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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:
****
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).
****
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?
.
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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21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

bf
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.
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.
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?

Why should anyone be moral?
To propel the idea that others too, should be moral. Instinct for survival.
Why should someone be moral when it conflicts with their own self interest? Coformity to general rules of society, instinct for survival.
Are we in someway held accountable for our moral actions?
If we are caught, sometimes. by conscience sometimes.
We have laws, but if a perpetrator is not caught, can there be justice?No. Sad, but true. System isn't perfect. I know this personally.

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.
Exactly. If another society spends all of its time completely naked, can they say we are wrong to need to be clothed?

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?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.

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.

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.
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.
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.
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. Because if we kill everyone, the species doesn't survive.
What makes it *good* if someone is moral? If *good* is determined by society, then why should I care about what society says? 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 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?
One can't really, say another society is wrong.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.
What standard? Treat others as you would like to be treated.
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.

From your moral relativist positions, what is your standard of “fair” and “goodness”? Again, treat others as you would like to be treated. Pretty simple.

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

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. 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?

Since you think that is nonsense, I am open to your definition of good. I am also interested how you ground that definition.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.

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?
Poison itself is still only the tool.
The act of using poison to harm or kill innocents could be called an act of evil, or malicious intent, wanton or reckless harm.

Is rape *sometimes* evil and *sometimes* good? Rape infers an act against someone's will, or without permission, so it would be wrong.

Is killing babies *sometimes* evil and *sometimes* good? Case-bycase basis. Smashing a newborn's head against a rock would be wrong. It is an innocent life being taken away. 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.
Taking life of any kind is not "good", but can make more sense than allowing life.

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.”
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.


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?

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

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.

And speaking of rape and other horrendous acts, if I may get personal for a moment, I was the victim of such, many times as a child. The rapist was my grandfather, who others thought to be a very good and moral man, a pillar of his community. To me, he was evil. But was he really? Perhaps he was simply sick; one of those individuals whose switches weren't all flipped properly. Perhaps he was treating me as he'd been treated by someone. I'm sure you'd say that as a moral relativist, I can't say his actions toward me were wrong.
I can say that they certainly felt wrong, and some things he said to me indicated that they were wrong even to him.
So in the case of rape, and torture, having experienced it personally, I can attest that they are not pleasant nor wanted, and therefore not "good" to inflict on others.

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.*
You were the one who said I was "not dumbfounded, but distressed" about the other example I had given. I was just carrying that a step further.

So was Hitler *absolutely* wrong? Or is it your subjective opinion he was wrong?
It is my subjective opinion that Hitler was wrong.
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?
My subjective opinion is the general society around Hitler was wrong, and weak, and scared.
I already spoke to the Aztecs.

The Mongols made huge piles of people after they conquered adverse nations to generate fear and compliance from neighboring nations. Were they wrong? As far as accomplishing their goals, no.

What about the Christians and all those they killed during the inquisition? What about the witch trials? Were they wrong?

What aout God killing the first-born male of every household? Was he wrong?

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?
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. Even if they are not going to hold by those principles, I still will, because life is just so much simpler if I do. If I tell a lie, I have to keep track of it and possibly tell more lies to cover for it. If I steal, I can't complain if soeone steals from me. 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.



If morality is mere convention:

Why should I not kill?
to not be killed
Why should I care about society?
it makes the rules
Why should I care about others?
to in turn be cared about
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.

WHY SHOULD ANYONE BE MORAL?
To survive and thrive. You catch more flies with honey.

If these questions can’t be answered, then why should I take you or any other moral relativist seriously?
I answered them.
Now, if you can't prove your god exists, why should I take you seriously?


How do you justify your rules? This is more arbitrary than anything
Common sense, mostly.
The speed limit's faster on highways that have longer, less radical crves and are away from populated areas.
You shouldn't kill a person because s/he is of our species.
An 18 year old can vote and die for country, but not drink liquor.
OOPs, that last one's a bit off.


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

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

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.
Has this helped at all?

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.
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.

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.

I am curious though, is there something inherently wrong with being hypocritical (from the relativist perspective)?
Inherently? Not sure about that. Is there another way you could ask that?

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).
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? See *amendments*, for starters. 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...!"




BTW, I DID finally get the Toothpaste posts to open. Must have been a blog problem.

Enjoying the discussion.
You're wearing out my fingers! :)
and my brain!
karen

4/20/2006 12:38 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi, BF
This statement you made hits the mark and then some.
From your moral relativist positions, what is your standard of “fair” and “goodness”?

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


This is the inevitable flip-side to their worldview.

Another thing. In last week's Bible Study we taught about Joseph's refusal to sleep with Potiphar's wife (Gen. 39). He refused saying it would be a "sin against God". By seeing it that way Joseph was not leaving himself any room for making excuses that would allow such an action. He closed the door to sin, unless he could be foolish enough to offend God knowingly.

By ignoring God, the moral relativist is leaving themselves some temporal excuse mechanism. But the benefit is an illusion, because the door left open for them to get OUT of accountability is also the door that any evil CAN GET IN.

Therefore, they can't justify why they OUGHT to be moral, and they can't justify why anyone else ought to be moral either. Their panacea is instead a Pandora's box.


Karen, did you mean this?

Why should I not kill?
to not be killed

Do murderers kill in self-defense?

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

This makes no sense unless you end it "to in turn be cared about BY GOD". There are people I've cared about for a dozen years and they still could care less about me. If it weren't for God in my life I would have given up on them ages ago.

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.
Sets of rules do NOT limit chaos. The Soviet Union collapsed faster than a Special Olympics cheerleader pyramid and it had more rules than God does. Communism always fails because it is based on a kind of human being that never existed. The Bible version of mankind is spot on and meets us where we are, with all our warts and vain reasoning. Then it shows us how to get to the next level.

WHY SHOULD ANYONE BE MORAL?
To survive and thrive. You catch more flies with honey.

Now I'm curious, do you own a small business? If not, I wouldn't suggest you open one just yet. You might find the taxman swiping the chair out from under you, employees picking your pocket as you fall, and customers stealing your decorations before you hit the floor. As Clint Eastwood would say, "Honey ain't got nothin' to do with it."

But thank God God is good.
Only God is good.

All in all, a very good discussion.

4/20/2006 5:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim
Did you by any chance graduate from Baldwin HS in 1973? I went to school with a Jim Jordan.

Do murderers kill in self-defense?
No, but they are saying it's OK to give them the death penalty if that's what their society calls for.

This makes no sense unless you end it "to in turn be cared about BY GOD". There are people I've cared about for a dozen years and they still could care less about me. If it weren't for God in my life I would have given up on them ages ago.
Perhaps you should examine how you are really treating these people and what your expectation of their "caring" for you in return are. It's not necessarily reciprocal. Are they complying with society's rules in dealing with you? If you treat someone with kindness, they are more likely to be responsive in a positive way. Some you may have to work at more than others because of the baggage they carry. It's not an instant soup deal.

Sets of rules do NOT limit chaos.
Oh really? Well, then...let's throw out the law books and the constitution, dismantle the courts and open the jails.

The Soviet Union collapsed faster than a Special Olympics cheerleader pyramid
OUCH! What a mean, un-christain thing to say. No wonder some of those people still don't care about you. Maybe you ought to take a good hard look at yourself.

Now I'm curious, do you own a small business?Heheh! No--you're right on that one---I'd be giving away the store!

By ignoring God, the moral relativist is leaving themselves some temporal excuse mechanism.
How can I ignore something that doesn't exist? Show me it exists and I'll pay attention to it.

karen

4/21/2006 7:09 AM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi Karen
I didn't attend Baldwin HS. The truth is my parents weren't very creative when it came to naming me.

Point #1
Your death penalty statement is a good argument. However, the punishment should not distract us from the crime, that of taking a human life. In Genesis there is an allowance by God for capital punishment for those who take the lives from others. Capital punishment may be ugly but it also shows a society that is serious about life.

Point #2
Love your neighbor IS an instant soup deal. I feel immediately rewarded when I do a good deed. Love God, love your neighbor are the two most important commands. When we get out of our own way and love others, we are blessed with happiness and wisdom.

I was debating whether to leave the Special Olympics joke in there. Anytime I make a joke to an atheist I am always rebuked for being "un-Christian". This begs the obvious question "what is Christian to you?" Us Christians have a sense of humor. I volunteered as a chaperon for the Special Olympics for a few years in a row. I have funnier stories than that.

Gotta go. I will respond to your other points in a few hours.
Take care

4/21/2006 8:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jim
In Genesis there is an allowance by God for capital punishment for those who take the lives from others.
Yet god can kill willy-nilly, entire towns and innocents, because he's got a bug up his ass, and you say, "Well, it was God's will. God is good." Man does something, you go "AAACCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!"
God does ten times worse: SHRUG.

Uh-huh.

Love your neighbor IS an instant soup deal. I feel immediately rewarded when I do a good deed.
Cool. But that doesn't mean your neighbor is instantly going to love you back in a reciprocal manner. Chances are better than if you were snarly to him, however.
Love God, love your neighbor are the two most important commands. When we get out of our own way and love others, we are blessed with happiness and wisdom.
Fine, I just leave out the first part.
I like the Joan Osborne song, "What if God was one of us?" If god existed, he could at any time be disguised as anybody or anything, observing how that person or thing was treated. It's like the verse about "As you do unto the least of these, my brethren, so you do unto me."
I guess that's in a way the answer to you next question of what's a christian to me.
When I was a christian, that's how I lived, as if anyone I met could be christ. It was very difficult at times as I got rebuked and left out a lot for befriending the geeks and "retards" and strays. And the more I understood hypocrisy, the further I moved away from the church and eventually realized that the biggest hypocrite was god-the-father himself.

Anytime I make a joke to an atheist I am always rebuked for being "un-Christian". ... Us Christians have a sense of humor.
I'm not denying you a sense of humor. I have a pretty caustic one myself.
I just found it rather ironic that you were bemoaning the fact that some people didn't take to you after a dozen years and then made a joke at the expense of the handicapped in the same post.

I'm glad you're responding in bits and pieces. Those long posts take so much time!

karen

4/21/2006 10:45 AM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi, Karen
Point #3
I said Sets of rules do NOT limit chaos.

You said - Oh really? Well, then...let's throw out the law books and the constitution, dismantle the courts and open the jails.

Do you see the disconnect there? I am not proposing anarchy but the truth that all our social engineering can unravel in a heartbeat. Look at our societal collapse due to Hurricane Katrina. They're predicting a Category 6 hurricane is possible. If that happens we'll probably find ourselves walking around naked and living in caves again.

How can I ignore something that doesn't exist? Show me it exists and I'll pay attention to it.

Just for the record you are pre-supposing that God doesn't exist. I don’t suppose you would use that mindset when you’re in your car. Would you continue driving 55 mph down a road after you’ve seen a sign that reads “Dead End Ahead”? Probably not. You wouldn’t have to see the dead end to believe it exists. There is no perceived benefit for NOT believing in it. In fact ignoring the sign could cause you harm. I saw God the same way.

As for showing you that God exists, I have no doubt about His ability to convince you. God knows just the right time, just the right place, and in just the right way to reveal Himself to you without stealing your freedom. I know you’re saying “he doesn’t exist” but if He does exist, it is up to Him to prove it to you. Fair enough?

Even better, why don’t you ask Him? I sat up in bed one night many years ago and challenged God to prove He exists. I even gave Him hell for such a lousy job I thought He had done. He answered me with a vivid dream and a visible presence above my bed. The experience calmed me, changed my focus completely, and scared the crap out of me all at the same time. It worked for me although I don’t know if it would work for you. But go ahead, give Him hell.

I have just read your follow-up post. Your point "entire towns and innocents" super-imposes your values on the stories of Sodom and Jericho et al from the OT. By God's standard they were all bad, even the little children. I know that won't warm the cockles of your heart toward God (First Corinthians 13 is a great summary chapter than may shed a kinder light. I'm curious to know what you think of what it says). But we should keep in mind that, if God exists, then He gave us life. And also that if He exists that death is not the end. I always felt that the fire and brimstone is something we bring on ourselves by leading idiotic selfish lives.

I'll post later on your experience as a Christian.

Take care.

4/21/2006 11:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jim
I'm sorry, but I do not see the disconnect on chaos.
I say rules limit chaos. You say they don't. I say teh, by your way, we can throw out the rules and it would make no difference.
Maybe you need to be more obvious with me. Iam new to this logic thing.

Yes, our social engineering can unravel in a moment. But think what it would be like if there were noe in place to begin with. If there had been no warnings to tell folks to get out of Katrina's way; if there had been no plan to deal with it afterward.
Yes, it was mishandled and badly, but if this was what it was like WITH a plan, imagine no plan. Hopefully, we will learn from that mistake before we have to repeat it.

If I drove down a road and saw a "dead end ahead" sign, I would slow down. If there was no dead end, I would not slow down the next time. Unless the next time was far separated enough from the prior time that a dead end could since have been made. Once the dead end is there, I will believe in it. Until then, I will just wonder who is screwing with me with the sign.

if He does exist, it is up to Him to prove it to you. Fair enough?
Sure. Guess he doesn't then. He's had ample time and opportunity.

Even better, why don’t you ask Him?
But go ahead, give Him hell.

Oh, believe me, I already have. As I said, he had his chances, if he existed.

By God's standard they were all bad, even the little children.
I may as well believe in a bloodthirsty Aztec god. A god with this type of standard is disgusting.

I have to go look up your Corinth. reference.

karen

4/21/2006 12:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jim

On 1 corinthians 13,
I have love aplenty, thank you.
I know...you're going to say I don't have the love of god.
Don't need to be loved by the imaginary.

13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child.
Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.


I'll bet you were just waiting for me to quote that too.
OK, come on...

Karen :)

4/21/2006 12:28 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen,

You are self contradictory.

Saying “god with this type of standard is disgusting” is making an absolute statement. Are you a moral relativist or not? Is it absolutely disgusting or not? If God exists should he care about your opinion or not?

Try it again, and this time tells us how moral relativism accounts for this.

4/21/2006 1:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bf
Apparently, we have a difference of opinion on the meaning of moral relativism.
I didn't say "absolutely" about anything.
You are putting words in my mouth.
Are you telling me that MRs are not allowed to have personal opinions?
Please see my comment on your Part II post.
k.

4/21/2006 2:23 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Karen, there is a difference between opinion and objective reality. The expressions made by relativist are as though their opinions are absolute on matters. My contention is that the moral tone of relativist language is antithetical to what they preach. Hence, it’s impossible to be a moral relativist. Don’t take my word for it. Go to a popular atheist blog where the majority of people are moral relativist. Pay attention to their moral language and you will see what I mean.

4/21/2006 2:54 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi, Karen,
The answer to the question "do rules prevent chaos" really depends on the rule and the people who have to follow it. In other words, "rules limit chaos" can't be said in all cases. Example, new laws have spawned lots of riots and protests i.e. chaos. Look at the current immigration laws and the reactions. I hope that clarifies my meaning.

As for the Corinthians, thanks for looking it up. I'm sure you have plenty of love, and Christians believe that all love (specifically unconditional agape love) comes from God. If God exists and created us in His spiritual image then that would have to be true. BTW verse 11 was written by a man, thus the reference "when I became a man." You knew that though.

Your Christian experience is not uncommon unfortunately. I was interested in the church when I was young but the hypocrisy, arrogance, and ignorance of the Christians in my church was astounding. I couldn't find any fault with Jesus Christ, but I was amazed at how wrong-thinking those people were. It was 20 years later when I decided to make a concerted effort to assault the veracity of the Bible when I eventually came to believe (my assault failed). The difference is that I wasn't focused on the people the second time around, but the Bible.

Left to our own devices, we always tend to screw things up. This isn't self-loathing. It's simply the way we are. We are Christians because we need Christ (although "Christoholic" is a better word - meaning someone who can't get enough). He never needed us, and that's the beauty of it.

When you said that you treated everyone like Christ you were right. My question is did you stop? If you help someone you do not need to help you are doing as Christ has told you, as he would have done himself.

Great dialogue, BF.
You know I opened a business many years ago with a moral relativist. Big mistake. Even though he had this rosy "I'm OK, you're OK" attitude at first, whenever the going got rough, he was "more OK" than I was.
"I'm OK, you're OK" is a moral relativism, but the "I'm more OK" part I found out was an absolute truth - to him.
Moral relativism is not really an actionable worldview. In practice it becomes selective absolutism.
Thanks, Jim

4/21/2006 7:18 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Jim,


Thanks for the input. I find that the moral relativist refuses to see their position to its logical conclusion. Moreover, they are closet absolutists. One day their denying absolutes; the next day (or hour) their absolutely condemning something. When the relativist is reproaching another viewpoint (i.e. Christianity, the Bible etc.) they are using absolutist moral language. However, when their called on it they either side step and say, “oh, well that’s just my opinion” or shift the burden on the absolutist as an inconsistency.

The smoke screens are thick, but once they are cleared its extraordinarily obvious.

4/21/2006 10:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Jim
I think I see what you are saying. However, in saying that rules LIMIT chaos, I am not saying that they prevent it or curtail it alltogether. Chaos is still present, but rules apply a method to the madness.
There are also man's rules and nature's rules. If there were no rules of man about protesting or rioting, then such things would proceed as long as anyone had the energy and fervor and motive to continue. And those not participating would have little recourse but to hide from it all, or in turn rise up against it. Eventually the laws of nature would take over: attrition, need for food and sleep, refocus of attention.
Without man-made laws, chaos takes longer to subside. Yes there is backlash against new laws, but we have to start somewhere. There's not going to be an idea that pleases everyone. It's a good thing man learned to compromise.

If God exists and created us in His spiritual image then that would have to be true. BTW verse 11 was written by a man, thus the reference "when I became a man." You knew that though.
Big-IF-. And yes, I knew that. Almost went in and added (wo) before the "man", but thought better of it.

I couldn't find any fault with Jesus Christ, but I was amazed at how wrong-thinking those people were. It was 20 years later when I decided to make a concerted effort to assault the veracity of the Bible when I eventually came to believe (my assault failed). The difference is that I wasn't focused on the people the second time around, but the Bible.

For the most part, I have no problem with JC, except I don't believe he was a deity, or miraculous, or resurrected. If he is a god, then I have issues. As a mortal man with decent ideas about how to treat each other, fine. Bring in the metaphysics and whoops! The Bible is just too full of contradictions and too engineered by man throughout history, too open to interpretation and full of allegory and metaphor to be a useful tool or a believable reference.
I studied it as well as other religions and various sciences. Not formally, as I don't even have a college degree. Just on my own, beginning in my mid-teens because of my disgruntlement with the church.

Left to our own devices, we always tend to screw things up.
I don't see non-believers screwing up any more than Christians. You just think you have an afterlife in which everything is wonderful. I think this is all I get. And that's OK with me. I don't see why I should want any more.

When you said that you treated everyone like Christ you were right. My question is did you stop? If you help someone you do not need to help you are doing as Christ has told you, as he would have done himself.

That's a tough one. For the most part, I have continued in that vein, having changed the code to treateing others as I would like to be treated.
However, I have multiple personalities-yes, really- and all of my alters do not behave in the same manner. There are one or two that compulsively act on thoughts that others would not allow to become behaviors. In trying to integrate and find my true identity, I have learned that my selflessness has not always been good for me personally. Consequently, I have become more cautious-at times-in reaching out.

karen

4/22/2006 11:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BF, and Jim, if you're interested
Sorry to be such a nag, but I have questions, and it's hard to sort them out without the opposing viewpont.

Look at the issue of adult-child sex.
I mentioned before the tribe that isolates their young boys from the women around age 7. (Got that from Ra's blog, butcan't recall, or I'd cite it for you.) Consider it a hypothetical if you like.
Seeing as these people are in their own space and functioning away from other societies, this is most likely a cultural and religious practice. The men think they are protecting the young boys from the women stealing their life force.
I may see that as invalid, having more education and a larger world experience, but at the same time, I feel I have no right to tell them what they are doing is morally wrong.
If I have that right, then don't they have the right to say that I am morally wrong for not allowing my son to be protected? For that is their belief.
(And of course, in America, I DO have the right to SAY it, but I wouldn't be in America.)

Conversely, in our society, we have largely agreed that children are not yet capable of making informed decsions about sex themselves and we generally (that I know of)have no quaint beliefs about sex with children being somehow protective. There is the NAAMBLA group, but they do not operate within a marginalized society, but prey on the public at large. I see them and other sex offenders as taking advantage of children, while knowing it is against the established law of the society in which they live.

Based on my own experience, and empathy, this is wrong.
That doesn't mean I'm comfortable with what the isolated tribe is doing. That's a personal issue, I think.
I do feel the INTENT is not the same.

Can you speak to the moral relativism of this?
Thanks.
Karen

4/22/2006 12:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BF,JIm
I meant to say, Based on my own experience, and empathy, this is wrong in this society.
k

4/22/2006 12:38 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Hi Karen,

You’re not being a nag.

Let me generalize first then I will speak to the specific.

i) We have culture X who says [specific action] is morally wrong

ii) We have culture Y who says [specific action] is morally permissible

What we need to ask is what follows from this?

1) It does not logically follow that the [specific action] is neither right nor wrong.

2) It logically follows that there is a disagreement in factors.

****

a) If moral relativism is true, then any [specific action] can be both right and wrong at the same time and in the same sense A = ~A

b) This would violate the law of non contradiction.

c) With moral relativism any cross cultural evaluation would be impossible

d) Culture X can condemn culture Y and vice versa. However, it would me meaningless. Since they are not morally intact with on another.

e) There is no inferior or superior between X and Y [you may thing the one your in the superior; however, it’s only because your in that culture—you have NO WAY of knowing]

f) If every cultural system is valid, then neither is better or worse than any other (there is no non-ethnocentric reason to prefer one to any other).

g) Moral relativism holds as a “cardinal value” that values change. But, if the value that values change is itself unchanging (in progression), then this theory claims as an unchanging value that all values change and progress. Thus, the position contradicts itself.

h) Two cultures with different values cannot resolve anything.

****

My factors in absolutisms:

i) Moral absolutes are compatible with circumstantial or teleological considerations.

ii) You have a person or agent. The agent is the subject of the standard. The agent does not ‘create’ the standard

iii) “ought” may not always imply “can”


iv) To say that there are absolute morals is not to say that every type of action is always wrong, though almost everyone is an absolutist about some actions at some level of description.

v) Intents and motives are always factors in morality. For example, it is morally wrong to lie. However, if you’re lying to save another’s life like what many did to save Jews during Hitler’s executions, then it was morally permissible. The prescriptive matters must be accounted for.

vi) No culture has a monopoly on wisdom

vii) We (culturally) do things certain ways; however, they may not be the best way.

viii) To say that there are absolute values is not to say they are always obvious or recognizable.

ix) Cultures who practice contrary moral actions are primarily due to different factual presuppositions rather than different moral values. When the Greeks sacrificed babies—they didn’t think sacrificing children was a virtue; rather they thought that this was a demand by some deity. So, the “lesser evils” was being chosen.

x) In most cases the differences are not moral differences, but factual differences that drive their actions.

xi) There can be cultures who do not (can not?) recognize some morals. However, it doesn’t follow that whatever they do IS moral. If an entire culture thought 1+1=5 that would not make the addition correct. It would only follow that they had their sum wrong (entirely).

xii) Morality is complex like math. The elementary parts are simple (kindness is a virtue is recognized in all time places and cultures). However, once there are several factors, it’s easy to get their sums wrong. I get moral sums wrong too.

xiii) Moral absolutes does not mean everything is absolutely clear.

xiv) Something can be moral for all, but not too all

****

In the case of a child being protected from the mother vs. child pedophilia, I don’t really see a parallel. There are obviously many factors playing in each.

i) The tribal man is trying to protect the child

Vs

ii) The pedophile is taking advantage of the child.


If there is something specific like a reconciliation of two conflicting morals that you wanted to ask? I am not sure specifically what you are getting to.

Let me know.

4/22/2006 3:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BF
Thank you for your response. You have given me much to think about and have both enlightened and confused me!
It's a lot to take in, but some thoughts so far:

a) If moral relativism is true, then any [specific action] can be both right and wrong at the same time and in the same sense A = ~A Maybe i am looking in the wrong places, but what I am reading about MR, I interpret to mean a specific act can be right and wrong in diferent times/and or places/cultures...and it is the different senses that lends to it being right in one example and wrong in another.

g) Moral relativism holds as a “cardinal value” that values change. But, if the value that values change is itself unchanging (in progression), then this theory claims as an unchanging value that all values change and progress. Thus, the position contradicts itself.
Heh. You don't know how many times I had to read this one and sound it out to get it!! You would've laughed so hard, watching me!
But is it a value to say that 'value change"? Or is that an axiom? A standard-rigid or flexible...how often do things change? It may take so long sometimes, it may seem imperceptable that a particular value is changing.
It is hard, now that history is so well recorded, to say something has never changed.
You say that " Moral relativism holds as a “cardinal value” that values change. " For now, I will have to cautiously take your word on this, because I have not researched that far.
Obviously, I don't have a good counter to this yet. But it's there, I can feel it. Just can't wrap my brain around it. :)

Your factors in absolutes seem to provide skinnying room to rationalize your way out of any moral problem.
I'm not seeing a lot of difference between that and your view of MR.

Your analogy to math does not hold up, because morality, like math is NOT an exact science. It's not a science at all. Whenever you say there can be exceptions, you rule that out. It's not 1+1=2, except when we need to lie to save people.
I do agree it is complex like math though.

Several of your factors speak to the differences of the act itself and the morality involved, which confuses me.
Especially from our prior converstion when you asked if torturing a child was ever Okay (paraphrased),etc.

In the case of the tribal man vs the pedophile, I was trying to illustrate the instance of the same acr being perpetrated in different cultures at the same times, with different intent.
I was asking you if that fit in to what you understood as moral relativism, because the acceptance of one but not the other is MR to me.

I think the only reconciliation I am looking for is within my own mind as to how I can, after my initial outrage, simply accept that as part of the culture of the tribe and say "let them be."

Thank you, bf, for your patience.
karen

4/23/2006 12:23 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Hi Karen,

I didn’t see you response here.

You have given me much to think about and have both enlightened and confused me!

Sorry, I’m not trying to confuse just help.

Maybe i am looking in the wrong places, but what I am reading about MR, I interpret to mean a specific act can be right and wrong in diferent times/and or places/cultures...and it is the different senses that lends to it being right in one example and wrong in another.

What I mean is that action X can both be good and evil at the same time. So action X is amoral until it has a context to determine it’s morality. Say you heard a story about X action. You could not know whether X the action is moral or immoral until you placed it in its cultural context. I find it incoherent.

Heh. You don't know how many times I had to read this one and sound it out to get it!! You would've laughed so hard, watching me!

Yeah, reading it again I can see how it could be confusing.

But is it a value to say that 'value change"? Or is that an axiom? A standard-rigid or flexible...how often do things change? It may take so long sometimes, it may seem imperceptable that a particular value is changing.

It’s not an axiom because it’s not a starting point. You have to make observations and assumptions in order to reach the conclusion. A standard could stay the same, whiles its recognition and agents value toward that standard change.

It is hard, now that history is so well recorded, to say something has never changed.

I don’t deny change. I deny the nonexistence of absolute standards because of change. Standards can be ignored or “overruled” by opposing reasons. I’m sure slaves never thought it was morally permissible to be a piece of property.

You say that " Moral relativism holds as a “cardinal value” that values change. " For now, I will have to cautiously take your word on this, because I have not researched that far.

I have never read a moral relativism who didn’t say that our morals are getting “better” or “progressing” (it’s always stated in a positive sense like a ‘vale’)

Obviously, I don't have a good counter to this yet. But it's there, I can feel it. Just can't wrap my brain around it. :)

Well don’t put yourself into a pretzel jus because you don’t agree. Keep it in your back pocket while your doing you research.

Your factors in absolutes seem to provide skinnying room to rationalize your way out of any moral problem.

Moral absolutes can be identified at the self evident level. Knowledge wisdom and rationality help to put those moral intuitions into action to solve complex moral problems. The answers are not always correct.

I'm not seeing a lot of difference between that and your view of MR.

The difference is in the conclusion. We don’t stick our head in the sand and say it’s always been perfect.

Your analogy to math does not hold up, because morality, like math is NOT an exact science. It's not a science at all. Whenever you say there can be exceptions, you rule that out. It's not 1+1=2, except when we need to lie to save people.

The analogy is to demonstrate the logical parallel that differences does not equal no answer. I do think morality is similar to math. Some moral problem are easy (self evident), some moral problems are complex. Likewise, some math problems are easy (you can do them in your head), and sometime you have to get out a sheet of paper and do calculus. Sometimes we get out sums wrong (math/morality)

I do agree it is complex like math though.

Many controversial issues are morally complex (i.e. immigration etc..)

Several of your factors speak to the differences of the act itself and the morality involved, which confuses me.

We have t distinguish the act and intent. Two people could do the exact same action (one moral one immoral). However, the intents can be different which would be the primary factor to determine whether the act was moral or immoral.

Especially from our prior converstion when you asked if torturing a child was ever Okay (paraphrased),etc.

It’s never morally okay to do. Even if someone did it to save the life of 10,000 people the act in it of itself is immoral. It would be the intent of the enforcer that would be immoral.

In the case of the tribal man vs the pedophile, I was trying to illustrate the instance of the same acr being perpetrated in different cultures at the same times, with different intent.

Those are two different acts and intents. I don’t see the parallel. Maybe I missed something.

I was asking you if that fit in to what you understood as moral relativism, because the acceptance of one but not the other is MR to me.

I don’t see that being the case. While the tribal person is protecting a child (for whatever reasons—valid or not), the pedophile is taking advantage of the child. I don’t see how the pedophilia is being accepted as a morally permissible practice.

I think the only reconciliation I am looking for is within my own mind as to how I can, after my initial outrage, simply accept that as part of the culture of the tribe and say "let them be."

I know I couldn’t. Your intuitions are recognizing a moral absolute. We all recognize it (except for mentally ill and psychopaths).

Later,

4/23/2006 5:42 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi, Karen
You had an interesting view of Jesus (For the most part, I have no problem with JC, except I don't believe he was a deity, or miraculous, or resurrected).

Many people are fine with this concept. But there is an historical person who sent multitudes of eyewitnesses to early deaths on his behalf. Why did they not fear death and recant? In short, because they saw Jesus risen from the dead and were assured that that's what would happen to them. It's the only possible explanation. The crazy suicide bombers of Islam believe they will get 72 virgins when they die, but if you were to show them hell and say "this is where you're really going" I think this practice would stop pretty quickly. The fact that the apostles were eyewitnesses is a stumbling block to the idea that JC stayed dead.

The second problem with Jesus the nice teacher is that he claimed to be divine. So if you believe he's crazy, he can be a good teacher. It doesn't add up. All of the early accounts refer to Jesus' divinity.

If he is a god, then I have issues. That's the point. If he really is the son of God, Ay Caramba! There is a unique in-your-face nature in the death and resurrection of Christ. Were you to accept it, it turns everything upside down. After years of studying JC I realize why it has been such a powerful event. I don't see a better way that God could have gotten our attention over and over again.

The Bible is just too full of contradictions and too engineered by man throughout history, too open to interpretation and full of allegory and metaphor to be a useful tool or a believable reference.

I understand where you're coming from here, but there is a way the Bible can be useful to all people. If we look at it as one unit, we are forced to consider all of it's teachings. The problem is that people tend to take their presuppositions to the Bible. Interpretation should be done in a broad community, but unfortunately it often takes place in a congregation of like-minded people.

As far as engineered Bibles I assume you're referring to editing of the Bible. While there have been many translations, they all concur. The guy who wrote the "Editing Jesus" book that came out last year focuses on this minutiae and then condemns the Bible as unreliable. We call that throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I recommend leafing through "Case For Christ" by Lee Stroebel. He's a former atheist and he is very thorough in his research even though you have to keep in mind he's exposing the case FOR Christ. He does raise a lot of the secular comunities' objections and examines them.

Well, that's my rambling for the day. I'm enjoying your dialog on Moral Relativism. Take care.

4/25/2006 4:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jim
Sorry for the delay in my reply.

So the Muslim suicide bombers are crazy to think they're going to get 72 virgins, but Christians who think they'll be risen from the dead are not crazy? LIkewise, I'M crazy for thinking when I'm dead, I'll just be dead.
Go figure.
Multitudes of eyewitnesses who didn't fear death or recant? (How many in a multitude, anyway?) How do you know they didn't fear death? How do you not know they DID recant, but were killed anyway?
Multitudes of people have been eyewitnesses to their own alien abductions. Many of those included ascending into the sky and into a ship of some sort. They don't recant. Some even kill themselves because of the torment of the memories. Do you believe they were abducted by aliens?

The fact that the apostles were eyewitnesses is a stumbling block to the idea that JC stayed dead.
They had been inculcated. Of course the "saw" him "alive" again. The special mushrooms popular at the time probably didn't hurt. Who saw Christ alive who had no vested interest such an event?
The second problem with Jesus the nice teacher is that he claimed to be divine. So if you believe he's crazy, he can be a good teacher. It doesn't add up. All of the early accounts refer to Jesus' divinity.
Delusions of grandeur don't necessarily preclude the ability to convey messages of decency. More people will want to believe you're divine if you're a cool, easy-going, nice dude than if you're a viscious, inconsistent, willfull dude. That's why the OT god version didn't work out and had to be updated.

After years of studying JC I realize why it has been such a powerful event. I don't see a better way that God could have gotten our attention over and over again.
How about simply making himself known in the here and now, throughout time? Being a truly in-your-face deity? Put in an appearance more than once in 2000+ years. Easier than pie for someone with his supposed capabilities. Hey, if Christ had simply got down off the cross and walked away, in front of the whole throng, believers and non-believers, what a tale that would have been. Much more impressive.

If we look at it(the Bible) as one unit, we are forced to consider all of it's teachings. Which are contradictory.
Interpretation should be done in a broad community,
How would you achieve that?
but unfortunately it often takes place in a congregation of like-minded people.
Often? When doesn't it, unless it's in a singular mind?
Again, it would have been impressive if your god could have made himself clear nough that there wouldn't be so many openings for interpretation.

As far as engineered Bibles I assume you're referring to editing of the Bible. While there have been many translations, they all concur.
Yes, translations, but moreover, the councils of Nicea, Constantine's influence, whatever the Vatican may have inflenced, etc.
The books within the translations don't even concur. Written decades or more after the "fact", in different languages, by oodles of people, after how many years of oral tradition. Anecdotaly interesting, but not factually reliable.

Have heard often of the Case for Christ, by Stroebel. May actually have read some of it. Can't remember.

I'm glad someone's enjoying my dialog on moral relativism! ;)
Thanks for the discussion.

karen

4/30/2006 10:41 AM

 

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