A Distillation of Crazy

A Distillation of Crazy October 15, 2018

John Warwick Montgomery was the William Lane Craig of his day. According to his web site, he is “considered by many to be the foremost living apologist for biblical Christianity.” He’s quite proud of his 11 earned degrees, including three doctorates, and he likes to be introduced using the European convention, “Dr Dr Dr Montgomery.”

I attended his two-week International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights in Strasbourg, France in 2011. Despite assurances to the contrary, it didn’t make me a believer.

I went to find the best apologetics arguments. Was the good stuff backstage, reserved for the serious students of the art? I wanted to see. What I found was the same tired arguments.

Dr Dr Dr Montgomery was a guest on a Christian radio show and was asked to respond to Bart Ehrman’s book How Jesus Became God (2014). Here are a few excerpts that highlight the thinking of the “foremost living apologist.” I think you’ll agree that it’s a rich vein of crazy.

I suppose it’s nice that [Ehrman] wants everybody to love each other, but if there isn’t any god and there’s no last judgment, I’d like to know why anyone should bother with anybody else. I mean certainly, it would be looking out for Number One. . . . It would be a matter of feathering our own nest and certainly not paying attention to anybody else.

You don’t know why anyone should bother with anyone else? The reason isn’t hard to find—evolution selects for positive traits like trustworthiness, generosity, and self-sacrifice in social animals like apes (which includes us). We find those traits laudable because evolution has made that part of our programming. But the reason is irrelevant. We obviously don’t just look out for Number One, so Montgomery’s instincts have led him astray.

If being a Christian is what’s keeping some people from being thieves and murderers, I guess it’s good that they’re Christian.

Montgomery continues:

And all of the horrors of atheistic totalitarianisms could never be criticized; there isn’t any last judgment; Hitler and Stalin—they just die like anybody else, and they can get away with it.

(1) Show me just one person killed in the name of atheism. Can’t do it, can you? There is nothing behind atheism except for the lack of belief in gods—that’s all it is. Christianity and other religions, by contrast, have libraries of books analyzing their holy books and traditions—or criticizing the analysis or traditions of other sects of their religion.

(I respond to the “Stalin was a murderer and he was an atheist!” argument here.)

Atheism makes no moral claims or demands. It provides no moral framework. That’s not a lack; it’s just a fact. (Contrast it with the elaborate morality we find in the Bible that looks pretty shabby when examined in a modern light.)

(2) Montgomery says that the horrors of evil regimes “could never be criticized,” but of course nonbelievers criticize wrongdoing all the time. What he means, I’m sure, is that they can’t criticize while also rejecting Christianity’s objective morality. But that’s nonsense as well. There is no evidence supporting claims of objective morality. My moral relativism (morality is sourced inside people, not outside) has no problem pointing out errors. Where you and I differ on moral issues, I think you’re wrong—who does it any differently?

(3) He thinks that evil dictators have their way with the world and then just die, avoiding any punishment.

In the first place, that a worldview has a more pleasing view about something than another is no indication of the correctness of that worldview. I hope we can agree that truth is the bottom line.

In the second, yeah, bad people sometimes just get away with it. That bothers me, too, but what are you going to do about it? It’s reality. Aren’t we adults here? I can’t consider this view without imagining a furious red-faced five-year-old stamping her feet because she didn’t get her way.

In the third place, why is the Christian view of justice any more satisfying? Maybe Stalin or Hitler had deathbed conversions. They could be up in heaven right now, playing canasta with Jesus or giving him a foot massage. How is that justice for their crimes?

Once more from Montgomery:

A society without a foundation in a belief in God and in the last judgment is a society in which people will try to get away with anything they possibly can, and it’s simply an invitation to chaos, bedlam, and anarchy. Poor Ehrman is obviously entirely unaware of the consequences of the belief system that he represents.

Chaos, bedlam, and anarchy? I’ll keep that in mind if I need a name for a band. Or a blog.

Evolution nicely explains why people don’t always try to get away with murder. And history is full of non-Christian societies from around the world where people were sort of good and sort of bad, just like today—ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, for starters.

As for clueless Ehrman bumbling through life unaware of what his belief system means, I often hear this obnoxious and groundless confidence. I guess you double down on confidence when you don’t have an actual argument.

If the Bible and my brain are both the work of the same infinite god,
whose fault is it that the book and my brain do not agree?
— Robert G. Ingersoll

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/19/14.)

Wikimedia / Image public domain

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  • Jim Jones

    > In the third place, why is the Christian view of justice any more satisfying? Maybe Stalin or Hitler had deathbed conversions.

    Hitler remained a fully communicating Catholic until the day of his death. Anne Frank died a faithful Jew.

    My question: Is it fair that Jesus died on the cross so that Adolf Hitler could go to heaven and Anne Frank would go to hell? Is it just that Jesus rose from the dead so that Jeffrey Dahmer could go to heaven and Carl Sagan would go to hell?

    Apologists are awful.

    Conrad Black and John Lennox do a terrible job of supporting Christianity.

    https://youtu.be/cPV11XJllkk?t=43

    Conrad Black: The shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist

    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/conrad-black-the-shabby-shallow-world-of-the-militant-atheist

    Conrad Black: A reply to my atheist critics — they protest too much

    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/conrad-black-a-reply-to-my-atheist-critics-they-protest-too-much

    • I kind of doubt Black is really a believer. That would require admitting there’s a power higher than himself.

      • Jim Jones

        It astonishes me that he thinks that John Lennox is a competent and convincing apologist.

    • epicurus

      John Lennox makes me gag- he plays up his unrelated academic credentials and then makes the most asinine, out of touch apologetic comments.

      Heck, John LennoN would make a better Christian Apologist.

      • Ignorant Amos

        How do ya think he makes me feel…I cringe when he opens his gob…am embarrassed to be a fellow Northern Irishman…between him and that other Northern Irish religious goatskin Alistair McGrath…apologetic fuckwits both.

        • epicurus

          Uuggh, McGrath, I tried to get through his “The Twilight of Atheism,” but couldn’t do it if I wanted to preserve my sanity.

    • Good point. I should’ve said “deathbed confessions that made them right with God.”

    • Lennox is “one of the most rational and persuasive advocates of a Christian theistic view of the world.”

      Y’know, he might actually be right. Lennox’s pathetic, sad, credulous, and childish arguments might be about as good as they get.

    • Mike Panic

      The christian view of justice is so satisfying because they get to beat and hideously torture confessions out of anyone they think might be guilty. THEN they kill them for “confessing.”

      • Jim Jones

        Sounds like the Saud ‘family’.

        • Mike Panic

          Maybe they sawed him into little pieces while still alive?

        • Jim Jones

          God knows. Those fuckers need a bullet to the brain.

      • Greg G.

        Don’t forget about killing them AFTER they torture the victim until they implicate others, then do the same to the other people.

        • Mike Panic

          OOPS! LOL

  • RichardSRussell

    Maybe Stalin or Hitler had deathbed conversions.

    Hitler didn’t need a deathbed conversion. “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.”—Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941

    So, according to certain theologies, he had a “get out of hell free” card tucked into his canasta deck. So much for the superiority of “objective” religious morality.

    • Well, according to Catholicism at least he would need to have gotten absolved first (and they can’t absolve suicide). Rudolf Hoss though, the Auschwitz commandant, did indeed do this prior to being hanged. Thus by Catholic doctrine yes, he’ll be in Heaven eventually.

      • RichardSRussell

        My main point, admittedly not clearly stated, was that it’s simply inaccurate to paint Hitler’s atrocities as the inevitable result of his atheism, because he wasn’t an atheist.

        • epicurus

          Yes, there are no shortages of him mentioning God, destiny, providence, etc in his speeches, if he really were an atheist, it would seem odd.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Atheists were barred from SS membership.

          “What is your oath?” “I vow to you, Adolf Hitler, as Führer and chancellor of the German Reich loyalty and bravery. I vow to you and to the leaders that you set for me, absolute allegiance until death. So help me God !” “So you believe in a God ?” – “Yes, I believe in a Lord God.” “What do you think about a man who does not believe in a God ?” – “I think he is arrogant, megalomaniacal and stupid; he is not eligible for us.”

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Waffen-SS#Atheism

        • epicurus

          And we don’t even need to start on Hitler’s love of Wagnerian opera, no shortage of divinity in those (although I’ve never felt like sitting through a Ring Cycle to verify that)

        • Oh, well I agree with that of course. Whatever his specific beliefs, he definitely appears to have believed in a god.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          After the atrocities committed by Hitler and Stalin, the thing we must realize is that it’s not atheists we must fear, nor Christians, but men with mustaches.

        • Wile F. Coyote

          Case in point: John Bolton, current National Security Advisor (I shit you not)

        • RichardSRussell

          I quake in my boots at the mere contemplation of Tom Selleck and Geraldo Rivera, to say nothing of the total meltdown I’d suffer in their actual presence.

        • epeeist
        • That’s some serious mustachery.

        • RichardSRussell

          Thank you, Crocodile Dundee!

        • Pofarmer

          Ok.. That’s funny shit right there.

        • Greg G.

          But they didn’t have pencil-thin mustaches, not like suave Errol Flynn:

          https://youtu.be/cXQS4S3vgGA

        • Another man, another mustache.

          QUOTE: “According to the works of the Iranian historian Rashid al-Din (1247–1318), the Mongols killed more than 700,000 people in Merv and more than a million in Nishapur. The total population of Persia may have dropped from 2,500,000 to 250,000 as a result of mass extermination and famine.” UN-QUOTE

          Image of Gengis Khan

          https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/assassinscreed/images/6/6e/AC_WIYB_Genghis_Khan.PNG

      • Ignorant Amos

        Did he commit suicide though?

        The story goes that he took cyanide and then shot himself in the swede. A bit of overkill if ya ask me. A recent examination of his remains found blue stains on his teeth, evidence of cyanide poisoning, but no evidence of the gun shot.

        Only Hitler and Eva were in the room at the time they died…allegedly. A gunshot was heard and when their private rooms were entered, the both of them were tatty bread. It’s most likely he did off himself and Eva…but nothing is certain.

        *end of conspiracy theory* //s

        • Greg G.

          The story goes that he took cyanide and then shot himself in the swede.

          Maybe didn’t like the taste of cyanide and wanted to get it out of his mouth.

        • epicurus

          He should have splurged and got mint flavoured.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He was following instructions from his doctor would ya believe…cyanide then one in the head should do the trick.

          The twat tested the cyanide on his pet Alsatian, Bondi.

        • What I heard is it didn’t work, or not fast enough so perhaps he had to shoot himself.

        • islandbrewer
        • epicurus

          Did you see any of that horrible series “Hunting Hitler” from the history channel? I couldn’t even get through one episode because of the mindless “let’s stretch 3 minutes of info into a 50 minute episode.”

          Then imagine the horror of discovering it’s gone 3 seasons! Unbelievable!

        • islandbrewer

          3 seasons? That’s speaks of desperation … or obsession.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Didn’t see it, but read about it. The “expert” that claimed to have examined the Russian held remains was lying about seeing the remains held by the Russkies. The Russians say no such a person was ever near the place. Of course who can trust anything they say, but in light of the more recent investigation, it seems a reasonable claim.

          A team of French experts last year did examine the alleged remains of Hitler that were recovered from the shallow grave beside the bunker in Berlin. The jaw bone and dentistry were compared with records and found to be those of Adolf. Blue stains on teeth is evidence of cyanide poisoning. No evidence of a gunshot were discovered, but that just means the examination was inconclusive regarding that claim. Depending on where old Adolf put the gun to his head.

          https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/21/612932451/french-researchers-hitler-really-did-die-in-the-bunker-in-1945?t=1539687605820

          Of course conspiracy theorists could claim Hitler’s dentist was complicit in the escape plan. But that’s the nature of CT’s.

          A read somewhere that he wasn’t officially declared dead until 1956, but conspiracy theories abound. The escape in a submarine to South America being a favourite.

          Then there was “The Boys from Brazil”. That was in colour, so must be true. //s

        • epicurus

          The episode I tried to watch was about Hitler escaping to South America and how there were documents the cia, or whatever it was called back then, had documentation supporting this. Whether right or wrong, what made it intolerable for me was the constant recapping, irrelevant background info and interviews. All of course are necessary when you are trying to stretch 10 minutes of actual info into a series that goes 3 seasons.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A bucket of shite from China then?

          I won’t go trying to find it then…thanks for the heads up.

        • Greg G.

          I remember when The History Channel was interesting, before it became The Hitler Channel.

        • epicurus

          Yea, they love to use clickbait titles. Well for tv I guess would be remote bait. In the old days you might hear something like amazing wepons of the German Army, or the luftwaffe or something. Nowadays, that’s rare – everything is called Nazi weapons, or Hitler’s army, the nazi army, etc.

        • ildi

          They did the same thing with Jack the Ripper in the series tying him to H. H. Holmes. I started it, not realizing they dragged it out into an eight-parter, but they the end of the first one I was grinding my teeth at the slow as molasses pace. I.no.longer.cared. [delete]

        • epicurus

          painful

        • I guess we’ll never know for sure, but the evidence indicates that. Cyanide would do it even if he didn’t also shoot himself.

        • epicurus

          I always just assumed it was just a bit of insurance – people have shot themselves in the head and still lived, and I imagine it’s possible that a poison capsule might be defective in some way, so if you have both and really, really, really don’t want to live and be captured, then capsule and bullet together should ensure that.

        • That could be too. Apparently it was tested on Hitler’s dog Blondi first, which killed the poor thing (he was inconsolable they say). It might have inspired him to choose a quicker method.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unless one is very unlucky and took a ropey cyanide capsule and then fucked up the bullet to the napper.

          Mind you, Hitler was a lucky bugger when it came to juking assassination attempts.

          Maybe the one in the loaf was a coup de grâce by a loyal follower and they were sworn to secrecy. Seems that wherever in the head he was shot, the evidence from the experts suggests it wasn’t in the mouth, where it is supposedly most efficient. But then the weapon being used might play a big part too.

        • Greg G.

          Unless one is very unlucky and took a ropey cyanide capsule and then fucked up the bullet to the napper.

          If I was to do it, my method would be along these lines:

          1. Take poison.
          2. Jump out of a plane without a chute.
          3. Shoot myself in the head as many times as possible on the way down.
          4. Land in front of a train.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That would work.

          I’d strap a “beehive”, aka Charge Demolition No.1, 6 inch, to the top of my head and press the igniter…lights out short shrift.

          http://www.chemringenergetics.co.uk/products/products-applications/demolition-stores/beehive.aspx

          http://www.cbrnergeticsltd.com/UploadedImages/d90f45d5-914f-44c0-a018-df8c9aad621cDem_Beehive_Charge_2.jpg

          The Japanese were known to wind detonation cord around the necks of there captives, then set it off…that’ll do the trick too…when you consider that it will suffice to drop a tree.

        • Greg G.

          In the movie, Peppermint, Jennifer Garner’s character [Spoiler alert. Move your cursor over the blanked out text to read it. ] dispatches a corrupt judge by wrapping detonation cord around his body and blowing up his house.

        • That reminds me vaguely of the ending of Mad Max. He handcuffed the bad guy to a gasoline truck and told him (this is from memory): “The truck will blow up in 15 minutes. Here’s a hacksaw. You won’t get through the handcuffs in 15 minutes, but you can saw off your hand in that time. Enjoy.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Pedantic point…it was Johnny Boy’s ankle in cuff’s.

          Soz…I’ve seen that movie so many times I practically know the script.

          https://ardfilmjournal.wordpress.com/2008/09/20/the-symbolic-ending-of-mad-max/

        • I’ve only seen it once :-(.

          But the ankle is more fun. You could maybe survive the amputation, but life is going to suck worse in that post-apocalyptic world to have one fewer feet (rather than one fewer hands).

        • Ignorant Amos

          I did a lot of tours during the 80’s where the number of video cassettes on hand were restrictive.

          The Blues Brothers
          The Warriors
          The Wanderers…

          …and Mad Max were just about all we had on a four and a half month tour of Forkhill, South Armagh bandit country. A captive audience and not much telly in them days worth talking about.

          Coincidentally, I watched Mad Max again recently with my partner…she’d never seen it. The experience done her head in, as the running commentary and preemptive quotes were getting on her goat.

        • It sounds weird to imagine bandits in Ireland. These were IRA-affiliated people who would hassle the army, I’m guessing?

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t know about British Army slang but when I was in Vietnam ever so many years ago the areas controlled by the enemy were “bandit country”. A town controlled by the VC or NVA was colored red on our maps and called “Pinkville”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          …hassle the army,…

          That’s one way to put it…but it’s a whole lot more than that on the ground. Murder was rife.

          Time stamp 0:50 secs…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcS2LBx3nZ4

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bandit-Country-IRA-South-Armagh/dp/0340717378

        • I forget how civil war-ish it was.

        • Greg G.

          The last time I watched Caddyshack a few years ago, I caught a joke I had missed the first fifty or so times. The name of the judge’s boat was “The Flying Wasp” and the connection finally hit me that it was a play on “White Anglo Saxon Protestant”.

        • ildi
        • Otto

          The Blues Brothers
          The Warriors
          The Wanderers…

          Not bad for just a few selections. I actually read the book of ‘The Wanderers’ several times before I saw the movie. The book was great and I recommend it. I wish I still had it because I haven’t read it in 35 years, I wonder if I would still like it…

        • Greg G.

          That reminds me of the captain who wanted to get out of the pirate business and into a corporate job.

          Intervierwer: How did you end up with a peg leg?

          Captain: We were in a battle at sea. A cannonball took the lower part of my leg.

          Intervierwer: What about the hook on your arm?

          Captain: I lost my hand in a sword fight.

          Intervierwer: Why do you have a patch on your eye?

          Captain: We were leaving the harbor when I heard a seagull above. When I looked up, he crapped in my eye.

          Intervierwer: And that put your eye out?

          Captain: Well, it was the day after I got the hook.

        • Michael Neville

          What do you call a pirate with two hands, two legs and two eyes? A rookie.

        • Lark62

          How did Capt Hook die?

          Jock Itch

        • Greg G.

          Max: The chain in those handcuffs is high-tensile steel. It’d take you ten minutes to hack through it with this. Now, if you’re lucky, you could hack through your ankle in five minutes. Go.

        • ildi

          How do you do that with the text? (My google-fu failed me on this one.)

        • Greg G.

          It’s a Disqus tag that works like HTML. The tag is <spoiler>Text</spoiler> .

        • Greg G.

          Get a refreshed copy of the other post. I got the “greater than” and “less than” codes switched. Your email notification and any new notifications will be wrong.

        • ildi

          Thank you! 🙂

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve used detonation cord to chop down trees. The rule of thumb is one wrap of cord per inch diameter of the tree. Det cord is bad ass stuff.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…that was my training as a young Combat Engineer too…and later as an instructor on teaching of demolition calculations.

          Bad ass stuff indeed….people not in the know, tend to mistake it for fuse, which is something completely different. What it is, is a straw wide tube filled with high explosives that ignites at a rate of 6400 m/s…and capable of fucking things right up in its own right.

          Here’s a slo-mo of a couple of mannequins getting it right up them…

          https://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/93k6l0/blowing_up_dummies_with_det_cord/

        • Now, who doesn’t enjoy a slo-mo video of blowing shit up??

        • Ignorant Amos

          Next best thing to actually blowing stuff up oneself, imo.

        • ildi

          Best part of Mythbusters was the post-science how-hard-can-we-blow-shit-up

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Funny how the fundagelical conservatives think we don’t have any firearms / explosives experience, no? Since we don’t get a woody over threatening people with them?

        • So there is this guy who’s determined to off himself so he drinks cyanide, point a gun into his mouth, and for good measure . . . .

          https://i.pinimg.com/originals/89/1f/82/891f82d692966a9fca4a1a8e427db3a8.jpg

  • Beside the fact that Hitler, as already noted, wasn’t an atheist Stalin was pretty good at using the Orthodox Church when it suited his purposes.

    • Raging Bee

      Yeah, and the ROC weren’t making Russian rulers any less corrupt, brutal or incompetent either before or after the “atheistic” Soviet regime.

    • Joe

      And that this argument has no good explanation for Christians who do the same things.

  • epicurus

    I don’t know the leadup to Montgomery’s comments in the interview, but since overall he was responding to Ehrman’s book, which is not about atheism but rather how the idea of how there were various levels of divinities and godness in the ancient pagan world, and how Jesus got pushed up that ladder over time by christians, I would assume Montgomery was pulling the usual trick of calling anyone an atheist who doesn’t follow full on trinitarian christianity.

    • Ehrman identifies as an agnostic, I’m pretty sure. Anyway this is just the old “attack the arguer, not the argument” tactic it seems to me. Just ran across a similar example today. http://www.evangelismhelp.com/naturalism/

      • epicurus

        Yeah, part of me keeps thinking that maybe around the next corner, the next book, the next web page, there is something, someone, with actually good apologetic arguments. Interesting that I never used to bother much before the Internet and blogosphere, as the info was a lot harder to comeby, and wasn’t worth the effort of tracking down one clown after another at the library hoping to find good arguments. It’s so much easier now.

        • I’m always surprised at just how bad most of this is. Well, not that I expected it to be convincing, from past experience. It just is mostly nothing though, even by “sophisticated” apologists. Yes, it’s like they say-mostly preaching to the choir.

        • epicurus

          It’s often a double standard as well – they could, or can, see the problems with similar style of arguments put forward by other religions. Back in my Christian days I read plenty of books by Christians dissecting other faiths and even then it struck me that they seemed to ignore the same kind of problems in their Christian faith. Walter Martin’s “Kingdom of The Cults” used to drive me nuts.

        • Yes, indeed. I noticed as a child when they gave out anti-cult literature that many churches shared features with them. As many note, they also reject similar evidence from Mormons (which is actually better).

        • Pofarmer

          Interestingly enough, it was reading Matt Slick taking apart Catholicism that ultimately did me in. I took his arguments against Catholicism and turned it on his own, and ultimately on the Bible itself. Didn’t work out the way Matt would have hoped.

        • Some guy

          Wow! I keep thinking we’ve all gotten dumber since the Internet, despite unprecedented availability of information. Thanks for helping restore my fai–, er, CONFIDENCE in humanity.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Ehrman identifies as both as a matter of fact. Granted, his position is/has been, somewhat fluid. In the books of his I first read, he clearly identified as agnostic, for sure, but his view has moved somewhat and he has been asked to explain his reasoning more than once.

        Because Ehrman has identified himself as atheist on occasion, he has had the need to explain and clarify his position a number of times.

        He doesn’t believe in the existence of a Judaeo-Christian God, Zeus, Thor, Brahma, etc, but is agnostic on the idea of a greater spiritual power or intelligence in the universe. Because the later isn’t known and isn’t an illogical position to hold.

        He seems to me to be describing a position not unlike that of Richard Dawkins…or a lot of us here for that matter.

        Here he is explaining his position last year…this one isn’t behind the paywall.

        https://ehrmanblog.org/am-i-an-agnostic-or-an-atheist-a-blast-from-the-past/

        • Ah, that makes sense. It is a distinction many hold yes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye, we are agnostics to the point we don’t know for sure there isn’t something, though I expect what the something is, will turn out to be more science. I can’t be sure am not in a big science experiment, so solipsism.

          But as for all that other irrational and illogical mumbo-jumbo, am sure that nonsense can’t exist because of contradiction and logical impossibility and such stuff…and science. So am a grade 7 atheist in that respect.

          Being both agnostic and atheist are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive. But some people seem to think agnosticism is a 50/50 proposition when it really isn’t.

        • Yes, it depends on the specific claim assessed, and also what definition is used.

  • Sheila Warner

    I love the Ingersoll quote. Your points are well thought out, as usual.

  • MR

    I guess you double down on confidence when you don’t have an actual argument.

    Lordy, lordy, don’t we know that!

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      if the facts are on you side you pounds the facts, if the law is on your side you pound the law, if neither is on your side you pound the table, if that’s all you got then you have to play it hard.

  • Joe

    I’d like to know why anyone should bother with anybody else.

    I’d like to know why “anyone should bother with anybody else” in Christianity, other than because that’s what has been asserted they should (and most often don’t)? How does he explain cruelty and lack of empathy shown by some Christians?

    I mean certainly, it would be looking out for Number One. . . . It would be a matter of feathering our own nest and certainly not paying attention to anybody else.

    A lot of Evangelical Christians are staunch libertarians. How does the Good Doctor explain this seeming contradiction?

    A society without a foundation in a belief in God and in the last judgment is a society in which people will try to get away with anything they possibly can, and it’s simply an invitation to chaos, bedlam, and anarchy.

    Is this what heaven will be like, post “Last Judgement”?

    • Otto

      If the hallmark of Christianity is that Christians are the only ones that ‘look out for others’ it fails on both sides of that coin.

      It is almost like the Dr Dr Dr is just making stuff up…ok not ‘almost like’, that is exactly what he is doing.

  • Here’s a sample of Montgomery’s arguments.https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_packham/montgmry.html As someone with a little knowledge of the law, this is pretty laughable.

  • eric

    I suppose it’s nice that [Ehrman] wants everybody to love each other, but if there isn’t any god and there’s no last judgment, I’d like to know why anyone should bother with anybody else

    To make the world a better place to live in? To leave future generations a better world than the one we experienced?

    Montgomery is basically saying he needs to be bribed in order to help an old lady cross the street…and even worse, he can’t understand the psychology of someone who doesn’t need to be bribed to do such things. That doesn’t reflect poorly on atheists, it reflects poorly on him.

    But the ultimate irony here is that Montgomery is Lutheran; that’s the sect that literally invented sola fide. So here we have a theologian of the sect created the doctrine that good works don’t matter to salvation, claiming his theology is needed so that people will do good works.

    • Otto

      Bingo on the last paragraph…ugh

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      I have long maintained that Christians are not good they are mercenary, everything is a calculation on how much closer this action or that action gets them to heaven, they have just arranged things so that, for the most part, the way they score points is also considered how a good person acts, it’s always funny when those two things don’t agree and the christian seems to be genuinely baffled at the backlash.

    • Some guy

      The funny thing is that I’m sure Montgomery and I, in that moment, would help the same old lady for the same reason, our natural compassion. I’m sure most Christians wouldn’t stop to think, “I’ll help her so I can score brownie points with God,” any more than I’d stop to think, “I’ll help her because no god will.” (OK, I’ll admit that my bribe is feeling good when I help someone, and my threatened punishment is feeling bad for hurting someone.)

      • eric

        I think you’re probably right. He’s probably not implying “I, Montgomery, would rape and pillage if there was no threat of hell.” Instead, he’s implying a version of the ‘little people’ argument, i.e. that the reward of heaven and punishment of hell is needed to keep all those other people behaving. But making the ‘little people’ argument doesn’t reflect much better on him, to be honest.

  • Greg G.

    I suppose it’s nice that [Ehrman] wants everybody to love each other, but if there isn’t any god and there’s no last judgment, I’d like to know why anyone should bother with anybody else.

    Why go to a party if you know it will end? Why enjoy a party if there is no last judgment of the party? Why go home if god isn’t going to greet you at the door? Why bother with sex if the orgasm won’t last 10 seconds?

    I think JWM needs another Dr. The first three don’t seem to be working.

    • Otto

      And how does believing a thought get you out of a judgement that you are supposed to deserve…ffs the guy should be smart and his thinking is pathetic.

    • His “Drs” are in theology, law, and library science. He’s not making his fellow graduates look good.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        one in something that promotes logic rather than motivated thinking might help him along a bit

        • Yeah, law + theology might reinforce their problems.

          I don’t know what explains John Lennox, though. He’s got a lot of degrees as well, and now he’s off spouting apologetics that’s not much more advanced than what Ray Comfort uses.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          the power of motivated thinking, making fools of intellectuals since forever. As long as you accept all their base premises, stated and otherwise, the logic is often sound, and if you already believe you have to accept the premises, that’s why believers think apologetic arguments are great and everyone else thinks they are silly.

      • Ignorant Amos

        But, but, but…when it comes to talking theology, credentials are everything…Triggerman says so, and he’s a “Trained Researcher” and assessor of work at a higher seat of learning, so he should know. //s

        • Greg G.

          The only way to distinguish theology from crazy is credentials.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ya think?

          I’d say credentials just make the theological craziness official.

        • Syzygy

          Always remember the difference between religion and superstition.
          What is it again? Oh, yea, it’s money.

        • Greg G.

          Actually there’s a lot of superstition in gambling which involves money. So the difference is legally tax-free money.

        • Pofarmer

          So, a while back I said a little bit about a book my wife is reading called “Get us out of here.” https://www.amazon.com/Get-Out-Here-Nicky-Eltz-ebook/dp/B0080SFFFE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539783442&sr=8-1&keywords=get+us+out+of+here+by+maria+simma

          I’ve read little bits of it, and I’m just like, “What the holy hell.” But I haven’t said anything. And now I find here reading a copy of a pamphlet on the Miracle at “Medjugorje Prepare the World for my final coming.” https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Medjugorja+prepare+the+world+for+my+final+coming&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AMedjugorja+prepare+the+world+for+my+final+coming

          Now, I’ve taken it as my current position not to interfere in her religious beliefs. The problem is, those beliefs always bleed over into her behavior. She becomes anxious, controlling, etc, etc, etc. She’s practically frantic about making it to Church on her days off, etc, etc. So, I’m grappling with the issue of whether I say anything or not. I mean, it’s not like here family isn’t crazy religious. I mean, I’ve seen them go to a wedding at 2:30, and go back to church at 5:30 on Saturday evening because that 2:30 one didn’t qualify as church, yada, yada, yada. It’s all just so much of a minefield. It’s exhausting, really.

          Oh, and the whole point of that was to get at what you said about separating theology from crazy. I don’t think there’s an operative way. As long as it’s “consistent” with the faith, whatever that means, it seems like people are free to come up with whatever crazy nonsense they like.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          I’ve often marveled at the need for Christian believers to seek outside references to reinforce or validate their belief. Is the Word of Almighty God in The Bible so lacking that it needs scholarly interpretation from mere mortals tainted by Eve’s transgressions of the Tree of Knowledge? Other than the financial angle, I see a certain dichotomy here, but hey,…that’s just me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fair play to ya…I wouldn’t last 2 minutes before my boiler burst…ya deserve the Victoria Cross…or should that be the Congregational Medal of Honor?

        • ildi

          I know you’ve said before how/why your marriage is working for you, but I hug my cat harder (if I can catch her) every time I read your comments 🙁

          I was going to visit my younger brother for Thanksgiving, but I don’t even want to be in the same city as my Santorum-faith older brother after the Kavanaugh confirmation. I may still go if the mid-term elections are not a total debacle but after the 2016 election I’m not holding my breath.

        • You know the group PFLAG–Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays? And Al-Anon is for people who have an alcoholic in the family.

          Is there an equivalent for someone like you? Maybe an online group where you could share notes or even just vent.

          Of course, you have here, but have you searched for some nationwide/international organization that would be a self-help group for the atheist who’s unequally yoked?

        • Pofarmer

          Never even thought about it.

        • C’mon–you’re a farmer. How busy can a farmer be? You’ve got lots of spare time. This can be your little project.

        • Pofarmer

          Thing is, we farmers tend to be a rather solitary lot.

        • I hear you. I don’t think I’d gravitate toward such a group without a good reason.

          I did find this, for what it’s worth:
          “Support Group for Atheists Demonized or Abandoned by Friends or Family”
          http://www.atheistrepublic.com/support-group-for-atheists

        • Yeah, I don’t want to go head-to-head against Mr. Triggerman. Formidable.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, I don’t want to go head-to-onion head against Mr. Triggerman.

          FTFY.

          Formidable.

          My arse!

      • Pofarmer

        Is the PhD. in Law real or honorary?

        Or are all lawyers considered PhD. Level?

        • I think the idea is that all terminal degrees are the same. By that logic, a law degree (JD) would be equivalent to a PhD or a DPhil.

        • Greg G.

          I have a DhK, a doctorate in hard knocks. My undergraduate degree is a bunch of gold stars in first grade. Does that count?

        • I’m just gonna conclude that we’re all winners for participating.

    • Brian Curtis

      Why date or marry someone if they’re just going to die someday? Why watch a TV show if it’s going to end in 60 minutes? They really do see nihilism as the only alternative to a fairy tale, don’t they? *headshake*

      • That’s my policy about showers. Why take one today when I’ll just have to do the same damn thing tomorrow?

        I’m having a hard time getting traction with my idea, though.

        • Greg G.

          Every time you take a shower, it just goes down the drain.

          Why buy shampoo when you can make real poo yourself for free?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha-haaa…

        • ildi

          Fertilizer factory runs out of some materials, president calls an all-staff meeting and says, “Ok, people, we’re just going to have to make do…”

        • The good news is, they made the bean burritos free.

        • Michael Neville

          Thank you all for appealing to my inner 12-year-old.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m ditto with changing underpants and socks.

        • Sample1

          Good thing breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system otherwise…

          Mike

        • MR

          Or car washing. It’s just going to rain on it again…, one day.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ll not share a picture of my pickup.

        • Some guy

          It’s OK, Bob. (I’m not downwind of you.)

  • Greg G.

    Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
        –Thomas Jefferson

  • Tommy

    I suppose it’s nice that [Ehrman] wants everybody to love each other,
    but if there isn’t any god and there’s no last judgment, I’d like to
    know why anyone should bother with anybody else. I mean certainly, it
    would be looking out for Number One. . . . It would be a matter of
    feathering our own nest and certainly not paying attention to anybody
    else.

    Ask a Buddhist.

    And all of the horrors of atheistic totalitarianisms could never be
    criticized; there isn’t any last judgment; Hitler and Stalin—they just
    die like anybody else, and they can get away with it.

    Why would these evil men exist in the first place? Why is there no short supply of evil men in a world supervised by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient being?

    A society without a foundation in a belief in God and in the last judgment is a society in which people will try to get away with anything they possibly can, and it’s simply an invitation to chaos, bedlam, and anarchy. Poor Ehrman is obviously entirely unaware of the consequences of the belief system that he represents.

    Like Japan?

    • Why would these evil men exist in the first place? Why is there no short supply of evil men in a world supervised by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient being?

      And then when there is an example of a decent atheist, they reply that that’s unsurprising, since God put morality in everyone’s heart.

      Checkmate, atheists.

      • Tommy

        And then when there is an example of a decent atheist, they reply that that’s unsurprising, since God put morality in everyone’s heart.

        And a world where God puts morality in everyone’s heart – yet people will do whatever they want regardless, is indistinguishable from a world where God puts nothing in anyone’s heart and people do whatever they want – or a world where there is no God at all and people do whatever they want.

        Checkmate, theists! 😉

      • Some guy

        Or the person isn’t REALLY an atheist (an inverse No-True-Scotsman?) . . . or there ARE no real atheists . . . or they learned their moral values when they still believed in God . . . or . . . or . . . or . . .

        • or there ARE no real atheists

          Oh, yeah. I forgot that “atheists” believe in God but are too proud to bend the knee.

        • Tommy

          Which would contradict Psalm 14:1 that they love to throw at atheists 😉

        • C_Alan_Nault

          I toss out Psalm 137:9 at them.

          Blessed is the man who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!

        • I had to look that one up but, yeah, very familiar: “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.””

    • Ignorant Amos

      Why would these evil men exist in the first place? Why is there no short supply of evil men in a world supervised by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient being?

      Indeed.

      Let’s just grant the atheism of Hitler for the sake of argument…why would a 98.5% religious nation, predominantly Christian, feel the need to follow an atheist? Where was YahwehJesus when this charismatic baby eater was guffawing his propaganda against the chosen ones?

      Hitler was their leader, but Christian were guilty of carrying out the atrocities.

      Like Japan?

      Or the Pirahã?

      The Pirahã are supremely gifted in all the ways necessary to ensure their continued survival in the jungle: they know the usefulness and location of all important plants in their area; they understand the behavior of local animals and how to catch and avoid them; and they can walk into the jungle naked, with no tools or weapons, and walk out three days later with baskets of fruit, nuts, and small game.

      According to Everett, the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god, and they lost interest in Jesus when they discovered that Everett had never seen him. They require evidence based on personal experience for every claim made. However, they do believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment. These spirits can be jaguars, trees, or other visible, tangible things including people.

      How do they get by without the Christian God?…it’s an enigma to be sure…or is it?

    • Some guy

      Exactly. And that’s also why, before Christianity came along, humans became extinct from worldwide mutual genocide . . . oh, wait, never mind.

    • Sonyaj

      Heh. Facts make the baby jeebus cry, so you need to stop with them!

  • epicurus

    I just did a long delayed double take on Bob’s going to France for a two week apologetics seminar. Talk about dedication!

    • Ignorant Amos

      Proverbial martyr.

      Nothing like hearing the shite directly from the bulls mouth…that way he can’t be accused of being biased by the queue of apologists that pitch up here.

      We had a member of the RDFRS back in the day that volunteered to read all the apologetic flea books that came out off the back of the glut of atheist books around the time.

      Paula Kirby, a journalist, would then report back on the dross contained within said books…a bit of life saver in helping the rest of us avoid all the crap.

    • The really crazy thing is that I was out as an atheist to my fellow students, and I invited them to discuss Christianity with me. No dice. I imagine many of them don’t want to be better debaters/evangelists but just want to shore up their own crumbling faith.

      • epicurus

        I’m sure they saw you as a devil inspired trouble maker – someone to avoid.

        • And indeed I was, but if they were doing this to become better evangelists (again, many may not have had that as a goal), wouldn’t that have been the perfect opportunity?

          Let me try to answer my own question: preaching to an ordinary knucklehead on the street or in the office is one thing, but they may have wanted to avoid an atheist who takes this stuff seriously.

          At least, that’s the best I’ve come up with.

        • epicurus

          Yeah, although sadly and perhaps paradoxically, many of them think an atheist taking this stuff seriously is driven by rebellion and stubbornness and isn’t really looking for the truth. But then why do they bother with apologetics? For the knucklehead on the street? But he or she isn’t going to have any serious deep questions, so they just need to hear the gospel.

          I’m tellin’ ya, it all leads to Calvinism!

        • Greg G.

          I’m tellin’ ya, it all leads to Calvanism!

          This is not the first time I have said this, but I think the logical consequence of the Bible leads to Calvinism so that Calvinism is the reduction ad absurdum refutation of the Bible.

        • epicurus

          Edited to correct spelling of Calvanism, and thus turning Greg G into a misquoter 🙂

        • Sonyaj

          They’ve probably tried it in the past, and it was emotionally pain-inducing with the inevitable cognitive dissonance and failure that results, so they don’t want to try again, having learned from that mistake. I read an interesting article linked from Farnam Street’s Brain Food digest yesterday on “solution aversion”, and that just describes so much of what is going on in today’s politics and extreme denial, and I’d bet there’s an element of that with these people as well.

          Here’s a link to the article in case anyone wants to read it:

          https://bppblog.com/2018/03/27/solution-aversion/

          I think a lot of these people go to these lectures and whatnot to just get the “feel good about your tribe, everyone else is full of shit/going to hell/etc” message that it sends, rather than to learn how to try and convert people. It’s kind of like smoking: if someone hasn’t been indoctrinated before adulthood, it’s much less likely they will as an adult.

          Good on you for taking one for the team, as it were, and sharing your experience with the rest of us. Sounds like an exercise in both patience and utter tedium.

        • ildi

          It’s not just a knowledgeable atheist – I remember back in the day on campus Brother Jed and Sister Cindy et al. would stop their preaching and break out into singing if anybody pulled out the bible and start to quote parts they didn’t like as much as the smiting parts.

        • Greg G.

          I remember Jed and Cindy. He gave his testimony once about how he discovered God when he was naked on a beach in Morocco doing acid.

        • ildi

          That was some bad shit, bro

        • David Cromie

          It could have been worse, especially if Satan had appeared to him!

        • Otto

          People with mental conditions really shouldn’t do acid.

        • That’s a tactic of the Westboro gang–sing when they aren’t winning the argument.

          I recently came across a variant at an abortion clinic that had some Catholic protesters. When I tried to politely engage them in debate, they’d bring out their rosary and pray.

          That was an eye-opener for me. It’s the 21st century, and they’re casting spells.

        • Susan

          It’s the 21st century, and they’re casting spells.

          The Gates of Hell will not prevail against the One True Church.

          They have incantantions to defend them against polite efforts to engage The Gates of Hell.

        • Pofarmer

          So, my wife and I hadn’t been dating all that long. Maybe 6 to 9 months? I don’t remember exactly. But, her 2nd oldest sister was having a baby some hours away and she wanted to go down to St. Louis to see it, basically. So, we were at her parents house, and, I think, her brother and one other sister wanted to go into St. Louis to the hospital with us. Now, I’m thinking, it’s the 1990’s, let’s leave these people alone, but, anyway, I wasn’t saying anything, and we’re in the car on the highway a ways from the Hospital and they all start saying a Rosary, and I’m just thinking in my head “What the hell is this?” I mean I’d been to all manner of protestant services but this was, undeniably, new. At the time my wife wasn’t all that out of the norm religious. Church on Sunday’s, blah, blah, blah. I suppose it should have been a warning shot, but I thought that she was different. Should have known better, I suppose.

        • epeeist

          When I tried to politely engage them in debate, they’d bring out their rosary and pray.

          Similar to my experience dealing with a woman from something like the “Plymouth Brethren”, when she found she had no answers to the points I was raising (I pointed out we have trees older than she thought the earth was amongst other things) she began to rock backwards and forwards repeating “I believe in Jesus” over and over again.

        • al kimeea

          To be fair, you were emanating evil

        • Touche.

        • al kimeea

          The evil of being well versed in their ancient bullshit. That and the dedicated open mindedness to travel across the pond to hear an “expert” expounding endlessly on the shit some people fall for. At least you saw Paris.

        • This event was in Strasbourg (in the Alsace region of France). Just hanging out in that city for 2 weeks made it worth it.

      • carbonUnit

        My spouse hates it if I appear to use the atheist label. Instead of it being a statement of fact of current non-belief as you describe above, Spouse equates it with rabid, fire-breathing “I KNOW there to be no God” atheism which makes Spouse fear for my soul. I can’t seem to get through on the simple, non-loaded use of the term. Spouse prefers “agnostic”, probably because that leaves hope that I’ll figure it out, or that I’m at least not locked-in (which I’m not.)

        I recently discovered that Spouse believes that the gospels were actually written by the participants, instead of being writings from generations later. That will be an interesting point of research for me, because I expect to find information about historical writings that might crack that faith with a diversion from Bible study to study of origins of the Bible. I doubt it will crumble any time soon…

        (For some reason, Patheos is putting a ridiculously space wasting header on this blog page.)

        • Would it help to explain that atheism and agnosticism aren’t mutually exclusive? I’m an atheist (I have no god belief) and I’m an agnostic (I don’t know for certain).

          Christians will try to say that, yes, the gospels were written decades later (though they fudge the number to be as small as possible), but they were written by eyewitnesses! Just because!

        • Michael Neville

          Patheos works in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform. Or something like that.

        • ildi

          I’m sticking to the belief that this is the real reason why Patheos changed the name of the “atheist” channel to the “nonreligious” channel. Fight me.

        • Castilliano

          You may wish to collaborate with her rather than become the source of the counter-argument: “Would you like to explore this deeper?”, “How might we figure this out?”, “Where might we find an unbiased opinion?” and such. Even if you’ve taken the journey and wish to run her down that path, she’s better off developing her trailblazing & cartography skills at her own pace.

          Also, Street Epistemology works well in quelling defensiveness. She gains far more by cracking her own faith than by you trying to crack it (especially if you fail, triggering the Backfire Effect & likely relationship issues).
          Of course, afterward it’s beneficial if you have a well evidenced & fleshed out worldview she can consider for replacing her then broken one. And you can help clean up the shards w/ counter-apologetics (or so I’d think).

        • carbonUnit

          Oh yes, I want to point Spouse at the issue and explore it jointly if
          possible and let her maybe come to the conclusions herself. (“It’s a Trap!”)

          I have to be well versed in the history issue first and that’s going to take a while. A really bad fail would be that I’d get sucked in, especially given that I haven’t spent decades studying the Bible. My actual first project might be a cover-to-cover read, without making any attempt to do special research first/during the read. Just read it using what I have in my head from places like this, paying special attention to inconsistencies, bad logic and immorality. Then start making observations and asking innocent questions as I go. Might be interesting. I wonder how much I might pick up?

        • Reading the Bible is a good idea. Keep in mind that it’s 800,000 words long. You might want to consider the order you read the books in to be most efficient.

        • carbonUnit

          Well, the idea is to try to experience it as someone with no instruction might. (As God intended?) I’m not aware of God providing any sort of Read This First/TL;DR instructions as to His book, so I guess I should do it in default order. It is also kind of trying to run counter to so many who study the Bible being lead by various guides, so only find things they are meant to.

        • TheNuszAbides

          consider an attempt at reading in [albeit controversial] chronological order of composition; reading the gospels into the epistles seems to reinforce resistance to even the least absurd mythicist narrative.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Talk about walking right into the lions den wearing an antelope suit only to find the toothless lions hadn’t a set of dentures between them

        Go you, ya Satan’s spawn alive and well here on Earth lol.

      • Lark62

        That’s hilarious. It proves yet again they’ve got nothing, and know it.

      • Otto

        The average Christian is just not equipped to have that discussion imo.

  • Syzygy

    I have to admit, Dr Dr Dr has rekindled my lack of interest in gods and religion.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “He’s quite proud of his 11 earned degrees, including three doctorates”

    One is a doctorate in theology.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theology

    Definition of theology
    the study of religious faith, practice, and experience

    In other words, a doctorate in ceremonial rituals and beliefs.

    One doctorate is an honorary one, so it can be dismissed.

    One is a Phd from the university of Chicago, but it doesn’t specify what for.

    • Michael Neville

      Theology is the study of an imaginary being’s thoughts.

      • C_Alan_Nault

        As well as any ceremonies, rites, and other practices created around the belief in that imaginary being.

      • Greg G.

        Theology is the study of what other people have said about an imaginary being’s thoughts.

    • Tommy

      What is theology?…

      “The study of theology, as it stands in Christian
      churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on
      no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can
      demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be
      studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles
      upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian
      theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.” – Thomas Pain

      “Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.” – H. L. Mencken

      • Susan

        What is theology?…

        “Theology is a subject without an object.” – Dan Barker

  • Rudy R

    Penn sums it up perfectly, in response do Dr. Dr. Dr. wondering why we do good without punishment from god.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37ab817ef9b621c218c19aea067b7e59f1d6b0325d49697eb8e3b21394df3a8d.jpg

    • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

      I think people who claim they would be psychopaths without Jesus are really telling us how their religion teaches them to devalue the study of ethics and morals and loving their fellow human. After all, they believe that doing bad stuff are the only actions they don’t have to be ordered around to do. What a waste.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Yes, and the cherry on top is that they are oblivious to the fact that their intended criticism only exposes their own flaws.

  • Doubting Thomas

    You don’t know why anyone should bother with anyone else? The reason
    isn’t hard to find—evolution selects for positive traits like
    trustworthiness, generosity, and self-sacrifice in social animals like
    apes (which includes us).

    Also, during the process of going from child to adulthood, most people come to realize that their own happiness and well-being is highly dependent on the happiness and well-being of those around them and that doing things to increase happiness for others increases one’s own happiness in return. I try to make the world a better place because I live in it and prefer living in a better world. I don’t see any other reason as necessary for my actions.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Injecting politics for a moment, tRump and the Repug leadership must have missed those phases.

  • Andrej Đeneš

    Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b0ftfKFEJg

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Bravo!

  • Greg G.

    xkcd’s Modified Bayes Theorem.

    https://xkcd.com/2059/

    SMBC on the Amalekites

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/amalekite

    ETA Jesus and Mo on the Pope finally taking action on child sex abuse

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/comic/laic/

    • ildi
      • Greg G.

        If there were any Amalekite survivors, say someone taken out of the country as a slave a few generations before the Israelite calamity, and they had descendants who were still alive after 3000, years, then some of them have descendants to this day. 3000 years ago was before the Silk Road trade routes were opened in Alexander the Great’s time. So we have traveling salesmen visiting distant areas and slave trading to spread genes and biological heritage for hundreds of years.

        Four generations per century for 30 centuries works out to 2 to the 30th power possible ancestors. If there were 250 million people with descendants who survived to our time, then every one of them is an ancestor to us all an average of 5×10^27 times. Perhaps some of the Australian aborigines and native North and South Americans could be excluded. So “Thou shalt not kill” only applies to them because the rest of us are all part Amalekite, and there is a standing order to kill us.

  • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

    They harp so much on the need for lasting judgement, then latch on to a theology where the “lasting judgment” effectively applies not to whether you’re a good moral person (their theology assumes there’s no such thing, everyone deserves hell), but whether you believe in the right god.

    • Greg G.

      They expect to harp forever.

  • Paul

    “Show me just one person killed in the name of atheism.”

    One of many trite sayings that atheists need to quit saying. It’s not a matter of being killed in the name of atheism. Worldview foundations and beliefs have an impact on someones’ actions. Have atheists killed people? Yes, and it was their worldview foundation that they used to justify their actions. So stop hiding behind the “killed in the name of atheism” nonsense.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      ‘Trite’ is NOT the same as ‘false’.

      Deal with it.

    • Greg G.

      Yes, and it was their worldview foundation that they used to justify their actions.

      But part of the “worldview” is that there are stars in the sky. That didn’t play a role in the killing and neither does atheism. A theist would kill for any reason an atheist would but a theist can also kill because of religious reasons.

    • It’s not a matter of being killed in the name of atheism. Worldview foundations and beliefs have an impact on someones’ actions.

      You are implying cause and effect, but you need to be explicit and show your work.

      “I’m an atheist” simply means they have no god belief. That’s it. Atheism makes no claim about morality, politics, social policy, and so on.

      Have atheists killed people?

      Have knitters killed people?

      Yes, and it was their worldview foundation that they used to justify their actions.

      Ah, their worldview. Maybe that’s the actual cause. In the case of Stalin, I’m guessing that his wanting to be a dictator was the driving factor. Christianity was competition, so he shut it down.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Christianity was competition, so he shut it down.

        And also allowed it when it suited him and was pragmatic to do so.

      • Thanks4AllTheFish

        I blocked Paul (and skl) some time ago mostly because rehashing the same tired points over and over again to try and get through to them, proved utterly fruitless. They, among so many others, perfectly define the premise that arguing rationally with a theist is a total waste of time. They are completely incapable of critiquing the massive amount of dissonance found in their religious beliefs while at the same time they seem unable to stifle themselves from projecting their views as if others somehow, just missed the point.

        I applaud your efforts, fruitless as they may be.

      • Michael Neville

        Stalin being a paranoid megalomaniac had more to do with him getting people killed than his lack of belief in gods.

    • Otto

      You hold a book that you claim has divine origins where the God you follow has literally ordered his followers to kill people. Because of that same book people in your religion have felt justified in killing people, and that has happened since its inception and continues to this day.

  • Paul

    “Atheism makes no moral claims or demands.”

    Another trite saying. Technically true, but I could say that religion makes no moral claims and it would be technically true. People, including atheists, are the ones that make moral claims. C’mon Bob, you just posted an entire article making moral claims.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/10/who-has-the-basis-for-morality-no-its-not-the-christian/

    If you want to keep using the saying “Atheism makes no moral claims or demands”, then stop making moral claims.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Liar.

      Religion not only makes moral claims, but claims supernatural sanction for those claims.

      • Paul

        Religion is just a concept. It can’t make moral claims. People make moral claims. Let me know if you need further clarification.

        • Greg G.

          Religious people make moral claims based on their religion. People who make moral claims apart from religion, tend to base their moral claims on how it affects suffering and thriving of people.

        • Paul

          Are you saying God didn’t have people in mind when He said “Thou shalt not murder.” and “Thou shalt not steal.”?

        • Greg G.

          I say there is no god thingy who ever said anything. If you claim a god thingy said something, you need to first prove the thingy exists, that it is a god, that it actually said it, and that it is actually worth saying, that is, not a lie.

          How do we know that killing is not the proper thing to do? Maybe dying of natural causes keeps you out of Valhalla and the god thingy you follow is Loki who wants to keep people out.

          But there is no reason to think any of that is true. The evidence shows there was never a large group of Israelis in Egypt, there was never a large group of any kind of people living in the Sinai at any point in the since it was a desert, that the culture of Canaan was not disrupted by an invasion when the Bible says the Israelis invaded, but it does show that there were many sites with identical cultures except some had pig bones and some did not, which indicates the Israelis were just Canaanites with a slightly different religious culture. That means no Moses, no Abraham, no Noah, no Adam and Eve. Those are ancient fairy tales.

          If one man is beating up another man and the wife of the second man tries to pull the attacker off her husband but accidentally grabs his genitals, is it objectively moral to chop her hand off? How do you know?

          Deuteronomy 25:11-12 (NIV)11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

        • David Cromie

          ‘Moses’ is a mythical character, as is JC. No evidence that either ever existed. Both are inventions meant to serve political ends.

          As for moral codes, do you honestly believe there were no morals before Yahweh came along?

          See; ‘Inventing God’s Law – How the Covenant Code of the Bible Used and Revised the Laws of Hammurabi’, by D. P, Wright, 2009, OUP.

        • Ignorant Amos

          God never said those things…God is imaginary and doesn’t actually exist.

        • alverant

          Well he didn’t have his actions in mind nor the actions of his followers.

        • David Cromie

          Then why do christers claim that if there were no ‘god’, then atheists would have no morals?

        • Paul

          That’s not what they say. Christians say that atheists would have no logical reason to be moral. There’s a difference.

          Why do some atheists borrow from Judeo/Christian morals like “Thou shalt not murder.” and “Thou shalt not steal.”?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dumb as fuck.

        • Greg G.

          That’s not what they say. Christians say that atheists would have no logical reason to be moral. There’s a difference.

          Yet atheists do have logical reasons to be moral. It is rules we go by to interact with one another. I won’t kill you if you won’t kill me. I won’t steal from you if you don’t steal from me. I won’t play music at full volume if you won’t. I won’t let my dog poop in your yard if you won’t let yours poop in my yard. I’d feed your dog or watch your kids in an emergency if you will do something like that for me.

          You don’t need a god thingy to explain this.

        • Paul

          Are you saying that you would do those things if someone did them to you? Is that what you mean my moral relativity?

        • Greg G.

          Are you saying that you would do those things if someone did them to you?

          Yes! If someone killed me, I would certainly kill them back! Dumbass.

          The other side of it is that if someone tries to kill you, you would not be blamed for protecting yourself. If someone tries to steal, you would stop them from stealing but using lethal force would generally not be tolerated.

          This is not hard to understand unless you have been brainwashed by religion.

          You have been asked many times to show how you determine what is objectively moral. You keep dodging. You cannot answer those questions. It is clear that you are reading them because you have started using the question I ask after each one.

          Is it moral to force a woman who might be pregnant or is obviously pregnant to drink muddy water mixed dirt from where un-house-broken livestock are slaughtered to see if the child is yours? How do you know?

        • Pofarmer

          Is it just one stupid theist on continuous loop?

          How can they not get this?

          If there’s “objective morality” then first define it, and then SHOW IT.

          HOLY FUCKIN STUPID BATMAN.

        • Greg G.

          HOLY ROLLERS, BATMAN!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOUR KIND don’t get to steal the origin of prohibitions on murder and theft.

          Those prohibitions existed LONG before YOUR KIND stole them (like winter festival, which y’all stole and turned into christmas, and spring festival, which y’all stole and turned into easter, etc.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why do some atheists borrow from Judeo/Christian morals like “Thou shalt not murder.” and “Thou shalt not steal.”?

          Fer fuck sake…those two concepts are not Judeo/Christian to begin with ya Dime Bar. Wise ta fuck up.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Ur-Nammu

          ,

        • alverant

          “Thou shalt not murder.” and “Thou shalt not steal.” aren’t “Judeo/Christian morals”. They’re not even suggestions given how often christains have done those actions, often in the name of their god.

        • David Cromie

          Where do you think the mythical Moses got his 10 commandments from?

          Here is a clue; ‘Inventing God’s Law – How the Covenant Code of the Bible Used and Revised the Laws of Hammurabi’, by David P Wright, 2009, OUP.

          On the question of OT laws, in general, why do Judeo/Christian moralisers ignore the over 200 commandments contained in the so-called ‘bible’? It is also patently obvious that christers tend to ignore NT exhortations at will – ‘Love thy neighbour’, the Golden Rule, are prime examples. Then there is ‘lying for christ’, which is widespread among christers.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Moses didn’t get just 10 commandments…that’s a loada made up Christian nonsense.

          Those were ten Aseret ha-Dibrot and are categories, there are 613 commandments (mitzvot), depending on ones source. All of which have equal standing.

          According to Jewish tradition, G-d gave the Jewish people 613 mitzvot (commandments). All 613 of those mitzvot are equally sacred, equally binding and equally the word of G-d. All of these mitzvot are treated as equally important, because human beings, with our limited understanding of the universe, have no way of knowing which mitzvot are more important in the eyes of the Creator. Pirkei Avot, a book of the Mishnah, teaches “Be as meticulous in performing a ‘minor’ mitzvah as you are with a ‘major’ one, because you don’t know what kind of reward you’ll get for various mitzvot.” It also says, “Run after the most ‘minor’ mitzvah as you would after the most ‘important’ and flee from transgression, because doing one mitzvah draws you into doing another, and doing one transgression draws you into doing another, and because the reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah and the punishment for a transgression is a transgression.” In other words, every mitzvah is important, because even the most seemingly trivial mitzvot draw you into a pattern of leading your life in accordance with the Creator’s wishes, rather than in accordance with your own.

          http://www.jewfaq.org/10.htm

          Religious woo-woo at its most ridiculous. And what’s even more ridiculous than that, are most of the daft mitzvot…

          http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

          …some serious crazy shit going on in that fuckwittery. Could you imagine if Christians didn’t cherry-pick and had to abide by all the crap in that lot…the place would be even more fucked up than they already have it.

        • Phil

          “Religion is just a concept” Is that universally accepted across all religions? If not it should be as that is the atheist’s view. As a concept, it is worth nothing more than “That’s interesting, now back to reality”

        • David Cromie

          Religion is a concept based on ignorance, superstition, and delusion, and the conclusion that if there is no obvious explanation for a particular phenomenon, therefore ‘god’.

    • Greg G.

      Technically true, but I could say that religion makes no moral claims and it would be technically true.

      But theologies do make moral claims.

      People, including atheists, are the ones that make moral claims.

      Exactly. Atheists do not incorporate their moral claims on the basis of atheism. Theists do base their moral claims on their theology.

      If you want to keep using the saying “Atheism makes no moral claims or demands”, then stop making moral claims.

      You had something right, then you contradict yourself. It’s like you are saying, “Math makes no moral claims, so mathematicians should shut up about moral claims.”

      • Paul

        “Theists do base their moral claims on their theology.”

        Because theology is part of their worldview.

        I didn’t contradict myself. I didn’t say they couldn’t make moral claims. I just told them to stop hiding behind phrases like “Atheism makes no moral claims.” The fact is that atheists make moral claims. And their reason for doing so stems from their worldview.

        • How hard is this? Yes, atheists make moral claims, but atheism isn’t what grounds those claims.

          The fact is that atheists make moral claims. And their reason for doing so stems from their worldview.

          Yes, they do make moral claims. Can you think of a worldview (an atheism really isn’t one–though I’ll admit that I’ve conflated them myself) that an atheist holds? That’s what you need to critique.

        • Paul

          To say something similar to what I said before: Atheism might not be a worldview, but an atheist does have a worldview. Everyone has a worldview. Tell me about yours, Bob, and I’ll critique it.

        • Humanism

        • Lavir

          So justify logical absolutes through your own “humanistic” worldview if you can. You say you adhere to such a worldview, is it not? Then I suppose you will have no problems on justifying the existence of principles you use every day of your life and you take for granted without stealing from a theistic worldview to do so, is it not?.

          Let’s see.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          False framing.

          Logical absolutes have nothing to do with a social worldview.

        • So justify logical absolutes through your own “humanistic” worldview if you can.

          Logical absolutes like A = A? I dunno—I don’t much care. Maybe that’s just a property of reality.

          You think that logical law is optional for a universe and that wouldn’t be true without God to make it so? I would love to see the proof of that.

          But logical absolutes aren’t what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the lack of evidence for the claim of objective morality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dime Bar.

        • Lavir

          Simple. You adhere to a materialistic/naturalistic worldview.

          I will ask you a question. Does a theist hold a worldview? I guess you will answer yes, is it not? Then tell me, given that the theist, by your own admission, holds to a worldview that is bound to his belief in God what it happens when you remove that belief? You have to NECESSARILY justify everything that the theist accounts God responsible for through other means (and the only choice an atheist has on the matter is to use naturalistic standards to do so). There’s no way outside of that.

          I know of NO atheist philosopher that doesn’t recognize atheism as requiring a worldview exactly like theism does. The fact that you cannot recognize this doesn’t mean that it is not so.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Atheism holds ONE position: Disbelief in any god or gods.

          If you want to talk about secular humanism, then don’t try to conflate it with atheism, as many people who are theists *live* by secular humanistic rules, without even thinking about it, as those are the rules of the world we live in now.

        • Then tell me, given that the theist, by your own admission, holds to a worldview that is bound to his belief in God what it happens when you remove that belief? You have to NECESSARILY justify everything that the theist ascribes to God through other means. There’s no way outside of that.

          Right. Give me something puzzling.

          I know of NO atheist philosopher that doesn’t recognize how atheism requires a worldview exactly like theism does.

          Atheism isn’t a worldview, but atheists have worldviews. Many atheists would call themselves secular humanists.

          In fact can you sincerely insist that you can be an atheist and ascribe to a supernatural worldview?

          I’m an atheist, and my worldview depends on nothing supernatural.

          You seem to be blundering toward some desired conclusion, but I have no idea what that might be. Share that with us sometime.

        • MR

          From what I’ve ever seen, atheists’ and Christians’ “worldviews” overlap in the vast majority of things. Christians tend to be the ones that exaggerate any differences. First and foremost we’re shaped by being human; then, we tend to take our cues from other people and the wider culture, not from things like the Bible, even though a Christian wants to believe that. Think about abortion, which seemingly defines Christians anymore, yet wouldn’t even appear in a glossary in the Bible.

        • David Cromie

          Any person with a working/enquiring brain, together with the faculty for critical thinking (you do not appear to have either) will have a world view. Thus the world view of the religiot and the atheist will be different, of necessity.

        • Greg G.

          Atheists make moral claims. Atheism does not make moral claims.

          Pedestrians make moral claims. Pedestrianism does not make moral claims.

          Theists make moral claims based on their theology.

          Atheists make moral claims based on a sense of fairness, empathy, and knowledge about they implications of certain ideas. Theists make moral claims based on what the Bible says an imaginary being wants.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re confusing atheism with secular humanism…purposely conflating, would be my guess.

        • Otto

          Golfers make moral claims…bicyclists make moral claims….are you really that daft?

        • Ignorant Amos

          ….are you really that daft?

          Ummmm…ya mean ya can’t tell? //s

        • Otto

          Rhetorical… 😉

          BTW because of your post yesterday I had to go and watch Mad Max last night. While I had seen the Road Warrior more times than I can count but I had only seen Mad Max once about 30 years ago.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Rhetorical… 😉

          A knew that…hence the //s

          MM was a great movie in its time.

        • Greg G.

          Have we past the time in which the movie was set?

        • Otto

          It starts with it saying it is set…”A few years from now”…so no, it is still coming.

        • Greg G.

          I was just thinking that next year, 1984 will be further in the past than the year that Orwell’s novel by that name was published was in 1984.

        • Otto

          Rat Bastard! You did this to us last week with Pulp Fiction!

        • Greg G.

          Actually, January 1, 1984 is closer in time to the publication date of the novel than it is to the present day. December 31, 1984 is closer to the present day than January 1, 1984 is to the publication date.

          We are in a cross-over period. It seems like a good reason to read the book again.

          When I read it in my teens, it didn’t make much since as I was too naive to see the political allegories. But when I read it in 1984 (because it was trendy) I did get that. But the televisions that could watch you seemed absurd until the 90s when we hooked up to the internet and the internet started data mining us. Now we have Siri and Alexa monitoring everything we say.

        • Otto

          And Big Brother isn’t just the gov’t, it is our neighbor with an IPhone.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s Google Home in my house…I argue with the bitch when am pissed and she can’t understand what am trying to ask her.

        • Don’t blame her. You talk funny.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Especially when am pished….ya’d think she’d get used to it though.

        • Greg G.

          “How maneh tames do ah hafta tell ye…”

          Larry the Cable Guy had a joke about foreigners working the counter at fast food restaurants who couldn’t understand him when he ordered a “sammich”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha….watching a movie is a lot handier than reading a book of course.

        • Phil

          Yes but Orwellian years are like biblical years. Make up whatever fits the narrative.

        • TheNuszAbides

          don’t know if you’re familiar with the tabletop game Car Wars but it was heavily inspired by Mad Max – first released within a couple years of the movie’s original run.

          the game’s original timeline is centered around a Grain Blight in 2016 (so, food riots & instability), followed by a half-assed nuclear exchange between US & [still-extant] USSR, followed by the rise of vehicular death-sports.

          this thread: https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/car-wars-how-would-you-revised-the-timeline.398318/#post-8990944 has some good feedback on real-world developments and potential revision of the timeline; I haven’t yet found a comparable discussion regarding the Rockatansky universe …

          EDITed to add link to thread.

        • Greg G.

          I have never heard of it but I used to go to demolition derbys at the county fair. People found an old sturdy car, made some retrofits like knocking out the glass, welding the doors shut, moving the battery and gas tank to safer places, and do a graffiti-like paint job. Then they crash into one another until only one car is running.

          The game seems to be like that but the object is to make the other drivers stop running.

        • Phil

          Oh, what’s the point of rhetorical questions?

        • Paul

          Yes, they do make moral claims. But what’s their basis? If they are moral relativists, it’s nothing more than personal opinion.
          They can’t actually say if something is actually right or wrong. That’s what I was getting at. If you’re having trouble understanding something, don’t be afraid to ask.

        • Otto

          Again, everything you believe morally is just as relative as any other person’s morals. You get your morals from your religion, and your choice of religion is relative.

          Atheists get their morals from places other than religion. Just like a golfer doesn’t base their morals on golf, an atheist does not get their morals from atheism. You are pretending that your morals are superior because they come from your God, but you can’t substantiate that that is the case. It is your opinion that they do, but as you say “it’s nothing more than personal opinion”.

          >>>”They can’t actually say if something is actually right or wrong.”

          Yes they can, you are just spouting nonsense to prop up your faulty opinion that your morality is something super special, it’s not.

        • Paul

          “Yes they can”

          Well, yes, they can physically say that if that’s what you mean. But doing so would be pointless, because it would just be their personal opinion and not a matter fact.

          “Again, everything you believe morally is just as relative as any other person’s morals.”

          It that a fact or is it relative? Do you see the logical problem of moral relativity now?

        • Greg G.

          Well, yes, they can physically say that if that’s what you mean. But doing so would be pointless, because it would just be their personal opinion and not a matter fact.

          But you are just stating your opinion that it is God’s opinion that it is wrong, without considering whether it is causes unnecessary suffering.

          If there is objective morality, we have no access to it. So we are left to work it out for ourselves. Pretending you have God’s word on it is a stupid way to arrive at morality.

        • Lavir

          I will ask you two simple questions. Will rape ever become a good moral act in itself just because circumstances will render it a social norm? Was slavery good in the past just because it was a social norm adopted by every civilization? Tell me. Let’s see if you can be sincere and ponder for a little while before replying (so that later you don’t contradict yourself as it always happen in these instances). If there are no moral objective standards I guess you will have absolutely no problem on insisting that rape can change its moral nature from evil to good just because of contextual circumstances, is it not? Likewise you will have no problem on insisting that slaves in the past couldn’t understand that their slavery wasn’t something good, is it not? (If you do maybe you should research a little better historical documentation because I have no remembrance of any ancient civilization considering slaves as high members of society, or their position as something positive for themselves).

          Atheists as yourself, then, cannot even understand the difference between competing moral principles (so that one of the them can take the precedence depending on the context) and a change in the nature of the moral principle in itself (i.e. an evil moral principle transforming into a good one, in its nature, because of a change in the surrounding context). The fact that there can exist two (or more) competing moral actions so that one can take precedence over the other (or make the other necessary) has no minimal impact on the nature of the moral action in itself, that remains intact. In fact, if it wasn’t so, there would not be any competition to begin with, as if the nature of a moral act could change from good to evil just because of circumstances then there would be no choice to speak of, is it not? The recognition of the right course to take would become obvious. It is just because of the fact that the nature of different moral principles doesn’t change depending on the context that you can have difficult choices on which action to adopt given the circumstances.

          Let’s take killing in self defense, for example: the nature of the evil nature of killing another human being will NEVER change just because you can be forced – to preserve another life – to do so. Or do you really think that just because you can be forced to kill someone for defense that killing that person will magically become good in itself? No, it will not; killing another human being, nowithstanding the circumstances will never change its moral nature from evil to good, and it is for this that people that are forced to commit such an extreme act feel a great burden inside themselves for what they have done.

        • Susan

          a change in the nature of a moral principle in itself

          What is “the nature of a moral principle in itself”?

        • Lavir

          I don’t think it is difficult to understand, is it? The moral nature of the principle (or act) itself, for example its being good or evil. I thought it was obvious given that I also made different examples on the matter.

        • Susan

          The moral nature of the principle (or act) itself , for example its being good or evil.

          On what basis do you claim that an act is good or evil by nature?

          I also made different examples on the matter.

          That didn’t help.

        • Lavir

          By being made in the imago Dei. I’m not the one that has to justify moral absolutes that s/he uses everyday of his/her life and that are present throughout all history to then pretend they aren’t moral absolutes.

          Is Islamic jihad good or evil? Or it depends? Tell me. It depends on the day of the week?

          P.S: If you intend to play the post-modernist card, don’t even bother. In fact how can you even pretend to reply to me when language has no meaning at all?

        • Otto

          >>>”By being made in the imago Dei.”

          Well that is rather convenient, you just stacked the deck.

        • Lavir

          Convenient? That’s amusing. You start from the assumption that God doesn’t exist when you are actually trying to determine His existence. Isn’t that wonderful?

        • Otto

          I don’t start from the assumption that God doesn’t exist. I see no reason to think God does exist. That is a fine, but important, distinction. You need to show your work.

        • Greg G.

          I started with the assumption that God existed and realized that was not a logical position.

          But the existence of suffering proves that there is no entity that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. That means no maximally great god thingy.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Learn the Null Hypothesis.

          Not DISbelief, but *withholding* belief, until there is evidence is the rational method of evaluating the world.

        • Greg G.

          By being made in the imago Dei.

          That is a horrible justification. You are basing it on an imaginary object. It would be better to base it on an imaginary ideal instead of pretending your imaginary thing is real.

        • Lavir

          Yet again? The logic of the atheist is incredible. You pretend for people to justify the existence of God when you have already declared that He is an “imaginary object”. Well, call me surprised.

          Btw, will even a single one of you ever reply to one of my questions instead of evading all the time? Oh my…

        • Greg G.

          I already answered your questions. Did I not give the answers your script expected?

          Your imaginary object is indistinguishable from any other imaginary object. You make it “supernatural” to protect it from scrutiny.

          Show it is not imaginary, then we can talk about it as not imaginary.

        • Lavir

          You “replies” didn’t make any sense. You didn’t even read three words in a row (so much so that I already refuted your “I don’t think so” on slavery before you even tried to).

          Show me your existence is not imaginary. Then we can talk about God. Sorry I will not play your games, I know them all too well. When you are the one in control of what constitutes evidence no evidence will ever suffice. If it is like defending from an accusation of rape when the other side is the one that decides what rape is to being with.

        • Greg G.

          Are you sure you clicked “Post as Lavir”? I see “One other person is typing…” under my post and the comment I am replying to here is 5 minutes old already.

          My replies make sense. Maybe they are not what you imagined you would get.

        • MR

          Are you sure you clicked “Post as Lavir”?

          Is it objectively immoral to try to fool people into thinking you’re two different people?

        • Greg G.

          His post appeared shortly after that and the time stamp said “A few seconds ago” or something like that. So he may have typed it up and forgot to hit Post.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re trying to *define* your ‘dei’ into existence.

          That doesn’t fly around here.

          Provide evidence or expect to be dismissed for lack thereof.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Until you SHOW me, why should I believe you?

          SHOW me, or don’t complain about my refusing to believe your ideas.

        • Susan

          By being made in the imago Dei.

          This is getting very circular.

          I’m not the one that has to justify moral absolutes that s/he uses everyday

          What moral absolutes do I use every day? I use moral principles but can’t proclaim them as being absolute.

          If you intend to play the post-modernist card

          I have no intention of doing that.

          when language has no meaning at all

          I think language has meaning but I can’t quite figure out what you’re trying to say.

          Something is bad or good because (some deity)?

          Where is the logical connection?

        • Lavir

          >>>> This is getting very circular.

          There’s nothing “circular”. It is so only when you, yet again, assume in advance the conclusion of something you are trying to determine.

          >>>> What moral absolutes do I use every day? I use moral principles but can’t proclaim them as being absolute.

          So I will ask again: do you think that slavery was good in the past because it was adopted by every ancient civilization? Will rape ever become a good action in itself if societal norms will change?

          And yet, EVERY atheist is a moral absolutist in action. If we will talk for a while it will become obvious. Just look at every video of every atheist around and you will see countless examples of moral absolutes. My last example of Islamic jihad was one of them.

          >>>>> I have no intention of doing that.

          In the meantime you had absolutely no problem on evading my question on Islamic jihad. How comes? Fear of demonstrating your own internal contradictions in action to everyone?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          And yet, EVERY atheist is a moral absolutist in action. If we will talk for a while it will become obvious.

          Then provide examples, or recant your offensive and false assertions.

        • Susan

          There’s nothing “circular”.

          It seems that it’s all circular.

          It has the “nature” of “good” because you think it’s “good” and the nature of “evil” because you think it’s “evil”.

          Because some god.

          I will ask again, do you think that slavery was good in the past

          No. Because when I talk about morality, I am talking about consequences to sentient beings.

          Will rape ever become a good action?

          No. Because when I talk about morality, I am talking about consequences to sentient beings.

          Aren’t you?

          EVERY atheist is a moral absolutist in action.

          No. They just don’t believe in god(s).

          In the meantime you had absolutely no problem on evading my question on Islamic jihad.

          I wasn’t evading. You listed moral positions we agree on (our opinion) and expect me to agree that there are moral absolutes.

          It does not follow any more than it follows with your examples of rape and slavery.

          The problem with (some versions) of islamic jihad is that they violate my position about the consequences to sentient beings. Women, homosexuals, infidels, that sort of thing.

          It’s imago Dei in Arabic instead of Latin.

        • Just look at every video of every atheist around and you will see countless examples of moral absolutes.

          And I see zero examples. Ever. You’ll have to go back to square 1 with me, I’m afraid, and coach me through this. (Pro tip: giving universally accepted moral examples will only get you derision and insults. I’m asking for good evidence that objective morality exists and that it’s reliably accessible by ordinary humans.)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Start by demonstration that this so-called ‘dei’ even exists before you try conjuring with it.

          And “Islamic jihad” can also mean struggle within oneself against what one considers one’s own baser instincts and motives, so stop trying to use emotionally unattractive terms without context.

        • MR

          No doubt the Islamic jihadist thinks it’s just fine; so…, relative. The universe doesn’t care if we kill each other any more than we care if a lion kills another lion. The lion might care, but then, it’s all relative, isn’t it.

        • Greg G.

          The moral nature of the principle (or act) itself, for example its being good or evil.

          Is stealing good or evil? Is stealing food to feed one’s family good or evil? Is it equally good or evil as regular stealing?

          It is relative, not objectively evil.

        • Lavir

          >>> Is stealing food to feed one’s family good or evil?

          If stealing wasn’t evil in itself and it became good just because your family is starving then there would be no difficulty at all on the answer, is it? Stealing doesn’t become good just because it can become necessary to do so, it just means that other moral principles can take precedence.

          It is not difficult to understand, especially because I already explained all of this in detail already….

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So you’d rather starve, or have your family starve, than steal food to keep them alive?

          Just making sure I understand you here.

        • MR

          Victor Hugo wrote a small essay based on that premise. What was objectively wrong was trying to turn it into a musical.

          https://danitorres.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/10/11/lesmiserables.gif

        • Greg G.

          What was objectively wrong was trying to turn it into a musical.

          Maybe they needed better singers instead of big stars.

          I saw it in the US, then went to Vietnam. We visited a big Cao Dai temple and I saw that said Victor Hugo was one of their saints.

          A few days later, our host took us to the movies to see Les Miserables. It had subtitles in Vietnamese but the soundtrack was the same.

          Earlier this year, our host’s daughter visited while we were there so I was able to get my question answered about whether she had planned that or was aware of it. She wasn’t, it was just a coincidence.

        • MR

          Maybe they should have just left it alone.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
        • Greg G.

          it just means that other moral principles can take precedence.

          If moral principles have precedence, then they are not objective, the precedence is relative. Precedence is change subject to context. That means morality is subjective and relative.

          Your own argument proves your concept of morality is not objective. You are stuck on the word but your argument is against what you want to believe.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nothing is inherently moral in and of itself.

          EVERYTHING is context.

          And my idea is that morality is the survival instincts of a SOCIETY, the same way biological drives aid survival in individual organisms.

        • MR

          Not to mention that behaviors that we label as “bad” can be beneficial to a species in certain circumstances. Kill or be killed can ensure survival when resources are scarce. The same for stealing. When members of the opposite sex are scarce or rarely encountered, taking advantage of an opportunity to copulate when the chance presents itself can ensure survival of a species—whether the action is welcomed or not. Other animals exhibit all kinds of behaviors that we would label as “bad” in the context of our modern, human existence but which we consider amoral in the context of “life” simply trying to survive.

        • Otto

          >>>”And it is for this that people that are forced to commit such an extreme act feel a great burden inside themselves for what they have done.”

          You mean everyone who has killed in self defense has felt a ‘great burden’? I don’t believe that is the case.

          >>>”Let’s take killing in self defense, for example: the nature of the evil nature of killing another human being will NEVER change just because you can be forced – to preserve another life – to do so.”

          I don’t agree, if I need to stop someone from doing great harm to another person by killing the offender, the nature of the act of killing a person is not evil. Killing such a person is not only justified, but I have no problem defining it as good.

        • Lavir

          >>>>I don’t agree, if I need to stop someone from doing great harm to another person by killing the offender, the nature of the act of killing a person is not evil

          So you REALLY think that killing a person becomes a good thing (in itself, NOT for the context at hand, you are exchanging the good that comes from preserving a life over the evil of killing a person for the latter becoming good) because the action is done in self defense? If that’s so tell me; if you had the easy chance to subdue that person in all tranquility instead of killing him, and killing was just an option, what of the two would have you gone for? I suppose killing anyway since killing the man has magically turned into a good act in itself because of self defense, is it not?

          Please, people, ponder a little on the things I’m saying instead of replying the first thing that comes to mind.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          If killing the person will stop the person from killing MANY others, or doing worse and TORTURING & killing many others, is the old way to stop the perpetrator, then it’s a morally indeterminate act: bad in itself but necessary for the safety of the public.

        • Otto

          >>>”So you REALLY think that killing a person becomes a good thing (in itself, NOT for the context at hand) because the action is done in self defense?”

          1. Context does matter, which you show by describing it as ‘self-defense’, if context didn’t matter you would just ask ‘is killing a person is a good thing?’, but you didn’t, you added “in self defense”, because that context matters.
          2. To answer your question, yes I think killing a person in self defense or as a measure to stop more harm if there is not another option is a good action. In such a situation it would actually be vile not to take that action if it was necessary.

          >>>”If that’s so tell me; if you had a chance to subdue that person in all tranquility instead of killing him, and killing was just an option, what of the two would have you gone for?”

          Now you have changed the context, since there is another non-lethal option of course taking a non-lethal action is better, but that does not change the fact that if there is not another non-lethal option killing the person to stop great harm is justified and good.

          If you have the power to stop great harm and you don’t use that power, such an omission would itself be malicious. You believe that God has the power to stop all sorts of ills in the world and yet doesn’t lift a finger to do anything…and you consider that good. Your view is the one that lacks consistency.

          >>>”Please, people, ponder a little on the things I’m saying instead of replying the first thing that comes to mind.”

          You need to stop assuming you are right and actually make a reasonable argument. All you are doing is presenting hypothetical’s and assuming there can be no other correct answer than the one you hold, and you are being an arrogant asshole to boot.

        • Susan

          Please, people, ponder a little on the things I’m saying instead of replying the first thing that comes to mind.

          People are responding thoughtfully.

          It’s that you have this concept of inherent “goodness” and “evil” that is the “nature” of something.

          We have to calibrate our decisions. And we have to begin with axioms and try to be consistent We agree on that.

          Ideally, I don’t have to kill anyone. Most times, no one wants to kill me so I don’t have to think about it. In a situation where it’s necessary to neutralize someone’s attempts to harm others, and I don’t have to kill them to do so, it would be good just to neutralize those attempts.

          When the only way available to me to neutralize those attempts is to kill them, then it is good (but not ideal) to kill them.

          We are in the same boat.

          I hope neither one of us is ever in that situation.

          If we were, I hope we would do the best thing we are capable of doing under the circumstances.

          That does not require absolutes.

          Just principles based on axioms.

        • Greg G.

          Will rape ever become a good moral act in itself just because circumstances will render it a social norm?

          I do not think so. But people at that time in the future may be more or less enlightened than I am now.

          Was slavery good in the past just because it was a social norm adopted by every civilization?

          I do not think so. But people at that time in the past may be more or less enlightened than I am now.

          If there are no moral objective standards I guess you will have absolutely no problem on insisting that rape can change its moral nature from evil to good just because of contextual circumstances, is it not?

          I think people have a right to bodily autonomy and nobody should impose their will on others.

          Likewise you will have no problem on insisting that slaves in the past couldn’t understand that theri slavery wasn’t something good, is it not?

          Slavery is relatively better than being killed or starved. It is not better than thriving in a free society with rationally distributed wealth.

          (If you do maybe you should research a little better historical documentation because I have no remembrance of any ancient civilization considering slaves as high members of society, or their position as something positive for themselves).

          Atheists as yourself, then, cannot even understand the difference between competing moral principles (so that one of the two can take the precedence depending on the context) and a change in the nature of the moral principle in itself (i.e. an evil moral principle transforming into a good one, in its nature, because of the surrounding context or for competing principles).

          Baloney! I argue that competing moral principles are evidence that there are no objective principles. If one supercedes another, then at least one is relative.

          Let’s take killing in self defense, for example: the nature of the evil nature of killing another human being will NEVER change just because you can be forced – to preserve another life – to do so. Or do you really think that just because you can be forced to kill someone for defense that killing that person will magically become good in itself? No, it will not; killing another human being, nowithstanding the circumstances will never change its moral nature from evil to good, and it is for this that people that are forced to commit such an extreme act feel a great burden inside themselves for what they have done.

          No, I think killing in self-defense is morally justified, not that it is good. It is the lesser of two evils. The moral precept against killing is relative to the situation, not objectively completely wrong.

        • Lavir

          >>> I do not think so. But people at that time in the future may be more or less enlightened than I am now.

          What it means “I do not think so”? I asked if rape will ever become a good moral action because of change of moral norms. Do you understand “I don’t think so” is not an answer to such a question? I guess you don’t. Oh my…

          >>> I do not think so. But people at that time in the past may be more or less enlightened than I am now.

          Wow, copy/paste, even when I actually demonstrated the fact that history proves the last part of your absurdity wrong. At least have the courtesy to read what others write, IN FULL, before replying.

          >>> I think people have a right to bodily autonomy and nobody should impose their will on others.

          I didn’t ask for what you think on rape, I asked you if rape can ever change its moral nature. Stop replying nonsense.

          >>> Slavery is relatively better than being killed or starved

          That has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I was talking about on the matter.

          This is hopeless.

          Wow, is this really the “logical acumen” of the atheist? Boy.

        • Greg G.

          What it means “I do not think so”? I asked if rape will ever become a good moral action because of change of moral norms. Do you understand “I don’t think so” is not an answer to such a question? I guess you don’t. Oh my…

          There is no objectively good moral action. What may be good for one person may be bad for someone else. Your questions are formed like “Do you still beat your wife?” You are using word play to force a response but your position is illogical.

          I didn’t ask for what you think on rape, I asked you if rape can ever change its moral nature. Stop replying nonsense.

          I expect that a rapist thinks rape is wonderful. I do not. The person being raped doesn’t either. The moral nature of rape is relative.

          That has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I was talking about on the matter.

          This is hopeless.

          Religion has warped your mind so that you cannot function morally. You have to be told what is good and bad. Life is not always good. Sometimes there is no good answer so you must accept the option that appears to be not the worst. But without perfect foresight, you cannot tell for certain which will be the best in the end.

          We can use empathy and reason to select the moral action that seems most likely to cause the least harm and the best chance of thriving.

        • MR

          The word itself is a loaded question. We don’t call it rape when a lion does it; nor do we ascribe moral overtones to the act in that instance. Saying it’s wrong when one animal (man) does it, and withholding any moral judgment when another animal does it is a clear indication that objectivity is not at play here.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          CONSENT is the issue.

          Rape will never be good because it’s a violation of consent.

          Slavery was NEVER good, but it was a social norm (and still is in parts of the world). It was a social norm because it’s VERY economically lucrative for the slaveholder. We’re trying to create a world where such slaveholders are shunned and stripped of the financial value that makes slavery lucrative.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I will ask you two simple questions. Will rape ever become a good moral act in itself just because social norms can change on the matter?

          It was…and not all that long ago…which is what made it relative.

          Was slavery good in the past just because it was a social norm?

          It was…and not all that long ago…which is what made it relative.

          If a time comes when folk think those things are okay, then what we think in the here and now will be irrelevant. It will be relative to the people, time and place.

        • Will rape ever become a good act in itself just because social norms can change on the matter? Was slavery good just because it was a social norm in the past? Tell me.

          They were both good in biblical times, and now they’re both bad. Sounds like social norms change—but perhaps we already agree there. If you’re asking what the objectively correct answer is, I don’t see one. Looks like morality is relative.

          The fact that there can exist two (or more) competing moral actions so that one can take place over the other (or make the other necessary)

          What’s the algorithm? Show us that it’s universally agreed to. Otherwise, it’s just your opinion (with which I have no problem; just don’t pretend that this is objective morality).

          Let’s take killing in self defense, for example

          You’re retreating by using an example we all agree to. Take a controversial one: abortion or capital punishment, for example.

        • Otto

          >>>”They can’t actually say if something is actually right or wrong.”

          No it is not pointless because then, as with anything, we as a group can discuss it and come to some sort of consensus based on reasoning and evidence.

          >>>”It that a fact or is it relative? Do you see the logical problem of moral relativity now?”

          Oh, aren’t you cute. Do you really think such trite word play is going to show me the error of my ways? Your morality is relative…you dodge that issue because you know you can’t support the claim you are making that it is not….that is the logical problem YOU have to deal with and instead you stick your fingers in your ears and ignore the elephant in the room.

        • Paul

          “Your morality is relative…”

          Is that objective? How can you demonstrate that my morality is relative?

          “Do you really think such trite word play is going to show me the error of my ways?”

          I’m not sure what will convince you of the errors of your ways.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How can you demonstrate that my morality is relative?

          Do you think slavery is good?

          If not, why not?

        • Paul

          Answering a question with a question doesn’t demonstrate that morality is relative.
          If you’re trying to imply that 2 people can disagree on a moral issue, that is true. But if 2 people disagree on what’s right and wrong, you can’t logically conclude that morality is relative. That would be a non sequitur. It’s just means that 2 people disagree. And they both can’t be right. So morality can’t be relative.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Answering a question with a question doesn’t demonstrate that morality is relative.

          You answer to the question will though. What are you afraid of?

          At this point, I am concluding that you haven’t a clue what you are talking about and don’t know what the term “moral relativism” means.

          Moral relativism is the view that moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint (for instance, that of a culture or a historical period) and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others.

          If you’re trying to imply that 2 people can disagree on a moral issue, that is true.

          In a democracy, if 2 people think something is good and 1 other thinks it’s bad, the view of the two wins. Scale that up and the morality of the majority is what becomes the law. The law, and by extension, morality, is relative to the the major. If the the majority of folk think something is good, then relative to their belief, such morals are good, while they are bad, relative to the minority.

          So, back to the question of slavery…some cultures have no qualms about keeping slaves…slavery isn’t bad relative to their culture. A couple of centuries ago, the U.S. felt the same…relative to today, back then, slavery was a good thing.

          But if 2 people disagree on what’s right and wrong, you can’t logically conclude that morality is relative.

          Yes I can…and modern research is demonstrating with empirical results why.

          https://www.philosophersmag.com/essays/110-is-morality-relative

          That would be a non sequitur.

          Stop making statements if ya don’t know what they mean.

          It’s just means that 2 people disagree. And they both can’t be right. So morality can’t be relative.

          If 2 people disagree, how can what they disagree on be objective?

          Islamic Jihadi’s think it is their moral duty to chop the heads off all infidels…many Muslims agree…why is it immoral? Why don’t they agree with you?

          Read the article I linked to.

        • Paul

          “Stop making statements if ya don’t know what they mean.”

          Stop making assumptions. Non sequitur means “it does not follow” If 2 people disagree on something being right or wrong, it does not follow that morality is relative.

          “If 2 people disagree, how can what they disagree on be objective?”

          The same way 2 people can look and the exact same facts and come to 2 different conclusions about what the facts mean: they have different worldviews. But 2 people can also have different worldviews, but still come to same conclusion that something is wrong (like murder for example). If someone is a humanist, I can certainly see how they would conclude that morality is relative, but then they still have to deal with the logical problem of relative morality. Something cannot be both right and wrong at the same time.

        • Greg G.

          Protestants and Catholics have different positions on moral issues. Mainstreamers and Evangelicals disagree on moral issues.Evangelical disagree with other Evangelicals. If each side thinks their morality is objective, which is right? They both can’t be right, can they?

          Figure that out, then get back with us with the answer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Stop making assumptions. Non sequitur means “it does not follow” If 2 people disagree on something being right or wrong, it does not follow that morality is relative.

          But it does…depending on ones point of view and the subject matter.

          Take abortion…is it morally wrong? Why?

          Take suicide…is it morally wrong? Why?

          The same way 2 people can look and the exact same facts and come to 2 different conclusions about what the facts mean: they have different worldviews.

          Which makes their conclusions right or wrong RELATIVE to their worldviews.

          But 2 people can also have different worldviews, but still come to same conclusion that something is wrong (like murder for example).

          That is irrelevant to this discussion. We are arguing disagreements, not agreements. Not all worldviews agree on the definition of murder. It’s the differences that make it relative.

          If someone is a humanist, I can certainly see how they would conclude that morality is relative, but then they still have to deal with the logical problem of relative morality.

          A problem you have failed to outline…while it has been demonstrated that relative morality exists…you just keep hand waving it away without providing a counter in support of your position…so until ya do…pah!

          Something cannot be both right and wrong at the same time.

          Depending on whose perspective and the scenario…yes it can. Is it always wrong to lie?

          Some people think abortion is wrong…probably you are one of them..some people think it is not…me…some people think it depends on the situation…who is right and why?

        • Greg G.

          A problem you have failed to outline…while it has been demonstrated that relative morality exists…you just keep hand waving it away without providing a counter in support of your position…so until ya do…pah!

          That method works on the simple minded and him. He thinks he is smart so it should work on everyone. He probably thinks putting lemon juice on your head makes you invisible to cameras, too.

        • If 2 people disagree on something being right or wrong, it does not follow that morality is relative.

          It means either that objective morality doesn’t exist, or objective morality does exist but we humans can’t reliably access it. Either way, you lose.

          If someone is a humanist, I can certainly see how they would conclude that morality is relative, but then they still have to deal with the logical problem of relative morality. Something cannot be both right and wrong at the same time.

          What logical problem? People do indeed disagree on whether something is right or wrong. You and I likely disagree on abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. How is this evidence for objective morality??

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Per Bozo-Paul, that answer is ‘easy’…YOU’RE JUST WRONG!

          /s

        • Dang! I was hoping that that obvious flaw in my argument wouldn’t be called out so quickly.

        • Paul

          For the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “wrong.” Can any such beliefs by Islamic Jihadis and other Muslims do anything to change the ethical property of murder to “right.”?
          And now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “right.” Is there anything that you and I to change that?
          It doesn’t matter what people believe, they can’t do anything to change the ethical property of murder. They can even try to justify their beliefs all they want. At the end of the day, you just have 2 people disagreeing. One is correct and one is not.
          As finite human beings, it can be difficult to determine the ethical property of moral values. But that’s no excuse to just throw up your hands and say that morality is relative. It’s time to really dig in and determine what the ethical value is. But like I said, different worldviews will lead people to different conclusions.

        • Pofarmer

          But like I said, different worldviews will lead people to different conclusions.

          Congratulations, you’ve just torpedoed your own argument, you can shut the fuck up now.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “wrong.”

          Define murder first. Murder is the illegal taking of another persons life. But the illegal taking of another persons life means different things in different cultures and at different times. So the ethical property of murder is different depending who you are and where you are given the definition.

          Heck, within the US state killing is permissible depending on where you live. Other states think it is ethically wrong. Abortion is the same. Killing an intruder in the states is ethically permissible….here in the UK it isn’t.

          Can any such beliefs by Islamic Jihadis and other Muslims do anything to change the ethical property of murder to “right.”?

          Is this a trick question? Define murder? Cutting the heads off Christians because they are Christians isn’t murder in the ISIS controled parts of the world….even if you think it is…because it is RELATIVE to the folk in charge, place, culture, and time. What you think about it doesn’t matter. Mundane crimes are punishable by death in some countries based on religious ethics making it the right thing to do. Homosexuality and adultery spring to mind, am sure there are others. Are you really so cretinous that the concept is so alien?

          Getting caught with a copy of the Bible in a language other than a language mandated by the Holy See was a death sentence at one time. The religious morons deemed it the morally right thing to do at the time, place, and culture. Because it was, RELATIVE to the time, place, and time. That most folk today think that was morally reprehensible is irrelevant.

          And now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “right.” Is there anything that you and I to change that?

          Ya didn’t read the link, did ya?

          Yep. We can change the definition of murder. It has been done all the time. It wasn’t murder to stone someone to death for collecting sticks on a Sabbath…now most civilized people think it is. Being gay was morally reprehensible in the eyes of the UK state…one of my heroes, Alan Turing, instrumental in the Allies winning the war, was chemically castrated…some say state assassinated too…because he was Gay. At the time and culture it was deemed morally wrong to be Gay. But not today. Because people like me, against people like you, changed the moral thinking about Gay folk.

          It doesn’t matter what people believe, they can’t do anything to change the ethical property of murder. They can even try to justify their beliefs all they want. At the end of the day, you just have 2 people disagreeing. One is correct and one is not.

          Fucking rot….redefine the name of it to say collateral damage and killing women and children is no longer murder. but an unavoidable accident. You yanks no longer hang horse thief’s…why is that? Because morally, it is deemed wrong…when once it was deemed right. Why have you no black people as slaves?

          As finite human beings, it can be difficult to determine the ethical property of moral values. But that’s no excuse to just throw up your hands and say that morality is relative. It’s time to really dig in and determine what the ethical value is. But like I said, different worldviews will lead people to different conclusions.

          Ha ha…ya dopey fecker…you’ve just supported moral relativity exists. Why don’t you go away and learn what it is you are trying to refute, before putting your foot any further down your throat.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Explain away how murdering doctors who perform abortions gets fundagelicals lionized rather than condemned, sentenced, and confined, then.

          YOUR KIND do it, too, you just have fewer fanatics.

        • For the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “wrong.” Can any such beliefs by Islamic Jihadis and other Muslims do anything to change the ethical property of murder to “right.”?

          What you mean to say is: “For the sake of argument, let’s say that objective morality exists, we humans can reliably access it, and the objectively correct category for murder is ‘wrong.’”

          Translated: “For the sake of argument, let’s say that I’m right.”

          No, let’s not.

          It doesn’t matter what people believe, they can’t do anything to change the ethical property of murder.

          Are you trying to avoid saying “objective morality”? Going forward, you’ll be clearer (in particular, to yourself) if you reveal where you’re assuming objective morality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “wrong.”

          But the definition of what is murder differs depending on ones perspective, time, culture, and place.

          Is genocide morally wrong? Most would say it is…it’s murder. But obviously that doesn’t include the group who is committing the genocide. They don’t think it is wrong for x, y, and z reasons.

          So the ethical property of murder isn’t right or wrong…it is relative. The Bible details when YahwehJesus advocated the genocide of whole groups. It details what and how it should be carried out…how the spoils are to divided, etc,. it even advocates the taking and raping of sex slaves. The chosen tribe of the book were morally right because YahwehJesus said it was right. Those poor buggers on the receiving end, not so much.

          In the middle east, who is murdering who and why? Who has the moral high ground, the Israeli’s or the Palestinian’s?

          Have you heard about the Trolley Problem thought experiment and it’s variations?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg16u_bzjPE

          Can any such beliefs by Islamic Jihadis and other Muslims do anything to change the ethical property of murder to “right.”?

          What is murder to us is not murder to them. They believe they have the moral right of way, because their god says so in their holy book. That makes what is deemed murder, relative.

          And now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the ethical property of murder is “right.” Is there anything that you and I to change that?

          Yes…and it has been done loads of times. Is abortion murder? Who says and why?

          They can even try to justify their beliefs all they want. At the end of the day, you just have 2 people disagreeing. One is correct and one is not.

          And depending on who you are, where, and when, will depend on who you believe is morally right or wrong. A Roman Catholic will more likely declare abortion is murder, a secular humanist will more likely not. Who is right will depend on what camp one is in…making it relative by definition.

          As finite human beings, it can be difficult to determine the ethical property of moral values. But that’s no excuse to just throw up your hands and say that morality is relative. It’s time to really dig in and determine what the ethical value is. But like I said, different worldviews will lead people to different conclusions.

          Which is the very definition of moral relativism…thanks for making my case.

          https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/glossary/moral-relativism

        • Ignorant Amos

          And they both can’t be right. So morality can’t be relative.

          But they can, so it can.

        • Paul

          “But they can, so it can.”

          Really? Let’s take murder as an example. It has an ethical value. Can you demonstrate that the ethical value of murder can be both right and wrong at the same time? If 2 people disagree about whether it’s right or wrong, that doesn’t change its ethical value. How do you determine that the ethical property of murder is both right and wrong?

        • Greg G.

          Murder is defined as being wrong. You are not using a good example. A killing in self-defense is not murder. It is justifiable homicide. If the killing is not justified, it is called man-slaughter or various degrees of murder.

          Ask the question about killing instead. Then you get different answers that show that the morality is relative to the situation.

          You don’t know what you are talking about but you can’t shut up.

        • Pofarmer

          You don’t know what you are talking about but you can’t shut up.

          We seem to get that a lot.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The definition of the word in the 6th commandment had to be redefined from kill to murder…but then the problem becomes a relative one…who decides what is murder and what is run-of-the-mill killing?

        • Greg G.

          According to a recent SMBC comic, God doesn’t run-of-the-mill killing, he wants genocide.

        • Pofarmer

          Is it ok to Stone to death a woman who has been raped?

        • Greg G.

          Not if she was raped in the country but if she was raped in the city it is objectively immoral to not stone her.

        • Pofarmer

          Technicalities.

        • epeeist

          Let’s take murder as an example.

          Let’s take an even simpler example. Is it moral to assault a reporter who is asking you questions? Is it moral to support someone who commits such an assault?

        • MR

          Christian support of the likes of Trump show just how bankrupt modern Christianity has become and exposes the lie of objectivity.

        • epeeist

          I was in Manchester today and passed the Quaker Meeting House. They had a quotation by John Bright on a board outside, “What is morally wrong cannot be politically right.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Broken clock, twice a day, etc…

          IMHO

        • Ignorant Amos

          The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…end of.

          Is stealing always wrong?

          Is it morally wrong for a starving person to steal a loaf of bread from the pantry of a multi billionaire in order to feed starving children?

          Is it always morally wrong to lie?

          Can you not think of a situation where two people, one wanting to be truthful, one wanting to tell a lie, could both have the moral high ground?

          Think about it, then answer….truthfully.

        • MR

          Hollywood has built an industry out of morally ambiguous scenarios. Shows like The Walking Dead are just one moral dilemma after another. Objectivity is a nice fantasy, but it doesn’t take much for even a screenwriter to expose the fallacy of objectivity.

        • Let’s take murder as an example. It has an ethical value.

          You’re assuming objective morality here. You need to prove this remarkable claim first.

        • Greg G.

          Answering a question with a question doesn’t demonstrate that morality is relative.

          But never answering the question about how you can demonstrate that morality is objective is a great indication that morality cannot be shown to be objective.

          But if 2 people disagree on what’s right and wrong, you can’t logically conclude that morality is relative.

          But it doesn’t mean that one has objective morality, either. You have to show that you have objective morality. You have been asked approximately a jillion times to do so. You have no claim to objective morality if you cannot show it.

          And they both can’t be right. So morality can’t be relative.

          Is that an example of your logic? Two people are not the same height so they can’t both be the tallest person in the world, therefore tallness is not relative?

          Two mothers, one parachute, aircraft with a blown engine. Each thinks she her own family morally deserves to have a mother. Both have the same reasons for thinking that. Why can’t they both be objectively right? If we go to the Bible and consult the wisdom of Solomon, they should cut the parachute in half. But isn’t it better if one mother lives than both die? Give us the method that could be used to determine the objectively moral solution.

          I bet you can’t.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You have no valid claim to objective morality if you cannot show it.

          fixed? like most blusterers, his house of cards is full of all kinds of claims – and proportionately ill-equipped to back up any one of them.

        • David Cromie

          Since ‘morality’ is concerned with the non moral good of others,it is therefore objective, since based on outcomes.

        • Greg G.

          But are the moral objectives objectively moral? How do we determine which is the moral position between allowing passenger pigeon parasites a place to thrive or human parasites a place to thrive? IOW, is it moral to force other species into oblivion so more of human species can exist? Or is the decision subjective?

        • David Cromie

          “…is it moral to force other species into oblivion so more of human species can exist?” On the face of it, no.

        • David Cromie

          “But are the moral objectives objectively moral?” Yes, since the object is to improve, or at least prevent a deterioration in, the life situation of another person. This may not always be achieved, but the intention was good (some christers may compare it to being a Good Samaritan, but without the proselytising tendencies of the fundamentalist religiot).

        • Greg G.

          If you give a man a fish, you have made his life objectively better. If you teach a man to fish, you make his life even more objectively better. But you are making the world objectively worse for fish. The benefits are subjective to the species. What is objectively better from one perspective is objectively worse from another, so the benefits are subjective from the larger perspective.

        • David Cromie

          Have you never heard of ‘sustainability’?

        • Greg G.

          Sure, but what is objectively best for individuals to live, thrive, and survive leads to uninhibited reproduction which works against sustainability. What is objectively best for sustainability is objectively worse for the individual. It comes down to a subjective choice which path to choose.

        • David Cromie

          “What is objectively best for sustainability is objectively worse for the individual”. ???

          One needs to choose the least worst outcome, in some instances, based on the available evidence.

        • Greg G.

          One needs to choose the least worst outcome, in some instances, based on the available evidence.

          The best outcome is sometimes the least worst. What is objectively the best for a given goal does not make the goal objectively good. It is subject to the person setting the goal.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but of course playing around with nuanced definitions of ‘objective’ won’t be even remotely compelling to the True DupesBelievers.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s just means that 2 people disagree.
          And they both can’t be right.

          Sure they can. Is sex slavery moral or not? Obviously the folks kidnapping girls for sex slaves think it’s perfectly moral to do so. The girls, probably not so much. Moral vary from belief system to belief system and society to society in ways that are so numerous they can’t be counted. This ought to be obvious to anyone who has ever paid attention in, say, a history class.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Kinda gotta disagree. The slavERs don’t care whether it’s moral when they’re on top, but they’d care a LOT if they were ever taken.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which would make their morals relative to their position. Good when they are making money, bad when they are being exploited.

        • Otto

          I think you are both right, some people don’t care if slavery is immoral, but there are some slavers who thought slavery was moral too.

        • David Cromie

          “…some slavers [] thought slavery was moral too”, and they used the so-called ‘bible’ (specifically the OT, which condones slavery) to justify their trade in slaves.

        • Greg G.

          For instance, George D. Armstrong’s 1857 The Christian Doctrine of Slavery
          http://www.unz.org/Pub/ArmstrongGeorge-1857

          ETA: Wikipedia says:

          According to family letters, Custer was named after George Armstrong, a minister, in his devout mother’s hope that her son might join the clergy.

          I wonder if that is the same George Armstrong.

          Wiki also says Custer was last in his graduating class but the class had 45 dropouts and 22 of those were to join the Confederacy.

        • David Cromie

          Human rights are universally applicable, whether slave-traders think so or not.

        • Pofarmer

          You and I might like that to be the case, but we both know that they’re not on a whole host of issues.

        • David Cromie

          Indeed, but that does not negate the principle, but should encourage us to remedy any lack of human rights wherever they manifest themselves.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah. I think we’re violently agreeing, here.

        • Greg G.

          George D. Armstrong’s 1857 The Christian Doctrine of Slavery
          http://www.unz.org/Pub/ArmstrongGeorge-1857

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein(born ca. 1717; died 1747) was a Dutch Christian minister of Ghanaian birth who was one of the first known sub-Saharan Africans to study at a European university and one of the first Africans to be ordained as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. He is credited with spreading the use of the written word in his native Ghana.

          Though a former slave, Capitein wrote a dissertation defending the right of Christians to keep slaves.

          During his time at Leiden, Capitein did not challenge the general attitude towards slavery in the Dutch republic. In his dissertation De servitude, libertati christianae non contraria on March 10, 1742, he defended slavery as niet strydig tegen de christelyke vryheid (“not in conflict with Christian liberty”). He stressed that a slave who becomes a Christian does not need to be freed, and that slave owners therefore should allow their slaves to be baptized.

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

        • David Cromie

          That same church actively supported white supremacy, racism, and apartheid in South Africa.

        • Otto

          Better question…how can you demonstrate your morality is objective? You say your morality is different and better than every other person’s that does not share you belief. That is your claim, so the burden is on you.

        • Paul

          “Better question…how can you demonstrate your morality is objective?”

          That would be shifting the burden of proof. I’ve been trying to get Bob to demonstrate his position that morality is relative.

          “You say your morality is different and better than everyone that does not share you belief.That is your claim….”

          Where did I say that? Have a quote? Otherwise, it’s just you claiming that I said that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Where did I say that? Have a quote? Otherwise, it’s just you claiming that I said that.

          That’s not what you believe then?

        • Greg G.

          That would be shifting the burden of proof. I’ve been trying to get Bob to demonstrate his position that morality is relative.

          You have been avoiding your burden of proof for at least a year now. You have been asked repeatedly.

          You have been given many examples where there is no objective moral position. You cannot answer because any attempt would show that the morality is relative. So you ignore them.

        • Otto

          You said “If they are moral relativists, it’s nothing more than personal opinion. They can’t actually say if something is actually right or wrong”,…. that directly implies that your morality is different and not personal opinion…any chance you are going to get around to showing how that is the case or are you just going to pretend that saying it makes it true?

          For the record I don’t think morality is purely relative, or purely objective.

        • Greg G.

          Is that objective? How can you demonstrate that my morality is relative?

          You don’t have an objective means of detecting it. All you have is feelings.

          I’m not sure what will convince you of the errors of your ways.

          You haven’t tried presenting premises based on evidence and unfallacious arguments yet. When are you going to get around to that?

        • Paul

          “You don’t have an objective means of detecting it. All you have is feelings.”

          So the statement made my Otto, “Your morality is relative”, is based on feelings and there’s no objective means of detecting it. He stated it as if it were a matter of fact. But your saying it’s not a fact that “your morality is relative.” To summarize: it’s not objectively true that morality is relative. Got it.

        • Greg G.

          Is there something wrong with your “B” key? I have seen about three times today where you typed “my” when you apparently mean “by”.

          So the statement made my Otto, “Your morality is relative”, is based on feelings and there’s no objective means of detecting it.

          His statement is from the observation that you cannot support that morality is objective. Your morality is as relative as anyone else’s but your method of arriving at it is irrational. You imagine what an imaginary being would want and pretend that would be objective.

          If you want to argue that morality is objective, then give a proof of it that doesn’t resort to how people feel about it. If that is all you can argue, then it is subjective and not objective, so when people disagree, it is relative.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I won’t believe your morality is *objective* until you demonstrate it.

          Go.

        • How can you demonstrate that my morality is relative?

          By asking you to defend your remarkable claim of objective morality.

        • Paul

          “No it is not pointless because then, as with anything, we as a group can
          discuss it and come to some sort of consensus based on reasoning and
          evidence.”

          But by doing so, you’re demonstrating that morality is not relative. You can say that they are relative, but you’re demonstrating something completely different.

        • Otto

          Oh, so morality without God is also objective? Now you are saying your morality is the same and not special. Why all the posturing than?

        • Greg G.

          But by doing so, you’re demonstrating that morality is not relative.

          Is it moral to break into someone’s home, threaten the people inside, then kill them? Is it moral for someone to break into your house, threaten everyone inside, then you kill the intruder? If you give have different answers, then the morality of the two situations is relative.

          I think it is immoral for you to kill in the first situation but moral for you to kill in the second. But if there is objective morality, then killing is either right or wrong and not relative to the situation.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The standard is avoiding harm.

          If you can’t understand that, you’ve got bigger problems than your authoritarian tendencies.

        • Phil

          What nobody has stated, unless I have missed it, what do you mean by morality? Then we can decide what is and isn’t moral based on that definition.

        • Greg G.

          Phil, it is objectively immoral to ask that question. I know because I can feel it in my bones.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          LOL, for reals 😉

        • It that a fact or is it relative? Do you see the logical problem of moral relativity now?

          Nope.

          You act as if the normal way of conversing is by sharing objectively true facts. How is this possible when you can’t even say with certainty that you’re not in the Matrix?

        • Greg G.

          Was it moral to not have your child stoned for sassing you before Moses?
          Was it moral to not have your child stoned for sassing you between Moses and Jesus?
          Is it moral to not have your child stoned for sassing you now?

          The Bible ordered that children who disrespect their parents to be stoned in the New Testament about not doing that.

          Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NRSV)18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. 20 They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid.

          Is this what you call objective morality? If not, then where do you get access to objective morality?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, they do make moral claims. But what’s their basis?

          Not from their golfing or cycling, which is the point.

          If they are moral relativists, it’s nothing more than personal opinion.

          Indeed…and when more than one of them agree on a moral claim, we have intersubjective morality.

          They can’t actually say if something is actually right or wrong.

          Of course they can ya moron. That’s why some folk think slavery, child abuse, rape, etc. are bad and have created laws against such actions, in spite of your religious handbook…while others think a woman’s body is her own and she should have control over what happens to it…and why laws have been made to secure such, in spite of the morality of others. Capiche? I guess not.

          That’s what I was getting at. If you’re having trouble understanding something, don’t be afraid to ask.

          You are the one with the comprehension issues ya feckin’ eejit.

        • Phil

          Some theists take moral actions or non-actions that are directly contradicted by their handbook. Such as not stoning their children. I am pretty sure it is a big list.

        • Ignorant Amos

          At least 613 last time I looked…

          http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

          …some really crazy mad shite in that handbook for sure.

        • Phil

          Doesn’t that prove that their morality does not come from it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…at least most of them…there are the ultra extremists that attempt follow the letter of The Law to some really barmy extremes of course. But even those woo-woo’s ignore lot’s of the rules…or more importantly, the penalties for breaking said rules.

          The fact that very few believers abide by the handbook in this day and age, demonstrates their moral relativism.

        • Phil

          So that is it then. End of discussion. Unless someone can reconcile the unreconcilable!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ya’d think so wouldn’t ya? Still, the holy rollers plough on regardless anyway…knobhead Paul being a case in example.

      • Paul

        “But theologies do make moral claims.”

        I think you meant theologians make moral claims.

        “Atheists do not incorporate their moral claims on the basis of atheism.”

        But they do have a basis for moral claims which is the point I was trying to make. That’s what I’m getting at, but people on this site want to get into semantics instead of getting to the real issue.

        • Greg G.

          I think you meant theologians make moral claims.

          Theologians say what their theology says. It is just imaginary beliefs anyway.

          But they do have a basis for moral claims which is the point I was trying to make. That’s what I’m getting at, but people on this site want to get into semantics instead of getting to the real issue.

          We treat others the way we would like to be treated and we do not treat others the way we would not like to be treated. This simple formula was stated by others many times before it was attributed to Jesus.

          You cannot know what is objectively moral even if anything was objectively moral. Since you cannot know this, you have no reason to believe what a supernatural being says is moral, especially since you cannot distinguish a supernatural being from an imaginary supernatural being. Since you cannot get past this issue, you can only state your opinion of an imaginary being’s opinion of morality.

          We base our morality on empathy and reason, the same way other cultures have interacted for centuries since long before there were any Jews or Christians. There are some basic moral behaviors that are seen in chimpanzees. They are good for social creatures but detrimental for asocial creatures so they are relative, not objective.

        • Paul

          “You cannot know what is objectively moral even if anything was objectively moral.”

          Is that an objective statement? How do you know?

        • Greg G.

          Is that an objective statement?

          Yes.

          How do you know?

          Morality is a concept with no properties that can be detected and evaluated objectively.

          Of course, you could show a method that shows how it can be objectively evaluated, even in principle.

        • David Cromie

          Try judging actions by their outcomes.

        • Greg G.

          I think we have to judge the decisions by the reasonably anticipated outcomes. Taking someone to the hospital in an emergency might be a good thing but not if it puts you in the path of someone else rushing to the hospital. But waiting 5 seconds to allow that person to pass would put you in the path of someone else at the next intersection.

        • Greg G.

          By the time the outcome that arrives, it is too late to decide which action to take. There is only one outcome, you don’t know if that is better than the outcome that did not happen.

          That method can also lead to amoral actions if one judges on anticipated outcomes and chooses selfishly.

          I make moral choices on the outcomes that I anticipate would be fair and compassionate. I just don’t pretend that is objective morality.

          When it comes down to a life or death matter, I would do a quick calculus considering the number saved by each choice, maybe including ages and dependents of the people, but, all things being fairly equal, I’m saving my loved ones instead of someone else’s loved ones, and myself instead of someone else. I wouldn’t blame someone else for making the same sort of choice in their favor. That is clearly not an objective moral choice.

        • MR

          More…

    • Technically true, but I could say that religion makes no moral claims and it would be technically true.

      Wow, we really aren’t on the same page, are we?

      Atheism is one answer (“No”) to one question (“Do you have a god belief?”). That’s it. Christianity, with its 800,000-word Bible and 2000 years of tradition and 21 ecumenical councils have much to say about many, many things, including morality.

      Atheism says nothing about morality, just like chemistry says nothing about morality.

      People, including atheists, are the ones that make moral claims.

      Then point to the worldview that they have.

      Let me help you out. I’m thinking of one that starts with “Human-“ and ends with “-ism.” Can you guess what it is? You could look at that one and criticize if you’re looking for a worldview that some atheists subscribe to.

      • Paul

        I trying to understand your worldview – whether it has a label or not.

        “Atheism says nothing about morality”

        Yes, you already said that. But the fact remains that atheists say things about morality. Concepts, like atheism and religion, can’t physically say anything. But people can. You’ve said a lot of things about morality. Religious PEOPLE say things about morality. Are we on the same page now?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Category error.

          Car mechanics probably talk about morals, too, but does it have anything to do with their mechanical skills, training, and knowledge?

        • the fact remains that atheists say things about morality

          Right. So let’s try to find the worldview (secular humanism would be one candidate) that might encompass where they’re coming from.

          Concepts, like atheism and religion, can’t physically say anything.

          ?? You’re lumping two very different things together. Yes, they each answer the god question, but that’s the only overlap. Christianity (to take one religion) is a worldview. It says much about morality. Atheism says nothing.

    • Otto

      Yes Bob makes moral claims, and yes Bob is an atheist, Bob does not make his moral claims in a foundation of atheism, it would be impossible to do so because atheism does not speak to morality period.

      But when religious people make moral claims their claims are quite often founded on their religion.

    • Sample1

      People, including atheists, are the ones that make moral claims.

      That’s a bingo. Excellent. Agreed.

      then stop making moral claims.

      This does not follow unless you claim that atheists are not people. I’m assuming you do not make that claim. If you do, there are medications available.

      What’s missing here when talking about relative morality is moral (and by extension normative) constructivism. Kant, Street, Rawls, and of course Hume all propose different flavors of moral constructivism. Some apply to meta ethics some do not.

      Normative constructivism is the view that the moral principles we ought to accept are the ones that agents would agree to or endorse were they to engage in a hypothetical or idealized process of rational deliberation. -Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

      Presumably you’d agree that both atheists and theists, at least in principle, can engage in rational deliberation. Good. Now, when people in society do not fit in with what those agents construct in terms of morality what do we do? Well, we usually put those people in jail.

      In other words, there is no logical reason to exclude atheists, people, from making moral claims just because atheism (the concept) is a-moral. Likewise, atheists have no logical reason to exclude theists from making moral claims just because, as you say, religion (the concept) makes no moral claims.

      What we are left with is conversation among people about how to define moral and immoral behavior.

      So let’s get to work.

      Mike, faith-free
      Edit done

  • Almost a chimp

    I don’t know if I’m just petty but I’ve never been comfortable with atheism being described as ‘the lack of belief in gods’. The ‘lack of’ suggests that we are missing some fundamental attribute that believers possess; it’s as if the existence of gods is a given but atheists can’t see what is obvious to everybody else.
    Personally, I define atheism more as the rejection of the very idea of gods.

    Just my two-pence worth.

    • Otto

      I would say it is not an attribute that is missing, it is that a reasonable justification for believing the proposition ‘God(s) exist’ is missing.

    • Greg G.

      the rejection of the very idea of gods.

      That is strong atheism. It shifts a burden of proof to you.

      Defined as the lack of belief in gods but the burden of proof where it belongs – those who imagine a god thingy must demonstrate a way to distinguish their concept from imagination.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      A useful rephrase might be “Disbelief pending convincing evidence.”

  • Phil

    Here is a good paper on morality: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/ What it seems to boil down to is that morality is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Raging Bee

    …if there isn’t any god and there’s no last judgment, I’d like to know why anyone should bother with anybody else.

    I’ve never heard any ACTUAL ATHEISTS asking that question. I certainly don’t have to ask myself, or anyone else, why I should bother looking for people who are decent to me, or trying to be decent to them.

    • For a smart guy with 3 doctorates, this was dumb thinking. Christian societies are always nice and others are not? Children need to be taught Christianity before they can play nice?

      Stupid.

  • Raging Bee

    There is no evidence supporting claims of objective morality.

    There you’ve kinda lost me. I’m getting fucking tired of hearing people say there’s no such thing as objective morality. When you deny objective morality, you are denying the most basic moral foundation of every social-justice movement in human history.

    Once upon a time most white people believed black Africans had a “natural condition” that inclined them toward servitude toward whites. But then people OBSERVED how black people behaved, and how they were harmed (to put it mildly) by slavery and oppression, and concluded that they had the same mental capacities and limitations as white people, and this “natural condition” theory was unfounded — and so the Abolitionist movement was born. And pretty much the same is true for the Civil Rights movement, the women’s rights movement, sexual revolution, the LGBT+ movement, most anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist liberation movements, etc.; every one of which was based on observation and verification of harms done, justifications not in evidence, unequal/maldistributed benefits, etc.

    Objective morality is that set of principles that are based on objective, verifiable benefits and harms done to ourselves and others. We all know this when we judge the actions and events we observe every day, and we should stop denying this knowledge by lazy repetition of lazy reasoning.

    • Pofarmer

      That’s not how “objective morality” is typically defined. You’re talking more about “Intersubjective” reality, ie, moral principals that most or all people agree on. Objective morality is normally defined as universal, unchanging moral dictums that are unencumbered by the presence of humans. The moral laws would exist whether humanity did or not, type stuff. That is emphatically NOT what you are describing.

      • Raging Bee

        Actually, I think most Christians, at least, use the phrase “ABSOLUTE morality” to describe what you’re talking about.

        The problem with the word “intersubjective” is that it still has “subjective” in it, which allows believers to pretend we don’t have actual morals, only “preferences.” We can, and should, call it “objective” instead because even though it’s not independent of human existence, it’s based on objective facts ABOUT humans. A different species might have different morals, appropriate to their nature and conditions; but if they met us they’d be able to verify our observations about what’s beneficial or harmful to us (whether or not they’d care is another question).

        • MR

          I understand where you’re coming from, but even in what you’re saying, you’re saying it’s subjective. It’s subjective to humans. All humans agree (and even that can be questioned) that humans shouldn’t do x to other humans. That makes it human morality, but it doesn’t make it objective morality. Really all you can say is, “the vast majority of humans find x to be abhorrent, or y to be acceptable behavior.” Remove the humans and it becomes meaningless. We don’t talk about lions raping, robbing or murdering each other. We care because we’re human, but it’s not objective.

        • Raging Bee

          Just because a set of principles may apply only to humans, doesn’t make it subjective, especially not if they’re based on objective facts about human nature and needs.

        • MR

          Sure, you can make general statements about human nature and needs, but that doesn’t make morality objective. Psychopaths exist, the mentally ill exist, inconsiderate people exist who will say, that doesn’t bother me. So, now you’re forced to retreat to “All humans, except….” That’s a far cry from objectivity. “The vast majority of mankind is constituted in such a way that….” Sure. Objectivity? I don’t see it. Also, we’re talking about value judgments, not hard and fast facts. That a cuckoo knocks an egg out of another birds nest is part of the nature of a cuckoo. We don’t place a value judgment on it because we’re not cuckoos. We do on things human because we’re human. You could say that, objectively, it’s also part of human nature to lie, cheat and steal.

        • Raging Bee

          Also, we’re talking about value judgments, not hard and fast facts.

          We’re talking about value judgments based (at least partly) on verifiable facts.

          You could say that, objectively, it’s also part of human nature to lie, cheat and steal.

          Yes, but: a) that’s why all civil societies have permanent policies in place to deter, stop and punish lying, cheating and stealing; and b) even the liars, cheats and thieves don’t like being on the receiving end of their crimes. So the existence of that pretty solid consensus that lying, cheating and stealing is wrong, can be taken as an objective fact on the ground.

        • MR

          But not objective morality.

          Also, some psychopaths don’t see things in terms of right, wrong, or moral terms.

          Certain philosophies are about doing away with judgements on human affairs. I just don’t see objectivity.

          Also, such behaviors were actually beneficial in our evolutionary past. Lying, cheating, stealing, even murder can keep you alive in hostile conditions. So in circumstance a, beneficial, circumstance b) harmful. Not objective.

          I agree with you. It would be nice if people behaved a certain way. I just don’t find this to be an objective truth.

        • Raging Bee

          Also, some psychopaths don’t see things in terms of right, wrong, or moral terms.

          So what? The mere existence of irrational, dishonest or denialist people does not make any set of rules less applicable or reality-based, any more than it makes global warming less real.

        • MR

          You’re presupposing your objective morality. I don’t see it. Lying, cheating, stealing are as much a part of human nature as the good things. Come the apocalypse, all those moral niceties are going out the window. So now we’re reduced to, most but not all humans under favorable circumstances tend to…. Read some of Dan Ariely’s stuff on honesty. I’m paraphrasing, but he comments that what keeps most people honest isn’t so much their morality, but opportunity. Given half a chance… It seems to me that morality is a veneer, but it doesn’t take much to scratch the surface. All of this suggest to me: not objective.

        • Raging Bee

          Come the apocalypse, all those moral niceties are going out the window.

          If it takes “the apocalypse” to send “all those moral niceties out the window,” that’s an admission that they’re pretty solidly embedded in human behavior, both individual and social. So again, that doesn’t refute anything I’ve said.

          You’re starting to sound like a Russian-Orthodox obscurantist troll. Is it your intention to deny the moral foundation of all progressive social-justice movements? Yes or no?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re starting to sound like a Russian-Orthodox obscurantist troll.

          Well MR is definitely not that.

          Is it your intention to deny the moral foundation of all progressive social-justice movements?

          Yes…if it’s an objective moral foundation you believe it comes from.

          Is slavery objectively morally wrong? No, it’s intersubjectively morally wrong.

          There was a time when most nations believed it was just fine and dandy to own people…mostly out group people, but hey, it is what is is. Most nations [all] no longer believe that’s the case. So it went from laws permitting the owning of people to laws prohibiting the owning people. Neither position was objectively the moral correct one. People changed the rules. When more folk decided it was more bad than good to own human beings, intersubjectivity changed the moral structure. Some…lots of folk still don’t agree, but that’s too bad.

        • Raging Bee

          And we also thought the Earth was flat; then we thought it was round, but motionless at the center of the Universe; then we figured the Sun was more the center of the Universe…

          Just because we weren’t right about something from day one, doesn’t mean there’s no objective truth. It just means we started out primitive, and we’re learning more stuff every generation.

        • MR

          It kind of goes back to Bob’s point with Christians. If you have access to this objective truth, show it and show that it is objective. Just because we weren’t right about something from day one, doesn’t mean there is an objective truth either. The very things you’re saying suggest to me that morality is not objective. We’re back to my, it’s just a label to describe complex concepts, but that doesn’t exist in reality as a thing.

        • Raging Bee

          If you have access to this objective truth, show it and show that it is objective.

          So you are an obscurantist. Got it.

        • MR

          In other words, like our Christian friends, you can’t demonstrate it. If you can demonstrate it, I’m definitely interested. The same for the Christian. I just don’t see it. You’re making a claim that you can’t prove. That’s all it means.

        • Bringing science into the discussion confuses things, but we all agree it has objective facts. Let’s stick with morality.

          What’s the correct position on vegetarianism? Is that position objectively true?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or fuck those lightweight vegetarians…get with the program….the only fuckers with “true” objective morality are vegans….at least when it comes to using animal products.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And we also thought the Earth was flat; then we thought it was round, but motionless at the center of the Universe; then we figured the Sun was more the center of the Universe…

          That is all a false equivalence.

          We can take two folk with different opinions on the age of the planet….or those things you list…and demonstrate why one is more accurate that the other scientifically.

          Just because we weren’t right about something from day one, doesn’t mean there’s no objective truth. It just means we started out primitive, and we’re learning more stuff every generation.

          That statement demonstrates that morality was not objective. We weren’t right about something from day one, then we got a bit righter in day two, then by “x” days later we were better again. Fast forward millennia, our morality is generally better. Why is it not exactly the same as it was when we lived in caves? Because as you say, we are learning stuff every generation. Our society threw gay folk into jail back in the 50’s because that was the morally righteous thing to do apparently to society. Generations later, gay folk can get married. Which was the morally just position and why?

          People had a change of heart about stuff, what was once deemed morally repugnant, now is socially accepted, and vice versa, how can that be with objective morality?

          Why were we not right about the thing from day one? Perhaps if we’d had the modern Wests morality back in day one, we’d have been fucked and as a species never got here. Remember, we were animals striving for survival. What was best for the genes survival. The morality of the the day wasn’t just stealing to survive, it was killing the others to survive, and not too many give a fuck if history is to be judged.

          Who is to say in some future time that what we deem immoral today, will become the norm for survival.

          Human beings have been doing it throughout history…and don’t think it is just an ancient thing either. Inuits as recently as the 1930’s abandoned the elderly that were unproductive and a burden. Victorian families were excessively large because of mortality rates, and when that backfired and there were too many mouths to feed…stuff that is morally repugnant was the norm.

        • MR

          There are many people who would vehemently disagree with many of RB’s moral beliefs, even where I agree with him. That’s the first clue that morality is not objective.

        • MR

          The apocalypse is just an extreme example. Tax season has a similar effect. The point, and my only point, is that it’s obviously not objective. I agree with you that most humans have similar moral beliefs and that it would generally be a positive if we all agreed and followed those beliefs that do the least harm, yadda, yadda, yadda. I just don’t see that they are objective. It’s another thing that we’re trying to reify. It’s not a real thing.

        • Raging Bee

          Yes, that’s my point: you needed an extreme example to “prove” that human values could be tossed out the window; which is an admission that those values are uniformly well-entrenched. In other words, they’re as good as objective, and calling them “intersubjective” or some other new fuzzword is nothing but useless hairsplitting.

        • MR

          ?? To make the point, yes, because even an extreme example negates objectivity. Ariely, however, writes that it doesn’t take much. Deceit is also entrenched in the human condition.

        • Pofarmer

          Ok. Let’s use an example. You say that murder is objectively wrong. Ok. But, in some places, if a woman “dishonors” the family, she can be stoned to death(or whatever). The people in that culture didn’t think that it was objectively wrong. They thought it was the moral thing to do. And like others have said, in this instance, we should be using objective as “Universal and applicable and outside of humanity.” I just don’t see it. Nearly everything one society would think is immoral, another society would think is perfectly fine.

        • Raging Bee

          And like others have said, in this instance, we should be using
          objective as “Universal and applicable and outside of humanity.”

          No, that’s “absolute morality,” and like most other things people label “absolute,” it’s a useless abstraction. “Objective morality” is a perfectly useful and honest name for the morality I describe, because it is, and should be, based on objective truths about benefits and harms.

        • Pofarmer

          A proposition is objective if its truth value is independent of the person uttering it. A fact is objective in the same way.

          “For morality to be objective, moral propositions such as “Killing is bad”,”Stealing is bad”, etc… need to be true independently of the person who is stating them.”

          https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/30683/what-is-objective-morality

        • Pofarmer

          “Moral Absolutism is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act“

          https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_absolutism.html

        • I continue to think that the only disagreement we have is definitions (which is quite a boring thing to have a disagreement about).

        • Raging Bee

          A boring subject for dispute, maybe; but in this case unavoidable: Christians (and maybe others) are trying to pretend all morals and values come from their God, and ONLY from their God, with all other principles being “subjective,” “relativist” or “just preferences.” Secularists, liberals, progressives and atheists CANNOT, under any circumstances, allow them to twist words to mean what they want them to mean, because they have a long history of making words mean the exact opposite of what all other English-speakers understand them to mean.

          When we keep on robotically insisting/agreeing that “morality is subjective,” we are giving up both the moral high ground, and some measure of control of our very language, to bigoted liars, denialists, anti-rationalists, and obscurantists. Our debunking of reactionary faith-based moral principles is consistently based on objective, verifiable facts about the consequences of said rules, therefore we should loudly and proudly call our principles “objective,” and not let them call them “subjective” or “preferences.” They’re the ones being “subjective” when they base their morals on their own prejudices, delusions and fantasy-sky-daddies. If we let them mix and mismatch those important labels, then we might as well let them say that war is peace, freedom is slavery…you know the drill.

        • A boring subject for dispute, maybe; but in this case unavoidable

          When different parties define “objective morality” differently, yes, I agree that laying out the definitions is important early on.

          Christians (and maybe others) are trying to pretend all morals and values come from their God, and ONLY from their God, with all other principles being “subjective,” “relativist” or “just preferences.”

          Worse, they usually don’t say “objective morality” but say stuff like, “How can the atheist say that something is really wrong?” (What is that supposed to mean??)

          Secularists, liberals, progressives and atheists CANNOT, under any circumstances, allow them to twist words to mean what they want them to mean, because they have a long history of making words mean the exact opposite of what all other English-speakers understand them to mean.

          My approach is to demand that they defend their claim that objective morality (as I’ve defined above, using the WLC definition) exists. They never can.

          When we keep on robotically insisting/agreeing that “morality is subjective,”

          I prefer “Morality is not objective” or better, “You say that morality is objective? I’ve never seen evidence of such a remarkable claim. Provide some.”

          They want to claim that they have objective morality? Now they’re in the hot seat to provide the evidence. When they can’t, they lose.

          Our debunking of reactionary faith-based moral principles is consistently based on objective, verifiable facts about the consequences of said rules, therefore we should loudly and proudly call our principles “objective,” and not let them call them “subjective” or “preferences.”

          As long as we define “objective.” “Bob’s car is blue” is an objective claim that can be verified, and we can reach 100% agreement on the truth of that statement. We don’t have 100% agreement on “Killing and eating animals is immoral.”

        • MR

          Oh, Lord, help me, but technically, Bob, “blue” doesn’t exist. The wavelength of the light exists. It’s our brain that interprets it as the color blue. Blue isn’t out there in the world, it’s only in our brain. This is an example of why it is problematic to claim “objective” truths. We can say most human’s minds interpret a particular wavelength as blue, yes, but blue doesn’t exist and not all minds will interpret the wavelength the same way.

        • Do you reject any claim that a statement is an objective truth? My approach has been to accept that something like “1 + 1 = 2” is objectively true but draw the line for claims for objective moral truth.

        • MR

          I know, I know, call me a Russian-Orthodox obscurantist denialist troll, but if you’re looking for an objective truth, you won’t find it in blue. No, I’m not rejecting any and all claims for objective truths, though, “truth” could be problematic and would need to be defined. Sure, I’m willing to accept many, many things as having some objectiv(e truth)ity until shown otherwise. Objective blue and objective morals though, I believe have been shattered for me. I’m perfectly happy with my non-objective blues and morals. I think humanity can come to agreement in many things within a non-objective framework. We have a huge common ground we can work within. I don’t need to imagine that it’s objective for it to work for me. I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. But I’m with you when it comes to math and morals.

          So far….

        • A tangent on the objective “blue”: I’ve gotten into debates with relatives about colors. “That’s orange.” “No, it’s pink.” Etc.

        • MR

          Wow. Orange and pink. I’ve not heard that one. Oh, well…, maybe the “color” salmon now that I think about it.

        • Imagine a color halfway between orange and pink and then people arguing over what color it is.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My issue is shades of blues, greens and yellows.

          I can’t pass the Ishihara test – where you’re asked to identify numbers contained within images made up of different coloured dots.

          It was discovered during a school medical test. My parents were told that it wasn’t anything to worry about, I would just not be able to follow certain career paths….like joining the military, or a trade such as Electrician. I ended up as an Electrician Royal Engineers.

          I failed the Ishihara test on my army medical too, but it didn’t seem to matter.

          My brother came along 9 years later…same thing with his school medical…my mother laughed when they told her that his career path might be restricted in the same way. She took great pride in telling the quacks that his older brother was in the army training to be an Electrician. Go figure!

        • What did you do when they say, “OK, now cut the green wire”??

          I imagine that wasn’t the kind of work you were involved in.

          https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81Ev3xjWt3L._SX522_.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          What did you do when they say, “OK, now cut the green wire”??

          The same thing I did when I was connecting the tails of of an 11 kVA substation.

          I imagine that wasn’t the kind of work you were involved in.

          Um…yeah! I never had to, but the potential was there.

          There are a number of specialised trades in the Corps of Royal Engineers including Bomb Disposal/Search, Armoured Engineer, Parachute Engineer, Commando Royal Engineer and Royal Engineer Diver to name a few.

          A was also fully trained High Risk Search Team Commander in Northern Ireland.

          But no, fortunately the closest I ever had to get to an IED was one metre…mind you, it was a 1500 lb live culvert bomb. That was sufficient squeaky bum time for me.

          A seen the 12 as soon as it appeared on the screen, but within a second or so, as a focused, a was fucked.

        • I saw the video of a MOAB dropped in Afghanistan, I think, a year or two ago. Scary.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fortunately enough, if something like that failed to detonate out in Afghanistan, a remote detonation would be the order of the day.

          It’s different when a German WWII bomb turns up in central London.

          https://secure.i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03242/size_3242475a.jpg

          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43056220

        • Wow. That’ll ruin your day.

        • MR

          Wow, that’s so cool how they spelled out the preamble to the constitution in magenta.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I get Bob’s point though.

          I’m colour blind btw.

          And there is no one blue that we all call the blue.

          Bob’s car has rubber wheels, perhaps?

        • MR

          I get Bob’s point though.

          Then you no doubt get my point that what seems intuitively obvious isn’t necessarily.

          Bob’s car has rubber wheels, perhaps?

          That the mass of atoms composed in a certain way and configured in a certain shape that English-speaking humans in the current era generally call “wheels.” Sure! =D

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha…perhaps rubber tyres [tires] is more accurate.

        • MR

          Even better! Now break down the chemical make-up of rubber and we got a deal!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not just rubber…the particular rubber of Bob’s tyres.

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9e/RubberSyn%26Natural.png/1920px-RubberSyn%26Natural.png

          I’d need to know the make of tyre on Bob’s car in order to find what compound is being used.

          But can’t we agree that it is essentially rubber for the purposes of the example?

        • MR

          Sure, but, consider that we’re talking about a physical thing.

          Democritus sometimes does away with what appears to the senses and says that nothing of this sort appears in truth, but only in opinion, truth about what exists lying in the fact that there are atoms and the empty. For he says, “By convention sweet, and by convention bitter, by convention hot, by convention cold, by convention colour: in reality atoms and the void.” –Sextus Empiricus

          (I changed the second reference to “void” because that’s how I originally heard the quote.)

          That’s an extreme, but there is some truth in it. Bob has talked about needing a platform from which to make a judgement. And that’s kind of what is being said there.

          Blue is not a physical thing. Morality is not a physical thing.

          I googled objectivity and get:

          Objectivity is a philosophical concept of being true independently from individual subjectivity caused by perception, emotions, or imagination. A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject. –Wikipedia

          That’s in line with what many of us are saying. Show me how to separate myself from morality in order to judge the objectivity of “morality,” which is not composed of atoms.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed.

        • Sample1

          Colorblind here too (red/green, the most common). I’m fine with it as it sounds like the real world is crazy bright and vivid! I wonder if that’s along the same rationale that some deaf communities use to justify not getting medical fixes when applicable? Hmmm.

          Mike

        • So you have one fewer color receptor. There are apparently some people (mostly women) who have one extra. As I understand it, what they see is something that simply isn’t expressible with words.

        • Sample1

          Yeah, or a mutated one. There are online simulations for normal visioned people to see what colorblind people see. It’s impossible for me to know if it’s accurate of course.

          It’s conjectured that we can see a little better in low light because we technically have more rods than cones. My acuity has always been good, no glasses. And I think I notice browns better in the woods. When I used to hunt I did not have the advantage that others do though. In the early season our local deer are auburn hued. Supposedly they really pop out in the alpine. I don’t see that. But I’ve never had problems finding them anyway. Then again, maybe I missed seeing more than I knew? Ha.

          Oliver Sacks wrote a cool book, an Anthropologist On Mars. One neuro case he investigated dealt with an artist (painter) who lost all colorvision (monochromatic/very rare) as an adult. He became suicidal as the world was so dead colored. Ketchup was black, gray bananas. He learned to adjust his art and I think his vision eventually returned, if I recall. Read that book a long time ago.

          Mike

        • Susan

          Oliver Sacks

          Two off-topic comments.

          One, is that I just mentioned “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” because I was talking to my Mom about outlying brain situations.

          And the second, because I just had to replace my hard drive and Greg G.’s/epeeist’s code has disappeared from my computer, I have been desperately poking through commenter histories to see what I have missed.

          Anyway, that leads me to just discovering that there’s a BrandonVogt.com.

          Christ on a cracker. I hate the internet, sometimes.

          How does a relentless liar manage to retain credibility through years and years of lying lying?

          It should be called lyingliarpantsonfire.com.

          But that’s not how the internet works.

          OK. Back on topic.

        • Sample1

          Yeah I left a comment there a couple weeks ago. Still up.

          Lying is a deal breaker for most, I should think. We can’t know how many chose to write him off but surely many must have?

          I remember having a similar convo with my ex a long time ago. She called them Teflon people. People who get away with blatant immorality either illegally or morally. And they appear to function through life successfully. We talked about how if we wanted to, we could be selfish monsters lying and cheating. But obviously we couldn’t. Some people don’t have that stop switch or it’s modified a bit.

          Look at the Trump circle of friends. I get the feeling sometimes there are more crooks in my little world than I’m aware of. We are all naturally somewhat selfish but I can see how it wouldn’t take much to become pro-level.

          I still cannot believe BV never apologized for his lying. That has to have real world effects. If he lies about something as stupid as moderation, is it far fetched to think it follows him on bigger things? I’m thinking no.

          Mike

        • Susan

          I still cannot believe BV never apologized for his lying.

          He didn’t have to. He lied about his lying. And then, the occasional theist who wandered out of the compound would lecture us about forgiveness and never call out the person who continues to lie about lying in the first place.

          This is too often humanity in your place of work, your local knitting circle and your town meetings.

          It’s that the RCC has refined it and has capitalized on it for so very long.

          Brandon Vogt is a mediocre thinker, a lying liar and a self-absorbed human being who gets away with it because he serves a cult.

          It has real world effects but not in his local world. He’s a hero there.

          It’s the fucking catholic evangelist internet.

          A brutal combination.

          Note that he can’t breathe for more than a few moments outside of his little compounds. He only thrives in echo chambers, in places where if he can’t ban you for “snark” (for which he never provided an objective standard, no matter how often he was asked, and for which his bias was relentlessly clear from the beginning), he can count on someone else doing so.

          His rare appeareances outside of that were to fling poo and deny that he lied (even with all the evidence against him). Before he ran away. Something he always did instantly when he had to do any work. He’s the mayor of Croydon.

          In the meantime, they can compare you and I to Stalin and pretend that our problem with the “Problem of Suffering” is that we once felt the prick of a vaccination or of a stubbed toe (feelings which never entered into my mind when I talked about the Problem of Suffering).

          As a matter of fact, I was never thinking of my own suffering when I talked about the Problem of Suffering.

          All their apologetics suggested that was what I was hung up about.

          Fascinating. Self-absorbed. Mediocre.

          And so fucking dishonest.

          That’s the church that indoctrinated me when I was a little girl.

          And Brandon is one of their internet stars.

          It tells you all you need to know about their tactics and their personnel.

        • Sample1

          And then, the occasional theist who wandered out of the compound would lecture us about forgiveness and never call out the person who continues to lie about lying in the first place.

          That always disappointed me. I don’t think a single one of them accepted the whole explanation despite being provided with the evidence.

          Mike

        • Susan

          I don’t think a single one of them accepted the whole explanation despite being provided with the evidence.

          Yes. Lesson one about forgiveness is not to lecture victims of bad behaviour about forgiveness while you elevate the people who practise that bad behaviour into higher and higher positions of power.

          Of course, if every catholic understood that principle…

        • Sample1

          The only principle they honestly seem to understand is trying to fix a plane while it’s falling.

          Mike
          Edit done

        • Susan

          The only principle they honestly seem to understand is trying to fix a plane while it’s falling.

          They never had a plane to fix.

          They’ve been selling magic carpets since the beginning.

        • Sample1

          Nice.

          HWS…engaged me, btw. Not long after clandestinely mentioning him. Going to need a new code for him now (waves

        • Pofarmer

          The Part that’s really grating is that BV is profiting off of his dishonest schtick and can act like a schmuck and get lauded for it because Jesus. I don’t beleive he’s a thinker at all, he’s a parrott.

        • epeeist

          I don’t beleive he’s a thinker at all, he’s a parrott.

          Hopefully a Norwegian Blue.

        • MR

          I enjoyed that book and others by him. Several of his stories really gave me pause when it came to things like morality as well. The brain is a funny place. When damage to a specific part of it can cause changes in moral behaviour, what implications does that have?

        • Sample1

          The first time I ever heard an intelligent adult call another adult “one of the smarties” was in reference to Sacks. Such a shame he’s gone. Was in a different league. A smartie.

          I think often of Harris’ ideas about moral failings and brain structure. We treat murderers with brain tumors on their amygdala differently than psychopaths calling the former victims of biology. In five centuries or less will we say the same for the latter? When perhaps individual neuron pathways become diagnostic for evil someday, our understanding of morality will change further.

          What the religions once called demonic influences has already been shown false with epilepsy.

          Wouldn’t you like to be alive in 500yrs to see how science uncovers more and more truth about our brains? With any luck many of us will see a taste of what the future holds in the coming decades. Tripling canine lifespans would make me happy enough for now. Ha.

          Mike

        • Sample1

          Right. I’ve seen those science vids about the extra receptor. It’s like the color magenta, which is not a wavelength color but one the brain manufacturers artificially. They just see other “magentas” that we can’t. I was able to see the color “yellow-blue” on an online test. Not all can. And yes, I cannot describe it in any familiar word. But I can see it. I wouldn’t call it exceptional so you’re not missing anything.

          Mike

        • A similar example came to mind for me. Between blue and green is a color called cyan or turquoise or aqua. Or, you could call it “blue-green.” But it’s not that way with the color between green and red. It’s yellow, never “green-red.”

          I don’t think I’ve read a good explanation for this.

        • Sample1

          Right. I see aqua/cyan. But yes, that’s the take with yellow-blue. It’s like green-red. I’ll look around and see if I can find that test. It’s a dull color, neither blue or yellow.

          Mike

        • Sample1

          The Opponent Process. Forbidden colors. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_color

          Try the red-green test. I see something colored like a goldish/light rust? But I don’t know. Could be light brownish/orange. That’s the point, it’s an indescribable color. Apparently not all can see these odd colors even with the tests. The red green is super easy. I don’t see the yellow blue very well.

          Mike

        • Interesting. With the crossed-eye colors, I just see a struggle as the result morphs from red to green and back. Maybe the eyes are getting alternately fatigued? I wonder what it would look like if each color would flip to the other one, maybe every second. That might eliminate the eye fatigue, but I don’t know what would happen.

        • MR

          Blue yellow flipped back and forth or kind of overlayed each other for me, but red green became a kind of orange.

        • Sample1

          The red and green receptors are antagonist and therefore, it was thought to be physically impossible to visually converge them functionally. But I see a single, very different color easily. The blue yellow is much harder as I can sometimes witness my receptors competing for activation, alternating like you say.

          The folks who see all numbers, all the time, in specific colors are fascinating and I don’t see that. Would make memory tricks all the more useful.

          I spoke to my ophthalmologist about color correction glasses and he said it was a scam. It’s physics. If you don’t have the receptors, you’re done. That was a while ago though and there are supposedly new lenses out that some colorblind people are raving about. What I can’t discover is if they can pass the Ishihara tests with them. I doubt it but I don’t want to lay out $500.00 to try them myself (Enchroma). I think they augment something but again, not sure if it’s truly physically possible without the actual receptors there.

          Then again, some have Jesus lenses. Ha.

          Ps: did you try the chimerical chart on that link? I see all the represented renderings as listed except instead of the predicted “self luminous red” I see what I’d call an icy purple/light blue. I wonder if that’s because of my deuternopia. Interesting.

          Mike
          Edit done

        • Yes, I see the self-luminous red as it describes. But do you see the pink-on-grey that I see as a target?
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a43d9ecc4349c61807604f684f4c2e4ec8a4b60a2d550c70f1560c3993fa442b.jpg

        • Sample1

          I do. It’s a moderately difficult color for me to discern (pink on gray) but it is very different from what I see on the target field (an icy purple/light blue), colors I do not mistake with pink/gray irl. The orange and blue renderings match for me. Because pink is part of my colorblind issue, it’s no doubt correlated to why it renders differently. They should have had extra rendering rows for the various color deficiencies.

          You could have told me the pink/gray was taupe/gray and I would have had to believe you. Over time, I think it’s possible to train yourself to suspect when a hard color is in front of you. You may not definitely know it but when I sense that, in a store, I’ll ask a stranger for advice. Consequently I’ve also learned that many more people have color problems than is perceived. There is an app you can scan over hues to get an answer. It’s not perfect but it’s better than I am.

          Fascinating stuff.

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • I suppose you’ve seen the Oatmeal cartoon about the mantis shrimp?

          https://theoatmeal.com/comics/mantis_shrimp

        • Sample1

          I do know about that little fucker. Once had a salt aquarium and only certain tanks are recommended for them. I never wanted to risk it. Cool comic.

          Mike

        • Because they’d smack the glass and break it? Amazing mechanics in those claws.

        • Sample1

          Yep. There are vids on them. If I’m not mistaken the cavitation doesn’t just nano-secondly boil the water it makes a plasma. Insane.

          Edit: sonoluminescence.

          Mike

        • Greg G.

          It says that if humans could accelerate the arms as fast as the shrimp accelerates its claws, we could launch a baseball into orbit. I suspect the cowhide would incinerate long before it got that high.

          If we could coordinate several of them, we could launch rockets cheaply as they wouldn’t require launching fuel with it. The acceleration would have to be equivalent the deceleration of hitting the ground after falling from space.

        • Have you heard of Project Orion? It was a project to use nuclear bombs to blast a rocket into space. Apparently you toss a small bomb out, use the explosion to propel you, and then repeat. I guess the physics worked out so that it kinda would’ve worked.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

        • Paul B. Lot

          It would have been fucking awesome, too. Perhaps best used *in* space, tho.

        • Perhaps so, though that wasn’t part of the initial plan. Maybe “a little fallout won’t kill you” was the motto.

        • Greg G.

          Like surfing shock waves.

        • The folks who see all numbers, all the time, in specific colors

          Synesthesia, I believe? Yes, very cool. You’d think that such a thing would be disruptive, but I guess not.

        • MR

          If I could choose an abnormality, it would be synesthesia.

        • Unless we non-synesthetes are the abnormal ones.

          This is how superpowers start …

        • MR

          That’s funny. I almost wrote, If I could choose a superpower….

        • This sounds like a clue to yet another superpower.

          (I just finished watching Umbrella Academy, so I’m in a superpower mood.)

        • Greg G.

          When I was in first grade, I noticed that my left eye had sharper vision than my right eye but my right eye saw the green chalkboard more vividly than my left eye. I suppose it might be a slightly different ratio of rods and cones for the color but the right eye has always taken a stronger prescription than my left eye since I started wearing glasses.

        • Sample1

          That’s interesting. I don’t know why you’d perceive color less vividly in an eye with sharper vision, especially when young. Older perhaps (cataracts, glaucoma, etc.) I’ve never heard of rods/cones being appreciably different in bilateral ratios as to be discernible. I’m guessing that’s not it, but completely not my area. Did you ever have an eye infection/injury as a kid?

          Total guess: probably brain processing related rather than physical eye issue. It’s not widespreadly described as the brain, but the eyes/nerves are part of the brain, they protrude through the skull right from the brain. When my eyes itch or whatever I like to say my brain is itchy or watery.

          But no clue.

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, that’s “absolute morality,” and like most other things people label “absolute,” it’s a useless abstraction.

          absolute: viewed or existing independently and not in relation to other things; not relative or comparative.

          Morals are definitely relative.

          objective: (of a person or their judgement) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

          Morals are dependent on the judgement of persons. And those people judgments change relative to the time, place, and people.

          “Objective morality” is a perfectly useful and honest name for the morality I describe, because it is, and should be, based on objective truths about benefits and harms.

          This is the definition of “objective morality” we are contesting.

          “Objective” means “independent of people’s (including one’s own) opinion.” “Subjective” means “just a matter of personal opinion.” If we do have objective moral duties, then in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves we are obligated or forbidden to do various actions, regardless of what we think.

          https://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer/P10/objective-or-absolute-moral-values

          Which is clearly a loada ballix.

          …because it is, and should be, based on objective truths about benefits and harms.

          What is an objective truth? Who decided these things? When? Where? Why? And are they subject to change in the future?

        • Raging Bee

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

          Yes, and progressive values are based on real-world facts and events that exist independent of people’s opinions. The harm done by slavery, for example, is a real, verified and documented thing, independent of what anyone may feel about black people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, and progressive values are based on real-world facts and events that exist independent of people’s opinions.

          I don’t think that is true. Progressive values are continuously changing, usually for the better, but not always, hence the term “progressive”…something that is objective isn’t subject to progression.

          I take the context of progressive here is “social reform”? Social reform is driven by persons and judgments, i.e. intersubjectivity.

          The harm done by slavery, for example, is a real, verified and documented thing, independent of what anyone may feel about black people.

          No, it only became that once more folk realized there was harm being done and decided it was wrong, than didn’t. There was a time when slavery was just part and parcel of life. Those that had slaves, didn’t much care what harm was being done to the slaves. Those that were slaves, didn’t much care about the slaves they had before they became enslaved. It’s that in-group/out-group thing again.

          Why are you making slavery all about black people?

          At some point in our evolution our species decided it was beneficial to own people to do stuff for us without recompense. It seems the explosion occurred when we moved from hunter-gathers to agriculture development. Though there is evidence that slavery pre-dates even that.

          It took quite a long time, and a lot of social reform before the balance of opinion shifted and changes made.

          There was legal slavery in the world right up until 2007. There is illegal slavery going on all over the world today, and skin colour has nothing much to do with it. That was just an excuse at a certain time and place, reinforcing that the morals on slavery were relative and the decision by people to make that slavery illegal was intersubjective, because most people now think it is a bad practice. it is seen as deplorable, but still not by everyone.

        • Agreed–after World War III, if global society is reduced to subsistence living for the tiny fraction that remains, it’s easy to imagine very different ideas toward slavery, theft, murder, etc. We might disagree with their choices, but that doesn’t mean that we’re objectively correct.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve just been watching the “Waking Dead”…fiction much? Reality really…one word….Stalingrad.

        • MR

          Also, it negates any objective claim that “all humans….”

        • Are these objective moral truths reliably accessible? If so, by whom? Apparently, “irrational, dishonest or denialist people” can’t see them or lie/deny. If someone tells me that abortion is correct or incorrect, how do I know which camp they’re in?

        • So the existence of that pretty solid consensus that lying, cheating and stealing is wrong, can be taken as an objective fact on the ground.

          Right, but these are the easy ones. You should focus on vegetarianism or abortion as more relevant test cases.

        • MR

          Even then there’s not complete consensus on the lying, cheating and stealing. I think of an alien observer analyzing human nature. Is he going to come away thinking, “What I’ve learned is that humans believe that lying, cheating and stealing are immoral.” I don’t think so, he’s going to come away thinking, “What I’ve learned is that humans say they believe that lying, cheating and stealing is immoral, but they do an awful lot of it and don’t give it much of it a second thought.”

        • Even then there’s not complete consensus on the lying, cheating and stealing.

          How about this: there is a consensus that those moral errors exist, but the definitions are the points of contention.

          “What I’ve learned is that humans say they believe that lying, cheating and stealing is immoral, but they do an awful lot of it and don’t give it much of it a second thought.”

          When I steal, it’s probably moral in my mind even though it might be immoral in yours. I had good reasons, y’see. We still agree that immoral stealing is bad.

        • MR

          I think the problem is that we’re making a value judgment about humans while being human. That’s a subjective stance we can’t easily escape. When we say objective, that suggests outside of ourselves. Do those moral errors exist outside of ourselves? We don’t make those judgments about other animals. Outside of ourselves, one could argue that it is in man’s nature to lie, cheat and steal, so is it really an error if it is part of our nature? If it’s part of our nature, is it objectively immoral?

          It’s a very different thing to say, as humans, we would like it to be our goal that we eliminate harming each other, yadda yadda…, and it’s another thing to assign objective morality to it. If the Yargons on Rigel B heard that the earthlings killed themselves, they’d just shrug like we would shrug if we saw a couple of ant colonies eliminate each other. We care about the topic because we’re humans, but objective?

          I think it makes people uncomfortable not to have some kind of objectivity to hang their hat on. But, even if there’s not an objective morality, we still have common, shared values that work almost as well. If there is an objective morality, fine, show me. Where does it exist? How do we know? I mean, clearly we don’t. What RB seems to be talking about is a different kind of objectivity. If we agree that we want a certain outcome, these are the preferred steps to take. But even that isn’t objective and it certainly isn’t a “thing” called “objective morality.”

        • I think people confuse universality or a visceral feeling with objective. Just because everyone says X is morally good doesn’t mean that that’s objectively true. Ditto if you feel it deep down.

          You say clubbing seal pups is really, really, deep down wrong, and I agree. But we simply have agreement; that’s no proof that that’s objectively wrong.

        • MR

          Right. And that’s something along the lines of what Haidt says. We lean more on our visceral feelings and then rationalize after.

          Also, moral confounding is a thing. I think Haidt talks about that, but I know it better from Pinker and elsewhere. Trolleys and all that.

          I know of no scientific studies that have determined objective morality. Our subjective morality works fine as long as we agree.

        • I think that’s the key: take subjective morality as an assumption, and then list the things in reality that can’t be true. IMO, there are none.

          Said another way, “subjective morality” explains it all, so no need to bring in objective morality (and its attendant questions/issues).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Greg G sort of says, but not directly, that whats he feel the need to lie, steal, or cheat about, is not to be detrimental to his fellow humans, but their benefit. Good stuff. I’m more honest and selfish, sometimes it’s what I give a fuck about that is most important. But I love his sentiment.

          Edit to fix wine driven errors.

        • Pofarmer

          a) that’s why all civil societies have permanent policies in place to deter, stop and punish lying, cheating and stealing

          I pretty much agree with that, except, even in the U.S., it’s often considered ok to lie, cheat, or steal from the outgroup, by the in group. Thinking of race relations but I’m sure there are others. Hell, investment bankers lie, cheat, and practically steal all the time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So liars, cheats and thieves have no problem with lying, cheating and thieving being a good thing, except when it’s being done to them, it’s bad?

          Hardly objective.

        • Raging Bee

          That’s not what I said.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I know. It’s what I’m inferring from what you said….or the observation you’ve made anyway.

        • MR

          It makes it subjective to humans. And then only most.

        • Raging Bee

          It makes it APPLICABLE to humans, and maybe, though not necessarily, to other species. Word choice is important.

        • MR

          In other words, not objective

        • Raging Bee

          We don’t talk about lions raping, robbing or murdering each other.

          That’s because we observe that lions don’t have the capacity to reason or form civil societies with agreed-upon rules, like humans do; therefore we understand that we can’t expect lions to act like civilized humans.

        • MR

          But again, subjective to humans and lions.

        • Raging Bee

          I prefer to say APPLICABLE to humans and lions, for verifiable reasons.

        • A different species might have different morals, appropriate to their nature and conditions

          But we have different morals within humanity. Example: is it moral to eat animal meat? Are GMOs ethical? Is nuclear power?

          Many policy questions have moral components, and we must find the correct balance–economy/jobs vs. environment, for example.

        • Raging Bee

          Yes, some moral questions are more complex than others. “Complex” =/= “subjective.”

        • When debating Christians, I don’t say that my morality is subjective or relative (that would need a definition as well) but rather that it’s not “objective.”

        • Raging Bee

          In that case, you’re pretty much conceding to the Christians.

        • Conceding what? The Christians and I agree on every aspect of human morality (how it works, not whether individual actions are moral) except what to call it.

      • Raging Bee

        Also, while you may call our principles themselves “intersubjective,” the existence of a consensus about such principles can be considered an objective fact. i.e., it’s a verifiable fact that the overwhelming majority of humans don’t want to be robbed and think robbery is wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          Is it ok for someone to rob to feed his starving family?

          The problem with saying “objective” morality, is that you can take nearly any moral concept, and find a) groups who disagree with it today or b) groups who disagreed with it in the near past. I think morality is demonstrably and necessarily subjective.

        • Raging Bee

          So what? The mere fact that not everyone agrees on certain principles doesn’t make them “subjective;” it must means not everyone does it with equal consistency or honesty, or from the same base data. We weren’t always right about the layout of our solar system, but that doesn’t make astronomy “subjective.”

          Is it ok for someone to rob to feed his starving family?

          No. If someone has to rob others just to meet such basic needs, then there’s something wrong with his society that needs to be fixed, so people could meet their needs without violating such basic rules of conduct.

        • MR

          then there’s something wrong with his society that needs to be fixed,

          I can think of a political party that would disagree with you, so, again, not objective.

        • Raging Bee

          There’s people who disagree with heliocentrism, but, again, that doesn’t make astronomy subjective.

        • MR

          Except that they are humans and negate your point.

        • I think we need to stick to morality. Science is built on facts that pretty much all relevant scientists agree to.

        • Raging Bee

          And so are many of the moral values and rules that most of the people on blog like this (at least) agree to.

        • Do we agree that some moral questions don’t have answers we all pretty much agree to? Vegetarianism and abortion come to mind.

        • Raging Bee

          Sure we do. But even in the cases you mention, both sides of the disagreement are basing their arguments, at least partially, on verifiable facts. With vegetarianism, for example, it’s the benefits of vegetarian diets and harms of eating meat, vs. problems of availability of all the vegetables needed to fully meet nutritional needs in some parts of the world.

        • Sure we do. But even in the cases you mention, both sides of the disagreement are basing their arguments, at least partially, on verifiable facts.

          Facts are used to reach moral conclusions, and we seem to agree that good-hearted people can use those facts to reach different moral conclusions. You look at that and say that both sides have reached objective moral truths? If so, we must disagree on definitions, a debate about which I have very little interest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah….the definition of terms….or the misunderstanding thereof….the source of so much misery.

        • It’s the vegetables in a conversation. It’s often best to get them out of the way first thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No. If someone has to rob others just to meet such basic needs, then there’s something wrong with his society that needs to be fixed, so people could meet their needs without violating such basic rules of conduct.

          In an ideal Utopian world perhaps, but that won’t feed the starving until such a dream materializes, or put the money in the fathers pocket preventing him from resorting to theft.

          Who decides on those basic rules of conduct?

          Most people steal something, like most folk lie….I would say everyone, but that would be unsupportable.

          When is stealing or lying okay?

        • Raging Bee

          The fact that we’re living in an imperfect world, and won’t be finding or creating Utopia any time soon, does not invalidate anything I’ve said.

        • MR

          Maybe the “objective” part.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It does to me, the thieving dad, and the starving child.

          We used severely punish that dad for stealing a loaf…it could get ya sent to the colonies. In some parts of the world it can get ones hands chopped off. What is the correct objectively moral punishment for a thief? Who decides?

        • MR

          Victor Hugo wrote an epic work on that topic, which has since been trivialized into a shameless musical. If there is one thing that is objectively wrong….

        • MR

          The fact that we have laws and that those laws are variable over time and place is another indication that objectivity doesn’t exist. It seems to me that all points would converge in all societies if that were true, but you have different societies saying, yeah, that doesn’t work for us, we’re going to take this route instead.

          Sometimes there are no right answers. Moral confounding is a thing they actually study. If someone does an act of kindness, but dies before it comes to fruition and no one ever knows, is that objectively good? I think all of us would like to believe that it is, but what does it mean if no good actually comes of it? If there is no God, no objective observer, no end result, what does it even mean? To me, the moment you add objectivity, it becomes meaningless. What, after all, is wrong with subjectivity?

          We all more or less agree because we’re all humans. Isn’t that enough? We do the best we can. I’m not going to fret whether morality is truly objective. And the ones who claim to know what is truly objective and are willing to hold you accountable to their perceived objectivity are the ones I worry about. As you say, who decides? How are they going to demonstrate they’re view is objectively correct?

        • Except perhaps the idea that we disagree on anything. (Except the definition of “objective moral values.”)

        • David Cromie

          I am sure there are particular circumstances where stealing or lying could be justified, if only to save the life of some innocent person who might otherwise die, or be murdered without such intervention.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So therefore stealing or lying isn’t always an immoral act. It is subjective to the circumstances. That’s where there is a slippery slope and who gets to decide at what point on the slope the line has been crossed? The in-group…and they do it by agreeing intersubjectively.

        • David Cromie

          No, it is objective where it can be justified morally. The justified outcome is the object of stealing or lying in the particular circumstances. Telling the truth even ‘if the heavens fall’ is not a moral stance. Telling lies to thwart the aims of the Nazis was justified, was it not?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, it is objective where it can be justified morally.

          So who decides where it can be justified morally?

          The justified outcome is the object of stealing or lying in the particular circumstances.

          Yes, I get all this, but by what

          Telling the truth even ‘if the heavens fall’ is not a moral stance.

          Bingo! It’s not an objective moral stance.

          It really depends on the truth or lie being told David, doesn’t it?

          I think you’d have to agree that someone telling lies to get someone into big trouble, or killed, is not the morally correct thing to do.

          Or in some cases, the counter, telling the truth that will lead to an unjust outcome, is not the morally correct thing to do, just because telling the truth is the morally correct move.

          The obligation to always tell the truth may not always be the moral stance to you or I, but to some humans on this planet, it is…or at least it is on the list of objective morals when it shouldn’t be.

          Telling lies to thwart the aims of the Nazis was justified, was it not?

          Of course, but I’m all about subjectivity. A Nazi sympathizer would disagree with both of us.

          Our intersubjective view on the morality of telling lies, or even the truth, manifests itself in collective law making. Telling lies in a courtroom will get ya banged up. Telling lies on a tax return, the same. Even what ya might think to be a mundane lie will get one into bother with the wrong authority. Yet telling ones children lies about the existence of Santa, the Tooth-fairy, Jesus…those lies won’t get ya Jack shit.

          Who decides where the demarcation line is between a permissible lie, becomes an immoral lie. Well I do of course. But I do it within my cultures norms for the most part, because not doing so will mean I’ve fallen foul of those intersubjectively agreed norms I’ve signed up to abide by. Anything else and the consequences my in-group pre-agreed upon are likely to befall me. They say it is evolutionary based.

        • The mere fact that not everyone agrees on certain principles doesn’t make them “subjective;”

          But doesn’t it make them “not objective”?

          Maybe you should define “objective moral values” first.

        • Raging Bee

          I already did.

        • David Cromie

          Do you think a tribe would survive for long if it was accepted that murdering each other was conducive to tribal harmony?

        • Ignorant Amos

          But that’s not what we are talking about. One tribe thinking killing each other is bad, but has no qualms about killing the out group.

          All the members of the tribe intersubjectively agree that the tribe will benefit if the in-group don’t kill one another and make rules against it. But that doesn’t apply to everyone not in the tribe. Hence wars.

          The recent case of John Chau is an example of just such a scenario.

        • MR

          But, a tribe murdering another tribe would survive in a world of murdering tribes or in a world of scarcity. The Israelites thought it okay to murder the Canaanites. Many modern day Christians are fine with it, too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And they claim objective morality from the big fella in the sky…why did that all change if it was objective a wonder?

        • Raging Bee

          Yes, but again, such moral calculation would be based on objective circumstances: if you’re at constant war with other tribes, with no peaceful resolution in sight, then you have to do certain things to survive that would be neither necessary nor acceptable in other circumstances. Again, this does not mean morality or values are subjective — I’m sure most people in such circumstances, on all sides of the battlefield(s), would still think killing is bad and would rather not do so much of it if they can avoid it.

        • MR

          The vast majority of them, yes. Just one negates objectivity.

        • Raging Bee

          No, it doesn’t, any more than one flat-Earther negates astronomy.

        • MR

          In that case you’re talking about something outside of humanity. In this case you’re talking about humanity, if a human doesn’t fit that mold, then it negates the objectivity about humanity.

          Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I like it. I’m just saying I don’t see that it’s objective.

        • MR

          One flat earth would.

        • Raging Bee

          Wrong. And dismissed.

        • MR

          Presuming your saying that a flat-earther does not a flat earth make, a flat earth would be evidence for a flat earth.

          If you’re saying that humans are objectively a certain way, and one human is not that way, then you can’t make the objective claim they all are. That is my point.

        • Raging Bee

          And your point is wrong. One denialist does not negate the existence of a consensus, nor any observable facts on which said consensus may stand.

        • MR

          It does when you’re making an objective claim. If you say, all those people agree, and one does not, then your claim is not objectively true.

        • Raging Bee

          Dude, take your obscurantist/denialist bullshit and shove it back where it came from.

        • MR

          Is it objectively immoral to call someone an obscurantist/denialist and a Russian-Orthodox obscurantist troll just because they don’t believe you when you claim that morality is objective?

        • Consensus? Yet again, we need definitions. How does the consensus view fit into “objective moral truth”? If you want to define, for the purposes of our discussion, that “objective moral truth” = the consensus view, then we can all acknowledge that you have done so and move on to another topic.

        • David Cromie

          Flat earth believers are referring to this earth, not some putative earth.

        • MR

          And RB was referring to humanity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m sure most people in such circumstances, on all sides of the battlefield(s), would still think killing is bad….

          Nope. Otherwise we wouldn’t fucking do it.

          ….and would rather not do so much of it if they can avoid it.

          Ah…the false dichotomy. Some, most in fact, wouldn’t rather do it….that has fuck all to do with the righteousness of the act….or some pishy associated perceived objective moral righteousness.

          I’ve been on the moral right side on many occasion….in my subjective moral opinion… because it is a subjective concept….you tell the guy on the other side also willing to give up his life for what he thinks is morally right that I had the moral high ground…and why.

          The Mayor of San Francisco has kicked off mary hell here in Northern Ireland because the cunt has bestowed an honor on an IRA terrorist…who they think is a freedom fighter.So when the UK bestows an honor on the 9/11 suicide bomber Atta…that’ll be fine and dandy? There are UK citizens that believe Atta is a hero ya know?

          I’m definitely taken aback on your take on this issue. I’m hoping it is going to come out as a misunderstanding.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sure most people in such circumstances, on all sides of the battlefield(s), would still think killing is bad….

          Nope. Otherwise we wouldn’t fucking do it.

          Yep, if it were objectively bad it would always be objectively bad.

        • Raging Bee

          Nope. Otherwise we wouldn’t fucking do it.

          They would if they believed (rightly or not) that they HAD to, or that no other way was discernible at the time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          (rightly or not)

          There’s the subjectivity right there.

          Someone decides that the group has to go and fight another group…say the leader (subjective). The leader puts his case to the group for support in his decision. Rightly or wrongly, the majority (intersubjective) decide to support the leader, so the in-group goes off to fight the out-group.

          If they do it for the wrong reason, according to the views of other outsiders, or even some insiders…even if they believe they are right. The action is deemed immoral.

          If they do it for the right reason, according to the views of other outsiders, and most insiders, they are morally just.

          Who is right? Who decides?

          What you seem to be saying is that an aggressive group always goes to war with no choice, while knowing what they are doing is objectively immoral?

          We are getting into ethics and Just War Theory.

          If human beings can say a war is morally just for reasons A, B, & C, while the same human beings can say a war is morally unjust for reasons X, Y, & Z, then the concept becomes not objective by definition. Someone has to decide what the criteria are for those two opposing position, and that is carried out by consensus, which makes it intersubjective. Saying it is objective, when it can’t be demonstrated, is a subjective opinion in its own right.

        • David Cromie

          ‘Fight or flight’ syndrome.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s not how wars work David.

        • Pofarmer
        • David Cromie

          “The Israelites thought it okay to murder the Canaanites”, only because their supposed ‘god’ told them it was.

          Is morality what the ‘gods’ love, or do they love it because it is moral? If the answer is ‘yes to the first part, then morality is arbitrary. But if the answer to the second part is ‘yes’, then whatever the gods’ may say in the subject is neither here or there because morality is an objective question, no mater anyone’s opinion, hopes or desires on the question at hand.

        • MR

          The Christian claims it’s objective. I don’t. Again, the universe doesn’t care, only we’r do.

        • Perhaps not, but what does that have to do with the topic? We’re talking about objective moral truths, and they don’t have to exist for humans to have a shared moral sense. (And not surprising, since we’re all the same species.)

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, WOLVES don’t murder each other. Lion’s and Tigers don’t murder each other, generally. That behavior goes back further than humans.

          Go back to the robbery example, though, If robbery is wrong, is it ok for a man to rob to feed his starving family? Is it Ok to steal your stuff back from someone who stole from you? I don’t see how there’s anything “objective” about moral values, as even your example shows. Yeah, it’s bad for harmony of the group to kill one another. But, killin them other guys?????? Now that seems like the thing to do.

        • MR

          Hell, WOLVES don’t murder each other.

          Excellent point. We don’t call wolves moral because they don’t murder each other, it’s a behavioral instinct honed by evolution, throw in some scarcity and you can hone murder into a behavioral instinct, too. Kill or be killed. Humans are a mix from the ebb and flow of behavioral instincts. We benefited by evolving as social beings, but lying, cheating, and murder can keep you alive, too, when times are rough. At what stage of the game does “objectivity” enter or exit in the spectrum of evolution?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…killing others was part and parcel of animal activity, including the evolution of homo, until one day it wasn’t…then the morality changed because it was invented…objective morality, my arse.

        • Pofarmer

          Well now at least we’re asking interesting questions!

        • David Cromie

          Are autonomic responses an indication of ‘morality’? I think not.

        • MR

          Define morality. Does it exist? Where does it exist?

        • Raging Bee

          We already have defined it. Your willful ignorance of what’s already been said proves you’re just JAQing off. Obvious anti-rationalist is obvious.

        • MR

          You act exactly like the apologists. Berating me isn’t going to convince me.

        • Raging Bee

          I don’t need to convince you; I just need to point out that your arguments are wrong and dishonest, and clearly serve an anti-rationalist agenda.

        • MR

          So you have to imagine some bizarre scenario and motive in your mind because I don’t believe you.

        • MR

          I guess I missed this. I disagree. Greg has mentioned elsewhere how evolution has developed our moral intuitions. Haidt notes that moral decisions are seldom made by our conscious rationalizations, rather we rationalize after the fact.

        • Susan

          The problem with saying “objective” morality

          The problem with saying “objective morality” is that “objective” and especially “morality” are so seldom defined precisely.

          Which leads to the conflicts that arise in this conversation.

          Raging Bee is talking about a consensus which can be objectively measured.

          You are talking about oughts.

          It’s important that we define our terms precisely.

          Especially on this subject.

        • Pofarmer

          I hope I didn’t come off as Strident, or talking over raging bee. Wasn’t my intention. I think it’s an interesting discussion. So, then, if bee comes back then we need to define terms and move forward!

        • Susan

          I hope I didn’t come off as Strident.

          Not at all. The problem really is the terminology.

          We refer to morality in a short-handed way when we discuss obvious categories. Morality is generally assumed to be connected on some level to the experience of beings who have the capacity to suffer and thrive.

          On some level, we can measure those capacities and the effects.

          But the other side is that we can’t “objectively” show that our oughts are objective.

          It’s a very, very complicated subject and it’s a shame that we only discuss it because christians/theists abuse the concept to pretend they are making a point they are never able to make.

          They compare it to your choice of ice cream to fake a point. It’s sickening and completely disconnected.

          That’s why I don’t like terms like “subjective” “objective” and “morality” being bounced about without very clear definitions.

          It often leads to conflict based on people addressing several facets of a strawmen pushed forward by apologetics that has nothing to do with anything but pretending Yahwehjesus is the answer.

          They never make that case. They just fuck up an important discussion.

      • David Cromie

        Morals are about the non moral good of others, and are thus judged on the outcomes of actions. Thus moral values are objective. Primitive humans were able, perhaps subconsciously at first, to formulate moral codes on that principle for the future good, and survival of the tribe, refining them as necessary, as they went along.

        Even the human creators of the mythical Moses story latched onto those pre-exiting objective values for the long term future of the Israelite tribes, as a mechanism to unite them under the newly proposed monotheistic religion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And what you describe is inter-subjectivity.

          “Intersubjectivity” has been used in social science to refer to agreement. There is “intersubjectivity” between people if they agree on a given set of meanings or a definition of the situation. Similarly, Thomas Scheff defines “intersubjectivity” as “the sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals.”

          One group has one set of rules they all agree on, mostly…while another group has a set of rules they all agree on, mostly. But what if one group disagrees with the other group on a subject of morality…who has the objective moral high ground?

          Morality can’t be objective, because we know it hasn’t been the same for all people, in all places, at all times. So if it has changed for the better or worse, then it was never objective given the definition of the word.

        • David Cromie

          If morality were subjective, on what basis would we condemn a Hitler acting on his/her subjective ‘morality’, and concluding that genocide, for instance, was the right thing to pursue?

        • MR

          Could you clarify your question a little, there’s an ambiguity there that is confusing. Are you taking into account the difference between “subjective” and “inter-subjective?”

        • David Cromie

          No, and I have little time for the pseudo-science termed ‘social science’. Inter-subjectivity may well describe a generally held belief, but it says nothing about the rightness or wrongness of the belief, nor is it able, by itself, to decide such questions. Nor are such questions a matter of mere subjective speculation, ignoring consequences in the real world, i.e. objective facts about outcomes.

          By the way, I do not think objective morality is absolute (only religiots tend to believe that), as the case of lying or stealing shows. Life is full of potential grey areas.

        • MR

          Can you define for me what you think morality is. Is it a “thing.” Does it have a definitive answer? Is there an objective right or wrong, and what would you mean by objective? For that matter, what do you mean by absolute?

          I still need you to clarify your question because it’s too vague or ambiguous or something for me to answer.

        • Ken Campbell

          People use the word ‘objective’ as though it means permanent. I understand objective to mean ‘measurable’. As per Websters: of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind.

          Thus we can say a mountain is ‘high’ if it is over 1000 meters. This definition makes the word ‘high’ objective. It does not make this definition universal however, as others may think a high mountain is only 10 meters

        • Ignorant Amos

          Each person acts on their moral compass. Fortunately for a lot of folk, much of that subjective moral compass lines up.

          When this happens, it is called intersubjective thinking. It is a word that has been invented to cover a specific set. Because subjective is individual and objective doesn’t work.

          Subjective is individual opinion. Like taste in ice-cream, football team, genre in music, favourite wine, etc…personal moral compass. But it becomes more than individual opinion when more than one get together in agreement. Appreciation societies, fan clubs, etc get formed. Now when that collective subjective opinion is on an important issue, like slavery is bad, or women should have bodily autonomy, that collective can do more than just form appreciation societies and fan clubs, they can lobby for change. That happens to changing morality. Morality being the principles between good and bad behaviour, right on wrong. These principles are based on people, time, and place.

          In places where sharia law is practiced, chopping off a thieves hands or stoning adulterers to death is the morally correct thing to do. Us with a different set of agreed morality, think that’s morally repugnant, even if those folk are guilty of the crime. So from our perspective, morally wrong, bad behaviour, unjust. But from the perspective of adherents of sharia. morally right, good behaviour, just. So who is right and why? The answer is a subjective one, depending on who ya ask.

          Objective is outside personal feelings…(of a person or their judgement) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

          The Sun is the star at the centre of our solar system, is an objective statement. It was the same before humans, it will be the same after humans. It is wrong to chop the hands of thieves is not an objective statement.

          Are we using these terms in a similar way David? Because as far as I can tell, there seems to be some confusion on the part of one party in this discussion and I’m keen to know if it’s me?

        • David Cromie

          “…where sharia law is practiced, chopping off a thieves hands or stoning adulterers to death is the morally correct thing to do”*.

          There is nothing moral about beliefs leading to actions which cannot be applicable universally. That is the essence of moral codes. See the Hitler example given earlier.

          *The OT advocates for stoning adulterers to death. Should this practice be enshrined in law? If not, why not?

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is nothing moral about beliefs leading to actions which cannot be applicable universally.

          Why can’t the chopping off of the hands of thieves, or the stoning of adulterers be applied universally? Who says it can’t? If the Islamic caliphate is ever realized, watch out. The fact of the matter is, it is enshrined into the moral code of a culture and they think they have the moral high ground, we don’t. Ergo not objective or universally accepted as wrong.

          That is the essence of moral codes.

          I don’t think so. Depending on who you are or what part of the world ya happen to be, will depend on what penalty is dished out for a variety of crimes we hold our moral codes up to…heck, murder in one part of the states will get ya the death penalty, when it won’t in another. Here in the UK we’ve decided the death penalty is wrong, but it didn’t used to be. And there are plenty that want it returned.

          See the Hitler example given earlier.

          The Hitler example doesn’t work imo.

          *The OT advocates for stoning adulterers to death.

          Indeed. And at the time and place, it was deemed the moral thing to do…so much so that it was written into the moral codes of the day. A moral code some still adhere to, though they can’t act out the punishments and get away with it. Why did that rule and punishment get ignored?

          Should this practice be enshrined in law? If not, why not?

          Nope. Because I think it is wrong. And while there is more folk that think it’s wrong to stone adulterers to death, then it won’t be enshrined into law. But where there’s more folk that don’t think it’s wrong, it is enshrined into law. That’s my subjective view working with the subjective view of others to make the intersubjective position a reality. Elsewhere in the world, the opposite is the case.

        • David Cromie

          Since morality is a concern for the non moral good of others, in what sense is physical mutilation, or stoning, advancing the well being of our fellow humans?

        • MR

          I’m not convinced that that is really what morality is about, and I think the science suggests that it developed as less about concern for others as it is a mechanism to maintain a cohesive group. That, of course, includes individuals, but when individuals make waves that’s when you see punishments. Better to chop off a hand than have a thief in our midst. It seems to me that almost always morality has a social component. It’s about our interactions with others. Our house, our rules. (When it doesn’t, it seems to me that’s when you start to see religion specifically come into play. Don’t lust in your mind, masturbation is evil, or even philosophical musings. ) But, morality and social evolution seem to go hand in hand.

        • Sample1

          Agreed. The evolution component is essential. Morals evolved with us. I’m not sure we have good reasons to say lions behave morally or immorally. But there are tolerated and intolerated lion behaviors within the pride. To the extent they are rigidly formalized for all circumstances or at all times is probably unknowable.

          Likewise with apes. I’ve never been taught any research grade data on non human ape social norms. But we have them and somewhere in our evolution they slowly emerged.

          At some point in the evolution, our distant cousin made a subjective opinion known. It became formalized over time. Morals don’t come from without, they logically emerge from early subjective experiences. The morals may be objectively classified by the group or by others but that’s not to say the morals themselves are objective.

          That seems unambiguously clear to me. Which probably means I’m wrong. Ha.

          Mike

        • David Cromie

          ” It seems to me that almost always morality has a social component”.

          Of course it does, as even primitive humans must have realised, as they groped their way to forbidding actions that produced dissension, and threatened the survival of the tribe. What we today would describe as a ‘moral code’, and based on the objective outcomes of such things as murder and theft, for example. This, of course, did not eliminate inter-tribal conflict, then as now.

          There is no evidence that physical mutilation, or stoning, has eliminated the crimes they are used to ‘punish’, any more than the death penalty, or long prison sentences, have eliminated crime in modern Western societies.

        • MR

          Whatever that word salad is supposed to mean, it says nothing about objective morals. You’re as obfuscating as the apologists, I’ve grown bored with you and am moving on.

        • David Cromie

          Goodbye, and mind the step on the way out.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not saying it does, I’m with you, what I am saying that there are other cultures that think differently. I’m guessing that their reasoning is the same as those cultures that have changed their position on such behavior and moved on. The same reasons we employ for incarceration of criminals. Deterrent, retribution, justice, etc. The same reason capital punishment is a thing where the culture that carries out said punishments believe they are morally defended in doing so.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whaaaa?

          Really?

          If morality were objective, on what basis would we condemn a Hitler acting on his/her objective ‘morality’, and concluding that genocide, for instance, was the right thing to pursue?

          Objective “morality” is external to the person remember.

          It is precisely because morality is subjective that we can condemn a Hitler acting on his/her subjective “morality”, and concluding that genocide, for instance, was the right thing to pursue.

          If a Hitlers morality was objective and he/she pursued genocide, on what grounds could “we” condemn him/her?

          Only by having a collectively agreeing subjective morality can we say that genocide is wrong, unless you are part of the group that is performing that genocide.

          I think genocide is wrong. You think genocide is wrong. Everyone on this thread think genocide is wrong. But that’s from our own individual perspectives. People who have committed genocide through history, don’t think genocide isn’t wrong, and they believed they had very good reason. Even Hitler had an extensive following who thought his “Final Solution” was based on an accepted morality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Btw…a posted this link yesterday…

          Subjective does not mean that anyone’s opinion is “just as good”. Most humans are in broad agreement on almost all of the basics of morality. After all “people are the same wherever you go”. Most law codes overlap strongly, such that we can readily live in a foreign country with only minor adjustment for local customs. A psychopathic child killer’s opinion is not regarded as “just as good” by most of us, and if we decide morality by a broad consensus — and that, after all, is how we do decide morality — then we arrive at strong communal moral codes.

          https://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/six-reasons-why-objective-morality-is-nonsense/

        • David Cromie

          If morality is decided by ‘a broad consensus’, then anything goes for that society – ‘honour’ killing, stoning women to death for ‘adultery’, even if she has been raped, etc., etc.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Exactly!

          And it has, does, and will do. That’s the point. That you and I think such things are wrong, is subjective. We are only right because we think we are right. Force of numbers on our side supports our belief that we are right. That isn’t the case in the other group who also think they are right. So who is right and why?

          I think chemical castration was abominable. But in the 50’s in the UK it was deemed not. And was offered as a choice to gay men as an alternative to jail time. Things have changed, which means the thought about that has changed, because the moral thinking has changed…at least here. In parts of the world where it hasn’t changed yet, gay men are hanged from bridges.

        • David Cromie

          There is nothing like a theocracy to engender a consensus among the population.

          “That you and I think such things are wrong, is subjective”, It matters not one whit what you and I think about a situation, only what is objectively the case, even where that requires proper investigation, by a specialist if need be.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is nothing like a theocracy to engender a consensus among the population.

          Indeed…the fact that in some places and at some times some people made what they thought was the morally correct rules, that you and I think are not, is a non sequitur to the issue. It isn’t a theocracy that deciding whether capital punishment is a good or bad thing.

          Abolitionists believe capital punishment is the worst violation of human rights, because the right to life is the most important, and capital punishment violates it without necessity and inflicts to the condemned a psychological torture. Human rights activists oppose the death penalty, calling it “cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment”. Amnesty International considers it to be “the ultimate, irreversible denial of Human Rights”.

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

          “That you and I think such things are wrong, is subjective”, It matters not one whit what you and I think about a situation, only what is objectively the case, even where that requires proper investigation, by a specialist if need be.

          Of course it matters what you and I think about the situation.

          The world’s major faiths have differing views depending on the religion, denomination, sect and/or the individual adherent. As an example, and the world’s largest Christian denomination, Catholicism, opposes capital punishment in all cases, whereas both the Baha’i and Islamic faiths support capital punishment.

          Who is right and why? Even in a secular grounding, the morality of capital punishment is debated, again, who decides what is the correct moral position and why?

          When you and I…and enough other you and I’s, think a moral position should be changed because we think it is wrong, then we can change that moral thinking, the rule anyway, opinion of dissenters come later. It is what gets done. At least in a democracy anyway.

        • Sample1

          This is a tricky fucking subject. That’s my conclusion after trying for thirty minutes to piece together a reply.

          There’s a reason libraries are full of books about all the concepts involved with morality. What I do know is that the Bible is not at all sufficient to explain the intricacies of morality. I’m sure we all agree there.

          I’m willing to say that we use subjectivity to arrive at objectivity. I see subjectivity as a protection against totalitarianism. Others see the reverse but I think that doesn’t logically extend well, leading toward a position of omniscience. I also see subjectivity as being in the same tradition of provisionality within science.

          Facts can be subjective and objective. When a nurse asks for a pain level, one gives a subjective answer between 0-10. That subjective reply then becomes an objective fact in the record read by the physician.

          With morality, each Nazi victim has subjective experiences. Those experiences become objective facts. The presupposition here is that morality equals well being and well being needs further presuppositions which in turn are all subjective.

          Well being then becomes an objective standard based on subjective presuppositions. This means well being is technically malleable because the presuppositions are subjective. Morality therefore is malleable. The only way out of this is to claim some subjective presuppositions are always independently objectively true. I don’t see how that can be accomplished without tautologies. Tautologies work well in some fields but I’m not sure they belong in morals.

          I also think it’s risky to remove the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity. They need each other to protect against absolutism.

          In this way, we can say Hitler was immoral because he violates the objective standard made up of subjective facts. Without the subjective facts, I don’t see how we can reasonably justify condemnation of Hitler. Why? Because I think all humans are fallibilists. Nobody is omniscient and to bypass subjectivity is to essentially claim that.

          With well being equaling objective morality we can have high confidence judging Hitler. But because the ingredients of well being are subjective, they always need investigating and reconfirming. I think that’s a strength to keep objective moral facts honest.

          That’s my .02. I’m no professional thinker on this stuff. Does it address your ideas or confuse things?

          Mike

    • Objective morality is that set of principles that are based on objective, verifiable benefits and harms done to ourselves and others.

      Perhaps we’re talking past each other. For simplicity, I’ve used WLC’s definition of objective morality: “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not.” To a Christian who’s on board with that, I want to (1) see the resolution of current moral questions (Is abortion allowable? Is SSM OK?), (2) see that they’re objectively correct (not just that person’s opinion), and (3) see that this objective morality is reliably accessible by everyone.

      So far, I’ve gotten nothing. That’s unsurprising, since they’re current moral questions.

      • Raging Bee

        Does WLC’s definition include observation of beneficial or harmful consequences of actions? It’s certainly not in the bit you quoted. His definition is crap unless/until he can explain WHY a certain moral code is “valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not.”

        • MR

          Where I agree with you and disagree with Bob is the “personal opinion” part. It goes back to your comment on human nature. It’s more than just personal opinion. I just don’t find it “objective.” And to clarify with Bob, the part I disagree about is that you tend to leave out the innate aspect and highlight the personal opinion part. I think “opinion” plays a very small role. At best it’s misleading.

        • It’s more than just personal opinion.

          Is your point just a quibble on word choice? When I say, “I think abortion is ___,” what is that if not my opinion?

        • MR

          I believe you read the Jonathan Haidt book. He talks about our morals being innate and subconscious and how the personal opinion aspect of it, if you recall, is the rider to the elephant. Our internal motivation and what comes out of our mouth are often not the same thing.

        • You’re making a conscious/unconscious distinction? I’ve read much about Haidt’s book but haven’t read it myself.

          I still suspect that the underlying difficulty is definitions. I doubt that Bee and I disagree on anything of substance (besides the definition of “objective morality”).

        • MR

          Ah, I thought you had read that book for some reason. Conscious/unconscious/ innate behavior/drives.

          Agree. Although I don’t think that what he is talking about is “objective morality” and certainly not the definition that you were referring to in the post.

        • I agree that his definition is impractical. It’s useful to me only in that it gives me a shared definition of “objective moral values.”

          You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve never heard any Christian defend this definition (except in a “Well, c’mon, it’s obvious, right?” sort of way). I ask for examples (“resolve abortion for us”) and get crickets.

        • Greg G.

          What is beneficial to me might be quite harmful to you, so that makes it subjective, not objective.

          What is beneficial to humans is species subjective. What is most beneficial to all living life forms might be detrimental to future life. That makes it subjective to the particular subjects. Since we can’t predict the outcome any better than probabilities, we cannot make objective choices.

          There may be choices that are objectively optimal for achievely a moral goal, the goal is still subjectively decided.

        • MR

          Excellent points, Greg.

          Since we can’t predict the outcome any better than probabilities, we cannot make objective choices.

          An important point I wanted to get into, but things seemed to derail pretty quickly. Human beings, after all, aren’t omniscient.

          I feel like RB thinks that just because I don’t think objective morality is a thing that I’m chucking morality period out the window. I don’t know. Very strange.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We are arguing past one another because the demarcation of definitions haven’t been laid out. Properly.

        • We have these things called dictionaries that let us look up definitions. And the definition of “morality” doesn’t include an objective component.

        • Raging Bee

          I’ve heard morality defined as a set of rules and principles agreed upon for the purpose of improving our lives in this world. So yes, there is an objective component, because we’d have to observe what actions improve our lives in order to figure out what rules we enact.

        • Pofarmer

          Now you’re talking past yourself. Think about this for a moment. If, say, objection to slavery is “objective” how do different societies or groups come to different conclusions even today? Slavery is still a thing. Ditto theft. Is it moral ir immoral to cut off a persons hand for stealing? Is it moral or immoral to cast out a child with different faith beleifs? Is it moral or immoral to squash a spider? Is it moral or immoral to kill an animal for it’s meat. Is it moral or immoral to kill someone for “doshonoring” their family? Is it moral or immoral for a 40 year old to marry a 13 year old?

          You’re making a very good case for intersubjective morality. You just don’t like the term.

        • Raging Bee

          You’re absolutely right: I don’t like the term, and with good reason: it allows religious bigots, theosophists and demagogues to maintain the pretense that atheists don’t really have morals, and/or non-theistic morality is “subjective” and less valid than the “real” morality that can only come from (their) God. We’re allowing our enemies to twist and abuse the words we use, when we should be reclaiming them and retaking control of a conversation they’ve been hijacking for too damn long already.

        • Pofarmer

          Them being dishonest doesn’t mean we have to be too. The truth is often inconvenient or different than what we would like it to be.

        • Raging Bee

          What’s “dishonest” about disputing someone else’s misuse of the word “subjective?”

        • Pofarmer

          Just because they’re misusing “subjective” doesn’t mean that we get to abuse the word “objective”. At that point, we’re no better than they are, and probably worse. All indications that I’ve seen, are that morality is “intersubjective” and then, only among the cultures that hold specific moral ideas.

        • Raging Bee

          How is that “abuse?” If we all understand that a particular principle or rule is derived from reason based on objective circumstances (i.e., “children are consistently and predictably harmed by sexual abuse by adults, therefore sexual abuse of children is wrong and should never be allowed”), then why is it dishonest to call that an objective principle? The only alternative seems to be to let others call it “just your opinion, man.”

        • Pofarmer


          If we all understand that a particular principle or rule is derived from reason based on objective circumstances
          “children are consistently and predictably harmed by sexual abuse by adults

          Because there are cultures on Earth, right now, today, which allow adults to marry 13 year olds.

          There are cultures on Earth, right now, who kidnap young girls for sex slaves.

          The best that we can do is that we can get lot’s of people to agree that certain acts are harmful and shouldn’t be done. That doesn’t make it ‘objective.’

        • Raging Bee

          So you’re saying we can never stand up for any moral principles unless EVERYONE ON EARTH already agrees with them? That’s bullshit. Not to mention capitulation.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying our approach to morality’ has to be evidence based like our approach to everything else.I think that’s all anyone here is saying.

        • Raging Bee

          Yes, and evidence-based morality should be called “objective,” to better distinguish it from the non-evidence-based kind.

        • Pofarmer

          Then you’re just fighting with the theist over terms. The difference is how we arrived.

        • Raging Bee

          Exactly — and it’s important and necessary to do so, because they’re using the WRONG terms in a deliberate attempt to mislead and gaslight the rest of us.

        • MR

          You’re saying you don’t think they actually believe what they say they believe?

        • Pofarmer

          It’s just an “I know you are but what am I” argument at that point. Yes, they’re method of thinking they determine morality is flawed, and frankly, dishonest. But simply poaching the same term doesn’t make the, well, actual way morality is settled doesn’t make using the same term in a different way any more honest. How about “Universal morality”?

        • Raging Bee

          “Universal” sounds good, but kinda wishy-washy. I still prefer “objective,” because it emphasizes that the morality is based on objective and observable facts.

        • If that’s your position, fair enough. It sounds like others here don’t take that route. Maybe this is a “let a thousand flowers bloom” moment where we each do what we do best and not worry if others are fighting the good fight differently.

        • David Cromie

          “…our approach to morality’ has to be evidence based…”, quite, and that is why moral codes are objective, and universally applicable, if we are to convince anyone to follow them. Thus we have the UN Declaration on Human Rights, for example.

        • Pofarmer

          So, define objective.

        • Yes, they do say that, but so what? They say all kinds of nutty bullshit. Them declaring, “We got objective morality, and you don’t!” in a sing-song voice just allows you to demand the evidence. Quibbling over the definition of “objective morality,” even if you have the dictionary or a philosophy encyclopedia on your side, is an inefficient way to approach it.

        • Raging Bee

          I don’t quibble about terms with THEM, I just point out how my values are more in line with reality than theirs, and how their morality is based on nothing but fantasy.

        • WLC defines objective morality as “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not.” I assume that definition and demand that the Christian back it up with evidence. Very simple.

          I fear that your approach is a swamp in which the Christian can happily argue for hours, getting you nowhere.

          Maybe you think that “objective” is a vitally important word, and protecting that is a hill to die on? That’s not me. If they want to assign a ridiculous claim to “objective,” I’m happy to let that stand, demand that they provide evidence, and watch them squirm when they can’t.

        • Pofarmer

          I fear that your approach is a swamp in which the Christian can happily argue for hours, getting you nowhere.

          I’d say that’s exactly right.

        • David Cromie

          Where the predicted outcome of an intended moral action is not realised, then the reason why needs to be found, and the moral principal either revised, or abandoned. One could also ask if it was a moral principle in the first place, remembering that to be a moral principal it must be universally applicable. In this way moral principles are objective, irrespective of the wishes or beliefs of any individual person, or group of people.

        • MR

          I don’t think you’re understanding Greg’s point about probabilities. But, anyway, I just see a presupposition that some kind of moral principle exists. And, why, for example, does a reason need to be found? Who says? Where do these “principals” reside? What I see is “if (a conditional) we humans (a conditional) desire a specific outcome (a conditional) then certain steps likely (a conditional) can result in a desired outcome.” Again it appears to me that we’re just placing a label to describe a complex set of interactions, actions, intents, behaviors, judgments…, and trying to make a thing out of something that doesn’t exist in reality. Morality is not a thing. Morality doesn’t “exist” in any concrete sense and can’t in any way be objective. “Human beings are constituted in such a manner that they tend to…” fine. Objective morals? Objective principals? The universe doesn’t care. Only we do.

        • Raging Bee

          Morality is not a thing. Morality doesn’t “exist” in any concrete sense and can’t in any way be objective.

          Typical anti-rationalist bullshit. This is no better than GK Chesterton insisting that physical laws ‘don’t “exist” in any concrete sense.’

        • MR

          You know, I’ve not insulted you or berated you. You have done so to me repeatedly simply because I don’t believe your claim. For someone who believes in “objective morality” you make a poor case in your own behavior. When you can demonstrate this objective morality you’ll have me on board. Clearly I’m not the only one who doesn’t buy this, so don’t blame me for your failure.

        • Raging Bee

          I’ll take your allegations about my credibility seriously when I hear them from someone who has some of his/her own.

        • MR

          Eh? Why do you take this so personally? I don’t believe what your saying, not that I don’t believe you believe what you believe. And yet you accuse me of an agenda when I simply don’t believe your theory. Or, at least, I don’t see a match up with what you’re saying and “objective morality.” I don’t understand why you feel so threatened by someone who disagrees with you.

        • Raging Bee

          You know, I’ve not insulted you or berated you.

          That doesn’t mean we can’t call out your dishonesty when we see it.

        • MR

          Why do you even imagine I’m being dishonest?

        • Pofarmer

          What? C’mon, that was uncalled for. Surely you can accept that people can have honest disagreements?

        • Raging Bee

          Denialism is not an “honest disagreement.”

        • Pofarmer

          Then the burden of proof is on you to support your claims. I mean it’s really that simple, and at the end of the day, I think we’re really disagreeing on terms. Most of the people here seem to be on one page, and you’re off on another because you don’t like the term “intersubjective” which fits perfectly well.

        • Raging Bee

          You’re right — see my response to you below.

        • Might be good to take a step back to clarify with MR exactly where you and he disagree. Perhaps you’ll find that the list isn’t as long as you think.

        • MR

          Dude, you’re out there. I really don’t know what your beef with me is personally. I’ve been straight forward and honest. I’m sorry if you don’t like what I have to say. I also don’t think you really understand where I’m coming from or care.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I tried to say that hamfistedly elsewhere…Pinotage brain muddled.

        • Raging Bee

          What is beneficial to me might be quite harmful to you, so that makes it subjective, not objective.

          Non-sequitur. Moral reasoning consists of observing and understanding consequences, and making rules to limit our actions to minimize bad consequences.

        • Greg G.

          But if not everybody agrees to the rules, then you don’t have objective morality. If everybody agrees, you have intersubjective morality.

          But how does it work for somebody drowning? A toddler in a pool with 3 feet of water, we would expect anyone to act to save the life. But if it’s a panicked adult in 10 feet deep water, it is subject to the size, strength, and training for the rescue to be a moral action. A young mother with children probably shouldn’t do more than throw something to a panicked perso twice her size.

          Since we only debate morality with religious people, we use the term “objective morality” as they do, or at least the best educated ones.

          But “intersubjective morality” seems to be what you are talking about.

          But if there is an objective morality, how would we determine it? It might well be the opposite of what is best for us. Maybe we should be chopping off the heads of everybody until there is only one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But if there is an objective morality, how would we determine it? It might well be the opposite of what is best for us. Maybe we should be chopping off the heads of everybody until there is only one.

          From the planets perspective, that might be an objectively sound proposition, but I doubt everyone would agree, even those that are fundamental conservationists.

        • Raging Bee

          But if not everybody agrees to the rules, then you don’t have objective morality. If everybody agrees, you have intersubjective morality.

          Wrong. If a moral consensus is based on shared understanding of real-world events and consequences, then it’s not “subjective” or “intersubjective.” “Magritte is better than Dali” is subjective, because just a personal feeling that’s not relevant to anyone else. If millions of people agree with me about Magritte, THAT would be “intersubjective.”

        • Greg G.

          Preferring life over death is subjective, too. Preferring pleasure over pain is subjective. Preferring human life over other lifeforms is subjective. Preferring fairness over selfishness is subjective. (Some prefer selfishness over sharing.) Some of these are natural inclinations that are favorable survival strategies in a hostile environment subject to the attributes of various lifeforms. What is beneficial to social creatures would not be beneficial to asocial creatures.

          Our moral conceits are subject to our species survival strategies. Other species would have different moral conceits. We recognize similar moral conceits in monkeys and dogs but maybe not the morals followed by predators.

          Gravity is objective. Morality is subject to the vulnerabilities of creatures.

        • MR

          … examples, Greg.

        • Greg G.

          How about if there are two cars stuck on parallel railroad tracks? One car has one occupant while the other has four. You are in a position to throw the switch to divert the train to the other track. Should you throw the switch if the action would likely kill only one person instead of four? What if the one man was your friend or your child?

          What if four people were in dire need of a transplant but had a rare genotype so it was unlikely to receive a match? Would it be moral to harvest the organs of a healthy person who just happened to be the perfect match for those four? It is essentially the same moral choice.

          What if you knew the lone person in one car was the perfect match for the four people in the other car, one needing a new heart, one needing a liver, and two needing kidneys? Would it be right to switch the train to the other track? What if it was just the potential organ donor stuck on the track? Would it be immoral to not switch the train so that he would die and allow the others who needed his organs to live? What if you knew the person and considered him to be immoral and your greatest enemy, would it be right to switch the train so that he would be killed to save those who needed his organs?

          What if you knew the lone person was a psychopath? What if you knew the four people were psychopaths and the lone person was kind and generous?

          What if the single person was elderly widow or widower and the four were mothers with young children? What if the four were elderly widows and widowers and the lone person was a young single widow with four children?

          If it was an objective moral choice, it should be the same, no matter what, just as the gravity that holds us on the planet also causes things to fall on our head.

        • MR

          Precisely. We can rationalize ourselves into moral conundrums that run counter to our moral intuitions.

        • MR

          Oh, I just realized. I wasn’t asking for examples, sorry. But, I’m glad you gave them. That was meant to be a single comment for your multi-posts. It was meant to read: “(These are all) More… excellent… examples, Greg.” I was just trying to avoid repeating myself three times. That attempt fell flat, sorry.

        • Greg G.

          I connected the “More” and the “examples”. I think I saw the “excellent” last night so it was not in my unread list of email this morning.

        • David Cromie

          This dilemma is not uncommon. So, whichever decision is made, it is made on objective grounds. However, someone else might make a different decision, but equally on the desire to do the right thing in the circumstances. Thus there is no culpability attached to either person, on the grounds on which they made their individual decision.

          This dilemma has occurred at sea when, after a ship has gone down, there are too many survivors in one lifeboat, and someone has to be cast into the sea to give the other ten passengers a chance of survival. How do they decide who that person should be?

        • Greg G.

          The lifeboat scenario is often given as a moral dilemma. There are reasons why each person is worthy of a seat. It comes down to a subjective decision.

        • Raging Bee

          How about if there are two cars stuck on parallel railroad tracks?

          Whoever designed the road-railroad intersection where that was allowed to happen, would be taken out and shot.

        • Greg G.

          The caption was “Two tracks cross the Fryers Street level crossing in Shepparton.” It appears that there is another crossing further down the track with a van crossing them.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/514bdc5d9b2852602bae310c14d4f42a9789ccfef3536c956f71ff8d285c0759.png

        • Raging Bee

          Preferring life over death is subjective, too…

          Yeah, but it’s a subjective opinion so uniformly held by such an overwhelming majority of people, everywhere, throughout history, as to be, for all practical purposes, an objective fact on the ground: people prefer life over death. And it’s likely that damn near all other living species prefer it too. You can band about shiny new words like “intersubjective” if you want, but the existence of that consensus remains an objective fact, which can be verified by observing our day-to-day actions.

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, but it’s a subjective opinion so uniformly held by such an overwhelming majority of people, everywhere, throughout history, as to be, for all practical purposes, an objective fact on the ground: people prefer life over death.

          That is a result of the survival differential of those holding the preference throughout the process of evolution. It is the result of killing those who don’t agree as strongly as others. Killing everybody who does not hold a specific subjective moral position to create a consensus for that moral position does not make it objectively moral.

          Even animals hold the same preference for life for the same reason. If it is objective moral good, we should respect their preferences, too, but so should obligate predators.

        • David Cromie

          “Killing everybody who does not hold a specific subjective moral position to create a consensus for that moral position does not make it objectively moral”. Who, but a deluded religiot for example, would consider this to be a ‘moral’ crusade in the first place?

        • Greg G.

          Dictators also.

        • Susan

          Hi Greg. Sorry to interrupt and go off-topic.

          I just had to replace my hard drive, so the code that you wrote that I eventually copy-pasted from epeeist’s explanation is gone.

          I live by Recent Comments. Any chance you could provide the instructions again?

          (Also, is there ANY way Bob S. could be given instructions on how to provide it as a link on each article or at least on his welcome page?)

          Everyone should have access to it, patheosdisqus be damned.

          They don’t care about people selling girls and women on hijacked accounts and they also don’t seem to care about a perfectly necessary function like “Recent Comments”.

        • Greg G.

          <html>
          <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://crossexamined . disqus . com/recent_comments_widget . js?num_items=25&hide_avatars=0&avatar_size=32&excerpt_length=400″></script>
          </html>

          Here is a bare bones version. Change the ” . ” to “.” without the quotation marks, that is, where there is a period with a space on either side should be just the period. This is to keep Disqus from shortening the URL.

          Test:

        • Susan

          Thanks so much.

          Now, remember I’m a dummy.

          What do I copy/paste it to?

          I forget the steps.

        • Greg G.

          Paste the text into Notepad and save it with any name but with the extension “.htm” or “.html” at the end. Open the file with your browser and create a bookmark for it.

        • Susan

          Thanks! Perfect!

        • Greg G.

          If you use this code for it, when you bookmark it, the label should be “Cross Examined Recent Comments” and that will show at the top of the browser window (or some part of it if you have several tabs).


          Cross Examined Recent Comments

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s neat…thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Here is what I use:

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined

          function rightnow(D){
          var a, d
          D = D || new Date()
          d = ''
          a = D.getMonth() + 1
          d += (a < 10 ? '0' : '') + a + '/'
          a = D.getDate()
          d += (a < 10 ? '0' : '') + a + '/' + D.getFullYear() + ' '
          a = D.getHours()
          d += (a < 10 ? '0' : '') + a + ':'
          a = D.getMinutes()
          d += (a < 10 ? '0' : '') + a + ':'
          a = D.getSeconds()
          d += (a < 10 ? '0' : '') + a
          return d}

          <b>Cross Examined</b><b>Cross Examined Recent Comments</b><b>Gmail</b>document.write(rightnow())

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined

          Friendly Atheist

          The Cross Examined Recent Comments link doesn’t work right at this time but maybe it will after the next Patheos renovation.

          There are some extra table cells to add other links. I think those “div” close tags are useless and I forgot to remove them last year.

          EDIT: The “code” tag does not code the bold tags. I had to insert the code for the “less than” and “greater than” signs.

        • epeeist

          Here is my code:

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined

          header, footer {
          padding: 1em;
          color: white;
          background-color: black;
          clear: left;
          text-align: center;
          }

          .button-container {
          display:inline-block;
          margin-bottom: 5px;
          margin-right: 10px;

          }

          button {
          background-color:#e7e7e7;
          color: black;
          border: 2px solid black;
          margin-top: 25px;
          padding: 15px 40px;
          text-align: center;
          text-decoration: none;
          display: inline-block;
          font-size: 16px;
          border-radius: 10px;
          }

          function rightnow(d) {
          d = d || new Date();
          return d.toLocaleDateString() + ' ' + d.toLocaleTimeString();
          }

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined -
          document.write(rightnow())

          Refresh

          Following/Followers

        • David Cromie

          The human will to survive is autonomic, nothing to do with morality, per se. How one goes about surviving, in the case where it arises, is a moral question. Killing an attacker intent on killing oneself, or a member of one’s family, or even a total stranger, is a moral act, when all else has failed to deter the attacker, and thus legal to boot.

        • Raging Bee

          …the goal is still subjectively decided.

          Bullshit. The goal is COLLECTIVELY decided, based (at least in part) on observation of real-world events and consequences. That’s kinda the opposite of “subjective.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          The goal is COLLECTIVELY decided, based (at least in part) on observation of real-world events and consequences.

          That is the definition of “intersubjective morality”.

          If I think pro-choice is morally right based on my observation of real-world events and consequences, that is my subjective opinion. If you think pro-choice is morally right for the same reasons, that is your subjective opinion. When two or more subjective opinions agree, we call that the intersubjective opinion…on whatever the subject, including the morality of the pro-choice position. When enough folk think the same, there is a paradigm shift

          This debate seems hampered by a lack of clarity on what “objective” and “subjective” moralities are. Coyne gave a sensible definition of “objective” morality as being the stance that something can be discerned to be “morally wrong” through reasoning about facts about the world, rather than by reference to human opinion.

          If morality were objective, it would have to be conceivable that the statement “George’s actions were wrong and he deserves to be punished” would be true even if every human in the world were of the opinion, “George’s actions seem fine to me, perhaps even laudable”.

          https://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/six-reasons-why-objective-morality-is-nonsense/

          That’s kinda the opposite of “subjective.”

          No, it really isn’t. It is a consensus of peoples subjective views…which is the antithesis of objective as being defined in the context under discussion.

        • Raging Bee

          When two or more subjective opinions agree, we call that the intersubjective opinion…

          When two or more opinions agree, and are informed by known facts or experience, we call that the INFORMED opinion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That is irrelevant. And misses the point.

          That informed opinion can be still morally wrong.

          Eugenics springs immediately to mind.

          The rules change when the collective subjective opinions fall into line, it’s literally a case of “might makes right”, even if you and I think it’s wrong, regardless of whether they are informed or not, or perceived by the out-group as right or wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Bullshit. The goal is COLLECTIVELY decided, based (at least in part) on observation of real-world events and consequences.

          I see that IA already said that is “intersubjective”. But if a collective decision is based on subjective preferences, it is subjective. A collective decision may leave out many of those affected. I’m thinking of such decisions imposed on Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and other pogroms. Those decisions seem immoral to me but if the decisions were made unanimously, they would be objectively moral, by the method you prescribe.

        • MR

          …excellent…

        • Raging Bee

          But if a collective decision is based on subjective preferences, it is subjective.

          If it’s significantly informed by real-world events or circumstances, then it’s NOT totally subjective, and brushing it off as “subjective” can be considered gaslighting.

        • Greg G.

          then it’s NOT totally subjective

          If a subjective decision has objective components, then it is subjective. To be objective means it must be completely objective. A subjective influence makes it not objective.

        • Raging Bee

          That makes pretty much everything ever said by any person “subjective.” There’s no good reason at all to follow such a nonsensical word-usage rule.

        • Greg G.

          Almost everything we know is subjective. We have to make inferences from our observations. Every consistent observation reduces the possibility of being wrong, but it doesn’t reach a zero percent chance of being wrong. We can’t even solve the Problem of Solipsism because we could be a brain in a vat being fed inputs, or the brain could be a computer algorithm, or the Matrix could be a dream of Vishnu.

          But even if our observations of the reality that is presented to us were objectively correct, we couldn’t know that it is objectively correct.

          The morality problem is another level of difficulty. Objective morality, if it exists, for all we know, it might be a pristine universe uncontaminated with complex chemistry. We could not access that morality to make moral choices. We can only base our morality on our subjective preferences. It is conceit to think the universe is ours to use as we please for our own thriving and the minimalization of our suffering.

          Maybe we mammals are just meant to be habitats for tape worms, and treating them as an infection or a parasite is objectively immoral.

        • Raging Bee

          You are grossly overusing the word “subjective” in place of plenty of other words that are more appropriate in various circumstances; i.e., “species-specific,” “appropriate to one line of work but not another,” etc. Calling damn near everything “subjective” is just plain asinine, too often becomes a well-known form of gaslighting, and just makes you sound like a grade-school kid who’s just found a brand-new favorite word.

          The English language has HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF WORDS to choose from. There’s no excuse to keep on overusing one word when there are plenty of more suitable words to choose from.

          We can’t even solve the Problem of Solipsism because we could be a brain in a vat being fed inputs, or the brain could be a computer algorithm, or the Matrix could be a dream of Vishnu.

          Does anyone have any evidence to even hint that any of these things might be true? No? Problem solved. Been there, done that, didn’t accomplish jack shit, moved on.

        • Greg G.

          We would consider it immoral to kill someone for stepping on our lawn. But Jared Diamond described tribes in the mountains of New Zealand, where protein is hard to come by, that would consider it immoral to not kill a stranger who is trespassing in your territory, as they are either there to steal protein from your family or to plan an attack, so it is not moral to allow something to happen to your family.

          So even killing a trespasser is not objectively immoral. It is subject to the situation.

          Does anyone have any evidence to even hint that any of these things might be true? No? Problem solved. Been there, done that, didn’t accomplish jack shit, moved on.

          Did anybody have any evidence that there were other galaxies 200 years ago? No. Were there other galaxies 200 years ago. It was a premature assumption when our galaxy was thought to be the whole universe.

        • Raging Bee

          It was a premature assumption when our galaxy was thought to be the whole universe.

          It wasn’t an “assumption,” it was a conclusion based on the evidence available at the time. And no one had any need to question it until more evidence surfaced. Same goes for your “Matrix” “theory:” assertions without evidence will continue to be dismissed, at least until actual evidence shows up.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The prime example is the recent story of John Chau.

          Attacking anyone who is not the in-group…to the point of killing them, appears to be the right thing to do for the inhabitants of those islands and rightly so. The indigenous native Americans really fucked up on that score by not doing the same.

        • Susan

          Calling damn near everything “subjective” is just plain asinine,

          But insisting that moral claims be called “objective” is better?

          too often becomes a well-known form of gaslighting

          Sure. Give me some examples. Does insisting they are called “objective” improve anything?

          The best I can see (and I think this is really important when we talk about morality) is that subjective positions on moral claims have objective and moral consequences.

          This does not give you an objective “ought” which is the claim that lands under the umbrella of “objective morality”.

          This is a burden I have seen no one ultimately bear.

          What I imagine pisses you off about “subjective morality” is that it means any moral claim is as willy-nilly as an impulse… like.. for instance… the ice cream you feel like eating.

          For instance, if I feel like punching you in the face (which has objective and subjective consequences), to claim that morality is “subjective” is acting like there is no moral measure.

          But that’s not true. The consequences need to be considered. The consequences are based on your subjective experience, which is what all our moral statements are connected to (though they don’t necessarily completely rely on).

          In the meantime, theists get to evade their moral burden and pretend that not accepting their ultimate, unevidenced claims is equivalent to our taste in ice cream (for the record, I haven’t eaten ice cream in years, so that’s how bad their argument is).

          “Objective” consequences are important.

          But that doesn’t make your position “objective”.

          Also, that things aren’t cut and dry doesn’t make everything subjective.

          Not squishing a kitten is not the same as preferring strawberry ice cream.

          Theists don’t have a coherent moral theory. So, they pretend it is.

          They refer to “torturing babies for fun” vs. “subjective”.

          They never acknowledge the kitten problem.

          Hint: Don’t let oppositon to theism restrict your moral terminology.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Theists don’t have a coherent moral theory. So, they pretend it is.

          And Raging Bee is buying into the fucking theist trope by pandering to their game….which bugs the fuck clean out of me.

          I’ve just been reading about this kinda shit in Dr. Darrel Ray’s book, “The God Virus”…it’s called residual beliefs. Shit we can’t shake from back whenever. Or the surrounding God infected culture.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPN3UlxCXH4

          I could give zero fucks what a retarded religidiot thinks about my morality…as long as I know I’m doing my best and trying to be honest about it…fuck the lot of the two-faced bastards.

        • Sample1

          I think, just guessing, that some object to morality being described as a subjective phenomenon that emerges from individual brains because it appears to lack scalability. If slavery is merely subjective does that mean it may one day be legalized again? That’s the beef it seems to me. Theists certainly try to make that correlation and they’re misunderstanding.

          I don’t think that’s the right way to view what’s meant by subjective (not saying you are doing that). Rather, it’s a logical counterpoint to what has never been demonstrated: the claim that some actions are objectively, transcendently, moral.

          Subjectively subsumes scalability by definition. I agree that colloquially the word may sound equivocal but it needn’t be. When difficult moral questions arise context must be added. Subjective is just the starting point, removing certain claims from unevidenced transcendence. From there the strength of a moral claim is further defined. Consequences of actions belong to the set of all that is subjective. A subset within subjectivity would be evaluating the likelihood of the staying power ranging from the individual to the tribe to universal. All I would say is slavery has a non zero chance of being made legal again. We now understand, for good reasons, that slavery has terrible consequences for the slave, the owner and society. While very unlikely at non zero it’s still rationally plausible it could be made legal again, however disconcerting. But we have no good reasons to think it will. It can be both subjective but effectively permanent.

          That’s my take. I’m not against the use of the word objectivity, but I am if it’s claimed certain morals transcend the subjectivity of humans to a Platonic level. That’s just not demonstrated.

          Does that clarify?

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • Raging Bee

          Subjectively subsumes scalability by definition.

          Whose definition? Out here in real-world conversations among ordinary people, when you hear your story/opinion/experience being labelled “subjective” by someone who disagrees or clearly doesn’t care, there’s no implication of “scalability.”

          I agree that colloquially the word may sound equivocal but it needn’t be.

          How the word sounds “colloquially” is of paramount importance, since it’s being MISUSED in public discourse among ordinary people, regardless of how academics or moral philosophers may understand it in their own circles. This is why I object to its overuse in public policy debates. It just plain DOESN’T MATTER how educated people use the word inside their classrooms and formal debates, when con-artists, bigots and demagogues are capitalizing on ordinary people’s misunderstandings of the word out here in the real world, and doing or enabling real harm as a result.

          I’m not against the use of the word objectivity, but I am if it’s claimed certain morals transcend the subjectivity of humans to a Platonic level.

          Platonic shmatonic. This is about debunking bullshit and trying to get the right thing done from the STREET level to the GLOBAL level. I’m not advocating morality that “transcends” humans, I’m advocating morality that’s RELEVANT AND BENEFICIAL to humans (and hopefully, at least secondarily to other species as well, where feasible).

          And no, I’d really rather not call it “subjective to humans,” because it’s at least partially based on facts, events, consequences and experiences that cannot, and should not, be belittled as “subjective.” Morality is about actions whose consequences are no less objective than an earthquake. (We don’t call earthquakes “subjective to humans” just because they happened on Earth, do we?)

        • Sample1

          Words have all kinds of uses and I don’t see an alternative to objective morality other than subjective. Colloquially it is objective morality that is used by the dominant religion in the West. And they use it without evidence. They do mean transcendent. Take it up with them!

          I completely disagree about earthquakes. How one judges their damage is entirely subjective. A lost heirloom is considered less problematic than a lost child. We make a subjective assessment. Saddam Hussein would disagree, perhaps. So how do we say whose morality is better?

          You say you’re advocating morality. If by morality you mean well being, which is what I mean, then yes, I can agree there are going to be, at least in principle, objective ways to measure wellbeing based on consequences for those who accept that framework in the first place. But that is different than saying your morality is objective. That would mean you could decide for me what I should value. On most stuff we likely agree already. But fundamentally, my brain is different than yours and there may be issues where I’d measure the consequences slightly differently.

          Mike

        • Raging Bee

          Colloquially it is objective morality that is used by the dominant religion in the West.

          Yes, and it’s a word we have to reclaim, just as various sorts of pagans are reclaiming words like “witch,” “pagan,” “heathen,” etc., which Christians have been misusing for CENTURIES. That’s something we HAVE to do, and it’s something we CAN do, because we’re already debunking their beliefs and rules by citing OBJECTIVE facts about real harm done by their con-games.

          Generally speaking, another word religious people use here is “absolute.” That’s a much better descriptor for the “certain morals [that] transcend the subjectivity of humans to a Platonic level” that you (rightly) refuse to accept. So we can let the Christians have their concept of “absolute” whatever, to use for their fantasies, while we take back “objective” for use in the real world. Does that sound fair?

        • Sample1

          It does. Friends again?

        • Raging Bee

          I completely disagree about earthquakes. How one judges their damage is entirely subjective.

          Not really — its area and force can be measured, and it’s pretty easy to observe what was damaged and what wasn’t. We can disagree on the relative importance of all those lost things, but the losses themselves are hard facts.

        • Sample1

          As I just posted to Amos, I think we are all possibly violently agreeing but getting hung up on the reasoning.

          I may have incorrectly assumed you equated objective morality with absolute objective morality. Something theists harp on and something that has never been demonstrated.

          But if you mean a premise where well-being is synonymous with morality then yes, once that is presupposed, then actions can be objectively demonstrated that affect well-being.

          Better?

          Mike

        • MR

          And for me that’s precisely where the definitions diverge. The damage is objective, but the “relative importance” is subjective. The same for moral things. The consequences of an action is objective, but describing it in moral terms is subjective. Feel free to scream, yell and berate me, but I’m just telling you how I see things.

        • Sample1

          There is no need to use objective or subjective “on the street” for morality. If you claim something for or against human well-being, then simply state your reasons. That’s it. That’s all you can do.

          Objective and subjective are qualifiers for other discussions. I reject that calling a moral action subjective is necessarily belittling it. I understand why you think so, but in our discussion you’re just wrong. And I showed why it’s a mistake to assume that. Depends totally on context. A context you may or may not find personally valuable. Others do. Particularly when the religious say homosexuality is objectively immoral or abortion is objectively immoral. Many disagree. Resolutions and understanding require sorting out those meanings.

          Mike

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…everything is a model…that might well be wrong. But for the purpose of playing the game…

        • Sample1

          Most of us here are fallibilists. Because of that, I don’t have the perfect confidence that my take on a moral claim is anywhere near absolute objective morality.

          Also, because we learn our morals rather than receive them perfectly formed with a bow.

          Maybe she isn’t saying absolute objective morality but I don’t know the difference between absolute and plain objective morality. Too often they are equivalent in practice.

          Objective is a possible qualification after the initial subjective claim, evaluating the consensus within a determined, agreed upon framework. We can say morality is about the well-being of certain animals, including us. It can then be shown objectively when well-being is affected. I agree with Dillahunty and Harris on this but I slightly disagree with how Dillahunty arrives at it, namely leaving out the socio-biological subjectivity aspect.

          I should probably work on this conception better for future discussions.

          Mike

        • Paul B. Lot

          Maybe she isn’t saying absolute objective morality but I don’t know the difference between absolute an d plain objective morality. Too often they are equivalent in practice.

          What’s the difference between saying [the earth moves at 67K mi/h around the sun] and [the earth moves at 67K mi/h]?

        • Sample1

          One is more descriptive, more data. More potential inferences and deductions.

          Mike
          Long time no see!

        • Paul B. Lot

          Long time no see!

          Indeed. 😀 Life, neh?

          One is more descriptive, more data. More potential inferences and deductions.

          I see what you mean. OTOH, if we assume that the person saying the latter was some sort of Earth-Movement-Speed-Fundamentalist, it could be an absolute claim, couldn’t it? Like “The Earth has always and will always move at 67K mi/H, no more no less!”.

          They’re both objective claims, but the former gives a proper context and relativistic frame-of-reference, whereas the latter overreaches, and therefore ends up being nonsensical, by trying to talk about a Platonic, absolute speed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jerry Coyne has a bit to say about the “well being” angle here…

          https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/why-there-is-no-objective-morality/

        • Paul B. Lot

          In contrast, science has no add-ons. Once you find out that birds descended from dinosaurs, nothing else need be added to make this an objective truth (provisional truth, of course!).

          Of course “science” has similar add-ons: if you don’t care about evidence/investigation/Occam’s razor, then you can believe anything you like. Science is founded on unjustified properly basic beliefs as well. Without an individual has these things in common with other “scientists”, there is nothing that can be done to convince them.

        • David Cromie

          If the writer cannot recognise ‘well being’, then I hope he does not have any children.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Does it say in that article that Coyne can’t recognise “well being” David? I don’t think so.

          Where we differ is that I don’t think the criterion of “well being” is an objective one. It is a subjective choice, and can’t be chosen based on a scientific study of nature. (In contrast, the molecular structure of benzene can be objectively discerned.) And “well being” is sufficiently nebulous that it can be stretched to cover everything, in which case it becomes useless. Is it moral to torture a prisoner if there is a 1/1000 chance that he will reveal where a bomb is planted that will kill 100,000 people? You could argue, based on well being, that torture is not only mandated, but required, in this case. But one could also argue that “well being” includes the structure of a society, and it’s not good to create a society in which anyone can be tortured.

          Sharia law is about the “well being” of the victims of the “crime” and Islamic society in general, over the “well being” of the “perp”.

          That is the nature of laws and the societies that create them.

          The “well being” of the enslaved was forfeit for the “well being” of the slave owner.

          In pro-choice laws, the “well being” of the fetus is forfeit for the “well being” of the woman…and some would say society at large, while others say not.

          In the lifeboat thought experiment, the “well being” of the one is forfeit for the “well being” the others.

          It seems to me that there are any number of “well beings” being let down and we decide by consensus what “well beings” are are to let down depending on the circumstances, which change from person to person, time to time, place to place, in most cases anyway.

        • David Cromie

          I did not say Coyne does not mention ‘well being’, only that he thinks that it is not an objective question.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And I didn’t say you said Coyne does not mention “well being”, what you said was that he doesn’t recognize “well being”, which he clearly does.

          He thinks it is not objective and supports his assertion with example. The well being of one being tortured vis a vis the well being of a greater number than one.

          Take recreational drug taking as another example. Is it immoral? It is certainly detrimental to lot’s of well being…even alcohol consumption is highly problematic in this area of thought. Who decides?

        • Paul B. Lot

          It is conceit to think the universe is ours to use as we please for our own thriving and the minimalization of our suffering.

          Maybe we mammals are just meant to be habitats for tape worms, and treating them as an infection or a parasite is objectively immoral.

          The bolded is a POV which has had some degree of intellectual/moral appeal to me in the past, but which now seems flawed in crucial ways.

          I still applaud it, by the way, as a rhetorical reaction to the blinkered certainty of religious fundies. But it seems like an *over* reaction: just because we are not children of god doesn’t mean we are therefore demons.

          According to Sagan, we are star-stuff, right? We are, as you point out, no better than tape worms (who are star-stuff as well), but we are no worse either.

          The universe *is* ours to use in so far as *we* are (a part of) the universe.

        • Greg G.

          The universe *is* ours to use in so far as *we* are (a part of) the universe.

          My point is that the universe is not ours alone to the exclusion of every other lifeform. Every other lifeform is star stuff, too.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Every other lifeform is star stuff, too.

          Right: “tape worms (who are star-stuff as well)”.

          My point is that the universe is not ours alone to the exclusion of every other lifeform.

          I accept both that this is your stated point, and that it is a good point.

          However.

          The way you went about making it made it hard for me to fully understand. This:

          Maybe we mammals are just meant to be habitats for tape worms, and treating them as an infection or a parasite is objectively immoral.

          Seemed like a pendulum swing away from the one chauvinism of [God made the universe for us] to the other of [we are only here to be fodder for others].

          AFAICT, the version of “objective morality” I ascribe to fits with a Nash-equilibrium/Star-Trekkian view of a future filled with collaboration between sentient species, rather than a zero-sum/struggle for survival.

        • Greg G.

          Seemed like a pendulum swing away from the one chauvinism of [God made the universe for us] to the other of [we are only here to be fodder for others].

          Right, it is a reductio ad absurdum argument against the idea that human morality is objective. Maybe we should be thinking in terms of what is the best objectively moral outcome for our parasites.

          The argument about objective morality is using WLC’s definition for it

        • Paul B. Lot

          Right, it is a reductio ad absurdum argument against the idea that human morality is objective.

          No. I don’t think so. I’ll grant, however, that it is an argument against the idea that human morality refers to an absolute standard (and a good one!)

          Maybe we should be thinking in terms of what is the best objectively moral outcome for our parasites.

          Ok, lets? I’m not sure what you think is “absurd” about choosing to engage in the thought experiment of “what’s best for human parasites”? Not least because *actually doing so*, the act of running that model in one’s head, might be a good way to figure out how to control human parasites.

          The argument about objective morality is using WLC’s definition for it

          Indeed! Like much of his work, that definition seems bad to me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          …then it’s NOT totally subjective,…

          Jaysus fuck…”NOT totally subjective”….Wtf does that even mean? Mostly subjective? A wee bit objective?

        • Paul B. Lot

          But if a collective decision is based on subjective preferences, it is subjective.

          I think topics like these really highly the paucity of our understanding of mind/brains.

          It might well be the case that none of the things we refer to as “subjective”, in fact, are.

          Those decisions seem immoral to me but if the decisions were made unanimously, they would be objectively moral, by the method you prescribe.

          The concept of “objective morality” which I ascribe to is not-absolute. Which means that it depends both on scope and context. Leaving aside the fact that [groups of people can and do make “unanimous decisions” which are in fact contrary to their own good/morality], supposing that such a decision were [morally correct for that subset of humans] != [morally correct for the set of all humans].

        • Greg G.

          I think topics like these really highly the paucity of our understanding of mind/brains.

          It might well be the case that none of the things we refer to as “subjective”, in fact, are.

          I would say that “subjective” still applies to the thought patterns of the subconscious, if that is what you mean, whether the threat of embarrassment of getting caught or the desire to virtue signal is calculated subconsciously or not.

          The concept of “objective morality” which I ascribe to is not-absolute. Which means that it depends both on scope and context.

          To me, the scope and context considerations are what makes it subjective. An objective morality should be independent of such things.

          There may be an objectively best way to achieve a desired moral outcome but the subjective is in the “desired”.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I would say that “subjective” still applies to the thought patterns of the subconscious, if that is what you mean, whether the threat of embarrassment of getting caught or the desire to virtue signal is calculated subconsciously or not.

          What I was trying to get at was that, to my mind, “subjective” means something like “choice or personal preference at time x”. But, if it is the case that no one “chooses” anything, that every output of our brains is uniquely, repeatably, inexorably caused by underlying processes which are, themselves, caused by external factors…if, in other words, there is no “free will” and no one *could have* done anything but what they did, if the universe is purely deterministic…then “subjectivity” is not a thing in itself, but rather a short-hand term for “objective truth which is difficult to calculate/de-obfuscate”.

          The concept of “objective morality” which I ascribe to is not-absolute. Which means that it depends both on scope and context.

          To me, the scope and context considerations are what makes it subjective. An objective morality should be independent of such things.

          If you had written “absolute morality” in the underlined, I’d agree 100%. As it is, however, I use the word “objective” to mean “decoupled from individual persons’ whim/free will”. I do not take “objective” to mean “unchangingly true in any/all situations”, contra “absolute”.

          There may be an objectively best way to achieve a desired moral outcome but the subjective is in the “desired”.

          I’m not sure that this is how people think about things. I doubt that people have specific “desired moral outcomes”. I think they have specific desires, and that “morality” is the system by which they choose/navigate decision space in order to satisfy those desires. It is good for an accountant to be honest, not because honesty is an end in itself but because without it it is difficult to achieve desired goals of [shelter, food, comfort, sex, prestige, internal harmony].

          My view of “objective morality” does nothing at all to remove people’s individual desires. Indeed if one does not, for example, desire to live in a world where [people don’t murder each other in cold blood]….if, in other words, one were some sort of virulent/anti-social/psychopathic killer, it might well be that the the choices one makes could be called “objectively moral (for psychopaths)” using my terminology.

          OTOH, I also think that, in response, the “objectively moral (for non-psychopaths)” thing to do is to contain/restrain/eliminate such persons.

        • MR

          Agree. We can talk objectively, dispassionately about something, “collateral damage” for example, and then we can talk passionately, emotionally about how we feel about that. That distinction requires Bob’s platform. “As a normal, empathetic, compassionate human being….”

        • Raging Bee

          Since we can’t predict the outcome any better than probabilities, we cannot make objective choices.

          Yes, we can (especially when the probability of benefit or harm is close to 100.00%!); and we often have to, whether we want to or not.

          And, again, no, the fact that we can’t always be 100% sure what’s right, does not mean our values are “subjective.”

        • MR

          (whispers in Greg’s ear) “Close to” is about as good an admission to “not objective” as you’re going to get. Take it and run.

        • Raging Bee

          What is beneficial to humans is species subjective.

          No, it’s species-SPECIFIC. That’s not the same thing as “subjective.”

        • Greg G.

          No, it’s species-SPECIFIC.

          That does not make it objective at all. It just means it is subjective to each subject of a species.

        • Pofarmer

          You’ve now hit on the problem .

  • Ignorant Amos

    A society without a foundation in a belief in God and in the last judgment is a society in which people will try to get away with anything they possibly can, and it’s simply an invitation to chaos, bedlam, and anarchy. Poor Ehrman is obviously entirely unaware of the consequences of the belief system that he represents.

    Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t support such nonsense.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-2018-un-world-happiness-report-most-atheistic-and-socially-well-off-countries-are-the-happiest-while-religious-countries-are-poor-and-unhappy/

    Look around the world to where “chaos, bedlam, and anarchy” are a thing, and check that against how religious they are to see it is also nonsense.

  • vinny152

    Religion-like politics–is all about”-POWER-CONTROL”-and by following the Dunning-Kruger Law of people too stupid to know that they are “stupid”-Religion-like politics-will be part of humanity’s “Culture”-Sincerely-Jo Later(vinny152@yahoo.com)