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12 comments | Saturday, April 29, 2006

It doesn’t take much to notice that Christianity leaves a bad taste in many non-believers mouths. In just about every discussion I have had with non-believers the same objection raises to the surface (crusades, inquisition etc…). Though there are often many other issues brought to the table, the historic atrocities carried out in the name of Christianity always arise as an assumed defeater of The Faith. The objection of historic atrocities of Christianity is often further employed to individual hypocrisies and moral failures. The objection itself is expressed in a multitude of ways; however, the essential element to any formulated presentation of the argument asserts that Christians and/or their actions show Christianity to be false.

The problem with the objection of historical or individual Christian hypocrisy is that is trivial. Not trivial in the sense that reprehensible actions are not a major concern; trivial in the sense that the issue is irrelevant to truth or falsity of Christianity. More often, this is used as a red herring and diverts the topic onto a frivolous trail. The criticism of moral failures of Christians, whether collectively or individually, does not undermine Christianity. The objection is the same if some one was to assume calculus was false if Isaac Newton was arrested for drug dealing.

Rather than diverge the topic onto a trail that logically does not invalidate Christianity, one ought to focus on the historical and factual claims at hand.

Christianity is not a systems based on ethics. It’s not a “Confucius says…….” belief system. Ethics are peripheral to the central message of Christianity. The central message of Christianity is about the personage of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian does not mean that one is “better” than anyone else. Christian ethics is a process; one does not instantaneously become a Mother Teresa or reach some form of moral perfection. Again, Christianity is not a list of rules, but a submission to the person of Christ who desires our obedience. The rules are important; however, they are only the values that surface as part of redemption provided by Jesus Christ.

Another issue at hand is that one does not have to simply accept that said persons who commit reprehensible acts are Christians. It’s not an attempt to deny that Christendom, throughout history has been egregious. However, it is a legitimate to question one who professes Christianity and then acts reprehensibly immoral. Such acts are the very antithesis to Jesus Christ’s will and should not be lumped together so effortlessly. Jesus warned of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). If wolves are culpable for immoral actions—the sheep should be spared the ridicule. Nevertheless, one should distinguish between what an individual or group of Christians do and what Jesus Christ expresses as His will.

One issue about the objection that I find rather ironic is that the Christian Worldview provides the basis for morality while secular ethics fails. 90 out of a 100 times, those who bring moral failures of individuals or Christendom to the table are moral relativists. Moral relativists will object to Christianity based on historical events like the crusades or “witch hunts.” However, according to their position, morality is abased on social context; thus, the social context permitted the crusades. Therefore, by their own system of morality—the actions are not immoral.

It would appear to me that when moral failures of Christendom are used as a secular apologetic; they are based on emotions as opposed to any modal rejection of Christianity. Nevertheless, Christians ought to be sensitive to their own behavior and live transparently. Living an exemplary life as a Christian will be the most effective apologetic. Though we still make mistakes and fall short, what a better place to be hypocritical than in Christ where God offers forgiveness and renewal?

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18 comments | Friday, April 21, 2006

The conversation is on the upswing. Karen has responded to my previous post on Moral Relativism.

By way of reply Karen says:


Well, depending on just HOW good or bad I am, and how big my sphere of influence is, there could still be some ripple effect 1000 years form now, I suppose. 100 years is more likely. Ultimately, when the world rips to shreds, it will not matter, and I have absolutely no problem with that. I have no control over what happened before I came to be, or what will happen after I cease to be. All I can really control is what kind of person I am while I am here. Ultimate is NOW.


For you the ultimate is now, however, “now” will be irrelevant in the distant future. Given the assurance of unavoidable destruction (in your world view), it implies that the burden of prove to demonstrate there is meaning. Saying that meaning is NOW doesn’t seem sufficient.

From your perspective, any person good or bad can achieve immortality by simply accepting christ as lord before dying. What kind of morality is that?


Accepting Christ as Lord and Savior is the recognition of total (including moral) depravity. It is true that on someone’s deathbed they can call on Christ and be saved. However, the moral principals of Christianity do not sanction immorality, but rather prohibits it. This question also fails to recognize that all immoral actions are paid for. There is always justice in Christianity, but not atheism. One can pay for their moral crimes them themselves, or Jesus can pay for them; it’s a choice, choose wisely.

Why should anyone be moral?To propel the idea that others too, should be moral. Instinct for survival.


This does not answer the question. You only push the question back one step. Why should others be moral? Give a prescriptive reason for morality.

Instincts within the context of evolution, doesn’t help us much here. Instincts can also be counter moral. For example, someone could claim that rape was instigated by their instinct. Therefore, instinct does not determine what is, or what is not moral. There must be some standard to judge instinct by in order to determine its moral veracity.

Coformity to general rules of society, instinct for survival.


This is far too ambiguous. We all belong to multiple social groups, and the within these groups there is always conflict. These groups are all contained in general society. If the rightness of any individual’s actions is relative to the standard of any particular culture, would that person not have to know which group constitutes their culture? Is a culture defined by geography, race, class, nationality, gender or what?

Secondly, how do we know what a culture thinks about anything? The laws? Do laws equal morality? Inevitably, there will always be moral disagreements within any group. Thus, who's to say which “opinions” are going to define the moral standards of any given culture? Id laws determine morality, there is nothing above law, or society to appeal to and change those laws/values. This is obviously false.

Rather than being prescriptive with morals, as a relativist morality is merely a descriptive statement of morality. You’ll see later how this is flawed.

If good and evil are subjective, then no one is really good or evil, because that changes as conventions change, whether socially, or individually. Good and evil change from one person to another from society to society; there is no standard to judge actions of other societies, cultures and timesExactly. If another society spends all of its time completely naked, can they say we are wrong to need to be clothed?


The problem with making the culture or society the deciding factor is that if slavery becomes acceptable again in the next 200, 300, or 25 years, who is to say if it is right or wrong? We would have a contradictory set of right and wrong regarding the same issue. Thus, it is incoherent.

To be a consistent relativist regarding things such as the treatment of women in Afghanistan, you should say, it is after all just a "cultural" thing and we have no basis to judge the rightness or wrongness of Taliban culture. However, I have yet to see a moral relativist live up to the relative standard.

A "trapped" society may indeed have very little moral "progress". But then it may have all it needs. It is when societies interact that changes occur the most, IMO. You would evaluate, the same as if you were studying a tribe of chimps...objectively, without bringing any of your own moral constructs onto their society


Chimps? Anytime you make a conclusion about monkey or animal morality simply from external behavior, it reduces morality to mere conduct. This completely ignores non-behavioral element of morality.

You can see chimps sharing their food with each other and note that it helps them survive. However, you can’t conclude by the observation that they ought to share their food. Moreover, you couldn’t conclude that the chimp was immoral just because he wouldn’t share his banana. You have to distinguish between act and intent (prescriptive vs. descriptive). Behaviors can be identical, but intents with the same behavior can determine if it is moral/immoral.

If you want to say that morality is relative to culture, you have to specify when morality changes. When does slavery go from the moral standard to the immoral standard? Can someone just wake up one day and say: “Well, I better check the news paper to see what moral values I have today”?

Moreover, when you say that Slavery was the moral norm, you’re taking the opinion of slaveholders. What about the slave’s opinion? When they said it was horrendously wrong (read the book “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”) what does their moral position count for within the context of moral relativism?
You are correct, that this is an assertion. I realize this is an absolute statement for which I have no physical evidence. It just seems as plain as the nose on my face: No gods existed till man evolved to make them up. "Lower" animals had no need for gods, and as far as we know, no way to communicate the idea of gods. If you would like to show me proof of any gods being around before man came into existence, I'm all ears


This is a red herring and goes way off topic. Proving the existence of God right now is a completely different trail. However, I will be happy to give reasons for specifics on another occasion. I need not give a dissertation though so satisfy anyone standard of proof at demand.

Moreover, it doesn’t follow that if man does not exist, God does not exist, or if man/animal can not articulate/communicate Gods existence; He does not exist. You will have a difficult time coming up with a logical argument to support that (especially: as plain as the nose on your face).

There was nothing wrong with clubbing your neighbor, except that it lessened the gene pool.
My point was that if morality is imbued by god, then we wouldn't go about clubbing our neighbor naturally.
But of course you bring in the old free will argument for that later


If you want to show how free will is incoherent in reference to the objection. I will be happy to start another thread with your logical propositions against the “old free will argument.”

Secondly, if there are reasonable explanations for the compatibility of “evils” and the existence of God, then your rejection of God on such grounds fail. First, you have to believe that evil is absolute before you can valid a claim un-relative to your culture. Every time you make a claim that some incident in the Bible is “evil”, you contradict moral relativism. Hence, you act as if your cultural determination of morality has anything to do with an ancient culture. Moreover, you act as if your societal standard has any sway over other societal standards.

Internally, Christians can address these issues. However, it’s would be irrelevant to a moral relativist, because it was just their culture after all (no such things as evil for them).
still later, you say,God is not a crutch for morality, but rather a source. Some recognize the intuitive nature of morality, while others avoid it because it requires a source. The source is still there, but the recognition is not.So it's intuitive, but we can ignoore it. If it's intuitive, it could be evolutionarily so---instinctive---at least about killing each other.


Things can be intuitively right or wrong. What is ignored is the conclusion of absolutes. People will assert cultural morals as a standard to avoid the intuitive aspect of absolute morality. There are excuses like differences in culture, opinion, and changes. However, not of these meet that standard of coherence.

Because if we kill everyone, the species doesn't survive


Survival of the fittest mentality gives me permission to kill whom so ever I please. If I can do so without destroying the species, then performing this action within the confinement still tells me nothing of morality.

Saying that action X will detriment the survival of a given species, doesn’t tell anything about the morality of action X.

Everyday life is smoother, more organized, safer.You should care because society is determining what is right and wrong for you as an individual. And if you are uncomfomfortable with it, you should rail against it. Find people who agree with you and work to change what society holds as "right". That's how morals evolve

If society determines what is right and wrong for you, it is impossible to rail against it. Because there is not other standard that one can appeal to.

If I am not right with societies moral standards, that means that society does not determine moral standards. Hence, I have to appeal to something *other* than societal standards in order to change society. Reformers change public opinion by offering reasons and evidence to support their position. If the reasons are relevant to morality, they must appeal to some other source of morality than society, because in reform, society is the perpetrator.

Any rational person would reject an argument in support of torture on the basis that everyone does it. It is a fallacious argument and moral relativism uses it.

One can't really, say another society is wrong


Do you hold yourself to your moral relativist standard here? I doubt it. Moral relativist act as if morality is objective, but deny is with their words. It’s call talking through both sides of your mouth.

By blowing themselves and others up, the Afghan terrorists have said it's OK for other to blow them up. If they don't want to be treated that way, they should stop.


Is there some absolute standard that says if you do X to a person/society it’s okay for someone to do X back to that person or society? Or is this just more of your opinion?

As a moral relativist, you have no basis to require them to stop. How can one society act as if their morals are superior to the others society? There would have to be a standard above societal standards to do so. If a society attempts to interject in other societies functions, they are essentially making “Might” what is “Right.”

Treat others as you would like to be treated


I agree, but I have a basis for this principal. Go to another society who doesn’t follow this principal and your *opinion* is not morally correct. You act as if this is an absolute standard or something.

About the Aztecs, that was their way. I don't agree with it, but if I'm smart, I stay out of their neighborhood. I notice they're not active any more, btw


Thanks for the Aztec update.
The Aztecs are not active anymore; however, if country X decided to take up human sacrifice, the best you could say is: it is after all just a "cultural" thing and we have no basis to judge the rightness or wrongness of X culture and if I am smart I will just stay out of there.
Again, treat others as you would like to be treated. Pretty simple


Is this simple as in: This is an absolute standard? Or is this simple in: this is just my subjective opinion; it has no bearing outside my social context?

Since society is your standard, what do you do when your society says treat others horribly even through you don’t want to be treated that way?
Life is short. Following some rules makes it less complicated and more pleasant. Plus, as you keep saying, if you follow the rules, you can reasonably expect others to follow the rules too. Ther's no need to bring the supernatural into it


Yes, life is short; eat drink and be merry. I think I have read that somewhere…

Who is talking about the supernatural? I’m just questioning moral relativism here. Can you justify moral relativism or not? Is moral relativism sound or not?
Are you saying you live in terror of facing your god in judgement, but at the same time you want nothing less/more? "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Do you think about this a lot?


The manner in which the question was phrased, was to be judged by your *own* actions. That is terrifying. Luckily (for me) I am not judged for how good I am, but my faith in Christ has taken this judgment away. It can for you also. Yes, I think about Gods grace a lot. Better his mercy than his wrath.

I’m not sure if you’re just completely oblivious to this Christian principal, or if you’re just shooting from the hip hoping to hit something.

I cannot define "good" any better than you can. That is why I am a relativist. You are the one making the claim for morality; that some things are "good" while others are not. It follows that you would have a definition for what "good" actually is


How does the circularity of the definition of “good” merit moral relativism?

We intuitively no what is good. Moral relativism denies the intuitive nature if the human. Because the relativist says empathy can be good in one culture and evil in another.
The act of using poison to harm or kill innocents could be called an act of evil, or malicious intent, wanton or reckless harm


Only within a society who deems it “evil.” According to moral relativism, this can be *good* in another society.
Rape infers an act against someone's will, or without permission, so it would be wrong


You’re making an absolute statement about morality at the same time you’re denying absolute morality. You are being incoherent.

An act against someone’s will is only wrong in our societal context (remember?). Unless you’re appealing to some absolute standard. Are you? Slavery is “an act against someone's will, or without permission” however, according to moral relativism this was morally correct at the time.
Is killing babies *sometimes* evil and *sometimes* good? Case-bycase basis.


Does case by case mean that torturing babies for fun is *absolutely* wrong? Or is there a circumstance or a society with an alternate standard that can do this and it be okay?


Smashing a newborn's head against a rock would be wrong. It is an innocent life being taken away.


Absolutely wrong? Or just according to our society? Your opinion?

Can you see how moral relativism starts to get ridiculous? If this just your opinion, someone with the opposite opinion is as equally valid.

Taking a vegetative child off life support is not evil, because there is no point in sustaining a brainless body. Aborting a fetus that is not yet a viable human being is also not evil.


We have been through the abortion issue already. You have failed to substantiate that the unborn are not individual human beings. Secondly, you are appealing to complex moral issues with life support. Start with the clear, or you’re more inclined to confuse the issue:

The Clear: Is there any context where torturing babies for fun is morally permissible? Be honest.

Taking life of any kind is not "good", but can make more sense than allowing life.
The first part of your statement that the taking any kind of life is not “good” is an absolute statement about morality. However, you qualify it with ambiguous exceptions. Lets loose the ambiguity and deal with clear cut cases. When can it make more sense to torture babies rather then not torture babies? I am not denying cases where there is an exception, however, those are determined by intent and motive, not behavior. I know of no motive/intent that justifies torturing babies.

No, animals can't distinguish poison as a TOOL for good or evil, but they can, through evolutionary instinct, recognize which plants, roots, insects, etc., are poisonous to them and avoid them. Comparitively, human children are incapable of intuiting poisons. They don't know about the good and evil aspects of the tools until they are taught.
Because children cannot intuitively grasp weather or not X is moral, doesn’t it follow that X is or is not moral.

It's not so much distinguishing good actions from bad actions, as promoting more healthy actions from unhealthy actions.


Healthy actions may or may not be moral. It can be healthy for someone to take somebody from the bus station and eat them (high protein). However, it is still immoral. Likewise, an unhealthy action can be moral too. It would be a moral action to push a child out of the way of a car, but unhealthy when you fall in the path and are struck.

Thus, healthy and unhealthy are unsupportive for your case.

Back when the cave man was clubbing his neighbor to get the good cave, at some point one of them realized if they worked things out, they could share the cave instead, and have better chances of propagating the species, safety in numbers, cooperation.


Nice hypothesis. What follows?

Evolution does not provide a foundation for morality. Why should anyone care about survival? After your dead who cares? If someone doesn’t care about such things, what does the evolutionary theory being promulgated here offer?

Then they learned that if instead of killing the guy from the next tribe to get his wooden bowl, they could invite him into their tribe, and he could teach them to make bowls.
You’re arguing from effect to cause (backwards). The effect does not identify the original intent. One problem with this is that you’re viewing morality as descriptive; just as a function of the environment utilizing the utility of behavior that promotes the survival of our species.

To say that a given action is natural (species preservation) is not to say that it is “good.”

Rape, having been around since the dawn of man, does not seem to have any evolutionary value. It has, IMO outlived it's evolutionary value, as we are certainly no longer short on human specimans.
You give a lot of opinions to support your position.

If an action is part of an evolutionary “programming” (so to speak) then the action cannot be deemed morally wrong. In order to deem action X wrong there would have to be a standard that transcends evolutionary action. This would seem to count against your position.

It is my subjective opinion that Hitler was wrong.


By subjective opinion, your conceding that it could be the case that your are wrong in your assessment. I suspect your going against the grain on your intuitive senses to hold to relativism. This is something moral relativists should reflect on more deeply (not that you haven’t, but I suspect your being dishonest).

My subjective opinion is the general society around Hitler was wrong, and weak, and scared.
What value does a subjective opinion have on such crucial matters? If there was a modern day madman with Hitler’s motif would you just say, well my opinion is that it is wrong, it is after all just a "cultural" thing and we have no basis to judge the rightness or wrongness of X culture.

Rather, you (and I’m sure you will deny it here) would say such actions are absolutely wrong and should cease immediately or be forced to cease.

What about the Christians and all those they killed during the inquisition? What about the witch trials? Were they wrong?
Yes. They were WRONG to do so; absolutely wrong. However, all you can say is: it is after all just a "cultural" thing and we have no basis to judge the rightness or wrongness of the inquisition and witch trials.

What about God killing the first-born male of every household? Was he wrong?
No. He didn’t kill the first born male of “every” household. All the Egyptians had to do was obey, and put lambs blood on the door post. Bu they refused.

Step out of atheism and into theism. All are guilty according to original sin. God, can do what He please to the guilty. He has no obligation for mercy. Besides, if you take a logical approach, God could have saved all the first born that were lost. Either way, you have no grounds as a relativist to say its wrong; it’s just your opinion.

I told you previously. I'd rather people not generally feel they have a right to kill me, or steal from me, or lie to me, etc.


When someone says that they would “rather” feel some one should not do X, they are just asserting. There is no justification that they *ought* not do X.

Even if they are not going to hold by those principles, I still will, because life is just so much simpler if I do.


So, what your saying is I am going to do X because it’s simpler for me. Other people can Do X, Y, and Z because I have no grounds to prohibit it.

If I tell a lie, I have to keep track of it and possibly tell more lies to cover for it.


So you don’t tell lies because there hard to track and you might get confused. I see; it has nothing to do with whether telling a lie is right or wrong, but what is simpler. This must be that common sense you were talking about.

If I steal, I can't complain if soeone steals from me.


Then if you steel and you know it’s the case that no one will steel from you—it’s okay.

Also, we shouldn’t steel then because we lose our right to complain. What would we do if we lost that right? ;-)

In effect, you have stated that you don’t steel so you can reserve your right to complain if it happens to you. Excellent! When does morality come into play?

If I kill, same thing, and I also have to get rid of the body, and probably get caught and go to jail where I probably won't be able to escape the Bible-thumpers.
Let me takes notes. I can learn a lot about morality from a moral relativist.

Killing is wrong because:

1) I would have to get rid of the body
2) I would probably get caught (mental note: highlight # 2)
3) I could go to jail
4) There are bibles in jail

These have to be the best reasons I have ever heard on why it’s wrong to kill. Now I will never do it! I wish I had that moral relativist “common sense”
Why should I not kill?to not be killed

Therefore, if I can kill and know I wont be killed my self—DO IT! Good answer.

Why should I care about society?it makes the rules

Just because something is the case (X is against the law) doesn’t mean it ought to be the case. So this doesn’t help your position.

Why should I care about others? to in turn be cared about

If I know that a good deed will not be returned then I guess I should not to do it. You assume that something can be moral only of there is a return. This is a false presumption.

Why should I care about chaos? you don't have to; some people thrive on it. Sets of rules limit chaos. If you're going to live in a society, it's going to expect you to abide by it's rules. You can conform, or you can fight to change the rules. taht's your choice.
If society determines morality, and someone is going to change the standard moral rules of society, what standard can they appeal to? They would be immoral by default.

WHY SHOULD ANYONE BE MORAL? To survive and thrive. You catch more flies with honey.
Survival acts do not make moral acts. This is why descriptive ethics is limited. Morality starts with intent and motives. Intent and motives can be moral or immoral. If you see a boy trip an old lady how can you tell from the observation whether the action is wrong? You would have to determine the intent of the boy before you can make a decision. The behavior is the same if it was accidental or intentional, but the intent is different.

Now, if you can't prove your god exists, why should I take you seriously?
Not everyone is reasonable. It is not a necessary failure on the part of a Christian if we cannot reach the unreachable.

Your failing to distinguish the reasons for accepting/rejecting moral relativism and the reasons for accepting/rejecting the existence of God. A person is expected to act out morals regardless of their position on divinity. When someone says X is or is not moral there needs to be justification. When someone says God exists or does not exist there are no immediate actions that need to be taken.

If we are talking about something like torturing innocent babies and someone cannot justify why it’s wrong without being arbitrary, then taking them seriously is being too generous.

The fact that you think God’s existence cannot be proven does not follow that God does not exist. It does not follow that there are no good reasons to believe in God’s existence. It follows that you have (for what ever reason) not been persuaded. Since I don’t know what has been presented to you, and you have provided no refutations of known evidences, I’ll just assume your emoting.

How do you justify your rules?
Common sense, mostly.


If common sense is the primary factory, then most people don’t have it. I said how do you *justify* not know. Most people sitting in jail cells (with some exceptions) have common sense to know what they did is wrong. While they were performing the act, they know it’s wrong. However, they did things for other reasons.

Common sense goes against moral relativism. You shoot yourself in the foot if morality is common sense.

The speed limit's faster on highways that have longer, less radical crves and are away from populated areas.


I am talking moral rules here, not whether or not parking meters should charge $3 hour, or $5 hour.

You shouldn't kill a person because s/he is of our species.


Who cares? There are too many of us anyway. What wrong with just killing one? Can moral relativism provide a sufficient reason?

An 18 year old can vote and die for country, but not drink liquor. OOPs, that last one's a bit off.
I find this odd too. Are saying that’s wrong? Gasp!

Whoever agres to the rules should follow the rules. If I move to a community that says I must mow my grass "X" number of times, then I must comply. But my neighbor in the back,outside the community property lines, is not held to the same standard.
My neighbor who lives in X society is required to kill 5 innocent children a week. He agreed to the rules of society X therefore he should follow the rules. My neighbor who is outside my community/society is not held to the same standard of “common sense” I am.

I believe RA only asks others to do as they say they are going to do, as he does what he says he will do. He behaves in a "morally correct" fashion, while observing others who supposedly have subscribed to both the unwritten rules he lives by and an entire subset, yet they frequently disregard their subset and look with disdain upon him. He finds this irksome. I don't blame him.


I don’t blame him either. However I listed the *you must* statements to show he takes it further—beyond moral relativism. The fact that you didn’t address my deductive propositions in the comment section shows that you cannot refute it.

With moral relativism, how can you justify any “you must” statements?It's difficult. Have to go with laws on record, in the society at hand. But that's why we have such thick law books and things like amendments. Society, morality, law, it's all fluid. Like glass. It's just moving so slowly you can't see it.
Laws do not equal morality. There are groups and subgroups in society that are not fluid. Society as a whole is divided and laws books are boring.

I can think of no absolute foul line standard at the moment. The lines have been moving throughout history whether you like it or not. Can't you see how they've moved?


Here is one: Torturing babies for fun is absolutely wrong for all people, all times and all places. this is as clear as 1+1=2.

Just because people/societies have done horrendous act in the past, it doesn’t follow that there are no absolute morals. It’s a Non sequitur.

Something can be wrong for all, but not to all.

If an entire society thought 2+2 was 5 would that mean it equaled 5? No, they had their sum wrong.

Here is what I put on an earlier post about disagreements:
**********
For example, if people disagree about whether or not the earth is round, it is not proof that the earth has no shape. Moral relativism fails to make the vital distinction between our opinions about morality and morality itself. To perform genuine moral thinking and deliver judgment between alternative points of view, one must make distinctions between our opinions about morality and morality itself, or there simply is no such thing as ethical deliberation.
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To further examine the case for disagreement, it should be noted that in most cases, disagreements stem from factual discord, rather than having different morals. For example, in abortion, the pro-life position is that fetuses are full and valuable human beings. There is no doubt, that the pro-choice position holds that it is morally wrong to kill innocent persons. Therefore, we are in total agreement on this moral standard. However, where the disagreement stands, is whether or not the fetus is a person. The abortion debate is a debate about facts, not what is moral and what is not.
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Another clear example of factual dispute, rather than moral dispute is cows in India. Frances Bewitch tells us that many people who live in India do not eat cows because they believe in reincarnation. In their belief, these cows may possess the souls of deceased human beings and ancestors. In the U.S., we do not hold that cows have human souls. For this reason, we eat cows (and their good) — but we do not eat Grandma. It appears on the surface, therefore, that there is a fundamental value difference between Indians and Americans. Beckwith says, “This is a hasty conclusion, however, for both cultures do believe it is wrong to eat Grandma; the Indians, however, believe the cow may be Grandma. Thus it is a factual and not a value difference that divides our culinary habits”
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I would say that disagreement shows that moral relativism is false. Moral relativism asserts that there is no absolute right and wrong; however, in order to have disagreement you actually have to have at least two opposition positions who actually think their right!. Disagreement requires someone to be right and someone to be wrong. 2+2=5 or 2+2=4. Just because we can argue over our sums, it doesn’t follow there is no correct answer.

I disagree that calling foul is useless. That is how laws get changed. That is how minds get changed. That is how a society ends up not being "trapped". Someone has the courage to say, "Hey,,,wait a minute...!"
You can’t have it both ways here. If society determines morality, then where do reformers get their morality? Society cannot be both the standard of morality and not the standard of morality. There can be no such thing as reform without appealing to a standard above society.

See

Some Q&A on Moral Relativism (Part I)

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21 comments | Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In the comment section of Radical Skepticism—and When Moral Rules Don’t Apply, Karen has made some observations and comments that warrant a response:
I couldn't open your toothpaste threads, will try again later. But I disagree on so many points with your Objective Morality thread, it isn't funny.


I see why you would disagree. The post starts at the position of moral objectivity, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect you to (as a moral relativist). However, at least you can get an idea of how I ground morality after discovering its objectivity. The links worked fine for me. Perhaps something is was wrong with blogger as usual. I discuss postmodern thought and moral subjectivity in Toothpaste Ethics Part One and Two. When ever I get the time, I may write more comprehensively on moral relativism specifically.

I guess the main point [of disagreement] would be this one: “If God does not exist, then morality is only a human convention and is ultimately meaningless”.


If you would, don’t just brush that off as rhetoric (no accusations that you were). Just think about this deeply. If morality is a mere convention what will it matter in 1000 years if you are a good person or bad one? Perhaps it matters to you now and those who surround you, but ultimately it will make no difference. If there is no God, then nothing will have ultimate meaning because the universe is on a course for disaster expanding faster and faster and set to ripped to shreds. The key word is *ultimate* here. I wouldn’t deny meaning per se, but rather some higher level of justice that seems consciously intuitive.

But you see, morality IS a human convention. What other species has it?


There are some serious difficulties with making morality a “human convention.” Moreover, several questions arise:

Why should anyone be moral? Why should someone be moral when it conflicts with their own self interest? Are we in someway held accountable for our moral actions? We have laws, but if a perpetrator is not caught, can there be justice?

If Morality is a mere convention, then it is subjective. What is good and evil from the point of subjectivity? Can there be such a thing, or are these concepts just some subjective late century idea? How does an opinion weigh in on factors of morality?

If good and evil are subjective, then no one is really good or evil, because that changes as conventions change, whether socially, or individually. Good and evil change from one person to another from society to society; there is no standard to judge actions of other societies, cultures and times.

If one is trapped in their own society or culture of morality, how can moral progress be distinguished? How can you evaluate social constructs of morality from within that very construct?

God is also a human convention.


I am willing to hear your case on this. I think there are sufficient reasons to believe in the existence of God. However, there are cases where people can create their own deity, so in a sense you’re correct, but I don’t see how you can be conclusive in this. This is more of an assertion than an argument.
Where was god-and I assume you mean your Christian god-when Neanderthal Man was clubbing his neighbor for possession of the good cave?

If morality is mere convention, then there is nothing wrong with clubbing your neighbor. These were the social values of the time right? So, to say these are “wrong” to which is insinuated, is meaningless unless some sort of objective value exists.

The Neanderthal man is a scientific blunder, as many alleged cave men. There are many Piltdown man stories that are depressing.

Violence between two people, cultures, and groups does not mean there is no God. You’re making a statement under the presupposition that if god exists, the earth should be a paradise.

According to Christian theology, people are not robots. Thus, they have free will. Anytime there is a possibility of free will, there is a possibility of wrong doing. Moreover, the Christian world view provides answers to why people are immoral (i.e. the fall).
Morality is hardly meaningless. Some sense of right and wrong provides order amid the chaos.

Morality is not meaningless, but essential. However, if there is no justification for morality where does the meaning come from? Remember, your position is that morality is a convention. Hence, meaning is a mere convention as well.

If morality is a conventional, then why is chaos wrong? If one culture finds itself in chaos, what standard do you appeal to when determining if another culture is wrong for doing so?
(That's probably THE one benefit of religion-that it bends some people to the law who would otherwise would not be bent.)

God is not a crutch for morality, but rather a source. Some recognize the intuitive nature of morality, while others avoid it because it requires a source. The source is still there, but the recognition is not.

What makes it *good* if someone is moral? If *good* is determined by society, then why should I care about what society says?

If society determines what is right and wrong and that society is *correct.* How can one condemn any other society for anything? On what basis should Afghanistan terrorists listen to an appeal to stop blowing themselves and other people up? What standard cana moral relativist appeal to?

If society sets the standard of moral values, then there was nothing wrong with the Aztecs sacrificing humans by cutting there heart out and the sacrifice of hundreds (or even thousands) of children.
Maybe you need some final reckoning, some ultimate accountability, to behave fairly and with goodness in this world, but I and lots of others do not.

From your moral relativist positions, what is your standard of “fair” and “goodness”?

It is not my position that non-believes cannot be moral. Rather, they cannot justify why they *ought* to be moral.

There’s nothing less that I desire than to be held “ultimately accountable” for my actions. A final reckoning is something to be terrified of. There is no one good enough to stand in front of a righteous God and be shameless.
Your assertion that "good" needs no definition, btw, is nonsense,

What I mean is that any descriptive definition of good is circular (insofar as the English language). The synonymous terms and definitions used to define are essentially the same as “good” and hence, tend to be circular.

Since you think that is nonsense, I am open to your definition of good. I am also interested how you ground that definition.
as is your example of poison being evil. Poison is not evil, but dangerous. Used properly, it can be helpful. What's good for /to one person is not to the next. That's why it's RELATIVE.

Poison is relative as a tool. However, if someone maliciously poisons to kill an innocent person, village, or city etc. is it relative? Is it only *sometimes* evil? If someone poisons your food next time you eat out for dinner is only evil in some cases?

Is rape *sometimes* evil and *sometimes* good?

Is killing babies *sometimes* evil and *sometimes* good?

Here is the statement in context:
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I've never realized that something is evil by staring at it under a microscope, nor have I ever used my sense of taste to determine what is evil. (Though I might use my intellect to realize that poison is evil, and use my taste to discover the something is poisoned).
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The utilization of intellect can distinguish between poison as a tool of good or evil. However, my point in context was that animals don’t have the faculties to distinguish the two. Moreover, looking at chemical properties doesn’t establish good and evil, but rather the intellectual and intuitive faculties humans have do. Otherwise you’re just looking at “stuff.”
I may have been noting that things were bad in the past and morals-or laws- have since evolved, changed, grown, adapted to better suit current society as a whole. For instance, abolition of slavery; women's suffrage; child labor laws.

If morals evolve, how can you distinguish good actins from bad ones? In other words, if someone does some horrendous act, how do you know that they are not more evolved and such acts are the product of evolution?

Who’s to say that rape is not the evolving moral standard for our species?
I'm also dumbfounded that Christians teach their young to believe in a god and do not teach them to question it. Am I really distressed by that because it's morally wrong?

You’re failing to distinguish moral language. In your previous statement, it’s clear that you’re using loaded terms like “distressed” to conceal terms like *right* and *wrong.* Otherwise, what do you mean by distressed? Your counter examples show your use of the term in equivocation.
Hitler, I hope, was an aberration. He was not an entire isolated society that had been practicing a set behavior for generations upon generations. Hitler decided to carry out his plan of genocide within a general society which did not agree that it was morally correct to do so, even tough he was able to sway many to agree with him.

So was Hitler *absolutely* wrong? Or is it your subjective opinion he was wrong?
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The general society of Hitler allowed the killing of 11 million people. As a society, were they wrong to allow it? Even if this was not a generation by generation carry over (there would be no one left) the Aztecs did human sacrifice that long. Were they wrong?

The Mongols made huge piles of people after they conquered adverse nations to generate fear and compliance from neighboring nations. Were they wrong?
But you are focusing on transcendent rules. I go by what I, and I believe RA des too, call "rules of thumb. Like Don't kill people, in general. Don't steal. Don't lie. Don't set fire to the bed while someone's in it, etc.

The problem that keeps happening over and over here is that you assert to not kill people, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t start fires etc… However, you never tell why?


If morality is mere convention:

Why should I not kill?
Why should I care about society?
Why should I care about others?
Why should I care about chaos?

WHY SHOULD ANYONE BE MORAL?

If these questions can’t be answered, then why should I take you or any other moral relativist seriously?
We have rules. We just don't answer to a higher power about them.

How do you justify your rules? This is more arbitrary than anything.
Now if you go around saying you DO answer to a higher power and you're therefore "chosen" and will be rewarded at some point and we should be like you and we should allow you to incorporate YOUR subset of rules and your higher power into our everyday lives, we say, "Why should we? You don't even follow your own rules."

1. Distinguish between the rules and who is *supposed* to follow the rules

2. If some says they follow certain rules and don’t follow them, they lose credibility

3. You shouldn’t listen to people who are hypocrites. I keep saying this over and over. The problem is justified the *requirement* that people *ought* to follow the rules from the position of moral relativism.

4. I agree with observations of hypocrisy, and from my worldview I can justify compliance. However, I have yet to see a justification from the position of moral relativism. I’m al ears.
It's like my example of being vegetarian, even though you think I missed the point. Why do you call yourself a vegetarian if you aren't going to EAT like a vegetarian? If you want to be one, fine. Just do it at your own house, and don't eat my steak at mine.

I agree. This is a position I never argued against.
I'm not saying "You must" do anything.

This is the position that I argued against. From my world view, I can justify *ought* statements and *must* statements. In my discussion with RA, he was refereeing to the “you must” and I listed them in the comment section here.

With moral relativism, how can you justify any “you must” statements?
I am saying it's hypocritical to claim one thing and do another.

I have no beef with that.

I am curious though, is there something inherently wrong with being hypocritical (from the relativist perspective)?
You're saying I can't call "foul" because as you see moral relativism, there are no fouls for me. You are mistaken. I just don't need an invisible being shaking its finger at me to get me to toe the line.

Call foul. That’s not an issue with me.

Think about this from your own position for a while:

As a moral relativist, there is no absolute “foul” line. So you can call foul as much as you like, but all one needs to do is move the line and their in bounds. Unless of course, there some absolute foul line standard you can appeal to; otherwise calling foul is useless (in the world of relative morality).

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23 comments | Saturday, April 08, 2006

As a Christian, I ought to act in a certain way, as I am to strive for a Christ like temperament. Everything I do and say represents the Christian faith, and as a good ambassador, I am to represent the values and love by expounded by Jesus Christ. As Christians are to maneuver wisely when interacting with opposing viewpoints, we also challenge bad thinking in accordance to how the bible teaches us to do so.

Atheists are fully aware of our commitment to gentleness and charity and are not afraid to call us out on our own terms of character. When a Christian illustrates hate toward others, the atheist who accurately points it out is correct in his observation. However, does the atheist have any ground to stand on to expect compliance? No.

The “Reluctant Atheist” (RA) has made this observation in his post “Where is the Love, the Love they expound upon?” However, rather than expound the love that Christians ought to in return, he has excluded himself from the principal, because he has not committed himself to any principal as Christians have. What the atheist wants is for the Christians to turn the other Cheek, while they take as many shots and low blows as they want. The only problem is that when an atheist denies the existence of objective moral standards, atheist cannot point out hypocrisy without refuting himself. When he huffs and puffs about Christians not following their moral code, he presuppose a moral code of following your moral code. But this is denied as we will see.

Below, is the dialogue I had with RA that reveals the self refutation of requiring compliance: To better differentiate, RA’s words will be in Orange. You will also note the atheist “harlessmonkey” and his radical skepticism. His words will be in Yellow.

In my first response to his post, I said the following:

RA,While I generally agree with your post, let me make a few comments. 1) Don’t expect Christians to roll over with their tail between their legs every time their challenged 2) Christians are human too, we may have our occasional slips, but so do you and everyone else. 3) There are occasions where calling reprehensible arguments what they are (insert whatever ‘belittling’ comment here) is necessary insofar as they are justified 4) both atheist and theist would do better if they lighten up and develop thicker skin. Also note that as you said “Atheists say they constantly are reduced to stereotypes” and provided a supporting quote. Well, theists are constantly reduces to stereo types too:Quote: It's difficult to have a conversation with a theist, when the automatic assumption is that we're all 'tools of Satan', 'losers', the auto-assumption of 'self-worship', the 'lost soul', 'there are no atheists in foxholes', etc, etc, ad nauseum. So you’re making a stereotype ascription to theists as well.I respect the fact that you want to eliminate the ad homs, but let’s not act as if you (or more often other atheistic blogs) have set the standard of the harmonious exchange of ideas when you bash, belittle, disparage, mock, and ridicule what Christians believe and the Bible ad nauseum (note this especially in comment sections, where dialogue occurs). Don’t get me wrong RA, I’m all for intellectual freedom, and I support your liberty to disagree, reject, and criticize any belief system including Christianity. But if I go through your atheist blog roll and read the posts what will I find? From a Christian perspective, I see Christianity, for lack of better words, shit on. Equally, there are dumb atheists, and there are dumb theists, and there are smart atheists, and there are smart theists, sometimes which ever boat you’re in, you have to call it the way you see it.

On a side note, I see that you like to take the ‘moral high ground.’ I was wondering if you have posted on your system of morality, or are planning on doing so

In response to my comment, RA replies with the following:


BF:While I generally agree with your post, let me make a few comments. 1) Don’t expect Christians to roll over with their tail between their legs every time their challenged

I’d not expect any such thing from anyone. Sounds like a pre-judgment to me. When does ‘turn the other cheek’ ever apply?

2) Christians are human too, we may have our occasional slips, but so do you and everyone else.

Hey, no argument there.

3) There are occasions where calling reprehensible arguments what they are (insert whatever ‘belittling’ comment here) is necessary insofar as they are justified

Fine, then call the argument that, not the person. What qualifies as ‘reprehensible’, then? Genocide and pedophilia are reprehensible: abortion is not. Hatred is reprehensible. Murder is reprehensible.

4) both atheist and theist would do better if they lighten up and develop thicker skin.

Agreed. However: if you walk past a crazy person once, they make threatening, belittling comments, you never see that derelict again, well, easy enough to shrug it off. But you meet that person every day in some way, and this person does it again, and again, and again, until you dread the next day? This is an illustrative example.

Also note that as you said “Atheists say they constantly are reduced to stereotypes” and provided a supporting quote. Well, theists are constantly reduces to stereo types too:Quote: It's difficult to have a conversation with a theist, when the automatic assumption is that we're all 'tools of Satan', 'losers', the auto-assumption of 'self-worship', the 'lost soul', 'there are no atheists in foxholes', etc, etc, ad nauseum. So you’re making a stereotype ascription to theists as well.

In some ways: it’s also a matter of observation. It’s one of the many items that turned me away from the belief systems of religion altogether. Note that I avoided the blanket statement here: there IS an automatic assumption tacked on, for most. Note that I have two xtian friends, so no, not every xtian does this: but enough to make it a pattern.

I respect the fact that you want to eliminate the ad homs, but let’s not act as if you (or more often other atheistic blogs) have set the standard of the harmonious exchange of ideas when you bash, belittle, disparage, mock, and ridicule what Christians believe and the Bible ad nauseum (note this especially in comment sections, where dialogue occurs).

I’m not acting that way at all. I’m pointing out, that most (no, not all) of your side of the debate behaves quite poorly. YOU folks are the ones claiming higher moral ground: act accordingly.Now why do you think that is? Could it be a knee-jerk response, much like the one white folks encounter, when they seem to look at a black person cross-eyed, and the black person wants to beat the snot out of them? Whenever a minority comes of age, whenever a historically silenced group of folks finally find their voice, there’s going to be acrimony, there will always be anger. Let’s face facts: not until the 20th century, has an atheist even had the ability to speak out, or up. Note the L.A riots (blacks): or the Harvey Milk debacle (gays). Face it: your side has had power for far too long, and has abused it. This is the backlash. This is the aftermath of many decades of bottled resentment. I’m not saying it’s right: but when you fling feces and call foul, you spit on a person and not expect the same treatment in kind, well then, good luck changing human nature.

Don’t get me wrong RA, I’m all for intellectual freedom, and I support your liberty to disagree, reject, and criticize any belief system including Christianity. But if I go through your atheist blog roll and read the posts what will I find? From a Christian perspective, I see Christianity, for lack of better words, shit on. Equally, there are dumb atheists, and there are dumb theists, and there are smart atheists, and there are smart theists, sometimes whichever boat you’re in, you have to call it the way you see it.

See commentary above. Y’all made your bed: don’t complain to me if it’s a tad on the lumpy side.



On a side note, I see that you like to take the ‘moral high ground.’ I was wondering if you have posted on your system of morality, or are planning on doing so.

No, you have it all wrong. Again, your side likes to take the ‘moral high ground’. It’s a stumping point, which irritates me to no end, when few enough actually walk the talk. I’m more than willing to forgive the occasional slip, as we are all human, and prone to error. But your side always seems to do it w/a certain amount of glee. Perhaps as mine does. But we don’t have a book of rules to tell us otherwise: YOU DO. Look up the concept of ‘agape’. No referral to tektonics, please: I find Holding’s ‘extenuating circumstances’ a little on the convenient side. As to morality? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Note that that was espoused by JC, Hillel, and Confucius alike, so no accusations of ‘borrowing’, please. The Golden Rule suits me just fine. Read the post ‘Ahimsa’: I believe that fits it all very well. I don’t need a novel-length explanation of what I do, and why I do it. "Whoever imagines himself a favorite with God, holds otherpeople in contempt."Whenever a man believes that he has the exact truth from God,there is in that man no spirit of compromise. He has not themodesty born of the imperfections of human nature; he has thearrogance of theological certainty and the tyranny born of ignorantassurance. Believing himself to be the slave of God, he imitateshis master, and of all tyrants, the worst is a slave in power."-Ingersoll, Some Reasons Why
11:58 PM, April 05, 2006



By way of reply, I said:

RA,I said I agreed with your post in general. I think that ad homs are an impediment to fruitful discussion. Now, regarding the “Christian Moral Code”: Christianity doesn’t teach that Christians are morally superior to non-Christians. It does teach, however, that Christians ought to advance moral ethical behavior (this is where we agree). However, the Bible also (since you brought it up) advances the periodic mocking to the opposing view point (1 Kings 18:27), and calls non-Christians foolish (1 Cor. 1:20) and fools (Rom 1:22) and corrupt (Psalm 14:1). The Bible also calls unbelievers wicked. And the passages you posted are misused. It seems that you want the Christians to be the wishy washy doormat that any atheist gets to walk all over because they don’t have a “book of rules” and theists do. While acrimony is justified for the atheist due to centuries of oppression (even when they have never personally experiences this historical oppression-if there was such), and the theist gets to respond with a cheesy smile while everything they believe to be sacred, holy, and personal gets shit on. This is more like the fallacy of self exclusion. How would you like it if someone slandered and spat in your mothers face (or someone close to you)? Well, imagine that feeling. I think that many Christians have done well—some not. I’m not arguing that you are completely unjustified; your frustrations are certainly warranted. You do however make some pretty strong moral claims:

"I find the vast (no hyperbole) majority of apologists to be egocentric, sophistic, spiteful malcontents, w/far too much time on their hands and convinced of their moral superiority"

Your “Ahimsa” post blurs some distinctions (well, take into consideration I’m on my first cup of coffee). So maybe you can answer this question so I can better understand where your coming from: The golden rule is catchy, but, according to your moral system are you saying this is wrong because it IS wrong? Or, Is it wrong because you SAY it’s wrong? Contrary to what you may (or may not) think, the golden one liner doesn’t answer the question (or “Ahimsa”).

8:29 AM, April 06, 2006

Another atheist who fittingly goes by hairlessmonkey likes to give his two cents.


bf said:"Christianity doesn’t teach that Christians are morally superior to non-Christians."Huh?What?Come again?Did I hear your lunacy right?Then why is the god of the bible so adamant that none may be worshipped but he?And why does he, by the proxy of his followers, wage war upon those who feel/think/live differenlty?Yeah, riddle me this...
10:34 AM, April 06, 2006



RA Follows up:


Now, regarding the “Christian Moral Code”: Christianity doesn’t teach that Christians are morally superior to non-Christians. It does teach, however, that Christians ought to advance moral ethical behavior (this is where we agree). However, the Bible also (since you brought it up) advances the periodic mocking to the opposing view point (1 Kings 18:27), and calls non-Christians foolish (1 Cor. 1:20) and fools (Rom 1:22) and corrupt (Psalm 14:1). The Bible also calls unbelievers wicked. And the passages you posted are misused.

Okay, so Kings, Elijah's mocking the prophets of Baal. Psalm 14:1 (don't even need to look that up) says that only a fool says there's no god.1 Corinthians 1:20 (King James Version)King James Version (KJV)20 - Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?&22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,Sorry, but nowhere in any of those do I see a license for xtians to resort to mockery. I believe the phrase here, is 'cherry-picking'. & if you'd be so kind, show me how the passages I quoted were misused.

It seems that you want the Christians to be the wishy washy doormat that any atheist gets to walk all over because they don’t have a “book of rules” and theists do. While acrimony is justified for the atheist due to centuries of oppression (even when they have never personally experiences this historical oppression-if there was such), and the theist gets to respond with a cheesy smile while everything they believe to be sacred, holy, and personal gets shit on. This is more like the fallacy of self exclusion. How would you like it if someone slandered and spat in your mothers face (or someone close to you)? Well, imagine that feeling. I think that many Christians have done well—some not. I’m not arguing that you are completely unjustified; your frustrations are certainly warranted.

I would not expect any human being to subject themselves to having a welcome mat on their backs, thank you very much. As to being passionate about something sacred - I take your point. Freedom is my sacred cow, and the bill of rights, so understood.

You do however make some pretty strong moral claims:"I find the vast (no hyperbole) majority of apologists to be egocentric, sophistic, spiteful malcontents, w/far too much time on their hands and convinced of their moral superiority"

You realize, of course, that this can also be an honest assessment of the matter? If you read more of my posts, you'll probably find that I'm something of a hard ass. Atheist or theist. I am on record as having gone rounds w/more than 1 atheist. So if I see something wrong, I'm gonna say so. I don't care who you are, what you believe, if I think an opinion's a crock, or I find a commentary that I personally think is reprehensible, you (or the person who said it) is going to hear it. If the Shrub was an atheist, I'd STILL say he's an incompetent boob. Read my post, 'When Atheists attack!'. I'm big on rules. You agree to the rules, you play by them. I agree to them, so do I. If this makes me unpopular w/my fellow atheists, well, I could give a rat's fart in a whirlwind. If no 1 says anything, silence is taken as assent. To paraphrase John Adams, "Facts are those pesky critters that don't go away."

Your “Ahimsa” post blurs some distinctions (well, take into consideration I’m on my first cup of coffee). So maybe you can answer this question so I can better understand where your coming from:
The golden rule is catchy, but, according to your moral system are you saying this is wrong because it IS wrong? Or, Is it wrong because you SAY it’s wrong?Contrary to what you may (or may not) think, the golden one liner doesn’t answer the question (or “Ahimsa”).

Don't harm others: what else is there to say? Fair & equal treatment, what you expect for yourself, you should give to others. It IS that simple. Empathy. The 'golden 1 liner'? Is that...perchance mockery I hear? ;) Go ahead & re-read it (after the 3rd or 4th cup). I'm curious as to how I blurred the distinctions.
11:17 AM, April 06, 2006



My reply

Monkey,I am just as much as a loser as anyone else (believer or non-believer). I make mistakes, sometimes dumb and immoral ones. There are many non-Christians (read: Gandhi) who have exemplified superior moral conduct than many Christians. So, when I said that Christianity does not teach that Christens are morally superior, it was a correct statement. As I stated before, Christianity does teach that Christians *ought* to be moral, because it’s what God wants and we now have the assistance of the Holy Spirit.I suppose if I accused you of “lunacy” I would be charge with the immoral tendencies to “harangue, harass, belittle, and otherwise behave like children who have been poorly toilet trained.” But I guess “Fair & equal treatment, what you expect for yourself, you should give to others” doesn’t apply if it comes from an atheist.

“Why is the god of the bible so adamant that none may be worshipped but he?”

Because according to the Bible, he is the only true God and a jealous one at that.

“And why does he, by the proxy of his followers, wage war upon those who feel/think/live differenlty?”

He doesn’t

RA, I never said that the passages were a license for mockery. I pointed out that in contrast, the Bible says that unbelievers are fools, wicked etc… and if the Bible teaches it, we are justified articulate biblical expressions and teachings insofar as it’s used in context of how it was used in the Bible. I’m a little more gracious theist, but read this article and it will give the root of what I’m talking about. In regards to Ahimsa, I think you failed to address the following: you did not define evil. Is it your opinion? What is the standard to which you measure it? Where does the standard come from? If it’s your own personal convention why should anyone accept your definition? Does your subjective opinion apply to anyone else? Can you force your morality on anyone? Why? Why not? The golden 1 liner is not mockery, it just doesn’t answer the essential questions, and it’s a cop out. I like how you dodged my question:According to your moral system are you saying this is wrong because it IS wrong? Or, Is it wrong because you SAY it’s wrong?
1:04 PM, April 06, 2006

RA comes back with another retort:


BF:I never said that the passages were a license for mockery. I pointed out that in contrast, the Bible says that unbelievers are fools, wicked etc… and if the Bible teaches it, we are justified articulate biblical expressions and teachings insofar as it’s used in context of how it was used in the Bible. I’m a little more gracious theist, but read this article and it will give the root of what I’m talking about.

Thanks for the article. It was most amusing. I consider that complete sophistry, BTW. Cherry-picking. That's EXACTLY what that article claimed: license for mockery.

In regards to Ahimsa, I think you failed to address the following: you did not define evil. Is it your opinion? What is the standard to which you measure it? Where does the standard come from? If it’s your own personal convention why should anyone accept your definition? Does your subjective opinion apply to anyone else? Can you force your morality on anyone? Why? Why not? The golden 1 liner is not mockery, it just doesn’t answer the essential questions, and it’s a cop out.

Evil=harm. In word or deed. No, I didn't fail to address it at all. No, the 'golden 1 liner' does answer the question, stop poisoning the well.

I like how you dodged my question:According to your moral system are you saying this is wrong because it IS wrong? Or, Is it wrong because you SAY it’s wrong?

Oh, this old dodge. I could see this coming a mile away. Standard talking point. If I say it's wrong because it is, then we have the same old discussion about 'objective morality'. If I say it's because I say so, then it's self-worship.It's wrong because it is. Causing pain is wrong.
10:13 PM, April 06, 2006




I suppose if I accused you of “lunacy” I would be charge with the immoral tendencies to “harangue, harass, belittle, and otherwise behave like children who have been poorly toilet trained.” But I guess “Fair & equal treatment, what you expect for yourself, you should give to others” doesn’t apply if it comes from an atheist.

Listen:A. I didn't call them immoral, I called them hypocritical.B. "As you sow, so shall you reap."Oh, wait: I misused that quote (somehow).Never mind.
10:18 PM, April 06, 2006



Hairlessmonkey given his best:


And so we come back to this,as always:

"Because according to the Bible, he is the only true God and a jealous one at that. "

But since there's no reason to believe (other than -wanting to-)that the bible is the infallible word of said god...well, we just tumble down into the abyss of circular logic.




Monkey, You asked me the question, so I answered. I see that no matter what response I would have given would be insufficient. So why did you ask? Interacting with you, since you auto-reject everything that I say without benefit of argument, is waste of time. Anyone can make assertions, atheist, theist, whatever…, but if you want to claim the intellectual high ground at least back it up.
10:22 AM, April 07, 2006

[This is where the radical skepticism becomes obvious—the Monkey could care less if there is evidence for God/Christianity; he doesn’t want to believe and he doesn’t have to]

So he shows his true colors, again, and again…


Bf.All I asked... hell, all I EVER WILL ask, is that you prove the infallibility of the book you get your morals from.Sorry.. I know that's a tall order.But don't give me your bitchy little, "Well, so are you!",- argument.
11:06 AM, April 07, 2006

It really is very easy.It is incumbent upon those who make extraordinary claims to prove such proclamations.In other words,prove not only that god exists,but that he/she/it conforms to your interpretation of the "rules".If you can manage THAT,THEN I might consider your outpourings as more than mouthiness.
11:11 AM, April 07, 2006



The monkey says:


“But don't give me your bitchy little, "Well, so are you!",- argument. If you can manage THAT, THEN I might consider your outpourings as more than mouthiness.”This must be the empathy RA was talking about.
11:55 AM, April 07, 2006



What kind of evidence would count as proof?


bf.Evidence of the bible's veracity for one.And don't dump a few linksfrom Dembski, Tectonics or, worse,Fall-Down-The-Well.We're not children here.We've been through this before.We'll need actual facts...you know, the kind that allowed man to walk on the moon...not the kind that condemned people for saying the earth had a roundish shape.Another thing would be proving the existence of god...pick a god, any god.In essence, my antagonistic toneaside, why believe when there's absolutely nothing to support it?
2:34 PM, April 07, 2006





Out of your entire rant, you still didn’t answer my question.What kind of evidence would count as proof? In other words, what would you consider as proof?
2:38 PM, April 07, 2006

And again he gives it his best shot:


Plus:"This must be the empathy RA was talking about."Wow. There's that bitchiness again.You want my empathy?Then don't act like a jilted lover,when all I do is ask obviously needed questions, okay?And remove the stick while you're at it, and have a seat.There's a chair here for youand we do value your input.So quit with the petulant facade,sit down and expound.
2:39 PM, April 07, 2006



Is it possible that your criterion for evidence is not reasonable? Even if God appeared before you, would you believe he existed or would you consider it a hallucination of some sort or a trick played on you? How would you know? Skeptics like yourself will always succeed at being a skeptic. Your request is predicated on the assumption that a theistic argument is unsound unless it can meet some apodictic standard of proof. Thus, I’ll pass on your request, because it would never meet your satisfaction.
4:03 PM, April 07, 2006

[As you will see, at least I make good comedy for the atheist]



You do make comedy easy:

"Even if God appeared before you, would you believe he existed or would you consider it a hallucination of some sort or a trick played on you? How would you know? "

Uh... I suppose that ifhe's all-powerful and omnipotentI'd not have a choice.I'd be convinced by the veryfact that I couldn't choose NOT to.

"Thus, I’ll pass on your request, because it would never meet your satisfaction. "

Translated to human-language:"I have no real argument,so I must run".Bye, buddy.Do drop in again.
4:34 PM, April 07, 2006


[For an atheist who flaunts their high moral code, we start to see the double standard—the fallacy of self exclusion. It’s a maneuver called Christians are hippocrates but I’m not]

Here is where RA give's me the you have to be good, but I don’t argument:


BF:This must be the empathy RA was talking about.

Well, at the risk of 'siding' w/HMDK, you HAVE been making the effort to turn the tables on the skeptics in that regard. I've been making the effort to remain civil, but I keep hearing, "What about you?" every time a criticism is voiced.Such as:

But I guess “Fair & equal treatment, what you expect for yourself, you should give to others” doesn’t apply if it comes from an atheist.

Or:

You do however make some pretty strong moral claims:

or:

On a side note, I see that you like to take the ‘moral high ground.’

While normally I consider turnabout fair play, I find the 'Jerry Springer' apologist (no, not you, though you're starting to lean towards it) particularly obnoxious.What I see is an effort to make the other side bend to your rules (a bootless effort: each atheist plays by their own rules, there really IS no set standard). I am all for spirited debate. But unless a set of rules is agreed upon in advance, it's pretty much free-style, isn't it?I feel obliged to point these things out. If I saw a Buddhist who claimed to be a pacifist starting fights all the time, well, you get my drift. I do strive for some kind of standard, though I fumble, as any human does. I find this statement telling:

I am just as much as a loser as anyone else (believer or non-believer).

Perhaps I'm taking this out of context, but this says so much to me.I feel:A. Loser isn't a person, it's a mindsetB. This reeks of original sin& there we have another divide. OS (original sin) is perhaps 1 of the more unbelievable doctrines of xtianity. I find that reprehensible. It stunts the mental potential of every human being that believes it. I find it loathsome: that humanity is some thalidomide baby, purposely stunted by its maker upon existed. What kind, loving being would wish that upon its offspring? & for the sin of the father? I call it cruel: I call it inhumane, I call it many things. & washing 1's sins away in the blood of another, no matter the name? I'm sorry, but that smacks of savagery. In this, I DO take the higher ground. Moral, intellectual, whatever you choose to call it.
As to this:

both atheist and theist would do better if they lighten up and develop thicker skin.

Well, there is a way to do this.Turn the other cheek.Live by your own rules, is my advice. Set an example. & I give you this:"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (First Epistle to the Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 4-8a)"I do not need to abide by these rules, as I've not agreed to them. It is you & yours that lay claim to the higher ground. Justify & represent: that's all I ask. That, & honesty. Make of that what you will.
5:54 PM, April 07, 2006




RA,Let’s take this to its logic conclusion: If “there really IS no set standard,” then there is no standard to which others must follow their own standard. In other words, there are no rules that one *ought* to follow their own rules.
6:43 PM, April 07, 2006



BF:If “there really IS no set standard,” then there is no standard to which others must follow their own standard. In other words, there are no rules that one *ought* to follow their own rules.

I did say this (in its entirety):What I see is an effort to make the other side bend to your rules (a bootless effort: each atheist plays by their own rules, there really IS no set standard).Yes, let's do this. The rules are set by 2 items: the individual's upbringing, and the environment set around the individual. I was talking about debate, failed to qualify, & so we'll talk in circles a bit. My standard is...well, I've given it to you. This was formed by a # of negative experiences as a child, which makes 1 either A. Totally numb, orB. Empathic, or C. SociopathicI went w/B.
Now this:

In other words, there are no rules that one *ought* to follow their own rules.

You have consciously chosen to follow a specific set of parameters, in accordance w/the agreement of your specific clique/herd/choose noun of your choice.In order for any individual in a pack environment to exist w/said pack, there is obviously select patterns to maintain. This is observable in humanity, in nature, w/any living organism (sans the loner animal).There are indeed set social mores, that we're obliged to follow. Set at the core of these, is empathy. If an animal sets itself against the pack, more often than not, that animal is outcast, or destroyed. In your pack, the parameters were set 2000 years ago, by an alpha wolf. Apparently, said parameters were almost impossible to follow. Whereas, in my pack, we have set ourselves outside the majority, ergo, in a manner of speaking, there's a certain amount of isolation. Hence the anger, the frustration. So if you're trying to set up some strawman attack (& if I'm off on this, apologies), that's not going to fly. I still have YET to hear about my misuse of scripture quotation. Oh, & this:

Even if God appeared before you, would you believe he existed or would you consider it a hallucination of some sort or a trick played on you? How would you know?

Perhaps the better question, would be: how would you know yourself? What is your criterion? I'm genuinely curious. Have you had such a thing occur?
11:36 PM, April 07, 2006



RA,
You said:

You have consciously chosen to follow a specific set of parameters, in accordance w/the agreement of your specific clique/herd/choose noun of your choice.

Agreed, but my specific set of parameters qualifies me to its adherence. Someone without any specific set of parameters (Read: rules) has no specific set of parameters (rules) to require those who have chosen to adhere to a certain specific set of parameters to actually adhere to them. It’s not as if just because one has consciously chosen to follow a specific set of parameters, one *ought* to follow those parameters. What if there was a group who’s specific set of parameters was to murder atheists? Would you require them to follow those parameters? I think not (neither would, but actually oppose it). It’s not just about having parameters (or rules), we must be able to appeal to a standard to judge whether or not those rules *ought* to be followed. Hence, if you deny objective standards, you disqualify your own standard of requiring others to hold to their own standard. It’s self refuting.

In order for any individual in a pack environment to exist w/said pack, there is obviously select patterns to maintain. This is observable in humanity, in nature, w/any living organism (sans the loner animal).

According to this, only that “pack” that holds to these values can enforce them. If you have two different “packs,” with two different sets of “pack” values, one “pack” cannot force it’s own values on another “pack.” If it can, then were talking about might makes right and whomsoever can overpower, will be in the right.

There are indeed set social mores, that we're obliged to follow.

And if the standard of society is racism are we obligated to follow? Was Martin Luther King going against his obligation to follow the ‘social mores’? According to this standard, there can never be moral reform in a society, and people in social mores like Nazi Germany were “obligated to follow.”

Set at the core of these, is empathy.

First you say that there is no standard, and then you say that empathy is the standard. Which is it? If empathy is something that everyone *ought* to follow then it is and objective moral standard. If it is an objective moral standard, where does it come from? If empathy objective moral standard, then there no necessary requirement for anyone to follow it.

an animal sets itself against the pack, more often than not, that animal is outcast, or destroyed.

Yes, but if your not in the pack, you don’t get to kick out pack members.

In your pack, the parameters were set 2000 years ago, by an alpha wolf. Apparently, said parameters were almost impossible to follow. Whereas, in my pack, we have set ourselves outside the majority, ergo, in a manner of speaking, there's a certain amount of isolation. Hence the anger, the frustration. So if you're trying to set up some strawman attack (& if I'm off on this, apologies), that's not going to fly.

I am really not tying to set up a straw man. What I am doing is showing where your position logically follows. If you want to show that it’s not where your position logically follows, I’m all ears.

Perhaps the better question, would be: how would you know yourself? What is your criterion? I'm genuinely curious. Have you had such a thing occur?

I don’t know that this is a better question per se; noting that I asked this question in response to monkeys request to “Show me god.” But since it seems that you genuinely asked the question I will do my best to answer. I have not had such things occur. While we don’t have infallible cognition, in my Christian worldview, I would use my faculties as I do any other. Most importantly, I would test the experience with it’s consistence with what God has already revealed in his Word. This is not to say that I could prove God came before me to any one; I can only know that I had an experience. This is why when monkey said to show him God, I knew even that would not suffice. I was not using experience as an argument (not that you were insinuating), rather as an example that no matter what is presented (it seems) — he would not believe—even with an experience. Though, experience is a positive form of evidence; inexperience is neutral on the existence of the object in question. There is a difference between artificial, make-believe skepticism and genuine doubt. I have no problems when people challenging certain claims—they ought to, but skeptics can always be successful at being a skeptic no matter what is presented before them.
1:12 PM, April 08, 2006

The Wall goes up and never comes down:


BF:



Agreed, but my specific set of parameters qualifies me to its adherence. Someone without any specific set of parameters (Read: rules) has no specific set of parameters (rules) to require those who have chosen to adhere to a certain specific set of parameters to actually adhere to them.

So this is your roundabout way of saying, "You can't criticize me?" Nu-UH. Obviously, I have a set of parameters to follow: otherwise, you'd be reading about me in the newspapers, or seeing me on an episode of 'Cops'.

Hence, if you deny objective standards, you disqualify your own standard of requiring others to hold to their own standard. It’s self refuting.

No way, no dice. Nice try. No such thing as 'objective standards'.

It’s not as if just because one has consciously chosen to follow a specific set of parameters, one *ought* to follow those parameters. What if there was a group who’s specific set of parameters was to murder atheists? Would you require them to follow those parameters? I think not (neither would I, but actually oppose it). It’s not just about having parameters (or rules), we must be able to appeal to a standard to judge whether or not those rules *ought* to be followed.

'Do unto others...', see, it still applies. I'm really making an effort here not to resort to 'appeal to ridicule', or the ad hominem: your 'murdering atheist' analogy almost opens up a whole can of worms.

According to this, only that “pack” that holds to these values can enforce them. If you have two different “packs,” with two different sets of “pack” values, one “pack” cannot force it’s own values on another “pack.” If it can, then were talking about might makes right and whomsoever can overpower, will be in the right.

Which is historically verifiable.

And if the standard of society is racism are we obligated to follow? Was Martin Luther King going against his obligation to follow the ‘social mores’? According to this standard, there can never be moral reform in a society, and people in social mores like Nazi Germany were “obligated to follow.”

Again, sadly, historically verifiable. File under 'moral relativism'. However, social mores change, and they DO evolve. There will always be problems, ironed out in time, but evolution gives us the ability to move forward. It takes one mutation, whether that's in the social meme, or in the act of speciation, to change the flow of life.

Yes, but if your not in the pack, you don’t get to kick out pack members.

I'm not in a position to kick anyone out. Honesty impels me to point it out.

I have no problems when people challenging certain claims—they ought to, but skeptics can always be successful at being a skeptic no matter what is presented before them.

Not a cheap shot, but the same claim can be made for religious folk.

Thus far, your successful adoption of my simile sways me not in the slightest. It's simplistic reductionism. As a pack animal, we as a species have evolved a far more intricate, complex set of interactions that (dare I say it? YES!) transcend the simpler format that you've presented. If we were talking about dogs, all of your examples would be correct. But we are talking about a creature w/approx. a billion (guesstimate) separate mechanisms used to interact w/other creatures of the same species. To pare those down to just 1 core ingredient? I'm going to have to go w/empathy. There may be a couple of more.Ingersoll moment - "'Thou shalt not kill' is as old as time itself, as most men object to being killed."& so, regardless of whatever Gordian knots of logic you use, I will, to borrow a metaphor, cut them w/my blade. I haven't named the bloody thing yet. How goes fatherhood, BTW?
2:41 PM, April 08, 2006



RA, Fatherhood is tiring, but magnificent; thanks for asking. I see you’re taking Alexander’s sword to cut through “Gordian Knots.” Well that’s fine, if you refuse take your view to its logical conclusion, then you only proved my point about skepticism. Otherwise, feel free to show how my argument is logically false. I am going to be posting our dialogue on my blog. Don’t be flattered, it’s not that you’re so “fascinating”, but I did spend more than 2 ½ minutes on it so…you can pull your rational card out there if you like.
____
Update:

BF:
Well that’s fine, if you refuse take your view to its logical conclusion, then you only proved my point about skepticism.

I'm sorry, how is that? Likewise:
Someone without any specific set of parameters (Read: rules) has no specific set of parameters (rules) to require those who have chosen to adhere to a certain specific set of parameters to actually adhere to them.
You know, I was actually looking for some honesty. You've shown some. Then you hide behind an article that echoes an old essay of Holding's (see, if they're really AWFUL people, we get to say whatever we want about them!), then you want to quibble on the concepts of standards (another old dodge), & my only error isn't handing you a 500 word essay which you won't agree w/anyways. So in short, you've achieved very little, outside a post on your blog. Except validating your methodology for yourself in a vast labyrinth of sophistry.To quote Merv Pumpkinhead, "I ain't afraid to call a spade a goddam shovel."No offense: I gotta call 'em the way I see 'em.


RA
I think you missed my point. I am not justifying inappropriate personal attacks for myself or anyone else. I told you I agreed with you on that point. I don’t want to push the issue. You can make an observation that someone is not following their code. However, you CANT tell them to follow their own code while rejecting an objective standard without refuting yourself. In effect, you’re saying there are no “codes.” Then you say, you must follow your code. If you *must* follow your code then there is an objective standard; you refute yourself. I think the distinction is between identifying hypocrisy vs. requiring adherence. You can do the former, but you run into problems with your own philosophy when you do the later. That’s all. Anyway, I don’t want to think of our exchange as just another post for me, rather for something we should both think about. Thanks for the dialogue

BF:
I think the distinction is between identifying hypocrisy vs. requiring adherence. You can do the former, but you run into problems with your own philosophy when you do the later.
I'm sorry, I did understand your point...but it does indeed sound very much like, "Well, you're not 1 of us, so therefore, you don't get to criticize."I don't require adherence from anyone: I require adherence from myself, in re: my own code.Sadly, I hope that others look in a mirror, & are honest. I try to be self-aware (agonizingly so), but perhaps it's just naivete, that I expect others to do the same. But I don't need to be an Emperor to say: "The Emperor has no clothes."


It’s not a your not a Christian; therefore, you can’t criticize Christians (or anyone for that matter) type of argument. It’s a: you’re a moral relativist; therefore, you forfeited your right to say that others *ought* to do ANYTHING argument. Simple.

You don’t need to be an Emperor to see that he has no clothes, but you can’t tell the Emperor to get his clothes on because you have no authority; you gave it up when you declared moral relativism.

Which goes to show: The Atheist has no clothes on

I think I can sum our conversation in one sentence: All the truth in the world will not persuade a closed mind.
------------------
Even though we didn’t get much head way, I want to thank RA for continuing the dialogue with me.

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