didn’t apply to slaves. Instead, their compensation was freedom.

          It was in the tradition of Hammurabi’s code, which likewise created a distinction in the compensation between a freeman and a slave.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The slaves got their freedom, which arguably is even better than putting the masters eye out.

          Death for death still applies because that is the article under which Exodus 21:20 appears.

        • Dys

          The slaves got their freedom, which arguably is even better than putting the masters eye out.

          So you were wrong on that count, even though you’re brushing over the unequal treatment.

          Death for death still applies because that is the article under which Exodus 21:20 appears.

          Right, death for death still applies. But the slaveowner still gets to beat their slave without repercussion as long as they get back up after a couple of days.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Once again, if you are going to be EXECUTED for MURDER if a servant that you beat dies of some sort of unforseen complication- how likely are you to go around beating up your slaves? Maybe if you have a death-wish or aren’t very smart…

        • Dys

          Once again, if you are going to be EXECUTED for MURDER if a servant that you beat dies of some sort of unforseen complication

          Again, you’re being naive in the extreme. If the slave is back up after a day or two, the slaveowner is off the hook. And Exodus 21:20 doesn’t proscribe death. It says that the slaveowner must be punished. You’re jumping to the conclusion that the punishment is death, but that’s not what it says. And given that the Bible draws a distinction between a freeman and a slave, your leap of logic isn’t supported.

          or aren’t very smart..

          Considering the piss poor thought and lazy interpretations you’ve put into the “all biblical slavery was voluntary” position, you’re clearly not really in any position to judge intelligence.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Punished huh? And what clause is this falling under? Oh yes, an eye for an eye!

        • Dys

          And as we’ve already discussed, an eye for an eye didn’t apply to slaves. Instead, it was freedom for an eye. So jumping to “death for death” on the same basis is unwarranted, especially since the bible only mentions “punishment for death”.

          Your reference to an eye for an eye clause is odd, since it’s not a heading. The verses are a list of crimes and punishments. An eye for an eye and a death for a death is the proscribed punishment for freemen. A different system is in place for slaves.

        • Kodie

          You in the 21st century are thinking of the slave as a fellow human. Good for you. In the bible and during any other times where slavery thrives, slaves are considered property, so punishment for wasting a slave wouldn’t be seen as an eye for an eye. I mean, think about it. You own a guy who does your work, and he doesn’t do as much work as you expected, what are you going to do about it – care about your slave’s actual welfare? Or care more about what he should think about a few days before he comes back to the line?

        • Kodie

          The incentive against killing or disabling their slaves is for slaveholders to exactly treat them as machines who should perform ably as they are expected to perform, as purchased to do, for as long as you own them. To kill them would be voiding your warrantee, like on you dishwasher, not a note of humanity or compassion for an actual person.

        • Argus

          Just remember….Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world’s glass eye manufacturers rich”

        • TheNuszAbides

          and stimulates Realism in Art!

        • Kodie

          My perception of the slavery passages in the bible about how soft to beat slaves who don’t performs as you’d like, is like an owner’s manual of a refrigerator or a dishwasher. You don’t want them to malfunction, so you can only beat them this hard before they’re irreparably broken.

        • Travis Wakeman

          If the warrantee says that people will instantly come to repossess your refrigerator or dishwasher if you scratch or dent them, how would you treat your fridge or dishwasher?

        • Kodie

          Now you’re being really dishonest. I depend on machines to be dependable, but beat them just enough if that will keep them working. The warrantee of the bible says if your machines are not in use after three days, you officially suck at keeping your machines working, but it’s just fine to smack them as much as necessary without killing them just to keep them operable. The bible doesn’t consider them people, just property, and how to maintain your property. You, in the 21st century, should recognize, however, that they were people.

        • If the slave can get up after a beating within a day or two, you didn’t “dent” it.

          Nice god you worship.

        • “[Slave owners] are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”

        • Kodie

          If he or she is still in working condition, what’s their complaint, right?

        • Greg G.

          And if they are not, the owner has nobody but himself to blame.

        • The owner was too soft, obviously. A good thrashing now and again keeps them moving.

        • TheNuszAbides

          good for the circulation! and a few lashes to make sure they haven’t had their blood replaced with something unsavory …

        • TheNuszAbides

          i swear, the precedents in which the buck got passed to The Lord Their God were lost along with that dang Ark.

        • Argus

          Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?

        • Otto

          I don’t see it as objectively wrong in the sense that some ultimate lawgiver decided it was wrong. You have not demonstrated that some ultimate lawgiver exists or that such a lawmaker determined slavery in all forms is wrong. You have nothing to base your “Objective morality” on except your opinion…by definition your opinion is subjective.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          By having people who have/continue to think it is right, it obviously cannot be objectively wrong. Your Jesus god of the Bible seems to be yet another of the people who subjectively thought it was right.

        • Dys

          Deuteronomy 23:15 isn’t an injunction against slavery.

          If the Bible explicitly condemns slavery than people will simply codify
          their “free labor system” using the same oppressive problems

          So God couldn’t abolish owning people as property because you imagine a slightly less oppressive system would have been established? You do realize that the Hebrews already felt justified in owning slaves, right? Your explanation makes no sense.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Compare the life and prospects of a Hebrew slave to the life and prospects of a sharecropper or textile mill worker. Even though the latter two are legally “free” are they really free? Are they as free as someone who in at maximum seven years is guaranteed financial security and independence?

        • Dys

          Stop playing semantics…you’ve embarrassed yourself enough already.

          You’re attempting to pretend there was only one form of slavery, and you’re wrong. There were different rules depending on gender and nationality. The rules for Hebrew slaves were more lenient than for those taken in war. Slaves taken in wars didn’t get to go free after seven years. Hebrew slaves could be emotionally blackmailed into lifelong slavery in order to keep a family together. Children of slaves taken in battle were slaves as well.

          If you’re going to try and defend your silly stance, you should at least do a tiny bit of research on it instead of just trying to manipulate verses to conform to what you want to believe. As it stands, it doesn’t appear you’ve done much more than glance at the bible and breathe a sigh of relief when you figured out a flawed way to pretend it was all voluntary.

        • Travis Wakeman

          All of those objections answered in painstaking detail: http://christianthinktank.com/qnoslave.html

        • Dys

          I’m going to take your tact of throwing to a website as a tacit admission that you’re ill-equipped to defend your position on slavery.

          Oh…and your website admits that chattel slavery was practiced by the Ancient Hebrews, and distinguishes it from debt slavery. You know…that thing you’ve been intentionally avoiding because you want to pretend it’s not true?

          And it plays a semantic game, trying to pretend the chattel slavery practiced by the Hebrews wasn’t “really” chattel slavery by using a self-serving and heavily biased interpretation of Joel 3.4-8.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Read on… It also points out that under Deuteronomy 23:15-16 all of these forms of “slavery” were essentially voluntary.

        • Dys

          Actually, if you bothered reading it, it gives the most likely interpretation first. Then it devolves into the same inane wishful thinking you practice, without bothering to follow through on what the repercussions of such a “great escape clause” would entail.

          But it seems you’re ignoring the most likely interpretation because it doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies concerning biblical slavery.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Not really. You’re just wishfully thinking that the laws are “hard” because I suspect there is a degree of emotional investment involved on your part in believing that Christianity is inherently evil and that you are inherently superior to Christians.

        • Dys

          Since I never said Christianity was inherently evil, I can correctly deduce that you’re just as full of shit as your lame attempt at slavery apologetics.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You think otherwise? Feel free to correct me.

        • Dys

          I’ve corrected you multiple times, as have others, most recently on your “death for death, eye for an eye” mistake. And your continued mistake in asserting that all Hebrew slavery was voluntary because of your preferred interpretation of a single verse that you haven’t defended in the slightest.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I like how you’re just going to ignore that the interlinear text uses the term ‘ebed instead of onkelos.

        • Dys

          And I like how you ignore the fact that you haven’t defended your position in the slightest. You do have to actually do that at some point, you know.

          Oh, and Onkelos was a 1st century Jewish translator. Who also disagreed with your interpretation.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The word is still ‘ebed which is the generic term for servant or “slave”. Can you give me ANY reason to think that the passage is referring to only immigrant runaways rather than all runaways?

        • Kodie

          What a shitty political system if a slave was better off being owned as property than being freed. God sure knows what he’s doing.

        • T-Paine
        • Dys

          It is mandatory to provide asylum for any slave why tries to run away.

          Multiple bible commentaries make it clear that this is in reference to foreign slaves seeking refuge in Israel, and not the blanket “freedom if you escape” that you want it to be.

        • Travis Wakeman

          They speculate (I would argue incorrectly) that the passage of Deuteronomy 23:15 refers only to slaves emigrating in, and not already inside. What element of the passage would you argue indicates that this doesn’t apply to domestic runaways?

        • Dys

          What element of the passage would you argue indicates that this doesn’t apply to domestic runaways?

          The fact that the entire enterprise of slavery would collapse if your inane proposition were true is a pretty good indication. Also, Deuteronomy 23 is concerned with foreign relations, so their interpretation makes much more sense than yours in light of both context and reason.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Not if the individuals who were “slaves” voluntarily entered that status because it was really a debt relief and social welfare system that benefitted them enough that they wanted to stay.

          Verses 9-14 are talking about “domestic policy” again. The chapter heading in the ESV says that starting at verse 15 we are looking at “miscellaneous laws”. So no, Deut 23 is not concerned exclusively with “foreign relations.”

        • Dys

          How many times do you need to be told that the ancient Hebrews had multiple forms of slavery (chattel, debt, voluntary) before it sinks in? I know you’re trying desperately to pretend they were all one thing, with the same rules applying to them all, but that’s not supported by the text.

          verses 9-14 are talking about “domestic policy” again.

          In the context of being encamped against one’s enemies – making war against foreigners. So you’ve completely missed the context on that one.

          The chapter heading in the ESV says that starting at verse 15 we are looking at “miscellaneous laws”.

          You’re not going to be surprised when I tell you that chapter headings are later additions to the text, are you?

          So no, Deut 23 is not concerned exclusively with “foreign relations.”

          And the notion of “Miscellaneous laws regarding foreign relations” is too much for you to grasp. The point is, all the verses that are grouped under Deut 23. in some way relate to foreign relations. You want to toss that context out to support a position that makes no sense given the nature of slavery.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Still waiting on an actual reason to think that the verse must only apply to emigrating runaway slaves…

          How are verses 17 and 19 having anything to do with foreign relations?

        • Dys

          Still waiting on an actual reason to think that the verse must only apply to emigrating runaway slaves…

          You were given them, and you ignored them because they don’t fit with what you want to believe.

          Of course, what you want to believe isn’t really biblically supported, but you’re playing semantics and ignoring the multiple forms of Hebrew slavery to get around that little problem.

          How are verses 17 and 19 having anything to do with foreign relations?

          Good catch…they aren’t. So I will retract my claim that Deut 23 deals exclusively with foreign relations. That still doesn’t make the verse mean what you want it to, however. On a related note, when are you going to stop dishonestly pretending that there was only one form of slavery in Ancient Israel?

          For instance, if it were really true that all a slave had to do was escape to be free, there should have been a never-ending series of slave revolts from those taken in battle. For a civilization that institutionalized slavery, your take on the law would be incredibly irrational and outright idiotic.

          Let’s face facts – you’re arguing for what you want to believe, not what’s actually supported.

        • Travis Wakeman

          To get a slave revolt you have to have massing of large amounts of people and conditions where they want to revolt. If my interpretation is correct- why would they want to revolt after they were integrated?

        • Dys

          why would they want to revolt after they were integrated?

          Why would they wait until they were integrated? Your wishful thinking relies on a massive amount of blatant stupidity on the part of the ancient Hebrews.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Hmm, well if an individual is simply running away (presumably without weapons since they were probably disarmed as a POW) and then immediately starting a “revolt” they are probably not going to last too long against the army which just conquered them.

        • Kodie

          Oh god but fuck you’re so stupid.

        • Kodie

          How long would I have to own you before you revolted?

        • Otto

          We are still waiting for why something ‘intrinsically wrong’ was codified to begin with and not just outlawed.

        • Pofarmer

          You are really going to argue “They asked for it?”

        • Dys

          Christianity has a proud tradition of victim blaming.

          And Travis hasn’t yet reached the point where he understands the fact that the Hebrews had multiple types of slavery. He’s just brushing them all under the “voluntary slavery” blanket because he doesn’t know any better. And it makes his wishful thinking defense of slavery a lot easier.

        • Travis Wakeman

          And Deuteronomy 23:15 makes all of these forms of slavery voluntary… Still waiting on how verses 17 and 19 (and the rest) are “miscellaneous laws about foreign relations”…

        • Dys

          And Deuteronomy 23:15 makes all of these forms of slavery voluntary

          No, it doesn’t. Your interpretation makes absolutely no sense. You want all the slavery to have been voluntary. But it doesn’t hold up with all the other verses relating to slavery in the bible. The institution would have died a quick death if your interpretation was true. It didn’t.

          Still waiting on how verses 17 and 19 (and the rest) are “miscellaneous laws about foreign relations”…

          Already admitted to being wrong on that. If only you’d own up to the numerous times you’ve been shown to be utterly wrong and mistaken.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So you concede that the verse applies to domestic as well as immigrant runaways- which means that all forms of slavery would ultimately be voluntary. Can we really call it “slavery” if it’s voluntary?

        • Dys

          I concede that your reading comprehension is deplorable, as that’s nowhere close to what I said. There are other reasons that cast significant doubt on your preferred interpretation, as I’ve already said (and you’ve ignored).

          But I’ve long given up on expecting anything approaching honesty from you, so this blatant misrepresentation of what I actually said doesn’t surprise me.

        • Travis Wakeman

          And I’ve responded to your criticisms.

        • Dys

          With little more than “I want this to be true, therefore it is”.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Actually I’ve never once said that. Your argument is nothing more than something from simple incredulity.

        • Dys

          Oh no, you’ve never actually said it. It’s just incredibly obvious, since you haven’t bothered to defend your interpretation at all.

          Your argument is nothing more than something from simple incredulity.

          Actually, I given plenty of reasons as to why your interpretation doesn’t hold up. But you don’t seem to have anything substantive to back up your position. You’ve done little more than jump illogically from “maybe this minority is right” to outright asserting that it is, despite being a minority view of people who actually study the bible. I’m merely pointing out your failure to defend it…you seem to want to play the “right by default” game, where you get to pretend you’ve done something by dismissing criticism of your position rather than supporting it.

        • Travis Wakeman

          What you’re saying here that: “You’re the minority, therefore you’re wrong” is an egregious case the argument ad populum.

          I’ve pointed out how that particular law is given in a set of laws about “domestic policy”. I’ve pointed out that the word used is ‘ebed rather than onkelos…

        • Kodie

          In what tragic economic system would anyone volunteer to be owned by another person? A system your god created?

        • Travis Wakeman

          perhaps one where the other option is “starve”

        • Dang! If there were only an omnipotent deity who could give other options to a society that he cared deeply about …

        • Travis Wakeman

          Premise 1. If there were a Gid he would do X…
          Premise2. God doesn’t do X
          Conclusion. Therefore there is no God.

          That’s a pretty tough argument to defend seeing as how the first premise has to be argued and all…

        • It’s not me who’s claiming that God exists and cares deeply about his people and can do anything. I’m pretty sure that’s you.

          Given that, don’t tell me that “the only other option [to Old Testament slavery] is starve.” The God you posit is probably smart enough to figure out some other options.

        • Pofarmer

          Omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence only go so far.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That seems rather like an argument from incredulity.

        • I’m not the one who’s limiting the Almighty! That’s you, remember? You’re Travis “the other option is starve” Wakeman.

          I’m the one who’s schooling you in what magic + omnipotence means.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Bob, you can’t even get the concept of the soul straight without making fundamental category errors. This would seem to indicate to me that you are not a competent “teacher”.

          Please tell me where I have “limited the Almighty”.

          Maybe if you made a cogent argument…

        • Next time you can’t respond, just say so. It’ll be quicker.

        • Greg G.

          Bob, you can’t even get the concept of the soul straight without making fundamental category errors.

          Every week or two a different Christian pops in to give a different soul concept. They all are just as confident as you that they have the proper soul concept. It is not Bob’s fault that Christianity has many incoherent concepts of the soul.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and the more coherent, the less falsifiable.

        • Argus

          I’d be curious to have Travis explain what he thinks a soul is in concept. Believers usually do not provide a coherent, non-circular explanation.

        • Greg G.

          Is the god you posit not as smart as the god other Christians posit?

        • TheNuszAbides

          you know a Storm God can only toss down manna a few times before his supermojo is exhausted … until it gets … recharged somehow … right?

        • Pofarmer

          Couldn’t an all powerful God just feed em?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Your options are:

          1. Starve.
          2. Sell your household into service under another household with the guarantee that in seven years all your debts will be forgiven and you’ll be guaranteed land and a means to make a living.

          Which do you choose?

        • Dys

          Yep, #2 describes one form of slavery the ancient Hebrews participated in. But not the only one.

        • Pofarmer

          Why would those be the only options provided>?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Feel free to add any that you feel would have been realistically open to a family in debt in that time period and geographic region.

        • Dys

          In other words, you dishonestly refuse to acknowledge there was any distinction between debt slavery and chattel slavery, even though it’s made quite clearly in the bible.

          Nice job on the cherry picking.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Both are voluntary.

        • Otto

          Your rationalizations and intellectual dishonesty is voluntary.

        • Dys

          No, they’re not. You haven’t justified your interpretation of the verse in question beyond your own wishful thinking.

        • Kodie

          How would you feel “voluntary” if your only options were to starve or be owned by other humans to do whatever they wanted, or be beaten if you didn’t?

        • Pofarmer

          Well golly gee Gomer I dunno. How about something along the lines of “and the community shall take up a collection for the sustenance of the poor. ” or maybe something along the lines of” and every man shall be deserving of a fair wage for his labors.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh, i don’t think we want to get him started about what Gawd clearly revealed about minting currency.

        • Kodie

          Without god, none. With god’s guidance, some other option than owning humans as labor animals.

        • Dys

          Because he’s a dishonest revisionist.

        • Greg G.

          Actually, indentured servitude was for six years and the seventh year the servant went free, like the sabbath at the end of the week.

          But it depends on how big the debt was. It may be that your debt is too great to get off with just six years of work. It may be that your daughters are sold into slavery first so they have to stay for life. You may owe a few months pay and have to work six years to pay it off.

        • Kodie

          How cruel.

        • Kodie

          What kind of system would make volunteering to be a slave be a beneficial life choice as opposed to something else? I can’t help but see the similarities between the bible and the US sometimes. Seems like some people would really like to get back to a system where some people have to grovel for a chance to be someone’s slave, or else perish,

        • TheNuszAbides

          it wasn’t enough for alleged Yahweh to allegedly allow his allegedly Chosen People to allegedly be enslaved by the for-a-time-convenient-to-the-narrative Egyptians–clearly this wouldn’t in and of itself impart any moral lessons as to any particular kind of slavery being morally objectionable (let alone ~Objectively~ immoral); no, it was further necessary to allegedly reveal regulations to the free Chosen as to how they should treat their human commodities. would’ve been way too radical to discourage them from slaving on mere objectively moral grounds! how else were The Chosen People of The One True God supposed to compete at nation-building with all the surrounding nations?

          fundies are too wacky. i can’t even.

        • Dys

          Hurray for historical revisionism! Biblical slavery was not a form of indentured servitude, and they most definitely had chattel slavery.

          To regulate a hard but inevitable reality on the ground is not the same as endorsing that state of affairs.

          So you’ve got an omnipotent, supposedly omnibenevolent God who is just too weak to abolish slavery, but has enough pull to regulate it a little bit. Murder’s inevitable too, yet God managed to utter a commandment against that, didn’t he? Sounds incredibly inconsistent to me, almost like God’s a character created by people who didn’t have a moral problem with slavery…

          The excuses given for God’s inaction regarding abolishing or even condemning slavery are all laughably bad, and fall apart under extremely light scrutiny.

        • Greg G.

          Do you think that the “slavery” that the Hebrews practiced was anything like the “chattel slavery” that the American south practiced?

          Yes, the slavery of the American south was based on biblical slavery. They even borrowed the indentured servitude.

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

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

          These passages show that purchased slave were not indentured servants, like the south.

          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.

          Slaves could be kept forever and could be bequeathed to the owner’s heirs, like the south. They could be treated like slaves and they are excluded from the injunction of not being treated harshly, like the south.

          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.

          A slave could be beaten to death without punishment if they could walk away from it and suffer through the night, or at least until sunset when the next day started. I think this is a difference between them.

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

          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.

          These passages show that even a Hebrew could be made a slave for life. Exodus spells out exactly how to use family values to con an illiterate teenager into becoming such a slave. This is how indentured servitude worked except that I have never heard of an indentured servant becoming a permanent slave.

        • Travis Wakeman

          See all of the other discussion points below and above. If the penalty for causing a servant to die from a beating is death, how likely do you think it is that masters are going to try to beat their servants so that they linger for just the right amount of time before dying?

        • Dys

          how likely do you think it is that masters are going to try to beat their servants so that they linger for just the right amount of time before dying?

          You really think this is a good response? The human body can take quite a beating without coming close to death. Stop being naive.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The assertion was “the Bible tells you how to beat your slaves and get away with it”. I’m simply pointing out that the regulation there is to protect the slave rather than the master. As I said, if you beat a slave and there is even the slightest chance that they might die from some sort of complication- you are executed, period. You wouldn’t last very long if your policy was “beat them just hard enough so that they linger for a couple of days before dying” because you’re playing that game with your own life. Most people value their own lives and so the effect of this law is to discourage beatings.

        • Dys

          And again, you’re being extremely naive.

          You wouldn’t last very long if your policy was “beat them just hard enough so that they linger for a couple of days before dying”

          But since that’s a misrepresentation of the point I was making, it’s irrelevant. A persona can be severely beaten without any real risk of having them die.

          Most people value their own lives and so the effect of this law is to discourage beatings.

          No, the effect of the law is to discourage extreme beatings.

        • Greg G.

          As I said, if you beat a slave and there is even the slightest chance that they might die from some sort of complication- you are executed, period.

          It doesn’t say that. It says “punished”. Further down where the punishment is death for the death of most people, it is a fine for the death of a slave.

        • Dys

          But he really wants it to mean killed, so it does. At least, that’s been his defining method of justification so far.

        • Kodie

          I mean, if you were an owned laborer, how would you escape your deserved beatings? You seem to think the passages are for the protection of slaves who disobey, but how do you think you discipline a slave if they have misbehaved and get them on the right track? It wasn’t too long ago, we smacked our TVs to bring them back to operating correctly? Well, slaves are no different. If you threaten and smack people you regard as animals, they’ll fear you and behave, and more importantly, still be your slaves. If you injure them too hard, because they speak and protest, or whatever, they are likely to be of no more use to you. In biblical terms, treat your investment carefully, or you will do without and have to shell out for a new slave.

        • Greg G.

          If the penalty for causing a servant to die from a beating is death,

          First, this is about slaves bought with money who could be treated harshly, not Hebrew servants, per Leviticus 25:46.

          If the slaveowner beat a slave to death, the slaveowner was punished but it doesn’t say put to death. Further down in verse 29, it says that an ox that has gored before kills somebody, the owner is to be put to death but, in verse 31, if a slave is killed by the ox, it is a fine of 30 shekels.

          Exodus 21:28-31 (NRSV)28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 29 If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life. 31 If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s still under eye for an eye. In the case of the ox, the owner presumably doesn’t have full control over the ox- and thus cannot be held to the same degree of accountability although they are still held liable.

        • Greg G.

          Not with slaves. If you knocked out the eye of a slave, you didn’t lose an eye, you just lose the slave as he was required to be set free. So, if slavery was a welfare system, why was a half-blind slave set free?

          Exodus 21:23-27 (NRSV)23 If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. 26 When a slaveowner strikes the eye of a male or female slave, destroying it, the owner shall let the slave go, a free person, to compensate for the eye. 27 If the owner knocks out a tooth of a male or female slave, the slave shall be let go, a free person, to compensate for the tooth.

          See how the laws made exceptions for slaves being injured?

        • Kodie

          Why does anyone presume to have more control over a human being than an ox?

        • Rudy R

          So you are OK with a god regulating “light” slavery?

        • OK with it?? Travis has volunteered to have it imposed on himself to show how appropriate it is for Western society in the 21st century!

          What a guy.

        • Otto

          It’s not slavery…it is a needed social service to humanity.

        • Rudy R

          Any bets that he would regret being a guinea pig for the cause? The mental gymnastics of some Christians is hilarious to watch.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Do you think that the “slavery” that the Hebrews practiced was anything like the “chattel slavery” that the American south practiced?”

          It doesn’t really matter if anyone thinks they are alike or not. What we do have of slavery regulation in the Bible is shit to be rejected all on its own.

          “the government by regulating unemployment would be endorsing it as a lifestyle choice!”

          That doesn’t even make sense with the human trafficing regulated by Jesus god of the Bible.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I was only saying it doesn’t really matter how alike they were. The slavery regulation in the Bible is horrible all on its own.

        • It was, though if everyone thinks of American slavery as terrible, equating them seems the quickest way for them to get it.

          To say, “Yeah, but there was slavery in the Bible” only gets the reply, “Ha! That was nothing like American slavery” in my experience.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I ask if Christian American slavery became better than Biblical slavery or worse after centuries of Christianity to those Christians.

        • Eo Raptor

          Hey Travis,

          You say the TC’s were provisional until the tribes could receive the Levitical laws. In what say, then, did the later expositions in Leviticus move one jot away from the TC’s? In addition, in what way do the laws in Leviticus, in any way, support the notion of natural rights?

          Indeed, the very notion of natural law, or natural rights, serves to undermine the biblical proclamations. Natural right, in the context of the DoI, simply means a right that I have because I am a living human being, in a human culture, and human civilization. It is not a right (read privilege) granted to me by the government, and certainly not by some mystical, supernatural, being.

        • Otto

          So at first you claim the whole idea came from Christianity and now when it is pointed out that isn’t the case you attempt to minimize your error.

          Back peddle much?

        • Travis Wakeman

          The claim was that under Christianity we have a coherent picture of what natural law is with proper worldview justification. The greeks were getting onto it, but without the underlying theological/metaphysical underpinnings that Christianity provides, their picture was incomplete.

        • Otto

          No the claim was and I quote…

          “The whole idea of western natural rights is itself a product of Christian theology.”

          Nice try.

        • Travis Wakeman

          By all means continue to tell me what my intention was…

        • Otto

          I merely pointed out your quote that the idea came from Christianity, and when it was pointed out to you that the idea preceded Christianity you changed your tune….that isn’t my fault.

        • Travis Wakeman

          If I were to say that the wholeness of the ideology of communism came about in the writings of Marx, would you argue that actually communism started with the first threads of communitarian thinking in writings that preceeded him?

        • Otto

          Yes…if you claimed the ‘whole idea’ came from Marx and it could be shown that that was not the case I most certainly would.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Wholeness vs completeness

        • Otto

          Bullshit vs cow shit

        • Kodie

          And what I heard was “blah blah blah, blah blah; blah blah blah blah blah blah.”

        • katiehippie

          God is operating within ‘hard realities’. If you believe in god, then you aren’t giving him much credit. He can do anything, right? He could have made people capable of understanding his moral law without any stepping stones on the way.

        • Travis Wakeman

          God works within a world in which He has chosen to give us a large amount of autonomy. Free choice is more precious than compulsion.

        • Greg G.

          According to Christianity, if one doesn’t do one compulsory thing, one is tortured forever. If you do that one compulsory thing, it doesn’t matter what else you have done.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s more like being inside of a burning house, stuck in a fire that you are directly responsible for. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is like a fireman trying to come in, but you have to unlock the door from the inside in order for him to save you.

          Those who end up in hell are there because they have sought it. The gates of hell are locked from the inside.

        • Herald Newman

          No, it’s more like your God created me inside of a burning house, and barred all the doors, an windows, and will only let me out once I accept Jesus.

          Your apologetics needs some work!

        • Dys

          It’s funny how, with little to no effort, one can find numerous parallels between Jigsaw from the Saw movies and apologists’ excuses for God’s inane plan for salvation, isn’t it?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Nothing funny about people choosing to walk right into hell because they think that is where they genuinely think that they want to be.

          More like God’s trying to guide you out of the house of horrors that you’ve built for yourself, but you keep refusing step out the door.

        • Dys

          Oh, it’s definitely funny. I’m just glad to know there’s no evidence whatsoever that heaven nor hell exist. There’s no carrot or stick.

          The notion that people “choose” hell is just letting God off the hook for setting up the entire scenario in the first place.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Aquinas’ cosmological argument, evidence for the immateriality of human consciousness, parsimoniousness of Christianity with the historical evidence…

        • Dys

          I’ll let you keep pretending there aren’t counters and refutations to all of those…

        • Travis Wakeman

          Do you even understand what Aquinas’ cosmological argument from essentially ordered cause and effect is?

        • Dys

          Yes. Do you understand that arguments for a first cause do not necessarily entail that the first cause is a person? And that Aquinas’s cosmological argument has refutations to it?

        • Otto

          Do you understand that argument is fundamentally flawed and fallacious?

        • Travis Wakeman

          The inheritability of sin is sort of like how if your grandparents sell off their farm you therefore can’t inherit it from them. Regardless we all still have that steak of evil in us though. God wants you to come back into right relationship, but you can’t be compelled into it. It has to be a choice that is freely made, you have to choose to want to enter into right relationship first.

          You should read CS Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”

        • you have to choose to want to enter into right relationship first.

          With someone who apparently doesn’t exist? If God would just stop being shy and let us know that he exists, that’d make it a bit more reasonable.

          You should read CS Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”

          If there’s something useful here, summarize it for us.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Shellenberg’s argument for atheism from ‘divine hiddenness’ fails as soon as you realize that love must be freely given, freely chosen rather than compelled.

          This might be useful: http://www.inspiringphilosophy.org/project/why-there-is-no-proof-of-god/

          For the more academically inclined: http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Hiddenness-Essays-Daniel-Howard-Snyder/dp/0521803535

        • I think I’m familiar with this rebuttal to the argument from divine hiddenness, and I’m not buying it. Yes, love must be freely given. That has nothing to do with the existence of the beloved. We assume that that question has already been resolved, while “Does he exist?” is the central question with God.

          Poor analogy.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The question you need to ask is whether or not all of us are “gold-diggers” who would immediately bow to God not out of any sincerely felt love, but simply because we want power. Compare the king who dresses as a servant first in order to court the servant girl who he secretly admires as opposed to the king who courts her without regard to her love for him rather than his power.

        • Loads of atheists have declared that they wouldn’t worship Yahweh even if convinced that he did exist because he’s an asshole.

          Your problem remains: “Does he/she exist?” is never the issue with a romantic question. It is the central issue with God.

          Poor analogy.

        • Herald Newman

          > Loads of atheists have declared that they wouldn’t worship
          > Yahweh even if convinced that he did exist because he’s
          > an asshole.

          I believe IP’s “argument for divine hiddenness”, or at least the one he presents, isn’t based on the idea that there wouldn’t be people who wouldn’t worship God, but rather that the people who do worship God would be doing it out of fear, rather than love, and thus all would be condemned to hell.

          Frankly, this argument doesn’t do much for convincing me that his God is anything that I should worship, or love.

        • Sounds a bit like the problem with Pascal’s Wager–“Just act like you believe, just in case.” I think that an omniscient god could see through that.

          I see your point about this response to divine hiddenness. But that doesn’t help the Christian’s position. If God making himself plainly known would provoke fear or revulsion, he only has himself to blame (or maybe his biographers who wrote the Bible).

          And then we have the problem that in the OT, worship through carrying out the rituals was all that mattered. What you thought of God was irrelevant.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “”You should read CS Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”
          If there’s something useful here, summarize it for us.”

          Anytime a Christian tells me to read a book appologizing for god’s [lack of any evidence for] existence lately, I tell them that their god can start a weekly book club. One week god reads a book arguing that it exists and the next week ‘Catch-22’.

          EDIT: quote error.

        • Pofarmer

          And you should read Patricia Churchland’s “Braintrust” to get an idea why your notions here are so frustratingly bad.

          You’ve descended into proselytizing, and I would suggest you simply be banned.

        • Otto

          Stuck in a burning house that God lit the match on.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Did Adam and Eve choose to sin of their own free will? Oh, looks like that match is in their hands then…

        • Did God make Adam and Eve inherently flawed? Oh, looks like God created a flammable world and is again holding that match.

        • Dys

          Those poor, poor mythical people who were created without having the knowledge of good and evil, yet are placed in a situation that required it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          like an experiment in democracy, only not thought-out at all. and totalitarian.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You’re presuming a Calvinist mindset. God can choose to create free-willed beings though in the same way that you can choose to roll the dice inside of a cup, slam it face down onto the table and have ability to know by lifting the cup (preserving sovereignty) but simply choosing not to (preserving genuine free will).

        • You’ve lost me. Adam and Eve were morally flawed. So are you and I. That’s God’s fault. As Hitch said, “We are created sick and commanded to be well.”

        • Travis Wakeman

          Free agents can’t be responsible for their choices?

        • If God’s standard is higher than any human can attain and God made us, whose fault is it when we don’t attain God’s standard?

        • Travis Wakeman

          The assumption there is that God’s standard is higher that humans can attain. Humans attained it once, but have since fallen from that standard.

          If the government sets the standards for the SATs, and the government is also responsible for schools, and the students taking the SAT still fail to perform to standard- is it by necessity the government’s fault that the students failed to meet the standard?

        • (1) The government didn’t create humans.

          (2) Some people do well on the SATs. No one does well on God’s entrance exam.

          The assumption there is that God’s standard is higher that humans can attain.

          And that’s God’s fault.

        • Travis Wakeman

          But we can attain it, though not on our own. Your chief complaint is that “original sin” is “inherited” right?

        • Nope. If it were, I’d’ve said so. My complaint is God sending people to hell for being inherently unable to meet his standards.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Humans attained it once,

          really? when was that? how was it ‘attained’?

        • TheNuszAbides

          biting (or biting a bite of) an interestingly conflicted Elizabethan writer: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fulke_Greville,_1st_Baron_Brooke

          Oh wearisome Condition of Humanity!

          Born under one law, to another bound:

          Vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity,

          Created sick, commanded to be sound:

          What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws?

          Passion and reason, self-division cause.

          Is it the mark, or Majesty of Power

          To make offences that it may forgive?

          from The Tragedy of Mustapha, 1609
          apparently dude was a Calvinist.

        • That is a surprise that a Hitchens one-liner came from a Calvinist.

        • MNb

          Look at that, I learned something today. Calvinism was way more influential in England (and Ireland before the only Dutch king on the English throne) than I always thought. It
          didn’t prevent Cromwell from winning the first Anglo-Dutch
          (Naval) War.

        • TheNuszAbides

          hey, Lord Acton was a Catholic. stopped clock and all that.

        • Otto

          Any being who is ultimately powerful is also ultimately responsible for anything that happens.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Only if Calvinism is true.

        • Otto

          The only thing that has to be true is an all powerful God put the pieces in place.

          If I make a game and come up with the rules I am responsible for any outcome within that game.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Only if Calvinism is true.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          paraphrasing Peter Parker in ‘Captain America: Civil War’: “Having these powers, if I see people being hurt and I do nothing, I am the one responsible for those wrongs.”

        • Michael Neville

          Did Adam and Eve even exist? Modern biology says no.

        • Argus

          So maybe David Byrne is God?

          https://youtu.be/xNnAvTTaJjM

        • Greg G.

          Christianity is exactly like I said. Your lousy analogy doesn’t make it any better.

          If Hitler accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior before he died, he is in heaven and Anne Frank is in hell. That is just how Christianity is supposed to work.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Given what we know I think that is unlikely, but the radical love of God is so great and unconditional that even someone of that degree of evil could find forgiveness if it was sought.

          While it is absolutely true that the only way is through Christ, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the door for the possibility of salvation closes at death… See once again, “The Great Divorce” where we are treated to the theologically coherent analogy of a busload of people from hell making a road trip to heaven where some of them decide to stay.

        • So the dead get a tour of heaven, but many choose to stay on the bus to go to hell? How do you figure that?

        • Travis Wakeman

          If you read the book, yes. Many of those who decide to try to come up to heaven choose to go back to hell because they convince themselves that they prefer it there.

        • Greg G.

          I think you made that up and are reading it into the book. Or somebody thought of it for you and you believed it.

        • Does hell have torment as shown in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man? Or is Lewis pretending that that’s not the case?

        • Travis Wakeman

          True or false: the imagery in the Bible used to depict hell is exclusively “fire”.

        • Dunno. I’m only drawn to the references of fire and torment.

          That parable refers to fire in hell. I don’t care what else you find that might contradict that. Either hell is fire, or the Bible is contradictory. Pick.

        • Greg G.

          There is also the hell where toothless people get false teeth to gnash.

        • That’s only fair. It’s not like God is a dick.

        • Michael Neville

          The popular image of Hell owes more to Dante and John Milton than to the Bible.

        • Agreed, but where did the idea of hell being “locked from the inside” come from? I think Lewis used this idea, though he might have borrowed it.

          The old fire ‘n brimstone preachers were happy to preach the hellfire gospel.

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t know where it came from but I suspect it was invented by someone trying to excuse an omnibenevolent god giving people eternal punishment. “God doesn’t send you to Hell, you go there yourself” has been tossed at me several times when I say that infinite punishment for finite crimes sounds more like an abusive parent than a loving parent.

        • That response is the old kindergarten try to maneuver their mute and impotent god out of a spot. I haven’t researched it, but I’m curious what logic they imagine to support this idea.

        • Travis Wakeman
        • A 2-hour debate?! If there are relevant arguments here, summarize them.

        • Myna A.

          I think Lewis used this idea, though he might have borrowed it.

          He essentially borrowed it from both Dante and Milton, that heaven and hell are equally an acquired taste…fostered before the final destination, as it were.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The answer there is “false”.

        • So then you agree with me: either hell is fiery or the Bible is contradictory. Which one do you pick?

        • Travis Wakeman

          If I give you two different metaphors for something with different imagery, have I contradicted myself?

        • Uh, no–you don’t get to change the subject.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You said that different imagery means there must be a contradiction. I’m challenging that assumption.

        • I’m saying that hell is either fiery torment or it’s not. It’s a valid dichotomy.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I think it’s a metaphor for something much worse.

        • ??

        • Greg G.

          Under Christianity, sin is irrelevant. Jesus is a Get Out of Hell Free card. I know that the cognitive dissonance makes it hard to think of it in such stark terms. You keep trying to polish the turd.

        • No, not really. In the case of reality, like a fire, you’re motivated to help the fire fighter come in to put out the fire. In the case of Imaginary World, like religion, whatever disconnected-from-reality requirements there are don’t make any sense.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That is the case when the individual in question recognizes the danger and evil of the fire. But what if you’re in denial that you need saving? What if you keep telling yourself that it’s all completely under your control?

          Perhaps maybe less analogous to a fire and more analogous to a drug addiction.

        • No, the flaw your analogies keep getting stuck on is that God is apparently nonexistent. There is no good evidence.

          With drug addiction, heroin, matches, burning houses, and so on, we are well beyond the question of whether those exist or not.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Are you making a knowledge claim by saying that “God is non-existant” or are you merely meaning to say that you “can neither affirm nor deny that there is a God?”

        • I’m saying that the evidence we have for God is basically nonexistent. For drugs and matches, we all agree that they do exist. That’s why it’s a poor analogy.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That doesn’t seem to answer the question. You said that “God is non-existent” are you willing to stand by that knowledge claim and support it- or do you merely “neither affirm nor deny that there is a God”

        • No, I’m not saying God doesn’t exist for our argument. You’re making the big claim. The burden of proof is yours.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You’re not making the knowledge claim that “there is no God”.

          So you’re position is “I can neither affirm nor deny that there is a God” right?

        • My position is: shut up with the fucking questions and get on with it. You’ve got an in box full of questions. Go.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You can’t acknowledge that that is your position can you? You want to adopt the knowledge claim position, but you can’t bring yourself to justify it epistemically.

        • No more rhetorical questions. You’ve used up your quota.

          You claim that God exists? Then show us. When you shirk the burden of proof, baby Jesus cries.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Aquinas’ Cosmological argument.

        • I respond to WLC’s version here.

          Next.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Aquinas’ Cosmological argument is based on entirely different premises from William Lane Craig’s version. You’ve demonstrated your unfamiliarity with confusing it. You’re only further demonstrating that you aren’t a competent “teacher”.

        • You’re only further demonstrating that you aren’t a competent “teacher”.

          You’ve got no argument, so you complain.

          You’re a waste of time.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You apparently don’t even know what Aquinas’ cosmological argument is, how do you know that it’s a non-argument?

        • Greg G.

          Actually, he said ” God is apparently nonexistent”. That is not the same. It means there doesn’t appear to be any evidence for God.

        • Argus

          Your analogy seems predicated on the premise “Jesus Christ provided a supernatural ‘atoning sacrifice.'” Is there any credible evidence to suggest this premise is true? Also, is there any credible evidence hell is true?

        • Travis Wakeman

          The collective eyewitness testimony is pretty convincing. The eyewitnesses were willing to go to their deaths to a man rather than recant what they would have known to be a massive lie. It seems more parsimonious with the evidence to say that Christ did rise from the dead than anything else.

          See also Aquinas’ cosmological argument from essentially ordered cause and effect.

          See also the various arguments for mind-body dualism which provide a pretty solid basis for arguing the existence of an immaterial consciousness (a soul?).

        • Herald Newman

          Seriously here?? Eyewitness testimony!? If that was actually your basis, you should be a Mormon!

          More parsimonious that Jesus rose from the dead? You’ve got a whacky definition of parsimonious! We know that people lie, or make mistakes, but we never see people come back from the dead!

          Aquinas pretty much took Aristotle, and used his argument to argue for his particular God… I see nothing compelling in any of Aquinas’ arguments.

          Mind-body dualism is simply bad philosophy with no credible evidence to support it. Consciousness is a product of the brain, and all the evidence tells us that!

        • Travis Wakeman

          I’m not a Mormon because there isn’t a single archeological discovery in all of North American which supports the claims made by the book of Mormon. Try the archeological support for the OT and the NT though!

          You’ve never seen someone come back from the dead, therefore Jesus didn’t come back from the dead? Is that your argument?

          Yes, Aquinas uses Thomistic metaphysics- but do you even know what the argument is well enough to explain it?

          Do you understand the argument from conceivability for mind-body dualism?

        • Herald Newman

          >Try the archeological support for the OT and the NT
          > though!

          What archeological support for the NT?

          >You’ve never seen someone come back from the dead,
          > therefore Jesus didn’t come back from the dead?
          > Is that your argument?

          Not at all. Rather my position is that there is a more parsimonious explanation that the people were simply mistaken about Jesus. You’re arguing for the answer that requires far more assumptions, and then telling me that it’s more parsimonious, and that’s just absurd!

          The background probability of Jesus rising from the dead is, as far as I can tell, zero. *If* we can establish that your God exists, and that your God has some power to raise the dead, then the background probability will change, but not before then,

          > Yes, Aquinas uses Thomistic metaphysics- but do you even
          > know what the argument is well enough to explain it?

          Are we talking about the argument from efficient cause, or the argument from motion? They’re both pretty much the same thing, just re-worded.

          > Do you understand the argument from conceivability for
          > mind-body dualism?

          state the argument and we can discuss.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The argument from essentially ordered cause and effect. This is where I’m coming from: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Superstition-Refutation-New-Atheism/dp/1587314525

          Lets take it one at a time for now.

        • Herald Newman

          Such an argument is essentially special pleading for a particular first cause that nobody has been able to demonstrate actually exists.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Not really. If we were talking accidentally ordered cause and effect then yes, but essentially ordered cause and effect goes all the way down to it’s root in every instant of change.

        • Herald Newman

          Is there somewhere that I can read the argument that you’re talking about, so that we can be on the same page. I don’t own the book you reference, nor do I intend to buy it.

        • Try the archeological support for the OT and the NT though!

          Tried it. Wasn’t impressed.

          At best you can say, “The Bible says that town/king/mountain/tribe existed and, sure enough, they did!! 🙂 !!”

          OK–is that something to crow about? I think that it simply gets you to the starting line.

          And then, of course, you have little problems like archaeology showing that the Exodus didn’t happen as described in the OT.

        • Travis Wakeman

          And precisely what evidence does archeology give us that suggests that Exodus didn’t happen?

        • 2 million people had to die before the 40-year Exodus was over. Where are the bodies? Where are the camp sites? Yes, I know it was 3000 years ago, but the desert preserves bodies pretty well.

        • Travis Wakeman

          They are also finding army vehicles for the invasion of the Sinai peninsula buried under 40 feet of sand…

          Argument from absence of evidence is not argument from evidence…

        • What you may be thinking is: absence of evidence is no evidence of absence.

          But of course it is: if there is no evidence where it should be, that’s a pretty big clue. That the Sinai doesn’t seem to have 2M Jews from 3000 years ago is a very big clue.

        • Travis Wakeman

          And we disagree over whether or not the evidence should be there.

        • Then expand on your evaluation. There are 2M bodies from 3000 years ago in the Sinai desert. We’ve found none that look like they’re from the Exodus, despite Christian scholars being desperate for evidence.

          What do you make of this?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Obviously all two million are risen savior gods! Were you there?!!? Checkmate atheists!

        • Greg G.

          Also, Egypt was a world power about the time the Exodus happened. If a third of their population walked away, there would have been a shake-up. It would have taken several generations to get back up to strength.

        • Greg G.

          What OT evidence? The evidence is that the earth is more than 6000 years old. There was no Flood. There is no evidence that the Jews were slaves in Egypt. There is no evidence the Jews conquered the Canaanites. There is evidence that some Canaanites just developed a religion that didn’t include pork but the rest of the culture was indistinguishable from the other Canaanites. The evidence shows that there was no Abraham, no Moses, and no Exodus. If the kingdoms of David and Solomon were as great as the Bible describes, there should be more evidence for them.

          A century ago, they called it Bible Archaeology but that term fell into disrepute a long time ago because the evidence refuted the Bible more than it confirmed it.

        • The eyewitnesses were willing to go to their deaths to a man rather than recant

          Oh, please. Both the claim that the gospels were eyewitness accounts and the “who would die for a lie?” are weak. Show us.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Name for me someone who we know conscientiously went to their death rather than recant what we know they KNEW to have been a lie…

        • (1) That’s not what I said. I said that the “who would die for a lie?” argument is crap. More here.

          (2) To answer your question, Joseph Smith. He probably knew it was a lie (the mind plays tricks, and he could’ve convinced himself, I suppose). If he’d said, “OK–never mind. Just having a bit of fun there! No need to get violent.” He might not have been shot.

        • Travis Wakeman

          When was Joseph Smith given the chance to “confess” to the mob in order to save his life?

        • (1) You haven’t responded to my post

          (2) Dunno. I’m sure there were ample opportunities during his incarceration for him to walk away from his supernatural claims, which would deflate whatever issues he had with the locals of Nauvoo.

        • Travis Wakeman

          1. You haven’t responded to Christianthinktanks article.

          2. He wasn’t given a chance. They burst into the room and shot him. He was never under explicit threat of death while he was being incarcerated until the mob came, and then there was no chance.

        • (1) Indeed I have. I said that I had no intention of reading a 20,000-word opus. Summarize it, if it’s worth summarizing.

          (2) No one is given a chance … at the moment of execution. He had plenty of chances beforehand. That the citizenry was more than slightly irked couldn’t have escaped his notice.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I’d probably have to do some more research. If you are as misinformed there as you are about the nature of the soul, or in your confusion of Aquinas’ version of the cosmological argument with the Kalam cosmological argument- then I’m sure that there is more to it…

          He had no point where he was given the clear and unambiguous choice of “death in the name of the lie” or “life in exchange for admitting that it was a lie”. Your example has failed. Please try again.

          Even if you are able to give me some rare example, the point would still stand that such behavior is exceptional and rare. Even if it were the case that only half of the original apostles were martyred for what they unambiguously would have had to know was an absolute lie- the argument is still quite strong.

        • And now you’re lying about my position–nice.

          Come back when you want to sit at the adults’ table.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Uh oh. Bob doesn’t want to play any more.

        • I thought you wanted to have a serious discussion. I didn’t realize you just wanted to play. My bad.

        • Argus

          There were no eyewitnesses. The gospels were written decades after the alleged events by non eyewitnesses who remain anonymous. See Ehrman’s Lost Christianities. Not to mention they do not even tell a consistent story.

          And you then present a false dichotomy. The supposed martyrs could very well have believed that Jesus was a magical figure just by being fooled or deluded (rather than knowing it was a lie). And, yes there are plenty of people who have died for a belief that turned out to be not true (Branch Davidians, Heavens Gate, Jonestown).

          Given your analogy, it is more parsimonious to say that Applegate really did lead his followers to a UFO in the Hale Bopp Comet.

          I do not find any cosmological argument compelling and if you wish to dissect them point by point..I am willing.,

          I do not find any evidence that claims about souls existing are true. We can also discuss that. Your solid basis does not seem to be accepted by people who actually research biology and neuroscience.

        • Greg G.

          The collective eyewitness testimony is pretty convincing.

          Sure. We have no eyewitness testimony.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, we have no Bananas.

        • Pofarmer

          Holy Shit Dude. How many fallacies or refuted arguments are you going to shove into one post? This is embarassing.

          “The collective eyewitness testimony is pretty convincing.”

          Scholarship says we have none.

          “The eyewitnesses were willing to go to their deaths to a man rather than recant what they would have known to be a massive lie”

          People die for lies all the time. See Heavens Gate, Jim Jones, Branch Davidians etc, etc. And they don’t have to be religious beliefs. A lot of the time it starts with “Hold my beer and watch this!”

          “It seems more parsimonious with the evidence to say that Christ did rise from the dead than anything else.”

          Actually no, the evidence would seem to suggest that a cult rose up around the idea of a dying and rising savior figure, of which their were many in Antiquity. There is no evidence of anyone rising from the dead. Just like there is no evidence of Apollo, or Zeus, or Thor, all of which were also worshiped at the time. Actual evidence, not just wishful thinking, suggests that Christianity started more or less like any other religion. Unless you thing, say, the cult of Romulus had a point?

          “See also Aquinas’ cosmological argument from essentially ordered cause and effect.”

          Modern Cosmology is based on probabilities, not cause and effect.

          “See also the various arguments for mind-body dualism which provide a
          pretty solid basis for arguing the existence of an immaterial
          consciousness (a soul?).”

          There is no evidence, zero, zip, nada, for mind-body dualism. None. All current research on consciousness and cognition centers on the brain. All of it.

          Think about this for a moment. Every “argument” you just gave, is completely without evidence, 100%. They are actually BETTER explained by other means.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Can you name one example of someone conscientiously choosing to dye for what they -KNOW- (they were in a position where we know that they knew) to be a lie.

          _”Modern Cosmology is based on probabilities, not cause and effect.”_

          Bro, you don’t even know what Aquinas’ argument is do you?

          _”There is no evidence, zero, zip, nada, for mind-body dualism.”_

          Ahh, since you are so familiar with the arguments you know what the argument from conceivability is and how it is refuted, right?

          Everything else you’ve given is speculation.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you going to argue that every Nazi Soldier who died believed in Aryianism? Did every Japanese soldier who committed suicide believe the Emperor was a God?

          Yes. I know Aquinas arguments. They aren’t convincing. What does Conceivability have to do with the failure if theistic soul beliefs?

        • Pofarmer

          If God could create a perfect Heaven with Free will, he could create a perfect Earth with Free Will. Please turn of teh schtoopid.

        • Herald Newman

          If anything, it’s an argument that there is no free-will in heaven. Not that I think there’s free-will here either.

        • I’m confused. Don’t Christians say that free will is super important? It must exist in heaven then, right?

        • Herald Newman

          Yes, but if there’s free will in heaven, then people could choose to rebel against God in heaven. This is contradictory with the idea that your place in heaven is eternal.

          Christianity has a lot of whacked out ideas!

        • Well, this is just me rolling my own but, since everyone does it, here goes: I assumed that we’d have great moral wisdom in heaven. Yes, we’d have free will to do something evil, but why would we? With that great wisdom, why would we want that? It would just seem stupid.

        • Herald Newman

          I suppose that could resolve the conflict. It’s still all imaginary though…

        • Yup

        • Travis Wakeman

          Absolutely, we are talking about freedom FROM sin rather than the freedom TO sin, in the same way that we might say that you are free from your addiction to morphine.

        • Pofarmer

          I also think that’s a valid conclusion, not that theists will want to go there.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Free will necessarily entails the possibility of choosing evil. Heaven is where those free agents are given freedom FROM sin in the same way that you would become free of an addiction to a powerful drug. Not freedom TO sin. There are two different senses there.

        • Greg G.

          Then how did Satan get the freedom to sin?

        • Pofarmer

          The Devil and some Angels supposedly chose evil-in Heaven, soooo?????

      • TheNuszAbides

        lol @ “western natural rights” … looks more like a store brand than a coherent concept.

    • The 10 Commandments are a bizarro version of our Constitution. Blasphemy? Worship primarily the Christian god? Sabbath day? No graven images? All with death-penalty punishment? These are rules for a theocracy.

      You’ll point to the several useful commandments. Uh, yeah, no murder, lying, or stealing is good, but it’s not like Christianity invented these rules.

      • Travis Wakeman

        I would have rather liked you to respond to the first part of my comment. Nietzsche who seems to me to be following atheism to it’s logical conclusions- says that given atheism there are no inherent rules, rights, goods, or evils. He says that there is “his way” and there is “your way” but as for the “right way” that doesn’t exist. The challenge for you I think is elaborating how upon a solely secular basis why certain rights are inalienable. A lot of the big secular atheist philosophers like Peter Singer say that human beings have no inherent rights. Why do you think that they are wrong?

        • Herald Newman

          > The challenge for you I think is elaborating how upon a solely secular basis why certain rights are inalienable

          The first problem is that there are simply no “inalienable rights.” If you believe that there are, tell that to the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during WW2 for committing the crime of having Japanese ancestors.

          What you really have are privileges and, quite frankly, the government could come along and take them away from any of us at any time! Your “rights” are simply agreed upon, and exist as long as people are willing to defend them!

        • Travis Wakeman

          So people have no inherent right to life? The government can come along and decide to arbitrarily revoke that right at any time (like the Nazi’s did)? Do you really think that there is nothing inherently wrong with that?

        • Herald Newman

          > Do you really think that there is nothing inherently wrong with that?

          Inherently wrong? No. Wrong? Most probably yes.

          Here’s the thing. Harmful actions can be justified if people believe that they are reducing some other harm. For example, it’s okay for cops to kill somebody who is threatening the lives of others. If enough people decided it was more harmful, than beneficial, to allow people to have free-speech, free speech will be eliminated.

          Any of the “rights” you currently enjoy can be taken away, and the society that does it could feel justified, in the decision, if they feel they have prevented some greater harm.

          How we figure out what is harmful is largely based on the values we hold, and the values we hold are subjective!

        • Travis Wakeman

          Then in your subjectivist framework you lose the ability to condemn any one else without refence to an objective standard. You must think that the Nazi’s were only “wrong” in the way that someone who prefers chocolate ice cream over vanilla ice cream is “wrong”. That is to say, they aren’t really “wrong” at all. You just don’t like them in your private opinion.

          We’re talking about facts though, not your private opinions.

        • Herald Newman

          Oh FFS! I really don’t understand why people have such a hard time with morality! Seriously, go spend an hour on the internet looking up “secular morality”

          EDIT: And seriously, all morality values are subjective. There literally cannot be an “objective morality”, because morality requires a mind, making it subjective.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So if you decided that rape was moral, it would be moral?

        • Herald Newman

          You didn’t do what I told you, did you?! Seriously, go read up on secular morality, it may even blow your mind.. Here’s are some resources to start you out:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8ipzPDD3Xs
          http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Secular_morality

          Now, in terms of morality, almost all humans define morality as basically trying to minimize harm, and maximize well being, but there is nothing, literally nothing, that demands that this is what is moral.

          Given that there are objective negative consequences to the action of raping somebody, with no justified increase in the well being of society, I would have to conclude that raping somebody is wrong! Let’s also never mind that your bible actually condones rape in several places, I don’t see how you have any justification to tell me that rape is “objectively wrong” (whatever that means)

        • Travis Wakeman

          If right and wrong are contingent upon your subjective opinion then you can just as easily decide rape is right as it is wrong.

          A judge sees sees that if he aquits a man who he knows to be innocent, a violent and outraged mob will riot and probably cause destruction of property and life. Is the right course of action for the judge to knowingly convict an innocent man in order to prevent the mob?

        • Otto

          If right and wrong are contingent upon your subjective opinion about God then you can just as easily decide rape is right as it is wrong.

          Works that way too.

        • Herald Newman

          Further, if morality is dependent upon God then whatever God says is right is good, and whatever God says is wrong is bad, regardless of how WE feel about it. God could just as arbitrarily say that rape is good and feeding the homeless is wrong.

          Even an action that causes objective, demonstrable, harm to somebody could be called “good” by God, and the theist would accept it because they’re committed to the “God is objectively good” idea.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That would be true if the objective moral standard were ontologically grounded in God’s will rather than Good’s immutable and necessary nature. Big difference.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Liars for Jesus bullshit! Seriously, looking as close to confidence men as possible is the best way to uphold Truth”? Perhaps you mean lies, manipulation, tyranny, rape, and murder?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Aren’t you saying that there isn’t anything wrong with lying, manipulating, tyrannizing, raping, and murdering?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You went from intrinsic to anything (including people who think such things are wrong). Therefore, there are reasons to think such things are wrong, but the persons doing those things (such as Christian theocrats) don’t share many of those reasons.

        • Greg G.

          Someone who values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would say “lying, manipulating, tyrannizing, raping, and murdering” are poor ways to achieve their values, but that doesn’t mean they are intrinsically wrong.

          Your Old Testament heroes didn’t think “lying, manipulating, tyrannizing, raping, and murdering” were wrong unless it was done to them. Hmmm, “enslavement” belongs in the list, too.

        • Travis Wakeman

          On the contrary, if your goals are to benefit yourself- lying, raping, murdering can be incredibly efficient means towards those ends. The only reason that you seem to not do those things is because they aren’t efficient enough for you- as soon as they become efficient you heartily endorse them.

          That doesn’t seem problematic?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You are using equivocation. The person raping obviously has rape as moral. Other people have rape as immoral. Your god would seem to be saying to us through its clearly seen invisible properties to rape as much as possible and that it will even be a co-rapist by making fetuses in the women’s wombs.

        • Travis Wakeman

          But which is it. Is it actually moral or immoral. What is it intrinsically?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Acts don’t have opinions. People doing or aware of acts have opinions. There isn’t anything intrinsic about morality as a full range of observations of reality suggests.

        • Greg G.

          Our society considers rape to be immoral. Even today, some societies that rely on the Old Testament ideology of rape hold the victim more responsible than the rapist. She would need someone to corroborate her testimony that the rapist committed the rape but her testimony that she was raped is evidence that she had illicit sex, and she is punished for it with a beating. The Bible says that a woman who is raped in a city is to be punished with death on the theory that she didn’t have a sock in her mouth or was conscious throughout.

          Is the Bible punishment for rape victims intrinsically moral or immoral?

          When the Canaanites were slaughtered for their wickedness including babies, why weren’t the virgin girls included? When the Hebrew men were commanded to wait a month before going into them, why doesn’t it say something about whether the girl has a say in the matter? If she had remained a virgin, having her family killed would probably not make her want to lose her virginity, meaning it would be rape. The Bible says God sanctioned it.

          Is God-sanctioned rape moral or immoral?

          You have a habit of not answering tough questions. It makes it look like you know the answer your religion requires is wrong. Why keep arguing? You should find a true religion somewhere. But wouldn’t God have led a sincere seeker like yourself to it already?

        • Travis Wakeman

          http://christianthinktank.com/remarkable.html

          But you don’t think that there is anything intrinsically wrong with rape, do you?

        • Greg G.

          What point are you trying to make with the link? It concludes with “So, the text still stands far above the other cultures of the day, and reveals that God set boundaries for His people’s conduct.” It recognizes the problems and tries to mitigate them. It seems to say it is OK to force a woman to marry you, have sex with her even if she does want it (rape), and release her later. It is justifying rape because other societies don’t have a record of waiting a month. So it does justify rape which means that rape is not intrinsically wrong. Is that your point?

          You again did not address this.

          You have a habit of not answering tough questions. It makes it look like you know the answer your religion requires is wrong. Why keep arguing? You should find a true religion somewhere. But wouldn’t God have led a sincere seeker like yourself to it already?

          You seem to think that the best defense is a good offense but it only shows that you know your position is defenseless.

          I am still waiting for your answer about whether the end justified the means in Jesus’ trial. If it does, your belief that the “end never justifies the means” is kaput which takes out your philosophy of “virtue ethics”. If it does not, then Christianity is not justified. Which will it be?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Greg, you see nothing being actually wrong with rape. That undermines every point you are trying to make.

          Regulating and mitigating the worst of a hard reality on the ground is not endorsing it.

          I believe that I already answered (maybe it didn’t go through) that Christ’s false conviction was an immoral act by Pontius Pilate.

        • Greg G.

          Do you have some end that justifies your lies? I have never said there is nothing wrong with rape, only that it is not intrinsically wrong.

          The link did not answer any question I put forth and your second paragraph doesn’t either.

          You gave an answer to a question that was never asked. Your habit of not answering questions seems to be so deeply ingrained that you cannot give an answer. Did the end (the crucifixion) justify the means (Pilate’s immoral act)? Answer the question.

        • Travis Wakeman

          If there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it, then it isn’t really wrong. You just “don’t like it” personally in your opinion.

          Christ’s death sentence was immorally placed upon him. Christ’s willingly choosing to go to his death was not immoral at all. You’ve got your means and your ends confused friend.

        • MNb

          There are precious few words as meaningless as “really” when used by apologists talking ethics.

          “You just “don’t like it” personally in your opinion.”
          Greg “just don’t like it” is as real as real can be.
          You’re a fool.

        • Travis Wakeman

          There is a difference between saying that Greg wrong in “not liking vanilla ice-cream” and that Greg is wrong in thinking that 2+2=5. The former really just says something about the person speaking. The latter says something about reality.

        • MNb

          Excellent. Greg/Travis saying something is wrong says nothing about reality. It says something about his views.
          You finally got it.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I don’t really care about Greg’s views though. So when he says X is right or wrong- that carries zero prescriptive force.

        • MNb

          Exactly.
          When you, your Bible or your big Hero Superjesus says X is right or wrong it carries zero prescriptive force as well.
          As a result neither Greg nor I are even at the least inclined to violently force our views on others, totally unlike many a believer who, like you, claims that their views have prescriptive force. Our subjectivism hence decreases violence.
          You’re in the camp of ISIS, Nazis, communists and the likes, not us. You got it indeed.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So you wouldn’t use violence to stop the Nazis from running their death camps?

          The good is grounded in God’s nature as opposed to His will though, which isn’t really the same thing at all. Since God is the basis for all of reality, it means that the good is just as objective as the law of gravity.

        • Susan

          So you wouldn’t use violence to stop the Nazis from running their death camps?

          I would but you wouldn’t as the end doesn’t justify the means. You wouldn’t even lie to a knife-wielding lunatic to save a woman’s life.

          The rest of your comment is just hilarious.

        • Greg G.

          He would resist the Nazis by asking questions. If that didn’t work, he would punch one of them in the nose. Then he would keep refusing to answer their questions while asking them more questions. Hmmm, I wonder it that is why Hitler shot himself?

        • I wonder it that is why Hitler shot himself?

          “Make it stop! Make it stop!”
          — Hitler’s last words

        • Greg G.

          The good is grounded in God’s nature as opposed to His will though, which isn’t really the same thing at all. Since God is the basis for all of reality, it means that the good is just as objective as the law of gravity.

          Then why has what God’s followers considered good changed with humanistic values over the past 25 centuries?

        • Greg G.

          But it is only your opinion that morality is anything more than opinion, which makes it just your opinion with more pretensiousness than MNb’s opinion and my opinion.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s only pretentious if it isn’t true. It seems pretentious to say that rape is intrinsically wrong?

        • Greg G.

          It is pretentious to claim it is intrinsically true when you cannot prove it is intrinsically true.

        • Susan

          It’s only pretentious if it isn’t true.

          Then until you can show why it’s “true”, it’s pretentious.

          It seems pretentious to say that rape is intrinsically wrong?

          Yes.

          Saying it’s “intrinsically” wrong is redundant and inaccurate.

          You have to argue for moral positions. That is how humans work. You can’t just show up where humans find moral agreement and claim that their moral positions are intrinsic, therefore Yahwehjesus. It’s daft.

          Also, unless you tell us differently, you wouldn’t lie to protect a woman from being raped by a marauding rapist.

          You haven’t thought about “morality”, have you? You just think you have all the answers.

        • Greg G.

          If there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it, then it isn’t really wrong. You just “don’t like it” personally in your opinion.

          Right. But how do you know it is “really wrong”. Isn’t it because you don’t like it, either?

          Christ’s death sentence was immorally placed upon him. Christ’s willingly choosing to go to his death was not immoral at all. You’ve got your means and your ends confused friend.

          It is a yes or no question. You lost again.

          According to Christianity, the death and resurrection of Jesus allowed dead humans to go to heaven. Why can’t you say that that end justified the means of Pilate’s immoral act? But that contradicts your morality of virtue ethics.

        • Otto

          The fact is you have yet to tie the objective morality to any god, or your God nor have you demonstrated objective morality even exists or any ability to discern what it is.

          As such you are talking about private opinion and not facts.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You don’t think that it is intrinsically wrong to have a society with chattel slavery?

        • Otto

          Yes I do, and luckily I have a whole lot of people that agree with me because your ‘Holy text’ codified slavery and did not outlaw it.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Then you’ve just contradicted yourself by saying that something is intrinsically wrong while at the same time saying that all morality is subjective (meaning that there are no intrinsic wrongs).

          Regulation is not endorsement.

        • Otto

          I never said morality is subjective, there is more than one version of objective morality than your narrow version of it.

          Regulation is endorsement if you are trying to argue it is intrinsically wrong.

          Name one other intrinsically moral wrong that is legal through codification in the Bible…just one.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You believe that there are two simultaneously true objectively moral standards?

          Then you think unemployment is endorsed by Uncle Sam?

        • Otto

          i am not answering another question until you honestly engage the question I put to you above. You have a habit of ignoring questions.

          Regarding unemployment:

          Unemployment is not argued to be intrinsically wrong like slavery so this analogy falls woefully short, in fact because of that it does not even apply to this discussion.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I’ve revealed below that in practice what you are calling “slavery” is really a voluntary social security net to prevent those who are extremely poor from starving to death.

          Is it intrinsically wrong to keep people from starving to death?

        • Otto

          That is complete bullshit.

          Your dishonesty is galling. There are passages that allow for keeping a slave for life and even passing them down as inheritance, that is not social security that is owning people as one would own a chair. That has been pointed out to you several times and you willfully ignore it. You make up excuse after excuse as to why something that is ‘intrinsically wrong’ was codified and then you have the audacity to claim basic human rights are derived from a collection of books that make slavery legal.

          Answer this question. Is slavery EVER justified in your view?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Can your chair run off without any consequences if it doesn’t like the terms of its contract?

          I’m a virtue ethicist, not a deontologist or a consequentialist. Moral questions are questions of character rather than strictly duties or consequences.

          Didn’t you say that nothing is ever intrinsically wrong ever? Wouldn’t it follow that slavery is never unjustified then based on an application of your own meta-ethics?

          I’ve already explained why slavery in general is a labor system which is intrinsically unjust because it doesn’t get the facts right about human nature. I’ve also pointed out how a free-market capitalist economy also fails in that regard. Do you affirm that throwing the question to the free market is ever the wrong answer to a problem?

        • Otto

          “Didn’t you say that nothing is ever intrinsically wrong ever?”

          Nope, that was someone else.

          It makes no difference whether free markets get it right or not, no one is claiming free markets are the source of morality. You claim your God who is perfect is the source of all things moral, you claim slavery is ‘intrinsically wrong’ and yet your god failed to outlaw owning people as property. And your God’s failure does not just stop with slavery, genocide is Okey Dokey too in some cases. Face at best you worship an inept God, at worst you worship a monster.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You are claiming, X labor system is wrong without taking the time to realize that Y and Z labor system are also going to be wrong. If you were a communist you would be arguing that the Bible must be evil because it doesn’t condemn free markets.

          Regulating a hard reality on the ground is not endorsing that hard reality to begin with. The parent of a small child might say “today I want you eat this food with your hands without spitting it out on the floor” tomorrow it is eating it with a spoon, the next day we are up to a fork, the next day we are at proper table manners and fine dining etiquette.

          Given the hard reality on the ground, these things take time. Just because the parent tells the child that it is okay to eat with their hands today doesn’t mean that it is always okay for the child to eat with their hands. Nor does the parent contradict themselves when they raise the standard.

          Where do you think genocide occurs? Christianthinktank has quite a bit on that too…

        • Otto

          Yes Christianthinktank rationalizes many things in the Bible that are obviously unconscionable.

          There is no real reason Slavery could not have been outlawed so you have to twist yourself in a pretzel in an attempt to get it to gel with certain things being ‘intrinsically wrong’.

          Your best bet would be to just admit that the OT is flat out wrong like the Christian that I talked to over the weekend did.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Except we’ve just been over that. If God specifically outlaws the practice of “owning someone else” then people will go and just twist that around until you have a situation like sharecropping or serfdom. The people will tell themselves “it’s not slavery, so it’s therefore okay!” when in reality it can be much worse.

          What He DOES say is that ideally people should love each other as they love themselves. That is the ultimate standard which we are supposed to aim towards. That is the “fine dining” that is the goal if we can ever get past not spitting the food out.

        • Greg G.

          So your god couldn’t anticipate such things and disallow them ahead of time?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Would you like to elaborate?

        • Greg G.

          Your god couldn’t anticipate the problems and forbid them with “Thou shalt not sharecrop, either.” Exodus 22:18 says “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, but witches are imaginary, so there is no need for the verse. It only got people tortured and killed who were suspected of being a witch. That verse should have been “Thou shalt not sharecrop.”

          An omniscience should be able to anticipate problems and forbid things proactively like slavery, sharecropping, and anything else that might replace it. Perhaps even show how to build a sustainable economy with the growth of the early stages of capitalism and the fairness of socialism.

          Unfortunately, the OT is the product of sixth century BC humans.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The only reason that you oppose the death of witches is because you are convinced that all instances of accused witchcraft are actually not cases of witchcraft. If you were convinced that there were witches- who were actually working with the locus of evil itself- then death is the only sensible punishment.

          You are yourself endorsing a labor system of capitalism when I’ve already pointed out that just switching the labor system is not going to fix the underlying problem- the fact that human beings are sinners and prone to mistreating each other. Your license for “early capitalism” would become 14 hour work days which would be argued to be “divinely sanctioned”. The only possibility is to regulate the reality on the ground until the ultimate vision of a society where each loves the other as he loves himself can be realized. To offer any other sort of explicitly sanctioned system would be to distract from that ultimate vision which is the only place that true perfection can be found.

        • Greg G.

          The Inquisition would take one accused person and torture them until the confessed and named others as witches. The Inquisitors could torture a person for a long time because the most sensitive parts of the body are far from vital organs. They could crush a finger day after day, and the second day would hurt more than the first and when they weren’t crushing it, the victim was left to anticipate the next day’s torture. There are twenty toes and fingers.

          When they cut out the tongue, it was not one slice. It was removed a nip at a time with something like needle-nosed pliers.

          Before they burned the victim’s feet down to the bone, they lathered them up with lard to keep the nerve endings alive as long as possible.

          Humans are incapable of withstanding such torture. They will say anything eventually to be allowed to die to stop the torture.

          It is pathetic to argue that innocent people were never caught up in that.

          If God could have the sabbath, he could enforce a seven hour work day, just because. Why do you have to make excuses for God if he didn’t mess up?

        • Pofarmer

          DId he just argue that Witchcraft is real?

        • Greg G.

          If you are willing to defend the Bible, you must be prepared to believe anything.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I have found that if one is to believe in Christianity one must believe i a whole host of things that are even more simple to find out as blatantly obvious bullshit. Beware the Oiji boards! Oh fucking noooooooossssssss!

        • Pofarmer

          Who would think that believing nonsense was a feature and not a bug? It’s also interesting to read older writings, and see how much bullshit they had to give up.

        • MR

          Why reach back to the Inquisition when you have Salem? I have a g-g-g…-mother-in-law hung as a witch 19 July 1692. Our ancestors were ignorant and gullible and killed people because of their stupid superstitions.

          Full disclosure: When I was young, apparently I had the gift of discernment…, or was it prophecy…? I’d have dreams and the fine upstanding Christian folk around me would act upon my dreams (unbeknownst to me). I found out that a dream I had about a dog led to an exorcism of a site because they suspected bad mojo from some rumored witch from over a century ago. Who the fuck listens to some teenager’s whacked out dreams? When I was told about them acting on my dreams, it startled and scared me (head trip), but even then I knew something was wrong with that picture.

          On a related note, I once visited a torture exhibit in the basement of a castle. Fingers and toes? Oh, no, mi hijo, those inquisitioners were sick, sexual perverts. They had instruments that would make the Marquis de Sade blush.

        • Greg G.

          On a related note, I once visited a torture exhibit in the basement of a castle. Fingers and toes? Oh, no, mi hijo, those inquisitioners were sick, sexual perverts. They had instruments that would make the Marquis de Sade blush.

          I know about those, too, but I try to not think about them.

        • TheNuszAbides

          They had instruments that would make the Marquis de Sade blush.

          i have to assume you haven’t read his full catalogue of ‘libertine pleasures’.

        • Pofarmer

          Did you just argue that witchcraft is real? O)o

        • Travis Wakeman

          If Christianity is true…

        • Pofarmer

          Lucky it ain’t. The world of Christianity would be completely terrifying of it were real.

        • Myna A.

          If Christianity is true…

          All primitive religions believe witchcraft is real. You only have to open a basic book on cultural anthropology to know this.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Are you making a knowledge claim that there are no such things as witches and that you are certain that all claims of “witch-craft” are false with 100 percent certainty?

        • Myna A.

          Are you making a knowledge claim that there are no such things as witches and that you are certain that all claims of “witch-craft” are false with 100 percent certainty?

          Yes.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Excellent. Perhaps you can tell me how you came by such knowledge? I’m skeptical.

        • Michael Neville

          Because witchcraft is complete and utter superstition, just like religion. Oh wait, that’s why you believe in witches….

        • Travis Wakeman

          So that is a claim to knowledge boys and girls. How does Michael come by this claim to knowledge. What evidence will he produce to substantiate his claim…

        • Michael Neville

          Magic, defined as producing results through unnatural powers, has never been shown to exist. Every single example of magic ever rigorously investigated has turned out to be slight of hand or other trick presented. Since witches supposedly practice magic and magic, like God, doesn’t exist, then witches aren’t witches. QE fucking D!

          Now it’s your turn. Give some evidence that isn’t superstitious nonsense that witches practice witchcraft. I bet you can’t.

        • Travis Wakeman

          “Magic” is internally defined so as to be by necessity incoherent.

          You’re making a knowledge claim a minute, none of which is actually sustainable I think…

        • Michael Neville

          At least I’ve made some claims about witchcraft. That’s more claims than you’ve made. I challenge you again, give some evidence that witchcraft isn’t just superstitious nonsense believed in only by nitwits.

        • Greg G.

          The supernatural is defined to be separate from the natural, otherwise it is subject to being tested and refuted. Gods that lived on a mountaintop of Earth were refuted when all the mountains of Earth have been checked and no gods were there, so the only gods left are moved to the supernatural realm.

          You are left to play the same game as kooks to explain away the lack of evidence.

        • Help me understand “magic” vs. whatever God does. What’s the difference?

        • Travis Wakeman
        • Michael Neville

          You’re right. I sit corrected.

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, I made a knowledge claim. You correctly identified it as such. You even made a counter claim that it wasn’t sustainable. But you didn’t make any attempt to refute it, so it stands until you get off your dead ass and show it’s wrong. Furthermore I told you to give some evidence that witchcraft isn’t the foolish illusions of gullible, superstitious cretins. You haven’t done that either, probably because you know you can’t.

        • Myna A.

          Perhaps you can tell me how you came by such knowledge?

          Because I was raised in a family with deep roots in this kind of thing. Beloved and sincere people who believed/believe a lot of things.

          And that’s all I’m going to say about it, except to add that there is no “locus of evil”, there is only human psychology.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That seems like a rather poor epistemic justification.

        • Myna A.

          That seems like a rather poor epistemic justification.

          I think you need to go back to class and understand the difference between an explanation and a justification.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Basis?

        • Michael Neville

          You’re the one making the positive claim that witches are real. So what’s your evidence to support this claim?

          In 17th Century Germany the possession of witches were split three ways, with a third going to the witch finder, a third going to the church and a third going to the local lord (hochadel or high nobility). In 1632 the Markgraf von Hesse-Darmstadt changed this so all the possessions came to him. Over the next 20 years trials for witchcraft went from 20 to 30 per year to 1 or 2. Funny how that worked.

        • Pofarmer

          If Christianity were true-what would we expect to see?
          Well, we wouldn’t need Hospitals, or Dr’s. Priests and religious folks wouldn’t go around raping little kids. Prayers would actually get answered. Certain cities would regularly get ravaged if their citizens didn’t fall in line. Revelation would be a thing that could actually be verified. I’m sure others here would add to the list, and I would invite them to do so. It could/should be a very long one. The problem is, Christianity is so obviously not “true” in any conceivable sense, it’s hard to imagine anyone clings to the idea that it is.

        • If you were convinced that there were witches- who were actually working with the locus of evil itself- then death is the only sensible punishment.

          Why is it always the atheist who must explain to the Christian what “omnipotent” means?

          If there were a human witch either voluntarily channeling dark force or involuntarily in the thrall of Satan, God could fix the problem.

          Death is a rather coarse tool, don’t you think? Let’s let God use a little finesse to solve the problem.

        • Travis Wakeman

          What is the correct course of action?

        • For the Christian? Pray. Prayer works. We know that because Jesus told us that he responds to prayers, and everything he says is true. If he doesn’t do anything to the witch, that’s his plan.

          Obviously, right?

        • Myna A.

          What is the correct course of action?

          Walk away? If you believe there are witches in league with the dark side, then walk away from those you think indulge in such things. Don’t like too much voodoo in your atmosphere? Don’t move to Louisiana. Don’t like witches and wizards in your celluloid? Don’t watch Harry Potter films or The Wizard of Oz or whatnot. Don’t like spirits and such like? Then pass right on by the road leading into Cassadaga when traveling through Volusia County in Florida. Don’t like eating raw fish? Don’t order sushi.

          It’s not really that complicated.

        • Travis Wakeman

          All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

        • We respond to evil by having men do something? What about praying? If God is 10^50 times more capable than humanity, shouldn’t we bring in the Big Man?

        • Myna A.

          All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

          Well, let us be grateful that most good men can distinguish between “evil” and fantasy.

        • Pofarmer

          How much evil have religious zealots done thinking they were doing good?

        • Myna A.

          How much evil have religious zealots done thinking they were doing good?

          I often wonder if religious (or political) zealots are motivated more by the overwhelming rush of power than whether their action is conscionably right or wrong.

        • TheNuszAbides

          too bad none of the biblical scribblers had that one figured out yet.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I read that Voodoo a branch of Catholicism in ‘The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case’ in which many people of that religion were blamed (they were POC and Catholics in Baptist country after all).

        • adam

          “If you were convinced that there were witches- who were actually working
          with the locus of evil itself- then death is the only sensible
          punishment.”

          Convinced by what?
          IGNORANCE?

        • Have you responded to this one yet? God regulates how it works for slaves for life.

          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Pretty sure that I already offered a blanket resource that specifically addresses that here: http://christianthinktank.com/qnoslave.html

          If you want we can talk specifics…

        • Greg G.

          That site is like all dishonest Christian slavery apologists.

          In the ANE, although some cultures had pre-built “debt-payoff-periods” (like Israel’s 6 years),

          There is a distinction between indentured servants and bought slaves, just as there was in the American south, which had both, too.

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

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

        • Don’t point me to a 20,000-word essay and say, “Go read that. I win.”

          You have a response to my challenge? You’re welcome to make it.

        • Dys

          But it’s the best he can do…he took an incredibly unlikely interpretation, and decided that he liked it better than the one preferred by scholars because then he can pretend Hebrew slavery was voluntary. But he hasn’t actually defended his view in the slightest.

          Instead, he just throws to some guy’s paper on the internet, who engages in the same type of bad arguments Travis engages in. It’s a bunch of self-serving, question begging on his part, but Travis is talented at pretending he’s being substantive.

        • Argus

          @BobSeidensticker:disqus yup..it’s similar to the “GOOGLE IT” response I see so often when I challenge an assertion made. No, no, no..the onus of proof is on s/he who makes the claim. Period.

        • Dys

          Travis uses his resource that mentions an unlikely interpretation of Deut. 23:15-16 so he can pretend that all the slavery described in the bible was voluntary. He hasn’t actually defended this view at all, he just tries to shoot down any criticism of it so he can pretend to be right by default.

        • An interesting response. I’m not sure how Lev. 25:44-46 makes clear that those people were voluntary slaves.

        • Dys

          He doesn’t care – according to his cherry picked interpretation, all they had to do was escape and they were good to go. Travis is trying to use the verse from Deuteronomy as a bludgeon against any notion that forced servitude existed for the ancient Hebrews.

          Pointing out that such a position makes absolutely no sense given what the rest of the bible says about slavery, or that most scholars far more qualified than him (who are Christian) state that the passage refers only to foreign slaves escaping into Israel, is a fruitless endeavour. He’s made it clear to me that he doesn’t really care if his interpretation is correct, since it gets him to the conclusion he wants to believe is true.

        • Otto

          Yes we have been over another twist in your pretzel.

          Rationalizations are cheap indeed.

        • Argus

          The very fact that certain people spend so much time defending a document that clearly condones slavery (and I mean the owning people and forcing them to do your will slavery) tells me all I need to know about the moral basis of their belief system.

        • Dys

          I’ve revealed below that in practice what you are calling “slavery” is really a voluntary social security net

          You’ve done nothing of the kind. That’s what you desperately want it to have been, but the type of irrational interpretations and cherry picking you’ve done to try and support such a silly notion has left your attempt at revisionism full of holes.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You acknowledged that verses 17 and 19 in Deuteronomy 23 mean that the the verse can be applied to domestic as well as foreign runaways. This turns all slavery into voluntary servitude.

        • Dys

          Verses 17 and 19 concern prostitution and banking. They don’t turn Hebrew slavery into a voluntary institution. That’s just what you want to believe, regardless of how little sense it makes.

          There’s a reason many, many scholars on the topic reach the interpretation that it applied to foreign slaves escaping into Israel. Mostly it’s because your interpretation doesn’t really hold up well under scrutiny. The fallout would doom the institution if you followed it through to its logical conclusion.

          Even the website you posted admits that your viewpoint is a minority view, and for good reason – It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        • Travis Wakeman

          They don’t concern foreign relations, but rather domestic policy, which means that we can realistically argue that verse 15-16 is a regulation concerning domestic policy as well as immigration policy.

        • Dys

          we can realistically argue that verse 15-16 is a regulation concerning domestic policy as well as immigration policy.

          Just as long as you ignore all the blatant problems with that interpretation, sure.

          But you’ve consistently over-stepped from “hey, maybe this minority position is true” to “this is absolutely how it was” with no justification whatsoever, beyond your wishful thinking.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You’ve yet to give me a reason to think that the verse can only be applied to immigrant runaways…

        • Dys

          You mean except for all the instances where I’ve pointed out that it makes no sense, especially in light of the more likely interpretation? I get it…you want to believe in a ancient Hebrew culture where the only slaves were there voluntarily. But it just doesn’t hold up.

          Here’s a snip of the Pulpit Commentary for the verse in question that explains the original Hebrew:

          ‘”The reference is to a foreign slave who had fled from the harsh treatment of his master to seek refuge in Israel, as is evident from the expression, בְאַחַד שְׁעָרֵיך, “in one of thy gates,” i.e. in any part of thy land. Onkelos, עֲבִד עַמְמִין, “a slave of the Gentiles.”‘

          Also, from the 16th verse, “in your midst” is referring to Israel, making a clear implication that the runaway has come from a foreign land.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Not sure what interlinear you are using. Onkelos never appears in the verse, the word is ‘ebed which simply means “the servant” or “the slave”. You enter through gates to get into any community even when travelling domestically. The gates aren’t just when you first come into the borders.

        • Dys

          And Matthew Poole’s commentary makes the same point:

          “1. Of the servants of strangers, because it follows, Deu 23:16, he shall dwell with thee, even among you, which shows that he had dwelt with and belonged to another people.”

        • Travis Wakeman

          Are you even looking at an interlinear?

        • Dys

          Yep. For both verses 15 and 16. Which make it pretty clear that the interpretation you’re advocating is inferior to the preferred one.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Link please to this interlinear which includes Onkelos in verse 15-16

        • Dys

          As I mentioned earlier, you misread the quote I provided. Onkelos is the resource the commentary is pulling from. Onkelos was a 1st century Jew who translated the Torah. His interpretation is the same as the others you’ve been ignoring.

        • Travis Wakeman

          “someone once translated the verse this way” is the best that you can do?

        • Dys

          Nope, I’ve already done better. I’m just attempting to clear up yet another of your errors.

          It’s clear to me that you’re intent on ignoring any commentary that disagrees with your stance, because prefer the happy voluntary slavery interpretation. Not because you have a good reason to (at least you haven’t offered a single one) but because you just seem to like the idea of it.

          In short, your cognitive bias is running amok, and you’re apparently blissfully unaware of it.

        • Greg G.

          Deuteronomy 23:9 (NRSV)9 When you are encamped against your enemies you shall guard against any impropriety.

          Deuteronomy 23:14 is still referring to the enemies and keeping the camp holy. It is not clear that verses 15 and 16 are not included with that passage.

        • Otto

          So when the Bible uses a word like slavery what is actually meant is ‘helping the less fortunate’.

          Well aren’t they they lucky ones to live in a society that cared so much for them.

        • Herald Newman

          Travis is confused. I’m the one who said that morality is subjective, and nothing is intrinsically wrong.

        • Argus

          Let’s just have a show of hands: Who thinks it is moral to own and/or beat slaves as your property?

          The bible condones slavery. period.

          Ergo, if we agree that slavery is immoral then to us the bible is an immoral book.

          QED

        • Travis Wakeman

          Do you think that it is moral to run a company where you work your employees 14 hours a day and pay them barely a living wage?

          To regulate is not to endorse.

        • Greg G.

          When the Bible doesn’t condone something; there is a “Thou shalt not” in front of it.

          Exodus 20:13-17 (NRSV)13 You shall not murder.14 You shall not commit adultery.15 You shall not steal.16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

          Leviticus 19:19 (NRSV)19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.

          Deuteronomy 14:8 (NRSV)8 And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses.

          We don’t see that with slavery. It even gives explicit instructions about how to take advantage of an illiterate indentured servant to get him to make himself a permanent slave using family values.

          Deuteronomy 15:16-17 (NRSV)16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

          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.

        • Argus

          What does modern day voluntary employment practices have to do with slavery….false conflation perhaps?

          Also, you are incorrect in that if an entity regulates a thing…it is implicitly endorsing that things right to exist in society. Example: pornography is regulated. Many individual legislators may have a personal preference against pornography but by the very nature of regulating the thing….the government is saying we endorse the legal right of this thing to exist.

          The Lincoln Administration recognized this fact in that slavery was regulated in some states in various ways before the Emancipation. By issuing the Proclamation and later the Amendment, the US govt was admitting: “We use to endorse this institution by the very fact we regulate it. Now we recognize it is wrong and we are ending it thus obviating the endorsement implied by regulation.

        • In Western society, most people have options besides your imaginary sweatshop. In ancient Palestine, perhaps not.

          It’s interesting that fallible man is able to create a more humane society than Yahweh.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You think that our society is humane?

        • More than Yahweh. Like I said.

          Less Socratic dialogue and more content, please.

        • MR

          Has an old nemesis snuck back in?

        • Has your pattern matching algorithm detected a match?

          We have so many nemeses that I’ve lost track. I just assumed that “lots of questions, little content” was just a well-populated bin.

        • MR

          Definitely. But my spidey senses are beginning to tingle a little.

        • If you have a potential match, let us know.

        • Lex Lata

          Well, we are a bit biased here. The Torah states that Yahweh wants us blasphemers and apostates pelted with rocks until we die in agony of internal bleeding, head trauma, and/or shock. In modern society, not only do we get to live without fear of inconveniences like stoning, but we’re also allowed to vote, drink overpriced microbrews, and write blogs.

          But seriously. Here are some of the instructions to the Hebrews, per Deuteronomy 20:10-18: “When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

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

          Standard conduct, unfortunately, for a good chunk of early human history. Today we call it utterly inhumane. I could be wrong, but I believe the only folks doing this sort of thing right now are in ISIS.

        • Herald Newman

          Would you please stop using the phrase “intrinsically wrong” as there is nothing that is actually intrinsically wrong. All morality is based on a subjective set of values (most notably that we should increase well being, and reduce the harm to well being) and only the consequences of our actions are objective.

          Slavery, given the objective harm that it causes, is something that I regard as wrong, and I can make a good case against it if you really want me to! My simple answer is that there aren’t enough benefits to justify forcing people to work for somebody, for only food and shelter, for the rest of their lives! Slavery is objectively detrimental to well being, and that’s why I oppose it, and so do most rational people.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You don’t think that it is intrinsically wrong to cause harm to others though. So there is no real basis to oppose chattel slavery.

        • Herald Newman

          No, it’s not intrinsically wrong to do anything. We all agree (and that’s the only reason that morality works) that hurting the well being of others is bad.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You don’t think that hurting the well being of others is actually (intrinsically) bad though because you just said that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with anything.

        • Herald Newman

          Correct. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with anything. We agree that certain types of things are wrong, but without that agreement then those things aren’t actually “wrong”.

          Seriously, go read a little bit on secular morality to understand the position I’m coming from.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I’m already well versed. Thanks.

          You have no basis to lobby salient moral condemnations towards anyone else for any reason whatsoever. You insist that morality is all just your private opinion. We care about the facts, not your opinion.

        • Herald Newman

          When it comes to morality, the only facts involved are the consequences of our actions! Everything else is opinion.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Is it merely an opinion that the consequences matter in ethics then?

        • Herald Newman

          You’re an idiot. When you start to get a clue about morality, I’ll consider engaging you again.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That isn’t an answer to the question…

        • Otto

          And yet all you offer is your opinion and nothing based on fact.

        • Herald Newman

          You seem to be a moral realist, that is that morals are real things, and weren’t just created by us out of necessity.

          Here’s my challenge for you (with thanks to AnticitizenX):
          1. Identify one example of a moral value or duty that is objective.
          2. Prove it!!
          2a. You cannot reference your personal intuition. Intuition is subjective
          2b. You cannot rely on consensus. Consensus is still subjective.
          2c. You cannot reference the consequences. Moral realism is antithetical to consequentialism.
          2d. You cannot mention God. God is necessarily a subjective agent

          Do this, and you’ll probably change my mind about moral realism.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Virtue ethics. It is objectively true that it is better to have good character that exemplifies the virtues

        • Herald Newman

          Asserted, but this isn’t a proof!

        • Travis Wakeman

          Moral truth cannot be grounded in pure “reason”. See: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjU752t_ITNAhUFJh4KHUQsDYMQtwIIHDAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DryA8PafooQ4&usg=AFQjCNErJBctkwKIrzOy_qUlJ3x3yKKiWQ&sig2=v9U6FOLwnlSOwYScWmDcYw&bvm=bv.123325700,d.dmo

          God isn’t a “subjective agent” if we view the objective standard as being grounded in His immutable and necessary nature rather than his “will”.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m not arguing for “moral truth” (whatever this is) to be “grounded” in “pure reason”. Morality is based on our collective agreement that promoting well being is good, and harming well being is bad. From that we can look at the consequences of actions (which are objective, BTW) and determine if those actions increase, decrease, or are neutral, towards well being. This is why we can many of us can agree that Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, were wrong to kill millions.

          If we’re not talking about the well being of others, we simply aren’t talking about morality, and we need a different term.

          Seriously, why is morality so god damned hard for you Christians!?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Except I just pointed out that by your own logic promoting well being (esp. of others) being good is simply another opinion, and can thus be completely disregarded.

        • MNb

          As you define “real basis” as “objectively grounded in God” you just have begged the question.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Read “real basis” as “coherently grounded objective reason”

        • MNb

          like the god you call “God”.
          Ie you have begged the question.

          Subjectivists “don’t think that it is intrinsically wrong to cause harm to others though. So have no ‘coherently grounded objective reason’ to oppose chattel slavery” is such a simple tautology that the expression “kicking in an open door” would be charitable.
          Till next time.
          Bedtime for me.

        • XCellKen

          Your Bible doesn’t think so

        • Michael Neville

          Your god didn’t or else chattel slavery would have been condemned in the Bible. Instead we find Biblical rules for treating slaves:

          As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another. –Lev 25:44-46 (NASB)

          If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property. –Ex 21:20-21 (NASB)

          Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. –Col 4:1 (NASB)

        • Travis Wakeman

          Failed to answer the question. The specifics of your assertion are addressed elsewhere in this discussion.

        • Michael Neville

          I pointed out that your favorite pet god just loves chattel slavery. Since your god is supposed to be the source of all morality, then chattel slavery is intrinsically moral, no matter how much you pretend otherwise.

          Incidentally I notice that you haven’t even tried to refute my claims that “moral truth” is as fictitious as your god. Probably a good decision on your part.

        • MNb

          Yes.
          And so do you. You’re just not honest enough to admit it.

        • Travis Wakeman

          YES!

        • You said:

          But what basis is there for any of the “freedoms” or “rights” that are espoused in the Constitution except via a conception of natural law that understands natural rights as intrinsic and granted by a natural-law-giver?

          We’re all the same species, which is why we have a similar view of moral rules. That’s where our inborn sense of morality comes from.

          Re Nietzsche: no, there is no absolute right or wrong. But there is still right and wrong–look ’em up in a dictionary.

          I see no mystery or puzzle left unexplained. “God did it” certainly explains nothing without justification for the God claim.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Whether or not we have a “similar view of moral rules” is irrelevant to the question of how morality is to be grounded. Specifically if I’m not mistaken, that is called the “genetic fallacy”.

          If the concepts of “right” and “wrong” are to be regarded solely as subjectivized phenomena then they can’t be meaningfully used in any sort of condemnatory way. “You ought not to do that” doesn’t mean “that goes against the objective way in which things ought to be” but rather simply “I don’t like it when you do that”.

          On the first we are forced to pay attention if it is true. On the second the response “who cares?” suffices. If morality is merely a series of equally subjective opinions then the whole idea of a society that is gradually progressing upwards in its moral codes incoherent (you don’t actually thing that our society today is not any intrinsically better than the 1850s American south?).

          To say that we “invent” rather than “discover” moral truth opens the door to a worldview that is unlivable and incoherent.

        • Argus

          What is the standard of right and wrong under your worldview?

        • Michael Neville

          To say that we “invent” rather than “discover” moral truth opens the door to a worldview that is unlivable and incoherent.

          As I said before, there are no such things as “moral truths”. Most Westerners hold that killing people is immoral. I’m a combat veteran who has killed people in battle yet only a small minority of people condemn me as immoral.

        • Travis Wakeman

          There is of course a difference between merely killing someone and murdering someone. When the state kills convicted felons we don’t say that the state “murders” them do we?

        • Michael Neville

          Some people do. More people are against capital punishment than against war. I myself think capital punishment is a bad idea mainly because of all the people on death row who are later discovered to be innocent of the charges against them.

        • Morality is subjective. Show me wrong–give me an example of an objectively true moral fact that we humans can reliably access. (The last phrase is important because “X is true, but it’s locked up in God’s library so you’ll just have to trust me that it’s true” isn’t very useful.)

          As for the rebuttal to the devastating “Who cares?” response, perhaps you’ve never had a discussion with someone? You’ve never convinced someone of your position or vice versa? If so, then you understand how people change their minds.

          you don’t actually thing that our society today is not any intrinsically better than the 1850s American south?

          I do indeed think that it’s better. That’s not an absolute statement–it’s biased because I come from this culture. Which culture do you suppose the slave owner from 1850 thinks is better?

          That “right” changes with time makes clear that it’s not objectively true. Objective truth wouldn’t change.

        • Travis Wakeman

          If you are qualifying your statement with “but I only think that because I come from this time period” then you don’t actually think that the present is any intrinsically better than the 1850s American south.

          It is always wrong to rape someone, that seems objectively true…

        • MNb

          to your prejudiced and arrogant mind.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s prejudiced and arrogant to think that it’s always wrong to rape someone… Wow… aren’t you a little can-do-Cassanova…

        • MNb

          No, that’s not what I wrote. Thanks for confirming that you’re a prejudiced and arrogant mind. I appreciate it.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Dude I’m not the one standing up for rape. You must be a total college bro.

        • MNb

          Neither am I, liar.

          What I wrote is “It is always wrong to rape someone, that seems objectively true…to your prejudiced and arrogant mind.”
          Only a liar like you will interpret that as standing up for rape. It’s to be expected for someone who refers to Edward Feser. No doubt you have learned this dirty trick from him.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I am saying it is objectively wrong to rape. How is that a “prejudiced” or “arrogant” idea? You totally ARE standing up for rape.

        • MNb

          Repeating your lie makes it only worse. I didn’t say that it’s a prejudiced or arrogant idea to say that it’s objectively wrong to rape. I said that it “seems objectively true to your prejudiced and arrogant mind.” Only a liar like you can maintain the two mean the same. No doubt arrogant lying masterjerk Feser will be proud of you.

        • TheNuszAbides

          this is what passes for “well versed in secular morality” in your bubble?

        • to think that it’s always wrong to rape someone

          You and I think that it’s wrong. Does that make it objectively wrong … or are we simply seeing a shared moral belief? Since we’re the same species, I’ll go with the latter view until you give evidence for the very remarkable former claim.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You think it’s “remarkable” to think that raping someone is wrong regardless of what anyone thinks?

        • Correct. I also think it’s remarkable that you’ve been faced with your inability to defend the objective grounding you imagine for morality through 20 comments now (and that’s just your interaction with me) and you still don’t see the problem with your position.

          Talk it out. Show us what you’ve got. If you have nothing, it’s best for you to face that fact.

        • you don’t actually think that the present is any intrinsically better than the 1850s American south.

          Obviously.

          It is always wrong to rape someone, that seems objectively true…

          Then go beyond what it seems like and show us.

          We all agree that rape is wrong. We’re all the same species. We have a shared morality, not a sense of an objective morality.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I’m pretty sure that the African Americans would disagree…

          But we don’t agree actually. I think that it is intrinsically wrong, that is to say, that it is wrong regardless of what anyone thinks. You think that it is subjectively wrong, which means that it’s “wrongness” is contingent upon your opinion. But you don’t really think that you could make rape “right” by simply willing it to be, do you?

        • MNb

          “it is wrong regardless of what anyone thinks”
          including your god, the one you call “God”?

        • We all agree that rape is wrong. How does that help your case?

          You’re avoiding the challenge. Ask yourself what that means if you don’t respond to it.

          I’ll try again. You say that there is objective moral truth? Then show us. Take a moral issue that has not been agreed to in society today: abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. Show us (1) the objectively correct resolution, show us (2) that it’s not simply what it seems–a universally shared moral opinion, and show us (3) that we can reliably access this truth.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No Bob, we don’t agree in the same way what “wrong” means. I mean that it is an immutable fact which you cannot change. You think that it is fact predicated on your will, which you can change.

        • (1) Does the dictionary define “wrong” this way? I don’t think “immutable” (or some equivalence) is in there. Morality is simply the category of actions having to do with our interactions with other people. Natural explanations are sufficient.

          (2) I keep demanding evidence of this immutability (objective, absolute, supernatural, externally grounded, or however you want to phrase it) and you keep not delivering. You have something with which to prop up this argument?

        • Argus

          Singer is correct. If you drop humans down into untamed wilderness with no previous social/governmental structure they indeed have no inherent rights. One can assert any right they wish…but there ability to retain said right only goes as far as their ability to defend that right — either directly or via a force-wielding government. I can assert that I have a right to be given a Dr Pepper three times a day. However, if I attempt to procure this right via shoplifting..I will soon find that the shopkeeper’s right to property supersedes my imagined Dr Pepper right as I am hauled away to jail.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So the only way to arbitrate moral claims is through force of arms?

        • Michael Neville

          Or through other forms of persuasion. Martin Luther King didn’t use force to convince large numbers of Americans and other people that civil rights were moral.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Persuasion implies a common logical framework we can work within. You can’t “persuade” someone into thinking that vanilla is their favorite flavor of icecream. According to you that is essentially what moral statements are.

        • Michael Neville

          I have persuaded my wife that Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia is the best ice cream flavor. It’s both her and my favorite ice cream. Sorry but your weak attempt at rebuttal happens to fail when it runs up against reality.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Why don’t you try to persuade me that Cherry Garcia is my favorite flavor then? You’ll quickly discover that that is a fruitless excercise, just like moral debate under your paradigm becomes…

        • Michael Neville

          You claimed that persuading someone to accept a particular ice cream as their favorite was impossible. I showed that your analogy was actually faulty. It’s not my fault you chose a poor analogy.

          You have yet to show that “moral truths” (whatever they are) exist. Since you made that claim, give me an example of an absolute moral truth. For that matter, define what a “moral truth” is.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It is. Try to persuade me. All you can do is remind me that it’s your favorite and threaten me with force.

          Rape is intrinsically wrong. That means that it is morally wrong regardless of anyone’s opinion on the matter.

        • Herald Newman

          Here’s a simple question for you. Why is rape wrong, according to you?

        • Travis Wakeman

          It goes against the objective way in which things ought to be.

        • Herald Newman

          That’s a nice vague answer… Thanks for not playing.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You should ask me to explain further then.

          Why does it go against the objective way in which things ought to be?

          Because there is an objective moral framework which is ontologically grounded in God’s nature.

        • Herald Newman

          I don’t know how to respond to word salad!

        • Travis Wakeman

          Argument from incredulity!

        • MNb

          There is no god.
          If you use the moral argument to “prove” god you are guilty of circularity: god grounds objective morality which proves god.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Kn-kn-kn-KNOWLEDGE CLAIM! Can the mysterious MNb back it up though…

        • MNb

          Yes, I can back it up. It’s not a knowledge claim though – in my logical framework knowledge means something different than in yours and I’m not going to accept yours when doing the backing up.
          But you make the claim “God’s nature”, which only makes sense – in your logical framework – if the knowledge claim that your god (the one you call God) exists is true.
          I don’t see why I should back anything up if you don’t.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You claim to know that there is no God, but in order for that to be the case you would have to be omniscient which would mean that you are claiming that you are a god! But being an atheist means that you have self-esteem issues huh?

        • MNb

          No, I do not claim to know that there is no god. You’re lying. I specifically wrote it’s not a knowledge claim.
          You claimed with “God’s nature” that you know there is a god – the one you call God. And you refuse to back it up – which is to be expected from a dishonest and hypocrite apologist (ie seeker of lame excuses) like you.

          “But being an atheist means that you have self-esteem issues huh?”
          Indeed for me being an atheist means not being an arrogant jerk like you.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Former atheist actually. Read Edward Feser’s book on Aquinas’ cosmological argument- it’s actually logically sound.

          So statements aren’t knowledge claims now?

        • MNb

          I am familiar with both Aquinas’ cosmological argument and Feser’s view on it (via his website). It’s antiscientific and fails logically. I don’t feel like discussing it now.
          I already wrote that in my logical framework knowledge doesn’t mean the same as in yours. Do you have a feeble mind?

        • Travis Wakeman

          A shame, i’m sure that would be a very interesting discussion.

          Now I just have to ask, what does “knowledge” mean to you?

        • MNb

          Another time. I don’t feel like either. Though if you read enough comments by me you’ll find the answer.
          Whether you call that a shame can oxidate at the lower end of my digestive system.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Okay!

        • Myna A.

          Because there is an objective moral framework which is ontologically grounded in God’s nature.

          Anything grounded in God’s nature is moot because we no longer live in a theocracy where such a nature is centrally defined and ruled by clerics for the king and his subjects to adhere to on pain of severe penalty.

          You said: “It goes against the objective way in which things ought to be,” and using the example of the violent act of rape, which we all agree is reprehensible on the most intrinsic human level, as immoral, but then allude that killing witches is sensible, and you expect to be taken seriously?

        • He uses Circular Reasoning®. Checkmate, atheists!

        • Michael Neville

          You’re the one making the claim that moral truths exist. So give me an indubitable example of a moral truth.

          Rape is intrinsically wrong. That means that it is morally wrong regardless of anyone’s opinion on the matter.

          You sadistic bully of a god didn’t think so. Here’s God explaining how to deal with war captives:

          Now kill all the men and boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.–Num 31:17-18

          So virginal girls could see the rest of their family killed and then were taken as sex slaves by the soldiers. Sure sounds like your god has no problem with rape.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Lets see how well you think you know the Bible… were the men in the passage you just described allowed to immediately have sex with them, or were they only allowed have sex with them after marrying them, and that after a month long waiting period?

          Interestingly enough since you seem to be arguing that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with rape, you’re defending the idea that there is nothing actually wrong with keeping sex slaves right?

        • MNb

          Good job neglecting what MN wrote.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Are you referring to yourself in the third person after you said that it is “arrogant” to think that it is objectively wrong to rape people?

        • MNb

          I didn’t say that, liar.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Dude, I said that rape is always wrong and you replied in a comment saying that that was an arrogant and prejudiced thing to say… I’m sorry man but I guess I am prejudiced against rapists…

        • MNb

          Liar, I didn’t reply that in that comment. Repeating your lie only makes it worse.
          Ah well, just another arrogant jerkish christian who wipes his ass with the commandment about false testimonies.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Bro, your response is up there for everyone to see. You think it is “arrogant” and “prejudiced” to say that it is objectively wrong to rape people… If not, please clarify the record.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he described flaws in your mind. he did not address his opinion of rape. at all.

        • Michael Neville

          First of all, what difference does it make. Second, they had to wait before raping the victims. You need to understand, you supercilious twit, that other people besides you have some knowledge of the book of myths, lies and fables that you pretend is holy.

          I’m not the one arguing that nothing’s wrong with having sex slaves. It’s your god that commands that action. Take it up with him, not with me.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I think it makes a great deal of a difference.

          Michael, you just said that nothing is intrinsically wrong. Presumably this means that you think there is nothing intrinsically wrong with keeping sex slaves. You don’t think that undermines your objection?

        • Michael Neville

          I think it makes a great deal of a difference.

          Explain what that difference is. I think you can’t give an explanation that’s even slightly coherent. Remember, you supercilious twit, that a difference that makes no difference is no difference.

          You seem to have this weird idea that things are intrinsically good or bad. You’ve yet to even explain what you mean by this, let alone give examples that aren’t contradicted by the words of your god.

          Nothing, not a fucking thing, is intrinsically good or evil. You may like to think so, but then you’re the guy who thinks that “moral truths” (whatever they are) exist.

        • were the men in the passage you just described allowed to immediately have sex with them, or were they only allowed have sex with them after marrying them, and that after a month long waiting period?

          Score one for Travis! They were allowed a month-long period to mourn their lost families, and then they became sex toys.

          And you worship this god?

        • Travis Wakeman

          You must have a really low view of marriage if you think that it makes a woman a “sex toy”.

        • Not a low view of marriage, just a low view of the Bible.

          Mutual consent is how marriage works in our society. Too bad the Bible has those subjective morals going on.

        • Greg G.

          If the man decided he didn’t like her, he could release her with nothing after taking her virginity that had kept her alive in the first place while keeping all the loot. You call that marriage?

        • Travis is just a little old fashioned. Some girls like that in a guy.

        • TheNuszAbides

          waiting a month makes a great deal of difference … because both the captive girl and her future hubby have all that time to reflect on how she doesn’t have any choice in the matter.

        • Douglas McClean

          Are you fucking serious?

        • Rape is intrinsically wrong.

          We all agree that rape is wrong. It’s widely agreed to. If you want to argue that it’s intrinsically (absolutely, transcendentally grounded, objective) wrong, I await the evidence. That we simply share the same moral programming explains things just fine.

        • MNb

          Strawman. MN never claimed that it was possible to persuade every single human being. He claimed that it was possible to persuade one single person – a someone. That shows you were wrong when you wrote “You can’t “persuade” someone into thinking that vanilla is their favorite flavor of icecream.”

        • Travis Wakeman

          His point seemed to be that persuasion is possible given a vacuous moral framework where moral statements ultimately have no truth and are just matters of opinion. If there is no truth then there is nothing to persuade towards.

        • Michael Neville

          Since morality is relative then it’s possible to persuade people to change their moral thinking. 20 years ago the idea of same-sex marriage was unthinkable because the majority of Americans thought it was immoral. Now the majority of Americans believe it to be moral.

        • Argus

          Agreed. But I was talking about rights in this instance rather than morals.

        • Argus

          You missed the point. The only way to protect rights in general is to have some kind of entity in place to potentially or in reality protect said rights via force of law. I hope this clears up your confusion. Of course there could exist a society wherein every member always respected the stated rights of their neighbors but we have thus far not seen that society.

    • Eric Sotnak

      You might find the article at the following link interesting, as it addresses the question of how the concept of “natural rights” originated, historically. Too many people presume that the concept of natural rights has to be grounded in some kind of divine fiat, and they ignore the philosophical backstory of the concept of “human nature” that may or may not have theistic overtones. It is certainly true that “natural” can be understood as “God-made” but it is also true that it can be understood in other ways.

      http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=njihr

      • Travis Wakeman

        Allow me to ask you, do you think that we discover moral truths, or invent them?

        • Michael Neville

          There’s no such thing as moral truths. Humans evolved morality to help us live in groups but different groups have often conflicting ideas of which behaviors are moral, neutral or immoral. For instance the Catholic clergy, particularly the bishops, hold that using artificial contraception is immoral. Most other people, including most Catholic laity, see contraception as neutral or moral.

          If someone claims there are moral truths then they’re confusing their opinion with morality.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So you don’t think that it is objectively true that people shouldn’t be raped?

        • Herald Newman

          So you believe that we have an objective moral duty not to rape people. Good. Take up my challenge and prove that it’s wrong, according to the conditions I laid out.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Prove that it’s wrong how?

        • Herald Newman

          That morality is objective, and not subjective, as I believe.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Can you prove that morality is subjective and not objective, as I believe?

        • Herald Newman

          I asked you first. You’re the one who seem to believe that morals values are something real, and exist outside of our minds. As far as I can tell, moral values only exist in our minds, and are subject to them.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So in the absence of being able to “prove” that moral values are in fact objective OR subjective- where does that leave the both of us?

          I think if you’re asking for “proof” that it objectively morally wrong to rape someone, then you’re like the blind man asking for “proof” that colors really exist.

        • Herald Newman

          Okay, fuck you, we’re done!

        • Greg G.

          you’re like the blind man asking for “proof” that colors really exist.

          Yes, he is. Do colors really exist or is it an optical illusion that colors exist. There is a wide spectrum of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and humans generally have two pigments in the eye that react differently to a narrow range of the frequencies. A monochromatic frequency might stimulate both pigments to appear green but there are many pairs of frequencies that would stimulate those same pigments in the same way. There are a range of lower frequencies in the visible range that only stimulate one of the pigments but each of them appear as the same shade of red to us.

          Then there are parts of the eye that do not detect color. I experienced that last week when I went to bed. I was lying on my back with my eyes open but I saw a white light at the edge of my peripheral vision. I thought there was a problem with my phone because I had just plugged the charger into it with the battery being very low so the charger should have been red. But when I turned my head, it was red. I repeated the experiment a few times and found where I could see red peripherally and where it appeared that the LED appeared to change color.

          There are different frequencies of light but colors are subject to the vision system of the viewer, so colors are not objective.

        • MR

          It’s pretty fascinating how our brain “invents” color and “paints” the world for us.

        • MR

          And for fun, from “Ask a Mathematician/Ask a Physicist” on “Do colors exist”:

          http://www.askamathematician.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/dadbandwandcolour.jpg

        • Greg G.

          I still remember that particular comic!

        • Science According to Calvin’s Dad–good one.

        • MR

          He’d make a good apologist. Just keep baffling them with bullshit until they give up and you can declare victory!

        • Cones (color sensors) are most common in the center of your vision. That’s why the red light appeared as just “a light” to your eyes.

          Isaac Newton discovered infrared by noticing that the temperature beyond red from his prism was warmer than the background.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So if I want my socks to be a different color, I can make them be a different color through my perception of them?

          If color is “subjective” (contingent upon our wills) then it is malleable is it not?

        • Susan

          So if I want my socks to be a different color, I can make them be a different color through my perception of them?

          How is that response remotely connected to Greg G.’s comment?

        • Greg G.

          If you are colorblind, you might be able to do that. If the two socks reflect and emit different wavelengths that stimulate the pigments differently, it will be hard to believe they match. You might have to imagine you live in a reality where subjective things are objective and your best argument is that it cannot be proved the things you imagine don’t exist.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No, you can’t “change the colors of things with your mind” which means that colors are not “subjective”. We might call the phenomena of perception “subjective” but only because it is internal to the mind. The phenomena that cause the perception of color are objective. What we call “red” is also the “wavelength of light that our brains understand as “red””.

        • Greg G.

          Ha! Colors may well depend on your flavor of Christianity of the day.

          What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.
          Ignatius of Loyola

          I have told you that I perceive shades of green differently depending on which eye I look at it with. My right eye sees it more vividly while I see a sharper image with my left eye. It might be a difference in the relative numbers of cones and rods. If the colors depend on the pigments attached to optic nerves, it is subjective, not objective.

          A wavelength of light may be objectively measured but the color is subjective to the viewer. There are many wavelengths of light visible as red that are indistinguishable because they are invisible to one pigment, so 6 our idea of objective colors is clearly wrong in every way.

          Since you are arguing for objectivity regarding colors, it is becoming apparent that you are confused about what “objective” means.

        • Greg G.

          http://web.mit.edu/persci/people/adelson/images/checkershadow/checkershadow_illusion4med.jpg

          Is square A the same color as Square B? By any objective measure, the answer is “yes, they are the same color” but by human perception, they appear to be different colors.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Perception of is not the same as the actual object of the things being perceived. Try to will the cylinder to be blue.

        • Greg G.

          Weren’t you the guy who was claiming we could decide what we believe? Can you decide to believe the cylinder is blue?

        • Travis Wakeman

          We have free will, yes. Just because your will is autonomous doesn’t mean that it can manipulate objectively established objects.

        • MR

          In other words, you can’t choose to believe the cylinder is blue?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Does choosing to make it so?

        • MR

          Answer the question.

        • Greg G.

          But you cannot decide to believe the color of the object depicted is blue. Neither can a person decide to be gullible.

          What shade of green is the cylinder? Is it objectively established as the vivid color I see with my right eye or the slightly duller shade my left eye sees?

          What is the objectively established color of the dress?

          http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/content/creativecontent/images/cms/537019_1280x720.jpg

        • MNb

          That’s why we should talk wavelengths and frequencies, not colours. The first depend on the actual object only; the second on the person who perceives. You nicely debunked your own argument about explaining colours to blind people.

        • Douglas McClean

          “Subjective” doesn’t mean “contingent upon our wills”.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Then what does “subjective” mean?

        • Douglas McClean

          I’d say the three most relevant senses for this conversation are:
          1) existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought
          2) pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual:
          5) relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.

          Note in particular that relationship to the mind is distinct from relationship to the will, and that the mind can exist as a basis for the definition of subjectivity even if free will is not a thing.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Presumably you intend the first direction correct?

        • Douglas McClean

          I intended to point out that none of the accepted definitions has anything to do with the definition you posited, that of “contingent upon our wills”.

        • Travis Wakeman

          That’s the first definition. “existing in the mind”

        • Douglas McClean

          No, it isn’t. The mind and the will are quite different things.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Existing solely in the mind makes it contingent upon the will, which is a part of the mind.

        • MNb

          I just did.
          If two people hold diametrically opposite moral views there is no method to decide between them. As a consequence their moral views depend on the subjects who hold them, which is the very definition of subjective.

        • Travis Wakeman

          How do you logically go from the fact that two people hold two different views to the conclusion that each of their views is subjective.

          Two math students might hold two different opinions about the solution to a simple arithmetical sum. Does that mean that there is no right answer to the problem?

        • MNb

          “How do you logically go …”
          I just showed you.

          “Two math students might hold ….”
          You can’t have two different opinions about the solution to a simple arithmetical sum. You only can accept or reject the axiomata that ground the sum. Given the axiomata deduction decides whether the solution is correct or incorrect.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You CAN have two different opinions about the mathematical sum, they just can’t both be right at the same time.

          So you show us that morality is subjective by presuming that morality is subjective. That seems like it begs the question…

        • Is arithmetic really the best analogy? Then show us the objectively correct answer to abortion. Be sure to show that this is not just your opinion but is objectively true, and show that this objective truth is reliably accessible by all of us.

        • The burden of proof is yours, pal. You say that objective morality exists? Show us.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Does Bob Seidensticker think that objective morality (if it exists) is like a rock that I can physically hand him?

          If neither side can “prove” themselves the default is “we can neither affirm nor deny that morality is either subjective of objective in nature”. There is no presumption of subjectivism.

        • Bob Seidensticker thinks that objective morality is a remarkable claim and wants Travis Wakeman to put up or shut up.

          Bob Seidensticker marvels that Travis Wakeman can’t just respond squarely to an issue but must dance around. Perhaps he fears that his grounding is not as solid as he’d hoped?

          That morality is not supernaturally grounded is indeed the default position. But that’s no challenge for Travis Wakeman, I’m sure. He’ll give us the argument that backs up his claim.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Can a blind man be given “proof” that there is such a thing as “color”? Yes we can describe the material phenomenon of it to him, the different wavelengths of light and the reaction that takes place in the brain- but ultimately it’s going to be one of those properly basic items which you either see or do not see.

          I can point out how you would quickly find your life unlivable were you to consistently apply moral subjectivism thoroughly to it. You live as a moral objectivist even if you say that you do not.

          There is no presumption of, “you can’t prove that morality is objective in nature, therefore it is subjective in nature”…

          It would be nice if you could acknowledge as much…

          Maybe it’s like your philosophical naturalism though, so deeply assumed that you can’t even acknowledge that it’s an assumption.

        • Greg G.

          Can a blind man be given “proof” that there is such a thing as “color”? Yes we can describe the material phenomenon of it to him, the different wavelengths of light and the reaction that takes place in the brain- but ultimately it’s going to be one of those properly basic items which you either see or do not see.

          A blind man could understand that sighted people can discern colors but would have no more idea what the color would look like to him. But you do not know that the color red appears to be the same red that I see. When I was in first grade, I noticed that the color green looked a little more vivid with my right eye than with my left eye. If one person can see the same object as different colors, who knows what colors look like to others?

          We can tell that bees have an eye pigment that reacts to light of higher frequencies that we see and they react to it. We have no idea how the color looks to them or if it appears the same to each bee.

          We have no examples of objective morality but many examples of subjective morality.

        • TheNuszAbides

          We have no examples of objective morality but many examples of subjective morality.

          well sure, if by ‘examples’ you mean functional/practical examples! 😛

        • MNb

          “Can a blind man be given “proof” that there is such a thing as “color”?”
          Yes – by relating colour to frequency and wavelength, as is the proper thing to do anyway.

          “ultimately it’s going to be one of those properly basic items which you either see or do not see.”
          Baseless assertion that can be rejected without any further do.

          “I can point out how you would quickly find your life unlivable were you to consistently apply moral subjectivism thoroughly to it.”
          Weird. That’s exactly what I do – or couldn’t be a useful member of the community where I live. That community is one of the most multi-religious ones you’ll find in the world.

          “you can’t prove that morality is objective in nature, therefore it is subjective in nature”…”
          The same for “you can’t prove that morality is subjective in nature, therefore it’s objective in nature. The only thing you brought up is “God exists because of the cosmological argument a la Feser hence grounds objective morality.” In the first place the cosmological argument is a failure, but let’s ignore that for the time being. In the second place this looks very much like a non-sequitur. In the third place in “God grounds objective morality” your god – the one you call “God” – is a subject. The statement is incoherent.
          That’s excellently illustrated by WL Craig, who on one page in a similar way like you just states that genocide is objectively wrong and another one maintains that genocide is morally right when ordered by the god he calls “God”.
          Plus we have brought up that morals change in time, depending on amongst other culture. The christian Holy Book itself demonstrates clearly that genocide was totally OK 2000+ years ago. The behaviour of the Crusaders in Jerusalem, Constantinople and South-France confirms that that view had’t changed yet in the Middle Ages. That’s something apologists like you systematically fail to account for, except for “it’s now wrong hence it was wrong back then.” And that’s why I call you arrogant and prejudiced. You have promoted your own morality to an absolute, eternal, 100% certain, never changing truth.

        • “Can a blind man be given “proof” that there is such a thing as “color”?”

          Yes – by relating colour to frequency and wavelength, as is the proper thing to do anyway.

          That’s how we discovered the spectrum outside our the tiny range our eyes detect.

        • Translation: “I got nuthin’, and these atheist assholes are making me look bad. Gotta bluff! Bluff for Jesus!’

          You need to cut your losses, bro.

          I can point out how you would quickly find your life unlivable were you to consistently apply moral subjectivism thoroughly to it.

          Then do so!

          There is no presumption of, “you can’t prove that morality is objective in nature, therefore it is subjective in nature”…

          When the natural assumption (subjective morality, shared morality, we’re all the same species and so have nearly identical moral programming, etc.) answer all the questions, there is no need for something with no argument for it.

        • Argus

          Travis: “I can point out how you would quickly find your life unlivable were you to consistently apply moral subjectivism thoroughly to it.”

          Bob: Then do so!

          I can point out a way life would be unlivable if we accepted the objective morality (never mind figuring out from whom or what we derive this objective standard).

          Example: Let’s assume that people say lying is immoral and that this is an objective fact.

          So, I’m at home minding my own business. My door is flung open. Standing there is a woman. She is bleeding from a stab wound on her arm.

          She says: “Please help me! An insane man is trying to stab me to death!”

          I hide her in my basement. After ensuring that I have some means to defend myself in case of trouble, I go back to my foyer.

          A man knocks on my door. I open it and see a man out of breath with a small amount of blood on his sleeve.

          He says: “Have you seen a woman come this way?

          I LIE and say “No I have not.”

          Question: Was my lie moral or objectively immoral given that it saved a human life?

          If lying is always 100% objectively immoral even when truth telling leads to needless suffering, then that society would be unlivable for me. No. Thank. You. I’ll go live with the squirrels.

          ——-

        • Travis Wakeman

          You have a number of other options available to you other than to lie. You can punch him in the face, or give him a non-answer.

        • Argus

          Indeed. I would have many options but my rational brain can analyze the situation and come up with the response that is most likely to yield the best outcome (for both me and the stabbed woman) and promote the least amount of suffering.

          To wit:

          1. “You can punch him in the face” This would most likely lead to an escalation of violence and likely my death given the man has a knife. It would also lead to the woman’s death since my punch would be a tacit admission that I knew where she was (in my basement) leading him to focus his search in my house. So that option is irrational compared to lying.

          2. “Give him a non-answer” That option is way worse than lying. A non-answer would basically be an admission I had saw her. The man would most probably conclude “This guy is waffling, I bet he knows something. I should probably stab him until he tells me what he knows.” So that option is irrational compared to lying.

          In conclusion, you have bolstered my point that in that scenario, lying in that moment would be the most moral choice given that it would save 1-2 lives.

          You also make a great point — different people may come up with different options as to what the best moral decision would be. One might even say it’s — oh what’s the word — SUBJECTIVE.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s not an easy position to be in, but to lie is still to do a wrong.

          You are saying that it is morally justifiable to commit a wrong in order to do a good.

          Lets say that judge knows that the man before him is innocent but that if he fails to give the man the death penalty, then a mob of angry rioters will probably destroy lots of private property and there may even be lives lost in the riots. In such a scenario is it morally justifiable for the judge to falsely convict the innocent man?

        • Otto

          You have not demonstrated that lying is always a wrong, you have just declared it by fiat.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Lying is always wrong because it takes purpose of communication, to express the truth, and subverts it. Should the judge convict the innocent man?

        • Otto

          Sometimes subverting what is true is beneficial for the well being of others, you still are just declaring it is wrong and your point lacks foundation.

        • Argus

          @Otto

          I can only imagine that Travis has not yet been faced with:

          “Does this dress make me look fat?”

        • Otto

          His response would be to punch her in the face…lol

        • Travis Wakeman

          So you would agree that the right course of action is for the judge to wrongfully convict the innocent man right? If you don’t think so- why do you suddenly oppose the maximization of welfare for others?

        • Argus

          Again, Travis…you are trying to derail the discussion I started about the stabber and the injured woman. I have no desire to discuss your red herring scenario about the judge. If you want to start a new thread on that…fine..but you do not get to subvert my thread.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Already responded. Punch him in the face. If you try to engage on the other question we’ll see you can’t consistently maintain your position.

        • Argus

          And I already demonstrated why punching in the face would lead to a much more violent, deadly outcome (with me and the poor woman dead by the stabber).

          Reminds me of the Untouchable: “Bringing a fist to a knife fight..”

          Imagining the police drawing the chalk outline around poor Travis’ corpse. “Well, he may have been instantly stabbed and killed by the stabber when he tried to punch him…but at least he didn’t LIE!”

        • Travis Wakeman

          You know how Socrates died?

        • Otto

          That still does not show that lying was wrong…that just offers a different option. You are losing horrendously.

        • Otto

          What exactly is the need to add another analogy to the analogy that was originally used?

          From what I can tell you added the Judge/Court analogy to take away the point of the original analogy that lying may not always be the wrong option….That just makes you a dishonest asshole in the discussion.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Yes. It’s called a counter-example.

        • Otto

          It is a dishonest counter example.

        • Travis Wakeman

          What’s dishonest about it?

        • Otto

          You changed the analogy to take out the benefit of the lie. You are about as dishonest as they come. If you can’t bring yourself to have an honest discussion just leave…no one here will benefit from your lack of integrity including you.

        • Travis Wakeman

          It’s dishonest to provide an analogy whose conclusion you disagree with?

          Lying never benefits you, even if you think it does.

        • Otto

          In his analogy it absolutely benefited in a demonstrable fashion. Again you just declare shit to be true with no foundation.

          You have yet to tie morality to anything external ourselves and until you do you lose the argument.

        • Travis Wakeman

          What good does it do a man to win the whole world at the cost of his soul?

          See all of the places where I tied morality down foundationally by explaining that it is ontologically grounded in God’s necessary nature.

        • Susan

          See all of the places where I tied morality down foundationally by explaining that it is ontologically grounded in God’s necessary nature.

          You did nothing of the kind.

          You haven’t defined “God”, demonstrated “God”, defined “God’s nature”, demonstrated that its nature is necessary or connected morality in any way to such an incoherent jumble of words.

        • Otto

          That argument is flawed and fallacious as has been repeatedly explained to you.

          If your God eternally punishes people he is an asshat, but that explains why you morality is a mess.

        • Travis Wakeman

          What if God isn’t the one punishing us, but rather we punish ourselves because we choose evil?

        • Otto

          OK I chose not to punish myself.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Great, so you’ve chosen to love what is good right? The objective standard of the good is actually located in the nature of God though, so in loving what is good you are loving God and you are recognizing that sometimes you perform actions which are not good.

        • Otto

          Complete unfounded bullshit pulled from your ass. Are you ever gonna support your garbage with anything but your say so?

        • Greg G.

          What if God is tricking us into punishing ourselves by giving us true but incomplete information?

        • Greg G.

          But you can’t directly sense God so you don’t know what his nature is. You only imagine it to be what you would like it to be. You can never know what God would want. And what if God wants something that was objectively immoral?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Logic and reason bubba.

        • Greg G.

          Your fallacious arguments are cargo cult logic and reason, John Frum.

        • Travis is president of the local Liars for Jesus club.

          But hark–what’s that? I hear a baby crying.

        • Herald Newman

          Is that baby Jesus crying?!

        • Greg G.

          The first rule of the Liars for Jesus club is to lie about being in the Liars for Jesus club.

        • Susan

          What’s dishonest about it?

          Otto’s example provided a scenario in which no one gets hurt and one person’s life is saved who otherwise would have died.

          Your example is a completely different thought experiment in which at least one person is harmed.

          It requires a lot of calibration and no perfect answers. One has to consider the long term consquences of the harm to society when bloodthirsty mob rule is allowed to take root along with the harm to an innocent man and to his family and friends. as well as the consequences to innocent people out there among the mob who will probably get hurt.

          Note that all of your appeals are attached in some way to the consequences of the moral choice that’s made. Morality can be very, very messy.

          This is why calling something “good” and something else “evil” and thinking your work is done and you can go have lunch now is so annoying.

          An incoherent, unevidenced agent is neither necessary nor sufficient to work out these moral struggles.

          Ironically, the thought experiment you chose to use as a dishonest diversion from the one Otto chose makes the idea of “objective morality” even more absurd.

          You can’t provide a “correct” answer. I’m sure you’d be willing to assert one but you won’t be able to demonstrate that it’s “objectively” grounded.

          You will just say that you are a virtue ethicist because you know there’s something called virtue ethics and that’s the thing your church tells you is “true”.

          But that’s silly.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I already gave the correct answer.

          Do the ends justify the means when the means are themselves wrong?

          Do you think there is nothing intrinsically wrong with lying?

        • Greg G.

          If the means are harmless, they are not wrong.

          Lying is not intrinsically wrong. Taking advantage of others is wrong whether by flat out lies or by half-truths.

        • Argus

          Again….you do not get to come up with a new scenario in MY thread because we are discussing the lie to save the woman scenario. You are deflecting and you know it.

          In my scenario, “express the truth” to the stabber would directly lead to a woman being killed. So you are in essence saying that expressing the truth is of greater value than this woman’s life. Sorry, if you wish to live in that moral landscape…you’re going to live alone.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The ends do not justify the means. I am saying that it is still morally wrong to lie regardless of the consequences, period. It certainly would be understandable to lie, but it would still be morally wrong.

          Is the value of the property and killed rioters worth more than convicting an innocent man? You’ll live there alone.

        • Argus

          But why do you say it’s wrong? Based on what data or evidence? Says who? You? So what…

          Explain precisely how it would be morally wrong for me to lie to the stabber in order to stop that stabber from killing her? You cannot seem to explain this.

          By what standard do you claim “The ends do not justify the means. I am saying that it is still morally wrong to lie regardless of the consequences, period.” This is not hard. Just explain.

          As I said..I’m not replying to your judge scenario. It is a blatant attempt to hijack my thread.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I have explained why it is wrong to lie to the stabber.

          The ends don’t justify the means because mixing evil means with good ends perverts the end. A reinvigorated national economy is a good thing. A national economy that is reinvigorated because it has exterminated sectors of it’s own population is not a good thing.

          You won’t respond to the hypothetical about the judge because you can’t.

        • Argus

          Your explanation is simply a baseless assertion by fiat predicated on another baseless assertion. You basically said “Lying is wrong because lying is wrong. Screw the poor women who will be stabbed.”

          Your strange comment about a national economy makes little sense in context.

          I won’t respond to that scenario because of reasons I already stated: “.I’m not replying to your judge scenario. It is a blatant attempt to hijack my thread.” I hope that helps you understand your mistake.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No, it would be a baseless fiat if I said that “lying is wrong because I say so” that’s actually what lots of people in these threads are saying. Several people are saying that “rape is wrong” is a “baseless fiat”.

        • Argus

          But you never said why lying is wrong…did you? Feel free to provide an explanation as to what your standard is that demonstrates or proclaims lying is wrong. And don’t try to set up any more scenarios of judges or colors or voluntary slaves. Just explain..please.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I did. Lying is wrong because it goes against the nature of what communication is, a means to express the truth.

        • Argus

          Can you demonstrate that lying always definitively goes against what communication is? If true, why is it always wrong to go against what communication is? As I demonstrated in my example…it seems pretty clear that helping a woman NOT BE KILLED is not wrong whether it goes against communication or not (whatever that may mean to you in your subjective statement).

          So you have indeed based one unproven assertion on another.

          Here’s what I think:

          Except in certain circumstance (aha–subjective) I agree that in general, lying is immoral (at least to the moral system I subjective adhere to). It is immoral in general because in order to survive and thrive as a society of social animals, it is usually the case that possessing accurate information results overall in the most optimal outcomes for me as an individual and my community.

          Outside of humans, there is no external source from which we derive this notion that lying is generally wrong.

          i agree that among social animals like humans…clear communication is a high value — unless such truthful communication results in greater and unnecessary physical harm to the individual or overall group (depending on several possible factors).

          In fact, truth telling probably evolved because in order for hunter gatherers to be successful in things like mammoth hunting and such….they needed accurate reliable information from one another.

          An idiot scout who would say deliberately: THE MAMMOTH IS HEADING EAST (when it was heading west) is not beneficial to his or his group’s survival..Thus truth telling is valuable in most cases.

          The only thing I was attempting to demonstrate to you is that morality is clearly subjective — it does not match tit for tat among societies across the world and there is no demonstration that any objective standard exists outside human group consensus as to what is moral or immoral.

          Any questions?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Lying by definition is counter to the nature of communication. It is wrong to intentionally distort things from their nature.

          Also, genetic fallacy.

          Also, how does anything that you’ve said demonstrated that the nature of morality is subjective?

        • Argus

          Why is it always wrong to intentionally distort facts if said distortion results in saving lives? You have never answered that…

          In what sense did I employ the genetic fallacy?

          The genetic fallacy (also known as the fallacy of origins or fallacy of virtue[1]) is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on someone’s or something’s history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context.

          Notice I was not arguing that the whole thing about hunter gatherers is necessarily true..I presented it as a plausible explanation so there is no fallacy in that I made no definitive argument and it was not based solely on history/origin. I could be wrong but my explanation seems plausible to me.

          Again: “clearly morality is subjective — it does not match tit for tat among societies across the world and there is no demonstration that any objective standard exists outside human group consensus as to what is moral or immoral.”

          I ask you again…upon what external standard do we derive this alleged objective morality?

        • Travis Wakeman

          It tautologically true that distorting things from their nature is bad. That is what “bad” means.

          Explaining how we come to hold X belief has no import on whether nor not that belief is true or false.

          Whether or not societies agree on what is moral has no bearing on whether or not there is an objective standard, I could argue actually that they do have a shared understanding. Everyone agrees that justice is good, and courage is good, and truth is good, etc. Can you show me a culture that says that cowardice is intrinsically good and courage is intrinsically bad?

        • Argus

          Demonstrate that it is “tautologically true that distorting things from their nature is bad” Why do you think this?

          I wasn’t explaining how we came to have a belief..I was demonstrating one possibility as to why our moral sense may have evolved.

          I’m not required to demonstrate any such examples. The burden is on you to demonstrate this imagined objective moral standard and from whence it comes. So far, you have not done so.

          I do agree with your first sentence, third graf.

          It COULD be that some objective standard of morality exists. The thing is..you have yet to DEMONSTRATE this claim as being true. As it stands now..the only ting we see is a diversity of moral systems across cultures that have many variations and subtleties.

        • Otto

          And yet you argue that it would be OK to punch the stabber in the face. So violence is not wrong in all cases but lying IS wrong in all cases.

          Wow that there sounds really subjective

        • Travis Wakeman

          Define “violence”

        • Otto

          Sounds like what a dishonest person would resort to.

          You want a definition of violence look it up.

        • Argus

          Let’s just lay this out, Travis. Suppose you were faced with the scenario I described. Can you honestly say you would refrain from lying for the sake of you imagined objective morality? You would risk your life and the woman’s by trying to punch a guy wielding a knife?

          Seriously?

        • Travis Wakeman

          If I did lie I would still say that my act of lying was morally wrong.

          My and the woman’s life is at risk regardless of whether or not I choose to lie. I would probably punch the guy.

        • Argus

          “If I did lie I would still say that my act of lying was morally wrong.”

          OK, fine. You are free to choose what you consider morally wrong for Travis. 99% of your society will disagree with you (and possibly your Bible) but hey…it’s your personal preference.

          “My and the woman’s life is at risk regardless of whether or not I choose to lie. I would probably punch the guy.”

          I agree. There is a degree of risk by virtue of the fact that a stabber is at your door. The question at hand is: What behavior is the most likely to result in the least amount of suffering?

          1. Assuming that the stabber has no other data about the possible location of the victim, there is no probable reason to think he would not take your lie at face value.

          2. Given that the stabber seems in a hurry to find the victim, it seems probable that he will employ a quick “check and move on” tactic. Thus, this increases the probability that he will ask you….take your answer at face value and move on to the next house.

          3. Your option: punching a man who has a knife and has already shown a propensity to stab MAY work — if you are Jean Claude in a bad movie. In reality, you would (as I think I explained two times) greatly increase your chance of being stabbed to death and make the woman’s flight in vain.

          So our decisions boil down to simple risk analysis — you seem intent on sacrificing your life and the life of an innocent woman rather than sully your imagined moral against lying. That’s fine. If you can live with that….that’s also your preference.

          Cheers! I think we are done with this thread. I have nothing to add and we both seem to have explicated our views well. Enjoyed the conversation.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Would 99 percent of people agree that it is okay for the judge to hand down a false verdict in order to prevent the mob violence?

          All things being equal it is good to reduce suffering, but it is not okay to reduce suffering if the means by which we reduce suffering is itself immoral.

          That’s like saying that its okay to torture someone as long as it overall increases the net well-being for the most people. See the story of “The Ones who Walked Away from Omelas”

        • Greg G.

          The judge could rescind the the decision after the mob dissipated.

          That’s like saying that its okay to torture someone as long as it overall increases the net well-being for the most people.

          Another example of torturing someone to death for the benefit of others can be read in the passion narratives of the gospels. That must have been immoral, too.

        • Travis Wakeman

          He’s still handing down a false sentence. The mob just reforms then.

        • Greg G.

          But reinforcements could be called into mitigate the mob. The ring leaders who incite violence can be arrested and removed.

          We can play these “what-if” games but the fact that there are situations where the ending is preferable with a lie than the ending where the truth is disastrous shows that your position is wrong. A counter example of a no-win situation does not refute a clear win because of a lie.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No reinforcements to be had, sorry. You’re just trying to get around the implications of the moral dilemma. You want to have your cake and eat it too.

        • Greg G.

          We can create moral dilemmas all day but in those where the end justifies the telling of a lie, you lost.

          Here’s another one. Suppose a gunman hides in your house. He says if you don’t send away the policemen who come to your door, he will kill them first. Their questioning requires you to lie as they won’t take evasive answers. Should you punch them both in the face or lie?

          I’ll repeat some real world cases:

          The Underground Railroad that let people escape slavery told justifiable lies.

          The people who lied to the Nazis to save the lives of Jews told justifiable lies.

        • Argus

          We’re done. You are being willfully obtuse…

        • Greg G.

          He didn’t like it when I pointed out the case of Jesus before Pilate was just like his case with a false guilty verdict and a sentence of death to quell a mob. He never would answer whether the end justified the means in that case.

        • Otto

          Yes in your world punching a person in the face is less objectionable than lying to them. Your moral argument is bankrupt.

        • Pofarmer

          Not only is it bankrupt, it’s ass backwards. Which is just one more reason I loathe Catholicism.

        • Otto

          Is he Catholic?

          Usually I can tell when I am talking to a Catholic because of how they tend to communicate with lots of words and little substance. I never took him for a Catholic…his BS seemed too simple.

        • Pofarmer

          He’s hitting an awful lot of Catholic buzzwords.

        • Greg G.

          Did the end of Noah’s Flood justify the means of killing all those people? Did the killing of the Canaanites justify the ends? Did killing Job’s family to win a bet with the devil justify the ends?

        • Well, there’s the good ol’ “If God did it, it’s good just cuz” apologetic.

          Admittedly, that doesn’t convince everyone.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You think it’s wrong to punish the wicked?

        • Greg G.

          You forgot to answer the questions. Your non-response is another loser. Were Job’s family members wicked?

          Is it right to kill the wicked? Is it right to kill people and tell lies that they were wicked?

          is it right to tell lies about people being killed and that they were wicked? The Flood is a lie. There is no evidence that the Exodus happened or that the Canaanites were wiped out by war with the Hebrews. The evidence shows that there was no great cultural changes in the area when the slaughter of the Canaanites, Midianites, etc was supposed to have happened. The evidence shows that the culture was essentially the same except some sites had pig bones and some did not. So one religious denomination liked pork and one didn’t and apparently made it a religious tenet.

        • Pofarmer

          Welcome to Thomism.

        • Argus

          Welcome to me dismissing Travis.

        • Pofarmer

          “Lying is always wrong because it takes purpose of communication, to express the truth, and subverts it.”

          It must be great to get to make up whatever definitions float your boat.

          “Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”[1]) is the act of conveying intended meaning to another entity through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic
          rules. The basic steps of communication are the forming of
          communicative intent, message composition, message encoding,
          transmission of signal, reception of signal, message decoding and
          finally interpretation of the message by the recipient.

          The study of communication can be divided into communication studies, which concerns only human communication, and biosemiotics,
          which examines the communication of organisms in general. Communication
          is usually visual, auditory, or biochemical, while human communication
          is unique for its extensive use of language.”

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

          You are simply assuming “purpose” to fit your agenda. IT’s just one more case where it doesn’t fit, or is flat out wrong.

        • Argus

          Why do you say lying in a situation where lying saves a life is wrong? You are basically saying it would be right to behave in a manner that would lead to my and the woman’s death by the stabber.

          And no, no..we’re not going to a new, irrelevant scenario about some judge. We’re going to stay on my scenario in this specific thread.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I am saying that lying is wrong and doing bad things in order to get good things is wrong. You could also lie and end up getting stabbed anyway. It’s the virtues and character that matters, not the consequences.

        • Argus

          It’s more probable in my scenario that I would not get stabbed for lying.

          The stabber would be more interested in continuing his search to find his victim. So you would rather retain your virtues and characters than save a woman from being killed. Gotcha.

          Also, why would you think not lying to save a woman from certain death is virtuous? How are you defining virtue? What is the standard of virtue? Says who?

          I may be off base…but I suspect your unstated standard of morality and virtue boils down to: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Correct me if I am wrong.

        • Travis Wakeman

          How do you define “virtue”?

          You’re wrong. Ever heard of virtue ethics?

        • Otto

          You did not answer the question. Regardless of whether there are other options was the lie wrong?

        • Greg G.

          What if it was you who was being chased by a mad man. Would you prefer me to lie that I hadn’t seen you or changed the subject to how beautiful a day it was?

          Do you think it was wrong for the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape from the South and tell lies to bounty hunters?

          What about the people who hid Jews and told the Nazis that they didn’t know any Jews?

        • Travis Wakeman

          I think it would still not be moral for you to tell lies because the ends do not justify the means.

        • Greg G.

          The end is that a person is not killed. That is a greater good than making a true statement that results in at least one unnecessary death.

          The purpose of communication is to relay information. The end result of the content of the information is what matters most.

          Telling a joke is making false statements that amuses people. Humor is a good thing that often relies on false statements.

          Telling an elderly person that they look ten years younger may give them cheer that makes them feel twenty years younger which is a better end than demoralizing the person with the truth.

          Deception is why making false statements is wrong when it takes advantage of another person. But it is also possible that making completely true statements can be deceptive. If I convince people to invest $1,000,000 with me and I would an guarantee them an annuity for the rest of their lives without telling them the annuity would amount to $1000 to $2000, I would have told the truth but still taken advantage of them.

          You are looking at the wrong big picture. Your big picture is imaginary. Turn around and face the real world.

        • Travis Wakeman

          But the ends never justify the means. If you want to affirm that it does- then just give me a simple affirmative on the judge giving the innocent man a death sentence to prevent the mob…

        • Greg G.

          Do you think the end justified the means when Pilate thought Jesus was innocent and washed his hands but gave the death sentence for Jesus to be carried out immediately to soothe the mob, as in Matthew 27?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Pilates death sentence upon Christ was morally wrong.

        • Greg G.

          I would agree but the question was whether the end justified the means. Can you answer that?

        • If lying is always 100% objectively immoral even when truth telling leads to needless suffering, then that society would be unlivable for me.

          Uh, OK. This illuminates nothing. I make no claim that any objective moral truth exists.

        • Argus

          If you read my reply a second time, you may realize I was responding to Travis’ unlivable challenge and not any of your claims. Not I was responding to Travis not trying to “illuminate” anything you said. My response illuminated and illustrated that Travis’ point of stating objective morality exists is silly when we apply it to real world scenarios.

        • I was indeed confused! Thanks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          not sure why you saved the observation that the man has a knife for the followup comment …

        • Travis Wakeman

          If you’re standing in line at the DMV and someone steps up and cuts right in front of you, invariably you become a moral objectivist and say something to the effect of “hey, you ought not to do that.”

          He might respond, “Oh, not cutting others in line is your morality, my morality says that it’s perfectly fine for me to jump ahead of you though.”

          You can’t argue that his morality is intrinsically wrong or unjust or unfair or inferior to your own because by your own admission all of those things are themselves only your personal opinions rather than facts.

          All that you can do is appeal to force in the end, which implicitly concedes that if he in fact has more force than you- he is for all intents and purposes entitled to exert his will over your own.

        • You really need to think this stuff through first.

          If you’re standing in line at the DMV and someone steps up and cuts right in front of you, invariably you become a moral objectivist and say something to the effect of “hey, you ought not to do that.”

          Just like that, except I don’t become a moral objectivist.

          You can’t argue that his morality is intrinsically wrong or unjust or unfair or inferior to your own

          True. I just argue that it’s plain wrong, unjust, unfair, whatever. And that’s how you do it, too.

          All that you can do is appeal to force in the end

          Imagine having an argument with someone. Now imagine that you change your mind.

          That’s how it works without force.

        • Travis Wakeman

          To say that it is “unjust” or “unfair” is to say that his behavior goes against an objective standard. To say that it goes against an objective standard is to be a moral objectivist.

          If you’re a moral subjectivst then the best you can do is say that you don’t “like” his behavior, that is what it means to say that something is “subjectively wrong”. Terms like “right” or “wrong” have natively objective meanings.

        • Douglas McClean

          “To say that it is “unjust” or “unfair” is to say that his behavior goes against an objective standard.”

          No, it isn’t. You’re assuming your conclusion.

        • Travis Wakeman

          What is “justice” or “fairness” then? What do you understand those terms to mean? Aren’t they natively objective?

        • Douglas McClean

          Fairness and justice are defined by commonly agreed morality, not objective morality.

          Similarly, there’s no objective notion of, say, squirrel-ness. A squirrel is what we all agree that a squirrel is.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No, there is an objective telos, or nature, to what a squirrel is.

          Do you agree then that if everyone decided that slavery was moral tomorrow, it would suddenly become moral?

        • Douglas McClean

          No, there isn’t. A squirrel is about 3e25 atoms in a constantly fluctuating arrangement that we agree is squirrel-like.

          If *everyone* (necessarily including those to be enslaved) were to so agree, then I suppose it might. The “suddenly” nature of the change would only arise from the sudden nature of the change in opinion in your hypothetical.

          If God decided tomorrow that slavery was (again) moral in His opinion, would it be? How do we know he ever decided it was immoral in the first place?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Nope, there is an intrinsic platonic form of “squirrel”.

          What if everyones opinion changes minus the opinion of those in the minority who are to be enslaved? Majority rules out right?

          I would say that the good is grounded in God’s necessary nature rather than will.

        • Douglas McClean

          No, there isn’t.

          No. Then there would be a dispute about what was moral. I would side with the enslaved, unless the magic of your hypothetical had magic’d my brain and thus my mind.

          So it was God’s “necessary nature” that caused slavery to be first good, and then bad, but that we can now know will never again cause it to be good again? How does that work, exactly? Where is this God and how can we examine its “necessary nature” together?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Yes, there is.

          Why would you side with the minority opinion? Maybe because you are obeying a higher, objective law than the majority opinion?

          It is God’s necessary nature which make sin bad, and slavery exists and is bad because sin is bad. God worked in the OT to regulate a hard reality to mitigate the worst abuses and excesses.

          What do you think I mean when I say “God”- do you think I am referring to a material object?

        • Douglas McClean

          No, there isn’t.

          I would side with the minority opinion for the same reason I do today, because I have been raised in a culture that abhors cruelty. Everyone else only changed because your scenario magically changed them. Objectivity has nothing to do with it, it’s your scenario that changed them and didn’t change me. You aren’t very good at hypotheticals, are you?

          That’s absurd. This is not what mitigating worst excesses looks like: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only
          when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of
          heart and reverence for the Lord.” How about “Masters, set free your slaves at once, for I am the Lord”? Where’s that?

          I think you have no idea what you mean, and are willing to shift it all over the place to avoid confronting the fact that what you mean makes no sense. But yes, if it’s objective its pertaining to an object. I’m not familiar with any objects which are not material. If we can’t see your “God” because it is an object which is not material (or is material, but invisible), what sense or instrument can we use to experimentally perceive its existence and measure its properties together?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Then you would agree that if the culture that you came from endorsed cruelty instead of abhorring it, then it would be right for you to endorse cruelty instead of abhorring it?

          Why doesn’t the Bible call for an immediate abolition to all slavery?

          Because the problem which causes slavery goes deeper than the mere fact of there being slavery. Scripture confronts the deep cause which if treated results in the alleviation of the symptoms. Simply attacking the symptoms isn’t really treating the problem.

        • Douglas McClean

          No. I agree that if the culture that raised me endorsed cruelty, it’s likely I would. I have no idea what you think your first sentence has to do with the hypothetical we’ve been discussing. It’s clear you are conflating a number of distinct concepts quite wildly.

          You realize that your second two paragraphs mean that you don’t feel that slavery is always morally wrong, correct? You are arguing that under the circumstances, not holding slaves would have led to worse outcomes and thus it was justifiable.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Would you say that it would be “right” of you to hold that position coming from that culture though?

          Slavery is a product of sin, sin is always wrong. Sin is the deep cause, slavery is the symptom.

        • Douglas McClean

          No, I, having been raised in this culture, wouldn’t. Yes, “I” (the hypothetical alter-me), having been raised in that culture, would.

          The second sentence is a total non-sequitur. To the extent that “sin” is a thing, it existed when that part of Colossians was written and it continues to exist today, so why was it right for “God” to sanction slavery then, but its not right to do so today?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Is it objectively right (regardless of anyone’s opinion) for you to hold to the position of whatever culture you are raised in?

          God wasn’t really sanctioning slavery. To sanction means to give your approval of a thing- to endorse it as good.

          If you’re being held hostage by a psychopath, the hostage negotiator might tell you “speak politely and gently with your captor, follow his instructions so that he doesn’t hurt you” does that mean that the hostage negotiator endorses you being held hostage?

        • Douglas McClean

          No, you’re the one arguing for objective morality.

          “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only
          when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of
          heart and reverence for the Lord.” That’s sanction. That’s endorsement as a good. I’m sorry that you’re unwilling to confront it, but it is. That it isn’t paired with even a tepid condemnation of the practice only reinforces the obvious interpretation that that is sanction.

          If the same hostage negotiator said “Do this not only when your captors are watching and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord” that would be an endorsement. Note that the passage in Colossians doesn’t read “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it to curry their favor so that they don’t hurt you”, your analogy would make sense. But that isn’t what it says.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Please answer the question.

          It’s implicitly condemned. Does not scripture say that one of the reasons we have problems is because we treat each other unequally? Is not slavery a symptom of a culture that has integrated into it’s legal structure the idea of treating people unequally?

        • Douglas McClean

          I did answer the questions.

          To recap: First questions: No, it’s not objectively right, there’s no such thing as objective right.

          Second question: No, the hostage negotiator would not be endorsing the hostage taking, but his comments are also not analogous to the passage in Colossians. Comments suitably amended to be analogous would be endorsing the hostage taking.

          Implicitly condemned? Is that the best you can do? Because it’s explicitly endorsed.

        • Travis Wakeman

          If the hostage negotiator says anything other than “stab him in the neck and run towards me” is he implicitly endorsing the condition of being a hostage?

        • Douglas McClean

          No, as I said. But if he says something actually analogous to the passage in Colossians, like “Do this not only when your captors are watching and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord”, then yes, he would be.

        • Greg G.

          Why did you run away from the Colossians passage?

        • Travis Wakeman

          If you haven’t noticed, I have about 100 simultaneous conversation threads going on…

          What now?

        • Greg G.

          I know you have many conversations going but you replied to the comment thread more than once but didn’t address the point.

        • MR

          Seems to be his modus operandi. Ignore what undermines his position and move on dodging and weaving. This is the kind of dishonesty that began to crack the foundation of my Christian beliefs.

        • Argus

          Exodus 21:20-21 and Exodus 21:26-27 regulates the beating of slaves, and states that the owner may not be punished if the slave survives for at least two days after the beating.

          Leviticus 19:20-22 gives instructions about the sacrifices that should be made if a slave owner has sex with or rapes an engaged female slave. The slave herself is punished with whipping, but no sacrifices or punishment are required if the slave is not engaged.

          In Leviticus 25:44-46, the Israelites were allowed to buy slaves from other nations, and then hand them down as an inheritance.

          In Leviticus 25:39 buying your brother as a slave is allowed.

        • MNb

          Implicitly condemned thanks to your prejudiced understanding. Explicitely approved of, resulting in

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

          No matter how you impose your own preferences on the content of your favourite Holy Book, it remains a serious omission for the Son of the Omnipotent and Omnivolent not to say “set your slave free as soon as he/she expresses the wish.” Apparently Jesus didn’t care enough about human free will (specifically of slaves) though to say something revolutionary like this.
          This is especially remarkable as the Achaemenid Empire (about contemporary to the Old Testament) had largely reduced slavery. Persepolis seems to have been build with paid labor.
          There may be objective morality or not, it’s not found in the Bible.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Lets say that the early Christian church takes on an explicitly pro-abolitionist stance- Roman empire says “squish”. It undermines slavery in a much more subtle and effective way.

          You don’t think that if you love your neighbor as yourself that you would free him from bondage?

        • MNb

          No, especially not given what christians in the 21st Century do in the name of love.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2016/05/28/four-kinds-of-love-that-arent-really-love/

          But forget that one. Also forget, iIrc, that there was an American president who loved a slave but never set her free.
          On this very blog I have seen christians defending the idea that not saying “set your slave free as soon as he/she expresses the wish.” was an act of love, as slaves might have used their free will to make the wrong choice (freedom) and ending up far worse than in slavery.

          “Roman empire says “squish”.”
          Lame counterargument. The Roman Empire never prosecuted anyone who set his/her slaves free. My argument about Jesus not saying “set your slave free as soon as he/she expresses the wish” is not about a political campaign to outlaw slavery, it’s about not putting into practice what he according to you preached. In this respect he simply failed. And of course you’re to be expected to duck this issue.

        • Thomas Jefferson (president #3) famously had a relationship with Sally Hemings, even taking her with him to France when he served as ambassador.

        • Travis forgets that the hostage negotiator is just a person, while God is magic.

          Another flawed analogy.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I think you have no idea what you mean, and are willing to shift it all over the place to avoid confronting the fact that what you mean makes no sense.

          i doubt that; i reckon he’s full of unearned confidencedue to being overly enamored of the ~Authorities~ he imagines irrefutably bolster the POV to which he’s committed. the saddest part is that while he’ll extend the “if God exists …” qualifier, and claims to be ‘well versed’ in secular morality, the relevant ‘knowledge’ of such things which he deigns to display consists only of moldy straw-men.

        • Otto

          You think biblical slavery was moral…

        • I fear that Travis may have taken a course in Socratic dialogue, and now he’s going to use that technique to educate us.

          He missed the part about “It doesn’t work if your argument is shit.”

        • Susan

          I fear that Travis may taken a course in Socratic dialogue.

          An RCC course in Socratic dialogue. Which seems to me to be the opposite of what Socrates was trying to do.

          He missed the part about “It doesn’t work if your argument is shit.”

          Very loosely, then it has nothing to do with the dialogues attributed to Socrates.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “It doesn’t work if your argument is shit.”

          and isn’t remotely compelling if it makes no difference what the answer to the question is (which is the only shade of objectivity TW has ever offered–misidentified* iron pyrite).

          *EDIT: perhaps too patronizing to assume he misidentifies it, though in keeping with his apparent conviction that he (or at least one of his Authorities) has a firm grasp on the goods. less charitable explanation: he knows it’s nothing but a trick, and merely hopes to wow the more credulous lurker/fence-sitter.

        • Old Travis fooled by fool’s gold? Surely not.

        • To say that it is “unjust” or “unfair” is to say that his behavior goes against an objective standard.

          Look the words up in a dictionary and prove it.

          Oops. Wrong again.

          Terms like “right” or “wrong” have natively objective meanings.

          Show me.

        • Travis Wakeman

          When you said the word “wrong” above. Obviously you meant that I am wrong regardless of my opinion on the matter. You don’t mean that I am “subjectively wrong”. You’ve proven my point.

        • Dictionary. Waste of time. Adults’ table.

        • Herald Newman

          > Show me.

          Do you honestly expect Travis to do anything more than continue to play word games with you? He’s not interested in demonstrating what he believes, only in asserting it.

        • I’m a slow learner. I keep hoping that, by modeling thoughtful behavior, he’ll adapt.

          I believe I was mistaken.

        • Herald Newman

          Most of us try to have good intentions, but some people just can’t be reasoned with 🙂

        • Susan

          I keep hoping that, by modeling thoughtful behavior, he’ll adapt.

          Well, he probably won’t. I know it’s just a tiny little corner of the internet. But tiny little corners of the internet are the only places we’re allowed to state “I don’t believe you and here’s why.

          All theists have at this point is jello-sandwiches.

          They used to have jell-o sandwiches, the power of the sword, the power of community and academic prestige.

          Take away their swords, their prestige and their community power and they only have jell-o sandwiches.

          It’s a thankless job but someone has to do it for the sake of the lurkers. (I was one and was fortunate that I found a place where I was allowed to see the arguments for what they are and where patient, knowledgeable people spent some time addressing those arguments.)

          I keep having to remind myself that convincing the individual is not the point. My job is only to respectfully engage with their arguments.

          They don’t really have one. Just grand claims.

          One lurker every now and then makes it all worthwhile.

        • One lurker every now and then makes it all worthwhile.

          Thanks for restoring my faith, sister!

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m not always consciously considering the lurkers (sneaky buggers!), but when pressed to articulate Why We Fight/Bother, they’re pretty much #1 for my motivation. i’m still looking for an elegant aphorism along the lines of “everyone has a first time that they encounter any particular idea/perspective”. a sort of antidote to my least favorite Roman chestnut, “there is nothing new under the sun”.

        • MNb

          Keep on hoping. That attitude allows you to make some excellent comments I can’t make due my nasty attitude. I am a great fan of “many ways lead to Rome”.

        • 🙂

        • TheNuszAbides

          he’s too high on the affectation of a strong argument. if his atheist days consisted of similar inability to articulate any strength his authority’s argument had (a weakness i unfondly recall from several sides of the ‘fence’), no wonder his converted mind is so obstinate.

        • Otto

          Terms are objective…you know why they are objective?

          Because a whole bunch of people have agreed what the definitions of the words are. If you suddenly decide “car” means “rock” that does not make the definitions subjective because the rest of us have concluded you are wrong, since there is consensus the definitions are objective. You can then try and get everyone on board to change their minds regarding those definitions and agree with you but you are going to need a better argument than “my invisible friend agrees with me so you should too”.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So if everyone decided that 2+2=5 would that suddenly change the laws of mathematics? Consensus does not grant objectivity.

        • Herald Newman

          2+2 = 4 because of axioms and definitions. Change those axioms, and definitions and yes, 2+2=5 could be a valid result.

        • Travis Wakeman

          2+2=5 could only be a valid result if you semantically altered “5” to be the symbol for IIII.

        • Herald Newman

          One can also alter the definition of “+”, or the definition of “2”. It’s not like numbers, or operators, have any objective meaning.

        • Travis Wakeman

          The symbols we assign don’t. The referent which we connect in our mind with the symbol does.

        • Herald Newman

          Prove it!

        • Travis Wakeman

          Try to come up with a way to visualize 2+2=5 without simply switching the symbol of “5” to what you normally associate with the symbol for “4”. You can’t.

        • Herald Newman

          Sure I can.
          I define the operator + as being a binary operator which always gives the result of 5.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You can’t visualize it without redefining the symbols. Try taking II fingers in each hand and putting them side by side, now count the number of fingers that you have together. The will be IIII not IIIII (unless you’re really bad at following directions). This object of IIII is unchangeable just like the math.

        • Herald Newman

          > You can’t visualize it without redefining the symbols.

          No shit! When this started I stated that you could redefine the axioms and definitions and make 2+2=5 a valid mathematical conclusion. Perhaps you should learn to read!

          When you’re talking about mathematics, any statement like 2+2=4 actually has a bunch of assumptions behind it, none of which are anything more than something we agree upon.

          The fact that you can also take the traditional mathematical definitions, and map them onto reality, is what makes them useful, but doesn’t make them objective.

          EDIT: That you can’t seem to get passed your own underlying assumptions has been the problem with every single thread one this discussion. It’s your problem, not ours!

        • Travis Wakeman

          If the “assumptions” are something that we have “merely agreed upon” then they would be plastic and malleable. You would be able to make 2+2=5 with just your mind, without changing the symbols.

        • Herald Newman

          > If the “assumptions” are something that we have “merely
          > agreed upon” then they would be plastic and malleable

          They are! We just agree to this set of definitions because they happen to be useful.

          You seem to be as ignorant about mathematics as you are about every other topic that’s come up on this discussion. I don’t know whether to class you as a completely clueless dolt, or a troll. Either way, you offer nothing to any conversation. You belong now to my kill file.

        • Travis Wakeman

          They are USEFUL because they are objectively true, not plastic and malleable. You should study more about platonic forms.

        • Greg G.

          The set of definitions is not objectively true, they are plastic and malleable. Yet they are useful because they are agreed upon even if some people do not. That’s how morality works, too.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Your comfusing semantics for the objects to which the words and concepts are referring to.

        • Greg G.

          Is “1.9… + 1.9… = 3.9…” a true statement?

          It depends on how the notation is defined. If the three dots mean “precisely that decimal”, then it is false. If it means “the preceding digit is continued indefinitely”, then it is a true statement.

          You are comfusing morality with objects.

        • “Comfusing”? That’s Travis’s sole innovation! I’ll have to use it more often.

        • Greg G.

          I was hoping it was intentional creativity.

        • Otto

          No it wouldn’t.

          But now you are talking about something that can be directly connected to the reality we share. 2+2=5 can be demonstrated to be false. When you can connect your objective morality to the reality outside of ourselves we share you be sure to let us know. Until then you have lost the argument because you have failed to do so time and time again..

        • Travis Wakeman

          So now you agree that what is “objectively true” isn’t determined by consensus, right?

        • Otto

          No I don’t. If you look up the word “objective” it has more than one meaning. What you want to do is conflate the definitions of the word…something that religious Apologists do quite frequently. What your are doing is intellectually dishonest.

          And additionally you continue to fail to tie human morality to something exterior to ourselves, so not only are you being dishonest but you have lost the argument with the definition of the term you are using it in.

          We have legal definitions for different types of killing. Murder in the first degree, manslaughter, murder in the second degree, etc. Those definitions are objective in that they are agreed upon, that does not mean they can’t be changed, or if they are changed they were not objective.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I’ve tied morality to God’s immutable nature before in this thread.

        • Otto

          That is nothing but a mere assertion.

          I could say morality was tied to the invisible pixies in my garden and it would be equally valid.

        • Pofarmer

          Just remember. This is someone who’s morality says it’s more important to protect the Church than to protect children being raped by Priests. That’s his object time morality.

        • Greg G.

          “object time”

          I recognize that Spellcheck miscorrection.

        • Pofarmer

          Thanks.

        • Otto

          My response would be to then cut in front of him because in my ‘subjective’ morality it is OK to cut in front of someone who has cut in front of me.

          Just like killing. I don’t find killing another human being to be generally the best option…unless some person is trying to kill me, then I find it perfectly acceptable.

          If you are going to argue there is a morality that exists independent of ourselves you need to show that and not just assert it. Short of that I am justified to say your claim is baseless and lacks merit.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Then he cuts right back in front of you and before you know it you are in a contest of force because there is no other way to arbitrate your disagreement.

        • Otto

          Then others in the line take notice and they arbitrate, they know they have followed the rules of the line and they know if he is allowed to cut in front of me then anybody else can do the same to them. All of us like minded anti line cutters outnumber the others and we enforce our morality by banishing line cutters from even getting in line.

          Now your turn…if a guy cuts in front of you are you going to tell him that he can’t do that because your invisible friend has declared line cutting wrong? Do you think he will honor your view? How are you going to demonstrate…

          A) That your invisible friend exists
          B) That your invisible friend thinks line cutting is wrong
          C) That your invisible friend is actually correct in his assessment.

          You have the same problem I would have but now you have compounded the issue beyond any hope of resolution. Well done.

        • Travis Wakeman

          But you’re saying that there are no real “rules” for the line. You’re just appealing to force. Might makes right is the best you can do.

          Aquinas’ Cosmological argument.

        • Otto

          No you are wrong. There are rules for the line, the line rules are socially agreed upon much like the definitions of words are.

          Aquinas’ Cosmological argument is fallacious and flawed so that does not help one bit.

        • Michael Neville

          Aquinas’ cosmological argument depends on special pleading to prevent infinite recursion. Another, more pertinent, objection is that even assuming that there is a first cause, the argument utterly fails to address how we can know its identity. The assertion that it must be the particular God that the arguer has in mind is a complete non sequitur. Why not a deist god? Why not some kind of impersonal, eternal cosmic force? Why not aliens from another dimension? Or maybe the simplest of all, why not the Big Bang as the first cause? There is nothing in the argument that would allow one to determine any attributes of the first cause.

        • Greg G.

          We agree as a society on morals. Most people obey the agree upon rules of morality. If someone doesn’t, people remember the act so he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt later. If someone steps in front of you in line, maybe the guy behind you is an off-duty police officer and recognizes the guy when he pulls him over to give him a warning but decides to write him a ticket.

          You act like a jerk, people will treat you like a jerk. It’s just how games theory works out.

        • Susan

          If someone steps in front of you in line, maybe the guy behind you is an off-duty police officer and recognizes the guy when he pulls him over to give him a warning but decides to write him a ticket.

          I remember how strong the rule was in kindergarten. “Don’t bud!” and “Hey! He budded!” It was visceral. (“Don’t bud!” was the term when I was five in the locality I found myself.)

          About two years later, it hit me that it was an absurd principle that no one questioned in a group of kids who were lining up to go back to the classroom after recess when most of them preferred recess.

          Also, that “bud” was a strange word that only applied to one situation and only when that visceral thing was challenged.

          They were vying for their rightful place in line to go from somewhere they wanted to be back to somewhere they didn’t want to be.

          From this, Travis thinks we can derive “objective morality”.

          He has to ignore hundreds of millions of years of evolution to do so and at least, a much shorter version of mammalian and primate behaviour to do so, but that is still much older than humans are.

          Human behaviour didn’t just fall out of a heavenly cloud.

          Travis thinks “Don’t bud.” is evidence for an immaterial agent.

          And he (edit) hasn’t doesn’t seem to have questioned it since kindergarten.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Then if society agreed that it is right to kill a subset of the population, that would make it right?

        • Greg G.

          It depends. Sacrificing someone for religious reasons would be an unjustifiable reason to kill people, indeed.

          There have been tribes that live in places where survival is tough. Every few decades there may be a time when there is not enough food to feed everyone. The elderly would then feel obligated by their culture to leave the group for certain death on their own to give their progeny a better chance of survival.

          I have heard that there are tribes that live high in the mountains of New Guinea. Protein at that altitude is hard to come by so any insect is a valuable meal. If a stranger is found in a tribe’s territory, it is considered immoral to not kill him because he is either there to steal food from your family or is planning an attack on your family.

          I expect that some of our ancestors would have lived that way, too. The existence of the human race may have been saved by such practices when the population was declining to under 100,000 people fewer than 100,000 years ago.

          Do you think it was right for the Hebrews to kill all the Canaanites except for the virgin girls?

        • Travis Wakeman

          You said that their deciding it was right makes it right. Contingent upon will alone, not on outside reasons. Was it right for the Nazis to kill the Jews because they decided as a society that it was right for that minority subset to die?

          http://christianthinktank.com/qamorite.html

        • Greg G.

          You said that their deciding it was right makes it right.

          Is it right for you to tell lies about what I said? I changed the question to “unjustifiable”. The only time I used the word “right” was in the question at the end that you cannot answer.

          I think the Nazis were wrong to not reject the teachings of the Catholic Church and the teachings of Martin Luther about the Jews completely and especially wrong to take them literally.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Are you arguing that they thought it was wrong? Are you arguing that Jesus didn’t take the side of the Nazis?

          In the Court of Freewill:

          Jewish people: God we don’t want to be murdered by the Nazis. Please, don’t even make that a conceivable, sensical possibility using your omnipotence!

          Nazis: Gott Mitt Uns! Please, it is more important that we get to murder those Christ-murdering children of the Devil, according to your own carefully chosen well-thought out words! Use your omnipotence to make sessation of existence (death) a possibility achievable by bullets, disease, starvation, fire, gases, etc instead of the reality warping shit you pulled in Daniel where fire doesn’t have to burn and suffocate people to death at all (that could mean weird possibilities like suffering and dying being completely unfathomable nonsense that only people as fucked in the head as we are would ever see as needing to be defined).

          Jesus god of the Bible: I’m okay with you killing the descendendents of attempted me-murdering Satan fuck-bastards, but I am not Okay with the death thing- I want to be even worse to them than any other monster could ever be. Just make sure you ask for forgiveness for accepting my permission to do what will be recorded you did in the history books or I will punish you……………………. eventually. I’m just, remember?

        • adam

          If a character in a collection of stories agrees that is it right, does THAT make it right?

        • Greg G.

          If God said that picking up sticks on the sabbath was wrong and worthy of death, is it objectively moral to pick up sticks the other six days of the week but objectively immoral on the seventh?

          If Jesus later teaches that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, so doing things on the sabbath are not a big deal, is it still objectively immoral to pick up sticks on the sabbath?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Is Jesus actually later teaching that the sabbath is “no big deal?”

        • Greg G.

          If morality is objective, you should be able to answer the question without clarification.

          Is it objectively moral to pick up sticks six days of the week?

          Is it objectively immoral to pick up sticks on the seventh day of the week?

          Is it objectively immoral to not kill the man who picks up sticks on the seventh day?

          How can you objectively know which day the sabbath was?

          If there is objective morality, how would you know what it is?

          If we can’t objectively determine which day is the sabbath, can we morally pick up sticks?

          Do we just pick up any old text and follow whatever morality it dictates?

        • Travis Wakeman

          Why would my answer to the question prove that morality is objective?

          We would need to dig into the context in which this revelation that the 7th day of the week is given. We would also need to ask ourselves why it is that God is giving us this command. Is it arbitrary or is it being given because of something else? Maybe it addresses a fundamental aspect of our human nature (that we are designed by nature to operate within rhythms).

        • Greg G.

          Why would my answer to the question prove that morality is objective?

          If there was an objective morality, how would we know what it is? Are we left to guess what is objectively moral? Even if we all agree what is moral, is it from natural selection for the most successful reproductive strategy but is objectively immoral for ineffable reasons? If we don’t have a definite source for objective morality, how do we know? Since what is considered moral is different in different times, different cultures and different people, objective morality cannot be understood objectively. All we can do is act on our own subjective understanding.

          If morality were objective, you could answer the questions. The answers should be moral but you know they aren’t.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I think that even if a god were to eliminate all dissenters, morality would still be subjective because it has been shown that other moralities can exist. A commenter I was talking to on Godless in Dixie tried to get around this with the word salad “opinions of morals”.

        • MNb

          No. While I can argue that people shouldn’t be raped in the end it’s my subjective opinion, mixed with the emotion called empathy.
          2000+ Years ago people in western culture held the exact opposite opinion, as for instance documented in the Old Testament. There is no way to decide between the two views.

        • Travis Wakeman

          No, you DO think that it is objectively true that it is wrong to rape people? Congrats you’re a moral realist then!

        • MNb

          Please reread the first two letters of my comment. Or must I explain to you what they mean?

        • Travis Wakeman

          You said no, answering in the negative to my question. Count the negatives fella.

        • MNb

          Then pardon me for not being a native English speaker. In my native language “no” is the abbreviation for “no, I don’t think that.”
          Congratlautions for you being a jerk neglecting what I wrote after “no”, which should have set you on the right track. Enjoy your victory.

        • Travis Wakeman

          YAY!

        • adam

          Hey better than a “God of Abraham” follower….

        • adam

          Of course not, ,even the bible “God” didnt think so.

        • Eric Sotnak

          I would say that we experience them. The disposition to experience affectively is built-in to our nature. So, for example, no one needs to teach us that painful experiences are, in themselves, bad. And (since I think I know where you are trying to go with your question) if God were to declare the painfulness of being burned in a fire a good thing apart from any instrumental purpose thereof, he would be wrong. This is why I find authoritative foundations for ethics to implausible, and opt, instead, for experiential foundations.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Is the experience invented or discovered?

        • Eric Sotnak

          Experienced are experienced. Think of the last time you stubbed your toe and felt pain. Is the pain invented? No. Is it discovered? That would be a weird thing to say, though I suppose there is a sense in which you discovered that stubbing your toe hurts. It was also unpleasant. Was the unpleasantness invented? No. Was it discovered? Again, that would be a weird way of putting it, but you could say you discovered that stubbing your toe is unpleasant.

    • Dys

      The whole idea of western natural rights is itself a product of Christian theology.

      Not really. It’s more a result of enlightenment thinking and the classical deism that many of its prominent thinkers endorsed.

      • MNb

        You could say that Enlightenment was heavily influenced by christian thinking – except that it threw the Biblical god out of the window. Humanism for instance goes back to the 16th Century (specifically thinkers like Erasmus and More) who where christians. I’m not sure if TW means that.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Oh please the enlightenment is overrated.

        • MNb

          The Enlightenment was opposed from the beginning – by Romanticism for instance. The Romantics had a strong point and is equally influential today. However you’ll find it hard to link Romanticism to christian theology.
          Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at the Donald.

        • Travis Wakeman

          I mean that the term “enlightenment” is silly because there was never a “dark ages” to wake up from. Show me one academic historian who subscribes to the idea that the middle ages were a period of intellectual stagnation…

        • MNb

          So your comment is nothing but a semantic discussion.
          Yawn. Invent a better term. I don’t care.
          Why would I show you? I don’t hold that position myself. Plus Enlightenment was not a reaction to the Middle Ages. You hardly make any sense anymore.

        • Travis Wakeman

          There is no such thing as a disinteresting subject, only a disinterested mind…

        • MNb

          I didn’t contradict that. You have nothing substantial left to say, so it seems.

        • Pofarmer

          He never had anything substantial to say.

        • I think you’ll find that the rate of scientific and technological progress in the last 200 years to be far more than that in the medieval period.

        • Travis Wakeman

          You’re actually going to subscribe to the “Dark Ages” hypothesis? Oh please, please say you will!

        • I just stated my position. You want to challenge it? Make my day.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Can you give us a substantive metric for measuring “rate” and “progress”?

        • MNb

          Amount of experiments done per century.
          Amount of formulas formulated per century.
          Amount of technological inventions per century.

          The 20th Century outnumbers on all three accounts every single century before.
          Heck, even a theologian like Teilhard de Chardin with his silly Omega Point recognizes it.

        • Greg G.

          Technology and medical knowledge regressed from the Roman era until ancient Greek texts became available to Christian Europe. The fact that writings that were over a thousand years old added so much to their knowledge base shows how far they had regressed.

        • MNb

          That’s not correct. The ancient Greek knowledge was maintained both in Byzantium and the Arab Empire. At the other hand western Europe always had been backward compared to the rest of the Roman Empire. The intellectual centers, Athens, Bagdad and Alexandria all were in the est. The mistake you make here is thinking of the German kingdoms as the successor states of the Roman Empire. They were only partly, very partly of only a part of that Empire and certainly not regarding intellectual life. However that doesn’t help TW out. Any intellectual progress made in Byzantium and the Arab Empire was triggered by influences from India.
          The big exception was John Scotus. Where he came from is unknown. That he didn’t have a lasting influence is due to the Norsemen literally devastating Ireland.

        • Greg G.

          Western Europe could have had the knowledge of Rome but chose Christianity instead. Christianity provided no blessings to those who adopted it except when they imported knowledge from elsewhere.

        • MNb

          “Western Europe could have had the knowledge of Rome.”
          No. It never had the educational structure. What educational structure was there was destroyed by barbarian invasions that lasted about 600 frigging years.

          “Christianity provided no blessings to those who adopted it except when they imported knowledge from elsewhere.”
          Correct. That’s exactly why the example of Byzantium is so important.

        • What MNb said.

        • Myna A.

          Oh please the enlightenment is overrated.

          Then call it by its 18th century movement, The Age of Reason. Whatever term you wish to employ, it was Christianity’s Waterloo as a political power.

        • Travis thinks back on the good old days, when Christianity was in charge. Like 1200.

        • Myna A.

          Ah yes, an active century for the sorrowful nostalgic. Crusades, mass slaughter of fellow human beings, Inquistions. All sorts of earthly delights by heaven’s decree.
          http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/christian/blchron_xian_medieval4.htm

        • Well, that was a particularly nasty time to be alive in Europe. Thanks for the timeline.

        • Greg G.

          But they did acquire ancient Greek knowledge from them.

        • MNb

          Please note that it was during the zenith of medieval intellectual life. Thomas of Aquino lived from 1225 to 1274.

        • A helpful addition, thanks.

        • Travis Wakeman

          Lol! Nothing “reasonable” about it.

  • Sheila Warner

    You had me at the cartoon. Great post!

  • T-Paine

    729 comments. Most of them arguing with one commenter. Another episode of:

    http://img15.deviantart.net/ca8c/i/2012/316/a/b/down_the_rabbit_hole_by_jcjessica-d5kqxq7.jpg

    • Travis Wakeman

      It’s interesting that on a post that was originally about how secularism serves as a better foundation for the constitution- we have quite a few secularists arguing that things like rape, murder, etc aren’t inherently wrong and are mere social conventions- which means that they are fluid and not concrete foundations of the law- which really undermines the original article’s point.

      • Greg G.

        It doesn’t matter if they are not intrinsically wrong if we agree that they are wrong in the society we wish to live in.

        Did the end of Jesus’ death justify the means of being falsely declared guilty?

        • Travis Wakeman

          The Nazis agreed that they wished to live in a society without Jews or inferior peoples. Nothing intrinsically wrong with them concluding that though, right?

          It was morally wrong for Christ to be sentenced to death. It was the pinnacle of goodness for Christ to willingly go to his death.

        • MNb

          “Nothing intrinsically wrong with them concluding that though, right?”
          Right., Now what?
          Let me guess.
          “Then secularists cannot really condemn nzism.”
          Except that they totally really do.
          You simply don’t have a point and are too dishonest to admit it.

        • Travis Wakeman

          After saying that nothing is intrinsically wrong, upon what basis do you condemn the Nazis? You “just don’t like what they are doing in your personal opinions” is different from saying that their actions are an affront to objective and immutable rights of human beings.

          It’s like saying that chocolate is better than vanilla. If neither one is intrinsically any better than any other- then isn’t the best course of action just to leave each to their own? Different strokes for different folks.

        • MNb

          “upon what basis do you condemn the Nazis?”
          My basis is utilitarian. Happiness is to be preferred to being not happy. Nazis didn’t exactly make their victims happy. It’s as easy is that.

          “Different strokes for different folks.”
          Excellent argument for utilitarianism.

        • Travis Wakeman

          And yet it isn’t objectively true that happiness is to be maximized?

        • Greg G.

          Nope, biological life is about reproduction. Our intellectual capabilities are another means to that end. But it has also allowed us to create civilizations and technology. Our civilizations and technology have enabled us to mold the world to enable us to pursue happiness.

        • MNb

          Of course not. How could it be? Happiness itself is subjective. What makes you happy (praying for instance) won’t necessarily make me happy. Was that so difficult that you had to ask it?
          If someone is determined to remain unhappy – and such people do exist – I won’t prevent him/her.

        • Greg G.

          No, our personal opinions are our values. What the Nazis did was inconsistent with our values. What they did was inconsistent with your values, too, but the Nazis’ values were based on their Christian teachings that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “After saying that nothing is intrinsically wrong, upon what basis do you condemn the Nazis?”

          You have the answer before you. Nothing is intrinsically wrong, therefore the lack of intrinsic wrongness cannot create intrinsic wrongness for condemning those actions of the Nazis as wrong. We are all operating on subjective judgement that are relatively different to one another, but these judgements are not arbitrary in the way you imply. We persons conflict with each other. The many shades of theism present god as no better.

          “It’s like saying that chocolate is better than vanilla. If neither one is intrinsically any better than any other- then isn’t the best course of action just to leave each to their own? Different strokes for different folks.”

          What moral grounding has a god provided if the takeaway from you is that like your imaginary freind, you only care for yourself. Damn the consequences!

        • Greg G.

          The Nazis agreed that they wished to live in a society without Jews or inferior peoples. Nothing intrinsically wrong with them concluding that though, right?

          I don’t believe it was right for the Nazis to do that because that is not the kind of world I want to live in. Do you believe it was right for the ancient Hebrews to commit genocide on “the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites” for the same reasons. If you think it was right for the Hebrews to do that, then you are admitting that you don’t think it is intrinsically wrong to commit genocide, either. If you think it is intrinsically, you are rejecting God’s command or rejecting the Bible as a record of God’s command.

          It was morally wrong for Christ to be sentenced to death. It was the pinnacle of goodness for Christ to willingly go to his death.

          But did that pinnacle of goodness (the end) justify the sentence of death (the means)? There is no use in avoiding answering the question that is asked. It is a simple yes or no answer. We know that you cannot answer it because your religion doesn’t give you an answer. You need to look for a better religion.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So if that was the kind of world that you DO want to live in, then their actions would be moral? You really don’t think that their actions were actually immoral regardless of what you think about them?

          Hebrews didn’t commit genocide. http://christianthinktank.com/qamorite.html

          The Canaanites, etc really can be seen as analogous to the Nazis when you do a little studying up on them. They certainly got their just deserts.

          Your question is incoherent, sorry. I don’t think you know the difference between an end and a means to an end. You’re just saying that” X led to Y so X is a means to the end of Y”.

        • Greg G.

          So if that was the kind of world that you DO want to live in, then their actions would be moral? You really don’t think that their actions were actually immoral regardless of what you think about them?

          I want to live my life in a world with peace and harmony and without oppression. Actions that oppress or reduce peace and harmony should be prevented and discouraged.

          Hebrews didn’t commit genocide.

          Technically, the Nazis didn’t either but they tried. They may have been succesful if they hadn’t gone down the wrong path trying to develop the atomic bomb. The Bible says God commanded the Hebrews to commit genocide but they didn’t do it. The archaeology shows us that the whole story is bullshit.

          The Canaanites, etc really can be seen as analogous to the Nazis when you do a little studying up on them. They certainly got their just deserts.

          That is what the Bible says but it is false. If it was true, there should have been a clear demarcation with a turnover of culture. Why would the Hebrews wipe out a culture, then follow it? But it appears that the cultures were living peacefully with each other, even according to the Bible. It wasn’t the Canaanites that were acting like the Nazis, that would have been a world power of the day.

          Your question is incoherent, sorry. I don’t think you know the difference between an end and a means to an end. You’re just saying that” X led to Y so X is a means to the end of Y”.

          My question is very clear. Your cognitive dissonance is making it hard for you to face the question. X is the means, Y is the end. You may be anticipating the question of whether the redemption of Christianity justifies the torture and death of Jesus? Is that any easier for you to answer?

        • Pofarmer

          This one seems particularly Clueless

        • TheNuszAbides

          exceptionally willfully so.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the way he flaunts bias doesn’t appear to allow for dissonance. of course that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ‘over’ it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          We know that you cannot answer it because your religion doesn’t give you an answer.

          and because he won’t even play the if-game with the is/ought distinction.

      • No, what’s interesting is that you’ve used the idea of something being inherently wrong many times and yet, despite being encouraged to do so, you refuse to show that this actually exists.

        Or perhaps what’s interesting is that you have nothing with which to back this up and refuse to admit it and retract your claim.

        • Travis Wakeman

          So you agree with them that human beings don’t have any inherent rights? Tell me more about how secularism upholds the Constitutional ideals…

        • Are inherent rights mentioned in the Constitution?

          This conversation really can’t proceed until you justify the existence of inherent rights and tell us how they work and how we access them. Or admit that you can’t.

        • Lex Lata

          I can see why our patience with Travis is wearing thin, but his point here isn’t entirely baseless.

          The notion of certain inherent (or inalienable or natural) rights was widely accepted by Enlightnment political and legal thinkers, including Locke, Blackstone, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and many others. Its roots go back to classical times–Aristotle discussed φυσικό δίκαιο, a kind of universal or natural justice, and copious Roman sources, such as Cicero (whom Adams and Jefferson adored), refined an influential theory of ius naturale, or natural law. This theory took on Christian trappings during the Middle Ages, and then turned in a more deistic direction during the Enlightenment. (A simplification, to be sure, but an accurate one.)

          The Constitution might not have the exact words “inherent rights” (or somesuch formulation), but its architects and authors certainly subscribed to a version of natural legal theory to which such rights were central. So I think it’s possible that had the Framers been legal positivists rather than natural law proponents, the Constitution might have been different in certain respects. For instance, I can imagine ways in which the wording in the Bill of Rights might change. But who knows?

          Coincidentally enough, I recently came across this in Sir Henry Sumner Maine’s Ancient Law: “Indeed, it is not easy to say what turn the history of thought, and therefore of the human race, would have taken, if the belief in a law natural had not become universal” among the jurisconsults of Greek and Roman antiquity. It’s not unreasonable to ponder the same what-if with regard to Enlightenment political philosophy.

        • Susan

          Tell me more about how secularism upholds the Constitutional ideals…

          If human rights were inherent, you wouldn’t need a constitution that can be aimed at guaranteeing the rights of humans.

          See history.

        • TheNuszAbides

          his Platonic Forms Card doesn’t acknowledge that anything needs backing up in the way you suggest.

      • T-Paine

        Go away.

      • MNb

        “which really undermines the original article’s point.”
        Only in your overheated fantasy.
        I may be a non-American, but I seem to remember that the American Constitution can be changed when some complicated procedures are followed. That only makes sense on “social conventions” that politically have been lifted to the status of concrete legal foundations.
        This certainly applies to the constitutions of both my native country and the country where I live. But I understand that religious bigots like you would prefer to use badly outdated Biblical stuff to lay the unchangeable legal foundations, thus turning the nation into a theocracy like Iran.

        • TheNuszAbides

          butbutbut it would be so different from Iran … because very shiny platonic reasons!

        • MNb

          Ah yes, platonic reasons …. never mind that Plato’s political ideals were the ancient equivalent of fascism.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he had exquisite opinions on the job security of philosopher-kings!

      • RodKuehn

        There are no inherent rights. Rape, murder are not inherently wrong and are mere social conventions that continue to be refined as society evolves and thinks more deeply about the various aspects of rape and murder.

        Not that long ago spousal rape was considered a contradiction in terms. Murder still does not carry that name if done in a corporate context.

        We say they are “inherent” because we start our evaluation at a time when these values were shared. Go back a bit further and you’ll find different views.

  • Rt1583

    “How do we know that these fundamental rights didn’t come from Christianity? Because when Christianity was in charge, society didn’t have them!”
    An argument often made by Christians is that the founding fathers were Christian and therefore the country/government is Christian.
    What they fail to acknowledge though is that in founding the country and government they did so with the full intent of being wholly different from the government and country they rebelled against.
    This is an understandable omission on their part as it doesn’t just poke holes in their argument, it rips the foundation cleanly away.