And end (for now) to the “Atheismusstreit”

And end (for now) to the “Atheismusstreit” December 22, 2011

(If you’re not sure what “Atheismusstreit” means–google it.)

This is my blog so I declare victory in the argument about atheism and nihilism. Unfortunately, very few who have joined in the argument (from the atheist side) have even understood what it’s all about. I suspect much of their confusion is caused by a misunderstanding of what I mean by “objective.”

But what causes me to declare victory (not for me but for the argument) is the failure of any atheist here to answer my “Hitler question.” One or two have attempted it, but they simply have not understood the question. The question was not why Hitler was wrong to do what he did–as if “wrong” only means mistaken or in violation of rules (whether of nature or community). The question was (and remains) what objective reasons can be given why Hitler would have been absolutely, objectively wrong to do what he did IF he had benefited from it. Nature alone cannot answer that. The most a naturalist can say is that Hitler was acting inconsistently with the altruistic gene or with universal norms decided upon by the majority of people. (“Universal” does not mean “objective.” There was a time when everyone thought the sun revolved around the earth. That was universally believed but objectively false.)

So, for now, I am declaring an end to this discussion in order to move on to other things UNLESS someone wants to address THE QUESTION (I’m not shouting but italicizing without italics because it is too complicated to italicize with this blog program) AS IT IS ASKED–including possibly admitting there are no objective moral norms (in the sense I mean of “objective”) if nature is all there is and therefore….

My next post here will be about the deity of Jesus Christ (in keeping with the season).

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  • cowalker

    “The question was (and remains) what objective reasons can be given why Hitler would have been absolutely, objectively wrong to do what he did . . . .”

    As several atheists answered in the previous thread, there are none.

    I think your true victory is the demonstration of how reluctant atheists are to acknowledge this. I believe this is because a great many people still assume that all atheists go about hurting and exploiting other people to the extent they can get away with, because they don’t believe Santa Claus . . . I mean God, is watching to see if they’re being bad or good. This is demonstrably untrue, and it is also demonstrably true that many people who do hurt and exploit other people do so in spite of their belief in objective morality. Think about happened with child abuse in the Catholic Church and all the Christians who cheat on their taxes. It is also demonstrably true that belief in objective morality sometimes results directly in behavior that hurts many people. Think about the Twin Towers.

    I remember how shocked a coworker was when I told him I was an atheist. He had assumed from my behavior that I was a devout Christian. Atheists hate the false stereotype that they are automatically immoral in terms of their culture, and they know that acknowledgment that there is no objective morality will contribute to that stereotype.

    It is also unsurprising that atheists didn’t want to “own” nihilism. It is associated in Western culture with despair and depression, rather than the simple declaration that there is no objective morality or objective value. The only acquaintance many have with nihilism is through the little they know about Nietzsche, who proclaimed the death of God, went crazy from despair and syphilis, and whose philosophy inspired Hitler. (Yes, I know these are gross over-simplifications but that is all that most people “know” about nihilism and Nietzsche.)

    • Cowalker, I have been pondering your testimony since I first read it this morning, and I rejoice in what you have confessed. Do you realize how close you are standing to the kingdom of the being who created in you the desire to love as you do? Indeed, His words are at your lips. I encourage you to enter into His kingdom where the goodness you so rightfully value reigns. As one who has preceded you I acknowledge your consternation with those of us who claim to dwell there. We most certainly are not perfect in love. But as long as we remain there He promises to perfect us. And in the process He forgives us. This is what He created us for: to dwell with us as a kingdom of purity forged in love, unified in love, and preserved in love—the morality you have clearly espoused.

      Believe me when I tell you that I say this in all sincerity. I am a doctor of organic chemistry, and very early on in my love affair with science—actually biological science—did I stand where you stand, and turned to our Creator and have never looked back. Sixteen years ago, my brother, a mathematician specializing in probability, who had been a longstanding atheist, came to the threshold you now stand, and he entered the kingdom I’m talking about. He would tell you that it wasn’t theological or philosophical arguments that nudged him in, but the truth of the mathematics he loves validated the truth of the loving God who called him.

      I have no doubt that the goodness that people see in you is real. I hope that you will turn to your and our king, who is but a breath away, so that the goodness you cherish might be completed in you. Thank you for your testimony.

  • benjdm

    There are no objective norms. Adding in a supremely powerful thinking subject’s edicts doesn’t change that.

  • Derp

    “… what objective reasons can be given why Hitler would have been absolutely, objectively wrong…”

    We don’t need any. Objective reasons are arbitrary (in all instances) and therefore not always valid. You said it perfectly, “… Hitler was acting inconsistently with the altruistic gene [and] with universal norms decided upon by the majority of people.” So, he loses. People who act inconsistently with the universal norms always lose. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.

    No one has witnessed the Earth make a complete trip around the sun from outerspace. Even if you did, you “subjectively” witnessed it. Who’s to say you’re correct? To agree that the Earth travels around the sun we have to agree on a certain level of subjective evidence, math for instance. Everything depends on our observation, therefore literally everything is subjective. We have only decided, arbitrarily, that a specific level of certainty makes things objective.

    • rogereolson

      Wrong. They often win. Many genocidal dictators have set out to kill off a specific group and died happy for having accomplished it.

      • Derp

        Umm… Hitler killed himself. Do you suppose he was happy about that? Even if he was delighted, who cares? He lost because his practices did not persist, same with every other dictator.

        You can build an “objective” morality grounded completely in naturalistic language once you assume that people prefer pleasure over pain. Consequentialism, for instance, judges the morality of actions based on their outcome and is completely grounded in naturalistic explanations.

        Attirbuting objective morality to a God doesn’t ground it, it drops morality from the sky. And it certainly doesn’t make morality objective, it makes morality arbitrary (i.e. because God said so).

        • rogereolson

          People and even cultures find pleasure in different things so “pleasure” hardly grounds objective morality. Again, how can you convince me (or even attempt to convince me) that harming other people solely for my own pleasure is wrong if I do indeed gain pleasure from it? All you can say is “Most people don’t get pleasure out of doing that” but that doesn’t even approach objective morality as I envision it. It is simply an appeal to the majority’s sentiments.

          • Derp

            Most? … Really? You’re prepared to say that only “most” people prefer physical pleasure to pain? I don’t think you’re being intellectually honest.

            If people don’t agree on the basic, universal axiom that pleasure is better than pain we lock them in mental institutions.

            Besides, the fact that everyone doesn’t follow universal norms presents a problem for the theologist as well. Objective morality doesn’t prevent someone from saying that eternal torment in hell (for not following the objective morals) is preferable to heaven.

          • rogereolson

            You misrepresent my point (like many others here). I didn’t say it is a problem that people don’t follow universal norms. I have gone out of my way to say that “objective” and “universal” aren’t the same thing. What I have been arguing is that objective morality requires more than bean counting. In fact, bean counting (what most or even all people believe or do) is irrelevant to whether there are objective, absolute norms of right and wrong. If all people suddenly decided that murdering is better than not, that wouldn’t make it right.

          • Serge

            In order to be objective the decision has to be unanimous. And you cannot say “all people suddenly decided that murdering is better than not” as half of them have to be victims, half – killers. You have to ask all the parties affected.

          • rogereolson

            We are talking about entirely different meanings of “objective.” You seem to be focusing on epistemological objectivity or confusing that with metaphysical objectivity. “Objective” in morality means that something would be wrong even if everybody thought otherwise.

  • Swej

    I’d like to point out that there is no mention of Hitler in your “Atheism and nihilism” post, so I’m not sure how you can “declare victory”, or why you would feel the need to say that…

    But I’d like to answer your question — and clarify that when you say “objective morality” you mean some sort of absolute, universal, transcendent, eternal Morality (for which I will use a big M to be clear), correct?

    If so, I don’t believe such a Morality exists, and I don’t think you can demonstrate that it does. I only see evidence for a objective worldly morality (small m), meaning that, as humans, we continually strive to improve our moral concepts and identify those that are as objective as humanly possible. Remember that our current ideals of freedom and equality were not always so mainstream, but our worldly morality has *evolved* to better support human life.

    So my only answer is to turn the question back to you and ask, “What objective reasons can be given why Hitler would have been absolutely, objectively wrong to do what he did, period.?” I would like for you to identify what these transcendent Morals are, and where they can be found.

    Note that I am not defending Hitler. I am merely pointing out the lack of a celestial handbook we can use to judge his actions. (I think you understand that the bible is NOT itself a transcendent Morality, though it may be a STORY about transcendent Morality. — I could claim ANY book to be a source of transcendent Morality, but that would not make it true.)

    If you cannot first demonstrate that universal, absolute, transcendent Morality actually exists, then what on earth are all these posts about??

    • rogereolson

      I don’t think the 20th century supports your claim about progress in improving moral concepts. Whether I or anyone else can “demonstrate” (if you mean prove) the existence of a specific moral code is irrelevant to the argument. The argument itself only says that unless such exists and is believed in, moral relativism is inexorable. Once that is accepted, then we can talk about which of the many options is best.

      • Derp

        …”about which of the many options is best.”

        Shouldn’t the first question be whether any of them is true?

        • rogereolson

          Okay. That’s usually what I mean by “best” when talking about beliefs and values.

      • Swej

        I just want to be clear that you yourself are unable to point to any of these transcendent, eternal Morals you are asking atheists to defend, am I correct?

        If no transcendent Morality is to be found, then like it or not we are stuck with “The Better Angels of Our Nature” (the title of a Steven Pinker book I suggest you read –about how violence today is lower than ever).

        You might also look into Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape” to see how objective morality (small m) can still be achieved despite the lack of a celestial lawgiver.

        In the meantime, thank you for the conversation, and have a very Merry Christmas!

        • Bill Lyons

          I agree with your assertion, Swej, that transcendent morals cannot be objectively proven. But I suspect that Roger knows that transcendent morals cannot be objectively proven, nor does it likely matter to him. His question was a thought exercise, and within that context he doesn’t need to prove that transcendent morals exist.

          I think cowalker’s comment in this thread hits the nail on the head: most atheists don’t want to admit that nihilism must be accepted within their worldview. It is similar to the way that religious people don’t want to admit that their beliefs are objectively illogical…both are reacting to negative connotations created within society.

  • Dr. Olson, I just wanted to take this opportunity to again thank you for your faithful service to the kingdom of God, and to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. And BTW, you are absolutely correct in your thesis; transcendent morality would not exist in an universe that is nothing more than matter/energy.

  • Merry Christmas

    Didn’t see this mentioned in the comments already, possibly missed it, but the same arguments were played out in the New York Times recently, except the article was written by an atheist saying there is objective morality for atheists. I was shocked by the obvious to me shortcomings in such an article written by a supposed professor of philosophy. Fortunately, many atheist in the comments section also agreed with your position.

    I enjoy your writing. Thank you.

  • David Rogers

    Kim Jong Il is an example of a man who lived in luxury and power to the point of his death all while the people of North Korea starved under his leadership. How would an atheist attempt to persuade his son Kim Jong Un not to emulate the success of his father?

    • rogereolson

      Excellent question. Thank you.

    • Bill Lyons

      We would appeal to him using the same standards of morality that you would. The only difference is that you believe that this morality was handed to us from God, while we believe it is a creation of human beings.

      • rogereolson

        Anything that is a creation of human beings is mutable and relative; only God or a being like God can ground moral absolutes.

        • Bill Lyons

          Agreed. But I don’t see how that’s relevant to my answer. You may consider human-created morals to be inferior or insufficient, nonetheless they are a basis for moral condemnation. Kim Jong un might discount them, just as he might discount God-given morals.

          My point is that the idea that atheists have no moral basis for condemning evil behavior is nonsense. Though deists may see their (atheist’s) basis for morality as inferior, it nonetheless exists and is just as relevant.

          • rogereolson

            I thought I made clear that I do not deny that atheists have a “moral basis for condemning evil behavior.” What I argue is that “evil” means something entirely different to an atheist than to a theist. And the moral basis for condemning evil behavior is not just superior; it is entirely different and, in my opinion and Horkheimer’s (and many others’ of course) it is the only one that can’t be turned aside with “Why should I care if by doing evil I’m not placed at a disadvantage?”

      • David Rogers

        What if his response was, “My father’s actions brought him success and power. It has enabled his progeny to begin with success and continue with power. Continuing his approach to morality has observable positive consequences for his descendents. It conforms to the patterns one can observe in the evolutionary principle of survival of the fittest. What is wrong with continuing with those sorts of activities? And why should I care one bit for the rest of the country? What scientific or logical rationale can you give to persuade me to care one whit about those outside my chosen range of beneficiaries?

        • rogereolson

          I look forward to Bill’s response. At the moment I can’t think of why such a response should be considered morally bad (in a sense other than it is not preferred because it is not liked) if nature is all there is.

          • Bill Lyons

            I could say that despite the apparent immediate benefit to you and your descendants, the evolutionary-based morals that we all follow would not have arisen if they were not adaptive (survival enhancing).

            The very fact that similar morals (do not murder, do not steal) exist in all human cultures is because populations that lack this behavior have been more successful in spreading their genes. Therefore, acting immorally increases the likelihood that your genetics will eventually be destroyed (selected against).

            You could correctly argue that immoral behavior exists within all populations as well. I would posit that the majority of the average human population tends to act morally often, while a smaller portion of the population acts immorally often. For the population to survive, the number of people who act morally often must be at a certain threshold (similar to the proportion of moral to immoral people that we see in most human populations) or the population decreases it’s chances of long term survival. A population can only positively affect survivability if they have a sufficient number of morally acting people.

            Since human societies that possess no moral code are extremely rare (or nonexistent), we can infer that such populations have a very low probability of survival.

            It is possible, though, that a certain amount of immoral behavior can exist within a population without being maladaptive to the population as a whole. And immoral behavior may benefit an individual in the short term (within their own life).

            So, if Kim Jong Un did not care about his descendants, then he wouldn’t be persuaded by my argument.

            However, if the ultimate goal of evolution-created morality is continued genetic survival (not just survival of one individual), then anything that reduces survivability for descendants would be considered immoral. So even though Kim Jong Un may not see any negative consequences for his immoral behavior, in the long run it has a higher probability of being selected against and eventually destroying his genes.

            Hence it is “wrong”.

            This is probably more wordy than it needs to be, sorry about that.

          • rogereolson

            That is an entirely different meaning of “wrong” than mine. And I don’t see how it escapes the issue that a person who is convinced that committing genocide against an “inferior” race is favorable to the gene pool and attempts it is objectively, absolutely, morally wrong. In your account of “wrong,” it seems to me, it only means epistemologically wrong (i.e., thinking incorrectly). I don’t see any ground or basis for moral outrage in your account of “wrong.”

    • Serge

      Morality exists in society. Without society there is no morality. If you live all your life on the Moon without any interaction with anybody and not producing any offsprings there is no point of talking about morality.

      If you want to talk about morality with Kim Jong Un you need to get all North Koreans to be involved in the discussion. They are all affected parties. If you want an objective discussion you’ll need to present to all of them how other countries are run, talk to them about feudalism, monarchy, slavery, democracy, communism, socialism, etc. Then run fair, transparent, anonymous voting. Present the results to Kim Jong Un. Whether he will step down or not is irrelevant, the results will be objective.

      Same with Hitler. Go back in time to 1938, ask ALL European, USSR and North Africa citizens (and all their relatives throughout the world) if they are OK with the invasion, occupation and killing. Go back to Hitler and present the results.

      • rogereolson

        What if ALL North Koreans want to obliterate South Korea and ALL Europeans agree that Jews should be killed? Would that then make those moral sentiments right? Why not?

        • Serge

          Objective is something that everybody agrees on upon. You cannot pick a group. You have to ask everybody or (to save time) at least everybody involved in a particular action. Don’t ask only all North Koreans, ask also South Koreans and their relatives abroad if it’s OK to obliterate South Korea.

          • Serge

            EDIT: I wanted to write: Objective is something that everybody agrees on upon a reasonable investigation . Now that sounds vague, so I was thinking about the definition. A reasonable investigation may not be required in many cases, but it’s desirable.

          • rogereolson

            Who defines “reasonable” in “reasonable investigation?”

          • rogereolson

            That’s impossible, of course. You’ll never be able to ask everyone about any ethical dilemma. And even if you could and everyone responded that it is okay to eliminate a particular group because of their ethnicity (including the group to be eliminated) that wouldn’t make it right. That’s what I mean by “objective morality.”

  • Beau Quilter

    To answer your question:

    There are NO (not a shout, but an underline) objective reasons that can be given why Hitler would have been absolutely, objectively wrong to do what he did IF he had benefited from it.

    I am not exactly sure what “Victory” you are declaring. Did you “win” against atheists because you created a question that no atheist could answer? I just did.

    You say that “what causes [you] to declare victory (not for [you] but for the argument) is the failure of any atheist here to answer [your] ‘Hitler question.'”

    This isn’t true. Commenters such as “Mike” have basically said the same thing I have. “Mike” ending his comment saying:

    “Whether such a system [a naturalistic system of ethics] is ‘better’ than one that is grounded in a transcendent moral absolute is also a different discussion. Again, as I read it, you were merely making the case that no transcendent foundation means no ethical absolutes. Nothing more than that. What am I missing?”

    To which you replied, “You are missing nothing. You have it right.”

    So, again, to what “victory” are you referring? We have answered your question.

    Now, do you intend to move on and discuss with us the implications of your question for Christianity or atheism?

    Or, as Mike said, and you confirmed, were you “merely making the case that no transcendent foundation means no ethical absolutes”?

    • rogereolson

      Yes to that. My declaration of victory (for my argument) is for you also. We agree and together we declare victory–over the majority of atheists who have here attempted to defend ethical absolutes without any transcendent ground.

      • Beau Quilter

        From what I read in the give and take of comments, the “majority of atheists” that bothered to comment here were not trying to defend ethical absolutes as you define them. Most were trying to move on to other arguments (often about rational morality); and to these you usually responded that they were misreading you or failing to answer your Hitler question.

        My guess is that, most nontheists, like me, could care less about your Hitler question. Instead, they would be much more interested in discussing other statements that you made in these posts, for example:

        “What we believe is that most atheists are simply living off the “leftovers” from the West’s theistic cultural tradition and that IF an atheist decided to live solely for himself or herself at the expense of others there is nothing in his or her worldview that would forbid or even discourage it.”

        This is a bit more than your ‘atheists must be nihilists’ argument. Nihilism was first introduced to philosophy as a term with which to negatively characterize transcendental idealism. And though some have historically “embraced” the term, it is more often (especially today) a term packaged with negative connotations. If you define nihilism as simply the belief that there are no absolute moral values in the universe – and stop there – then, few nontheists would argue with that definition. But the word “nihilism” carries connotations that “nihilists” are bent on destruction and anarchy. When you say that ‘atheists must embrace nihilism’, what atheists hear is that you are implying that atheists are bent on destruction and anarchy. This we reject.

        If you want to argue that atheists cannot believe in an absolute morality – fine – but do let us go on to defend morality based on rationality. Otherwise, you are simply cutting the argument short.

        And, if you don’t mind, we would like to reject the word “nihilism”, for the simple reason that, however you define it, the connotations of the word are farther reaching and intentionally negative. It’s a bit like calling someone who is black, a “negro”. You can argue all you like that the word simply “defines” a race; but you can’t deny the negative implications the word holds for people.

        • rogereolson

          Look, right from the start I made clear that I am NOT (not shouting, underlining for emphasis) saying that atheists are nihilists. Anyone who read my original post in this thread knows that. The argument is that an atheist has no good reason not to be a nihilist. That’s entirely different from saying atheists are nihilists. And, strictly speaking, that is definition-wise, “nihilism” does not mean “bent on destruction and anarchy.” If we discarded all philosophical terms that are distorted and misused by “the man in the street” few would remain. We’d have to come up with a new vocabulary every decade or two.

  • Derp

    Reply limits…

    When did you chose to prefer pleasure to pain? This question is nonsensical because it’s NOT a choice. We are wired this way.

    So, you are the one misrepresenting the point.

    • rogereolson

      Apparently everyone is also “wired” to be selfish. So what? Does that make self-centeredness right? You miss my largely point.

  • Swej

    Hi Roger,

    I’m still wondering if you can explain where these supposed objective (transcendent) Morals are to be found.

    Your Hitler argument makes little sense to me if it is impossible to point to a Moral that we know to be objective (meaning eternal, and transcendent).

    Here’s an example of what I mean:
    Roger: “Adolf, what you are doing is objectively wrong!”
    Adolf: “Not it’s not”
    Roger: “Yes it is”
    Adolf: “Prove it”

    So Roger, I’m genuinely curious how you know there are transcendent Morals, and where we find them? If not, I see no reason for this discussion.


    • rogereolson

      I think that, for the most part, anyway, they are intuitive and rational. What’s important about this discussion is that IF (not shouting just underscoring or italicizing) they are ONLY products of biological and/or social conditioning they are not absolute and therefore a person who decides to act against them can only be told he or she is acting against nature and/or a social consensus. That’s not very persuasive to a person who doesn’t care about either and is confident his or her self interest is enhanced by acting against them. A believer in God can and should and probably will (most often) say to such a person something like “You will be judged and punished for [for example] murdering people” if not in this life in another one to come.

      • Swej

        Thank you for the honest reply, Roger. But I find 3 problems with this answer:

        1. Isn’t a Moral argument based on non-natural grounds actually LESS persuasive??
        – One need only ask for proof that your supernatural world is real, and suddenly there is no way to support your claim. You would quickly be dismissed as delusional. At least with a rational morality, we can provide rational reasons and evidence that rational people might relate to!

        2. Regardless, what difference does it actually make to the TRUTH of a claim that it is persuasive??
        – One could just as easily lie to Hitler and tell him he swallowed a poison pill that will be detonated unless he changes his ways… and this might work as well (or better) than your threat of other-worldly judgement. We see persuasive arguments in false-advertising all the time! When looking for TRUTH it is better to look for claims that can be demonstrated.

        3. My question is still a question awaiting an answer:
        – You state that morality is “for the most part” intuitive and rational. Would you please expound? WHY do you believe there is ANY transcendent Morality, and HOW do you know it’s really transcendent, and not of this world??

        This might be a topic for a later post… I’m honestly interested in your response.

        Thanks again for the conversation. I learned a lot, and hope you did too.

        • rogereolson

          By “intuitive and rational” I do not mean “natural.” I believe in the reality of a sensus divinus in all human beings.

          • Swej: No one can a priori prove objective transcendent morality any more than one can explain why light is both a particle and a wave; as scientists we must accept the fact that it is so because of our observations, but no one knows why.

            Similarly, we are certain of objective transcendent morality because everyone works to circumvent it.

            Hitler and his cronies openly and from a materialist worldview proffered a logical, rational justification for eliminating all categories of humanity—whether invalid, mentally/intellectually challenged, racially different, bohemian in outlook, on so on—that ultimately impede the efficiency and therefore progress of society. Yet it came out during the Nuremberg trials that the operatives of the Final Solution were told to keep the effort a strict Reich secret. Why? Because everyone knows what they had been doing was wrong.

            When my step-daughter was twelve years old she decided to light a candle when no one was around and then blew it out and threw the spent match in a trash can. When confronted, she denied it, even though it was impossible that the candle could have been lit in any other way. We assured her that she wasn’t in trouble, but it literally took over twenty minutes of cajoling before she finally confessed the obvious. She knew lying was futile, yet continued to lie, anyway.

            In the first scenario, perfectly sound reason (from a materialist worldview) did not make the moral decision to commit genocide right; otherwise, they would have openly and unabashedly practiced what they had been espousing in theory. And the rest of the world not in direct threat of their experiment (i.e., not motivated by the survival instinct) would have looked on with indifference, or copied them, or waited to see the results before deciding. The inescapable logic of the second situation did not bring my daughter to tell the truth, even though it was in her best interests to do so because she knew lying is wrong.

            Two things to learn from this: First, murder and lying are inherently wrong—they constitute part of objective transcendent morality; otherwise the perpetrators wouldn’t have worked so hard to circumvent them, especially in defiance of unassailable reason; no sane paerson walks down a road and suddenly leaps over a hole that isn’t there. Second, the premise of atheism that morality is both the product and the handmaiden of Reason is proven false.

            All of which returns us to Dr. Olsen’s thesis. Atheism is faulty because if it were valid there would be no objective transcendent morality. Atheists act consistently with this morality sometimes, and they might even be proud of the fact, but there is absolutely no logical reason for them to do so, despite their impassioned appeals to their god, Reason. They must contradict their worldview to live successfully in our world—everyone does—because, as Dr. Olson correctly stated, objective transcendent morality is (i.e., sensus divinus). And objective transcendent morality is because the infinite/personal immutable God is.

  • Fred


  • Fred


    • rogereolson

      So you discovered a way to italicize using this program, but I have not found a simple way that I can use quickly and easily when writing a post or response to a comment.

  • Fred

    To italicize, use the ‘‘ tag.

    • David Rogers

      I’m an idiot, when it comes to commenting on blog sites, what do you mean by use the ” tag?

  • Bill Lyons

    Roger, you can italicize words in your posts in this way:

    italic text

    this text will be italic

    (this is the correct syntax, but I added an underscore after the first bracket so that you would be able to see the code. If you do this without the underscore it should work)

    • Bill Lyons

      wordpress knocked out the code I posted for you in the previous post. take a look at this page, there is a sample of italic in the sample box at the top. copy that syntax and it will work for you. hope this helps.

      • rogereolson

        Again, I will look into it. Thanks.

    • rogereolson

      Your underscores and brackets and codes disappeared. That’s the problem, you see. There really does not seem to be any way for me to italicize or underscore words in my responses or posts that I create using this program. They only “work” when I create a post in MSWord and cut and paste it to here. Since this is an issue for some of my readers I’ll contact the patheos people to ask about it. I recall that I did that once before, long ago, and it was simply too many steps to make it time worthy, but I’ll check with them again.

  • FredMertz

    Sorry, Dr. Olson. I have a tech background so I enjoy troubleshooting but I probably shouldn’t have used the forum for testing. But you are right. there is not an easy way to do it. I noticed that the box now has spell checking so I suspect that the Patheos programmers will someday have an underline, italicize, etc. button for our use.

    • rogereolson

      Thanks for the vindication! I know I’ve tried for a year to find an easy way to italicize, underscore, etc., without success (using wordpress). Hopefully you are right and these will soon be made easier.

  • Serge

    I’m late to the party. The winner has already been declared :), but here is my take on the issue:

    Morality exists in society. Without society there is no morality. If you live all your life on the Moon without any iteration with anybody and not producing any offsprings there is no point talking about morality. Well, actually there is no point even talking about a person living in isolation, it’s simply impossible. Without society you have no language, no past knowledge, no access to collected resources. So when you talk about particular moral decision, do not ask an individual or part of society, ask all the society.

    Don’t ask or talk to Hitler or Germans, ask ALL Europeans, USSR and North Africa citizens and their relatives through out the world if they are OK with the invasion, occupation and killing. Present to all of them the results of the war.

    Similar with homosexuality. Present to everybody fair, transparent and objective view of homosexuality and its impact on society. After that let society decide if it is moral or not. Same with adultery.

    Now, of course, if you want objective results, you’ll need the majority of the society to think rationally and willing to spend enough time to ensure they understand everything about particular moral issue. If you assume that, then two isolated societies consisting of similar individuals will make the same decision. And that makes the decision objective.

    • rogereolson

      That just sounds like majority rule in morality. Germany was a pretty rational culture in the 1930s. What made their attempted exterminations of the disabled and other “undesirables” objectively wrong? Just that Germany lost the war?

      • Serge

        No, it’s not a majority rule. As I said the decision must to be unanimous to be objective and all the parties affected must vote. Extermination of the disabled? Ask the disabled if they agree to be exterminated.

        • rogereolson

          I truly think we are talking apples and oranges when you and I discuss the meaning of “objective.” Unanimity falls far short of what I mean by “objective.” And without God or something like God, what would be wrong with exterminating a group of people the majority considers undesirable? You’ll never get unanimity about any ethical issue, so “objective” cannot mean “unanimous.” If you insist it does, then there can never be any objective morality. “Objective” is what is the case regardless of what anyone thinks or believes about right and wrong (other than an eternal being whose nature is the very embodiment of right and who created the universe with right and wrong embedded in it). Think of the old tree-falling-in-the-forest conundrum. If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody to hear it does it make a sound? Everyone agrees it does–INSOFAR AS “sound” means simply the sound waves that emanate from such an event. But if you define “sound” as “someone being affected by the sound waves so that they actually hear a noise in their ears” then the answer is no. When I say morality is objective I’m talking about the “sound waves,” so to speak. Right and wrong are “out there” regardless of what any human believes about them. Otherwise, they are completely mutable concepts–the proverbial “wax nose that any knave can twist to suit his own countenance.”