Thursday, 22 March 2007
50 Questions and Answers…
Check out Richard Carrier's presentation of the basis for Secular ethics:
This post really isn’t about atheistic ethics…its just about human ethics. It doesn’t matter where morality came from…we recognize it as a part of us…it works in a certain way…and we can figure out how to make it work best through observation, trial and error, and we can have objective conversations about it just as we can about the health of any other human system…like say in terms of nutrition, for instance. The human genome isn’t diverse enough for anyone to claim some established alternative moral drive and it obviously has a fairly stable genetic precedent given that some of our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom exhibit similar behavioral patterns…and as history moves on we have the luxury of adjusting culturally to a holistic appraisal of what evolution has given us despite the barbaric extremes of ancient history. Granted the secular world is still in its philosophical infancy and thus you may very well just be hearing holistic concepts take root. It isn’t arbitrary though there are of course subjective levels to it…and it’s obvious why it works the way it does to the extent if we meet aliens that manage to cooperate with one another to traverse the depths of space, we would likely be able to count on convergent evolution making our empathy based moral systems compatible. If they’re too busy killing each other or being completely apathetic towards one another…good luck facilitating their space program.
The problem arises in regards to definition of terms and the identity of what morality actually is. Theists tend to identify morality as part of an ontological theistic tautology. If you identify the world as a “creation” then obviously that means there is a “creator.” If you identify morality as a “given moral law” then obviously that means there is a “moral law giver.” And the reasoning breaks down if you don’t take these terms as seriously as they do. I’m sure they wouldn’t be impressed if I call myself an “evoluture” and proclaim that means I must have come about via macroevolution. Or if I identify morality as a “behavioral pattern” that means there was a “behavioral pattern cultivator.” But theism naturally plugs into personal sensibilities rather easily because God is just a big person in the sky. Thus being naturally a little solipsistic with your terminology leans in a overly self-satisfying theistic direction that is entirely unimpressive to an adult mind that knows to set your impulses and emotions aside for the sake of taking the truth for what it is first...and then dealing with it and figuring out how to feel about it second.
Of course we are inclined to define things in personal ways. We’re people! [I apologize for the exclamation point...I do loath them.] But that doesn’t mean the entire arena of personhood didn’t come about through impersonal processes or that that context somehow invalidates personhood. The evidence is the evidence and the truth is the truth. If you want to dispute the scientific community’s claim to the “fact of evolution” take that up in peer reviewed journals or at least on a different post. Creationists attack evolution with conceptual difficulties and then they complain when they get mere conceptual corrections (thus they change the nature of their original objection and fail to note they've lost a point). The main problem isn’t the evidence at large for macroevolution but instead it seems to be about various misunderstandings of the idea and what it means and how it applies in all areas. I don't really like saying creationists misunderstand the idea...because that's not entirely accurate. They fail to give it any interpretative charity as they are more interested in running the idea into the ground than in pondering its full implications or allowing it any foothold in their minds. Is that a misunderstanding? I'll call it a "misappropriation of interest."
I’ve been asked why this post is so long…what have I got to prove, etc…why can’t I sum things up in a short and sweet way like every great philosopher… Well I’m afraid I have to point the finger back at the theists for the first question…this post is a reflection of the ridiculous lengths theists will go to avoid validating natural ethics. No excuse is left behind here at ARU. The second…well theists ask atheists to directly answer questions…so I go out of my way to directly answer every question and what do they complain about then…that I actually did it. Why so long? Well each answer to each question is fairly short. I don’t expect everyone to read through the whole thing in one sitting. Just click on the one or two questions that interest you most and come back for more some other time. The list of questions is much more organized now, so I don't know how I could make it simpler. If theists accepted an explanation like, "Evolution did it," as easily as they accepted the explanation, "God did it," obviously my job would have been done long before it started.
Important note: I use the term “evoluture” instead of the term “creature” to demonstrate that we can in fact talk consistently about evolution without theistic overtones.
Please also take note that I am not an objectivist...though I do strive to be objective. And I am not the opposite extreme which would be a relativist...though I don't think moral judgment is healthy if it exists solely in a vacuum devoid of context. For the record, I've created my own philosophical outlook which is confrontationalism. You shouldn't have to go read up on it if you are familiar with the normative terms of objectivity and common sense. I'll give a friendly warning to those very few who will notice and change course...keep and eye on the nuances. It will save everyone a lot of trouble.
13. You are saying that you could suggest to a person (let's say a Hutu with a machine gun in front of a crowd of cowering Tutsis in 1994, or a Islamic terrorist in process of hijacking an airliner) that it "would not be in their own best interest" to follow a certain course of action?
Common objections to the evolutionary origin of morality:
36. Doesn’t this conveniently make evolution unfalsifiable since it seems to be able to explain just about anything? "Whatever" you happen to see around you is exactly what evolution would have produced. Therefore evolution must be true?
Theism’s dysfunctional relationship with morality:
Morality is a system that is used to appropriate ourselves to each other in prosperous ways. The conscience helps guide and correct our behavior and keeps us in the sphere of relative goodness so that indirectly the “selfish gene” can continue to propagate itself at our expense. Now, I think this function is several steps removed so that there is no tyrant whipping us into fulfilling our destinies as glorified copy machines…but I do believe it is likely the ultimate answer to why we are moral beings (and is a lot more modest and coherent explanation than something about raping a woman being written in heaven)…though the answer doesn’t necessarily imply any relevance to actual moral questions. People are free to do what they want. Morality is voluntary. It’s not about telling people what to do with absolute authority or having easy answers. It’s about finding the right way to live your life and having a naturally compelling effect on others by example and via intelligent conversation. It should be compulsory on the social level (aka law enforcement) in terms of not hurting other people, but for the sake of personal integrity…not even God makes you do anything you don’t want to do. However if you want to master the “good life” for yourself and those around you the conversation may begin that takes into account all ethical systems available, everything we know from the study of behavior in humans and animals, understanding the nature of your own personal moral impulses and intuitions, and whatever other resources we may have that can give us moral insight to sort through and make the most sense of. This doesn’t mean we can’t be wrong…but it does mean we can be correctable when we are mistaken if only you care to point it out in some logical way.
As far as theistic religion is concerned morality is the great escape from God’s responsibility in our relationships with him. Do we actually commune with the almighty in legitimate ways? Or do we instead obsess over what we do and don’t do, crediting that to God’s absentee account? If we follow certain rules God, wherever he is, will love me…when in fact there is no quality relationship going on. It’s a feeling scam, in my opinion. It’s just about the only thing I can think of that can go on when there isn’t a real person on the other end of the relationship…finding your place in terms of what you won’t do. If this weren’t such a big deal for theism, then why in the world would theists pick this root of behavior out of a long list of all sorts of other evolved traits as being so damn special?
I presume morality came from the same place every other functional human system came from. Where did the ability to process visual information come from? Where did the circulatory system come from? Where did feelings come from? According to the theory of evolution it evolved in the distant past along with the rest of our cognitive functions. I suppose it’s possible we happened to lack morality at sometime in the past (as a species) and aliens came by and “upgraded” us with the ability to discern between good and evil…but the important part is that it is there and there seems to be no reason to put morality on a pedestal apart from other evolutionary cultivations. I suppose I could make up some story about the evolutionary pathway of monkeys who learned how to be a good people (for which we only have indirect evidence), but I don’t think that would do a debate much good.
Even if I’m mistaken and God did in fact create Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago, my arguments still hold up. We don’t need any deity to make morality work for us. The biblical God could die and we’d still have enough grounds to be good people.
If you doubt evolution, I suggest these two resources at TalkOrigins:
29 Evidences of Macroevolution in order to see what kind of evidence is presented…its not all grade A, but there is some good stuff.
Index to Creationist Claims in the event you have a hundred random questions about evolution in general.
Good and evil are systemic tautologies of our inherited behavioral patterns common to our entire species…and to many other mammals as well at a base emotional level. The most significant difference seems to be our ability to intellectually compute moral circumstances conceptually.
The principles that guide our system of feelings could be argued to be evolutionary trial and error “observations” of what did in fact continue the species in the past that we have inherited. More of this…less of that. These are the terms over time genetic evolution has to work with. Bogus principles yield species that don’t survive as well as others and its no wonder we don’t see too many of them. These are neurological tautologies cultivated because they sustain the system. Things are valuable because we value them and we value them because they are valuable.
This doesn’t mean things aren’t valuable…it means it’s a limited self-justifying system universal to our species at least…but not a cosmically significant one. You can either take it on its own terms and enjoy it for what it is, or look for some comforting fantasy framework that over-justifies it. To avoid the simple fact that we are a bit delusional to think food, sex, and people are actually important in terms of the rest of the universe, you instead swallow an even bigger delusion that says they are transcendent ontological absolutes. We are emotionally attached to these principles since naturally we would be better off loving the hand that "feeds" us. And naturally there are always those of us that go too far and say, “Not only do I love her…I could never love anyone else!” And then when they break up, they go on and say and believe the exact same thing about the next relationship as though the previous did not happen. But the value we find ourselves in does have its right measure, context, and merit on its own limited self-justifying terms that have been cultivated in a naturally obvious way to do what they do.
To deny the obvious proposition that an atheist knows the difference between right and wrong is to deny the common ground you have to be standing on for any of your doctrines to work (as it is an empirical claim anyone should be able to test in their own “hearts”, Romans 2:15). The only thing needed after the common ground affirmation is a plausible reason why that can be the case (where morality came from). May the best meta-theory win (or at least be properly understood for crying out loud).
Even monkeys and various other mammals demonstrate dependence on moral principles hard-wired into them. In captivity it is known that monkeys will forsake food for many days so that their cage mate do not have to undergo electric shocks. The box where the food is, happens to be wired up so whenever they reach for it...their buddy gets zapped. Why should they care? Aren't they "just animals?" Did they learn that from the Bible? Does their negative behavior otherwise indicate they fell from grace a long time ago by eating of the forbidden banana? Not to mention, anyone that just has a playful dog should be easily able to see a wide spectrum of emotional diversity, from happy to sad, to proud and ashamed, contentment...fear. Etc. Why would packs of animals stay together? Why would they ever help each other? What would be the most obvious connecting psychological principle that we know of...other than empathy and whatever else may be going on in our heads fueling our intellectual level of morality? Let's be open-minded and not so quick to jump on the speciesism bandwagon to support our pet metaphysical claims.
Instead of trying to undermine the legitimacy of secular ethics, you should instead rejoice that when you make an objective argument for a moral imperative that withstands scrutiny, I (at least) will agree with you and fight toward the same end for everyone. And naturally since God is infinitely wise and he actually cares about our well-being, there should be no reason his ethics should not hold up to rational inquiry and criticism.
You can dedicate your entire life to immorality, hurting other people and yourself even if you will burn in the deepest level of hell for all eternity. But incidentally, apart from the afterlife, you are trapped in the moral fabric of your own hard-wired system and you will likely be miserable in this life as a result, creating a neurological hell ("No rest for the wicked," etc.). Many philosophers have noted this internal phenomenon. And science has confirmed the basis of it, neurologically. The same neurons you use to experience empathy for others are the same neurons you apply to your own situation. So you are constrained internally in one way or another towards orienting yourself to your neighbors at large…this can either be profitable to you, by treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated…or it can be some effed up version of it…in other words you can have double standards but find yourself with extreme antagonism towards others for reasons “you can’t explain.” But you don’t have the option really (other than complete seclusion) to not be a part of the system, good or bad.
Consider Jeffrey Dahmer. Serial killer who professed belief in meaningless evolution as his justification for doing whatever he wanted. Low and behold he finds Jesus once he gets into prison and repents of his sins. Assuming all of this is correct, and I think it is, what are we to conclude? Evolution is evil? Or that Jeffery here, experienced the natural reciprocation of his moral system and unconsciously used Christianity as an excuse to come back to his senses…to his natural state of affairs as a moral evoluture? Our moral drive is like psychological buoyancy. If a buoy is pushed under the water, the natural ethical buoyancy of the mind will attempt in one way or another to right the ship…it may take a long time…it may never manage to get there…but the natural tension of the system is there regardless and does manifest in various ways. Many people experience this as they get older after having lived a rebellious life as a teen and into their adult years. They get over it…but why? Religious experience? It’s not always the catalyst. People call it growing up, but I call it the natural buoyancy of the moral drive. It is more difficult to live against the grain indefinitely and morality becomes the path of least resistance into old age.
So there are internal reasons as well as the obvious external reasons…the universal law of reciprocation. Even if the cops don’t get you…someone else might. And not only that but if you live without moral integrity when no one is watching, you’ll likely find yourself unable to feel as you would expect when the bad times come. The innocent suffer as martyrs…the guilty suffer wickedly. Suffering happens to all…so which would you prefer? And the innocent feel justified receiving gifts while the guilty are not as open. No one is going to hold you accountable for this…but consider what you would like to experience in the future even if there are no external consequences.
If your goal is to be miserable and destructive, then morality is not for you…but that isn’t the natural goal of most people and thus there is natural common ground discerned in almost all belief systems…and the sociopaths out there who aren’t born with a full deck can’t be convinced by anyone. You don’t lose anything you didn’t already not have in the ethics of humanism. For this reason I hold morality up with “open hands.” It is only the solution to your problem if your problem is how to live a fulfilling life. No amount of wishful thinking changes that deal and only seekers will likely listen to anyone. No matter how many dubious metaphysical propositions you have in your head…how in the world does that affect your neighbor’s behavior? Belief in eternal punishment gets you very little. However acting like a role model might…people do respond to that. But how does that have anything to do with heaven or hell? Can’t even atheists be role models of good behavior?
If God didn’t exist, would you have no objective reason to be moral? Atheists do. And they think you are insane for thinking otherwise. If a Christian’s life points to the reality of God, why don’t moral atheists point to the independence of moral objectivity?
10. You might have to live the rest of your life.
9. To avoid being punished by the authorities.
8. To reap bad things in life less.
7. To protect the good things in life more.
6. You can’t escape hard-wiring in your head as a moral evolture.
5. To suffer as a martyr when bad things happen.
4. To receive gifts as an innocent when good things happen.
3. To be at peace with your fellow human beings.
2. To make the world a better place for loved ones.
1. To be at peace with yourself.
These are all good reasons to be ethical as a human being…even when no one is looking. Being caught is a minority problem. What do any of them have to do with the “security camera in the sky?” When you detach yourself from the confines of theism, you'll find yourself up against the natural need for ethics just like every apostate before you. From your vantage point now however, it probably only seems like there's no reason to be ethical. Way to think outside the box.
Notice I qualify my moral “ought’s” with a goal(and if I don’t, that is what I mean). They are all conditional statements…not blind atheistic dictates based on my preferences. For instance I might say, “*If* God wants to be called a lover of humanity…*then* he has to actually love humanity.” It’s just the identity property in action. If he doesn’t wish to be an ethical being…sure, he can do whatever he wants. He can even go so far as to demand that we call him good even though he isn’t. But unless he uses his power to force my mind to think 1+1=3, I’m not going to honor that. Ethics are the right tool for the job of living a prosperous and fulfilling happy life. And if you are a human like me, likely that is your general goal and morality is therefore for you telling you what you “ought” to do (and not do) towards that end.
Observation. Trial and error. You already have a sense of right and wrong. Build on it. Consider multiple perspectives and use logic to sort it out for the best. Read the Bible. Read the Koran. Read the Tao Te Ching. Don’t listen to everything you are told…question it. Compare it. It will become evident if you are seeking it because it is an integral part of you that simply needs to be nurtured.
It’s simple moral maturity. It’s not based on any one method. It is my contention that pretty much every ethical system can be seen as a tool on the moral tool belt that works best in different situations. Like if you are president, perhaps utilitarianism should be the best approach since it is predominantly concerned with large numbers of people. It is the right question to ask. However in personal affairs, involving only yourself and perhaps others…egoism might be the right tool. Granted you can apply egoism to the Presidency and utilitarianism to individual ethics consistently and come to basically the same conclusions (if you are clever and have done your job right), but different starting points make things simpler. It’s a matter of figuring out what the best tool for the job is.
I always ask, “What is the situation? What else could I reference to make the best decision (as many perspectives as there are and as much related info can be gathered)?” And I apply every principle I am aware of rigorously until I chisel out the end result and can go no further. If you want to label that for me, I’d be much obliged. But it is for me an objective a-centric pragmatic process. Its like Wikipedia’s NPOV (no point of view)…that becomes my point of view. After you survey all the material you can as unbiasedly as possible, that in itself becomes the bias…perpetually learning and discerning your way into objective truth.
And general human happiness and emotional edification are the appropriate goal for the human species. And if those aren’t your goals…then no system of ethics is for you. Nothing I can tell you can make those your goals and you are free to do whatever you want regardless of whether I like it or not. Threatening you with dubious metaphysical propositions that I can't prove seems rather impotent. One simply has to deal with it…and grow up as a result.
It is much easier for a sound moral principle to stick when you aren't trying to convince them of a host of dubious metaphysical propositions to do it. You give them justified rational reality based reasons to be moral and they don’t have to struggle with their arbitrary level of suspension of disbelief, and I would argue it becomes a much more integrated situation in their mind as a result. It avoids unnecessary extremes often told of such as the roller-coasters of faith, doubt, the threat of hell, etc…as well as all the arbitrary interpretations of the moral extremophilia of the Bible. It’s simple and efficient and basically unavoidable whereas a person might be more constrained to abandon the faith based baby with the bathwater and react dramatically with a sinful irrational binge that hurts their long term situation and displaces ethics as a result. Further they don’t have to become an expert on thousands of years of Biblical history to squeeze the truth from an ambiguous culturally obstructed text.
I’m advocating that morality is an objective category of discourse that can be discussed and thought through in the open. It is mutually beneficial for everyone to put all their cards on the table since we all have common ground to work with. Obviously no one has to listen to me anymore than they have to listen to you about God. It’s amazing how many theists never seem to be able to see where they themselves are coming from…it’s all divinely mandated pretension with a side of bigotry (and sometimes the reverse, haha).
You merely lack imagination. It is reciprocally beneficial to say always put your wife ahead of your own desires to the extent you don’t even have to bother hounding the return. You can merely lose touch with your own “selfish” interests and be at peace with that. There is no reason an atheist can not see the merit in that from a purely logical standpoint. Nobody technically has to do anything but die, but it can be presented as a desirable option that can better their life. It is normative to desire to have an enjoyable marriage and you don’t necessarily have to have the most ideal level of relationship, but if you are looking for a better path, I’ll bet I can convince someone much simpler than you can because I don’t have to resort to dubious unsubstantiated propositions to pull it off (as covered in 10).
13. You are saying that you could suggest to a person (let's say a Hutu with a machine gun in front of a crowd of cowering Tutsis in 1994, or a Islamic terrorist in process of hijacking an airliner) that it "would not be in their own best interest" to follow a certain course of action?
“But what if they tell you that they are perfectly willing to die or be put in prison, as long as they can kill a few of these other people they hate - and that this would 'fulfill' and 'satisfy' them? It becomes obvious that you would merely be trying to impose what makes YOU happy upon someone else, which might not be what makes THEM happy.”
No, in that case, I kill them. I don’t recall advocating the rejection of common sense and I’d like to hear what a Christian would say in such an immanent crisis situation…only to inflame their hatred of infidels who believe Jesus was divine… However when we aren’t on the spot there is no reason we can’t discuss with them the implications of those kind of actions…that they breed endless retaliatory violence and that their Muslim message is not therefore spread since lots of people are dying and lots of others are therefore not listening. Their happiness is short-sighted, at great expense to others, and based on false beliefs. There is much to talk about then since I’m sure they would agree it’s not right to be so extreme based on something you don’t know to be true and perhaps Allah would be happier with more productive behavior.
As a Christian you are in no better a position to correct a Muslim on their terms since you can’t absolutely prove Muhammad was not Allah’s prophet, just as I am not in a position to correct you on your dubious Christian terms since I can’t absolutely prove that Jesus wasn’t god. You are faulting my ethical system on terms your system cannot itself overcome. Further you don’t even have a Christian argument against zealous Christians not killing homosexuals, unbelievers, abortion doctors, etc. In fact they might have a better argument on that basis than you do. That does not however mean that no religious extremist has ever been convinced to put his religious insanity to rest and be a better person as a result…and there are plenty of good reasons to do that and they can be articulated in conversation.
See the problem with this is that feelings are objectively real. They have to be considered. We can’t tear them out of our heads. They are interrelated and have a logic unto themselves. They are certainly not random as they are constituted specifically to yield certain types of behavior. Feeling management is objective as a result. There are definitely things that make us happy and things that do not. Granted there is subjectivity involved since people are different, but I don’t think anyone can make the argument that the principles of happiness are radically different in any member of our species and thus general principles of morality hold true. Why would you think I’m advocating something superficial as though morality should be defined by mood swings? Doesn’t common sense say that’s bullshit? If so…why the hell do you think I’m advocating it? It’s just a modern myth that emotions and morality are random principles of magic that can’t be objectively understood by careful scientific analysis.
It is not right to pretend that the nature of feelings, emotions, desires, and ethical impulses is not objectively discernible. And it is not coherent to say these things only are objective if we find them in a great big mind in the sky when they are there well enough in our small minds on earth. It’s the exact same “basis for morality”…just one step removed. In theory all theism offers is the user manual for what we can figure out for ourselves…which would be nice...in theory. In practice it is no “manual” one should take seriously and is as subjective as the interpretation.
“For instance, in some parts of the world it’s considered moral to circumcise little girls so that they are not allowed to have pleasure, and in other parts it's moral to eat other humans. In these and other instances such as what happened with Hitler, morality was relative to what each person or group of people consider to be moral, not absolute morality to all people that live on the earth.”
Even groups of people can be wrong (and you have to admit this on behalf of a number of groups that believe in their god’s absolutes)…I don’t think I pointed to the infallibility of the human species anywhere in my writings…there are still obvious problems and detriments to classic “us vs. them” societies…that pivot like that. If you kill a member of a neighboring tribe to eat them and take their life force as your own, they’ll likely retaliate. And a precious member of your “in crowd” may be the next victim of this cycle…perhaps this fact gets lost in the passion of tribalism…but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask them to take a step back and realize the overall adverse behavioral pattern. Plus, diplomatic relations with your neighbors is generally more profitable in more subtle ways as well. Hitler…another prime example…got his ass stomped by the rest of the world. He had lots of issues. Genocide is a short-term, short-sighted gain and if you never learn to acclimate to those that disagree with you or who are different than you…you’ll end up having to kill just about everybody. Conquering the world isn’t exactly a tried and true way of life. It’s simply not a stable way to ensure your power and dominion as it must be supposed. One is much better off finding alternatives. Someone that has to resort to genocide obviously has much deeper control issues than just this one matter and are probably stifling human happiness across the board. And if you can’t figure out that having a woman enjoy her sexuality is a good thing…you obviously got problems. Any gay infidel can figure that much out...why can't Islam?
Morality is an imperfect learning process but that doesn’t mean we stop the questioning at ancient dogma just because in theory it would be nice if our ethics were handed to us in pristine form. So I’m not going to be able to answer your question on your terms…relative vs. absolute. I think morality is objective enough to criticize the ethics of others successfully while never really attaining 1000% absolute certainty…something you can’t find anywhere, to my knowledge. Surely you must realize there is a spectrum of what constitutes objective morality even in Christianity. Having to count your own understanding as an authority is unavoidable. And perhaps it could even be argued that there is more than one way to skin a cat in terms of diverse cultural application of the same ethical principles…to a degree. But we can still objectively gauge the success and the ethical principles in a particular situation ought to be the same since we are all running the same basic evolutionary hardware. The human species simply isn’t diverse enough to justify radically different moral principles guiding our general happiness.
Ultimately if you think that God knows what he’s doing, there should be no reason you can’t reverse engineer everything it says in the bible from the ground up to heaven. If you actually think homosexuality, for instance, is wrong…there should be evidence of that….unless you really think biblical morality is just about the random whims of your god that have no bearing on human happiness. Anything you think is objective or absolute about that…ought to transfer over…and if it doesn’t…if you believe in checks and balances…you have to question the nature and wisdom of your god…or that it actually came from a god in the first place. Surely there must be some objectively discernable reason God tells us not to murder and eat people…not to mutilate our women… and not mass exterminate them, right? So what is it? I think you should be able to answer your own question on any other example you can think of to bring up.
The distinction being made by the theist isn’t relevant…for even divine command theory is still moral relativism…morality relative to God’s supposed opinion or rather your opinion about what God’s supposed opinion is…who may or not be a master of it…that too is just your opinion. Personally I would never ever say, “That’s just your opinion” because I believe anything can be discussed and objectively evaluated. Saying “it’s just your opinion” is the equivalent of saying, “those are words coming out of your mouth.” It is cheap philosophy and pointless. And most Christians end up having to tell the Bible what to say anyhow since its morality isn’t exactly face value worthy. So I just don’t see a meaningful divide between what you would call “objective morality” and “relative morality.” And this breaks down even further in Paul’s moral relativism where morality depends on your measure of faith and what may be right for one believer isn’t necessarily right for another believer. No matter where you stand, you ultimately have to make up your own mind and no amount of special philosophical pleading is going to change that. That doesn’t mean ethical behavior is absolutely arbitrary or that we can’t objectively criticize the ethics of others.
Much like Paul, I also think morality is relatively relative…but that each person’s measure and path can be objectively discerned…and just because someone may believe they are doing the right thing doesn’t mean it is and it doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to call their version of morality immoral. People can be wrong. Whether God exists or not has nothing to do with it.
I want to emphasize that this is the same level of relativity that I do accept and I agree it is not relevant to the discussion…pretty much nothing a theist brings up is relevant to the discussion of ethics…and that’s what the majority of this post is about…over-stating the obvious against a slew of theistic propositions that don’t mean anything.
I believe there is no difference between having a perfect moral manual from the sky that we can’t directly interface with or vindicate…and using logic to reverse engineer how best our moral drives work. We can even from an atheistic point of view use what the Bible says to start this process…because obviously it came from people that were at least concerned about morality…even if they got things way wrong. Surely we can find everything the Bible has to say about morality in non-Biblical works that weren’t influenced by it. People are competent enough to come up with such supreme wisdom on their own. Non-theistic morality is as objective and as relative as anything theism has to offer. And we can just as easily asymptotically approach the abstract idea of ideal morality on its own terms without it being imbedded in a super mind. Not every conceptual extrapolation yields an actual prototype.
A theist cannot rise above relativism by their own definitions since their point of view is only absolute in theory…but as subjective and opinionated as any other in practice. Point to your imaginary friend all you want, but I can just as subjectively point to the abstract ideal and concept of objective morality…and probably pull it off better.
My point is we can correct people when they are mistaken about how to go about getting their happiness in the best possible way…this isn’t simply an unqualified popularity vote in the absence of deity…though obviously the whole world isn't trying to be objective about it. It is not as though when the majority speaks erroneously we are somehow obligated to keep silent. We have to use the same human wisdom and moral intuitions (as an atheist or a theist) to correct our brethren in the majority who may be in the wrong. It is an inescapable measure of checks and balances that we must struggle to apply from any philosophical outlook. If you review the top ten reasons I gave for why an atheist should be moral, such obligations should be no surprise to those ends.
No system is perfect…all systems have to struggle to maintain their integrity. Surely you must know this even in the Christian view of salvation. I’m not advocating a straight popularity vote in determining what is moral and what isn’t…but since humans are the only source of morality we can poll…we should find some basic consistency…and in fact there is…and this has to be at least one source of input that we should consider when making better and better moral pronouncements…we shouldn’t interview rocks, should we? It is certainly a measure of morality, correct? You would have to agree that probably God sided with the world against Hitler, right? So everyone doesn’t have to be wrong all the time. You can’t completely dismiss it as having zero weight as that devastates your own Biblical case that says the law is written on people's hearts and that "gentiles" will be judged via their own consciences (Romans 2:15).
For one, because though I don’t believe the Bible is of divine origin, there are still valuable things in it. It’s not a total loss. As a mere human, I am free to take concepts and references from any worldview or philosophy that I think has validity. The Bible is no exception. Two, for the sake of reader familiarity so I don’t have to reinvent certain wheels…not to mention I grew up as a Christian so these concepts are readily available in my mental archives. Three, as Christian you believe the concepts identified in scripture are accurate descriptions of the world. Thus if I say that I can tell this is true as well from my own point of view, we have common ground. How does it not make sense to facilitate conversation? And…I should note that the NT itself uses many Greek ideas and terminology in its own way and for its own ends. I don’t think you would insist the Bible is deficient in its philosophy or that it is validating the Greek Pantheon, do you? I don’t mean to be rude, but it is out-right superficial to knock my arguments for using Biblical concepts on occasion when they happen to apply. The “all or nothing” attitude is a product of your own bigotry. Adults take the good and leave the bad. Thus anyone taking this criticism seriously is using the argument of a child. What’s up with that? Is there something deficient with your view? Of course not…thus, let’s move on to other things.
Good question. Too bad no one has asked it… Three basic options. They may very well be morally compatible via convergent evolution. There seems to be a decent enough chance of this since the principles that maintain the species are as good for the goose as they are for the gander. Two, they aren’t system compatible but we can live “altogether separately”…you never know. Or three, they are truly monsters and we are forced to wage war with them. If it comes down to the third, then morality is reduced to its most barbaric component…might makes right. Obviously we have as much right as they do to exist and we have the right to defend ourselves from invasion or whatever evil they may have cooked up for us. If they happen to be more powerful…well then I would think no amount of religion or wishful thinking about golden standards in the sky are going to keep us from being annihilated.
You are taking what is impersonal personally. And that is the error. There is no macro purpose to life, but that doesn’t mean there is no local purpose to life that is satisfying. These are two different levels and if you are asking questions about the universe at large and the process of evolution…I fail to see why those things ought to be expected to relate to the personal “basis of morality.” Thou shall genetically drift? Thou shall mutate? As individuals we are hardly involved in the process. It really isn’t our business necessarily and evolution has never depended on it being so. Our purpose, our meaning, our lives are about our family and friends…our loved ones…our hobbies and various activities. Just because they have no cosmic significance doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful on our level. Food for the stomach and stomach for the food. And if religion hadn’t convinced you otherwise, you’d probably see nothing wrong with that measure and many non-religious people attest to its satisfactoriness.
First of all, if evolution is true, it has already established in you the desire to find a trustworthy place to ground your ethics…shouldn’t that indicate that maybe it can do the rest of the job as well…or rather that the rest of the job can be done? It is often asserted that if we are the products of time and chance…mere chemical reactions, how can we trust the thoughts of our own brains? But of course this presupposes that we can or else we couldn’t ask the question. And we have to do this even to come to the conclusion that god made us this way.
But all we really need is a plausible reason to justify what we already know…that we can trust our own minds. And this means God could have done it…but did he have to make our minds trustworthy? I could ask the question, how can we trust a god that doesn’t even show up to resolve critical issues pertaining to him? He could have wired your brain however he wants…and he’s no stranger to sending people strong delusions.
2 Thessalonians 2:11
“For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie”
So all you are really saying is that you already know your mind is trustworthy and that you need a plausible anthropic reason for that to be the case. Why wouldn’t evolution use truth and logic as the path of least resistance? Why would it bother with exorbitant lies? Although you could possibly argue there are a number of emotional “lies” that do contribute to productive behavior. But that is another topic. Surely it is much more efficient to generally guarantee accuracy of our faculties for its evolutionary by-products? Is it really rocket science to suppose that monkeys that thought bananas only grow on the moon and that killing and suicide were the highest moral ideals probably wouldn't make the evolutionary cut? When is common sense allowed to be at the disposal of the atheist worldview from a theist's "unbiased" perspective?
Not to mention...not everyone can trust their mental faculties. How exactly does theism guarantee you won’t be born a mentally handicapped or insane person as though we can turn away from my line of argument and find perfect rational thought going on in our heads 24-7? Last time I checked those people show up on earth from any world view and we have plenty of research attesting to human error. Surely the average reader is even a bit cynical about their own error as it is.
Though I must concede theists are correct 99.999999% of the time. The overwhelming majority of space/time does not think rationally as far as we know...but then again it hasn't been constrained by natural selection for millions of years either. We are not “just chemicals” according to evolution…we are chemicals that have been highly refined through millions of years of trial and error at getting whatever it is we do basically right. Thus, there is no reason, theoretically, that evolutoin can't account for reason, morality, and the general accuracy of our senses that we all already agree on and know to be valid.
Genetic change takes time. The system is relatively the same as our ape counter parts and even other mammalian species that exhibit moral empathy and attachment. Chimps have been known to willingly suffer electric shocks in order that their cage mate gets equal shares of food. Various species mate monogamously. It’s not going to be radically different tomorrow and it wasn’t radically different 10,000years ago. So pretty much my whole life and human history is fair game and that’s much more than I need for my life and this discussion, and various debates on ethical topics. One is not going to wake up tomorrow and find things radically different.
I don’t think you can say that evolution means anything goes…there are principles it can’t maintain because it’s not fruitful for the genes. For instance if we become so highly oversensitive to any moral infraction (like the Christian God)…our species will completely annihilate itself. Islam for example. Way oversensitive to western culture and is out to convert or destroy us. Think of that religiously induced moral error…but genetically wired into everyone emotionally…not very profitable for the selfish gene in the long run. Moral moderation is overall most beneficial for the species and will continue to be until perhaps World War 3.
And I agree, in principle what Hitler was up to was fine. However in practice, he went about it the wrong way. I have a better way outlined here and involves exterminating no one and only voluntary participation. If you pay close attention you will see I've circumvented the classic problems and created no new ones. Arguably our gene pool is stagnating since we do keep the genetically weak among us just as alive as the strong. And there is no ethical way to make any significant changes. New technology may hold the answer in the future. We can kill bad genes…not people and still insure variety.
You are making an extreme local argument and dismissing the millions of years of careful refinement *overall.* Our system is constituted *statistically* for success and bringing up exceptions means nothing. Group ethics work better than lone wolves that abuse and leave their females behind. The advantages to families in the long term should be obvious.
The point is there is always a reason why whatever you think is "absolutely wrong" actually is the way it is from an evolutionary standpoint. Whatever you think God put into designing our moral character is basically the same things that evolution is going to sustain best overall...if this weren't the case, why would God makes us the way you think we are? And if God can see the value in that, why can't evolution potentially find that path, too? They are practically interchangeable. We may never have direct empirical evidence of the selective pressures that gave way to morality any more than we will ever have direct evidence of God snapping his fingers to make it so…I am not trying to formulate a proof for evolution here...I'm only defending plausibility since that is normally what is being attacked. "How could evolution do this?" "How could evolution do that?" I already gave links to information defending macroevolution itself at the end of question two. I won't go into that here.
In my previous paragraph I never once said evolution “looks ahead.” Theists apparently can't help but read what I'm not saying. I speak of a statistical mean of survival…not prophecy, for crying out loud. In other words the exception to the rule…the rapist that might pass on his genes is statistically out bred by populations that maintain healthy social norms. Therefore the individuals in family populations will be the author of the gene pool for future generations…that might every once in a while turn out more exceptions like the rapist. Thus this is the path that evolution is likely to find...not that it has the eyes of an oracle...remember, magic is the theist's explanation.
"Survival of the fittest" is an*evolutionary* principle...merely a part of an impersonal explanation of how we came to be the way we are...that does not however make it a *moral* principle for someone that is an incidental by-product of that process...in fact that process often *depends* on us *not* acting like it does. A tad of common sense says that moral people should not learn moral lessons from the amoral impersonal world. That doesn't mean an amoral process didn't cultivate moral evolutures. It would be like insisting that you should play the lottery instead of getting a job because that's how baby steps in macroevolution happen. Sure one out of a million people will win via this financial methodology, but it doesn't really do much for evolution if you starve to death waiting for random chance to feed you as an individual, now does it? Therefore the lesson is, "Do as evolution 'says,' not as evolution does." Call it a hypocrite all you want...its not listening. The ethical principles cultivated in us over millions of years of refinement are not the same kind of principles of the process that brought them into being and there is no reason to expect them to be. One does not hold the amoral world to the same standard as that of a person. Just because in your worldview how we got here dictates what morality ought to be, doesn't mean that necessarily crosses worldview boundaries intact. Evolution is not god though god suspiciously has the "ethics" of amoral evolution.
Yes we do have a natural inclination towards self preservation, but there is also a thick seam of mutual cooperation which is also part of survival and this has inherited guidelines. We often do better in groups and thus those moral principles have been cultivated in us as well. The point is these two traits are only contradictory superficially and work together to bring balance to the whole of the individual and the community. Surely evolution is not guilty of some philosophical crime for making evolutures that are capable of both sleeping and being awake? Eating…and crapping… Sitting and standing… Which is it, right? It can't be both? Your straw man of evolution is a one note musician, right? Thus self-preservation and mutual cooperation (and therefore group preservation) coexist though they probably developed at different times. Self preservation would probably have its foundations ever since the first single celled organism…and group cooperation would have been added later to that initial deposit in higher up branches in various ways as it became possible.
Well perhaps the problem is more about your lack of imagination than it is about how reliably evolution can explain all human behaviors. I don't doubt a god could explain all our behaviors...though that doesn't make it true. Evolution could be a perfectly viable explanation of the world and incidentally a god made it instead...while biogenesis just so happened to be going on in a pond outside the Garden of Eden...only to be crushed by god's designs already in progress.
There’s no reason to think that an evolutionary pathway that specifically cultivates a type of behavior wouldn’t yield such by-products… you could call it “run off.” General good will is the key that has an obvious social advantage…and that basic behavioral pattern gives us extremes such as altruistic sacrifice as well as little things like helping old ladies across the street. There doesn’t have to be a direct selective pressure for every little iteration…these are spill over behaviors from the central axis of our moral buoyancy.
Though perhaps evolution didn’t teach monkeys how to use a computer, it did “teach” them to hunt with tools and reason abstractly to get to their desired goal…which happens to bring them into an extremely versatile world that incidentally makes many other behaviors possible. There would have to be another selective pressure to keep such traits from being applicable for other things. It is very easy to simply look at a modern behavior in and of itself and not be able to make the connection that there are multiple generic principles that under gird its obscurity from the path of evolution.
“Niceness” is merely one ingredient to our constitution being discussed. All complicated things are really just a number of simple things drawn to conclusion.
In addition to what you may already be familiar with, there is also a plausible selective pressure that can be called "survival of the fittest group." Perhaps AIG failed to mention that. A system that is occasionally good at procuring self-sacrifice is good for the genes of the rest of the population that are at the same level (as opposed to populations that aren’t). As long as it’s not called upon every day, altruistic genes are passed on overall and that neurological bed of “good-will” helps out overall. Self-sacrifice is just one facet of the whole. In other words, you share enough of the genes with someone that gave up their life for you…and thus their genes were basically passed on…whereas another group of “monkeys” were all selfish individuals and died off as a result of whatever that pressure was…perhaps distracting the tiger while everyone else ran away as opposed to the tiger rampaging through the entire group. Of course, this works co-optively with old fashioned survival of the fittest with individuals within the group as well weeding out the chaff of the most successful group that happens to be beating out the other groups.
Another level of natural selection that creationist organizations seem not to be too keen on expounding upon...is known as the "trade-off." In this case, one may note that we seem to be overly attached to fellow human beings who may die within the course of our life and that there is no real practical survival advantage to this local phenomenon. However, something that seemingly over does it in one area, may be just right in another area...and we may assume that our level of attachment with one another is set as it is for more important purposes earlier in life in terms of mating and raising a family and being a stable member of your tribe or society. Even though death takes its toll...obviously it is not damning enough to make a realistic difference to what our original emotional attachments were "meant" for and thus evolution can and does explain such seemingly counter-intuitive aspects of life as well.
Well folks who think that they are a participant in this amoral process are…confused. It’s like trying to watch a football game…but the field is really, really big…and you might not see a player for a few hundred thousand years…let alone a touch down.
Evolution explains where morality came from...it does not lead by example. I don't think you'll hear a humanist say, "Be perfect therefore as evolution is perfect." It is not a role model...its just an explanation that produced supposed role models like Jesus. One learns morality from the by-products...not the amoral process itself. Again evolution is a non-person and acts like a non-person and should be treated like a non-person. That doesn't make it untrue any more than proving God is evil makes him non-existent.
29. If humans are just evolved animals, why is morality any more binding on us than it is on other animals?
We are more responsible than animals just as adults are more responsible than children. We occupy an intellectual realm where we can see the consequences of our actions long ahead of time and it was probably only natural that a receptive feeling of responsibility crept into the mix along with it to stabilize that outlook on life amongst other evolutures.
The particles we call “people” were destined to do whatever they are destined to do via laws of nature…and incidentally if you dig a slight level into that…and *unpack* that deterministic destiny, you’ll find that justice (for instance) is one of those things that we are biochemically destined to accomplish. Thus to deny justice in its right order is to deny your deterministic programming. Likely you’ll try to say something like, “well can’t we use that as an argument for justifying anything?” And at that point you’ve lost the debate as counter intuitive as that may sound…since incidentally that allows us to justify a holistic system of ethics and justice as well that supersedes weaker justifications…justifications that don’t uphold our system equally well on its own terms…ie the particularities of the personal sphere do not allow for just any justification.
Notice if you carry the argument across the board, you are just as determined to stop a criminal as a criminal is to commit a crime. The error is applying impersonal definitions of reality into the personal sphere of ethics. As long as you go into extreme detail describing actions and mental states via determinism unilaterally…it all cancels out basically…however the short hand rule is just not to apply rigid determinism to ethics. However I should say we can apply “loose” determinism to some ethical scenarios since it isn’t ethical to punish people for the aspects of their life they couldn’t help…for instance an extreme example would be torturing the mentally handicapped who committed crimes. We may still punish them or at least quarantine them, but to a different degree than someone who had everything going for them and decided to be evil regardless. When they say, “I’m a deterministic machine,” you say, “So am I,” and dish out the determined punishment.
We are free to do whatever we want and incidentally what you happen to want to do is be a stable copy machine amongst other stable copy machines (aka a productive member of society, family and all). You will likely find the most satisfaction in life if you achieve this status and it doesn’t require you to think it through at all as your feelings as your guide, you will likely naturally stumble into it…or you can recognize what’s going on and be a willing administrative participant…either works.
Ask yourself how you please the big copying machine in the sky? Probably by doing exactly what I've described. Humiliating? Or accurate? Don’t shoot the messenger. Believe whatever myth you like...the selfish gene will be pleased it just so happens to point you towards it's service.
I’m pointing out that we are chemicals arranged in a particular way that makes us value similar archetypes and not merely our components on their own. Saying we are “only chemicals” translates into emotional-ease as treat other people like you would treat chemicals in a vat…and who cares about that? But we are not arranged like chemicals in a vat…we are arranged the way we are…and that begets a system that values what it does, thus excluding what is not system compatible…i.e. “just chemicals.” It is a limited self-justifying system…but that’s all it needs to be to connect to our personhood. If I tell my wife she is the loveliest batch of evolved chemicals on the planet…should she be offended? I think not…unless she wants to offend my chemicals and go find delusional chemicals instead.
I'd rather be a highly developed biped than eternal hell fodder...or an eternal ass kisser. Which is better, being a by-product of evolution, or being the collateral damage of some kind of divine gambling debt God owes Satan? Or inheriting a cracked-divine image/sinful nature just for being born? Being stuck in the coercion of heaven and hell with the odds overwhelming against your success?
Neither particularly boosts my self esteem. At least evolution has an excuse.
Not quite feeling like an Olympic saint today? Not so keen on 9 out of 10 people you know being royally screwed over for all eternity (or having to watch)? Wondering why you have to play such a dangerous game without your consent that you didn't start? Second guessing how meaningful it is to have God's grace "on your team" when it's still dependent on you? An objective view of Christianity is more nihilistic in this life in my opinion than atheism could ever be.
34. WOE, do you believe that morality is strictly an evolutionary construct? What about social influences?
If our biological constitution is an evolutionary construct…that includes the emotional predisposition to moral behavior and the mental facilities to formulate the abstract concepts that make up moral theories...as well as our propensity for psychological ingratiation into society (and all that entails).
If you say, “society influences my moral constructs”…all I have to say is, “duh.” Even within Christian subculture with their supposed “absolutes” they are still influencing each other on that subjective level on their moral judgments. That’s just not my primary concern when grounding base ethical principles. If we really want to digest all the ingredients to any given operational moral sphere, we have evolutionary, biological, personal, social, and logic to deal with. But in terms of my unapologetic aim one primary deals with where morality could have come from: evolution...how the brain works...and what logically makes sense in the realm of abstract moral concepts…since people who are members of society are in the process of assembling how best to suit those needs…thus they secondary to the discussion and not the focus.
If an evoluture wants social acceptance he will be more likely to participate in the mutual rewards and cooperation of the group as a whole thereby giving them that much more of a competitive edge and preserving that gene pool ahead of the other groups that do not exhibit this behavior…it is just one piece to the puzzle of our psychological profile.
36. Doesn’t this conveniently make evolution unfalsifiable since it seems to be able to explain just about anything? . "Whatever" you happen to see around you is exactly what evolution would have produced. Therefore evolution must be true?
I never once formulated any of my “just so” stories in terms of a proof for evolution. We may never have direct empirical evidence of the selective pressures that gave way to morality any more than we will ever have direct evidence of God snapping his fingers to make it so…I'm only defending plausibility since that is normally what is being attacked. "How could evolution do this?" "How could evolution do that?" I already gave links to information defending macroevolution itself at the end of question two. I won't go into that here.
What exactly could a magic man in the sky not explain? Ultimately according to the anthropic principle, obviously we have to explain everything coming to be just as it is. Evolutionism has to do that. Creationism has to do that. Should we really depend on the theist’s lack of imagination and misunderstanding of the process of evolution to decide what evolution can and can’t do? I remember when I was a creationist and struggled to formulate a reason why I knew that evolution could not account for changing one body plan into another. One can find plenty of validation in all sorts of examples…in fact 99.99% of what you may consider conceptually is perfectly consistent with macroevolution not happening. But here in lies the problem. Evolution, by definition is counting on that .01% baby step of improbability to incrementally make it up some passable side of the so called, “Mt. Improbable.” Can you be absolutely sure that this .01% can’t happen? I know I can’t. Hell, God could have created everything 10,000 years ago and there’s still no reason in theory to think this can’t happen.
A physics teacher told me about this back in high school. He said that someone in college ate a jeep in its entirety. One might imagine this person to be a giant. But where does one hide a giant these days? A proportional humanoid that could fit a whole jeep in his mouth would have to be at least a dozen stories tall if not more. You’d think we’d find some seriously big foot prints. However, in absence of such evidence one might consider an alternative approach to explain this entry into Guinness. What if I told you that this person took a whole year to eat the jeep by carefully filing down little bits of it into cups of water? Eventually, day after day, this method adds up…and we are short one jeep. It is hard to imagine anyone actually eating an entire jeep with knee jerk sensibilities…but if you consider those little details…it does actually work out. And I think that in some ways characterizes people’s knee jerk attachment to God vs. their ability to appreciate the explanatory power of evolution.
When all the “just so-ing” is said and done, obviously one has not proven anything other than there’s no prior reason conceptually to think macroevolution can’t work (and that’s been the main thrust here). Thus from there, an honest person would simply be an agnostic with one less creationist ax to grind and take a look at the evidence we do have with mature eyes.
I should point out there seems to be no particular reason why God should be absent today…or why we even reproduce…or why all we all share common DNA with everything…or why our bodies are contingent on anything lesser than ourselves. Video game characters can’t explain their design with anything less than fiat…stuff just happens at a complicated level for absolutely no reducible reason. But we have a horrendous system of contingency all the way down to the sub-atomic level…and perhaps even beyond. I’m not saying that theism can’t accommodate these things…but you should note that evolution depends on them and is thus a more intimate fit with the circumstantial facts.
I’ll add one last thought…if the common designer hypothesis is true, there could easily be examples of God copying and pasting chunks of DNA code, verbatim from one far away branch of the animal kingdom to the other. For instance if a duck’s bill and the bill of a duck-billed platypus just so happened to have the exact same coding for their convergent trait…that would discredit evolution. We would at least have to say aliens intervened at some point. And I’m sure other examples could be found as well. However if this is never the case…that sure convergent evolution happens, but it isn’t the same coding for the same trait…this is a very good fit for evolution…but not so good for a creator. Sure a creator could explain this…but evolution explanation depends on it being that way.
The only reason a theist asks such an inane question is because they don’t want to have to answer for the obvious moral evils of their god. “Morality equals God.” “If God doesn’t exist then morality isn’t objective and you can’t question his evils.” After this feat of fallacy is accomplished they no longer have any responsibility and no checks and balances on their worldview are possible. The Bible could literally be filled with absolute evil and there’d be no way to address it. But the bible itself claims that God wrote the law in our hearts and that the gentile will be judged by it…therefore objective morality has to be independently observable and affirmable by everyone. Atheists are people last time I checked and therefore if an atheist can’t affirm objective morality independently the bible is false. This is common ground that can’t be set aside intelligibly for the sake of this apologetic…since one cannot possibly become a Christian if you already know the Bible is false.
What is a theist really doing when they ask such a question? They are trying to pull all of the givens of the discussion off the table so that “rape” is as meaningful as it is to a rock. If a theist who hasn’t been scamboozled by apologetic contrivances asks me why rape is wrong just because they are curious, I can appeal the system they are already participating in to ask the question. They are human…they are logical…they are asking a moral question that presupposes the moral sphere…they want to know what is best for themselves and the people around them…and it is obvious that rape is wrong from that basis. In this artificial apologetic context there is no reason to actually give a descriptive moral answer to why rape is wrong...it’s the exact same descriptive answer that God would give for why rape is wrong. Surely God must have some sensibility behind his command, right? What is it? That's my answer, too. Why would it be different? All you have to do is admit we have common ground as I stated in my first paragraph (you basically have to or you compromise the bible)...and that answer follows directly from that basis. And any honest person should accept the answer without going to absurd lengths of denial as AFTR and others have been conditioned to do.
Right and wrong are conceptually based on the unspoken goals of humanity and are at their root neurologically rigged as psychological tautologies and yin yang relationships. Not being ontological absolutes doesn’t disqualify their absolute validity in the human system in the practical sense of the word absolute. Are you really going to lose any sleep over a .0001% difference in validity? Atheists can round up via good will. No matter what you believe about morality…that doesn’t mean other people are going to agree with you so I don't see how any worldview can be criticized for this shortcoming.
If your goal is to be a good person, live fruitfully in society, to respect other people and be respected in return etc….things that shouldn’t be in doubt for everyone who isn’t a sociopath…“right and wrong” naturally follow. And that's what most people want regardless of whatever is true in metaphysics. This is the general answer…obviously one has to deal with personal subjectivity…when society at large is mistaken…what the facts of the matter really are…etc. We are only human. But there’s no reason you can’t have an objective conversation about it that goes well beyond so-called moral relativism. Objective doesn't mean "perfect." It just means we are able to determine when some answers are better than others.
Of course theists already know that rape is wrong. But they want you to define for them from here to the ends of the Allverse in absolute terms or else they are going to go with, “Magic man done it.” They might as well disbelieve in the physical nature of the computer if they fail to understand a huge technical manual. All they have to do is be ignorant of some aspect of it and make endless arguments from incredulity and they rate themselves as being in the right. Perhaps materialistic explanations are lacking...but you are in no position to know that...nor assert that you know better. The only thing in dispute is where morality came from…where any psychological aspect of our humanity came from…and thus this is just a creation and evolution debate with a philosophical disguise...and a bad one at that. We may never have direct empirical evidence of the selective pressures that gave way to morality any more than we will ever have direct evidence of God snapping his fingers to make it so…be an agnostic for all I care…but don’t tell me that you know only God could make morality work. Prove that rape is wrong? Prove to me only God could make morality. Prove to me that God exists. Prove to me that your God is moral. Prove to me that your god isn’t lying about being moral. Prove to me that your god hasn't sent you a delusion that makes you think that he is the only way that morality can be objective. Prove that morality has to be in the grind of the extremes of heaven and hell to be legitimate. I think an atheist is on much firmer ground affirming that morality is not purely subjective regardless of its origin than a theist is to answer any of those questions objectively.
But for the record, in case anyone was curious, this is basically what I'd say specifically:
I have no advice for a psychopath as they would be incapable of listening regardless. And I have no need to preach to people who are on the other side of the spectrum. There may only be a few people that for whatever reason are so emotionally incompetent that they need me to tell them they're eyes are open and they are reading this web page. I suppose I should pretend I'm talking to an alien.
Rape is such an extreme moral wrong because it is basically the pinnacle intimate violation of another person’s autonomy forcing the person to experience traumatically what they most would like to experience in a context they absolutely don’t want to experience it in…leaving deep emotional scars that are not easy to overcome. Women spend years overcompensating in their relationships after having been raped…distrusting men…fearing sex…etc. Some even go gay. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they were stable in it. But this kind of gay doesn’t appear to yield stability (as far as I know)…its overcompensation and denial as they struggle to get away from the gratuitous pain and unbalance.
Any human being asking moral questions for the sake of getting moral answers should see how this obviously plugs into those intuitions. You would not want this done to you…therefore don’t do it to others. Denial does not mean anything to the universal law of reciprocation. You will only find you’ve hurt your victim irrevocably and that it probably matters to you in hindsight if you didn't already see that coming…you’ve likely hurt yourself if you’re not already off the deep end, and there’s a chance someone is going to make it their business to be sure you pay dearly for your crime. You may not think you care about anyone, but other people are not so delusional. Living at peace with everyone is to your advantage, joining in the mutual obligation to protect each other is empowering in positive ways, and acquiring sex from a willing participant whom you are perhaps even mutually in love with is potentially one of the most rewarding aspects of this life. If this doesn’t appeal to you not only are you crazy… If you are so crazy and keep up the habit, you may get away with it once…but odds are you will get caught. The entire world isn't going to just sit back and ignore the plight of its women. You’ve already proven how incompetent (or perhaps insane) you are by being a rapist. Things aren’t going to get better. This is nothing but destructive behavior all the way around…for an extremely short-sighted goal to say the least.
Oh…yeah. And God says absolutely not to rape anyone unless he tells you to. And even if you manage to never rape anyone despite really wanting to, you're likely going to go to hell for all eternity anyway since few will be saved...so you might as well rape and pillage at your "discretion." And…if you happen to be an ancient Jew, you have a free pass to marrying any girl you want merely by raping her (think Borat going after Pamela Anderson). And she’ll be yours to abuse forever. Its okay, her father just wants to make sure she’s gotten rid of…who wants these damaged goods to be just lying around the house? Hurray for absolutes that transcend our weak wittle subjective relativistic minds! Apparently McGod has been selling small, medium, and large McHoliness throughout the ages (that's why Yahweh's McEthics eventually got better in the McBible).
This is like Paris Hilton asking, “What if I want the world to revolve around me?” The obvious answer is tough oats.
I think you are asking too much in terms of legitimateness. The whole universe does not have to agree with you for you to value what you do value. It is a limited self-justifying system. You need to live in the microcosm of what people are used to in order to reap significant emotional and moral rewards. Your cells and the ends of the universe are not a part of this picture any more than they are for a bobcat.
I think you need to ask yourself if you are asking the right questions or have the wrong preconceived notions about what the basis of objective morality “ought” to be. Because you might find it’s because religion has convinced you that you need things you don’t actually need…and that it protects your emotional investments in ways it doesn’t actually come through on in any realistic way...not to mention its promising you things you probably aren't going to get.
We can’t prove God even exists, let alone that there is a true religion. The Bible is no more objective because we can’t verify it’s from god, it contains highly questionable ethics, we can’t be sure of various interpretations, denominations hold completely different views all quoting different conflicting proof texts, and it is arbitrary to say how to apply ancient ethical norms to a modern setting and we can’t get any feedback on our success…for we may be living well, but God might be royally pissed anyhow in all his silence. He’s no stranger to letting people to their own devices even though the consequences are eternally dire. If your religion is true...most of the world must be on that track already. Why not a slightly greater percentage? After all this…it’s fair to say there is a great measure of practical subjectivity to God’s “objective” morality. Biblical morality is just baggage that needs to be dropped in favor of reason and epistemic accountability in the here and now. It is much easier to determine what we want as moral evolutures than what a divine super being wants who operates on a whole nother level of ethics supposedly and doesn't care to stop by and clarify…“our ways are not his ways”…gee thanks, god.
-If there is no God, then there is no objective morality.
-There is objective morality.
-Therefore, there is a God.
The only meaningful way to say this is:
-If there is a god, he could have designed morality.
-Therefore morality could have been designed by a god.
-Or it could have come from some other source.
Conversely I’m sure we might find one or two sociopaths that simply aren’t geared for moral behavior innately…is this an argument against the existence of God? Does God not exist just for them?
Going beyond that is intellectually dishonest and you could replace anything in nature with the term morality. We have some kind of cultural myth that says yeah maybe a liver can evolve, but a moral drive can’t…its too “precious.” They are all just human systems…including the self-defense behavior of the brain that allows theists to protect their emotional investments in fantasy. But the proof is not a proof…its just a possibility…like gnomes created everything as is yesterday…and we could all be wired into the Matrix and not know it. Possibility is not probability and if we are wise we should probably go with probability.
You know you can’t just proclaim every supposed act of God good because by definition everything God does is good…one would hope that there would be a system of checks and balances in your paradigm so that one premise is accountable to other independent conclusions and vise versa. [GASP!] Of course the problem is that if you have to judge God’s character apart from his “license to sin”:
Rule #1: God is good.
Rule #2: If God does something clearly wrong, refer back to rule #1.
…then the underwhelming case for his innocence doesn’t hold up to any bit of rational scrutiny as I have clearly demonstrated here and elsewhere on my xanga ad nauseum. Hypothetically can you really tell me you are willing to take a mega-list of everyone’s sins ever committed…erase their names from the sentences describing their crime and put God’s name in there instead(and let’s suppose he actually did all these things)…and proclaim him innocent because of those two dubious Biblical axioms? Would you accept such blind faith from a Muslim pertaining to Allah?
All you’ve done is retreated to an entirely unfalsifiable position that is completely disconnected from the particulars of the discussion. What you say could be used to defend absolutely anything under the sun…the entire content of the Bible could be literally anything and your arguments would “work” just as “well.” Where you step away from that uncritical security blanket...you will find you are met with almost immediate failure.
And of course the obvious candidate for the pressure behind not even being able to think outside the "license to sin" box is that you intuitively "know" you have absolutely no clue how to make sure God is who he says he is...because faith (or should we say, credulity) in this case is such a vacuous epistemology and God doesn't dare show up at family picnics to clear things up...not being able to depart from the "license to sin" clause serves as confirmation that it "must" be "that" valid...since one can not question the initial premise. But who gives a shit about knowing God is actually good? He’s only the most important figure in your emotional life…trust should be a prerequisite. Who says interpersonal standards are important? Honestly… [rolls eyes]
I know you’ll find this hard to understand, but I think God ought to actually care about people if he actually wants to be called a lover of humanity. I personally…I guess this is only my “opinion,” don’t see the merit of simply defining everything God does into good-ville by fiat without any critical thinking being applied. If you give it any thought, you’ll find that there isn’t wiggle room…we do actually have more than enough info to come to a conclusion on God’s ethical character. Certainly you aren’t advocating agnosticism on the doctrine of God’s goodness are you? The Bible is his resume…it’s meant to be that. We are supposed to know who God is and what he’s about via it. It can’t just be a great big misunderstanding as that has ethical implications in and of itself. Yahweh has a long history being "misunderstood" in this way (aka the gnostics and even references IN THE BIBLE) and communication is generally considered the number one most important criteria in a real relationship. And especially given the details…there just isn’t any room for the benefit of the doubt. If there was…I’d accept that and on occasion when things are ambiguous, I do. But I have a conclusive argument in general on God’s character and I can’t simply pretend like I don’t just because you still believe in your religion.
Let's pretend for instance that the theistic bigots who say atheists have no basis for morality are correct and thus atheists have no way to objectively judge God...okay...but what if I am an atheist and I want to become a Christian? And the first doctrine I accept is that God has placed the law in my heart? I then have a valid means of saying, "The punishment should fit the crime" because my innate God given ethical standards are basically trustworthy and should be paid attention to...but low and behold this God doesn't follow his own rules (like eternal damnation) and in proportion is thereby judged to be demented and sadistic. What should I do? Dislocate my moral jaw like a python and swallow it all whole?
My point is that we are supposed to learn what God is about from Scripture and generally Christians try to play dumb like we can’t draw any conclusions about his actions from this material. It really doesn’t even matter if the story does work out in some ethical way…it doesn’t make it true. But incidentally there are also powerful arguments against God’s supposed character especially from the Bible…and I think the explanation of that is one…poorly thought out ideas…and two especially that theists over the ages have been working with an non-theistic world and trying to shove their loving god into that necessarily amoral mold with ill success.
Actually, if he’s an ethical person, he is omni-responsible for us, given his traits. With great power comes great responsibility…but with absolute power comes no responsibility? Wow, comic books have better ethics than your god. That’s amazing.
That is why I boil God's character profile down to just "glory-mongering" at any expense. Ill-gotten glory...etc. This is no different than war-profiteering...waging war for the sake of your pocketbook all the while professing virtuous intentions. God's glory is more important at every turn than being humane. Granted...an omnipotent being can do whatever he wants...but if he also wants us to use our free will and rational and ethical minds to appraise the situation in his ethical favor...he needs to be constrained by compassion more often than not. True self-sacrifice means not getting exactly what you want in life to the extent you want it and compromising for the goals of those around you whom you profess to love…not screwing them over so you can infinitely jerk off in all its glory.
Since humanity supposedly reflects the image of god…it makes perfect sense that the best of human moral standards ought to confirm God’s moral character in a checks and balances sort of way...to make sure we haven't gotten something wrong somewhere. Thus internal consistency is at stake as well as the obvious implications of not measuring up to normative standards regardless of how slightly imperfect they may be. Let's pretend that we are only dealing with my invalid relative opinion that has no regard for any objectivity...I'm not impressed. Sorry.
Christians sometimes claim they are not moral judges and in humility let God do that job. However I question the sanity of not evaluating the ethics of the religion for quality before swallowing it wholesale. Such lack of discernment could make even the likes of Tom Cruise blush. Christians generally have no problem criticizing other gods without resorting to such contrivances…its not like we are on firm ground with the existence of any deity. If moral law was really given to humanity then we should be able to recognize it in the true god…and if we can’t, then we have to find some other god.
If God is not bound by ethics, why don't you rewrite all that scripture and all those hymns that call him good? Why not call him amoral instead? If our ethics are truly a reflection of God's "good nature" then it should be obvious there should be no reason God should not heed his own nature. And if God is only “good” like the earth is “good,” why do theists protest when I walk all over him? Lol, j/k.
You have to be asserting that God is amoral since no moral construct can be applied to him… Have you thought of the implications of an amoral entity? That makes him an impersonal force…and an impersonal force is by definition not a person…and therefore not a god…and thus by taking God out of the moral sphere you have defined him out of existence. Congratulations. Whatever you think you are calling god has now no reason to effectuate any form of soteriology or reward in the afterlife.
If you are going to call your god a good person, he has to be subject to “good person” ethics. Think of what this apologetic excuse means when applied back into scripture:
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
And that means not being bound by ethics? Excellent! We have a license to sin now, too! Thus the theist has a much better case for not having any basis in morality than the atheist who has no such outlandish excuse. God doesn't have to be ethical and you have to be like God...therefore...anarchy.
44. But aren’t ethics also about doing what God wants?
Well morality is just a game you play with a bigger mind instead of a game you play with lesser minds. The basic rules are pretty much the same. I’m arguing that with or without God, morality is as objective (or conversely as subjective). One simply has to replace the absolute of God with the absolute of a conceptual ideal. We all have the same operating system and therefore the same beneficial treatment of that system can be objectively discerned independently. Not everyone gets it right, but that doesn’t mean we can’t facilitate conversations that work towards that end. There is no foundational logic behind one having to be trapped in such an extreme coercive situation (between heaven and hell) for morality to have an appropriate amount of merit in life.
If God doesn’t exist, then who cares? One less relationship… And by this logic God can make anything “moral” including slavery, genocide, rape, and sacrificing your son on an alter. For a god who is supposed to be all about us helping our neighbor so that he may be appeased by association…surely he “ought” to be content with humanistic ethics…though arguably this god isn’t happy with anything.
We apparently have the ability to choose and that is all I call free will. I see no merit to thinking free will means something beyond that...and it doesn't need to. We do not and cannot have true ontological free will that is not determined by anything. That’s an effect with no cause. What you call you is the determining factor…it is not as though determinism happens to you…you are part of the determination.
Do you really imagine consciousness or the soul to really be some magic black box that avoids falling prey to the very same reductionistic/deterministic definitions of the material world? How do you know the soul isn't just made up of spiritual chemicals? Just what is your “rational” alternative? A convenient mystery? If so, that sounds to me like you just want to hide some emotional fallacies under the carpet for their safety from critical evaluation you may not be prepared to deal with.
I don’t believe I said it did. But many theists seem to think it does. I’m confronting their arguments for the most part, not the Bible. Further, I don’t see where the bible teaches that morality is only ontologically dependent on God’s nature…that it can’t exist otherwise on its own independent of the divine mind. The Bible is rarely so philosophically specific. However theists when they are feeling agnostic about other issues, believe it anyway as insurance against seeing nothing wrong with atheism.
For the record, anyone can make as many excuses as they like. The only difference is the likelihood of punishment and the severity…in theory. There is no prior fundamental reason why moral obligation has to be absolute in order for morality to have merit or to be objectively discernible. If anything, it’s simply a philosophical luxury…one no Christian is actually enjoying in any practical way…the difference between having a user manual sent with your DVD player and just figuring out how it works on your own…it will be the exception to the rule that uses it as a door stop on both counts. Of course you can do literally anything with your DVD player…what does having a manual change? Or even what does the designer’s intent even change? Anyone can do anything they want…that’s free will, remember? However, atheists that use careful observation and logic can just as easily figure out what evolution “intended” objectively in terms of what will be the most rewarding positive experience in this life. And if they get it wrong…surely Christians get things wrong, too, right? Oh, no wait. They have tech support, right? In the form of the Holy Spirit…the one that tells evangelicals speaking in tongues is the only way to heaven and the same one that tells Mormons that the Book of Mormon really is the Newer New Testament of Jesus Christ? I digress…
What good is an absolute obligation if you don’t even know the obligator exists? Or what religion he communicates through? Or what the best translation is of that religion’s manual? Or what interpretation of that translation is correct? Or whether you should read God’s goodness in between the lines of evil passages if you aren’t a moral judge? Or how to translate that bit from that cultural context to this one? Or what exactly God wants of you specifically? I’m sorry; I believe strongly that idealism has to be the bitch of practicality…for not being successful is certainly not ideal. After you’ve cleared all these scamtastic hurdles, you may notice the lifestyle of an atheist not differing much from that of a theist. Don’t we all generally date, get married, have kids, have a job, do well to others…etc.? Theists try to pretend like this is rocket science that only God can figure out. Somehow we all manage to end up on earth doing approximately the same thing…I wonder why that is. Either A: Atheists are secretly serving God and don’t want to tell anyone. Or B: Theists are taking the scenic route to what is perfectly obvious to any rational human being.
And after celebrating your 10 pt landing for your philosophy, perhaps you should consider that you've swung too far in a worse direction...absolute coercion is certainly not a moral axiom. And neither are punishments that don't fit the crime (like hell). Many Christians are keen to “love it by letting it go”…but of course God knows no such virtue…the whole motif gets ruined when you threaten whatever it is with eternal retribution if it doesn’t fall in line how you like. There are definitely benefits to a completely voluntary obligation system. Perhaps Hitler doesn't pay for his crimes...but then again neither do 9 out of 10 people you know and love. Life didn't start out fair...made no promises to fairness...and ends unfair as well. Seems more consistent even than the love of God. Those that participate in the natural obligations of life are doing it because they think it is right in and of itself. Once social connections are established obligations follow suit from the conditions of the relationship. Anyone that lives like this will tell you the glory and simplicity of simply getting what you put out without being plugged into a stark raving mad lunatic in the sky’s glory-mongering whimsies who may or may not be royally pissed at you for any and every reason.
It’s not a competition to please God. It’s not about eternal rewards. It’s not about the threat of hell. It’s because atheists choose to be good people for very modest reasons. One isn’t able to start from scratch. By the time you can consider it you are already a human being with a hearty introduction to what being human is all about. All you got to do is pay close attention and work it out. The theist’s blunder here basically amounts to saying, "If it’s only a bullet and not a nuclear bomb...there's no reason to jump out of the way." But when a nuclear bomb hits...you can't jump out of the way. Thus you scoff at what is not an error (jumping out of the way of the bullet of this life) and stumble into a much more grievous one (senseless moral extremophilia)...all the while forgetting entirely what morality is for in the first place. If you really think morality’s purpose is to celebrate the destruction of those imperfect people that didn’t find Jesus in this life for all eternity (almost everyone apparently), then you are truly letting a demon make your moral discernments.
In short, there is nothing logically necessary about morality in the Christian worldview and there is nothing wrong with morality in the atheist’s worldview. The theist’s world is convoluted and extreme as hell (literally), and the atheist’s world is par for the course, more objective, and more trustworthy as it submits whole-heartedly to the truth from top to bottom. I can personally attest to the fact I feel about 10times more confident of my moral decisions than I ever did as a theist...and this is mainly because I don't have to work around God's communication and people skills (or lack thereof).
The only part that is coherent is the idea that it would be nice in theory to have a super-mind work out what the best ethics are…but that’s not even what theists are claiming.
They say that if this super-mind does not exist then morality does not exist in an ontologically absolute sense. That’s how they pretend to dominate the philosophical discussion on God’s evils with this self-serving priorism. Further, its not coherent for God to be called an ethical being when in fact he is above ethics…its not coherent to call him a person if he isn’t a moral being…its not coherent to define God as good and then accept that he does things that are not good (like eternal punishments for finite crimes)…its not coherent to claim your moral absolutes come from God for by the time God’s inerrant message has gotten to you it has passed through half a dozen extremely subjective filters (which god, which religion, which sect, which interpretation, how do these ancient generalities apply to you in this culture…etc.)…that inevitably leave you making the judgment for yourself…it is not coherent to claim that God gave early man (you know those people who had just been created with a pristine genome) primitive ethics because they weren’t ready for better ones (all the while maintaining the pretense of a holy nation)and still maintain that Biblical ethics are supreme…its not coherent to claim that rape is absolutely wrong, except when God says its okay…etc. So no, theistic ethics are a far cry from coherent.
If theists stopped short at only saying they are being influenced by a master of ethical behavior that is more likely to be correct in his assessments…and every indication bares this out…that would be coherent. But theists don’t and can’t do that.
Yes…here’s a nice one: If putting someone in prison for life is analogous to eternal torture in hell (as many theists have tried to argue: GGP, LSP1, and ethan)…and if eternal torture in hell is the only natural consequent to having absolute obligations to be good (a la AFTR)…then it follows that apart from theism there must be absolute obligations or else putting someone in prison would not be analogous to eternal torture in hell… And since absolute obligation seems to be the defining standard for objective morality (in theism)…it follows there must be objective morality apart from theism. Of course, all you have to do is give up the analogy…but then you dovetail into the mal-ethics of hell.
The other one I’ve noticed which I’ve pointed out repeatedly (and no one has addressed) is that the bible claims that objective morality is observable by anyone (Romans 2:15) so if the atheists don’t have that stand alone connection as they claim they do, then the Bible is wrong and objective morality doesn’t exist even for theists according to their own logic. And if the bible isn’t correct here then it would appear that heaven won’t be so unpopulated after all since God won’t have a basis for judging the majority of humanity (the so called “gentiles”) that didn’t have a connection with God’s revelated morality. And that makes Jesus in the wrong for saying otherwise…and if Jesus is in the wrong…or being misquoted…or whatever…even people that think the Bible is generally trustworthy (but not inerrant) are in for a bumpy ride.
50. You use the phrase, “moral extremophilia.” What does it mean?
The basic idea is that anything in excess is probably wrong…hence even morality counter-intuitively enough in excess therefore becomes immoral. So whenever I see the bible going to all sorts of ridiculous lengths to control our behavior, peppered by all sorts of genocides and impotent shepherding, I think I have every right to call that for what it is…moral extremophilia. If you feel extremely certain I am mistaken, that you can never be too moral, consider the following chain of reasoning:
-Theistic belief systems compel participants into a greater amount of moral thinking beyond that of an average non-believer.
-Since a member is at any given time “viewable” from a divine perspective, their entire guilt management system is subject to an increase in the acquisition of innocence above and beyond an average “non-believer.”
-a non-believer is defined as someone who does not allow for divine viewing of their guilt management system in any habitual way.
-to my knowledge, the Holy Spirit (real or fake)does not regulate the extent or the rate at which this God viewing of the conscience is active. An individual is free to feel it and go with it as much or as little as they are naturally compelled. In other words, the belief that they are morally culpable affects everyone differently in an unmitigated way.
-Be it the threat of hell or the threat of not feeling a close connection to an all-seeing deity, there is much drive for extreme moralistic judgments that defy average sensibilities on the same issues.
-people are prone to excess of that which makes them feel good.
-Christians are people.
-The conscience is one of many human systems capable of being abused in a variety of ways.
-The Holy Spirit does not seem to keep Christians from an excess or lack of abuse of other aspects of their mind or activities.
-An abuse of the human conscience in an excess of moral activity is possible.
-The natural by-product of this particular abuse of this particular system is feeling justified in the excess.
-If the human conscience were abused or compelled into a hyper-active amount of moral activity, it would be exceedingly more difficult to convince them that this was the case as they would feel an excess of justification for it given the very system being abused…more so than telling someone they cuss or swear too much. They might actually agree with you but keep on doing it. A Christian won’t.
-Regardless of whether this identifiable behavioral pattern has the divine seal of approval on it, an unbiased observer can see the effects in a wide range of believers in theism. From perfectionists, to legalists, to fundamentalists, to extremists and zealots…there is a spectrum of effects this behavioral feedback loop is objectively identifiable in.
-I am an individual who can pick out this behavior in debate and see why someone would tend to argue for one point over another despite evidence or logic or experience of success with moral moderation.
Moral extremophilia is an addictive and excessive abuse of the evolved human conscience. It is the reason why such unethical ideas like a tyrannical, genocidal god and the eternal damnation of most of the human race in the religions “of Abraham” get over-looked by the faithful…these people’s consciences are cracked out on their meta-scam…they are high. And they are petrified of going sober.
Why do girls date assholes one after the other? They say their poor character makes “the tender intimate moments[i.e. the lulls] that much more sweet”…even though they know they are going to be hurt again and again and again…they can’t break the cycle…they are addicted to the emotional high and won’t objectively criticize that which is obviously hurting them overall. They are willing to sacrifice a sensible balanced stable long term relationship based on truth, love, and trust for that which takes them on a short-sighted amusing roller coaster of intensified feelings they can't get anywhere else. And faith is often such a drug. And with this drug, it is absolutely taboo to call its merit into question and you have a divine mandate to take it, the ill consequences in the lives of other people are always accepted as justified, and it’s always somehow your fault if something is wrong with it…never the dealer.
I actually wrote very little for this post…I just went around collecting the best of all my previous comments in order to put them in one concise place for future reference. If anyone thinks I have not answered these questions sufficiently or think that there are questions I need to answer in reference to atheism and morality, by all means, submit feedback. It pretty much comes down to no matter how good of answers I give, theists always find some way to deny the plain fact that atheists have just as much entitlement to an ethical basis as anyone else…and in fact a better one since it is subject to updatable epistemic accountability and doesn’t have to be dragged down by ancient barbaric dogma.
I can personally attest to the fact that since my deconversion from Christianity, the fog has cleared and ethics make so much more sense (not to mention everything else does, too)…it’s simple, obvious, and objective. As opposed to being ubiquitous, extreme, and basically ridiculous…a ripe recipe for disaster…the Bible is extremely easy to misinterpret even where it doesn’t error, and provides very little clarification on numerous issues. You pretty much have to read the immorality out of it and read your own ethics into it in a number of places. All the significant historical problems of my life relate directly to all the problems I’ve pointed out here regarding Christian ethics. My criticism is first hand…I’m not making up imaginary obstacles. I have no idea how to be a stable human being and take the bible seriously. If you do, congratulations on what I have trouble not calling intellectual dishonesty.
And yes, if after all this you still manage to maintain that atheism has no basis for morality I do think you are an ignorant bigot...especially since this isn’t even a critical matter and I’ve given you every opportunity to understand here. On the flipside, the Bible could very well provide good ethics and maybe that’s all you see there…that wouldn’t make the important metaphysical propositions true. Incidentally it contains a wide range of ethics…good and bad. I would give up my arguments against the mal-ethics of the God character in the Bible if I could even be remotely fought to a standstill in terms of plausibility. But there are just too many clean busts. For instance: hell…eternal punishment for finite crimes. No matter how you cut that cake, it's still wrong.
It is petty…all it does is make theists feel like they have an infallible reason to reject atheism…since obviously one has to be moral and theism is the “only” provider. It is false security. You’ll just have to settle for winning the debate some place else.
Good luck with that.